One Christmas, after a quick shopping trip to the mall with their dad, my kids came home with a few emoji pillows. Why is it that when kids go shopping with dads, they always end up bringing home a few extra non-essentials? My kids proudly showed me their emoji choices: heart eyes emoji, smiley with sunglasses emoji, and a purple pillow picked by my son. The devil emoji!
What in the world?! Out of all the emojis, why would he choose the devil emoji? He said, “I chose this one for Dad. Mom, sometimes you gotta punch the devil in the face, and now Dad can do that anytime he wants!”
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Hey, he’s right. Sometimes you need to punch the devil in the face. And it’s not as easy as a little jab at a pillow. We need strength to fight the enemy. We need to take our stand. As we dive into the final chapter of Ephesians, chapter 6, Paul’s going to show us how we can give the devil a solid punch to the face. Paul says,
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:10-12).
Notice, Paul didn’t say be strong in your own power. He said be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. We need to stand firm in God’s strength so we can stand up under life’s challenges. God can make you stronger until the situation gets better. God can give you the strength to face the problems you cannot solve. God can give you strength when you’re fighting things beyond your control. Our strength is in the Lord and His mighty power.
Because we’re in a battle.
A battle with our emotions.
A battle with mental health.
A battle with fear.
A battle against discouragement.
A battle against frustration.
A battle against the tactics of the enemy. And the enemy isn’t that grumpy gal you follow on Facebook. It isn’t that guy you’re clashing with at work. You have a real enemy. That’s why you need spiritual protection. It’s why you need God’s strength.
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But there’s good news. The enemy doesn’t stand a chance when you stand in God’s strength.
There’s a funny little thing that happens when you become a parent— your words go on repeat. If you like to repeat yourself three or four times an hour, then parenting is totally for you. In order to get the important things across to your kids, you’ll say things over and over and over.
Here, Paul is coming alongside us like a helpful parent calling our attention to something really important. Let me read this whole passage again while we pay careful attention to Paul’s repetition.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…”
Paul’s saying: This is important, like, I’m-going-to-repeat-myself-four-times kind of important. Don’t miss this. This is critical. It is time, church, to take your stand.
Because the enemy can come at us with one hit after another. Paul calls them flaming arrows. He says, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16).
What are the flaming arrows of the enemy?
Temptation is an arrow that can burn your resolve. Doubt is an arrow that can burn your confidence. Fear is an arrow that can burn your joy. Insecurity is an arrow that can burn your sense of purpose.
The enemy’s arrows come at us all the time. They want to burn everything good God is doing in your life. And they come one after another, after another.
But, faith is our shield. The kind of shield Paul was referring to was huge—a whopping 4 feet high and 2 feet wide. When a grown man crouched behind it, he was fully protected. Groups of soldiers would huddle together and make an impenetrable shell. These shields were wet down before the soldiers went into battle so that when flaming darts or arrows hit the shield, not only were they stopped from penetrating the body, but they were also extinguished by the wet shield.
This is how faith works in our lives. It’s an impenetrable shell to the fiery arrows of the enemy. We can hunker down under our faith and be fully protected, and the flames of those arrows will be completely put out.
The arrows can’t hurt us when we have faith in God’s trustworthiness.
They won’t hit us when we have faith in God’s plan.
Those fiery darts won’t penetrate when we have faith in His Word.
They won’t burn us when we have faith in His goodness.
They won’t damage us when we have faith in His love for us.
They won’t injure us when we have faith in God’s care.
They won’t debilitate us when we have faith in His help.
They won’t destroy us when we have faith in His presence.
That faith gives us a sure defense against the fiery missiles launched in our direction. The enemy can shoot temptation, doubt, fear, and insecurity, but faith turns all of them back and extinguishes their flame.
Stand firm in God’s strength so you can stand up under life’s challenges.
The book of Ephesians is about identity. It’s about learning who we are, living who are, and then leveraging who we are. When we do that, we stop walking in defeat, and instead, walk with our heads held high.
In the Ephesians:Head Held High six-session video Bible study, Lori Wilhite draws on her experience as the pastor’s wife of a large congregation located in the town otherwise named ‘Sin City’ to share the truth of what Paul tells the Ephesians about unity and its direct reflection of our hearts, our focus, and our love for God.
Lori Wilhite serves alongside her husband Jud who is the Senior Pastor at Central Church in Las Vegas which currently has more than twenty-seven locations nationally and internationally including twelve locations inside prisons around the country. She is also the founder of Leading and Loving It which exists to equip and encourage women in leadership to love life in ministry and impacts more than 20,000 pastors’ wives and women in ministry. Jud and Lori are the proud parents of two hilarious young adult kids, Emma and Ethan, and make their home in Las Vegas, Nevada.