Ephesians 6:11-15 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness.”
When we think in terms of the warfare that we are in, the word ‘stand’ is very important to being strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. We are told that we are to resist the devil and he will flee. When we take our stand this is exactly what we are doing.
We saw that one of the ways that we can be strong in the Lord is to consider the promises that He has given us. However, what sometimes happens is that rather than standing on the promise that He has given we flee or turn away.
We have the flesh, the world and the devil that we contend with and God has given us three ways that we are to fight. When it comes to the flesh, Paul told the young man Timothy to flee youthful lusts. So, when it comes to the flesh instead of trying to resist we must FLEE. With the devil we are to resist and he will flee. Often, we get the two mixed up – we try to fight the devil like we fight the flesh and it does not work. We will lose every time. When it comes to the world we are told not to be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
In the Greek, the word to stand brings out the idea pulling ourselves together to be ready for conflict. Peter said: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” (1 Peter 4:12) We need to recognize that trials, tribulations and conflicts will come our way. This is life here on planet earth until Christ comes and makes all things new. When these trials do come we need to make sure that we do not give in to thoughts of self-pity that come crowding into our minds and hearts, like, “Why me, Lord?”
We see this in Matthew 16 when Jesus asked his disciples who He was and Peter said “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Later Jesus said that He must go to Jerusalem, suffer and die on the cross and Peter rose up and said, “Forbid it Lord.” What he was really saying was ‘pity yourself, why should you die, what have you done wrong?’
But Jesus rebukes Peter that this type of thinking was of the enemy – Satan – and then He said: “Pick up your cross and follow me!” Instead of pitying ourselves we need to deny ourselves and follow Christ. I would say that one of the greatest sins is self-pity, being sorry for oneself and allowing to enter into the mind thoughts which cast down what God’s love, goodness, care and His great promises are for us.
So when the problems, trials, persecutions, etc. come because of the spiritual warfare that we are in we should not be surprised, but also at the same time we should not be frightened either. The one who is frightened is the one who will flee. We are to stand. Peter said: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8-10) Paul was saying the same thing to the Christians at Philippi: “…and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.” (Philippians 1:28)
In this spiritual battle or in any battle we cannot be half-hearted; we cannot be ‘straddling the fence.’ If we are uncertain in the fight – we will lose. Being doubtful we will fight badly and we know from James that a “double minded man is unstable in all of his ways.” (James 1:8) To be honest, if we find reading the Word of God is a task that must be performed or prayer being a drudge instead of a joy in having communion with the Ruler of the universe then I would say that we are already defeated because of half-heartedness in the battle that we are in.
We are in this battle to win and win we will if we take our stand and not give up.
So we are to take the position that God has given us. A good example of this is in 2 Chronicles 20 where Jehoshaphat the king of Israel heard that a great multitude was coming against him. He sought the Lord and said: “we do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” Later he was given the instructions that they would go down to the Valley and told that they would not need to fight in this battle, but position themselves, stand still and see the salvation of God.
This is a battle between God and Satan and God will win, but will we; will we lose more than we should?