Published August 4, 2015

Paul's Epistle
"Stand! (Part 1)"

"If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you."  (John 15:20.)

How much clearer could those words of Christ be as a warning to His followers? He knew that Satan and his deceived followers throughout the ages would do all they could to persecute the church. They hate God and so they hate all of us who love God. And we are certainly seeing a sharp upturn in such persecution right here in the USA – a nation ostensibly founded on Christian principles but which has largely turned its back on God.

Satan-inspired political leaders are doing all they can – getting God out of the schools, out of the public eye, prosecuting (thereby persecuting) Christian business people who simply want to live according to God's Word, not sinful man's reprobate whims.

Jesus knew this would happen, of course. So did the Apostle Paul, who, fortunately, tells us how we can successfully stand against the increasingly hostile societal environment in which we find ourselves today.

Paul provided some guidelines in Ephesians 6:10-18. He knew Satan would come against the thriving church in Ephesus – and would come against the church everywhere, increasingly, until the Lord returns to end the nonsense.

The first thing Paul says, in verse 10, is, "...be strong in the Lord..." He's saying, "Don't give up!" "Don't be a wimp about this." "Don't be wishy-washy in your stand for what is right in God's eyes." "Don't acquiesce to the world's sinful way of thinking."

Unfortunately, we're seeing a lot of so-called Christians "throwing in the towel" these days, turning their backs on the clear teachings of God's Word. Just recently, three major "Christian" colleges added themselves to the list of others who decided it was easier to give in to society's sinful ways than to stand against them.1

But how can we stand against such an ungodly onslaught from an anti-Christian society? Fortunately, Paul immediately tells us how this is possible: "...in the power of His might."  It's not our power, it's His power – God's power. We can't do it alone, but Jesus said, "...with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26). Even Christians sometimes make a mistake here, thinking they can do something – good as it is – in their own power. Wrong. We need to let God use His power to work through us in whatever way He wishes. And, of course, that should always be our prayer.

How do we prepare for this? Paul, in verse 11, tells us, "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Armor is for protection. The "armor of God" will protect you as you go into spiritual battle. You can stand — yes, you can! — against all the nonsense you're seeing around you in society these days.

And Paul makes it quite clear where this nonsense is coming from: "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rules of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (v. 12).

Out battle is not against "flesh and blood." Our battle is not even primarily against people who are anti-Christian. Our battle is against spiritual darkness. Jesus tells us we must be the "light" in this world. Light causes darkness to flee. Yes, practically speaking, we must contend with flesh and blood, but only because they have been deceived by those "spiritual hosts of wickedness."

So, Paul tells us, "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" (v 13). Stand! The "whole armor of God" will make it possible for us to "withstand the evil day..." Increasingly, that's today. Note that it doesn't say you "might" be able to withstand it or that you "possibly" can withstand it. It clearly indicates again that you will have the God-given power to stand against sin.

What is the "whole armor of God?" And how does it apply to each of us today as Christians? We'll look at that next week.

- Paul

1. Religion News Service article.

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