06/26/S – Strengthened and Standing

Isaiah 56:1-57:14; Ephesians 6:10-24; Psalms 71:7-16; Proverbs 17:27-28

NT: “Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit  — which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.” (‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-18‬ ‭CSB)

In the simple Ephesians outline by Watchman Nee of “Sit, Walk, Stand,” this is the “stand” portion of the letter. As we are in Christ and seated with Christ by faith, we are fully graced with everything we need to walk the life God has called us to live, and we are fully equipped to withstand our enemies that in the end we come out standing.

As believers in and followers of Christ, we have three main enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world is the system around us that is opposed to the ways of God and caters to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. The flesh is the nature that we inherited from Adam which is by nature sinful, selfish, and unable to please God. The devil, along with his demonic minions, is (as Paul described here) our primary enemy. The devil is the “prince of this world” and the “god of this age.” He uses our external enemy (the world) and our internal enemy (the flesh) to defeat, rob, kill and destroy us. While we may encounter flesh and blood “enemies” who oppose us and the word, will and ways of God, behind those flesh and blood “enemies” is the devil, along with his rulers, authorities, cosmic powers of darkness and evil spiritual forces.

The devil and his demonic minions are by far much more powerful and wily than we are – but the good news is that we are not alone in our battle. Through His life, death and resurrection, Christ overcame the world and the flesh, and defeated the devil. In Christ, we do not have to fight for victory – we fight from the victory that has already been won. Though the devil is stronger and more wise and cunning than we are – he is still a limited created being. In Christ, we have the unlimited strength and wisdom of the Lord God at our disposal. That is why Paul wrote, “be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength.”

Not only are we empowered in Christ with God’s vast strength, we are also equipped with spiritual armor and weapons that are able to withstand the onslaughts of the enemy and allow us, when all has been done, to stand. Our spiritual armor and weapons are: truth (like a belt, it holds everything else together), righteousness (like a breastplate, it shields and protects the core of who we are in Christ), the gospel (like spiked battle shoes, it gives us a firm footing and the leverage to stand firm), faith (like a large shield, it protects us from the doubts, temptations and accusations hurled at us by the enemy), salvation (like a helmet, it protects our mind and our thoughts), the word of God (like a short sword that is easy to wield and deadly accurate to defeat the enemy), and spirit-filled and spirit-informed prayer which becomes our access to the power and plans of our Lord. In Christ, by His grace, we are to stay alert, stay prepared and persevere so that we, along with all the saints, may remain faithful and come to the end standing.

Psalms: “I am like a miraculous sign to many, and you are my strong refuge. My mouth is full of praise and honor to you all day long. Don’t discard me in my old age. As my strength fails, do not abandon me. For my enemies talk about me, and those who spy on me plot together, saying, “God has abandoned him; chase him and catch him, for there is no one to rescue him.” God, do not be far from me; my God, hurry to help me. May my adversaries be disgraced and destroyed; may those who intend to harm me be covered with disgrace and humiliation. But I will hope continually and will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell about your righteousness and your salvation all day long, though I cannot sum them up. I come because of the mighty acts of the Lord God; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭71:7-16‬ ‭CSB)

The writer of this psalm was able to, over the course of his life, persevere in the strength of God and remain standing. Because of that, he was a miraculous sign to many. His concern and prayer, was that as he grew physically weaker through age, that God would not allow him to grow spiritually weaker – that even in his old age, he would be able to withstand the enemies of God and continue living as a testimony of God’s righteousness and faithfulness to save. As we remain in Christ and make it a point to appropriate all that He has provided for us, we too will be able to say, like the writer of this psalm, “I am like a miraculous sign to many.” As we remain in Christ, Christ will remain in us and will not abandon us. Even as we grow old and feeble physically, Christ will renew our spiritual youth and strength and we won’t be able to sum up all the wonderful ways that God through Christ has kept us alive and fighting by faith.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that in You I am strengthened and suited to withstand all the attacks of the enemy that come from without and within. Help me, by your grace, to put on truth, righteousness, faith, salvation and the gospel, and skillfully wield the word of God and spirit-infused prayer that I may do all to remain standing. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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