Paul urges the Church to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might … Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.” Our strength is in the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is our authority and the one who gives us the armour to withstand the evil of this world. We believe that Christ is the Lord of our salvation, being both the Head of the Church, and King over all nations.
Paul is a prisoner of Nero. His Roman prison does not hinder him from encouraging those who are facing persecution and temptation. Nero is setting himself up as both emperor and god. But it is not in our strength as Christians that we do battle with the world around us, or even against that old nature within us –we do battle in the strength of the Lord. It is the performance of the Holy Spirit within us that we die to sin and live to Christ. It is the performance of the King of kings that nations are brought low or built up, all to the glory of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Paul’s admonition to us is that we are to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. “to summon up courage and vigor; for there is always much to enfeeble us, and we are ill fitted to resist. But when our weakness is considered, an exhortation like this would have no effect, unless The Lord were present, and stretched out his hand to render assistance, or rather, unless he supplied us with all the power” (Calvin).
In the power of the might of King Jesus! This is a picture of the presence of the Almighty God. There are a lot of videos out on making the body both beautiful and strong. However, the strength of the Christian lies first and foremost in the active presence of the Lord who not only leads, but also brings victory to the battle for us. We are told to be strong in the power, dominion, and strength of the Lord. Our Lord spoke to the apostle John, saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8). The twenty-four elders around the throne of God sang, “We give thee thanks O Lord God Almighty which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned” (Rev. 11:17). Christ the Prince of kings reigns over nations; and the obedience or disobedience of its worldly leaders to the King and his Word will determine their rise or fall. We exercise our faith with strength from above, beginning with repentance, trust, prayers, Bible studies, and witness.
Putting on the whole armor of God! Our Lord has taught us that if we are to gain our lives we must first lose it. When we entered the Service of our nation we came with the clothes on our backs and our razors. Soon they were replaced with what the Service provided. So with the Christian, we are in the household of God, we are subjects of his kingdom, and he provides all we need for the life. He has given to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The armor we wear as Christians are of God’s divine appointment. If we are to have victory and success in this world then we must wear the armor that our King provides.
Wrestling against the hosts of wickedness! Ours is a spiritual warfare. The wicked may kill the body but they cannot kill the soul. The humanists of this world wish that we would serve their god rather than the true God as he has revealed himself in his Word. The principalities are those who rule, the magistrates. The powers are the governing powers, over against the governing power of Christ. The rulers of this world are the evil spirits of men and of fallen angels. The darkness needs to be stopped forcibly by the Light, Christ Jesus. Wickedness is the maliciousness thoughts and actions of evil men. We continue to wrestle with the evil of this world.
Being able to withstand in the evil day! Satan is crafty, and so are his followers. We pray, lead us not into the temptation of those who would lead us to sin. We stand in covenant with God. We fight under the banner of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We persevere in Christ our King: “There can be no perseverance without true grace in the heart. Every soul clad with this armor of God shall stand and persevere; or thus, true grace can never be vanquished. The Christian is a true conqueror, the gates of hell shall not prevail against him” (Wm. Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armor).
Discussion: What does it mean for us to exert our strength in Christ?
Paul urges us to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints”; and the benediction, “Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our thoughts are directed to the Spirit of God, the supplication and prayer of God’s people, and the saints themselves. Supplication is a general request for blessing. To pray means to make a vow to God, including asking, thanking, requesting, and deliverance from evil. Saint means, holy, sanctified, set apart; speaking of those chosen by God and who serve God, separated morally and spiritually.
Answering the question, “What is Prayer?” the shorter catechism reads, “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.” The larger catechism adds the words, “by the help of his Spirit.”
Christians, born of the Holy Spirit, are to pray in the presence and power of this same Holy Spirit. We are to pray for the operation of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. The Bible teaches us, “ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not Spirit of Christ, he is none of is” (Rom. 8:9). We cannot know how to pray, and have that assurance of prayer, without the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. “Without life there can be no bodily movement; without the life-giving sap there will be no fruit; without fire there can be no heat; and, in a similar fashion, without the Holy Spirit there can be no Christian prayer” (Palmer, The Holy Spirit).
Therefore, we pray and petition our Father in heaven, in the Spirit, knowing that the “Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses… He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27).
Perseverance means to endure, to stand fast alongside someone. The Bible tells us that we are to be rejoicing in hope, “patient in affliction, steadfastly continuing in prayer” (Rom. 12:12). The Spirit teaches us that we are to be watchful to this end, praying in the Spirit, “with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” For all the Saints! He teaches us to pray, “Our Father.” We pray best for the saints, for one another, when we understand that our God is our Father in heaven.
God made a covenant with his people, he would be their God and they would be his children. The covenant concept of God as Father emerges from such verses as, “A father of the fatherless … is God in his holy habitation” (Ps. 68:5); “As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him” (Ps. 103:13); “For whom the Lord loves he corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov. 3:12).
Paul closes his letter to the church at Ephesus with this benediction: “Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” These words remind us of the Triune God who has loved us so very much. Our heavenly Father has loved us so that he has chosen us in Christ to be his very own children. So loving us that he sent his only Son. Christ Jesus has so loved us that he shed his precious blood on the cross of Calvary, redeeming us from the penalty of sin, that we may know that our sins are forgiven and that we have eternal life in him. The Holy Spirit loves us by giving us new birth, comforting us by walking with us, and interceding for us as we pray.
Discussion: What does it mean to pray to our Father in heaven?
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