At Glory of Christ Baptist Church we are working our way through the book of Ephesians, and at our last gathering we looked at Ephesians 1:15: “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and your love toward all the saints…” I used this phrase as a spring-board to talk about spiritual warfare and conflict management with a view to preparing the church to deal with the inevitable attacks we will face from the devil, the world, and the flesh. I had so much more to say than I had time to say, part of which is this:
On the one hand, it is crucial that we not overestimate the devil because Jesus is immeasurably greater, more powerful, and more capable than he is. And, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). But on the other hand, Jesus has allowed him to reign to some extent for a season and, therefore, it is likewise crucial that we not underestimate him. It would be a grave error to do so, and to think that he will not come against any church that is seeking to take ground for the Kingdom of God, by the grace and calling and power of God.
Consider these quotes from the Bible: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). “During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him…” (John 13:2). “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
The devil wants to steal from you, kill you, and destroy you. He is prowling around even now looking for prey to devour, and he would love to devour you. He has the ability to enter hearts and persuade people to betray, not only the church, but also the master of the church. He has the power to throw in prison, test, and even kill believers. Make no mistake in your estimation of him: he is powerful and he hates you with a vengeance.
So, brothers and sisters, what shall we say to these things? Rise up and put your armor on! Prepare for battle! Keep your guard up! Pay attention! Stay awake! Hone your skills! And when he attacks, fight, fight, fight with all your might! In the power of the Spirit of Almighty God, in utter dependence upon him, and for the sake of his glory, fight! Do not turn on your brothers and sisters, but with the humility and grace of Jesus Christ forgive as you have been forgiven! Do not aid the devil by indulging your flesh, but by the grace and power of Jesus crucify your flesh and live by the Spirit! Be found often in the Word and on your knees, and when the moment of battle comes you will succeed!
And when you fail, these promises will hold you up: “…but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20), and, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).