Today we arrive at the mid-point of the Book of Ephesians, major turning point in its content. We’ve been talking about how Satan’s rebellion eclipsed God’s light in this world. It brought spiritual death to humanity, and the first three chapters explained what God did to solve this problem. That solution involved conquering Satan through the death and resurrection of Christ, giving us life, and, in fact, raising us up with Christ, endowing us with every spiritual blessing, and in fact seating us with him in the heavenly places. Ephesians chapter 1-3 details these glorious truths. And Ephesians 6:11-12 talks about our struggle against an invisible, evil, animating force behind all of our relational struggles. Ultimately, our struggle is not with people, it’s spiritual. There’s an invisible, evil, animating force behind all of our relational struggles. Satan is our real enemy and his schemes are deception and accusation. The weapons God gives us for fighting these are the truths of the gospel. The “telephoto gospel” zooms in on our eternal problem, and good news! Our sins are washed away; heaven is assured (2:8- 9). The “wide angle” dimensions of the gospel means that we have all the resources we need for life’s struggles today (1:3). Both of these are gospel, good news. And behind all of those blessings of the good news is a God who loves to bless: “But God…” (2:4)!
We’ve got to understand the riches of our spiritual blessings, if we’re ever going to “walk in a manner worthy of our calling” (4:1). Paul spent three chapters rehearsing the gospel—both “telephoto” and “wide angle” to people who already believe it. We need to remind ourselves of the vast wealth and power of the spiritual blessings which already have been granted to us because we’re seated with Christ right now in the heavenly places. Truth is our weapon, and the Christian lifestyle, or, as Paul calls it, our “walk”, is spiritual battle.
Ephesians 4:11-16 tells how we wage this war. Pastors equip believers— all believers—to contribute to the growth. And the main thing we do to grow the body is by loving one another (4:1-3, 11-16). When we love, we are like God; when we don’t, we resemble Satan. It’s as simple as that. The spiritual battle involves learning to love. Loving involves “showing tolerance” (4:2); to tolerate means to “put up with” troublesome, annoying, unpleasant things….like us! God calls us to tolerate all those annoying things others do, to stay committed to our church family even when it’s boring, to have that difficult conversation with that friend who’s about to make a huge mistake, to keep on serving when it seems like we’re not receiving as much as we’re giving, to forgive that person who wronged us. This requires humility, not pride, gentleness when we’re fed up and tempted to be harsh, patience (because nothing will happen as fast as we want!), diligence to preserve unity. We need to be peace-makers. All of this is spiritual battle.
Loving in this way will require that we grow and change spiritually. This too is spiritual battle (4:22-24). Whenever we choose to take off ungodly ways, and think differently, and then put on godly behaviors, we’re engaging in spiritual battle. Spiritual battle requires powerful resources—gospel resources.
Thanks to the gospel, the good news that we already have every spiritual blessing, we have the power we need.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Choose to believe that your struggle is not ultimately against people; refuse to use fleshly strategies.
- Decide to love the difficult people in your life. Love is spiritual battle.
- Loving others requires growth and change in us. Growth and change is spiritual battle.