Meditations on Ephesians 6:10-24

Ephesians 6:10‑24  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 6
THE mind of the Lord has been declared concerning the relationships in which we may find ourselves on earth. Another subject is now dealt with by the apostle—our conflict in the heavenlies. This flows out of the teaching in chaps. 1. 2. There our place is shown as risen together with Christ, and sitting in Him in the heavenly places, blessed with all spiritual blessings in Him. There we learn that, to enjoy our heavenly portion, conflict is necessary with those who seek to hinder.1 The allusion (though the contrast is complete) is to the wars of the Israelites in Canaan for the enjoyment of what God had promised. In Josh. 1 to 4. we have God bringing them through Jordan (type of death and resurrection with Christ) into the land of promise. In the plains of Jericho, Joshua circumcises them (our circumcision is found in Col. 3); they keep the passover, and eat of the old corn of the land. Thus did they take their place as His people in Canaan, in accordance with the purpose of God. But the Amorites were there, determined and prepared to contest every inch of the ground with them. Israel must meet them in the power of God. They were to enjoy every place that the sole of their foot touched; a sign of taking possession (Josh. 1:33Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. (Joshua 1:3); Rev. 10:22And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, (Revelation 10:2)).
But God was with them, and nothing failed of His good word; wherever they went in dependence upon Him, victory was sure, the enemy was expelled, and they took possession. These things, as others written aforetime, are for our learning. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” We are a poor match for Satan and his hosts apart from the power of God. If like Israel at Ai, who forgot God and measured the enemy by themselves, defeat is certain. But the weapons of our warfare are mighty through God; when His Spirit acts in His people, who can withstand? Carnal weapons are in vain, “for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Our enemies are thus of a different character from those of Israel; they are “spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies” (as in ver. 12, better rendered). Scripture does not tell us much about the powers in the heavenlies, but we have many allusions to such, good and bad. Thus in this Epistle Christ is set far above all principality and power (chap. i. 21); through the church is now made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places the manifold wisdom of God (chap. iii. 10). Dan. 10 draws aside the veil, as it were, and tells us something of the conflicts above, showing how earthly events are affected by movements there; while Rev. 12 shows us the final expulsion of evil powers from heaven by Michael and his hosts. This occurs in the midst of the last of Daniel's seventy weeks. But such hosts are not ejected from heaven yet (though they be not in the presence of God): our conflict is with them. It is the unceasing aim of the powers of darkness to prevent our hearts from rising to the height of our heavenly relations; nothing pleases the enemy better than to see saints groveling below.
Armor is provided, the whole armor of God; which we must take to us to be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Many can bear his roar, who are overcome by his wiles. Israel could calmly contemplate the high walls of Jericho, knowing God was with them, but were utterly worsted by the wily Gibeonites. How treacherous are our poor hearts! How unfit to be trusted! We are only exhorted to “stand “; the bruising under our feet is not yet, though shortly (Rom. 16:2020And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (Romans 16:20)). One shudders sometimes at the light and vain talk so prevalent to-day, concerning the power of the enemy, and our power over him and his works. We need to remember the word not to speak evil of dignities, and Michael's reply to Satan, “the Lord rebuke thee.” “He durst not bring against him a railing accusation” (2 Peter 2:10, 1110But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. 11Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. (2 Peter 2:10‑11); Jude 99Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. (Jude 9), 10). The utmost we can hope to do in “the evil day” (God's way of describing the whole of the present period) is to “stand “: happy the saint who is able to do so.
The armor is detailed; and it is all practical. Our loins are to be girt about with truth, every habit is to be controlled by it, the truth is to govern our lives in each particular. Thus alone can we keep our garments unspotted from the world. The breastplate of righteousness follows; for how can we show front to the enemy if our practical ways are not good? Where righteousness before God is spoken of, the figure is rather a robe; but before the foe armor, as here and in 2 Cor. 6:77By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, (2 Corinthians 6:7). The feet are to be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; i.e., peace is to characterize our whole walk below. Is it in vain that the Spirit constantly says, “Grace unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”? If peace with God has been made by the blood of Jesus, and the God of peace has brought Him again from among the dead, the peace of God is to keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The apostle prayed that the Lord of peace would give the Thessalonians peace always by all means. It is happy to be a “son of peace:” precious portion in a world of turmoil and upheaval!
But the shield of faith is equally necessary, that we may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. This is that calm confidence in God which it is ours to know in every circumstance; for we walk by faith, not by sight. Faith never dreads foes, however numerous and strong; it measures them by God and goes forward with holy boldness. With the shield in position, the heart is safe.
The headgear is the helmet of salvation. Salvation is ours now as regards the soul; as regards the body we shall know it shortly at the Lord's return; and it is sure. What confidence this gives! All the malice of the enemy can never wrest from us our portion: it is founded upon the sacrifice of Christ, and secured to us by His life on high. Thus are we enabled to hold our heads high, and say, Whom shall we fear?
All these parts of the armor are defensive; but there is one offensive weapon, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” This was what the Lord used in conflict with Satan. “It is written” was sufficient for victory. Satan is for faith a vanquished foe. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” He meets Christ in the saint, and Christ is enough. One word of scripture, used in the power of the Spirit, is of all value when pressed by the enemy. But this must be coupled with prayer. The word of God and prayer are the two great springs of the Christian's life (Luke 10, 11.); without them we become a prey. Compare 1 John 2:99He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. (1 John 2:9). It is “the evil day,” and our hearts are treacherous and readily beguiled: dependence on God and a right use of His word alone can preserve us.
But our hearts must not be occupied solely with our own needs: “all saints” are to have a place. This is the Epistle which unfolds the truth of the one body: has it entered our hearts? It is fitting, surely, in such a letter that the apostle should enjoin prayer and supplication for all. And there are those who have a special claim upon our prayers, because placed in the front of the battle, exposed therefore to the peculiar rage of the enemy. Paul was preeminently such an one, and valued the prayers of the saints, that his mouth might be boldly opened to make known the mystery of the gospel. He was an ambassador in bonds: he felt the difficulty of his position, though his heart was sustained. Tychicus carried this Epistle, as also that to the Colossians; he would make known to the saints the affairs of Paul, and comfort their hearts by the recital of the Lord's faithful love and grace to him.
Salutations close all, and they too in perfect keeping with the aim and character of the Epistle.
W. W. F.