Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Eph. 6:10-13).
In writing the end of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul put in what he wanted everyone to really remember. Like a lawyer with their closing argument, he wanted us to remember that we are called to be strong in the Lord. This is not a request. It is a command from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This command is not a burden because Jesus will help us walk it out. God doesn’t call strong people to serve Him, He makes those that are called strong. No matter how we got into the Kingdom of God, He will make us bold lions in His service. There are guaranteed results in the Kingdom. The word for “power” in Ephesians 6:10 is the Greek word “cratos.” Cratos means “manifested power, a power that is shown, reining authority; God power, His nature, is one of omnipotence and omniscience.” God wants us to be in His power—not our own—because He never grows weary. To be strong, we have to embrace His unorthodox ways. One way He strengthens us is contrary to all we as modern people know in life: He calls us to wait on Him.
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:28-31).
God doesn’t grow weary but gives power to the weak; if we learn to wait on God. This word “wait” doesn’t mean to sit passively in a chair until someone comes along. It means, literally, “to wrap oneself around another person.” The word “renew” means “to bind together by twisting.” As we wait on the Lord, we wrap ourselves around Him, and He binds Himself to our lives, renewing us, and we find the strength we need to live for Jesus Christ.
Another fundamental way that we grow strong in battle is found in Ephesians 6:11. Children of God grow in strength when they put on the armor of God. The Holy Spirit used the Roman soldier’s armor to illustrate our spiritual armor. As in any battle, we can’t face the enemy without being dressed in armor. In the spirit, we can’t stand against the devil if we are naked spiritually. To “stand,” in the Greek, means “to vigorously oppose, bravely stand against, stand face to face against an enemy.” We can’t vigorously oppose, bravely stand against, stand face to face against our enemy if we aren’t armed.
A third way to be strong is to understand the enemy’s tactics. In Chapter One, we saw four weapons of the enemy: anxiety, isolation, fatigue, and depression. When Paul describes the enemy’s tactics, he uses the word “wills.” This word in Greek is “methodism,” which means “schemes and trickery.” Our natural state is susceptible to the devil’s schemes and tricks. The devil is never smarter than God, but he is more intelligent than our minds. He can convince us to believe awful lies. Some brilliant people believe abortion is a right that drug usage should be legal. They believe the destruction of God’s design for marriage is the answer to a peaceful society; atheism is intellectually sound and the natural solution to Christianity. The human mind is no match for the trickery of the devil. We defeat the tactics of the devil by using the armor to guard our thought life.
Part of knowing the schemes is to understand Satan’s chain of command. Ephesians 6 shows us that Satan has generals, privates, lieutenants, and so on. When we are wrestling spiritually, we are taking on demonic forces at different levels. There are times when we will take on one of the devil’s hierarchy. Let’s look at Daniel the Prophet’s encounter in Daniel 10; it can give us insight into what a fight with demonic powers looks like:
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris, I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.
And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.
Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.
Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”
When he had spoken such words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless. And suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me, “My Lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength. For how can this servant of my Lord talk with you, my Lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me.”
Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!”
So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. (No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince.) (Daniel 10:1-21)
Daniel prayed, and the angel Michael began his trip from the Father with a message for Daniel. But he was hindered by the Prince of Persia, a general in Satan’s army. A battle ensued, and you can see the rest in the story. This Prince of Persia ruled an area, and Michael, powered by Daniel’s prayers, fought his way through. Often, in different regions of the world, we can tell what Satan is doing by looking at the collective thoughts of the culture. They express the strongholds that Satan has built and taken up residence. We are called to be like Daniel and pray the will of God until strongholds, and demonic powers, are defeated, and His Kingdom comes.