PFOA: Eph 6:10-20
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Eph. 6:10,11, ESV.
Some of us may remember the day in Sunday School when we put on the armour of God made by the teacher with paper or cardboard. In our hands we would swished at imaginary dragons and everyone else with the sword of the Spirit. The object lesson certainly made a lasting impression.
In modern metropolises like Singapore, just as much as in the jungles of Indonesia or the remote villages in the mountains of China, the devil is alive and well. The media has sensationalised the devil and his antics with money-making movies and TV shows of vampires, zombies and mysterious forces and influences, but Satan is much more subtle then that. His schemes and wiles are deceptive.
When he challenged God over Job, he used the loss of wealth, property and even children to test the faith of Job. Failing that he took away his health, subjecting him to intense pain and suffering. When Job did not waver, he used friends to discourage, even rebuke him according to worldly wisdom. Finally his wife withdrew her support. None of these trials are spectacular, yet they are perhaps the most intense for any human being.
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, it was not so much the appearance of Satan, but the nature of the temptations that is significant. It was calibrated to distract, to turn stones into bread, to satisfy the immediate physical needs and lusts of the flesh. The character of God was disputed, how would He respond to the presumptous act of jumping off the pinnacle as a test of His team of emergency response angels? Finally, and as always, Satan attempted to divert worship, allegience and obedience that are due to God only, to himself, offering to give what he does not have (Matt 4:1-11). Perhaps the scale of the consequences are infinite and eternal, but the temptations for fulfilment, power and authority is similar to what everyone faces daily. In his final assault on Jesus, Satan used a man to betray him to his real and physical enemies, the religious leaders.
The battle with the devil is real, but it is fought in the spiritual realm, against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and spiritual forces of evil (v.12). The underlying schemes of Satan are similar, although he may use different tactics – be these the desire for immediate gratification for the sophisticated urbanite; social and relational pressures for the tradition-bound villager; or the need to assuage a multitude of spirits and deities for the animistic forest forager.
Paul tells us to stand firm in the whole armour of God. Although the victory is won, there are still spiritual battles to be fought for the eneny has not surrendered. If we think we do not face these conflicts, perhaps we are not at the front lines, or, we have already fallen in battle.