When we consider the picture of the Christian armor that Paul paints in Ephesians 6:10ff, there are a couple of things that can be easily overlooked which are critical to us having an accurate understanding of spiritual warfare.
One involves the word “stand” (v. 10, 13-14). It can leave us with the impression of a soldier merely standing there while his armor protects him from the attack of the enemy—and that would result in far too passive of a picture. If you look at the text, Paul says to “stand against the devil’s schemes” (v. 10),“stand your ground,” (v. 13), and “stand firm then” (v. 14). There’s nothing passive in any of this. It is a picture of resistance and fighting back (see James 4:7). The enemy is trying to take our territory and Paul is telling us not to let them do it!
This meshes with what Paul says in Romans 12:21 when he writes, “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” We don’t overcome by simply trying to ward off evil; we must be actively involved in the pursuit of good. In military terms, we’re not standing still, we’re advancing.
The larger truth is that we don’t fight for victory; we fight from victory—and this brings us to Jesus. Paul has already spoken of how He has been raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come,” (Ephesians 1:21). This happened because He defeated Satan and sin (1 John 3:8). Three times in John’s gospel, Jesus will tell His disciples that Satan has no power over Him (12:31, 14:30, 16:11). Christ entered the strong man’s house and bound him (Matthew 12:29).
This is why Paul tells us to “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10). Our strength is not in ourselves (that’s what gets us into trouble in the first place); our strength is in the One who overcame! We can stand because He stood! It’s imperative that we see Jesus with us in the midst of the warfare around us. We can stand because Christ stood and like Him, God made us to stand.
Northern California is home to the Giant Sequoia trees. The tallest of them tops out at somewhere around three hundred feet with a base circumference of around forty feet. Their branches can be up to eight feet in diameter and their bark is three feet thick. They weigh up to 2.7 million pounds and the oldest ones have been around since Solomon’s time. They’ve stood through thunder, lightning, wind, hail, rain, mudslides, earthquakes, fires, and who knows what else. Those powerful destructive forces have come and gone and there are the trees—still standing.
Why are they standing? Because God made them to stand. And in the end, that’s true for us as well. That’s why Paul says when we done everything to stand there is only one other thing to do . . . STAND!