By John McCoury
Roan Mountain, Tennessee
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
Ephesians 6:11 Our experience confirms the suggestion of this passage—that life is basically a struggle. Life never conforms to the rosy idealism of our dreams or the romanticism of our songs. The explanation of this struggle lies deeper than we ordinarily think. The common view of our struggle has been that we are engaged in conflict against flesh and blood, against other men and women. But Paul says the battle is not against flesh and blood; it lies deeper than that. The basic problem is that this is a battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan and that people themselves are the battlefield. The battle is visible not only in the wars, revolutions, and crime waves that fill our newspapers, but it is also seen in the inner tensions and fears of individual lives, in the neurotic problems and mental illnesses that afflict us today, in family fights and church struggles. It is even visible in nature, where all of life competes in a ruthless, deadly struggle to survive.
The whole race has fallen under the control of satanic forces, which Paul calls, “the world rulers of this present darkness” (6:12 —a most significant phrase). The picture of the Bible from beginning to end is that all human beings without Christ, without exception, regardless of how clever or educated or cultured they may be, are the helpless victims of satanic control. Under the control of satanic forces, human beings are uncomfortable and unhappy but also completely unable to escape by any wisdom or power of their own. But the good news is that some have been set free through the coming of that stronger one, Jesus Himself, who came, as John tells us, to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8b). Through Him, deliverance is obtained.
Through the amazing mystery of the cross and the resurrection, Jesus has broken the power and bondage of Satan over human lives. Those who individually receive and acknowledge this are set free to live in the freedom and liberty of the children of God. They are not set free to live unto themselves. They are set free in order to battle. That is the call that comes to all Christians. We are not set free to enjoy ourselves. We are set free to do battle, to engage in the fight, to overcome in our own lives, and to become the channels by which others are set free.
How do you do this? Paul’s answer is in one phrase: Put on the whole armor of God. Full provision has been made that you might win in this battle. This is the amazing thing we must learn. God has made full provision for us to fight these forces that hold the world in their grip. Father, tear away the delusive veils by which I have allowed myself to be rendered powerless in this great battle. Help me to understand that I would have no possibility of fighting were it not for the delivering work of the Lord Jesus, who has come to bind the power of darkness. Why does life not conform to our rosy idealism and romanticism? What is the true nature of the human struggle? How can we face life with confidence and freedom?