Tony R. Nester
As we approach the end of Paul's Letter to the Ephesians we find Paul trying hard to awaken believers to their spiritual vulnerability.
Paul pleads with us to put on the full armor of God. He commands us into spiritual warfare. He identifies our enemy as the devil. He frankly acknowledges that we are up against the cosmic powers of this present darkness. Paul brings his letter to the church at Ephesus to an close with a stirring call to arms.
(Ephesians 6:11 NRSV) "Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
Do we recognize just how vulnerable we are to spiritual failure and destruction? Probably not.
In Ernest Hemmingway's The Sun Also Rises a man of poor moral character is asked how he went bankrupt. His reply: ''Two ways. Gradually and then suddenly.''
This so often is the strategy used against us by Satan. Gradually we move away from God. No big dramatic denials of God need take place. We simply live more and more of our lives as though God has nothing to say to those parts of our lives. We don't look that different. We don't sound that bad. We don't think of ourselves as all that sinful.
And then the bottom falls out from under us and there is no firm ground underneath. We spiral down in a spiritual collapse that can cost us our job, our marriage, our health, and even our salvation. How did it happen? Gradually, then suddenly.
Paul is trying to open our eyes to a major spiritual truth: We have an enemy that seeks our spiritual destruction. The Bible calls this enemy the devil and names him as Satan.
The Christian life is not to be reduced to snuggling up into the coziness of God's love --although that's often where we begin as children. When we grow up in faith we better understand that being a Christ-follower means suiting up for a spiritual battle that will last a lifetime.
We sang battle songs this ...
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