A popular text growing up was Ephesians 6:10-20 on “spiritual warfare.” I remember being taught to pray over myself the armor of God each morning so that I would not fall to temptation in my life.
However, the personal application is of secondary nature to the main emphasis, which is a call for the church to resist the evil spiritual powers in the world. Like most of scripture the call is corporate and less individual.
The key emphasis in the passage does not rise and fall on the different parts of the armor or on the word “wrestle.” We tend to focus on these parts of the text and for good reason because they create such good visual images. Nevertheless, the text rises and falls on the word “stand.”
Stand (stanai Grk.) is used four times in the text and is the verb that most of the adverbs are describing. Obviously the word is used metaphorically and may be described to mean resistance or to hold one’s ground.
So how do we combat evil forces in the world?
We stand against them. It is not a passive sense of standing, but an aggressive withstanding against an onslaught. Many commentators and ancient writings note that the word is a military term suggesting that the soldier was to stand his ground and not take flight.
We stand our ground by praying (Ephesians 6:18), speaking out (Ephesians 6:19-20), and by being unified in Spirit (Philippians 1:27).
It should never be an individual effort to resist the works of the dark forces, but a unified Spirit-led church movement.
In the late John Stott’s book Evangelical Truth (IVP, 2003) he suggested:
“…stability in both doctrine and ethics is in short supply today…. It is much easier to drift with the stream than to swim against it. It takes much less effort to bend like reeds, shaken by the winds of public opinion and political correctness, than to stand firm and immovable like rocks in a mountain torrent.”
It seems to me that following the ways of this world is much easier than struggling against them. It is hard to stand against the forces of evil in this world.
Sexual sins, hunger, addiction, creation abuse, divorce, and unethical business practices (to name a few) are often ignored or overlooked until something too big to ignore happens.
It is the mission of the church to resist these forces and to call them out as wrong, unethical, un-Christ-like, and evil. It is the mission of the church to stand up for those who are ambushed by these evil spiritual forces.
So how do we stand? For me, I do my best to support my church in combating the evil forces. We pray for God’s kingdom to come and we are unified through the assembly and the Lord’s Supper. However, I imagine like at most churches that there is more we can do.
So I ask, “What do you do?”