Ephesians 6:13-14. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore…
When you received Christ I’m guessing that everything didn’t magically turn into rainbows and puppies. The next day you had the same outer circumstances facing you. Most likely some temptations decreased but others were right there to take their place. Some probably got worse. Since your salvation you have not been insulated in a “Jesus bubble” free from all suffering and sadness. There has still been sin and there has still been suffering. Probably, in many ways, even greater than before.
This is why Paul tells us four times to stand in his conclusion to this letter. I know that we have already talked about standing in this blog over the past couple days, but since Paul keeps saying it I suppose it must be worth repeating for us here too.
Paul opened the letter by reminding us that we are SEATED with Christ. This is our eternal position – victoriously enthroned in the heavenlies at the right hand of God and Christ.
Then six times Paul told us how to WALK within the covenant promises that are ours in Christ. We walk worthy of our calling in the love, and light, and good works that God has prepared for us before time.
Now, as he concludes, Paul exhorts us to STAND. But never in our own manufactured strength. We stand in God’s armor. His imputed character. His received nature. His life implanted in us as the living seed of Christ.
Don’t miss this: these three postures are not interchangeable. We do not move from seated to standing, or from walking to seated, or from standing to walking. Christian, you are to be engaged in all three postures ALL THE TIME. Simultaneously. Constantly seated, while constantly walking, while constantly standing firm (obviously this is possible because these are mindsets and not actual physical positions).
We don’t ever stop wearing the armor of God. We aren’t to take it off and on. When a Christian takes off the armor of God…watch out. Keep it on day and night! Sleep in it. Eat in it. Go to church in it. Serve in it. Work in it. Love in it. Live in it. How? Because it is a state of being that we adopt into our hearts as our position, our identity, our new reality. “I have the protection of God’s salvation upon me. All. The. Time.”
The spiritual forces of evil never take a break. But neither does Jesus. He never slumbers or sleeps.
This is why we can be seated AS we stand. We must trust our position in Christ. This is the great paradox of our faith – to fight is to stop fighting. To work is to rest in Christ’s work. To stand is to sit. Paul says having done all, to stand firm. Or we might say it this way, “having already conquered…stand firm.” Stand in victory!
Hold… (Warning a bit gruesome at the end).
This is why when the temptations and the trials come we can stand up to the forces of evil that would deceive us, tricking us into doubting God’s love and mercy. Now we can look evil in the eye and say “Get behind me Satan.” “Not today Devil.” We can resist him and he will flee when he sees us standing in God’s armor – the character of God that nothing can take away from us. Not any sin. And not any sorrow.
In the end the armor is about faith. Paul is not telling us to start doing virtuous actions, or to change our behavior. Not here. That’s not the armor. The armor is the gospel. Putting on the armor of God is trusting the good news. The pieces of the armor, truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, these are not good works to perform. They are graces to be received.
Richard Coekin says it well, “We will not be saved by starting new battles with Satan, but by living in confident faith that Christ conquered Satan on the cross. Wearing the armor is not about becoming like Christ enough to defeat Satan, but about staying safe in his finished triumph.” (Ephesians For You).
“To live is Christ” didn’t take away all our temptations and trials. But it did give us victory over them all. Now we can stand in the midst of each one in the power of Christ our indwelling Champion.