There is a war going on. There is a war to be won.
It is a war that takes place whether we believe it or not and it’s war that is happening in the unseen realm with repercussions felt in the seen realm. It’s important to see that struggle taking place in the context of what Paul has been hinting at all the way through the letter. A theme that’s been running through the writing is a contrast of what we were to what we are now we have Christ. That theme is best summarised as the light vs the dark. Paul spends the majority of time praising God for the light and what comes with the light. It’s the basis for the celebration of what God has done in Christ in the first half of the letter. We are reminded that we were in the dark but now in Christ we are in the light. It’s apparent in the first part and it’s reinforced in the second part where the practical outworking of how we live is based on us being children of the light who should walk in the light.
So it’s no surprise to come to the end of the letter and Paul urging the saints to win the struggle – the struggle against those who rule in the darkness. The struggle is not a physical one, it’s a spiritual one – it’s a struggle to stay walking in the light, it’s a warfare to continue living in the light and proclaiming the good news that the light has come. It is not a struggle on the defensive, it is a struggle towards those who are on the defensive. To win the struggle we are encouraged to put on the whole armour of God all designed to equip us, even as putting on the new clothes equipped us to continue walking in the light. Faith, righteousness, truth, salvation, readiness to share the gospel of peace and wielding the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God – are all aspects of us progressing in doing what we are called to do now that we are in the light. Look at the big picture – this great gospel – that indeed we’re encouraged to pray for at the end – this glorious news of what God has done in Christ in bringing us back to Him is to be the theme of our lives that help us to live in the light. Faith in who? The Christ who saves. Salvation? Not just about a rescue but salvaged to return to the eternal purposes of God. Righteousness? Behaviour reflecting the one who saved us and the one who raised us to sit with Him in heavenly places. Truth? Not about regular statements but about the Truth of who He is, what He has done and who we are in Him. All of that found in the Word of God, expressing it reminds us of these truths. It is the basis of our faith. It is the engine for our righteousness. It is the motivator for sharing this gospel of peace.
This spiritual warfare is real and one in which victory is not just found in ecstatic utterances and exuberant expression. It is found in the prayer-filled life committed to Christ. Committed to Christ in how we relate with others. Committed to Christ in how we engage in our marriages. Committed to Christ in how parent-child relations go on. Committed to Christ in how Master-Slave relations are conducted. Committed to Christ in how we submit to each other in love. Committed to Christ in doing and being everything pleasing to Him.
The prayers we pray keep us n connection with these factors. Every healing we see and every deliverance we witness are indicators towards the life in the light as we’re committed to Christ. Every life that responds to the good news and every argument we can appease through edifying grace-filled words are indicators towards the life in the light as we’re committed to Christ. Every hurt we forgive and every victory of faith we experience are indicators towards the life in the light as we’re committed to Christ.
God has done so much for us through Christ. Now in Christ we are made for good works that have already been prepared for us. We’re to present to these powers the manifold wisdom of God. We do that as we explore the love unfathomable that leads us to maintain the unity as we grow up into Him. We walk as children of light and encourage each other to do so in every aspect of life – as seen in the key relationships. Underpinning that is a life of prayer that commits us again and again to life in Christ.
God help us in that journey as we win the war going on.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden