Be Strong in the Lord
Recent events remind us that there are powerful forces at work in the world, political and religious, battling for control. Not since the end of the cold war has it felt so much as if the world is in a battle, fighting for the survival of democracy and religious freedom.
The Bible tells us that there is constant battle going on—the battle of the ages between God’s people and the spiritual forces of evil that want to destroy them. That’s why Paul, the great first century Christian preacher, wrote to the Christians in Ephesus (in modern day Turkey):
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians chapter 6 verses 10-11, in the New Testament).
In the first sentence we can see three things: (1) A command to obey (be strong), (2) the means to do it (in the Lord), and (3) the result we experience (his mighty power).
1. The Command: Be strong
Success in the battle against Satan and his forces is not a matter of sitting tight and hoping for the best, or expecting God to do it all. There is something we must do: we must be strong.
In the original language the command is passive—a command to receive something. We could put it like this: ‘be strengthened’, ‘find strength’ or ‘be made powerful’.
Though it is passive it is not a command to stay on the sofa admiring your muscles. It is a call to fight (against the wrong that rises up in you as well as the evil that attacks from outside) and to find strength for the battle.
2. The Means: In the Lord
We are told to be made strong in the Lord. We are not to be like a car going to a petrol station, ‘filling up’ and then going away. We are to find strength by being and staying in the Lord. That means both belonging to God and staying close to him.
Do you belong to God? Have you come to him through faith in Jesus Christ as your Saviour, giving up running your own life, and submitting to him? It has to start there. Then you must stay close to him. Otherwise you won’t be strong enough to resist the devil.
Paul is saying we are to be more like an electric train, staying on the rails and in contact with the power, to keep going. Only by staying in close touch with God—by prayer and obeying his word (the Bible) and by worshipping God with other Christians—will we be strong to defeat sin and Satan.
3. The Result: God’s mighty power
What kind of strength will you then have? Paul says you will have God’s mighty power. That’s the same power that called everything into existence by God’s word at creation; the same power that divided the Red Sea for the Israelite slaves to escape from Egypt; the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (see Ephesians 1:18-20).
That’s the power you find and that strengthens you when you come to God through Jesus Christ and remain close to him. With such a power at work in us there is nothing that need scare us or make us give in to wrongdoing.
If you are a Christian you are engaged in a battle against Satan. It is a battle to be clean from sin, in thought, word and deed. In that battle we are not on our own. We have God’s mighty power at work in us and through us.
Do you belong to God through faith in Jesus Christ? If not you are still on the losing side in the battle of the ages. You are still on the side of Satan, who is determined to take as many people as he can with him when God’s judgement finally falls on him.
Turn now from self and sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, whom God sent to die on the cross and take the punishment we deserve. Then stay close to God—by prayer, obedience to God’s word and meeting with God’s people—and you will have the mighty power of God at work in you. Then you will be strong to defeat Satan and to say ‘no’ to sin that ruins lives.