My senior year of high school, I started each day with a few classes at a local university. The walk from my first to my second class took most of the twenty minutes allotted, so I couldn’t dawdle. One morning, though, I found myself hurrying across campus in rather windy conditions. Remembering that one area along the front of the student center always seemed to channel the wind even on calm days, I mentally prepared myself for less-than-ideal conditions. And boy, was I right! As soon as I hit that corridor, the force of the wind struck hard. Before long, I was straining forward with all my might… and standing still! It was the weirdest sensation!
I picture that when I come to this passage of Scripture. Paul spent the first half of Ephesians explaining the Gospel, God’s plan for creating His family of believers. Then in chapter 4 he takes the foundation he has laid, and he builds on it by explaining how this Gospel story influences (or should influence) how we live. And with each brick he lays on that foundation, he encourages us to walk. He tells us to walk…
- in a worthy manner (4:1)
- differently than unbelievers (4:17)
- in love (5:1)
- as children of light (5:8)
- wisely (5:15).
And now he has come to the capstone, his conclusion. And he no longer tells us to walk—now he tells us to stand. When it comes to our spiritual battles, our job is not to charge forward or gain new ground. We are to stand firm (vs 11 & 13) and withstand (vs 13). In fact, the word used in verse 13 is the same word we see in James 4:7 and 1 Peter 5:9, where believers are encouraged to “resist” the devil. It is the idea of holding your ground in the face of adversity. Like standing strong in a windstorm.
But why shouldn’t we want to win our battles against the enemy? Don’t we want to gain new ground and defeat the devil? Remember, dear one, that victory is already ours. And we aren’t the ones who secured it. Christ’s death and resurrection has won the war!
I’m not trying to lull you into complacency here, friend. I’m not saying you should sit back and relax. In fact, I’m telling you that some days, standing firm is going to take every last bit of your strength. So you might as well go ahead and relieve yourself of the pressure of thinking that your job is to win—your job is to persevere.
God already won the war. He’s in charge. He simply (ha!) wants you to stand your ground. And don’t forget: He is also the one equipping you to do just that.
This week, I would encourage you to spend time thinking about the “building blocks” of our Christian walk in the passages I listed above, and the significance of Paul concluding with “stand” in this segment. (Also, last week I got such great responses from you! I love getting your messages, and I was thrilled that so many of you wanted more Scripture to study! Because of that, each week I will try to include a few additional passages for you to consider between emails, in a new feature called "Battle Prep," which you'll find below my signature. I’m so excited to dive deeper into God’s Word with you!)
So tell me, friend, what battle are you facing today that is making it difficult to stand your ground? Or how have you been trying to charge ahead instead of standing firm? I’d love to connect with and pray for you!
And as always, if you know someone who might benefit from the encouragement in these emails, please feel free to pass this along!
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Alright, soldier. I love that you want to dig deeper into God's Word with me. Each week I'll give you some additional passages of Scripture and/or deeper questions to ask of the text we've read in my email. I hope these will provide you with ways to better engage with God's Word in your everyday lives. So grab your gear (ahem: Bible, notebook, pen) and let's get started!
Let’s do a word study on “withstand” (found in verse 13). A word study allows you to select a key word/phrase in a passage and see how it is used throughout Scripture. It gives us more context and can provide a deeper understanding of the primary passage we are reading.
You can do this on your own by going to Blue Letter Bible, one of my favorite free online resources. (If you’re not familiar with it, please feel free to email me and I’ll help you get started!) But not to worry, I’ve saved you some of the work! The word here is anthistēmi, which (as we said before) means to withstand, resist, or oppose. It is found 15 times in the New Testament. Let’s look at just a few of those passages:
- Matthew 5:38-42
- Luke 21:12-17
- Acts 6:8-10
- Romans 9:16-19
- James 4:7-8
- 1 Peter 5:6-11
As you read, consider how gaining additional context shapes your idea and understanding of the term. Ask yourself what it looks like to withstand (or not withstand) in each passage.