“…be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Eph. 6:10-12 NASB
Many people seek counsel, whether it be of a legal, personal, or emotional in nature. Clearly the Word instructs us to seek counsel from individuals who can help us find solutions to many of life’s problems. But, in all things we are to seek wise counsel, consistent with His Word. What do many people seek? Despite what they say when they present, the common theme is power; a sense of control over their legal predicaments or their personal – emotional issues. They seek in the law leverage through litigation. In counseling, a deep insight in their emotional state. The purpose – control or power over those things identified as plaguing their lives. In possession of this “power,” people believe, on their own strength, creativity, education, or legal posturing they can control – have power over those external or internal forces and ridding themselves of its hold over them. To some degree control may be obtained. But it is only temporal as we sometimes overlook – or avoid – the deeper aspect of a problem.
When Paul calls the believers in the Church in Ephesus – and all believers – to “be “strong”? Is he speaking of “being strong in their (our) own might and strength?” Clearly not. We know we are powerless to change our spiritual condition – despite the world’s constant claim to the contrary. Here, the great Apostle Paul is pointing us heavenward – to the divine Spirit of God. Our power is not inwardly generated. It is not outwardly marshalled. It is His power working through us. (Eph. 3:20)
We understand ships can carry many men and great weights of cargo across vast oceans. Yet, without power – whether inward or outwardly generated – it is of little value. Regardless of its armor or beautiful craftmanship, it is of little practical use without water, currents, or the wind (or in modern times internally generated power). The wind – of sail – transforms a sailing ship into a powerful and useful vessel. However, this same vessel can also be overcome unless it is properly controlled by a captain or an experienced pilot. Thus, it is not just the presence of the wind, it is the proper understanding of the relationship between the ship, the pilot, and the source of the “power.” Only then can the ship be utilized to its fullest potential.
It is this relationship that Paul is directing the Church of Ephesus, and all believers to recognize. Our earthly struggles have eternal and spiritual ramifications. It is not about “power” in and of itself. In our earthly concerns, we must seek wise legal, personal, and professional counsel in our daily affairs – and in doing so prudently approach our problems. But we must not forget the source of true power over any issue – it is His Spirit- and our relationship with Him through prayer.
His Spirit gives us discernment and wisdom – in all things. We must also recognize some problems we face have a spiritual dimension (and some would argue many problems) – and as Paul indicates in his words to the Ephesians in order to prepare ourselves – recognizing the power and its source.
Therefore, with His power we are to, “put on the “full armor of God.” (v. 11a). The purpose? ..”so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (v. 11b). To stand on our own – powerless. To do so, we, as the ship, will be of little value – potentially suffering great harm. Recall what happened to the seven sons of Sceva who went out in their own power. (Acts 19:11-16).
Let our problem not reflect that which the servant of the Lord, R.A. Torrey, proclaimed:
“We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little; many services but few conversions; much machinery but few results.”