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Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
When you read something like this, you almost want to lock your doors, get down on your knees, and pray all day. In church history, and in the present, some people dedicate their lives to prayer and fasting and do just that. That might be a calling for some, but that was not the apostle Paul’s reaction. In light of all of the ways we should serve one another, finally, we should be strong in the Lord. It went together with everything else he just wrote about the unearned favor of God and serving one another out of reverence for Christ.
Note how he calls right now ‘this present darkness.’ Paul is not going to give us some empty affirmations of how happy the world is right now. He called it a time of darkness! Somehow I don’t think he said this like people that say “Tsk Tsk the world is getting worse every day!” He recognized that we are aliens invading occupied territory because we are new creations in Christ. While walking in a land that is in rebellion to God and carrying the life of God in ourselves, we might not fit in.
But that does not discourage us or turn us against people. When we struggle against stupid things that happen, the sin that takes the life out of people even as they live, injustices that cannot please God, our first response should not be against the people making those decisions. Every good movie has a bad guy that thinks he is doing the right thing. Most of the time it’s true in life too. The wicked person is acting out of an inner heart of selfishness or pride, they aren’t usually deliberately hurting others.
That is where praying for God to move spiritually comes in. Most problems of struggle, sin, and pain are rooted in a spiritual perspective gone wrong. The rich man steals because he doesn’t fully believe God will provide for him. A middle-aged woman sins because she thinks God has given up on her and there is no use in being holy. A kid sins because he hasn’t been taught a good way to communicate and all he has to believe in and rely on are what he saw people do on TV to survive.
Being strong in the Lord directs us away from falling