20130918-072835.jpg

I wrote a blog yesterday that I think might be misinterpreted by some, so for now at least I’ve taken it offline. My aim in blogging is to encourage, not discourage. In fact the blog summarised the first part of a recent talk but didn’t include the more encouraging second half. So here’s the second half! It’s about how to make sure the devil is unsuccessful in his plans.

Inspiration is found in Ephesians 6:10-20. In that bible passage we’re told that we have an enemy who makes plans. Real plans. They are described as ‘the devil’s schemes’ and we are called to ‘take our stand’ against them (v.11). So what should we be doing? Here are 5 things we can do.

1 Be Aware
We need to be aware that we are at war – all the time. But it’s not a war against people. We are to love people. People are not our enemy. No, the battle is against unseen but real spiritual forces – against ‘the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (5:12). As in any war there are times when the enemy steps up the pressure. I wonder if we’re in such a season at The Belfrey. But even if we’re not, we still need to be aware of the battle which is constantly raging. And reminded that it’s a fight. A struggle. Which means there will be tough times. And good times too!

2 Stand Firm
Four times in these few verses we’re told that God wants us to ‘stand’ steady in the battle. We can do this if we have all God’s armour on. And that’s really about doing the basics well. It’s about being honest and truthful (v.14); about living right lives (v.14); sharing our faith (v.15); living our faith (v.16); walking in the Spirit (v.17); living by God’s word (v.17). It’s about staying close to Jesus and doing the main and plain things well, like worship, discipleship and outreach. As we persevere in these things and keep going we stand firm, and the enemy does not like it.

3 Stand Together
But we don’t just do this on our own. We do it with others. In community. That’s why whenever ‘you’ is mentioned in this passage, it’s always ‘you’ plural. We are to stand together, not on our own. Preachers who preach on this passage often remind their listeners that Paul had in mind Roman soldiers as he was writing, knowing that they would lock shields in battle. This would make them stronger as a group. And the strong ones would hold up the weak ones. What a wonderful picture of how God wants us to stand together in the battles of life. None of us are in this on our own.

4 Be Prayerful
This passage on spiritual warfare ends up telling us to pray. In fact the word ‘pray/praying/prayers’ is used five times in a short space, reminding us that we mustn’t stop praying. The enemy detests that. We must keep coming back to God for forgiveness. And keep asking him for all that’s needed.

5 Don’t do the Devil’s work for him.
This sounds obvious, but it’s very important! We’re meant to be working against the devil’s schemes, not for them, so please don’t do his work for him. So take care how you treat people. In what you say. And serve God. And people. There’s no higher call, or greater privilege than that.

Let’s make sure we’re having such an impact that the devil does stay concerned about us – but that he’s unsuccessful in stopping the kingdom advancing. That will happen if stay faithful and true, doing the basics well, remaining ‘strong in the Lord and in his mighty power’ (Ephesians 5:10).

20130918-071735.jpg