FRIDAY September 29
Further Thought: We conclude by reflecting on Ephesians 6, where we discover that we, the church, are the peace-waging army of God.
In Ephesians, Paul has portrayed the church as the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22, 23; Eph. 4:11–16), as God’s temple (Eph. 2:19–22), and as the bride/wife of Christ (Eph. 5:21–33). In Ephesians 6:10–20, Paul describes the church as God’s army and offers a vigorous call to arms. It is a passage that offers much benefit and risks misunderstanding.
We could misunderstand Paul’s words as a call to take up military weapons or to be combative in our relationships with others. Paul, though, has been emphasizing unity, edifying speech, and tenderheartedness (see especially Eph. 4:25–5:2). He describes God’s good news as “the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). Through this vivid military metaphor, the church is not exhorted to wage war in the traditional sense. Rather, we are to wage peace in the spiritual battle against evil. Paul steps onto the battlefield of the great controversy and calls us to enlist in God’s army.
We should do so with a realistic assessment of the enemy in view since it will never do to underestimate the forces arrayed against us. We don’t confront just human enemies but “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12, NKJV), led by a wily general, the devil (Eph. 6:11). However, we need not be daunted by our enemies. God is present with us in the battle (Eph. 6:10) and has supplied us with the finest of weaponry, His own armor, the “armor of God” (Eph. 6:11; compare Isa. 59:15–17). He has placed at our disposal truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Spirit (Eph. 6:13–17). With God going before us and our being equipped from head to toe in the armor He has supplied, we cannot fail. Victory is assured.
1. Though we are not saved by our works, what does Paul mean when he writes that we were “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10, NKJV)? What, then, is the purpose of our good works?
2. Paul writes: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20, NKJV). What power works in us, and how should this power be made manifest in our lives?