This past Sunday, we missed church due to a snowstorm, so (as we usually do when bad weather keeps us from First Baptist Church Weymouth) we watched the livestreamed service from Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. During winter, I think of Truth Community Church as our “church away from church.” Naturally we’d prefer to be at First Baptist with our church family, but John and I praise the Lord that He’s provided a way for us to worship when we’re stuck at home. (Watching a service online or on television should only be done when physically attending church is impossible–see Hebrews 10:24-25).
Their pastor, Don Green, has been preaching verse-by-verse through Ephesians. His last two sermons in this series (archived on the Truth Community Church website) have dealt with the infamous passage on spiritual warfare. Since you can access his sermons for yourselves, I won’t reiterate them here, but I would like to make a couple brief comments on the passage that Pastor Green inspired.
Let’s look at the passage itself:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 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. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. ~~Ephesians 6:10-14 (ESV)
Coming from a Charismatic background, I’ve usually heard this passage taught with the emphasis on verse 12, as if each individual bore the responsibility to fight Satan in his or her own strength. And yes, I’ve been guilty of “rebuking” the devil, even though Scripture clearly teaches that Michael the Archangel didn’t presume to do such a thing (Jude 8-10).
If you’ll look closely, however, you’ll discover that spiritual warfare isn’t as mystical as commanding obedience from Satan and his demonic forces. Verses 10 and 13 emphasize standing firm in the Lord and His strength. We do so, not by presumptuously railing against forces that are far greater than ourselves, but by hiding ourselves in Him.
Time constraints forbid me from elaborating on my point today, but I want to pick up on this topic tomorrow. For now, the take-away is that Charismatic theology has made spiritual warfare infinitely more mystical and complex than necessary. Really, we need to keep our eyes on Christ, assured that He has the ultimate authority over the spiritual realm.