And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
This passage is a familiar passage many of us have read from the time we were little kids. It is Ephesians 6: 10-18. I have read this passage in its familiar form in so many different translations of the Bible I cannot even number them. Why then would I attempt to share yet another version of this familiar passage? For me, reading The Message is a challenge for me. Not because it is hard to read but because it is not a literal translation. It is what the translators would call a “paraphrase Bible” essentially meaning that it basically puts aside the literal meaning of what the passage says in some ways and allows for a freedom in translation. As long as one does not use The Message as one’s solo scriptural devotion Bible, I have no problem with someone using it as a tool to receive another perspective of this passage or any passage from the Bible. Since I am using this translation in this post, I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t think that way. In any case, I thought I would share my thoughts on why I actually enjoy this understanding of the passage and what stands out to me most about this version of Ephesians 6.
The first thing that I notice stems from the first few verses of this message. “This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angles.” How do we explain spiritual warfare to a 5-year old child who is old enough to understand spiritual things? Do we try and explain how there is an invisible battle going on and there is this big war and stuff? In some respects, I wonder if the child would end up going back to his younger years of his “make-believe friend” – the invisible one who always had a place to sit at the table – and think, “It must be like that?” Being a guy, I would probably tell my son that there was an arm wrestling match going on and God has trained us to be strong to beat the other guy who is “the bad guy.” Sound ridiculous? In think in some ways, reading this version of the text can be a little easier on a 5-year old mind rather than the King James or something. Stop and think for a moment how you would describe spiritual warfare to a 5-year old. It is a tough task.
The second part of the passage I like even more. Anyone who is anyone can get something from these verses. It is a bunt and honest assessment of the situation: We can’t doing it on our own; Take all the help you can get; I understand this. This is real. The fact of the matter is that we can’t do this whole spiritual battle deal on our own. We need all the help we can get so God gives us all the weapons we need to wrestle well and win.
The most significant part of this passage personally is the phrase, “Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words.” How true is that? Why is it in our culture, we use these words all the time and give no thought as to why they are so important to us? Why do we feel it is okay to use terms without understanding the power they provide us with to fight the battle well? They are not just words. I encourage you to take some time and think about these words and ask God to help you see them more than just words. I hope they become apart of your being and your life in far more ways than just words. Each one represents the character of Jesus, Himself. That is pretty important to remember.
My final thoughts hinge on the phrase, “Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” How true is that? Are we even doing that? Do we really care enough about our brothers and sisters to even consider when they are tired of the fight and want to give up? Do we come around them and hold them up while they battle? Do we have people who we could call on to help us when we need them?
The bigger picture here is a need for community. The battle is not done alone. That is why God has given us a community. That is why we are called the body of Christ. The body works together to fight together. When a part of the body is tired of fighting, another part stands up and fights with that part of the body that is tired so that it will not give up and fail. Without the body, we fail. Without prayer, we fail. Without each other, we fail. We have been given so much – let us never forget how blessed we truly are to have one another as apart of the body of Christ. God bless