The DEEP

How Not to Lose

Overconfidence kills.

Ephesians 6:10–13 (NKJV)

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 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.

Paul shifts gears here. This time, his point isn’t about what the Ephesians should do, or why they should do it. His point is that they’re incapable. The only chance they have is in the power of His might.

The problem is much more than the things Paul said previously: drowsiness, drunkenness, thanklessness, lack of submissiveness. The problem is that they have an intimidating enemy. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

They don’t even know what that means! No one can fully know just how powerful these rulers of the darkness are. All they can know is that they’re no match for them. So Paul tells them to put on the whole armor of God.

The word ‘armor” is an analogy. Note that Paul doesn’t say that this armor will allow the Ephesians to win, only that they’ll survive. Defeating the rulers of the darkness is God’s business, not ours.

In fact, this is another purpose construct in the Greek. They should take up the whole armor of God, for the purpose that they may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. This has the sense of standing your ground (as opposed to retreating or being overrun).

They’ll be left standing. That’s enough.

That’s the purpose of putting on the whole armor of God.


Of course, this same lesson applies to us. Don’t kid yourself, you’re no match for the powers of darkness. That’s part of why all those safety margins Paul talked about are so important.

The enemy has, literally, thousands of years of experience in the art of temptation and deception. Depending on our own wits is a prescription for failure. We have visions of great things like Charlie Daniels defeating the devil in a fiddling contest. That’s silly. Great victories are accomplished by glorious things like the cross, not by simple people like you and me.

What we need to do is depend on Christ and use the tools he has given us. That’s how we keep from being overrun by the Devil’s forces.

Not losing is a win in this war.


The weekly study guides, which include all five devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.