We are fast approaching the end of 2018 which means we will soon be entering the holiday season. They call it the silly season, as often it’s a time where we lose the ‘God-plot' for our lives. It’s a time where we often over spend and over eat. It’s a time where we can let our disciplines slide (spiritual and natural), and a time where we let our guards down. Which means it’s a strategic time for the enemy to launch his attack on God’s children. Which is why we need to remain on guard!
In days of old, “en garde “(French for on guard), was used to warn a fencer to assume the position and prepare for an eventual attack. It was a warning to take their position and be ready to ward off any potential attacks. It was a call to be alert and ready to respond to their advance.
It’s a call that I hear the Father saying to His Church right now, “En Garde Church and hold your position”. The Father is encouraging us to get into position, prepare for attack, stay in position, hold our position and take ground from our enemy who seeks to rob, kill and destroy. Our enemy is very real, and he never goes on holiday or gives us a time out. He isn’t loving, kind, merciful or considerate. He doesn’t care if we are tired, weary and in desperate need of a holiday. He is watching and waiting for us to be off guard, so he can launch his attack against us.
Scripture gives us a necessary strategy to thwart the enemy’s attacks: Ephesians 6:10-13 tells us to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might”. We are to “put on the whole armour of God so that we can stand against the schemes of the devil.” These components for warfare against our enemy are essential for every believer if we are to stand and win.
Firstly, Paul is telling us to “be strong in the Lord.” My dad was a career soldier from the age of sixteen years old. He arrived at training camp a young man without skill and left a fully trained soldier. Before he was sent to war, and before he could use the weaponry that was available to him as a fighting soldier, he had to first go through basic training. In basic training he was taught first and foremost obedience to his commander’s instructions. He was then taken through a fitness course that made him mentally and physically strong as a person. All this was in preparation to be a fully trained soldier. They didn’t just give him a gun and send him out; they trained him first and equipped him with everything he would need for war.
As Christians we aren’t called to be strong in ourselves, but rather to “be strong in the Lord.” You were never meant to fight the enemy alone. Rather we are to get to know our commander in chief – Jesus – intimately; for us to get to know His voice so we can hear His instructions. We are called to press in to Him, press on in Him and press through with Him. We go to war against our enemy strengthened and equipped by the Lord. It’s His strength that so powerfully works in us. Which means God is constantly discipling us so that we become more like Jesus. He is also our source of power, strength and courage. Being strong in the Lord works in tandem with “in the strength of His might.” Jesus himself is our source of power, courage and strength. It is Jesus, who empowers us to stand, fight and to win. So, plug into Him! Stay plugged into Him!
The scripture continues in verse 11 with an instruction to “put on the whole armour of God” And this truth is reinforced in verse 13 where it says, “Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Not only are we as Christians trained for war but we are equipped with the necessary armoury. It’s this armour that enables us to withstand attacks and equips us in spiritual warfare. And when an attack comes, its for us to know that we have the full backing of Heaven behind us and spiritual weapons available to us; and that no attack, no scheme of the enemy will prosper or succeed. But we need to stand in the Lord’s strength and power. I receive the Lord’s strength, might and power as I train with Him.
Verse 12 follows with, “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” Which gives us a very clear picture of a very real enemy. We get an understanding that every Christian will face enemy attack at different times in their lives. We aren’t to fear those times, nor to fear the devil. He is a fallen angel (Luke 10:18) with limited power (Luke 10:19). The devil is destined for “the lake of sulphur and fire” (Rev 20:10). But Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 5:8 to, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” This verse is a reminder that though invisible, this enemy can be recognised, and we are to remember that we have been thoroughly equipped to overcome him and his plans. People are never our enemy; the devil and his fallen angels are. Stay alert, aware and be “en garde’’ at all times. Protect relationships in your families and in this church family as the enemy will at this time attempt to bring offense, anger, unmet expectation, hurt, unforgiveness and division. Fight for your relationships. Protect them with everything you have. Do not let him in. Be on guard, don’t give any ground away and don’t let him in. En garde church! En garde!