Spiritual Warfare (2): Living in the Power of God

In the previous article in this series, we looked at the great conflict raging between light and darkness. We saw that, in order to be victorious in this spiritual warfare, it is essential for us to identify the enemy and to rely on power from above. If we, as believers, are going to live in the power of God, we must be aware of our own vulnerability and learn how to appropriate the mighty power of God available to us. In the book of Ephesians, Paul points out the greatness of God’s power and earnestly longs for Christians to live in the good of it. He says that he wants the believers to know, “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might” (Eph 1:19, ESV). It is “according to the riches” of God’s glory that he may “grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Eph 3:16, ESV). Because of this, Paul challenges God’s people, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Eph 6:10, ESV). Our strength for this spiritual battle is not in ourselves, but in our God.

Our Vulnerability

It is vital to our spiritual survival to understand and accept the truth that we are weak and vulnerable. If we attempt to operate in our own strength, we will fail, but if we acknowledge our weakness and depend on God’s strength, we will succeed. Throughout Scripture, God used people who were aware of their weaknesses and chose to depend on Him. Moses, David, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, are some examples. Each expressed in humble terms their weakness and inadequacy, but were used powerfully by God because they depended upon Him.

It is not easy to face our own weakness. We live in a society which values individuals who are strong and independent. In athletics, it’s the strong, capable players who are highly prized. In the business world, the successful are those who have powered their way up the corporate ladder. We don’t want to be thought of as weak or dependent, but the reality is, that in this spiritual warfare, that’s exactly what we are; there is no possible way of winning in our own strength. Victory will only be accomplished by admitting our weakness and leaning on God’s great strength. The apostle Paul could say, “when I am weak, then I am strong” because he was doing “all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (2Cor 12:10, Phil 4:13, KJV). He told the Corinthian believers, “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2Cor 3:4-5, ESV). God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2Cor 12:9, ESV). It is our weakness that will drive us to our knees, to the Word, and ultimately to our God.

The Availability of God’s Power

God’s unlimited power is fully available to all of His children. No believer can say that the command in Ephesians 6:10 is not for them: “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” The three words, strong, strength, and might, are similar in the English, but in the original text they are three different words. The first word (endunamoō) means to be empowered or enabled, to be made strong (Strong’s Concordance). It is from the root of this word that we get our English word dynamite. Wuest’s Word Studies says that it has the idea of being clothed with strength like putting on a garment. The second word (kratos) means vigor, power, dominion; that is, power that is manifested (Strong’sWuest). And the third word (ischus) means forcefulness, ability, might, or strength; it has the idea of sufficient and effective might that is inherent in Christ (Strong’sWuest). So by using these three words in Ephesians 6:10, God shows us that he has abundantly supplied all the strength we need to live victoriously.

Appropriating His Power

While the power is available, it is not automatic. If the strength is not sought after, searched for, seized, and securely appropriated, then we are open game for the enemy. So how do we appropriate God’s power?

I believe it can only be done by faith and through prayer. God calls us to put on his armor: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of readiness given by the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. By faith, we tighten God’s truth about us and allow his righteousness to act as a breastplate protecting our hearts. We slip our feet into the readiness of the gospel of peace, and as we trust in Him, the flaming arrows of the enemy will be deflected by our shield of faith. As we bring our thoughts under Christ’s control, we’ll experience the protection of the helmet of salvation. And as we spend time in God’s Word and allow it to transform us, we will be able to wield the sword of the Spirit effectively. Paul’s words in Romans 13 seem to indicate that the armor is Christ himself, “Let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light … put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:13-14, ESV). Putting on the armor of God, the armor of light, and our Lord Jesus Christ are all one and the same.

Once that armor is on, he calls us to pray at all times in the Spirit. This is crucial for spiritual victory. As we raise our hearts in prayer and spend time in his presence, we are changed little by little. His greatness shows us just how weak and vulnerable we really are and how much we need to be strong in His strength. We realize that we cannot do this on our own, and so we cling to Him and choose to wear His armor for protection. As we lean more on Him and less on ourselves, our faith-walk is strengthened. We see how utterly trustworthy He is and how very much He loves us and our hearts cannot help but overflow with love and gratitude for the Lord, our strength.