“Go On Acquiring Power in the Lord”
“Go on acquiring power in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength.”—EPHESIANS 6:10.
1. (a) What extraordinary combat took place some 3,000 years ago? (b) Why did David prove victorious?
SOME 3,000 years ago, two combatants faced each other between two opposing armies on the field of battle. The younger one was a shepherd boy named David. Before him stood Goliath, a man of unusual strength and stature. His coat of mail weighed about 125 pounds [57 kg], and he carried a massive spear and a large sword. David wore no armor at all, and his only weapon was a sling. The Philistine giant Goliath felt insulted that his Israelite challenger was just a boy. (1 Samuel 17:42-44) To the onlookers on both sides, the outcome must have seemed a foregone conclusion. But the mighty do not always win the battle. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) David proved victorious because he fought in Jehovah’s strength. “To Jehovah belongs the battle,” he said. The Bible record notes that “David, with a sling and a stone, proved stronger than the Philistine.”—1 Samuel 17:47, 50.
2. In what sort of fight do Christians engage?
2 Christians do not engage in physical warfare. Although they are peaceable with all men, they do fight a spiritual battle against very powerful opponents. (Romans 12:18) In the final chapter of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul described a fight in which every Christian is involved. He wrote: “We have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.”—Ephesians 6:12.
3. According to Ephesians 6:10, what do we need in order to guarantee our success?
3 Those “wicked spirit forces” are Satan and the demons, who desire to destroy our relationship with Jehovah God. Since they are much stronger than we are, we find ourselves in a situation similar to that of David, and we cannot succeed unless we depend on God for strength. Indeed, Paul urges us to “go on acquiring power in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength.” (Ephesians 6:10) After giving that counsel, the apostle describes the spiritual provisions and the Christian qualities that enable us to come off victorious.—Ephesians 6:11-17.
4. What two main points will we consider in this article?
4 Let us now analyze what the Scriptures say about the strengths and tactics of our enemy. Then we will consider the defensive strategy we must employ in order to protect ourselves. If we follow Jehovah’s instructions, we can be confident that our enemies will not prevail against us.
A Wrestling Against Wicked Spirit Forces
5. How does the use of the term “wrestling” at Ephesians 6:12 enable us to perceive Satan’s strategy?
5 Paul explains that we “have a wrestling . . . against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” The principal wicked spirit is, of course, Satan the Devil, “the ruler of the demons.” (Matthew 12:24-26) The Bible portrays our fight as “a wrestling,” or a hand-to-hand struggle. In the wrestling matches of ancient Greece, each participant tried to unbalance his opponent in order to throw him to the ground. Likewise, the Devil wants us to lose our spiritual balance. How can he make us do this?
6. Show from the Scriptures how the Devil can use different tactics in order to undermine our faith.
6 The Devil may act like a serpent, a roaring lion, or even an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:3, 14; 1 Peter 5:8) He can use human agents to persecute or discourage us. (Revelation 2:10) Since Satan has the whole world at his disposal, he can exploit its desires and attractions in order to ensnare us. (2 Timothy 2:26; 1 John 2:16; 5:19) He can employ worldly or apostate thinking to mislead us, just as he deceived Eve.—1 Timothy 2:14.
7. What limitations do the demons have, and what advantages do we enjoy?
7 Although the weapons and the power of Satan and his demons may seem overwhelming, they have their limitations. These wicked spirits cannot force us to do evil things that displease our heavenly Father. We are free moral agents, and we have control over our thoughts and actions. Moreover, we do not fight alone. What was true in the time of Elisha is true in our day: “There are more who are with us than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16) The Bible assures us that if we subject ourselves to God and oppose the Devil, he will flee from us.—James 4:7.
Aware of Satan’s Designs
8, 9. What trials did Satan bring upon Job to break his integrity, and what spiritual dangers do we face today?
8 We are not ignorant of Satan’s designs because the Scriptures reveal his basic tactics. (2 Corinthians 2:11) Against the righteous man Job, the Devil used severe economic problems, the death of loved ones, family opposition, physical suffering, and unfounded criticism from false friends. Job became depressed and felt that God had abandoned him. (Job 10:1, 2) Although Satan may not directly cause these problems today, such hardships do affect many Christians, and the Devil can use them to his advantage.
9 Spiritual dangers have proliferated in this time of the end. We live in a world where material pursuits override spiritual goals. The media constantly portray illicit sex as a source of happiness rather than heartache. And the majority have become “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) This way of thinking can threaten our spiritual balance unless we “put up a hard fight for the faith.”—Jude 3.
10-12. (a) What was one warning Jesus gave in his illustration of the sower? (b) Illustrate how spiritual values can be strangled.
10 One of Satan’s most successful ploys is that of getting us absorbed in this world and its materialistic pursuits. In his illustration of the sower, Jesus warned that in some cases “the anxiety of this system of things and the deceptive power of riches choke the word [of the Kingdom].” (Matthew 13:18, 22) The Greek word here rendered “choke” means “strangle completely.”
11 In tropical forests, one may find the strangler fig. It grows slowly as it surrounds the trunk of a host tree. Little by little, the vine envelops its host with roots that get stronger and stronger. The strangler fig’s multiple roots eventually absorb most of the nutrients in the soil at the base of the tree, while its canopy deprives its host of light. Finally, the host dies.
12 In a similar way, the anxieties of this system and the quest for riches and a comfortable life-style can gradually absorb more and more of our time and energy. With our attention diverted to the things of the world, we might easily neglect personal Bible study and make it a custom to miss Christian meetings, thus being cut off from spiritual nourishment. Materialistic goals now replace spiritual pursuits, and we finally become easy prey for Satan.
We Need to Stand Firm
13, 14. What stand do we need to take when opposed by Satan?
13 Paul urged fellow believers to “stand firm against the machinations of the Devil.” (Ephesians 6:11) Of course, we cannot vanquish the Devil and his demons. God has assigned that task to Jesus Christ. (Revelation 20:1, 2) Until Satan is removed, however, we have to “stand firm” so that his attacks do not overwhelm us.
14 The apostle Peter also emphasized the need to stand firm against Satan. “Keep your senses, be watchful,” wrote Peter. “Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone. But take your stand against him, solid in the faith, knowing that the same things in the way of sufferings are being accomplished in the entire association of your brothers in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8, 9) Actually, the support of our spiritual brothers and sisters is crucial to our standing firm when the Devil attacks like a roaring lion.
15, 16. Give a Scriptural example to show how the support of fellow believers can help us to stand firm.
15 When a nearby lion roars on the African savanna, antelope may react by running away at top speed until they are out of danger. Elephants, however, provide an example of mutual support. The book Elephants—Gentle Giants of Africa and Asia explains: “A means of defense that the typical herd of elephants commonly employs is to form a circle of their bodies, with the adults facing outward against the threat and the young animals protected inside the ring.” Faced with such a manifestation of strength and support, lions rarely attack even young elephants.
16 When threatened by Satan and his demons, we similarly need to stay together, shoulder to shoulder with our brothers who are solid in the faith. Paul acknowledged that certain fellow Christians proved to be “a strengthening aid” to him during his imprisonment in Rome. (Colossians 4:10, 11) The Greek word translated “strengthening aid” appears only once in the Christian Greek Scriptures. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, “a verbal form of the word signifies medicines which allay irritation.” Like soothing ointment, the support of mature worshipers of Jehovah can alleviate the pain caused by emotional or physical suffering.
17. What can help us to be faithful to God?
17 Encouragement from fellow Christians today can strengthen our resolve to serve God faithfully. Especially are Christian elders eager to provide spiritual help. (James 5:13-15) Aids to faithfulness include regular Bible study and presence at Christian meetings, assemblies, and conventions. Our own close relationship with God helps us to remain faithful to him. Indeed, whether we are eating, drinking, or doing anything else, we should want to do all things for God’s glory. (1 Corinthians 10:31) Naturally, prayerful reliance on Jehovah is essential in order to continue in a course that pleases him.—Psalm 37:5.
18. Why should we not give up even if distressing circumstances sap our strength?
18 Sometimes Satan’s attacks come when we do not feel spiritually strong. A lion pounces upon a weakened animal. Family problems, economic hardship, or illness can sap our spiritual strength. But let us not give up in doing what is pleasing to God, for Paul said: “When I am weak, then I am powerful.” (2 Corinthians 12:10; Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13) What did he mean? He meant that the power of God can make up for our human weaknesses, provided we turn to Jehovah for strength. David’s victory over Goliath shows that God can and does strengthen his people. Present-day Witnesses of Jehovah can testify that in times of extreme crisis, they have felt the strengthening hand of God.—Daniel 10:19.
19. Give an example to show how Jehovah can strengthen his servants.
19 Regarding the support that God had given them, one married couple wrote: “Over the years, we have served Jehovah as husband and wife and have enjoyed many blessings and have come to know many wonderful people. We have also been trained and strengthened by Jehovah to endure hardships successfully. Like Job, we did not always understand why things happened as they did, but we did know that Jehovah was always there to help us.”
20. What Scriptural proof shows that Jehovah always supports his people?
20 Jehovah’s hand is not too short to support and strengthen his faithful people. (Isaiah 59:1) The psalmist David sang: “Jehovah is giving support to all who are falling, and is raising up all who are bowed down.” (Psalm 145:14) Indeed, our heavenly Father “daily carries the load for us” and supplies what we really need.—Psalm 68:19.
We Need “the Complete Suit of Armor From God”
21. How did Paul emphasize the need for spiritual armor?
21 We have considered some of Satan’s methods and have seen the need to stand firm in the face of his attacks. Now we must consider another vital provision for making a successful defense of our faith. Twice in his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul mentioned an essential factor in standing firm against Satan’s machinations and succeeding in our wrestling against wicked spirit forces. Paul wrote: “Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil . . . Take up the complete suit of armor from God, that you may be able to resist in the wicked day and, after you have done all things thoroughly, to stand firm.”—Ephesians 6:11, 13.
22, 23. (a) What does our spiritual armor include? (b) What will we consider in the following article?
22 Yes, we need to wear “the complete suit of armor from God.” When Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians, he was guarded by a Roman soldier, who may at times have worn a complete suit of armor. However, it was by divine inspiration that the apostle was moved to discuss the spiritual armor vitally needed by every servant of Jehovah.
23 This God-given armor includes qualities that a Christian must have as well as spiritual provisions made by Jehovah. In the following article, we will examine each piece of spiritual armor. This will enable us to determine to what extent we are equipped for our spiritual warfare. At the same time, we will see how the wonderful example of Jesus Christ helps us to succeed in resisting Satan the Devil.
How Would You Answer?
• What fight do all Christians have?
• Describe some of Satan’s tactics.
• How can the support of fellow believers strengthen us?
• On whose strength must we depend, and why?
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Christians ‘have a wrestling against wicked spirit forces’
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Anxieties of this system can choke the word of the Kingdom
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Fellow Christians can be “a strengthening aid”
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Do you pray to God for strength?