We often remember great battles by where they were fought: Gettysburg, Helm’s Deep, Pearl Harbor. But the battles were not ultimately about those places; they were about a greater desire, a deeper principle. The same is true about spiritual warfare. Our hearts are where spiritual battles are fought, but the aim of the devil’s warring isn’t ultimately about us. What is he after? God’s glory. It’s always been this way (Ezekiel 28).
So why are we, humans who are flesh and blood, engaged in conflicts in the spiritual realm? Because, as the Westminster Catechism says, we exist to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and the devil wants more than anything to render us irrelevant when it comes to living this sort of life.
How does Satan go about this? There is an old Scottish proverb that says, “The devil’s boots don’t creak.” Our enemy is subtle because we don’t fight what we don’t notice. In today’s passage from Ephesians, Paul wants us to notice that we are in a fight. The devil’s tactic isn’t to block the glory we want to give to God as much as it’s to take away our desire to give Him glory in the first place. He does this by turning our focus not from God onto himself, but from God onto ourselves.
What does it look like to live as men consumed with our own glory? It can look like an obsession with our appearance. It can look like pettiness; self-love fosters contempt for others. It can look like a critical spirit stuck in a life-sucking spiral of comparison. It can look like a drive to manipulate because we’re afraid of anything we can’t control. What would you add to this list?
What can we do about this? Today’s text tells us God has given us everything we need for everything He has called us to do and be. God has equipped us with both spiritual armor and access to His presence. We are called to “put on the full armor of God so that [we] can stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). We simply cannot fight this battle without biblical truth and prayer, but the good news of the gospel is that we have been given access to God’s Word and His throne of grace, before which even the most weary and defeated disciple can fall and find help.
So may God, by the power of His Holy Spirit, expose the lies we believe and the accusations that cause our hearts to fail. May He show us the devil’s schemes at work in our lives. May we remember that though these spiritual battles are fought in our hearts, we are not Satan’s ultimate prize—God’s glory is.
God’s Word tells us who we are when our faith is in Christ. That’s what Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is all about. We are redeemed by the blood of Jesus. We are heirs of God’s kingdom. We are agents of redemption in this world. He is at work in us and through us. So as we fight, may we remember that He has given us both armor and access to His presence, and may God be glorified in and through our lives.
Written by Russ Ramsey