January 8, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV)
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion I admitted my own discomfort with the clear teaching of Ephesians 6:10-12. I don’t like the idea that our truest struggle in life is against invisible spiritual forces. And I don’t like the feeling that I am ignorant of things that are so important. Yet, I am committed to the truthfulness of Scripture, so I seek to understand the teaching in Ephesians on spiritual warfare and to live faithfully in light of this teaching.
If we’re going to take seriously the spiritual battle in which we find ourselves, we need to be grounded in solid, unchanging truth. We don’t want to be making things up as we go. When it comes to spiritual realities, one thing is sure: God is sovereign. Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of Lords. Whatever might oppose him is always and ultimately subordinate to him.
This is implied in Ephesians 6:10-20, but expressed openly in an earlier passage of Ephesians. At the end of chapter 1, we read that God “raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Ephesians 1:20-22).
You can see that the language of this passage is similar to what we find in Ephesians 6. Both texts affirm the existence of spiritual powers. But Ephesians 1 makes clear what Ephesians 6 implies—namely, that God is sovereign over everything. Moreover, God has exalted Christ to the place of authority over every cosmic power. Christ is the head over everything for the church. To use the language of Ephesians 6, Christ is head over “the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
So, when we come to Ephesians 6, we can handle the bad news about spiritual powers aligned against us because we know that God, our God, is infinitely stronger than any of these powers and fully sovereign over them. Though the spiritual battle of life is real, the warring sides are utterly unmatched. Christ is winning and will win because he is King of kings and Lord of Lords. Nothing in all creation can begin to compare to God in power or sovereignty.
Now, it’s true that God, for his inscrutable reasons, is allowing the battle to take place in our time of history. We face genuine spiritual opponents who have genuine power. But God is superior to these. Thus, we can have confidence that we will not be defeated if we are “strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (6:10). As we’ll see soon, if we put on God’s armor and fight in God’s way, we will prevail. We will share in God’s victory through Jesus Christ.
Something to Think About:
How do you envision the sovereignty of God?
How have you experienced God’s sovereignty in your life?
Something to Do:
Begin this day (or tomorrow, if you’re reading this devotion in the evening) by acknowledging in prayer that God is ultimately sovereign over everything. Ask him to rule over your life today and to be glorified through your work.
Gracious God, you are sovereign over the whole universe. You are King of kings and Lord of lords. Everything in creation exists under your authority and ultimately serves your purposes.
Because you are sovereign, I do not need to be afraid of the spiritual battle in which I live. I can trust in you, your wisdom, your power, your grace.
I ask you to be sovereign over my life, not just in principle, but in how I live each day. May I serve you in all I do, at work and at play, with friends and family, in church and in the community.
I look forward to the day when every knee in heaven and on earth will bow before you, proclaiming that you are Lord. In the meanwhile, may I live with you as my Lord each day. Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
The Kingdom of God is Near!
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.