Fighting Sin, Part II: Not on Our Own Strength

This is the second part in a series on fighting sin based on Ephesians 6:10-18a. See the first part in the series here.

Before Halloween night this year, I had never grilled anything on my own. Not even a piece of chicken on a George Foreman, nothing like that, nothing so awesome as a filet, nothing. Before Halloween night, I wasn’t even a grilling rookie, I wasn’t even drafted onto a grilling team.

But on Halloween night, I decided to go for it. I had bought some bratwurst a couple weeks before and had frozen them to grill at a later date when I had worked up the nerve. I finally got it and set out to grill.

But I had no idea how to turn on the grill. I mean, I figured I turned on the gas and turned some knobs. So I went outside and did what I thought I had to do. But the fire wasn’t turning on. I had to ask my roommate to help me turn on the fire.

It was a humbling reminder of how little I know about grilling and cooking in general. But by the end of the night, I had grilled some brats that were actually quite tasty. But I needed help to get to that place.

It’s the same way with sin in our life.

From the beginning of the Ephesians 6 passage, it’s clear. We are not to derive strength in the fight from anything we inherently are or anything we can muster. It’s all of God. You see that in verse 10: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” We are to find our motivation and energy for fighting sin in God’s power alone. That’s why in verse 11 and 13 the armor is “of God” and not “of man.”

And if you look into the pieces of the armor, none of the virtues Paul trumpets are man-made. I’ll get to what they are in the next few posts, but if you examine truth, righteousness, etc., none of that is man-developed, man-created. It’s all of God.

So if all of our strength and all of our weapons derive from God as the source, why do we trust anyone (namely ourselves) ahead of God? Why do we cling to our own man-made feeble armor in trying to fight sin? That’s why we fail by the way. In our pride, we think we have the strength and the knowledge to fight a fight we are sure to lose. But we don’t think we’ll lose. In our pride, we think we’re greater than our sin and can overcome it on our own.

At least that’s how I thought, and sometimes fall into that trap.

But we forget an important gospel truth: our sin is much more powerful than we are. If sin was weaker than us and we could defeat it on our own, we wouldn’t need the saving grace of Christ, we wouldn’t need the strength of the Lord in our fight to “withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (v. 13). Our standing firm, our strong position in the fight, our fortress, it’s built on the solid foundation and solid rock that is Jesus Christ.

And it must be: “For 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” (v. 12). Our battle is a spiritual one, so we must fight and defend with spiritual weapons, not puny earthly ones. For that will get us nowhere, and we will lose continually if we insist on always fighting the battle with our own two hands. The flesh is weak, Jesus said in the garden to Peter, James and John (Matthew 26:41).

If we do not keep watch over our flesh and clothe ourselves with strength from God, we will indeed fail. We are being attacked by “the schemes of the devil” (v. 11). It is imperative we cling to his greatest adversary, the One who has defeated him and will one day defeat him for eternity, for strength to fight the sin in our lives and pursue godliness.

Check back for Part 3 on the “belt of truth” in the armor of God.

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