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As part of our study last night, we talked briefly about the all-too-easy-to-ignore spiritual dimension. We noted Peter's description of the devil, how he "prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). We noted how often John refers to the "evil one" (that is, the devil) (1 John 2:13-14; 3:12; 5:18-19). There is no mistaking the fact that the biblical writers thought of Satan as a real, personal, active being.

However, we must be careful not to restrict the evil side of the spiritual dimension just to Satan himself. As Paul wrote, "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" (Ephesians 6:12). The devil is not alone in his fight against us. We face an insanely difficult task: take the fight to the enemy while in enemy territory. As John wrote, "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one" (1 John 5:19).

How, then, can we persevere? The answer is simple, yet profound. We persevere not by our power, but by His. We persevere because He protects us. That is what Jesus requested in John 17:11: "Holy Father, keep them in your name." As we discussed last night, "in your name" is a fancy, Semitic way to refer to the person (and, especially in this case, the power) of God (cf. Psalm 20:1; 44:5-8; 54:1; 124:8; 18:10). Father, keep them by your power. As Peter wrote, we "by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:5). Paul commands, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might" (Ephesians 6:10, emphasis mine). It is God's power, not ours.

How does God do this? We would not dare to presume to know all the ways. At least one way, however, is through His armor. That is, after all, the motivation behind Paul's proclaiming the identity of our foes in Ephesians 6:12. He identifies them, then builds off of that in the very next verse: "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (emphasis mine). He then lists the renowned "armor of God." Notice: it is God's armor, not ours. The spiritual armor that we are to take up does not belong to us, but to God.

That is why we can persevere. Because we are protected by the Almighty Himself. We have hope in this fight because we are not alone: "We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him" (1 John 5:18). We are protected by Jesus Himself.

I leave you with words of encouragement from Paul in his letter to the Romans: "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (16:20). Take up God's armor, soldier! The battle is not over until the trumpet rings.