Daily Devotion

Standing Firm

Keep your spiritual armor on at all times.

Every battle has an offensive and defensive strategy. Paul outlines the Christian’s offensive strategy in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

Our defensive strategy is to rely on Christ’s strength and put on our spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-11). Paul was probably chained to a Roman soldier when he wrote to the Ephesians, so he had a ready illustration of spiritual armament at hand. But unlike Roman soldiers, who removed their armor when off duty, Christians must remain fully protected at all times. That thought is captured in the Greek word translated “put on” in Ephesians 6:11, which carries the idea of permanence—putting it on once and for all.

“Stand firm” in verse 11 translates a military term that speaks of holding your ground while under attack. When properly employed, your spiritual armor serves as a lifelong companion that enables you to fight against the forces of evil and do so without retreat. Just as Jesus personally instructed the churches in Thyatira and Philadelphia to hold fast until He returns (Rev. 2:25; 3:11), so He also instructs us to stand our ground without wavering.

Similar New Testament exhortations call us to hold fast to biblical truth (1 Cor. 15:2), to that which is good (1 Thess. 5:21), to our confidence in Christ (Heb. 4:6), and to our confession of faith (Heb. 4:14). Those are marks of a strong and stable believer against whom the schemes of Satan have little effect.

Suggestions for Prayer

Is there an area of your Christian life in which you’re not standing as firm as you should—perhaps prayer, Bible study, or personal ministry? If so, confess it to the Lord and begin to strengthen that area today. Don’t give Satan a weakness to attack.

For Further Study

Memorize 1 John 4:4 as a reminder of God’s power in your life.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Daily Devotion

Overcoming Satanic Opposition

Spiritual warfare can be intense, but God’s grace enables you to prevail against Satan’s attacks.

Through the ages Satan has accused, besieged, and battered believers in an effort to prevent them from living to the glory of God. He attempts to snatch the gospel message from a person’s heart even before salvation occurs (Matt. 13:19). He bombards believers with false doctrine, trying to confuse and distract them from biblical truth (Eph. 4:14).

Martin Luther reported that his conflict with Satan became so intense that at one point it was as if he could see him. In anger over Satan’s incessant attacks, Luther picked up his inkwell and threw it at him. It hit the wall with a resounding crash, splattering ink throughout the room. The stains remained for many years, reminding all who saw them of how vivid spiritual conflict can be.

You may not have experienced anything like the intensity of Martin Luther’s conflict, but spiritual warfare is just as real for you as it was for him. You are in mortal combat with Satan and his evil forces. That’s why Paul said, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against . . . spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

“Struggle” in that verse speaks of life-and-death, hand-to-hand combat—the kind Jesus Himself experienced while on earth. He met opposition and persecution at every turn. The same was true of Paul and the other apostles as they dealt with Jewish religionists, heathens, sorcerers, and demon-possessed people who tried in vain to thwart their missionary efforts.

Satan’s onslaughts may seem overwhelming at times, but don’t be discouraged. See them for what they are: a defeated foe’s last-ditch efforts to inflict damage on the conquering army. The Lord will strengthen and protect you, just as He has protected all believers before you.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for being your protector and the source of spiritual victory.

For Further Study

Read Acts 4:1-22.

• What kind of opposition did Peter and John face?

• How did they respond to the Jewish Council’s order not to preach the gospel?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Daily Devotion

The Balanced Approach To Spiritual Victory

Spiritual victory is not passive; it involves the discipline of daily obedience to Christ and His Word.

When I was a child, my father and I watched a boxing match on television. After going through the ritual of punching the air, kicking his feet, and putting rosin on his shoes, one of the fighters knelt in the corner and crossed himself. I asked my dad if that helped. He said, “It does if he can punch. If he can’t punch, it doesn’t help at all.”

That illustrates a point we touched on yesterday and will explore further today: God’s part and our part in spiritual warfare. Many Christians believe that spiritual victory comes simply by surrendering more completely to God. They quote verses like 2 Chronicles 20:15 to support their view: “The battle is not yours but God’s.” “Stop struggling and striving,” they say. “Instead, yield and completely surrender yourself to God. He alone does the fighting and gives the victory.”

Such people are often called “Quietists” because they view the Christian’s role in spiritual warfare as passive or quiet. Their anthem is “Let go and let God.”

But Scripture gives a very different view of the believer’s role. It pictures the Christian life as a war, a race, and a fight. We depend on God’s energy, power, and strength, but are by no means passive. We’re commanded to apply ourselves to good deeds, resist the devil, bring our bodies under subjection, walk in wisdom, press toward the prize, cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and perfect holiness in the fear of God. Those are calls to fervent action.

In Ephesians 6:10-11 Paul says, “Be strong in the . . . strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God.” That’s the balance. God supplies the resources; we supply the effort.

Suggestions for Prayer

• Thank God for the strength He gives for spiritual victory.

• Ask for His wisdom in living a balanced Christian life.

For Further Study

Read 2 Peter 1:3-7.

• What does God supply for Christian living?

• What must you as a believer supply?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Daily Devotion

Your Resources In Christ

In Christ you have every resource necessary for spiritual victory.

Satan opposes God and wants to prevent believers from glorifying Him. One way he does that is by convincing them that he is either so formidable they could never defeat him, or so weak they can fight him on their own strength.

Second Corinthians 10:4 says, “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” Human resources alone can never defeat a spiritual enemy, but divine resources can. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the resources you have in Christ that insure spiritual victory.

In Ephesians 1:3 Paul says you have received all the blessings of heaven through Christ. That includes being forgiven and redeemed (vv. 6-7), and receiving knowledge, understanding, and wisdom (vv. 17-18). Within you resides the Holy Spirit (v. 13), who strengthens you and accomplishes more than you can ask or think (3:16, 20).

Believers represent the awesome power of God in this world—the same power that raised Christ from the dead, seated Him at the right hand of the Father, and subjected all things under His feet (Eph. 1:19-22). He is the Sovereign Lord against whom no one can successfully stand. That’s why Paul exhorted us to “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10, emphasis added). We find this strength by putting on the armor He has supplied: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Word, and prayer. Then, no matter what direction the enemy approaches from, or how subtle his attacks may be, we’ll be able to stand firm.

Satan’s attacks are complex and subtle. His ways of working in this world are cunning and deceitful. Since it’s impossible to analyze and anticipate his every offense, focus on strengthening your defenses by understanding your spiritual resources and using them each day.

Suggestions for Prayer

• Ask God to increase your understanding of spiritual warfare.

• Seek wisdom in applying your resources in the most effective ways.

• When you face spiritual battles, confide in a Christian friend who will pray with you and encourage you.

For Further Study

According to Matthew 4:1-11, how did Jesus deal with Satan’s attacks?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Daily Devotion

Preparing For Battle

Adequate preparation is the key to spiritual victory.

The Gulf War introduced some highly sophisticated weapons that had never been proven under live battle conditions. Most of the troops hadn’t experienced war either. Yet troops and machinery combined in a display of military conquest unparalleled in history.

Thorough preparation proved to be an indispensible element in that overwhelming victory. That included developing and testing high-tech weaponry, recruiting and training troops, and engaging in mock battles. Generals know that if they dare enter a battlefield ill-prepared, they’re destined for defeat. Consequently, they do everything possible to prepare their troops for victory.

Similarly, your success in spiritual warfare is directly proportional to your preparedness. You must “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10), and also put on your armor (v. 11). God is your strength and source of victory, but you must trust Him and appropriate your spiritual resources. As Oliver Cromwell said, “Trust in God and keep your powder dry.”

If you delay preparation until the battle is upon you, then it’s too late. If your armor isn’t in place, you’re vulnerable to the arrows of the enemy. If you neglect prayer, worship, Bible study, accountability, and the other disciplines of faith, you can’t expect to prevail when spiritual skirmishes arise.

No soldier who values his own life would step onto a battlefield unprepared. How much more should soldiers of Christ prepare themselves to fight against Satan’s forces? Be diligent. Christ guarantees ultimate victory, but you can lose individual battles if you’re unprepared. It’s even possible to lapse into periods of spiritual lethargy, indifference, impotency, and ineffectiveness, but that’s utterly inconsistent with your mandate to fight the good fight (1 Tim. 1:18).

Don’t be caught off guard! Keep your armor on and remain alert to the advances of the enemy.

Suggestions for Prayer

• Ask God to keep you alert to the reality of spiritual warfare and the need to be prepared at all times for battle.

• Thank Him for the times He protected you when your armor wasn’t as secure as it needed to be.

For Further Study

Memorize 2 Timothy 2:4 as a reminder to be spiritually prepared at all times.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.