Jesus has won the decisive battle in the conflict against Satan. But the devil remains an enemy of our souls. In this brief clip, Sinclair Ferguson explains that Christians live in enemy-occupied territory and “wrestle . . . against the spiritual forces of evil” (Eph. 6:12). Learn more in his new teaching series, The Basics of the Christian Life, available now from the Ligonier store.
I want us to think together just a little now about what it means to live the Christian life within the context of the fact that the Bible tells us we have an enemy of our souls, and he seeks to destroy us. Actually, that is built into Jesus’ manifesto, isn’t it? You remember Matthew 16:18 that we looked at a number of studies ago, where Jesus says, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not be able to prevail against it.” And the story of Jesus’ ministry is a story of Satan seeking to destroy His ministry. The story of the Christian church is the story of Jesus building His new community on enemy-occupied territory. So right there, in Jesus’ manifesto, is counsel given to the church that in every place, at every stage when the church of Jesus Christ is built, when men and women and boys and girls are called to faith in Jesus Christ, they are called into living in enemy-occupied territory. They have been delivered from that enemy by the work of Jesus Christ. But that enemy will not leave them. And therefore, one of the most important things for us to learn as Christians, as I say, is that we are people who have an enemy.
And perhaps the best place to go in the New Testament, at least to capture much of what the Bible says about living the Christian life within this context, is of course Ephesians chapter 6 and verses 10 through 20, where Paul has really already said in Ephesians that Jesus Christ has won the decisive battle in the conflict against Satan. But now, we are engaged in mopping up operations. And just as people who are veterans of the military, especially the Second World War, remember, that there was a decisive moment in that war when there was no doubt whatsoever what the result of the war would be. But then there was a period after that event, that event that’s sometimes called D-Day when many died, many were wounded even although the decisive battle had been fought.
And in a way, it’s the same in the Christian life. Jesus has won the victory in our lives. “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” But that does not mean that the battle gets any easier or that the enemy goes soft on us, and this is why Paul at the end of his great letter to the Ephesians speaks to these Christians about the fact that they’re not only living in a world where horizontally they’re under pressure, as they were in Ephesus, but that there is a supernatural enemy. And they need to understand that at the end of the day they’re not wrestling as he says just with “flesh and blood,” but with principalities and powers in the heavenly places.