Monday, June 3, 2024

Trials of the Race (Ephesians 6:10-20)

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:1).

Running a race is hard, tiring and often painful. You have to overcome physical weaknesses, mental handicaps, and emotional ups and downs, in order to finish the race. You must be aware of the environmental conditions of the race, the rolling hills, the heat, the cold, the rain, the wind, the potholes, the branches that have fallen across your path. To be a successful runner, you must be prepared ahead of time. But there’s even more to a race than the condition of your body, your mind, your emotions and the environment, there’s the other runners and the spectators along the way. Some might try to nudge you off the path, hurl insults at you as you struggle through the rough terrain; some might offer you water bottles, tempting you to stop running.

The comparison to the Christian life is undeniable. While running to attain the prize, we must take into consideration all those things that stand against us, those things that will hinder us as we push forward. For the next week and a half our studies will focus on the Christian character traits necessary to run the race. There are three foes in our spiritual battle: the world, the flesh, the devil. Like the runner who must discipline his mind and body, the Christian must discipline himself, denying the desires of his flesh, and crucifying remaining sin that makes him susceptible to various sins. We must take indwelling sin seriously, recognize its power (though defeated, it can still cause a lot of trouble), and rely on the strength of Christ to put it to death.

Like the runner who must be aware of the various environmental factors during the race, the Christian must be ever wary of the temptations of the world: the seduction of entertainment, the distraction of work, the worries of daily responsibilities in the home. Each of these can hinder us in our spiritual race, and we must be careful not to allow them to entangle us. And lastly, like the runner who must watch out for the devious traps of other runners and spectators, the Christian must beware of the devices of Satan. He is a roaring lion, seeking to devour those who do not keep up a guard against him. Know your weaknesses so you do not give him a foothold to tempt you and lead you away into sin.

According to today’s passage, how do you overcome Satan’s wiles? Read Colossians 3. What does this passage say about putting remaining sin to death? Read 1 John 2:15–17. What does this passage say about the Christian’s relationship to the world?