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SEPTEMBER 18, 2016 BULLETIN ARTICLE

"BE STRONG IN THE LORD"

           "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might" (Eph. 6:10).  "Finally" we have reached the bottom line, as businessmen are so fond of saying.  We have reached the point of decision.  Now it is time to take a stand.  All doctrine, all life, all that is affirmed in Christ come to the testing point.  It must be that way.  Faith and discipleship are not academic concerns, but confrontations.  Confrontations with the malignant evil that blights the lives of countless men and women.  A stand must be made.  The struggle is on.

             Paul does not ask that we merely "be strong,"but "be strong in the Lord."  Too many people try to be strong on their own.  Often you hear well-meaning individuals say to someone who is depressed: "Buck up, be strong!"  But there is a definite limit to how strong any person can be on his or her own.  It is good stoic doctrine to try to lift yourself by your own spiritual bootstraps, but is not apostolic doctrine.  This strength we need is not merely for ourselves.  The struggle is not merely for the sake of a struggle.  There is a spirit of stoicism in some people that seeks self-contained nobility through suffering.  The heroes of many Hemingway stories, for example, go out of their way to find wars to fight and bloody encounters with bulls and fish.

             Exactly what is meant to be strong in the Lord?  Being strengthened in the Lord is a continuing process because the verb "be strong" is present tense (Eph. 6:10).  The Lord's power sustains us in our struggle, but we still must "put on the whole armor of God" (Eph. 6:11).  We make a conscious decision to use the protection God makes available.  God's whole armor is more like an armory.  The word Paul uses for armor (panoplia, panoplia) means the weapons and armor of a soldier or Hoplite__ a heavily-armed soldier.  We have a virtual arsenal at our disposal!   God does not skimp on the equipment.  Without all God's armor, we are defenseless against the devil's clever tactics.  Without God's arsenal, we are powerless to mount an offensive for righteousness.

         This kind of struggle cannot be won on our own.  We must put on the whole armor of God, not just the comfortable parts.  Paul says the powers of evil are much stronger than we could imagine.  We may think we are battling only human ideas and human stubbornness, but there are dark forces opposed to God and His people.  These powerful forces will easily conquer us unless we have invincible armor at our disposal.  If we will but use it!    We will lose the battle and eventually the war if we are caught out on our own with only our own resources.  An army cannot win without proper equipment.  Even the gallant South under General Robert E. Lee was ultimately powerless against the superior resources of the North.  Fortunately, God has supplied us with ample equipment to win a great victory.  Let's not find ourselves guilty of not using the weapon which God has given us to do battle with.  Let our only weapon here at the South Beloit Church of Christ be the Word of God and His word only.  May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ continue to bless you and your family with godly love and faith? 

 

  
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