Armies tend to disciplined: when the war is over and the order is given for fighting to stop, then the guns fall silent. Yet that is not the case in the conflict with the forces of evil. The victory was won in Christ's death and resurrection a long time ago ... but its as if the message hasn't got through to the other side! The enemy goes on attacking, prolonging the struggle, even causing casualties.
Paul uses a military image and calls us to be equipped for this ongoing fight. Note an emphasised call to stand - this is not about riding it out in a bunker, but getting up out of the trenches to make the victory of Christ known. That will mean standing up in the firing line.
These verses are at the end of the second half of the letter, i.e. the culmination of our response to who God is (described in ch 1 - 3). The pinnacle of our response is to stand in the power of God (v10). This is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (back in 1:19), the power that won the victory!
The power that raised Jesus and asserted him as Lord is the power that saved you, the power that enables God to reveal through you to others, the power that enables you to live in the light, and reflect that light into dark places. For all the armour Paul describes is 'God-equipment', not our human cleverness or technique. It is God's truth, being set right by God, good news of God, God's ability to protect, God who ultimately saves, God's word put into action by His Spirit.
It is easy to be distracted by what is kicking off around us ... so the simple thing to remember is not to get fixated by those things, but instead look up to God. Look to Jesus, get close to Him, allow His light to shine on you and reflect off you ... hence our discipleship habit of 'ever closer to Jesus'.
But the big point is v12: our struggle is not with flesh and blood, but with powers and spiritual forces (that 'heavenly realms' phrase once again!). Out task is to stand, and make known the victory of Christ by our testimony to the risen Jesus. On an individual level (or even a church level) we have nothing against individuals of even the most hideous forces in the world today (and there are clear examples ...). No! It is the dark forces, the ideologies that lead to atrocity that we fight against. To the actual people on the ground we offer hope and point to a better way in Jesus. By doing this we make our stand and address the powers.
So for each of us, the key question is:
[OUT] Where are you called to make known the good news?
Challenge: Ask God for the armour … that you may proclaim fearlessly!
Paul asked for prayer to 'fearlessly make known' (v19 - 20). Will we follow his example, work out who we are supposed to be making Christ known to, and allow the Spirit to equip us for the struggle that will inevitably follow?