“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11 (ESV)
I know what it feels like to have been hurt so deeply that living out the commands of Scripture to forgive seems too cruel to even consider.
How can I offer forgiveness like Colossians 3:13 commands when someone has wounded me to the point where I fear I’ll never feel normal again? And how can I be expected to be a woman of grace and compassion like Ephesians 4:32 asks of me when the pain seems never-ending and the one who hurt me acts like it’s no big deal?
These are questions pulsing not just with pain and loss but with a grief so deep it can feel completely maddening to think Scripture should apply in these circumstances.
And this is exactly when I must remember that Truth proclaimed and lived out is a fiercely accurate weapon against evil. Truth says I have an enemy … but it’s not the person whose choices have caused me great pain.
Yes, people do have a choice to sin against us or not. And certainly, when we are hurt, the person hurting us willingly played into the enemy’s plan. But it helps me to remember what Paul teaches in Ephesians 6:10-13 — that people aren’t my real enemy. The devil is real and on an all-out assault against all things good. He hates the word together. And he especially works with great intentionality against relationships. But we are told in Scripture that we can take a stand against the schemes of the enemy.
Ephesians 6:11 reminds us we need to, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”
The phrase “may be able” (which is translated “can” in the NIV) is dynasthai in the original Greek form, meaning “I am powerful — I have the power.” We may feel powerless when the enemy stirs up trouble among us, but we aren’t. The secret is to be aware of this. And it’s knowing where that power comes from.
When Paul commands us in Ephesians 6:10 to “be strong,” it can actually be interpreted in the original Greek in the passive voice. Paul is saying we should be, “made strong, or be strengthened.” There is tremendous freedom to be found in this subtle difference. God isn’t calling us to find a power within ourselves to overcome the battles we face. The reason we can "be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might" (Ephesians 6:10, ESV) is because the very same power of God that raised Christ from the dead through the Spirit lives in us. (Ephesians 1:19-20)
So, the power is not in question. But our awareness of it often rises and falls on our willingness to do what God’s Word says to do in times of conflict.
It’s often when I don’t want to live out God’s Word with another person that doing what God says is an epic defeat of the enemy. Hurt feelings don’t often want to cooperate with holy instructions. But there is nothing more powerful than a person living what God’s Word teaches.
Dear friend, the heartbreaks you carry are enormous. So, if no one else in this world has been kind enough to say this, I will. I’m so, so sorry for all that’s happened to you. But I’m praying you and I will both remember that true victory lies not in making anyone pay for how they have hurt us, but in our willingness to walk in obedience to all that Scripture asks of us.
Even when it doesn’t make sense to us … even when it feels painfully impossible … especially when it seems unfair … God’s Word is good, and it’s for our good. And He has not left us powerless to live it out today.
Father God, I’m so thankful You haven’t left me unprepared for the battles I face. I have Your Word to guide me, Your Spirit deep inside of me, and Your armor to protect me. Help me remember who my real enemy is. And give me the strength and the wisdom to live in obedience to You, no matter what my feelings might say. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (NIV)
If forgiveness feels impossible in the midst of your deep hurt, Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, Forgiving What You Can’t Forget, can help. Get your copy here.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND
When has living out God’s Word, even though it wasn’t initially what you wanted to do, proven to be a blessing in your life? Join the conversation in the comments.
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