The Glory of Christ and His Church—Strengthen Yourself in the Lord

Throughout God’s Word, Scripture exhorts us to be “strong in the Lord.” But is this a strength we create ourselves? How do we become strong in the Lord? I hope to answer these questions in today’s article. Know this: if God commands us to be strong in Him, He will empower us to do so!

Paul gives us principles to strengthen ourselves in the Lord (Eph. 6:10-12)

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” (Eph. 6:10 NKJV)

This phrase could be translated, “Strengthen yourself in the Lord.…”

In Ephesians 6, Paul transitions to the last part of his letter—he summarizes some key points. He tells them (and us today), to be strong in the Lord, to put on God’s armor (some attributes previously mentioned), and to “stand against the ‘scheming’ of the devil.”

I’ll discuss putting on the armor of God more next week, but let’s talk a little about some of the spiritual warfare we encounter as followers of Christ.

“Put on the whole armor of God … For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:11-12 NKJV)

In verse 12, he reminds us that our struggle is not with people, but with these defeated powers (Eph. 1:20-22). They can operate through human agents or entire populations of people, but ultimately our fight is against unseen spiritual powers that oppose God’s Kingdom and mission.

The term ‘wrestle’ is from the Greek ‘Pale’ and refers to a physical competition, where the victor forces the loser to the ground, placing his hand around the neck. Therefore, we are involved in spiritual struggles against demonic powers; their goal is to force us to the ground, gaining control over our lives. But Jesus is victor (Col. 2:15)! We fight from His victory and authority!

Understand that, though the enemy is defeated by Christ, he is still at play in our world. He “roams about seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8 NKJV).

He ultimately will be subdued at the second coming of Christ. Because Jesus has defeated him, followers of Christ have His authority to stand against the schemes of the enemy through prayer, reliance on God’s Word, and following the Holy Spirit’s leading. However, we must exercise this authority and not relinquish it to demonic powers.

The enemy has authority over your life when you agree with his lies. He wants to make you “unstable in your footing.” For example, inner wounds, unforgiveness, and habitual sin can create entry points for the enemy to have a foothold in your life.

Paul defines our struggle as being against non-physical entities; he calls them principalities, powers, rulers, and hosts.

Take terrorism, for example; many in the secular world see it as clash of cultures: the culture of Islam versus Western culture. No, it’s spiritual. The same could be said of Communism or Marxism. Communism is not merely another form of national government, but a demonically inspired system that oppresses humanity. Millions have died at the hands of Communist leaders throughout the centuries.

Ephesians defines these conflicts as spiritual—spiritual realms at war. The Greek word for ‘principality’ is Arche, literally meaning ‘origins’ or ‘beginning’. Kingdoms are called principalities because they were identified with a specific point where the power originated. The ruler of a principality was as a prince, or in the Greek an Archon. Paul wants the believer to understand that there are spiritual kingdoms, or principalities, opposed to God’s Kingdom. They are just as real as physical kingdoms, but they exist in spiritual realms.

For example, in Daniel 10, we read of Daniel receiving a vision from the Lord. He is trying to understand it. So, he begins to pray and fast for over three weeks when he has an amazing encounter with an angel.

The angel, brilliant in appearance and powerful in essence, explains to Daniel that he was sent to him from the first day he started praying to help him understand the vision. But the angel was hindered for those three weeks, fighting with a principality over Persia, the Prince of Persia. He explains to Daniel that he eventually prevailed when the angel Michael arrived to help him in the conflict.

This passage is perhaps the clearest in the Bible revealing the reality of principalities over regions and the spiritual warfare that occurs to oppress, harass, and attempt to destroy humanity and stop God’s Kingdom from advancing.

The second force Paul describes, ‘powers’, is from the Greek word Exousía, also translated as authority. The war is also against areas of power and authority. Demonic forces exercise authority over areas of choice.

This would include issues which plague the world and the Church, such as sexual sin, adultery, pornography, drug addiction, racial prejudice, violence, and more. In these areas, demonic forces exist; they exercise authority over these realms if you agree with them and participate in these behaviors!

Don’t fall prey to principalities and demonic powers that are warring over nations to deceive humanity on cultural and moral issues which are contrary to God’s Word and truth!

Be Strong in the Lord (Eph. 6:10)

It carries the sense of a command for the preparation of battle (see Joshua 1:6-7, 9; 1 Samuel 30:6; 2 Samuel 10:12; Psalm 27:14; Zechariah 10:12; Haggai 2:4). Paul wants the readers to know spiritual battle is to be expected, but be strong in the Lord, Christian!

Consider Joshua 1:9 NKJV: “…Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

“Be strong” is from the Hebrew ‘Chazaq’ (kah-zahk) and means to be ‘courageous, valiant, manly, strengthened, established, firm, fortified, obstinate, and mighty.’

“Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (1 Sam. 30:6 NKJV)

At a low point in David’s life, he strengthened (literally, “made himself strong”) in the Lord. How did he do this? Most likely by getting away with God in prayer, praise, and standing on what God had promised him. He probably recalled God’s prophetic promises to him and brought those to the Lord in prayer and stood in faith on them.

In Ephesians, God’s power and its importance for the believer is mentioned in both of Paul’s prayers. Ephesians 1:19-20 – the “exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe,” and Ephesians 3:14-21 – God’s love and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul prays that they would “be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16 NKJV). To ‘be strengthened with might’ in this verse is to literally “become mighty by His power.” How? By the Holy Spirit as we remain in God!

Joshua, David, and Paul learned how to, “Strengthen themselves in the Lord.” This is vital for us today. They were intentional in their relationship with God to walk in victory.

Seven Principles to “Strengthen Yourself in the Lord”

1.) Position. Understand your identity and position in Christ.

You have been united with Christ in his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension (Rom. 6:4-5; Eph. 2:6). Further, you are now a child of God, a citizen of heaven. Your identity and lineage are in God’s family now (Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 3:26-27).

“…Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Eph. 6:10 NKJV) Your strength is found in Christ, His power and might. You are in Christ, united with Him.

The word ‘power’ in this verse, and in Eph. 1:19 and Eph. 3:20, is from the Greek word ‘krátos’. The word refers to the power that comes from the manifested dominion of Christ. That power is not “out there somewhere,” but rather it is in the life of the born-again follower of Christ because of our union with Him.

The key to understanding this is in the phrase “in the Lord.” It is a Greek phrase that means this infusion of supernatural power can only be found in one place: in the Lord. The power is “located in” or “contained” in Jesus Christ.

The same “locative case” that describes God’s power located inside Jesus is used nine times in Ephesians 1. Paul states that we are ‘forever locked’ up in Christ.

Eph. 1:3-4, 6-7, 10 (twice), 11, and 13 (twice).  Paul says that we are “in Him”, “in Christ”, “in whom” or “in the beloved.”  All in the ‘locative case.’

Paul is saying we have been placed ‘inside Jesus’ and He has become our realm of existence and the place of our habitation. Just as you live at a certain physical address, you also have a spiritual address. You permanently reside inside the Son of God, secure in Him as a believer.

The reason God’s power is so accessible to us is that both we and this divine power are in the same place. The power is located “inside the Lord”, and we are also located “inside the Lord.” You are united with Christ AND with His power.

Here is an illustration that may help bring clarity to this truth. Consider an aquarium. The water and fish are different in substance but they both reside in the same tank. The tank serves as the home for these two substances held simultaneously within its walls. The fish doesn’t have to release its faith to “get into” the water because it already “lives in” the water! We are located inside the Lord with His power!

2.) Prayer. Learn how to pray and wait on the Lord. Joshua, David, and Paul knew this truth.

That prayer was communion with the Father and that when they prayed, God always heard and answered the prayer of the righteous (John 15:7,16; 16:23-24).

Consider these verses:

(Psalm 27:14 NKJV) “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” David’s faith response!

(Heb. 4:16 NKJV) “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.”

(Jam. 5:16 NLT) “…The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” Elijah like us—hope folks!

Through the Holy Spirit, the gift of tongues is available. Tongues strengthens us.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:4 NKJV that, “he who prays in a tongue edifies himself.” Jude 1:20 NKJV says, “building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” Praying in the Holy Spirit strengthens us. Pray in tongues!

3.) Praise. David knew that praise to God was the pathway to freedom and victory.

Your praise changes your attitude and the atmosphere around you. Praise stirs our faith in Him and releases God’s power.

(Psalm 100:4 NKJV) “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.”

Paul admonishes believers to “speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19 NKJV).

4.) Presence. Be a person who seeks the presence of God.

(Psalm 16:11 NKJV) “…In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

(Psalm 27:4-5 MSG) “I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet. That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, the perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic.”

5.) Pure.  Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

In Christ, we are made pure and holy. Jesus is our sanctification and righteousness. But we are also to pursue a holy life. We are to be clothed in our “new man.”

(Psalm 24:3-6 NKJV) “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face.”

6.) People. God created us for partnership. David strengthened himself in the Lord, but then worked with his men to recapture what the enemy had stolen.

Share your burdens with others. Galatians 6:2 NKJV says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” One can chase a thousand; two can chase ten thousand!

Fellowship. Many people withdraw from others, it is important to stay in fellowship with other Christians. Hebrews 10:25 NKJV, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” We draw strength from each other, and we need each other’s fellowship and help.

7.) Proactive. Be obedient to God’s Word and will.

God honors faith borne out of obedience. James 2:22-26 reminds us of this. Faith is demonstrated by works. Be proactive, serve faithfully in a church and in God’s Kingdom!

Get training and education. Position yourself for breakthrough and promotion. Never stop learning, and never stop growing in knowledge, ability, or in the Spirit.

Rest, nutrition, and exercise. If we get run down, that can affect our emotional state which can affect our spiritual state. Elijah became weary, and he needed rest and refocus on the Lord and His mission (1 Kings 19:3-10).

Final Thoughts…

God has designed our lives in Christ such that it would be strange for us NOT to receive His power and strength to live victoriously. He is near to us; open your heart by faith and receive His grace and strength to be strong in Him.

By faith, we must simply receive and embrace it. There is no need to beg, plead, or beat yourself up in prayer to somehow convince yourself that you are good enough to receive this divine power. If you know Jesus Christ, you are already in the same place with Him and with the power of God.

In fact, you’re rubbing elbows with the power of God all the time. It is no more difficult to receive than it is for a fish to start swimming!  It’s yours for the taking; receive by faith!

Pray this today:

Lord, I am thankful for Your power and might. I need Your power in my life, and I am grateful You have made it easy for me to receive it. I open my heart right now in faith, and I ask You to give me a fresh infilling of Your Spirit and Your power. I pray this in Jesus’ name! Amen.

For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Strengthen Yourself in the Lord”:

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Bob Sawvelle

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