Larry Brown is the only coach to have led a college basketball team to a championship as well as coach a professional basketball team to an NBA title. Additionally, he is the only man who has both played and coached for a U.S. team at the Olympic Games. Brown’s teams are known for playing strenuous defense, proving the basketball axiom that “defense wins championships.”
We may be tempted to think of our spiritual battles as offensive encounters, where we charge into battle against spiritual foes. Today’s reading points out that our struggle against the Evil One requires a strong defense from us. And a strong defense will win the spiritual contest.
When we pray, “Deliver us from the evil one,” we acknowledge that everything has already been won by the ultimate victor, Jesus Christ. The empty tomb proves that death and sin have been defeated.
All but one piece of the armor mentioned in today’s text is defensive: the belt, the breastplate, the shield, and the helmet. The only exception is the sword, which itself is both offensive as well as defensive. We might think that God is leading a charge against the Devil. But in reality, the earth is the Lord’s and fullness thereof. He claims what is already His own. Satan is the one trying to pry control away from the sovereign God.
This passage tells us to stand our ground (v. 13). Satan knows that he’s fighting a losing battle. He knows that he lost at the cross, so his strategy must be to make us surrender our positions. He attempts to make us fall or make us retreat.
God has given us all that we need to stand firm. The command is to “be strong,” not “become strong.” We are already made strong by the power of the Holy Spirit in us. We have God’s mighty power available to us for standing our ground. “Deliver us from the evil one” is a prayer for God to help us stand when the enemy advances against us with weapons of doubt, fear, and discouragement.