Adapted from a Jim Black sermonhttp://www.sermoncentral.com/print_friendly.asp?ContributorID=&SermonID=56621
Ephesians 6:10 NET Finally, bestrengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Clothe yourselves with thefull armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.
13 For this reason, take up the full armor ofGod so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace,
16 and in all of this, by taking up the shieldof faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
In his concluding exhortations to the Ephesians, Paul calls Christians to bestrengthened and stand firm…so that youmay be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Christians are called to active serviceagainst the evil of our world by trusting in the power of God.
Just imagine the hot sun blazing down on the barren landscape of the Middle East. The commander had told his people that they would be moving out in three days tobegin their mission to take the city by force. Two Special Forces Operatives were sentinto the city to scope it out, to find out if the people within the city were really as afraid of the impending battle as the commander had been led to believe.
They should have been. This was going to be no ordinary battle in a very unconventional war with very unconventional weapons, unlike any ever seen! And as the army no doubt anxiouslyprepared for invasion, Joshua, commander of the Israelite army, heard from Central Command as recorded in Joshua.
Joshua 1:6 NIV "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart fromyour mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.
Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Like a high ranking General to histroops, as they were about to face war, Godwanted to exhort Joshua and his men to „Be Strong & Courageous‟ because He would be with them through it all!
What reassuring words those must have been to men about to march into harm‟s way! Paul has the same thing in mind in today‟s text. 10 Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Clotheyourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Remember, as we‟ve moved throughEphesians over the last few months, we‟ve seen Paul describe the wonder and privilege it is to be in Christ AND how hehas implored his readers to live lives worthy of that calling of Christ! Ephesians 4:1 NET I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called,
He urged them to live worthily of the calling in several ways:1. by preserving unity;2. by being different from the world around them;3. and by being pure, avoiding any hint of sexual immorality!
In 4:21, he began emphasizing that part of this call involved „submitting to one another‟; we submit to one another as a family of God, in our marriages, in our families, with our parents and in our workplaces. And now, as he begins to wrap it up,he sets forth both an effective summary and a great challenge!
As if preparing for battle, Christians need tobe prepared for what the world has in store for us! „Right living‟ doesn‟t happen by accident! It takes diligence and training! Ittakes a ready knowledge of the weapons ofbattle! And it takes a healthy respect for the enemy!
Paul is saying in this text, “Folks, don‟t you know, there‟s a war on!” This is a Call to Battle! Why are Christians called to „be strengthened‟ and in verse 14 to „stand firm‟? Because there‟s a war on andChristians are to stand up and fight; not sit idly by and watch the enemy take one victory after another!
There‟s a war on, but it‟s not a war over land or politics or power, it‟s a war for the souls of men and women. The word for „struggle‟ in verse 12 is a word usednowhere else in the N.T. but is used in other writings to refer to wrestling and can be used to mean „fight‟ or „battle.‟
Paul doesn‟t want to leave the wrong impression, living the Christian life (living worthy of our calling) CAN be a difficultstruggle! The world doesn‟t necessarily help us out very much! We hear the words, „there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind‟ but then we‟re bombarded with sexual images onour televisions and movie screens. We hear the words, „husbands love your wives‟, but then we see people we know openly cheating on theirs;
We hear the words, „Children, obey yourparents in the Lord for this is right,‟ but kidsare taught to be adults long before they‟re ready; and parents can be tempted to betheir kids friends before being their parent. The call to the Christian life; the call to Christ; is a radical Counter-Cultural Call! And it‟s a struggle!
This is a Call to Know the Enemy!Any good military strategist will tell you thatpart of winning a war is learning all you canabout the enemy. The last thing you want in battle is any surprises!12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of thisdarkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.
Here we find out who our enemy is NOT, & you might be surprised. NOT „flesh &blood‟- a euphemism for mankind. Our goodsoldiers this very moment are in the Middle East tracking down terrorists and defeating what by all accounts are truly terrible and evil, repressive regimes.
We‟re SO proud of them and are constantly lifting them up in prayer as they face the enemy on the battlefield. But, you knowwhat? Ultimately, Saddam Hussein, Usama Bin Laden, the Taliban, the RepublicanGuard . . .they aren‟t the root of evil . . . they aren‟t REALLY the enemy!
The REAL struggle, the REAL war, is against the „spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.‟ Don‟t misunderstand! When we hear „spiritual‟ we tend to think „not real.‟ We think in terms of „real‟ vs. „spiritual‟. That‟s FAR from the truth!Something that is described as „spiritual‟ in Scripture is FAR more REAL than the physical! So, just because something is spiritual and not physical doesn‟t make it any less real!
Quite the opposite! It‟s said that as many as75% of people who „claim‟ to be Christians, don‟t believe that the devil is real? 52% of „conservative Bible believing‟ Christians don‟t believe Satan to be a real being.Satan is real! Don‟t take my word for it, take Paul‟s. And he says that the devil is out„scheming‟. Satan is real; he is crafty; he is deceitful; the „father of lies‟; and he is evil! We mustn‟t forget that!
As Christians, we spend an awful lot ofenergy battling each other & unbelievers in our world . . . but we must remember that not only are fellow Christians not the enemy, unbelievers are NOT the enemy either! They are „prisoners of war‟ so to speak; taken captive by the wiles of the devil.
Now, I understand they CHOSE to do so (I don‟t mean to imply some kind of „devil made me do it‟ theology) But this is toremember that Satan is at the root of thisevil that is present in our world today, and just because we can‟t see him with our physical eyes doesn‟t mean he isn‟t real! This is a REAL war with a REAL enemy.
And Satan is that Enemy! He is that oldserpent from Garden of Eden who temptedAdam & Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. He is the father of lies who told Jesus „Jump and I‟ll give you all of this Kingdom.‟ He is the prince of this world who rules throughdeceit and subterfuge. He is the roaring lion looking for someone to devour!
There is no doubt, the devil is an evil anddestructive force against which we must be vigilant. BUT on the other hand, we must remember that he has already been defeated!
There is NO DOUBT about this war! TheOutcome is certain! We may not know howlong each of us will be engaged in this war;either until the Lord comes back or we go to be with him. We may not know how eachbattle will go; whether we will win every one or whether we‟ll sometimes fall and allow Satan a victory in our lives. But we DO KNOW THIS! Satan will be and has been defeated ONCE & FOR ALL!
Notice, Paul doesn‟t exhort the Ephesians to „be strong because of their faith‟; or„because of their works‟; or „because of their position as Christians,‟ Rather, he reminds them of where their POWER is from that assures them of this victory! „bestrengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power!‟ That‟s why he prayed way back in Chapter 1 that they would KNOW his power.
Ephesians 1:19 NET and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength. 20 This power he exercised in Christ when heraised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms
THAT power that is from the Lord is what empowers the Christian to live worthily; tobe strengthened, to stand firm… so that you may be able to stand against the schemesof the devil! The power is not within US, it iswithin CHRIST who has won that victory for us!
1 Corinthians 15:54d NET “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (Isa 25:8) 55 "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?“ (Hos 13:14) 56 The sting of death is sin, and thepower of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
A Military has got to be equipped withthe latest and best weapons of battle in order to be fully prepared for battle! Think about all the different types ofweapons mentioned on the news. SCUD and PATRIOT missiles. There are Bradleys and MOABS (Massive Ordnance Air Blast) and WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction.)
There are the bunker buster bombs and the B-2 bombers. There are protective suits against chemical warfare and our men &women in uniform rely heavily on all of this equipment.In the old days, armies relied on horses and chariots. But the old warrior, David, got it right when he wrote Psalms 20
Psalms 20:6 NIV Now I know that theLORD saves his anointed; he answers himfrom his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. 7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. 8 They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.” 9 O LORD, save the king! Answer us when we call!
Ultimately, Christians win the victory in THIS war because our trust is in the Lord!That‟s the point of his exhortation to put on the full armor of God!13 For this reason, take up the full armor ofGod so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand.
14 Stand firm therefore, by fastening thebelt of truth around your waist, by putting onthe breastplate of righteousness, The armor can be understood as the armor that God provides us; or the armor that God himself wears; or even the armor that is God himself! That‟s interesting, isn‟t it? Noticethe equipment again, „truth‟, „ righteousness‟ – characteristics of God, himself!
We are to clothe ourselves with God! To put on His characteristics! These are the weapons of war on which we can FULLY RELY! How do you put on thesecharacteristics? 15 by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace, The gospel provides the footing for everything we do. Howeverpowerful the rest of your body is, if you arewounded in your feet you are easy prey for the enemy. (Guzik)
16 and in all of this, by taking up the shieldof faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.Faith is represented as a shield, protecting us from the flaming arrows of the evil one, those persistent efforts of demonic foes to weaken us through fear and unbelief. (Guzik) I believe the shield of faith is faith in the good news of peace.
17 And take the helmet of salvation… 1Thess. 5:8 speaks of the helmet of salvation in connection to the hope ofsalvation. The helmet of salvation protects us against discouragement, against thedesire to give up, giving us hope not only inknowing that we are saved, but that we willbe saved. It is the assurance that God will triumph. One of Satans most effective weapons against us is discouragement.
When we are properly equipped with the helmet of salvation, its hard to stay discouraged. (Guzik) Isn‟t the helmet of salvation founded in the good news of peace? …and the sword of the Spirit, which is theword of God. The armor before described is to protect; the sword to assail. It is the Christian soldier who is to wield the sword of the Spirit. That is, the Spirit conquers through him.
Thus Peter conquered on Pentecost, and Paul in his labors. Thus always andeverywhere. The Christian soldier filled withthe Spirit must "preach the word." (PNT) The word of God is where the good news of peace is found. Can we see how all this armor comes from knowing The word of God? Well, how‟s the war going? How‟s it going for you?
Have you put on this armor? Are you reflecting the characteristics of God in your stand against the enemy? This is not a conventional war, by any means! It‟s not a war that we‟re used to fighting. The enemy is deceitful, wily, andcrafty! And He will do anything, will stoop to any level; will try every dirty trick in thebook; violate all Geneva Conventions, in the battle for YOUR SOUL!
But YOU have a God who is more powerfulthan even the devil! While you may not beable to stand firm against the devil on yourown, you don‟t have to! You can stand firm in the power of God! Christ has already defeated him; the victory is ours; the outcome is certain!Are you „in Christ‟ this morning? Have you taken your STAND at all?
If you‟ve never committed your life toChrist, turned away from your sin, and had it washed away in the waters ofbaptism, Our Commander in Chief is calling you today to STAND UP and be counted! He wants YOU more than Satan does and he will also do anything to win you (like sending his son to die on a cross so that your sins could be forgiven.)
We‟ll look at Paul‟s final words next week, but today hear his concluding exhortation loud & clear.“Be Strong!”; “Stand FIRM!” God will be with you regardless of what you face in this spiritual battle! Will you STAND as we sing our invitation song?