Ephesians

Ephesians 6:10-13 – Spiritual warfare

SPIRITUAL WARFARE!

 

Ephesians 6:10-13.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

Throughout this letter to the Ephesians Paul has talked about the wonderful blessings that belongs to those who are “in Christ”. He has given us broad sweeps of God’s unfolding purposes for the world and especially for the Church. He has taught us about the creation of a new society under the Lordship of Christ, viz. the Church. A society were there should be no racism, sexism, ageism or any other discrimination. Paul has then gone on to appeal to his readers and to us to pursue harmony and unity and fellowship and righteousness – thus expressing in everyday life the practical out working of this Christian Faith – the home and the workplace is were the spirit-filled life is to be lived out.

 

In case we are tempted to think that the only reason we are not fulfilling this ideal is that we are not trying hard enough or are not committed enough – Paul reminds us that it is it not simply us and God BUT there is another factor to consider and that is the Devil and his cohorts.

 

Paul has already mentioned the devil in 2v2 and 4v27 – he does not try to give an account of where Satan and his forces came from – he simply assumes their existence as common ground between himself and his readers.

 

In these verses Paul is warning the Ephesian Church of the fierce opposition they will face. He is urging us to follow Christ and thus we need to remember that Jesus was attacked and tempted by Satan – at the beginning of his ministry for 40 days in the desert and again no doubt in the Garden of Gethsemane Satan was active in trying to prevent Jesus from going to the cross.

 

Whenever Christians are passionately following Christ and seeking to obey him and serve him faithfully you can be sure Satan will be active in opposition. Yes the Lord give us victory but Satan wants to destroy the work of God. As Christians, when we begin to do something significant for God, we can expect there to be opposition. A Christian who never has conflict and struggle in some form or other is a Christian who has either fallen into sin or complacency.

 

Paul and the Christians in Ephesus knew this to be a reality – when Paul first when to Ephesus; he was run out of the synagogue by the Jewish leaders, he was mimicked by the apostate Jewish exorcists, and he was threatened by Demetrimus and the others silversmiths because their idol making business suffered because of his ministry. This was opposition from outside the church. BUT later in Acts 20:29-30 Paul warns the Ephesian Elders of the dangers within the flock.

 

Acts 20:29-30 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. (NIV)

 

Satan has always had a double strategy persecution and opposition from within and corruption and division within – It happened in Paul’s day and it happens today.

 

Today I believe the Western Church has fallen headlong into Satan’s trap – the Church in general is more concerned about her own comfort than she is about God’s mission of taking the gospel to all nations. And as individual Christians we too often live to ourselves rather than for the kingdom and as a consequence the Church is weak!

 

The NT leaves us in no doubt that Satan will attack Christians and the Church from without and from within, by whatever means – we are involved in a spiritual war, we are not on peace-time manoeuvres and this war will continue until we die or Christ returns! Paul doesn’t want his readers or us to ever forget this fact!

 

I want to outline these verses under 4 key directives.

 

  1. BE WELL PREPARED BY GOD’S STRENGTH. v10.

 

Ephesians 6:10

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (NIV)

 

If we are going to engage in spiritual battle then our own strength is totally useless. The “be strong” can be slightly misleading in that we might be tempted to think that we are to find this strength within ourselves. This phrase would be better translated “Be strengthened in the Lord” – it is in the passive tense – this strength does not and can not come from us – we must receive it from the Lord.

 

One of the primary truths that Paul teaching in the Book of Ephesians is that we are ‘in Christ’ “his life is our life, his power is our power, his truth is our truth, his way is our way and his strength is our strength.” [Mac Arthur]

There are 4 words in Gk. for power or strength and Paul uses 3 in this verse – Strong Dumnamos – dynamite

might kratos – strength in relation to domination exercised over something/one. Christ has already defeated Satan on the Cross – he has dominated – our final victory of the worse that Satan can throw at us is certain – the ultimate worst that the Devil can do to us is ‘cause’ [then only if God allows] our death BUT ‘in Christ’ we have overcome death.

power iscus – latent power or power in possession. The Lord doesn’t have to be strengthened himself – power is only power because it comes from him.

 

Our own strength is never strong enough to oppose Satan but we can say with Paul Philippians 4:13 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (NIV)

This is not boastful arrogance but rather humble assured confidence that Christ has overcome the Evil One.

 

  1. BE WELL PROTECTED BY GOD’S ARMOUR. v.11a

 

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armour of so that you can take your stand……(NIV)

 

If we are going to be strong in the Lord then we need to use the equipment that God provides for us.

 

ILLUS. Army in RSA – conscript – on arrival we were stripped of all our civilian things and supplied by the army – everything we need to be soldiers was supplied.

You can’t fight a war without the proper equipment.

 

In God’s army we come with nothing – He supplies everything we need. The ‘put on ..’ of this verse is a permanent putting on – we do not join God’s army and then suddenly decide to become civilians again for a while – this is not like Dad’s army which we are involved in for a few hours a week – although judging by the lives of some Christians one is left wondering.

 

We will look at the armour next week!!

 

But we can be sure of this! – God has given us all we need to stand against the enemy. Stand your ground – hold on to what you believe – don’t crumble under pressure – don’t allow the enemy to force you to retreat or compromise your faith.

 

 

  1. BE WELL AWARE OF GOD’S ENEMY. v.11b-12.

 

Ephesians 6:11-12 ….against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (NIV)

 

Who is this enemy that we are talking about?

 

It is not ‘flesh and blood’ – these refers to humans beings in their present mortal human nature – cf. 1 Corinthians 15:50

50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (NIV)

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. (NIV)

 

Who then is this enemy? It is the devil and all his demons.

The Devil – it is not fashionable today to believe in the Devil – just this past week there has been much discussion in the media about hell and consequently about Satan. And for many, even Clergy, maybe esp. clergy, there is a light hearted dismissal of the devil as a figment of superstitious imaginations. But if we take the Bible at its word then the devil is a personal being. We see him active in the garden of Eden – in the temptation of Jesus – and referred to many times as the enemy of God. He is described as the ruler of demons [Luke 11:15], the ruler of this world [John 16:11], the god of this world [2 Cor.4:4], the prince of the power of the air [Eph.2:2].

 

Numerous times he is called Satan, the devil.

We know from this verse and other Scriptures that he is not alone – there are many demons.

 

For most of us living in the Western world we are not aware of the spirit world – if however you lived in Africa, South America, India and such places you would be very aware of the spirit world. For many in these places if you get sick it is not because you have a virus but because the spirits are angry with you or someone has placed a spell on you and so you go first to the Witch doctor {sangoma} before you go to the medical doctor.

 

ILLUS. The Zulu people will put their bed on brick to make it higher so that the Tokalosh – evil spirit – will not be able to hide under it – he like small dark spaces.

 

It is interesting however that in our Western world where the existence of a personal God and a personal devil is questioned more and more there is an increase in demonic and occultic practices. Even in England there are more and more people going back to the old Celtic religions – there are millions who are obsessed with horoscopes.

 

It is clear that Jesus treated demons as a reality – he cast them out of people on many occasions. They are real and that is why it is so dangerous to play around with Ouija boards, glassy-glassy, Dungeons and dragons and many of the modern video games that can easily get children involved in the occult. These things are to be avoided. Many will argue that these things are harmless fun – that is exactly what Satan would have us believe and by the time we realise that they are not harmless it is too late.

 

There are 3 things we need to learn about the devil and demons from this verse:

They are powerful – These principalities and powers are possibly different ranks of evil spirits within the hierarchy of hell – Whatever they are we know that they are cosmic powers – there power must not be underestimated – True they have been defeated on the cross but they have not conceded defeat nor have they yet been destroyed.

They are wicked – they are powerful but the use their power destructively and not constructively – they seek to destroy. They are totally unscrupulous in the way the wage war on God’s kingdom – they honour no Geneva Convention on the rule of engagement.

They are cunning – the schemes of the devil – sometimes he is a roaring lion, sometimes a wolf in sheep’s clothes, sometimes and angel of light.

Seldom is there a frontal attack on the Church – open persecution – in the first three centuries that made the Church strong – no he tries to seduce us into compromise and deceive us into error.

 

ILLUS.: Think of the Western Church – comfortable in its affluent cocoon – Satan is quite happy for you to come to Church as long as you don’t take it too seriously – as long as there is little real difference between Christians and the rest of Society he is quite content – a good dose of religion he would prescribe himself.

 

But when you are serious about your relationship with Jesus Christ and obeying him and fulfilling his command to take the gospel to the whole world then be aware – Satan will try everything to stop you! Remember that we are involved in a war – and we are not arm-chair generals sitting behind the lines drinking coffee while the troops fight – we are the troops — ‘our struggle …’ the word means hand-to-hand combat.

 

If you want to get a good insight into how subtle and scheming the devil is I encourage you to read C S Lewis’s “Screwtape letters

 

In our day the deceptions are many – undermining of family values [alternative family] — sexual perversion — proliferation of cults and isms [New Age] — the undermining of the gospel – the deity of Christ, this miracle, the resurrection, substitutionary sacrifice — pluralism …

 

How are we to live in the face of this evil onslaught??

 

  1. BE WELL GROUNDED IN GOD’S VICTORY. v.13.

 

Ephesians 6:13 13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (NIV)

 

There are too extremes that Christians can go to:

1) under-estimating the power of the devil.

2) crediting him with more power than he has.

 

  1. Lloyd-Jones wrote the following about under-estimating the devil – “ I am certain that one of the main causes of the ill state of the church today is the fact that the devil is being forgotten. All is attributed to us; we have all become so psychological in our attitude and thinking. We are ignorant of this great objective fact, the being, the existence of the devil, the adversary, the accuser, and his fiery darts.”

 

The other extreme is that we credit him with too much power – he has been defeated and while we are no match for him on our own we need to remember that :

1 John 4:4

4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (NIV)

 

Territorial spirits – this has been a subject for debate in recent times. What is meant by this term is that some Christians believe that each geographical area is under the control of an evil spirit and before the church can engage in evangelism the area must be prayed over usually by prayer-walk. This is partly the reason for the ‘March for Jesus’ which sings triumphalist songs and claims areas for Christ.

 

This is a difficult area – Undoubtedly we need to pray for the people of the area we live in – we know that demons can inhabit people and animals so why not geographical areas. In my work among the Asian community in SA I saw demonic activity.

 

ILLUS.: I know of case where people have moved into a new house and there have been noises and they have seen shadows etc. but when investigating there is no one there — the house has been prayed over and these strange occurrences have ceased.

 

However I have questions about the extent of these so called territorial spirits – Besides tow possible reference in Daniel – which are not clear to say the least the Bible is silent about such matters. And I fear that this kind of activity can be and often is a cop-out from the hard work of evangelism – of preaching the gospel and living a godly life in the society in which God has placed us. It is easy to walk down the road praying or singing triumphalist songs but it is hard work doing evangelism. If we had as many people involved in evangelism as we see in the ‘March for Jesus’ I believe we would make more of an impact for the gospel.

 

Don’t misunderstand me – I sometime walk the streets praying – I have taken part in ‘Marches’ – but what I am saying is that we need to be careful that these things do not detract for the discipline of Bible Study, personal evangelism, prayer, …. we live is a world that wants instant results but God tells us that his work is strenuous and disciplined like that of a good soldier’s.

 

It is all to easy for us to be complacent and even oblivious to the battle that is raging around us. The Western church is generally prosperous and respectable and often rejoices in victories that involved no battles and a kind of peace that is merely the absence of conflict. This is the victory and peace of the draft-dodger or defector who refuses to fight. These are not interested in “Armour” because they are not engaged in war.[MacArthur]

 

In God’s army every Christian is a soldier – and the enemy is not flesh and blood – we are not out to attack people but to win them over to God’s side – the enemy is the devil and his cohorts – BUT God has promised that we will have all the necessary armour and equipment we need to fight.

 

Our responsibility is to resist and to stand firm.

 

ILLUS.: During the Reformation Martin Luther stood before the Diet of Worms accused of heresy – he was condemned because he declared that people were saved by faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone. The Devil had hood-winked the Church into distorting the gospel – but Luther was convicted of God’s truth and declaredMy conscience is captive to the Word of God … Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise!”

 

How are you standing today? – are you a good soldier of Christ? Are you engaged in the affairs of the King or have you become entangled in the affairs of this life and now you loyalties are divided.

 

Maybe you started well – but the song is true, you see “It’s not how you start but how you finish” — You may have had wonderful experiences in the past but how about now — it is those who stand firm to the end who will be saved.

 

There are many who have serve God in the past but have grown weary – they have turned their backs – they have take the armour off — they have lost the courage and the power and the desire to stand firm.

 

BUT as we are strengthened by God we are able to stand firm and to resist the devil and his scheming – James 4:7

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (NIV)

 

1 Peter 5:8-9

8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith… (NIV)

 

Finally remember that the victory is already won!

Romans 8:31-39     31 …If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 … 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? ……. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 … 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

“more than conquerors!!”


SPIRITUAL WARFARE

 

Ephesians 6:10 – 13.

 

  1. BE WELL PREPARED BY GOD’S STRENGTH

                                                                  [v 10]

       strength       dynamite

       might           dominant/ruling power

       power           inherent power

 

  1. BE WELL PROTECTED BY GOD’S ARMOUR

                                                                  [v 11a]

       all we need God provides

 

  1. BE WELL AWARE OF GOD’S ENEMY

                                                            [v 11b-12]

      Ä the devil            ð chief personal evil being

      Ä the demons     ð lesser evil spirits

                 

                  Ä they are powerful

                  Ä they are wicked

                  Ä they are cunning

 

  1. BE WELL GROUNDED IN GOD’S VICTORY

                                                                  [v 13]

       know your enemy

       know your ‘equipment’

       know your fellow-soldiers

       know your LORD (He has won the victory)

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