Letter to the Ephesians and we’re going to go to chapter 6, an extremely well known passage, but one that can always support one more examination, one more moment of analysis because it has such good, good wisdom for our lives. So, I’m going to try to go through different pieces of the passage. I hope that I’ll be able to at least finish, you know, in some way the entire passage. And I’m going to refrain, hopefully, from being too, trying to be too incisive and too penetrating in one particular thing, because there’s so much material here to be covered.
But, let’s just read the first two or three verses. Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 10 to about verse 12. If you don’t have your Bible that’s ok, just listen to it and I’ll try to explain it as I go. It says: “Finally be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power”. I mean, that’s really the summary of it all.
“Finally be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power -and then he expounds on that, he develops that a bit, he says- put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes, 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. Therefore, put on the full armor 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.” Praise the Lord.
What a wonderful passage! What a wonderful sovereign call to alertness and preparedness on the part of the believer. That’s for all of us, that’s very profound advice that the Apostle Paul is giving to us. And I hope to even just penetrate the surface of the seriousness of the Apostle’s call to believers regarding our struggle against the evil which is a personal thing, it’s not just a kind of an element of life or of reality. No, evil is a personality, evil is real and I hope to expound on that a little bit tonight.
Ephesians is one of my favorite epistles because it is so profound and I don’t discount the possibility of going back to the first chapter in the next few weeks working through some of these passages. It’s a very spiritually oriented writing and by that I mean, because of course all scripture is spiritually oriented. But it’s very profound in terms of its understanding as such things as the divinity of Jesus and the relationship of Jesus and the church and you know, the call of the Christians to holiness and power, and on and on.
It’s a very profound, profound work. And this passage in particular I think it’s sort of a wonderful conclusion to a very deep work of God through the Apostle Paul. And this ‘finally’, the word ‘finally’ that begins this part of the text refers to the fact that the Apostle Paul has gone through a list of different kinds of things that need to be born in mind by the believers.
As I say the whole thing of prayer, for example, in chapter 3 and the call to power of the believer, in chapter 4, those passages about unity of the body of Christ and then beginning with verse 17 and on in chapter 4, about living the Christian life in a way that is fitting to the holiness to the Lord that we serve. Then, that continues on to chapter 5 and then in chapter 5 towards the end you have this wonderful call for wives and husbands, how to relate to each other and the children and you know, for the life of the family and so on and so forth and how parents relate to children and children with parents, and slaves to masters, and so on.
It’s a call to the Christian life in a very detailed fashion; different aspects of the Christian life. And so now the Apostle Paul, drawing to the end of his letter to this group of believers he says: “finally, so and so and then he goes on into that…”
So, it is kind of a conclusion to this list of advices, of counsels that he gives to the believers. And I suppose that in that sense, this is sort of the culmination. It’s kind of a summary in a way, and it’s also saying, ‘I’ve left the most important part for last.’
I think in a sense it’s saying: ‘you know, all that I have said to you, if you want it to be accomplished and really the crowning piece of my advice is dependant on what is going to follow.’ So all the other things are going to be dependant on this element that I’m going to share with you now.
So, finally after having said all these other things about the Christian life and the Christian walk, he says ‘I want to give you a piece of advice, believers, that summarizes everything, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power’.
You know, that part reminds me about the importance of power in the Christian life and I think I alluded to that earlier in a few messages back. And I said to you that the Christian life is really all about power. One way or another it’s about having the authority, the energy, the strength to be able to live a style of life that humanly we cannot live.
The Christian life is not for weak people as Nietzsche would have suggested, the German philosopher. He called Christianity sort of a slave ….. a religion for slaves. On the contrary, Christianity is for heroes, Christianity is for very powerful people and humanly speaking we cannot live the Christian life as the Lord would expect us. We need something beyond us, beyond our fallen nature, beyond our pettiness, beyond our sinfulness, our impulses that are so contrary to what God demands of us and the holiness of the Lord, so it can only be lived, the victorious Christian life can only be lived through power and not a power that comes from us. It is a power that comes from God.
You see, I think, I would say that there are two sort of systems of Christianity in a way, two ways to look at Christianity. I think particularly in the western world there is so much emphasis in Christianity about knowledge, and for many Christians the idea is learn a lot of good theology, read a lot of good books, have good doctrine in the church, have good teaching in the church and through that knowledge you will gain what you need to live a victorious Christian life. And people don’t put it necessarily in those stark terms of either or, but there is that sense, you know, there are churches that are more inclined to impart knowledge and there are other churches that emphasize power and you know, I don’t want to establish a dichotomy between the two, but certainly as I see in scripture, there is this idea that power is extremely, extremely important.
The Apostle Paul said that the gospel is not about words is about the power of God. And when he went to the Corinthians he said, ‘you know, I made sure that I didn’t speak to you with lots of wisdom and this and that, but only about Jesus Christ and him crucified, so that you, your faith might not be dependant on the intellect but on the power of God.
So the Christian life is very dependant on issues of power. And that’s so important that we are mind, that we’re oriented to living a life of power through Jesus Christ, through our relationship with Jesus Christ, through our relationship to the word of God, through prayer, through fasting, through a life of holiness. These things engender power in us.
Jesus said ‘remain in me and I in you and you will bear much fruit’. So, I don’t have a whole lot of time to stop on this element, but I do want to counsel you, my brothers and my sisters, to ask the Lord: ‘Father, what does it mean to live a life of power? How can I live a life that is power based?
And, again, believe me, you need knowledge of the word of God, you need character, you need the fruit of the spirit, you need to balance those things. But power is so crucial. I mean, our ability to do things come from having that power of the Lord.
And so the Apostle Paul says ‘be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power’. By the way, I was looking at the Greek, the original Greek, this idea ‘in his mighty power’ is more like ‘the might of the strength that is his’. It’s a very emphatic kind of element. We need to yoke ourselves to the Lord and find our strength in him.
And then it says, ‘put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s scheme’. And here he enters into a deeper element of what he is talking about, because this passage is about spiritual warfare.
You know, that’s another important element that I think we require for an effective Christian life. It’s this understanding that there is a demonic realm that we deal with, as believers. A lot of churches these days, don’t like to speak about the demonic or about hell, or about demons, or about spiritual warfare, because they think that those kind of things are sort of medieval and first century and primitive and anti intellectual, and that it makes people uncomfortable, and that somehow if you speak about it you’re projecting an image of, you know, fundamentalism.
You know, it’s sort of, it comes against the modern mind which is so much more given to psychology and to psychiatry and emotions and so on and so forth, but you know, when you look at the Christian world view, both in the Old and the New Testament, you see this idea that there’s a hidden dimension to the human realm which is demonic and divine in nature. There are angels and there are demons that are constantly around us.
And all of scripture shows these moments when all of a sudden the realm of time and space opens up and reveals a hidden dimension. One of the passages that I love the most is for example when Elijah and his servant were surrounded by this army that had been sent by the Syrian king to take the prophet Elijah captive. And Elijah’s servant started quacking and trembling because he saw these mighty army around him and Elijah was, you know, was fine. He was not concerned at all. And Elijah prayed to the Lord that his servant’s eyes would be opened to the spiritual realm and when he did that, he saw a whole army of angelical beings surrounding the Syrian army and out of that moment came a huge victory. Why? Because the eyes of that man were opened so that he could understand that simultaneously with the realm of time and space there was another realm that was intervening on behalf of God’s people.
And you know, it’s so important that we understand that part, that even now, for example, even as we are here, I would not be surprised if right now there are angels sitting with their hands like this, and you know, just listening to this sermon and celebrating the fact that we are here worshipping the Lord and worshipping the Lord with us, and as we ride in our cars at 65 or below the speed limit, there are angels sitting on top of our car, you know, covering us.
And, you know, I wouldn’t discount the possibility of a couple of demons right here as well smoking a cigar or something, somewhere in this auditorium because, you know, demons are not necessarily scared by these places. I mean, in the Bible we see demons come before the presence of the Lord himself, as Satan does in the Book of Joel. And it’s not that we live a paranoid existence thinking ‘oh, God the demons are here and so on’, but they are. And I hope maybe to have more time to develop this a little bit more and my own experience as I dealt with demonic entities and demonized individuals. This is real. This is very real and I’m not talking about things that are just in theory.
But, you know the Apostle Paul through this book talks about this idea that we must put on the full the armor of God so that we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes. So, there is this idea of the full armor of God, and he’s presenting the Christian life as a war. And this whole text pursues this metaphor of war, of spiritual warfare. The Christian life is a warfare.
And again, that’s not an elegant way of looking at the Christian life, but it is. I think that if we saw the warfare aspect of the Christian life we probably would take less liberties and we would be a lot more reverend as we live the Christian life, because we have an enemy that will take advantage of the least slip on our part to use that as to come into our life and to accuse us and to slander us.
This word devil is a slanderer. It’s also……., it can be used as accuser, diabolos. And that’s Satan’s idea, when we slip, when we make mistakes, when we cultivate certain negative aspects of our character it gives the enemy and opportunity to accuse and to attack us. So we must live a life that is very alert, very sober, because the Christian life is a life that had declared war against the demonic hold on human life and on human reality.
Once you take sides with Jesus Christ you are, whether you like or not you’re declaring war against the principalities and powers that govern the universe. And you are under the eyes and under the sight of the enemy and he will try to attack you.
Now, again, please understand me, do not live with fear and do not live with a paranoid outlook in your life. For me demons are like germs, right now there are billions of them probably in this place, but it doesn’t mean that I’m going to be obsessed with a little handkerchief here as I speak to you.
I mean, if my body is in proper health, there are also agents that resist infection and resist that and keep my body in health. In that same way if your life is grounded in Christ, if your life is grounded in the word, if you are exercising good spiritual hygiene, you need not be afraid that we inhabit a world where the demonic is all around us.
You just need to make sure that, as the Apostle Paul is describing here you take certain precautions, like a policeman walking his beat in a dangerous part of the town, he walks, I mean, he whistles, he toils his baton or whatever, but he also exercises proper care and that’s the way we need to live our lives, in a natural sort of way, we can have fun, we can live natural family life, professional life, whatever, but we must always carry in the back of our mind this idea that we are fighting against powers that only know how to kill, steal and destroy as Jesus has said. They are pathological beings, psychopathological beings that do not know what good is, because that part of grace has been taken away from them, and all they derive pleasure from is destroying, soling anything that is good. And so we must, as believers, live a life that enable us to counteract that kind of influence.
So, he’s saying ‘put on the full armor of God’, just as a soldier before going to battle takes an entire uniform that is defensive and offensive and puts it on in order to wage effective warfare.
This idea of the devil’s schemes. It’s an interesting word. Schemes is metodeas in Greek, where the word method comes from. And it is this idea that Satan is very systematic and very organized in the way that he proceeds against believers and against human being as a whole. This idea of the demonic as some ridiculous being with a red piths and tail and a fork and a ridiculous, stupid, comical being is very far from the reality of the demonic. The demonic is strong, the demonic can be extremely lucid, the demonic can be very systematic in its approach.
Behind many philosophies such as Marxism and materialism and the relativism that we see in the modern world, there are demonic entities that are highly exalted that inspired these kinds of doctrines. The Bible speaks for example about doctrines of demons. Demons of capable of unleashing entire cultural movements, entire philosophical movements, entire artistic movements. Satan is an exalted being, with an intelligence that is very, very developed, only a pathological intelligence. It can think great thoughts but oriented to destruction, to death and to evil.
Nevertheless, he is capable of great systemic pursuits to enthrall human kind and to keep it under his power and his control. So as Christians we must understand that we are fighting against an enemy that is strategically oriented, very powerful, and very capable of putting all kinds of snares and traps in our life to make us distance ourselves from the truth of God.
And if you think I’m again, being a little bit too paranoid, understand that this is a constant truth that is in all scripture. For example, if you look at First Peter, chapter 5, verse 8, it says: “be self controlled and alert. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”.
I mean, this is the Bible speaking. It’s not some fundamentalist Latin preacher here, you know, trying to scare his audience into living a straight life. The Christian world view presupposes the existence of evil and insists that believers factor that in, in their life and that is just good, safety procedures. That’s just good Christianity. It doesn’t mean that we become obsessive about it, but it does mean that we must factor it in and take it into consideration, because the devil it says, prowls around like a roaring lion looking, it’s this idea of metodeia, this scheme. He’s always trying to find the way to penetrate into our life.
And that’s why in another passage the Apostle Paul says, “do not give the devil a hold”, don’t’ give him anything that he can hold on to in order to be able to have access to your life. Make yourself as slippery and as lucid and as finely covered as possible, so that the enemy cannot find an entrance into your life.
Right there in First Peter it says: “Resist him, standing firm in the faith because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
Do you see that? I mean, it is the condition of the believer. It is everywhere, it is in Africa, it is in Latin America, it is in Asia, it’s in Europe. The demonic is taking all kinds of different forms. It may take the form of great, as I said, artistic movements. Or it may take the form of economic revolutions, or it may take the form or warfare, or it may take the form of overtly demonic manifestations, such as the ocultic and all kind of other stuffs. Whatever it is, you know, there are demonic entities behind these things that destroy the human race.
And so the Bible says, ‘be careful about that, believers and live a life that factors that in, in the very, very significant sort of way’. Take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
You see, this is wonderful X-ray vision into that other reality, the Lord wants believers to understand this dimension of human life and of the Christian life.
I was thinking of another passage in First Corinthians, chapter 12 where, you know, this is why I often don’t like the new international version, because there are things it doesn’t catch in its desire to be contemporary. Because in chapter 12, verse 1 it says: “Now, about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant” In reality the word that is used in the Greek, that is translated ‘spiritual gift’ is neumaticon. It’s a neuter sense of spiritual things, things of the spirit. What the Apostle Paul is saying now, about spiritual things, about spiritual phenomenon, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be ignorant.
It says “you know that when you are pagans somehow or other you were influenced and lead astray to mute idols. Therefore, I tell you that no one who is speaking by the spirit of God says ‘Jesus be cursed’ and no one can say ‘Jesus’ Lord except by the Holy Spirit’.
Here the Apostle Paul, in First Corinthians, chapter 12, was warning the believers in another city, in Corinth, to be careful. He says ‘I don’t want you to be ignore spiritual things’, and unfortunately what we find most in modern Christianity is ignorance about spiritual things, about the things of the spirit, about those demonic realms, about the angelic realms, about the realm of the gifts of the spirit, of the spirit lead, the spirit filled life.
And many believers have adopted more of a rationalistic attitude towards the Christian faith. We have rationalized the Christian faith. We have turned it into something tame, something that can be consumed on a Sunday morning without spoiling our lunch after we leave the church. And it is this comfortable aspect, I think a lot of particularly of North American Christianity has lost this understanding of the supernatural dimension of the Christian life and we have been lolled into this very civil kind of understanding of Christianity that is far, far from what the Christian world view presents us.
And the Lord says ‘believers, I do not want you to be ignorant about the spiritual realm and about spiritual things in general’.
Your remember that passage in the Book of Acts where the Apostle Paul comes to Ephesus actually, and he finds a bunch of believers newly converted, and he says ‘Did you receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ and they said ‘We don’t even know what the Holy Spirit is? We didn’t even know that there was a Holy Spirit.’ And then the Apostle Paul proceeded to anoint them and to impose hands on them and they were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
And that is such a representation of what exists in so many Bible loving and Bible believing and Christ believing churches in many parts of the world; where you have congregations where they love the Lord, they come, they worship, they read the Bible but they’re never taught about that hidden dimension of the Christian life which is the realm of the demonic and the angelic and the gifts of the spirit, the fruit of the spirit, that deeper realm that we need to be able to navigate in order to live a life that is full of the power of God and that can resist the enemy in a significant sort of way.
So, I think this is what the Apostle Paul is doing here in chapter 6. He’s calling the believers in Ephesus to understand all these things, that they can stand against the devil’s schemes. A soldier stands firm, a soldier remains firm, a soldier resists the enemy, a soldier takes offensive action against the enemy and so the Apostle Paul is saying ‘Put on the full armor of God so that in this war that you’re living as believers you can remain firm, you can be effective, you can stand against anything that the enemy throws at you and you can be firm’.
It says ‘for our struggle –and this is such a very powerful diagnostic expression- because 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’.
What the Apostle Paul is saying is the reason why you need to put on the full armor of God is because the Christian life and I would say the human life, the human struggle, the human drama, is not against economic forces, is not against historical movements, it is not against leaders who are charismatic and sway the masses in the wrong way, it is not about material elements as Marx and Hegel and others and Engel would have taught, it is not about sociological phenomena, it’s not about the clash of cultures as Samuel Huntington of Harvard would suggest.
All those things are particular of history, but really, history, the human condition, the human reality, the human drama is depending on something deeper, more infra structural, below the super structure of history and its elements that govern it and that are the stuff for historical books and discussions, there’s a deeper substratum, a deeper dimension that is the foundation for all that happens on the surface. And that is the demonic. The struggle of light and darkness, the struggle of the spirit and in that realm, in the human realm, when Jesus comes again the second time, there are powers, there are, as he says over here, arcas, exucias, cosmocratoras. These are demonic hierarchies, these are different beings that we don’t know enough about them, but the apostle Paul of in a moment of revelation spoke about these different…. We’re not totally clear on this but most writers believe that he was speaking about different orders of demonic strength and power.
We know that the demonic realm, just as the angelical realm is regimented. There are hierarchies, there are different degrees of authority, different degrees of power, just as in an army. So, he is speaking here about you know, the fact…. The struggle of the believer and the struggle of the human being is not necessarily with emotional things, with the relational things, with economic things, with family experiences; all these other things that we believe. No, deeper than that are these enemies, these demonic entities, the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Now, heavenly realms doesn’t mean necessarily a dimension that is above us or anything like that, but it is a dimension where the spirits inhabit and move and that’s the dwelling place. But from there these entities somehow, because these are not spatial relationships can exert influence on human life, and they govern history, they control the powerful moves and shifts of the human race and of the human drama.
And we must understand in order…. This is why we need to be careful, because even as we struggle against our emotions, or against relationships, or addictions of social situations, we must understand that below that….. this is why the church cannot lose sight of that fact, even as we try to do things on behalf of justice and to teach our kids to go to college as the higher education resource center does, and we offer counseling to people, beyond all of that, the church, and we, believers, must understand that we must also be prepared to fight. Sometimes that war in your family may not be purely based on family dynamics, there maybe that dimension, it’s good that you know about it. I’m not minimizing the importance of that, but below there may be a demonic influences, demonic forces also working to tear parents from children, husbands from wives, youth generation from the older generations, tear societies apart.
And the church must know how to pray against that. The church must know how to cover its people with the blood of Christ, it must know how to bind the powers of evil. It must know how the demonic operates in order to be able to stand against it. That kind of knowledge is not being given to God’s people and there’s a whole aspect of the Christian revelation that is oriented to preparing us to do that and it is unfortunate that we have abandoned that in our desire to be elegant and to be digestible to the secular mind that comes to our churches. No, the secular mind must be adapted to the Christian world view, not the other way around.
So, this is what the Apostle Paul is doing here. Our struggle is against these things. It’s a diagnosis of the reality of the human condition. So, as a result of that, as a result of that super natural realm which in this case is demonic realm that moves around us within us and wants to also possess us and take control of our life, as a result of all of that, put on the full armor of God, he repeats that again, verse 13.
“Therefore, put on the full armor of God”. I think that word ‘full’ is so important, that adjective. You know, if a soldier walks into a situation of warfare without his helmet, he no matter whether he has a great gun or strong boots, or good training, he’s walking in exposed in a major sort of way. Or if he has a great helmet but has no again, he’s exposed in a different kind of way. Or if he has nothing, no armor to protect him or good training, you see, a soldier in order to be truly prepared for war needs to be a one piece. He’s to have all kind of different things simultaneously.
And this is so important for believers that we not emphasize one thing at the expense of another. We need to look at the full preparation that God requires of us. We need to look at all these different things that he suggests here.
“Put on the full armor of God”. We need to be balanced in our life. This is why I think, you know, it’s not good just to emphasize power for example, or knowledge, or holiness, or you know, the fruit of the spirit. All these things are great, but believers who are wise and balanced must be about all those different things: holiness, character, power, gifts of the spirit, fruit of the spirit, knowledge. We must make sure that, you know, all of our corners are covered.
So, he says “Put on the full armor of God”, because you’re in a war, you’re a soldier and you’re going into a place where there is no mercy, there’s no quarter. If you close your eyes for a moment, you’re gone. “…..So that when the day of evil comes…” What is that day of evil? The days of trial, of tribulation, of bad hair spiritually speaking. A day when things don’t go right, a day when you have come under the mark of the enemy. A day when there are accidents that happen. A day when the doctor tells you ‘you have cancer, and we’re not sure whether we can cure you’. A day when your wife tells you ‘you know, I’m in love with somebody else and I’m tired of this marriage and I want out’. A day when your son tells you that he’s taking drugs, or your daughter tells you that she’s pregnant. Days of crisis in the Christian life, days when the enemy is attacking you in a very powerful day. Days when you don’t know what to do, and it’s too much for your. That evil, that day of evil …. So that when the day of evil comes and crisis do come and will come to the Christian life.
The best believer, believe me, not all evil that comes into our life is caused, by the way, by sinfulness or by being far from God. many times, as a matter of fact, because we are serving the Lord and because we are useful to the Kingdom of God, Satan will come and attack us.
So, he says, be prepared for that day. Many believers we’re living a nice life, were paying all the bills, everything is going well for us, but we’re not prepared. What happens when the day of crisis comes? So that you may be able to stand your ground, in other words, remain firm. Don’t be swayed by the wind of a crisis, you may be able to effectively withstand, deal with and be victorious about the day of evil. And after you have done everything, after you have been thrown around, after you have prayed, after you have read the word, after you have sort counseling, after you have confessed anything that needed to be clarified, after you’ve done all you could and you’ve gone through the storm of attack that you might be able to stand.
This idea of standing is repeated three times in this passage: in verse 11, in verse 14 and in verse 15; stand firm. You know, that all that often…… we will not Bible able to kill Satan, we will not be able to kill the demonic, we will not be able somehow bind them until Jesus does that in the latter days and throw Satan into the lake of fire. All we can do is remain firm. All we can do is resist, but ir’s not resist in the sense of a passive resistance, just writ your teeth and bear it. No, it’s the idea of effectively stand with all the weapons that God has given you and the enemy will have to flee. All that we have to do is stand firm on what the Lord has declared, and that defeat Satan. It forces the enemy.
The Bible says ‘resist the devil and he will flee from you’. What believers do is we stand on the promises of God, the truth of God, the word of God, the prayer, the power of prayer. We cover ourselves and we say ‘Satan, you’re not going to move me from my beliefs. You’re not going to move me from my trust in the Lord, you’re not going to move me from my confidence and the declarations of God’s goodness, and mercy, and faithfulness’. And as we stand there you know, the devil is throwing everything that he can at us, if we remain long enough, crowed in the power of God at one point, like in the Book of Job, the Lord says ‘enough, Satan, out with you. They’ve passed the test.’ And then you can come out, emerge, cleansed, purified, strengthened, victorious, better and stronger and more dangerous to the enemy than you were when you began the time of trial testing.
“Stand firm, then”, this is now the development of that idea, “….. with the belt of truth buckled around your waist”. This idea of the soldier in the this free flowing robes that people used in the first centuries, needed, when things were ok, you know, the belt was loose. You know, they could relax, but when the time of battle came, that belt had to be strengthened. It was a big belt and it had to be tightened around the free flowing clothes would be gathered together to prepare the soldier for war.
So, it’s this idea that we must, you know, put on this belt of truth. It’s very interesting because truth, this idea of girding yourself. The Greek original is more like gird your loins, this part, this middle part of the person, get ready for, to run for example, hold your….. I’ve heard the image of taking your clothes that were like a skirt almost, grabbing around yourself, tightening it so that you could run fast. This is the idea, get ready for it.
It’s so important that this idea is associated with the idea of truth, because truth is what really prepares you for the struggle against the enemy. Satan is the father of lies and in the Christian battle we must align ourselves with truth. I wish I had more time to discuss that, but it’s a very powerful idea. Don’t kid yourself, don’t lie to yourself, don’t disguise things, don’t resist the truth of God, don’t blame other people. All of that is associated with this idea of truth.
When you learn to live in the truth the enemy has no power over your life and it allows you to proceed from a position of strength in the struggles against the enemy. “
“Stand firm then with the belt of truth buckled around your waist”; and it’s interesting the waist is sort of the point of balance of a human being. I think this idea of truth, truth is at the very center of the human life, it sort of enables us to be balanced in our walk in the world.
And then the soldier would also use the breast plate which protected all the vital organs, you know the lungs, the heart, the stomach and all those….. the chest, all the vital organs were protected by this breast plate of righteousness.
You know, I believe that this idea of righteousness is the idea of living life in a way that is just, in a way that is holy, in a way that is according to the revelations of God of holiness and also I think, you know, the righteousness that is in Jesus Christ is not our righteousness, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the justice that is imputed to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the cross. And that to me is essential also, because our protection against the enemy is not because of anything that is in us.
You know, Satan loves to accuse us. I’ve confronted people who are demonized and demons have tried to accuse me. And the only thing that I can say to them is ‘my power is not in me, I’m not confronting you in my power, I’m confronting you in the power of Jesus Christ, in the blood of Jesus Christ and they cannot stand that, they cannot deal with that.
If you’re going to fight against a demonic do not fight in your own righteousness. You have none. It is the righteousness that comes from Jesus Christ, from the truth in the word of God, you are lining yourself, you associate yourself with that. As you do that, then you are able to protect yourself. It’s very important.
And then it says “… in your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Remember that this is an imitry of war, the soldiers uniform, of first century soldiers’ uniform. This idea, you know, as I was reading a commentary: the soldiers shoe was like a sandal that was wrapped around the instep of the foot and then around the lower part of the shin and it was tightened very well, and below it were nails to give traction, as a soldier fought.
So, it is interesting that it’s talking about the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. There’s another translation that says “the preparation of the good news of peace”. But this idea of, you know, being the gospel in readiness. It talks about our need to be ready to preach the gospel at any time, also to be founded on the gospel of reconciliation. We are reconciled by the blood of Jesus Christ. It’s all these different associations of the gospel with readiness, we must be able to repeat the truths of the gospel, we must be able to remember the basic truth of the gospel, the story of salvation, and we must repeat it both to people on the outside and to ourselves as well, because it is a gospel that we need to know.
There are times when Satan will come and he will try to accuse us of our sinfulness, of our past, things that we have committed and so on, and we must be ready to remind him about the reconciliation that was made possible with Jesus Christ. And there are people who will approach us needing to hear the gospel and we must be ready to announce the gospel as well.
These are key elements of the Christian life that is why they compose the armor of the believer. And then it talks about “….in addition to all this, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming hours of the evil one”.
Enemy armies used to use arrows that were dipped in oil and lit up and thrown, you’ve seen it in the movies. And you know, it was either to penetrate and to kill in a very painful and penetrating sort of way and soldiers would use a shield to protect themselves against it. And you know, it’s interesting that here the shield of faith, faith in this incarnation is a defensive weapon.
What happens when you are in a time of crisis? What happens when the enemy is coming at you full blast and you’re doubting God’s word, God’s teaching and your own self and all that you believe in? What is the only thing that you can hold on to? By faith, I choose to believe that God is good. I choose to believe that God is faithful. I choose to believe that this word that I’ve been taught is true. I choose to believe that what I am going through has meaning, has purpose. I choose to believe that even if my mind and my emotions are saying ‘deny God and curse him and leave this whole gospel that has not really delivered the goods’ that it’s my mind, it’s my emotions, but my spirit is holding on to the Lord. And that I’m not going to live according to what my emotions or my mind says, but according to….., because I’m a spiritual being.
And so that faith is the shield. The enemy can throw anything at you, he will throw any kind of crisis, any kind of situations, any kind of slip, any kind of circumstance, and believe me, the only thing ultimately that can keep you strong is your will to believe, your choice to believe, to exercise faith. It is the ultimate protection.
And then finally it says, “… now take the helmet of salvation and sword of the spirit”. It’s interesting again, I’ve exceeded my time but the helmet of salvation. Interesting that the salvation in this case is associated with the head, which is a very vital organ of course. Salvation in what sense, the essence of the gospel is about salvation. It’s the preaching of salvation through Jesus Christ and interestingly I believe, that there is a dimension that deals with the will and with the intellect, because there is the doctrinal aspect to salvation. And it’s also and element of essentialness if you will, to the doctrine of salvation, that keeps us holding on. I mean, if I’m going through a crisis I need to know that I am safe. I need to know that I am secure in the hands of God and I need to exercise my will and to know what that salvation is all about.
So, there is this element of the helmet of salvation. These are big, big elements of life of the Christian life: righteousness, the gospel, the faith, truth, big, big pieces of the whole Christian puzzle. “… the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit”. The final element, there’s about five or six elements: the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.
You know, interestingly, the word of God is here not seen in a passive way, which is what I would associate with the word of God; doctrine, teaching and so on. It’s a wonderful thing but here it’s used in aggressive way and truly, when you’re going through hell, and you’re going through crisis in your life, the word of God becomes an aggressive weapon, a conquering weapon, and offensive weapon.
When Jesus was being attacked by Satan, here’s another case of demonic oppression against the son of God himself, why do we doubt that the enemy might be here? He came before Jesus himself. And what did Jesus do? Every time Satan tempted him, he opposed the word, he threw the word against him. The Lord has said, the Lord has said, the Lord has said. You need to know the word of God. you need to have those passages clear in your mind that are key passages for the Christian life because those passages in the time of crisis you will use them against the enemy.
Learn the word of God, learn key passages and memorize them and the time to do it is when things are well, this are going good. because when your mind is clouded and you’re confused and you’re tense, and you’re in crisis, you know, you need to be able to have that word come, like the training of the soldier in a moment of attack and of chaos in the war scene. He needs to know…. His training needs to be second nature. And so the word of God needs to be second nature for us, so that when the attack of the enemy comes, we can use the word and we can use it very dexterously, very skillfully against the attacks of the enemy.
Interestingly that the writer of the Book of Hebrews also associates the word with a sword: “…..for the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joins and marrows, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart, on and on……” Hebrews, chapter 4, verse 12 and 13. Very important verse.
The word of God is crucial, believers, hold on to it, learn it, use it. It’s a very, very powerful tool for spiritual warfare. We finish there.
I don’t know if we have a moment. Do we have something prepared? A worship song to end? Why don’t you come up quickly, Nicky and Sharon?
It says “….and pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests”. My brothers and my sisters prayer is very important, prayer is crucial in the Christian life. The only way we can resist the enemy, the only way we can wage effective spiritual warfare is through a life of prayer. We do not grow weary of prayer. Do not neglect the life of prayer and fasting. Do not go out into the world without having taken time to pray.
How many times you brush your teeth, you go out into the street without brushing your teeth? Oh, no because I brushed them yesterday and this is so stupid. Why do you have to brush it again? You know, hygiene is important and in the spiritual realm there is that element as well, of hygiene, of cleansing yourself, of strengthening. How many times do you eat? Do you not eat today because you ate yesterday, because you’re going to eat tomorrow? You eat many times as much as you need it.
Prayer is like that. Prayer, unfortunately, has a mechanic aspect. You pray, you’re strengthened, but then you go out into the world that wearies you and depletes you, emotionally and otherwise, and you need to pray again, to pump yourself up again. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is. It’s so in the physical realm and it is so in the spiritual realm. The spiritual realm is much more sublime than the physical one and so many of the laws that apply to the physical, also apply to the spiritual, and one of them is repetition and exercise. And also the law of unity, the more the merrier, the better.
Armies rely on unity and on plurarility and so does the spiritual life as well. With this in mind be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Brothers and sisters, it’s a call to wage spiritual warfare, to be alert.
Let us stand for a moment and let us pray that the Lord would take this part of the Christian world view and infuse us with the clear understanding of it. Let’s live a practical Christian life. Learn about spiritual warfare. There are so many good books out there and there are so many other passages in scripture that teach us how to….. that’s a powerful dimension of the Christian walk and I urge you to learn more about it. And to study the Bible from that perspective, let that open, let that perspective open itself to you.
You’re not too sophisticated. The 21 century is not too sophisticated to omit and exclude the demonic realm and the realm of spiritual warfare. It is an important component of any believer’s walk and we need to know how to navigate that realm because it is with us 24 hours a day, even as you sleep.
Father, in the name of Jesus we call forth, right now the power of Jesus Christ, even as we have preached this tonight I cover myself with the blood of Jesus and will bind Satan in the name of Jesus. Satan, we bind you here, now, we bind you in the life of our brothers and sisters, we bind you in the life of this church, we bind you in this effort that we are undertaking to plant this English service. We bind the opposition of the enemy, we bind your efforts to control us and to accelerate our sinfulness and to intensify our frailty and we declare the goodness of God on our life.
We revel in the blood of Jesus Christ that has washed us from all sin. We swim in the waters of the spirit, we nourish ourselves with the beauty of God’s word, with all the powerful, complete revelation that we have received through the word of God. We declare that this word is fully functional and true in its essence and that that word has power to neutralize all falsehood, all untruth, all lies.
And Lord, we do declare that you are above all powers, that Satan has been conquered, that the enemy has been conquered and that we can conquer the enemy, not because of anything that is in us, but because of the righteousness of Jesus, because of the salvation, because of that gospel of peace, because of that faith that has been induced in us.
Father, and we stand on that tonight. We clothe ourselves. Yes, Lord, we clothe ourselves with your truth. We do adopt that breast plate of righteousness, Father. We ……..our feet with the gospel of peace. We take the shield of faith and we do take the sword of your word in our hand and we do pray, Father, that you would strengthen us tonight and the inner man, the inner woman by the power of your spirit that you would renew this congregation right now, Lord. That the truth that has been annunciated here tonight will become a part of our consciousness, of our mind.
Teach us to do spiritual warfare, Father. Teach us to walk in a way that is befitting, that powerful Jesus Christ defeated the enemy in the cross and may we also defeat him through humility, through a holy life, through the grace of Jesus Christ, through his word and through his example.
Clothe us right now, clothe our church, Father. Clothe us as we have preached this message, Father, we pray that no attack of the enemy will come to any one of us tonight and that we can sleep peacefully tonight, Father. We pray your blessing upon Boston. We pray your blessing upon this city and we revel in the fact that you are in control, Father, not the enemy, but you’re in control of our lives.
We thank you, Father, may your glory be realized in us in the name of Jesus. Amen and Amen. Praise the Lord