Weds 20th September - Ephesians 6:10-23
Meditation on Ephesians 6:10-23
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand 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. 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
‘Finally…’ That’s how Paul begins this last section of his letter to the Christians in Ephesus. For us, not quite ‘finally’. We will consider his final greetings next week.
Let’s just draw breath as we look back over this remarkable letter.
What a wonderful experience to know God, in Christ, by the Holy Spirit.
How wonderful to have life in Christ which will take us to glory where we will sing His praises throughout all eternity.
Oh, what a battle!
Paul knows this so he brings his letter to a close with a challenge but also with huge encouragement.
The challenge for us is to be strong…
- in the Lord
- in His mighty power
Why do I need His power? Because I do not have the strength needed to live as God intended.
Why do I need such strength? Because I have an enemy who is against me.
- AN ENEMY TO BE FACED Verses 10-13
The Church of Jesus Christ – remember that Jesus talked about the church, when He said, “I will build my church”. The church we belong to is not ours. We are members of His Church and His Church is under attack from a variety of sources.
We may not endure physical suffering as many of our brothers and sisters around the world do but we must not become complacent. Nor must we forget our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted.
Some years ago there was a march in London which was organised by a fairly radical Muslim group. There were a large number of people carrying placards which read, ‘Islam will rule the world.’
When we turn to our Bibles we see how the enemy, the devil, wants to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ and to destroy Christians who make up that Church.
Read these verses to see the cause and effect of the persecution on the fast-growing Church.
Acts 4:1-3 but then verse 4
Acts 5-17 but then verses 19-21
Acts 5:40 but then verses 41-42
Acts 7:54 but then verses 55-56
Acts 8:1 but then verses 4-8
Then the Lord stepped in and saved Saul (who later became Paul).
Acts 14:1-2b but then verse 3
Acts 16:16-24 but then verses 29-34
Acts 17:1-4 but then verse 5, then verses 10-12, then verses 13-14.
And Saul, the great persecutor, became the great persecuted – 2 Corinthians 11:23b-28
Back to our passage in Ephesians. This enemy that we have to face is:
Powerful, Cunning and Wicked Verse 12 ‘our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against’…
- ‘the rulers’
- ‘the authorities’
- ‘the powers of this dark world’
- ‘the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’.
These are demonic forces.
This is what Jesus had to face when the devil tempted Him – Matthew 4:3-11
This is who we are up against.
Paul wants us to know who our enemy is and then take action to…
- ‘be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.’
- be well dressed! – ‘put on the full armour of God’
In his commentary on Ephesians, John Stott says: ‘if we hope to overcome, we shall need to bear in mind that they have no moral principles, no code of honour, no higher feelings. They recognise no Geneva Convention to restrict or practically civilise the weapons of their warfare. They are utterly unscrupulous and ruthless in the pursuit of their malicious designs.’
J.B. Phillips, says, ‘they are spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil.’
The devil will have a go at our minds, our experiences and our behaviour.
No wonder Paul gives us the solution.
Twice he says ‘Therefore…’.
Twice he gives us the action to take and the effect of such action. ‘Put on…so that…’
He challenges us to ‘stand firm’ but how?
- THE CLOTHES TO BE WORN Verses 10-20
Notice what the armour represents…
- gospel of peace
- the Word of God
Now to what the armour is.
THE BELT: This is part of the undergarment but vital because it gathers the tunic and holds it in place. It also holds the sword. This represents the TRUTH: The devil is a ‘liar and the father of lies’ God is truth. Jesus is the truth.
THE BREASTPLATE: This protects the heart and other vital organs. This represents RIGHTEOUSNESS. I am right with God, therefore I do what is right before God. I am clothed with the righteousness of Christ. Therefore, I seek to live a righteous life in character and behaviour.
SHOES: Do you remember the song by Nancy Sinatra – ‘These boots are made for walking.’? We need to be using our gospel feet to share the good news of Jesus with others. These shoes give us stability as we stand and mobility as we move. The gospel of salvation is our stability. The gospel needs to be shared with others. Remember that the devil hates the gospel because ‘it is the power of God to salvation’.
SHIELD: This is the long oblong shield which covers the whole person. It is movable. It catches and extinguishes the flaming darts. The SHIELD OF FAITH helps us to know the promises of God and experience the power of God.
What are these ‘flaming darts’?
- false accusations
Read Galatians 5:19-21
HELMET: This protects the mind from doubt and temptation. We remember the devil’s tactics in the garden of Eden when he said to Eve, ‘Has God said?’ And he uses that tactic so often with us.
SWORD: This is the only offensive weapon in our armoury. Remember how Jesus responded to the attacks that the devil brought against Him in the wilderness – “It is written…” Three times Jesus used the same phrase and then quoted the Scriptures.
We need to know our Bibles. It is the Word of God. It is the sword of the Spirit.
J.B.Phillips paraphrases Hebrews 4:12 as ‘the Word that God speaks is alive and active; it cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword; it strikes through to the place where soul and spirit meet, to the intimacies of a man’s being; it exposes the very thoughts and motives of a man’s heart.’
PRAYER: This is a spiritual exercise. It is all-encompassing. It requires concentration. It is collective – i.e. for ‘all the Lord’s people’. It is personal – i.e. ‘pray also for me’. It is missional – i.e. ‘that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.’
One final thought – in all the armour at our disposal, there is no piece of armoury that covers our backs!
God has given us all we need to live out our Christian lives. Let’s encourage each other.