- Sermon Notes
This last section of the book of Ephesians is perhaps one of the most important because Paul is giving us insight into the nature of spiritual warfare and the keys for victory. We need to understand the nature of spiritual warfare because, frankly, this world is getting more dangerous and there are spiritual forces of darkness behind what is happening in the world today.
In order to be victorious in spiritual warfare, we need to be prepared and we need to understand the schemes of the enemy. Many people are not spiritually prepared and therefore are discouraged and defeated.
When you look at the events unfolding on the world scene the nature of spiritual battle becomes more and more apparent. You look at what’s happening in the Middle East and the rise of militant Islam and its infiltration into Europe, and eventually throughout the US, you become more and more aware that this world is going to see great struggles and we need to understand the spiritual forces behind these events.
We also need to understand the schemes of the enemy which are against us personally. Jesus said that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. The battle is for your soul. The enemy would love nothing more than to steal your faith and destroy your relationship with God. He would love nothing more than the shipwreck your faith and to drive a wedge between you and God. The battle is for your soul.
Paul therefore is writing so we might understand the schemes of the enemy, be prepared against the spiritual forces of wickedness and be able to stand firm, having put on the full armor of God.
- Notice that Paul is not just saying, “Be strong.” He is saying, “Be strong in the Lord.”
- If a person thinks he is strong in himself, he’s only deceiving himself. Self-confidence and arrogance is a great weakness and very easy for the enemy to exploit. It makes a person quite blind.
- This is why Paul prayed in chapter 3 that we might be strengthened with power in the inner man by the Holy Spirit and be filled up with all the fullness of God. We need to be stronger in the Lord.
- When David faced his darkest hour and it seemed that everything and everyone was against him, he knew the key to victory.
1 Samuel 30:6, David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered… But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
Isaiah 40:31, Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not faint.
- Spiritual victory is possible. God is able to strengthen your soul so that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the enemy.
- First, you must put on the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm. Without that, there’s no hope of standing firm and you will be easily defeated by the enemy.
- Secondly, understand the nature of the attack against you; understand the schemes of your enemy. As we understand each aspect of the armor of God,
we also have insight into the attack of the enemy.
- Third, understand the importance of the battle. The battle is for your soul; the enemy would love nothing more than to destroy your faith and get you to walk away from God.
- The phrase ‘stand firm’ suggests that there will be things coming against you from which you must stand firm. In fact, the world is changing rapidly before our eyes, and it is moving away from God.
- To stand firm is to hold your ground against the wave of pressure of worldly things coming against you.
- Spiritual forces of darkness are behind many of those worldly pressures. In another place Paul called Satan the prince of the power of the air. The system is corrupted; the world is in rebellion against God.
B. Choose your battles wisely
- Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, Paul wrote, but against rulers, powers, world forces of this darkness; against spiritual forces of wickedness.
- Too many people are in the wrong battle. There’s plenty of conflict, but it’s with the wrong enemy. If you’re battling against your wife or husband, or your kids, or your boss or employees, you’re in the wrong battle. In fact, you’ve already lost a spiritual battle.
- Our struggle is spiritual, there are rulers, powers, world forces of darkness and spiritual forces of wickedness. We have an enemy against us.
- There are commonly two responses when people consider the idea that we are in a spiritual battle.
- One is to blame the enemy for everything that’s wrong in a person’s life. It’s the old ‘the devil made me do it’ response. How convenient.
Illus - This is actually a common issue in Africa where many believe that almost all problems are explained as the result of a demon. If a person struggles with lust, it must be because they have a demon.
James 1:14-16, Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
- Another common response is to take a very aggressive stance and start rebuking the enemy at every turn and essentially they start hating Satan.
- Here’s the thing, Satan doesn’t actually care if you hate him. In fact, he’s all for it. He just wants you to hate. Hate something, hate your spouse, hate your employer, hate something, he just wants you to hate.
- Someone came to Jesus and asked what was the highest, the first, the foremost of all things that God has ever said. When Jesus responded to that question he didn’t say, “You shall hate the enemy with all your heart.” No, Jesus said that the highest and foremost of all things God wants for us is to love God.
- That’s why Paul began by saying, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” That’s the beginning of spiritual warfare and therefore spiritual victory. Love God first and foremost.
C. Having done everything, stand firm
- Verse 13 - take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm… stand firm.
- The key is the phrase ‘having done everything.’ In other words, he’s telling us in advance that we will face spiritual battles and he’s also telling us to take up the armor of God and be prepared.
Illus - My son just finished nine years of serving in the Marines in Special Forces. When he wasn’t deployed he was training, always training, always becoming prepared. That’s the key for us as well.
- There are great troubles coming upon this world and we here in the United States will also see many troubles, and it will purify the church. Those with true and authentic faith who have taken up the armor of God will stand firm in that day.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14, Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
- Paul keeps repeating that phrase, take up the full armor of God. It’s important.
- The battle is for your soul, but God prepares you for victory and equips you with everything you need so that you will be able to stand firm.
- Notice that this is the armor of God. It’s not your flimsy armor, this is God’s provision to stand firm.
A. Gird your loins with truth
- The belt of a Roman soldier identified him clearly as being ready for battle. It’s the first thing a soldier would put on to prepare for war. On his belt he would carry his sword. Even when not in battle a soldier would wear his belt. By wearing it he made it quite clear what he stood for.
- Paul identifies the belt with truth. It’s the foundation on which everything else is connected. There’s a reason why truth is so important, because one of the main tactics and schemes of the enemy is to lie.
John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil… He does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
- If the enemy can get you to believe a lie, he has won a great victory. If he can make you a liar, that too gives him a great victory.
- Satan does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. How much truth is in you? Jesus Christ is the truth and if you have asked Him into your heart then you can stand in the truth.
- If you have received the Holy Spirit, then the Spirit of truth is strengthening your soul.
- Lies hold many people captive and keeps them bound and chained and imprisoned.
John 8:31-32, 36, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free… And he whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”
- The enemy wants you to believe lies about yourself and lies about God.
Genesis 3:4-5, The serpent responded, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
- The breastplate of course protected the heart. The key to life is the heart, but it also represents the place from which we love.
- If the enemy can get you to doubt God’s love, he’s won something big. We love God because we recognize how much He has loved us when He sent his Son to die on the cross on our behalf. And if Satan can get you to doubt that love, he’s driven a wedge.
- Put on the breastplate of righteousness to protect your heart. Remember that this is the armor of God, it’s not your flimsy armor, it’s His.
- There are two parts to this. The day you ask Jesus Christ into your life you are made right with God, your sins are completely forgiven, it’s finished. Done.
- When you put that on and understand what God just gave you, then your standing before God has been settled, and settled forever.
- This is important because when you falter, when you sin, the enemy will accuse you and try to convince you that God is angry and is withholding His love.
- No, God works His righteousness out in your life. Day by day, we grow in that righteousness which He has given us. He patiently works on our heart.
C. Shod your feet with the gospel of peace
- If you don’t have shoes, you’re not going to get very far, because there are some hard things you have to walk on in this life, there are hard places before you.
Illus - I mentioned on Wednesday when we were growing up we would sometimes walk to a neighbor’s pond to go swimming. More than once I walked there, on the gravel road, in my bare feet. You try that one time and you realize the importance of wearing something on your feet.
In contrast, you put on boots and immediately you feel stronger; ready to walk on difficult terrain, or use a shovel or swing an axe.
- It’s the preparation of the gospel of peace. It counters a scheme of the enemy. If he can bring conflict, if he can destroy your relationships, he’s won a great victory. If he can bring war between you and your spouse or anyone around you, he’s won something big
- The enemy wants conflict and he’ll stir it up. Do you think the enemy wants peace in the Middle East? No, he wants conflict, he wants chaos.
- But Jesus is the Prince of peace. He speaks peace in the midst of the storm. He’ll give you peace with God so that you yourself can be a man or woman of peace.
- Jesus speaks peace to the troubles of your heart and heals those wounds which you carried so that you can grow in strength and you yourself can speak peace.
Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Ephesians 6:10-15 NASB
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm 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 forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and havingput on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;