- Sermon Notes
Spiritual Warfare -2
In this last section of Ephesians Paul gives us insight into the nature of spiritual warfare and how we can have victory. This world is getting more dangerous by the day and there are spiritual forces of darkness behind what is happening in the world.
When you look at the events unfolding on the world scene the nature of spiritual battle becomes more and more apparent. This world is going to see greater and greater struggles; we need to understand the spiritual forces behind these events.
If we are to be victorious, we need to understand the schemes of the enemy which are against us not only on the world scene, but personally. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. The battle is for your soul. The enemy would love nothing more than to shipwreck your faith and destroy your relationship with God.
Paul lays the foundation for spiritual warfare in verse 10 where he said, “Be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.” To be strong in the Lord is to have a sincere relationship where there is authentic revival in the soul.
Over and over Paul says that you must put on the armor of God so that you will be able to resist in the evil day. Each aspect of the armor of God also reveals the schemes of the enemy. Understanding the strategy against us is the key to victory. Any strategy of warfare that doesn’t anticipate the tactics of the enemy has no hope of success.
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.
Last week we looked at the first three aspects of the armor of God. The foundation of everything is the belt of truth. The enemy is a liar and the father of lies, if he can get you to believe a lie he has won something big. If he can make you a liar, he has won something even bigger. Put on the belt of truth, God’s truth, and take your stand in the truth.
When you put on the breastplate of righteousness, you’re protecting your heart. God gives you the righteousness of Christ as a gift so that you are made right with God the very moment you ask Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior. That matter is settled with God and it is settled forever. When you sin, when you blow it, the enemy would try to convince you that God’s done with you, that He’s angry and withholds His love, but that’s a lie. God’s love never fails and nothing can separate you from the love of God which is found in Christ Jesus our Lord.
When you shod your feet with the gospel of peace, you counter a scheme of the enemy. If he can bring pain in relationships, if you can bring conflict in your life, if he can get you to be at war and battle with the people around you, he’s won a great victory. Jesus is the Prince of peace and he speaks peace in the midst of the storm. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Jesus said, “for they shall be called sons of God.”
Finally, Paul said, ‘having done everything to stand firm, stand firm therefore.’ Prepare your life for victory by taking on the full armor of God and then, having done everything to stand firm… Stand firm. There comes a time in your life when you make a decision, when you stop wavering, when you resolve this in your own heart, when you draw a line in the sand. Stand therefore and be victorious.
- These last three aspects of the armor of God are some of the most important. As we go through each of them, the strategy of the enemy will be revealed.
- The armor of God is the key to victory. But this is the armor of God, it’s not my flimsy armor.
- Jesus was referring to spiritual warfare in Luke chapter 11…
Luke 11:21-22, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed, but when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder.”
- Jesus was speaking of how He overpowers the forces of darkness in a person’s life so he can be set free and receive the Holy Spirit in their life.
- And if you have asked Jesus into your heart as Lord and Savior, He is now the Strongman in your life and the armor of God is that on which you now rely.
- The Roman soldier of the first century would use a shield made of wood and covered with leather held together with metal bands for strength.
- It would be slightly curved to fit the shape of the body, about 4 ½ by 2 ½ in size, strapped to the left arm. Groups of soldiers would lock their shields together to form the ‘tortoise’ for great effect.
- Before battle, the leather would be soaked in water so as to extinguish flaming arrows. A strategy of the enemy was to tie cloth to the end of arrows, dip them in flaming pitch and send them flying into the shields in the hopes of setting them afire.
- Paul connects the shield to our faith, it’s the armor that protects when the enemy sends flaming missiles against us. One of the key strategies of the enemy is to attack your faith.
Illus - When Israel was set free from the captivity of Egypt they went into the desert and they actually made a fairly straight run toward the promised land. As they drew near they sent out twelve spies to consider the land and bring back a report. This they did, but when the spies came back their report struck fear in the heart of the people and their faith began to crumble, “We can’t do it, we can’t do it, we must turn back.”
- Fear is the opposite of faith. Fear is the prison of the soul; we must not be taken captive by fear.
- What do we have to be afraid of? They could take my life; then I’ll be in the presence of my Savior, Paul responds. What if I’m persecuted and they bring harm to me? Then I’ll count it an honor to be persecuted for the name of Jesus Christ. What if I lose all my possessions? God is the strength of my life and He is my inheritance, Paul responds.
2 Timothy 1:7, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.
Psalm 3:1-3, O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, “There is no help for him in God.” But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.”
- Roman soldiers would lock their shields together. They are much more difficult to defeat when strength is added to strength.
- In the same way, we need to be locked together as a church family, we are stronger together. If the enemy can get you drawn away, you’re much more vulnerable, you’re much easier to defeat.
Illus - An American missionary family in the Philippines was having a rest day and decided to play croquet…
- We are stronger together when we encourage each other in faith. Then, when the enemy sends flaming missiles, you have a defense, there is a strength of faith, you have confidence in God as a shield.
- It’s the troubles, the stresses, the difficulties of life that the enemy would use against you to attack your faith, “If God were for you, if God truly loved you, He wouldn’t let you go through these troubles.”
- Jesus spoke of this when He said that the word of God falls on different types of soils, or different types of hearts. One type of soil is thin; it has rocks in it. At first, they receive the word of God with joy, but as troubles and difficulties arise in their life they’re offended and their faith withers.
- Faith is the very thing that will sustain you in times of trouble; it’s confidence that God is with you that gives you strength. He never promised that life would be easy, but He did promise He would be with us.
John 16:33, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
B. Take the helmet of salvation
- A soldier wouldn’t think of going into battle without a helmet; otherwise he’ll suffer a mortal wound.
- If the enemy can get you to doubt your salvation, that is a mortal wound.
- When someone messes up their life the enemy is right there on the attack, “You call yourself a Christian? There are troubles in your life; I see you have sin; look how badly you’ve messed up. You’re not a Christian, you’re not a follower of Christ.”
- If he can get you to doubt your salvation, that’s a mortal wound. Take up the helmet of salvation.
- This is not your armor; this is the armor of God you’ve taken up. Our salvation is sure and steadfast and nothing and no one can snatch us out of His hand.
- Our salvation was purchased for us by the blood of Jesus Christ and nothing and no one will take it away from us.
- You might say, “I have sin in my life.” Oh, He knows that very well. Listen, you didn’t earn your salvation by your holiness and you’re not keeping it by your holiness either.
- The helmet of salvation is the assurance we have that He purchased our salvation for us and gave it to us as a gift. He’s not going anywhere; He’s not turning His back on you, you don’t turn your back on Him.
John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”
Psalm 27:1, The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?
C. Take up the sword of the Spirit
- The sword of the Spirit is the word of God. It’s the only aspect of the armor of God that is used as a weapon. Two things to emphasize; it’s the sword of the Spirit… and it’s the word of God.
2 Corinthians 10:4, The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
- The problem is that many are not skilled in how to use a sword and therefore vulnerable to attack.
Illus - Some years ago my wife gave me a book called The Compleat Gentleman. One phrase stood out to me, “A gentleman masters whatever he does.” In those days a gentleman had to be a master of swordplay. Remember, the enemy is also skilled.
- When Jesus encountered the enemy in Matthew 4, His response to spiritual attack was the Word of God.
Matthew 4:4, He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
- If you put on the armor of God, you must then be ready; we live in dangerous days. Understand the schemes of the enemy, and be on the alert.
A. Pray in the Spirit
- Paul understood the significance of prayer. The disciples saw the relationship Jesus had with His Father and understood that prayer was a significant part of that relationship, which is why they said, “Teach us to pray.”
- What did Jesus pray? I’m convinced that one aspect of His prayer was to enjoy the intimacy of relationship with His Father.
- This is why Paul said to pray in the Spirit. If there isn’t spiritual revival, there is no spiritual victory. There are some prayers we do that are kind of like brushing our teeth; we do them regularly to remember the Lord and acknowledge Him.
- To pray in the Spirit suggests something deeper, something more personal, more intimate, where the Spirit begins to move upon the soul.
- In the last days, Jesus said, they will not understand until the troubles come upon them like a flood. But you, be of sober spirit, be on the alert.
1 Peter 5:8-9, Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, being firm in your faith.
- “Watch and be ready,” Jesus said, “watch for the signs of the times.” Are you ready to meet the Lord? If He were to return today, would you be ready?
Ephesians 6:16-24 NASB
16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to 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.
18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
21 But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts. 23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.