- Sermon Notes
Be Strong in the Lord
July 10, 2022
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.
When we look at the events unfolding on the world scene the nature of spiritual battle becomes more and more apparent. We see wars and rumors of wars, people living more ungodly ruled by their own perverse will, militant behavior concerning social issues, shootings, and the overall increase in lawlessness. Those who have spiritual discernment will agree that this all plays into the evils of the latter days.
There is often a spiritual battle behind the things you see in the physical realm. God is Spirit, and from that realm He spoke the physical world into existence. The spiritual realm is more ‘real’ than the physical realm we can perceive with our senses. It is the realm that is eternal and infinite, whereas the physical realm is finite and with limitations.
This is why this section in Ephesians is critical and very important to understand. We need to understand the strategy of the enemy in this spiritual fight. We will learn about the enemies’ tactics and where our strength lies.
As a foundation, Paul has in the first few chapters first covered our position, then how we walk, and now he will focus on how we stand against the enemy in the spiritual realm. Over the next few weeks, we will learn about the nature of spiritual warfare and the keys to victory. The good news is that we can be victorious. We don’t have to be defeated.
I. Know your Enemy
In any military situation it is important to know your enemy and their tactics.
Luke 14:31, Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
It would be foolish to underestimate your enemy. We see it in the Russia and Ukrainian war. Russia underestimated their enemy. They thought it would be a walkover victory and all would be done in a few weeks. They were clearly mistaken.
One need to know your enemies’ strategies, weak points, strong points, covert operations, and tactics. This is why the military intelligence agencies play such a vital role.
Paul is writing so we can understand the schemes of our spiritual enemy, to be prepared against the spiritual forces of wickedness and to stand firm, having put on the full armor of God.
A. Understand the enemies’ dominion
- Verse 12 – …rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
- When Satan, then Lucifer, rebelled against God, God cast him out of heaven.
Luke 10:18, And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.”
- Satan set up his base of operation and authority structure in the heavenly places, or the spiritual realm on earth, from which he orchestrates his schemes and influences people.
- Many people look at the physical realm and think that it is physical powers, world forces, and governments that plot the direction the world is heading. But Paul makes it very clear that it is forces of wickedness in heavenly places that influence the world and individuals.
- We even use the terms in our language: there is an angry spirit in that mob, or, they have a spirit of defiance.
- We see in Daniel 10 how, when he was praying, an angel come to him with a message from God, but the angel was resisted by the Prince of Persia in the heavenly realm; to such an extent that the Archangel Michael had to come and help. This gives us insight into the Spiritual forces Paul is writing about.
- When we look at history and all the atrocities done by people, one cannot fathom that people can be that evil. And the fact that it can happen randomly all over the world leads one to perceive that it cannot just be random; it is tactical maneuvers by a spiritual enemy that influences individuals, groups, and nations.
- As an example of the national context, I am always amazed at how Hitler, as one man, were able to influence a whole nation to be part of the atrocities of WW2. I submit to you that this was a spirit blinding, influencing, and directing that nation. Now, when the German people look back over history, they are deeply ashamed of what happened.
- When looking at individuals, we see people who we say are ‘deeply disturbed’ doing heinous things that is not normal. I submit to you that they are demonically influenced, directed, or possessed, for example the shootings at Columbine. Once again we are seeing these things happen now.
- We even see evidence of people choosing to ‘sell’ their souls to the devil for fame, example documentary “They sold their souls for Rock and Roll”. These people then influence generations through their musical messages.
- We need to recognize that we are standing against a ruthless enemy.
B. Stand against the schemes of the devil
- Verse 11 – … so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
- The enemy’s primary objectives are to turn people away from God and destroy man who was made in God’s image. He has studied humanity for a long time, and he knows us very well. He has very effective strategies in place to use against humanity.
- We 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 desire nothing more than to shipwreck your faith and destroy your relationship with God. He wants to drive a wedge between you and God. The battle is for your soul.
- The enemy loves to use lies, (he is the father of lies,) confusion, denial, and misdirection.
Illus. – let’s say the beautiful life that Jesus has for us would be like me putting a beautiful diamond in front of you. Instead of trying to get your focus of the diamond, the enemy takes a bag full of worthless glass cut like diamonds and throws it all around the precious gem. Now he doesn’t have to try and convince you not to pick up the precious diamond, because he has distracted you with so many other worthless options that also look shiny.
- We are bombarded daily by all the ‘glass diamonds’ the enemy is strewing around us, and the intensity is escalating exponentially as, I believe, the end of time is drawing closer.
- The ‘glass diamonds’ are numerous. Different religions, trying to make Christianity just ‘one of many religions’ and ways to God. Or telling others ‘there is no God’.
- He focuses on the works of the flesh, rivalries, hate, strife, lust of the eyes, people being made complacent on magic (sorcery), accumulation of things, love of money, etc. There are many things we have to stand firm against.
- As a warning: It is good to be vigilant and to know your enemy, but some Christians fall into the trap of having an unhealthy focus on Satan, and he is just fine with that. Any focus that he can detract from Jesus Christ is good enough for him.
- So, we should know our enemies’ tactics, but our focus should always be on Jesus Christ and what he has done.
Illus. – if I were to tell you to close your eyes and imagine a pink elephant sitting in the tree with purple toenails, and then tell you stop thinking about the elephant, stop thinking about the elephant, stop thinking about the elephant…. The only thing you will be able to think about is the elephant.
- The enemy is using any avenue possible to move your focus from Christ.
- He can come like a roaring lion bringing fear and dread into your life, or like an angel of light where what he says and does is so close to the truth that it is difficult to discern the evil.
- The good news is that we do not have to study all the “fake diamonds” or schemes of the enemy.
Hebrews 12:2, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.
- We can rather focus our attention on Jesus and what he has done.
Illus. I once heard the story of a guy starting work at the counterfeit division of FBI. He asked his supervisors to show him all the kinds of counterfeits to teach him ab out. Instead, his supervisor gave him stacks of real money to count. For weeks he was counting money I could not understand why. Until one day…
II. Strengthen Yourself in the Lord
When we look at the enemy’s strategy, one might become fearful, and the fear is warranted if you are living without Christ. But with Christ is a totally different story.
A. Understand the Source of your Strength
- It is important to know that the enemy is not on equal footing with God as an equally powerful adversary. Our God is far above all rule and authority, the Creator of everything. All authority has been given to Jesus Christ and everything and everyone is subject to Him.
- We do not have to live in fear of the enemy, because in Jesus Christ we have been put in a new position of authority in His Name.
- Notice Paul didn’t just say, “Be strong.” He said, “Be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.” This is the key to victory.
- If a person thinks he is strong in himself, he deceives himself. Self-confidence is a great weakness and is easy for the enemy to exploit. It makes a person quite blind. A person who is self-confident doesn’t think he needs God. That’s the error.
1 Corinthians 10:12, Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
- It is a ploy of the enemy to make you think that you are strong enough. We can even have a misplaced faith in how strong our faith is. If the focus is on YOUR-self, YOUR strength, and YOUR faith is a recipe for YOUR defeat.
B. Stand firm in your position
- Verse 13 – stand firm. We need to know the truth of our position and the authority we have in Jesus Christ to be able to stand firm against the works of the enemy. If we do not understand who we are, we can still be caught in the lie that the devil is very strong and that we are defenseless against him.
- We need to be grounded in our identity when putting on the full armor of God.
John 8:31-32, So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “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.”
- We have to stand in faith on the word of God, not influenced and directed by our feelings.
- We are called to be strong in the Lord. We stand in His strength because of the position that He has placed us in.
- We can pray these truths over our lives in the first person, thanking God and coming in agreement with it.
i. We have been rescued from the domain of darkness.
Col 1:13-14, For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
ii. We now belong to God.
1 Pet 2:9, But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
iii. We have authority in the name of Jesus Christ.
Luke 10:19, Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.
iv. We have been set free.
John 8: 36, So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
v. We are ambassadors of Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:20, Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,
- An ambassador has all the authority of his country relegated to him.
vi. We are more than conquerors.
Romans 8:37, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
- We do not have to fear the enemy, because in Christ we have all we need to stand secure. He has already overcome the enemy and we stand in His victory.
- The promise is Life and Life in abundance as we stand strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might, standing firm against the schemes of the devil.
- Next week we will take an in-depth look at the full armor of God.
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 [a]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.