Be prepared for war!
There are three things that a person needs to know when faced with war. The first is to know where their strength is, their might. The second thing a person needs to know and to have is armour and weapons. What are my armour and my weapons? The third is they need to know who they are fighting who is the enemy.
Paul is going to address all three of these areas in relation to the war every Christian faces.
A. Our position – v 10 – 12
a. Be strong – 36 times in the Bible we are told “Be strong” – the Message
God is strong, and he wants you strong.
The devil says – “Be Fearful, look around at difficulty and dangers. Give up, for you can never win. But God says. Be strong!
i. In the Lord – it is in union with Him – Good News
- build up your strength in union
Amplified - In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provide].
Deau 31:6 - Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Message the same today!!
The Lord – the sovereign, kingly one, the ruler.
Paul says: - I can do all things though Christ who strengthens me! It is not the amount, it is the source of strength that we have!
ii. Mighty Power – Paul often referred to God’s power in the Epistles -. Look at chapter 3 – Paul’s prayer for the people is that they would know the reality of the mighty power available to them in their lives!
Eph 1:19 - - and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
Eph 3:16 – prays that he may be strengthen by his power - I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit
Act 1:8 – You will receive power – the Holy Spirit dwelling in us!
Do we try to do things in our own power? Zech 4:6 - This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.
Amplified bible - In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provide].
b. Take your stand
John Stott – Wobbly Christian have no foothold and are easy prey for the devil!
Refuse to be pushed backwards, or continue to hold your beliefs in a an arguments
Stand up or offer resistance to somebody or something
Stand up for your rights
To rests or attack
- Not a massive invasion but individual soldiers withstanding an assault.
Note how many times in these verses
V 11 – take your stand.
V 13 – able to stand your ground
V 13 – after you have done everything … to stand
V 14 – Stand firm then.
i. Ready for battle – Unmoveable – will not budge from the position.
ii. NLT – says – “Be ready”!
1 Cor 16:13 - Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.
Gal 5:1 - Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Phil 4:1 - stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
c. Remain standing after the battles v 13 – THE message - so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet
When you have finished the whole fight, you will be still be standing!
Psalm 16:8 - I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 112:8 - Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
In the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
B. Our Battle – v 12
Who is Enemy? When World War I broke out, the War Ministry in London dispatched a coded message to one of the British outposts in the inaccessible areas of Africa. The message read: “War declared. Arrest all enemy aliens in your district.” The War Ministry received his prompt reply: “Have arrested ten Germans, six Belgians, four Frenchman, two Italians, three Austrians, and an American. Please advise immediately who we’re at war with.
a. Against the devil’s
i. Our battle is against the devil – two forces – evil and good
ii. Not just the devil, but his agents – in the heavenly places – spiritual powers at work at this time.
It is a reality –
Sooner or later a Christian will discover that the Christian life is a battlefield and not a playground!
We face three enemies:-
a. The World – people around us
b. The Flesh – ourselves – the tendency to sin
c. The Devil – this is what Paul is dealing with here.
In Paul’s time – it was not unusual for them to believe in the spiritual wold as well the physical world. They lived in a time when it would be talked about.
Danger of the occult, worshiping idols and so one.
Roms 8:38 - For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, [a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
But remember – that Christ has overcome them all –
Eph 1:21 - far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
iii. Evil forces – their aim is evil – not good.
iv. Uses the powers and rulers – but not earthly ones
They are powerful and worldwide.
v. It will come – note v 13 – When the day of evil comes i.e. prepared at all times.
Only one way – that is through Christ –
Col 2:13 -
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[d] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross
vi. It is only with God’s strength – one of the lies if the devil is to make us think that we can stand in our own strength.
The devil will do all he can to trip us up and try to get us to fail. He plots against us.
2 Cor 2:11 - in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
In a battle you need to spend time thinking about the opposition, and how they will be dealt with. Do we know the strategies that the devil will use? Are we ready?
The word “WILES” literally means “Cunning arts, deceit, craft, trickery.”
c. Struggle – The Message - This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
The Christian pathway is not easy – it is a struggle – a battle between good and bad.
It is a real contest – not going to be easy!
AV and others – “Wrestling”
- To contend by grappling with and striving to trip or throw an opponent down or off balance
- To combat an opposing tendency or force
- - to engage in or as if in a violent or determined struggle
Eph 4:27 - do not give the devil a foothold.
James 4:7 - Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
1 Peter 5:8 – 9 - Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
C. Our Protection v 13
One of every 400,000 babies is born each year with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease, or SCID, a disease that leaves the child with no body-chemistry defences to fight infection from the germs that constantly attack one’s body. For such children, life is often short and always filled with danger. In a similar manner, the Christian who is not protected by the armour of God is defenceless against the attacks of the flesh, the world, and Satan. Sin, like an infection, can eat its way into his life because he has no defence against it
The warrior dress of the Roman soldiers was well known to the people of Ephesus in modern day Turkey. Romans with shield, and swords, and helmets patrolled their streets and occupied garrisons in their city on the edge of the Roman Empire. So the writer of the letter to the Ephesians used the familiar battle gear of the Roman army as a metaphor for the battle gear supplied by God to the faithful.
a. Put on the whole armour – The Message “take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials”
i. Put on – It is something we have to make an effort to do! We have things at our disposal, it is important that we put them into practice and do it!
According to the Greek, this is a command that we put on the Armour of God, not just a request, with a sense of urgency
ii. Note – it is our responsibility to do this – God equips us!
iii. Once on – does not say take off!
iv. Full armour – not just a part of it, but all of it. We need complete 100% take hold. Do we sometimes only take some if the things available to us?
Amplified Bible – “Put on all (the complete)
Paul would have seen the solider preparing for duty – you would not put on half the armour!
v. Be ready – so when the attack comes – you are able to stand!
The solider does not know when attack comes, so when on duty he will wear all times!
“In this armour we are to stand and watch, and never to relax our vigilance for the saint’s sleeping time is Satan’s tempting time”!
b. Of God
i. Spiritual weapons- just as it is a spiritual battle!
2 Cor 10:4 - The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
David Watson says “God gives us all the protection that we need. We must see that there is a ring of truth about our walk with the Lord, that our lives are right with God and one another, that we seek to make peace wherever we go, that we lift up the shield of field together to quench the flaming darts of the evil one, that we protect our minds from fears and anxieties that easily assail, and that we use God’s word to good effect in the power of the Sprit.”
c. Belt of truth
Buckled – around the waist
I.E picture of being prepared and dressed – ready for action. – Are we ready for what God wants from us?
When they went to enter battle, they would tuck up their cloak or tunic under the girdle so that they could leave their legs free from anything that would hinder them in the fight.
Hold everything together Sense of hidden strength, belt and braces. To tighten one’s belt would mean to prepare for action.–
Ready for active duty!
Remember – we are fighting the devil of lives – if we are to overcome a liar, the only way is to use truth! Truth is sincerity, integrity.
A dishonest Christian cannot hope to withstand the father of lies.
Also, some reference to Jesus Christ.
d. Breastplate of Righteousness
A breastplate protected the soldier’s vital organs from blows that would otherwise be fatal. It was a major piece of the armour.
Some commentators argue that the breastplate only covered the front, and seek to argue that there is no turning back in the Christian pathway. Good illustration, and I would agree with this.
But. In fact, the breastplate did cover the entire body – its function was to protect all the vital organs from attack.
“No spiritual protection is greater than a righteous relationship with God!”
There is therefore no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
“Rightness is to be taken and wrapped around our whole being!”
This is our position – our standing - What is our foundation?
It is our standing – people of integrity! - Morally upright; without guilt or sin is the definition
God makes us righteousness – without guilt
It is God’s righteousness that guards are heats against the accusations that the devil would bring against us!
God’s approval – as we enter the battle we can stand, knowing that He declares us righteous.
Is 61:10 - I delight greatly in the Lord;
My soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
And arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
As a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels
God has done that for us now!
Only way that we know that are without guilt – and sinless -
Filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Note that we are righteousness – and in a sense – we need to look to why Paul would say “Put on”! 0- We cannot put on something that w already have! So this would include practical righteousness of a life lived in obedience to God’s word/ to put on the breastplate of rightness is to live daily, moment by moment obedience to our Father. God supply’s the power, but we must supply the willingness.
e. Feet with the gospel of peace
Today we have shoes for every conceivable type of activity. We have dress shoes, work shoes, leisure shoes. In athletics there are special shoes for every sport, sometimes several types for a given sport. A tennis player might have one type of shoe on a concrete court, another kind on clay, and still another on grass. Likewise, football and baseball players wear different shoes to play on different surfaces.
A solider shoes are more important even than an athletes, because his very life could depend on them. As he marches on rough, hot roads, climbs over jagged rocks, tramples over thorns, and wades the streambeds of jagged stones, his feet need much protection a solider whose feet are blistered, cut, or swollen, cannot fight well and often is unable to stand up - perilous situation in battle. He cannot very well handle his sword or shield and cannot rapidly advance or retire.
In addition, to being made tough and durable to protect his feet, the Roman soldier’s shoes or boots, were unusually impregnated with bits of metals or nails to give him greater traction as he climbed a slippery cliff and greater stability as he fought”
The romans Caliga – made of leather, the toes would be free. They would have heavy soles, and they would be tied to the ankles. It would equipment them for long marches and give stability.
The Roman soldier wore sandals solid rows of blunt nails in the soles to give him better footing for the battle. If we are going to “stand” and “withstand,” then we need the shoes of the Gospel
The Roman sandal was furnished with a thick sole of nails that gripped the ground firmly, even when it was sloping or slippery.
It is the gospel message that gives us firmness.
Stability and support – what is or standing and grounding?
The gospel message
Note the feet – Ready for action. – Evangelistic endeavours? – Good news “and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace.”
Message – peace – What is the message we take to others? What is its impact? We are peacemakers – that is our job!
Missionary work is like a pair of sandals that have been given to the church in order that it shall set out on the road and keep on going to make known the mystery of the gospel.”
Isa 52:7 - How beautiful on the mountains
Are the feet of those who bring good news?
Who proclaim peace?
Who bring good tidings?
Who proclaim salvation?
Who say to Zion?
“Your God reigns!”
The pictures there of a person being ready to take God’s message out and about in the battle.
Readiness – are we ready? Prepared? Looking for opportunities? - And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the [a]firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness [b]produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace. – (Amplified Bible)
f. Shield of faith
Faith – our central to the Christian life – What is our faith in? The shield would be indispensable item. It was long, oblong, 1.2 meter by 0.75 m. Two types of wood glued together, covered with linen and hide. Job to put out any fiery weapons.
Flaming Arrows” “Fiery darts” were arrows covered with pitch or tar and set afire. They were then shot into the bodies of enemy soldiers. Faith in a Christian’s life produces a shielding effect that effectively deflects and extinguishes Satan’s flaming arrows.
Extinguishes the fierily arrows of the devil – He will fire at us.
i. Accusation s- Guilt
Proverbs 30:5 - Every word of God is flawless;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
The roman solider would have a leather shield – it would be coated – so when the enemy fire fiery arrows the flames would be extinguished!
Amplified Bible - Lift up over all the [covering] shield of [a]saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].
1 John 5:4 - for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
Note – it is “all” – every single one can be defeated.
And it is with us all the time – Good news Bible - At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One.
It is firm confidence in the Lord and his word – It is confidence that our present struggle will not last forever, and we will be victorious.
1 Peter 1:3 -5 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Often when a runner is on the home stretch of a race he suddenly hits the wall, as the expression goes. His legs wobble and refuse to go any further. The only hope for the runner is to keep his mind on the goal and the victory that will be his if he finished the line. It is this hope that keeps him going!
g. Helmet of salvation
A British Royal Marine was shot in the head four times during a firefight in the Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr, has lived to tell about it. After he was caught in the enemy’s gun sights, four bullets ripped through the outer camouflage of Eric Walderman’s standard issue helmet. Though the bullets could have meant certain death, the protective Kevlar shell underneath the cloth coverage stopped them.
All of the coalition forces wear helmets made of the tough Polymer Plastic. Kevlar was developed in the mid 1960s, and in some applications, can be up to twenty times stronger than steel. The military began using Kevlar helmets to replace the old “steel pot” helmets in the late 1970s
The protection of our head – vital part of our body! The head is the seat of the mind.
It was made of bronze or iron, There would be nothing which a hammer could piece into. It was both decorative and protective.
Salvation – Past – Forgiveness, Deliverance and Placed into God’s Family
Future – Resurrection, Christlikeness.
God’s salvation and saving power is our only defence.
The mind and thoughts are guarded by God – Helmet was a sign of victory – reasons why the enemy wanted it e.g David and Goliath’s helmet –
Our helmet – is salvation –
Salvation – this is the aim of the Christian life
Victory – has been won – will be won
D. Our weapons The Message - God’s Word is an indispensable weapon
a. The Sword of the Sprit
Sword was only used for attack or defence.
i. The Word of God – The Bible
Bible has many purposes
Jesus used the Bible – see him in the garden at Gethsemane
Heb 4:12 - For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
It would be used in defence – to empower.
2 Tim 3:16 - All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness
ii. Prayer – THE message - In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long
Prayer is a paradox! It is a sign of weakness – dependence on God, but also a sign of strength to the devil.
We have nothing in ourselves.
What is your prayer life like?
Prayer is a sign of dependence on God – Do we depend on Him or try to fight our own battles? Like Good News version –
Do all this in prayer, asking for God's help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God's people.
Note it in the context of the battle
Dl Moody was crossing the Atlantic. A fire broke out on the ship. A friend said to him, Mr Moody, let us go to the other end of the ship and pray. The heavenly minded Moody replied, not so sir, we stand right here and pas buckets and pray at the same time”!
By cooperation with or Lord in prayer we can fight in all parts of the battlefield.
Central to our life – Rom 12:12 - Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer
Col 4:2 - Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
a. In the Spirit – being led by the Sprit – God gives us His Holy Spirit to lead us, to show us His will.
Living Bible – Ask God for anything, in accordance with what the Holy Spirit wishes”
We are told that the Holy Spirit take sour prayers and presents them to God
We are told in previous chapter to be filled with the Spirit –
b. All occasions – all places - good or bad? Bible emphasises this:-
Jesus urged us to be persistent and not to give up!
Act 1:14 – We read of the disciples joining constantly in prayer. Important we have a regular prayer life.
c. All kinds - - NCv – “all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need”
Prayers – general requests
Petitions – speefic requests.
d. Alert – Looking out – man on a watchtower! The devil is like a lion – will attack when we do not expect him!
Picture people on duty in Afghanistan!
e. All people – Do we include “all the saints” – like Paul – or just our favourite ones?