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Stand Firm

Ephesians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Stand firm against the devil's schemes by wearing the full armour of God, aquired through prayer.

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The moral issues with which he deals are not simply matters of personal preference, as many within our contemporary and postmodern world contend. On the contrary, they are essential elements in a larger struggle between the forces of good and evil.

Stand Firm

So, we’ve reached the end of Ephesians. Book that displays the contrasts between those that deny Christ and are dead in Sin, and a church of Christ’s people made alive in Him.
Pray
Chapter 1 - looks at all the wonderful spiritual blessings we receive in Christ. Christians made holy and blameless in God’s sight, chosen and adopted by God the Father.
All made possible not because we are special and deserve it, no quite the opposite, but Jesus, the son of God redeemed us by his blood. He bought us with a price - his death on a cross.
A people who are will live for ever in glory with God himself, who have the Holy Spirit living in us now as a seal, marking us eternally as loved children of God.
Chapter 2 - unpacks how all this is made possible: not because we are special and deserve it, no quite the opposite, but Jesus, the son of God redeemed us by his blood. He bought us with a price - his death on a cross.
We were dead, having rejected God - but we are his handiwork in Christ Jesus. Saved according to his desires, and we are now a people designed for good works, not bad.
The end of chapter 2 and most of 3 discusses how far and wide this ‘good news’ needs to spread. Both Jew and Gentile need the gospel. In other words all people.

1 - The Devil’s schemes

And then Chapter 4, 5 and the start of 6 is a call to us to live lives worthy of that calling .
That is who we are!
And then Chapter 4, 5 and the start of 6 is a call to us to live lives worthy of that calling.
You are holy and blameless in God’s sight because of Jesus - so let’s strive to live like that!
Those that believe are told to be united under the good news of Jesus.
Put off falsehood and speak truthfully,
Do not let anger cause you to sin.
Work hard
the list goes on.
We even get specific instructions for Christian hoseholds, chidlren, wives, husbands, emplyers, employees.
All very practical and challenging stuff, and today we reach that big big word - Finally!
After all that, finally!
Ephesians 6:10 NIV
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
That’s what we’re going to learn today - how to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Or more simply put ‘STAND FIRM’
v11 - take your stand
v13 - stand your ground
v14 - stand firm.
v14 - stand firm.
This Final passage in Ephesians is a rousing call for the foot soldiers of Christ to live up to their calling.
Stand firm.
Yes, Jesus has done the work that is required for salavtion.
But while the victory is sure, the battle rages on until Jesus returns again.
and until that day, we must be aware that God’s people have a very real enemy against whom we must stand firm.
Grace Church Christians - do not be complacent about the life we live. We must defend the position that the Jesus has won for us by standing firm.
The bible is very clear, we are at war.
While it may be fun to laugh about Donald Trump, we would not be laughing one bit if he actually triggered a 3rd world war.
And so it is today as a Christian. If we are at war, then taking our faith lightheartedly, or not allowing it to affect our whole life is no laughing matter. We ought to make absolutely sure we are prepared for battle.
So let’s do that now.
The first strategy then, in any war, is to gather intelligence - who is the enemy and how do they operate. And Paul tells us that:

1 - The Devil’s schemes

We’ve just had a couple of chapters in Ephesians telling us how to live as Christians in our relationships, work situations and our general character and attitudes.

The moral issues with which he deals are not simply matters of personal preference, as many within our contemporary and postmodern world contend. On the contrary, they are essential elements in a larger struggle between the forces of good and evil.

You’d expect Paul to finish by saying
Finally, remember our struggle is with flesh and blood.
But he actually says the opposite:
Ephesians 6:12 NIV
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.
eph
So, hang on - I don’t need to really worry about how I behave as a husband, whether I lie to the tax man, whether I am lazy at work. Doesn’t matter if I allow my anger to lead me into sin, or I waste my time with foolish talk.
dd
Ephesians 6:11–13 NIV
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor 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.
What really matters is how I stand against evil spiritual forces.
eph 6 11-
Well, no, not really. Paul’s finale here is a reminder that the evil forces at work in this world have everything to do with everyday normal life.
You see, The devil is a schemer!
We must still strive to live just how we’ve been told. We must try to live like the people we have already been made in Christ.
ddd
What’s going on here in this final passage is Paul wants us to be reminded of the reality of what’s going on.
The devil is a schemer!
d
He works his evil schemes in and out of our lives through seemingly insignificant things.
In 4:27, we were told that the devil tries to gain a foothold and exert influence over the lives of Christian’s through uncontrolled anger, as well as falsehood, stealing and unwholesome talk.
In 4:27, we’re told that the devil tries to gain a foothold and exert influence over the lives of Christian’s through uncontrolled anger, as well as falsehood, stealing and unwholesome talk.
It makes sense doesn’t it, that any time we conduct ourselves in a way that is characteristic of our ‘old way of life’ (before Christ) we are open to the devil’s schemes.
Infact,
The theologian Snodgrass - Yes, I said Snodgrass puts it like this:

Evil rarely looks evil until it accomplishes its goal; it gains entrance by appearing attractive, desirable, and perfectly legitimate. It is a baited and camouflaged trap.

According to 4:27, Satan tries to gain a foothold and exert his influence over the lives of Christians through uncontrolled anger (v. 26) as well as falsehood (4:25), stealing (v. 28), unwholesome talk (v. 29), indeed any conduct that is characteristic of the ‘old way of life’ (v. 22). Further, the evil one is committed to hindering the progress of the gospel and the fulfilment of the divine plan of summing up all things in Christ (1:10). He will attempt by his ‘insidious wiles’ to turn believers aside from pursuing the cause of Christ and achieving this goal.

Mention of the “schemes” of the devil reminds us of the trickery and subterfuge by which evil and temptation present themselves in our lives. Evil rarely looks evil until it accomplishes its goal; it gains entrance by appearing attractive, desirable, and perfectly legitimate. It is a baited and camouflaged trap.

1 - The Devil’s schemes

You see, the moral issues that Paul has been instructing us about, are nor simply matters of personal preference.
No, they are the essence of a much larger battle between Christ’s church and the forces of evil.

The moral issues with which he deals are not simply matters of personal preference, as many within our contemporary and postmodern world contend. On the contrary, they are essential elements in a larger struggle between the forces of good and evil.

The moral issues with which he deals are not simply matters of personal preference, as many within our contemporary and postmodern world contend. On the contrary, they are essential elements in a larger struggle between the forces of good and evil.
O’Brien, P. T. (1999). The letter to the Ephesians (p. 457). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
d
The moral issues with which he deals are not simply matters of personal preference, as many within our contemporary and postmodern world contend. On the contrary, they are essential elements in a larger struggle between the forces of good and evil.
Let he devils schemes are varied and constant.
O’Brien, P. T. (1999). The letter to the Ephesians (p. 457). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.dd

According to 4:27, Satan tries to gain a foothold and exert his influence over the lives of Christians through uncontrolled anger (v. 26) as well as falsehood (4:25), stealing (v. 28), unwholesome talk (v. 29), indeed any conduct that is characteristic of the ‘old way of life’ (v. 22). Further, the evil one is committed to hindering the progress of the gospel and the fulfilment of the divine plan of summing up all things in Christ (1:10). He will attempt by his ‘insidious wiles’ to turn believers aside from pursuing the cause of Christ and achieving this goal.

Snodgrass’s comment is worth quoting in full:

Mention of the “schemes” of the devil reminds us of the trickery and subterfuge by which evil and temptation present themselves in our lives. Evil rarely looks evil until it accomplishes its goal; it gains entrance by appearing attractive, desirable, and perfectly legitimate. It is a baited and camouflaged trap.

Deny Christ’s rule in an aspect of your life and you invite access to the varied and many schemes of the devil.
This is supposed to make us uncomfortable.
The word ‘Struggle’ in v12 in the original Greek is one not used anywhere else in the bible. It is not the typical word used for battle or struggle. But the word was widley used in the popular sport of the time, wrestling.
Take the word ‘Struggle’ in v12. The original Greek word isn’t used anywhere else in the bible. It is not the typical word used for battle or struggle. But the word was widely used in the popular sport of the time, wrestling.
We’re to imagine the devils schemes flailing around us like the strong arms of a wrestler. His sweat in our face, his arms grappling around us trying to take us down. Trying to loosen out foothold, trying to ensure we do not stand firm.
According to v16 he also has archers waiting at a distance with flaming arrows hoping to destroy the new person we have become in Christ and make us once again ‘dead in our sins’.
Now, don’t hear me wrong.
I don’t think Paul is implying that every aspect of suffering, temptation, sin and bad attitude that comes our way is an all out satanic attack.
V13 does suggests that yes, we will have those times of direct evil attack - we’ll see that when we start a new series on Job next week.
As suffering, temptation, sin and bad attitude comes our way from within ourselves, from others around us or from what looks to be pure bad luck, I think these verse ought to do 2 things for us.
Ephesians 6:13 NIV
Therefore put on the full armor 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.
I take it that he means in v13 - that yes, sometimes those times of attack will come and we need to be prepared. we start the book of Job next week were we will read of a direct satanic attack infiltrating the life of a godly man.
Ephesians 6:16 NIV
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
But Paul’s instructions are to make sure we do not invite him in through unbiblical lives and attitudes.
but that as we make choices about how we live our lives, the wrong choices will increase our vulnerability to the devils schemes and flaming arrows.
Even if the devil has nothing to do with a situation we have, he’s sure going to look to take advantage of an opening.
So, now we know our enemy, should we shake nervously in the corner hiding from combat, or do we STAND FIRM.
Ephesians 6:13 NIV
Therefore put on the full armor 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.
epg 6 13
We now know our enemy for the battle, it’s sobering stuff
Well, our second point shows us that no matter how significant our enemy is, we are prepared for battle:
eph 6
1 - We are to be aware that it is possible, not definite, but possible the devil or his agents are attacking you directly.
2 - Whether or not is is a direct attack

2 - God’s armour

Ephesians 6:14–17 NIV
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
eph 6 14
The imagery here is that of a Roman soldier dressed for battle, so let’s work through them.
So we’ll look at those 2 aspects as we walk through the various armour we are to dress ourselves with:
1 - Fasten the belt of truth - the image is probably of the large roman leather apron belt. It is crucial to holding the rest of the armour in place.
It protects the erm…vital organs and thighs.
And the idea of truth is crucial to the Christian.
Ephesians 4:24 NIV
and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Paul speaks of truth a lot and it’s basically always about the truth being who God claims to be in the bible and the truth of the Gospel - that Jesus saves us.
Eph
Ephesians 5:9 NIV
(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)
The Devil wants us to attack truth with lies, to make us doubt who we are in Christ. 
eph
The Devil wants us to attack truth with lies, to make us doubt who we are in Christ.  And he often does this by planting thoughts or ideas into our mind, as if they’re our own.  For example, the thought may come: "My life isn't worth living.", "God doesn't care about me," “I’m no good.” “I’m a failure and disappointment to God.” The devil knows we are far more likely to believe his lies if we acknowledge the thoughts as our own.
The Devil wants us to attack truth with lies, to make us doubt who we are in Christ.  And he often does this by planting thoughts or ideas into our mind, as if they’re our own.  For example, the thought may come: "My life isn't worth living.", "God doesn't care about me," “I’m no good.” “I’m a failure and disappointment to God.” The devil knows we are far more likely to believe his lies if we acknowledge the thoughts as our own.
"My life isn't worth living.", "God doesn't care about me," “I’m no good.” “I’m a failure and disappointment to God.”
The devil knows we are far more likely to believe his lies if we acknowledge the thoughts as our own.
We need to put on the belt of truth. We need to be firmly established in the truth of God’s word, so that we can resist Satan’s lies and deceit. 
Jesus himself said in John 8v31 , “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ()
Fastening the belt of truth is to hold confidently to God’s truth in the bible, so we must read it and trust it.
There is no way in for the devil when a Christian knows and refuses to waver on the truth of the bible.
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

Truth’, which occupies a prominent place in Ephesians, refers to the truth of God (4:24; 5:9) revealed in the gospel (1:13; 4:15, 21, 24), which has its outworking in the lives of believers who are members of the new humanity (4:25; 5:9). Here in Ephesians 6 both aspects of truth belong together. As believers buckle on this piece of the Messiah’s armour, they will be strengthened by God’s truth revealed in the gospel, as a consequence of which they will display the characteristics of the Anointed One in their attitudes, language, and behaviour. In this way they resist the devil, giving him no opportunity to gain an advantage over them (4:27).

2 - the breastplate of righteousness - If the belt of truth is about knowing God’s truth in His word, then the breastplate of righteousness is more about living according to that truth.
We are to be imitators of our saviour Jesus. Live a righteous life.
and
Most the commentators on this passage agree that this isn’t the righteousness we receive at salvation, but more the right way in which we are to strive to live as a result of salvation.
It makes sense doesn’t it, that to live as Christ desires us to live will not allow space for the devil to move in with his schemes and temptations.
How we live is important - the breastplate protects our heart, much like striving to live in a righteous way protects our heart in Christ.
2 - having put on the breastplate of righteousness - protection from the blows of evil attack.
oprotection from the blows of evil attack.
Ephesians 6:15 NIV
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

By putting on God’s righteousness believers are committed to being imitators of him (5:1) and acting righteously in all their dealings.

3 - Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
If we truly believe that Jesus saved us through his death and resurrection on the cross, then we ought to have feet fitted with readiness to spread that Gospel of peace to others.
A lapsed attitude to sharing our faith means a lapsed attitude towards the object of our faith - Jesus. And if we don’t see the importance of spreading the gospel with ready feet, the devil will use our idle feet for other things.
4 - The shield of faith.
and
have a look at the specific task of the shield of faith.
Ephesians 6:16 NIV
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
eph 6
The shield Paul is referring to was a large 4ft shield made of wood with a thick cover of leather. Before battle the leather would be soaked in water, so that as any flaming arrows came in the shield actually extinguish the flame.
Paul is telling us that our faith is quite capable of extinguishing the most traumatic and terrifying attacks that evil has in it’s armoury.
I discovered that one of Romans sheilds which we presume Paul is talking about here
What is faith?
Hebrews 11:1 NIV
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

2 - God’s armour

In other words faith does not interpret God by the circumstances around us (what we can see), but interprets the circumstances around us by our faith is God.
God is faithful, he will save, his promises are trustworthy.
As the flaming arrows of distress, pain and anguish come in, of exams, of illness, of money troubles, of rejection, of depression, of marital difficulties.
We are to hold up the shield of faith and know that whatever happens we are secure eternally in Christ. The blows will still hit around us and on our shield. Terrifying, burdensome, tiering, and dangerous - but our unwavering faith in Jesus protects us unquestionably.
We do not look at the terror around us and conclude that God is unfaithful. We look at a faithful God and determine that the terror around us are ‘light and momentary troubles’ compared to eternity with our loving heavenly Father.
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

They are as wide-ranging as the ‘insidious wiles’ (v. 11) that promote them, and include not only every kind of temptation to ungodly behaviour (cf. 4:26–27), doubt, and despair, but also external assaults, such as persecution or false teaching. Paul’s expression conveys the sense of extreme danger. The forces of ‘the evil one’177 are incredibly powerful, and left to our own devices we would certainly fail. But these flaming arrows cannot harm those whose trust and confidence are ‘in the Lord and in his mighty power’ (v. 10). They are able to resist and overcome these satanic attacks.

5 - The helmet of salvation
What a glorious piece of armour this is. Think about it, the helmet of salvation is a wonderful defence. Placed securely around our head is the knowledge of VICTORY!
Satan can throw everything he’s got at us. Who knows, perhaps like many persecuted Christians in Syria today, our actual head may get chopped off. But what does that matter says Paul.
We wear a helmet of salvation. Death cannot defeat us. Illness cannot defeat us, the devil has nothing to defeat salvation.
The more we dwell on our salvation in Jesus, the more certain we are of Victory in this battle. We will rise again for eternity because of our helmet of salvation!
6 - this last piece of armour reminds us that standing firm does not mean standing still.
But this last piece reminds us that standing firm does not mean standing still.
The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

standing firm can also involve carrying the attack into enemy territory, of plundering Satan’s kingdom by announcing the promise of divine rescue to captives in the realm of darkness.

Standing firm with a sword in our hands means carrying the attack into enemy territory, of plundering Satan’s kingdom.
standing firm can also involve carrying the attack into enemy territory, of plundering Satan’s kingdom by announcing the promise of divine rescue to captives in the realm of darkness
Paul usually uses the greek word ‘logos’ when referring to 'God’s word’. And by that he means the bible.
But here he uses a different word ‘’rhema’ that has it’s roots in ‘proclaim’.
In view here as the sword is a faithful proclamation of God’s word the Gospel.
To tell people about Jesus and His offer of salvation is to wield the sword against the devil.
Share in bible stdy groups and sermons on Sunday. And each time we are driving the sword into the enemy.
We don’t strike our enemy the devil with adhoc verses from the bible spouted against him.
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

But standing firm can also involve carrying the attack into enemy territory, of plundering Satan’s kingdom by announcing the promise of divine rescue to captives in the realm of darkness. Consistent with his use of military imagery elsewhere, Paul speaks of the weapons he uses in his warfare as being divinely powerful to demolish strongholds, to overthrow arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:4). This undoubtedly involves carrying the attack into enemy territory, which is clearly to adopt an offensive stance.

4 - having taken the sheild of faith - whis has purpose
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

To take the shield of faith, then, is to appropriate the promises of God on our behalf, confident that he will protect us in the midst of the battle. According to 1 Peter 5:8–9, firm faith, described as ‘a flint-like resolution’, is called for in resisting the devil.

The large water soaked roman sheild was designed to quench flaming arrows.
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

They are as wide-ranging as the ‘insidious wiles’ (v. 11) that promote them, and include not only every kind of temptation to ungodly behaviour (cf. 4:26–27), doubt, and despair, but also external assaults, such as persecution or false teaching. Paul’s expression conveys the sense of extreme danger. The forces of ‘the evil one’177 are incredibly powerful, and left to our own devices we would certainly fail. But these flaming arrows cannot harm those whose trust and confidence are ‘in the Lord and in his mighty power’ (v. 10). They are able to resist and overcome these satanic attacks.

1 and 2 - OT God’s Messiah is characterised by righteousness and truth - now it’s our turn

1-4 Armour explained:

Truthfulness and moral integrity will provide support and brace the believer. Doing right and practicing justice will give essential protection. Being in a state of readiness by living out the peace produced by the gospel is paradoxically but appropriately the best preparation for combat against powers out to produce disunity. Confident trust in and constant openness to God’s resources in Christ will offer further full protection against every type of assault rained upon believers by the evil one.

This is not armour from God, IT IS GOD’S OWN ARMOUR!

The last 2 add a sense of being a gift from God
5 - helmet of salvation - you have ultimate protection now!
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

As they appropriate this salvation more fully and live in the light of their status in Christ, they have every reason to be confident of the outcome of the battle.

6 - sword of the spirit - you can get on the offensive - we’re not weak cowarly people, waiting for Jesus, we’re prepared, armed warriors ready to take down the enemy.
Spoken Word (gospel) or written (bible)?...
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

This sword of the Spirit is identified with ‘the word of God’, a term which in Paul often signifies the gospel. However, he normally uses logos (‘word’) instead of rhēma, which appears here. The two terms are often interchangeable, but the latter tends to emphasize the word as spoken or proclaimed (as in 5:26). If this distinction holds here, then Paul is referring to the gospel (cf. Rom. 10:17), but stressing the actual speaking forth of the message, which is given its penetration and power by the Spirit.

The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

What is in view here is not some ad hoc word addressed to Satan, as though what we speak against him will defeat him. Rather, it is the faithful speaking forth of the gospel in the realm of darkness, so that men and women held by Satan might hear this liberating and life-giving word and be freed from his grasp.

?!?!?!?!?!?!? GOOD QUOTE ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
We cut deep at his heart and strategy when we speak the gospel, so that men and women might hear this liberating and life giving word and be freed from the devils grasp!
Finally on the issue of armour, there is an aspect we should not miss.
And Finally on the issue of armour, there is an aspect we should not miss.
This armour is not an afterthought that may or may not help us in this life.
Do not underestimate how significant this armour is. It’s not just a vain hope thta it might work. Paul continually picks up on OT imagery of armour - not not the armour you might think. This is not the armour of a great prophet, or Israels military leaders or the great King David.
Paul as he writes is continually picking up on OT imagery of armour - but not the armour you might think.
This is not the armour of a great prophet, or Israel’s military leaders or the great King David.
No, this armour is the very armour that Jesus the promised saviour himself wears.
These quotes from Isaiah speak of God’s promised saviour:
Isaiah 59:17 NIV
He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,

and the helmet of salvation on his head;

2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,

Isaiah 49:2 NIV
He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.
Isaiah 49:2 NIV
He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.
Isaiah 59:17 NIV
He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
isa 59 17
As we put on this armour, we wear the same armour that secured victory for us all in Jesus.
As we put on this armour, we wear the same armour that secured victory for us all in Jesus.
As we put on this armour, we wear the same armour that secured victory for us all in Jesus.
It will not fail us, just as Jesus has not failed us.
Isaiah 49:2 NIV
He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.
The battle is a certain victory, won on the cross and fully realised when Jesus returns again.
And so, we fight and stand firm in the power of God wearing his armour.
Isaiah 52:7 NIV
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!”
Now, onto our final point:

3 - Our only chance

What I mean is this.
What I mean is this.
If the devils schemes are so real and dangerous, yet God’s power is available to us,
Then why is it I often fall into the enemies trap.
We succumb to doubt, we succumb to temptation, we succumb to trying to live our way not God’s?
Maybe Paul’s stirring finale here in Ephesians is enough to cause us to don the armour for a few days, but it wont be long until we fail again.
Well, it’s because our only chance of continually improving our battle armour is not through our own strength - but we must pray.
Ephesians 6:18 NIV
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.
Prayer is not another piece of armour. Pray is part of our instruction to ‘Stand Firm’.
You could summarise this whole section as
A call to stand firm through pray.
In fact that’s a better title for this sermon.
Stand firm through pray!
Prayer is the way in which we can stand firm because it is the way in which we receive God’s armour.
Look at the way Paul elevates the primacy of prayer.
emphasise ‘all’
eph
Ephesians 6:18 NIV
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.
Pray, pray, pray pray pray.
There is no
When we’re sick, when we’re stressed, when we’ve had enough of someone, when we’re trying to share the gospel with someone, when we’re not trying to share the gospel with someone - but probably should.
When we’re celebrating, when we’re grieving, when we’re weak and when we’re strong.
Prayers of praise, prayers of thanks, prayers of sorrow, prayers of desperation.
Prayers to know God’s truth better, prayers for stronger faith, prayers for our needs, prayers for the salvation of a loved one.
Prayers in our bed, prayers in the shop, prayers at our desk, prayers in the car, prayers on a walk, prayers in the bath, prayers on holiday.
Paul isn’t unrealistic, he’s a realist. He knows this isn't easy.
What’s he say in v18 - be alert, and keep on.
Know that in every situation you could do much better with God’s armour on, so pray - be alert.
And keep on. Persevere.
Staying Alert - avoids spiritual sleep and complacency.
Perseverance - overcomes fatigue and discouragement
Pray pray pray pray pray.
And that last part of the verse, for all the Lord’s people.
And did you see - We must pray for one another.
We must pray for one another.
If you’re like me you feel really rather inadequate about your prayer life, made to feel even worse by verses like this.
But, I trust people are praying for me, and when I remember I pray for others to stand firm.
If you need to pray more (well that should about cover all of us), then start by asking someone to pray for you, that you will stand firm though prayer.
Don’t be embarrassed, you can all pray that for me.
Even Paul, the great apostle ends this extraordinary letter asking for prayer for himself to put on some of the armour he’s just talked about.
Ephesians 6:19–20 NIV
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, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
He needs the sword of the spirit to powerfully speak the gospel, he needs the helmet of salvation in his dire situation in chains, he needs reassurance that he is wearing the breastplate of righteousness - because the world sure doesn't think he is righteous. He needs confidence in the belt of truth, that God will bring about all his promises, and he undoubtedly needed the shield of faith as flaming arrows of doubt and torment came his way as he festered in a prison cell.
Our only chance of standing firm, of putting on the armour of God in every situation, of accessing all this power of God as we engage in battle with evil is through... prayer.
Let’s pray right now..

Christ’s triumph over the powers has ‘already’ occurred (1:21), so believers no longer live in fear of them. But the fruits of that victory have ‘not yet’ been fully realized, so Christians must be aware of the conflict and be equipped with divine power to stand against them.

The realities closely connected with the pieces of armour in 6:14–17 have already featured prominently in the earlier chapters of the epistle. So truth (1:13; 4:15, 21, 24, 25; 5:9), righteousness (4:24; 5:9), peace (1:2; esp. 2:14–18; 4:3; cf. 6:23), the gospel (1:13; 3:6; cf. 2:17; 3:8) or word of God (1:13; 5:26), salvation (1:13; 2:5, 8; 5:23), and faith (1:1, 13, 15, 19; 2:8; 3:12, 17; 4:5, 13) are important theological themes which are recapitulated in relation to the weaponry believers are to employ in their spiritual warfare. In addition, the summons to prayer in 6:16–18 picks up terminology already used earlier in the letter: 1:16; ‘all the saints’ (3:18); the ‘mystery’ (1:9; 3:3, 4, 9; 5:32), ‘boldness’ (3:12), and Paul’s imprisonment (3:1; 4:1).

The varied nature of the diabolic attack is brought out again in v. 16, albeit in slightly different language: the ‘evil one’ launches his ‘flaming arrows’ against the saints. These differing expressions suggest not only inner temptations to evil but also ‘every kind of attack and assault of the “evil one” ’.

The devils schemes and flaming arrows

According to 4:27, Satan tries to gain a foothold and exert his influence over the lives of Christians through uncontrolled anger (v. 26) as well as falsehood (4:25), stealing (v. 28), unwholesome talk (v. 29), indeed any conduct that is characteristic of the ‘old way of life’ (v. 22). Further, the evil one is committed to hindering the progress of the gospel and the fulfilment of the divine plan of summing up all things in Christ (1:10). He will attempt by his ‘insidious wiles’ to turn believers aside from pursuing the cause of Christ and achieving this goal.

Snodgrass’s comment is worth quoting in full:

Mention of the “schemes” of the devil reminds us of the trickery and subterfuge by which evil and temptation present themselves in our lives. Evil rarely looks evil until it accomplishes its goal; it gains entrance by appearing attractive, desirable, and perfectly legitimate. It is a baited and camouflaged trap.

Stand! x4

emotional engagement.....

Appeals to be strong, stand firm, pray, and be alert can be found in Paul’s writings (e.g., 1 Thess 5:6–8; 1 Cor 15:58; 16:13; Rom 13:11–14), but here they are more elaborate and intense. Houlden (Paul’s Letters, 337) has noted that the writer’s “words form an inspiring exhortation … they help to put Ephesians into the category of liturgy or oratory.” The passage is a rousing call to the readers to summon all their energies in firm resolve to live out the sort of Christian existence in the world to which the whole letter has pointed. The battle imagery arouses a sense of urgency and intensity. At the same time, the passage does not provoke any feeling of panic or fear but conveys the sense of confidence and security that the readers can have in the midst of a bitter combat. For those familiar with the Scriptures, the passage’s OT allusions would lend it both added authority and effect.

This particular peroratio takes the form of a call to battle or, to be more precise, a call both to be ready for battle and to stand firm in the battle that is already in progress. As such, it also, not surprisingly, has features in common with speeches of generals before battle, urging their armies to deeds of valor in face of the impending dangers of war. These hortatory speeches, called παραίνεσις, “paraenesis,” or προτρεπτικὸς λόγος, “advisory word or speech,” can be found frequently in Greek literature,

It too dwells on the need for valor with its exhortations to be strong, prepared and alert, and to stand firm. It points out the dangers and strengths of the enemy. It braces its soldiers for a successful outcome of the battle by reminding them of the superior strength, resources, and equipment they possess. It makes clear not only that they have God on their side but also that he has put his own full armor at their disposal. It gives them a model for triumph in an embattled situation by bringing to their consciousness the boldness and freedom of proclamation of the imprisoned apostle

Isa 42:13; Hab 3:8, 9; Ps 35:1–3

Isa 42:13; Hab 3:8, 9; Ps 35:1–3

Isaiah 42:13 ESV
The Lord goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes.

Isaiah 11:4–5 ESV
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
Habakkuk 3:8 ESV
Was your wrath against the rivers, O Lord? Was your anger against the rivers, or your indignation against the sea, when you rode on your horses, on your chariot of salvation?
Habakkuk 3:8–9 ESV
Was your wrath against the rivers, O Lord? Was your anger against the rivers, or your indignation against the sea, when you rode on your horses, on your chariot of salvation? You stripped the sheath from your bow, calling for many arrows. Selah You split the earth with rivers.
Isaiah 59:17 ESV
He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
Psalm 35:1–3 ESV
Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me! Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help! Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers! Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!”
Isaiah 49:2 ESV
He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away.
Isaiah 52:7 ESV
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
isa
THIS IS TH ARMOUR OF GOD!! At our disposal!

Be Strong in

Finally - from 5v15 instructions have been living wisely in relationships to be worthy of their calling.
Now -

Why put on the armour? - Nesscisity?

Now and not yet..
Until Christ returns the enemy is at large. We must not be complacent.
Put on the armour, and now STAND FIRM!

What is the armour? - How does it work?

The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

Truth’, which occupies a prominent place in Ephesians, refers to the truth of God (4:24; 5:9) revealed in the gospel (1:13; 4:15, 21, 24), which has its outworking in the lives of believers who are members of the new humanity (4:25; 5:9). Here in Ephesians 6 both aspects of truth belong together. As believers buckle on this piece of the Messiah’s armour, they will be strengthened by God’s truth revealed in the gospel, as a consequence of which they will display the characteristics of the Anointed One in their attitudes, language, and behaviour. In this way they resist the devil, giving him no opportunity to gain an advantage over them (4:27).

and
and
2 - having put on the breastplate of righteousness - protection from the blows of evil attack.
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

By putting on God’s righteousness believers are committed to being imitators of him (5:1) and acting righteously in all their dealings.

The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

But standing firm can also involve carrying the attack into enemy territory, of plundering Satan’s kingdom by announcing the promise of divine rescue to captives in the realm of darkness. Consistent with his use of military imagery elsewhere, Paul speaks of the weapons he uses in his warfare as being divinely powerful to demolish strongholds, to overthrow arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:4). This undoubtedly involves carrying the attack into enemy territory, which is clearly to adopt an offensive stance.

and
3 - having taken the readiness of the gospel of peace
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

But standing firm can also involve carrying the attack into enemy territory, of plundering Satan’s kingdom by announcing the promise of divine rescue to captives in the realm of darkness. Consistent with his use of military imagery elsewhere, Paul speaks of the weapons he uses in his warfare as being divinely powerful to demolish strongholds, to overthrow arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:4). This undoubtedly involves carrying the attack into enemy territory, which is clearly to adopt an offensive stance.

3 - having taken the readiness of the gospel of peace
in addition
4 - having taken the sheild of faith - whis has purpose
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

To take the shield of faith, then, is to appropriate the promises of God on our behalf, confident that he will protect us in the midst of the battle. According to 1 Peter 5:8–9, firm faith, described as ‘a flint-like resolution’, is called for in resisting the devil.

The large water soaked roman sheild was designed to quench flaming arrows.
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

They are as wide-ranging as the ‘insidious wiles’ (v. 11) that promote them, and include not only every kind of temptation to ungodly behaviour (cf. 4:26–27), doubt, and despair, but also external assaults, such as persecution or false teaching. Paul’s expression conveys the sense of extreme danger. The forces of ‘the evil one’177 are incredibly powerful, and left to our own devices we would certainly fail. But these flaming arrows cannot harm those whose trust and confidence are ‘in the Lord and in his mighty power’ (v. 10). They are able to resist and overcome these satanic attacks.

take the helomet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (word of God)
1 and 2 - OT God’s Messiah is characterised by righteousness and truth - now it’s our turn

1-4 Armour explained:

Truthfulness and moral integrity will provide support and brace the believer. Doing right and practicing justice will give essential protection. Being in a state of readiness by living out the peace produced by the gospel is paradoxically but appropriately the best preparation for combat against powers out to produce disunity. Confident trust in and constant openness to God’s resources in Christ will offer further full protection against every type of assault rained upon believers by the evil one.

This is not armour from God, IT IS GOD’S OWN ARMOUR!

take the helomet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (word of God)
The last 2 add a sense of being a gift from God
5 - helmet of salvation - you have ultimate protection now!
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

As they appropriate this salvation more fully and live in the light of their status in Christ, they have every reason to be confident of the outcome of the battle.

6 - sword of the spirit - you can get on the offensive - we’re not weak cowarly people, waiting for Jesus, we’re prepared, armed warriors ready to take down the enemy.
Spoken Word (gospel) or written (bible)?...
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

This sword of the Spirit is identified with ‘the word of God’, a term which in Paul often signifies the gospel. However, he normally uses logos (‘word’) instead of rhēma, which appears here. The two terms are often interchangeable, but the latter tends to emphasize the word as spoken or proclaimed (as in 5:26). If this distinction holds here, then Paul is referring to the gospel (cf. Rom. 10:17), but stressing the actual speaking forth of the message, which is given its penetration and power by the Spirit.

The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

What is in view here is not some ad hoc word addressed to Satan, as though what we speak against him will defeat him. Rather, it is the faithful speaking forth of the gospel in the realm of darkness, so that men and women held by Satan might hear this liberating and life-giving word and be freed from his grasp.

?!?!?!?!?!?!? GOOD QUOTE ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Why is prayer seemingly overemphasised

All this armour is appropriated by prayer! Becasue Prayer is not magical - it shows our dependance on God = we then have his armour. Without dependacne on God we don’t have his armour!
Perseverance - overcomes fatiuge and discourangemt
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

What is in view here is not some ad hoc word addressed to Satan, as though what we speak against him will defeat him. Rather, it is the faithful speaking forth of the gospel in the realm of darkness, so that men and women held by Satan might hear this liberating and life-giving word and be freed from his grasp.

Not just selfish prayers - but prayer for the church.
Paul’s request for the furtherance of the gospel despite his chains is a call to us all to pray for and join the battle to spread the gospel in the face of opposition!
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

What is in view here is not some ad hoc word addressed to Satan, as though what we speak against him will defeat him. Rather, it is the faithful speaking forth of the gospel in the realm of darkness, so that men and women held by Satan might hear this liberating and life-giving word and be freed from his grasp.

The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians 2. Stand Firm and Put on God’s Armour, 6:14–17

What is in view here is not some ad hoc word addressed to Satan, as though what we speak against him will defeat him. Rather, it is the faithful speaking forth of the gospel in the realm of darkness, so that men and women held by Satan might hear this liberating and life-giving word and be freed from his grasp.

(Not allowed to talk about Jesus - do it anyway - pray for the words - put on the armour.)
Muslim countries seemilingly winning the religion battle - go there and speak of Jesus anyway.
Standing does not mean immobilisation - standing means decalign the name of JEsus to the ends of the earth!
Pray for the saints - each other

Summary/applications

We do not live at home - not even on neutral territory - we are at war - a battle ground!
One our side is God v11, 13, 17. Jesus v10. The HS v17-18.
On their side is the devil v11, 16 and his spiritual forces v12.
But it is temporary - and it’s not an even match.
Ephesians 1:20–22 ESV
that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,
Ephesians 4:8–10 ESV
Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
First half of Ephesians is about the peace of the gospel - now it ends with war.
NOW AND NOT YET.
BEfore
Ephesians 2:2 ESV
in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—
and we would be there again with out the armour of God.
And our battle is fought with love - not violence.
Paul’s is at war with spiritual forces that want to take him down - and that may mean people, moevemets, govenrments, employers are used in theses battles. But the armour protects us, allows us to stand and put’s us on the offencive to defeat the spiritual powers.
But that is realised through the spreading of the gospel.
STANDING FRIM TILL THE END IS THE VICTORY - and TAKING RESCUEING AS MANY PEOPLE from the enemy’s army is part of the armour.

The Messiah has ascended a figurative Mount Zion in a triumphal march after the defeat of his enemies, and God’s people have shared in his triumph (see commentary on Eph. 4:7–11 above). Now, Paul urges his readers to defend the position that the Messiah has won for them by putting on the armor of God and standing firm (6:11, 13, 14) against the devil and other invisible evil powers.

Paul earlier had said that Christians must “put on [endysasthai] the new human being, created in God’s image, in righteousness, holiness, and truth” (4:24 [cf. 5:9]).

He also had said that they should imitate the Messiah (4:32) and God (5:1) in showing forgiveness and love to one another. Now he depicts this imitation of God in terms of the final eschatological battle in a war that has largely already been won (see O’Brien 1999: 473–75). Before the time of final victory God’s people must strap on the armor that in the OT belongs to Yahweh and his Messiah, and, taking their stand on what God has already done for them in the gospel (6:15) (Moritz 1996: 200, 203), they must act as God would act—in truth and righteousness (Schlier 1957: 295; Lincoln 1990: 447–48; pace Moritz 1996: 201–3).

3 - having taken the readiness of the gospel of peace
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