Faithlife Sermons

The Battle of Life

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Introduction

I am a movie buff and one of my favorite types of movies is war movies. I remember when I was a teenager, dad and I would set down in the evening once a week and watch the show Combat with Vic Morrow and Rick Jason. I don’t know if I developed a fondness of war movies because of the battles or just because it reminds me of time with dad, but there is just something about routing for the good buy and booing the bad that makes it all worth while.
They are especially good when you are taken by surprise, not seeing that coming or sometimes when who you thought was the good guy ends up being the bad guy! Life is kind of like that. Just when you think you have it all figured out, you find out you were wrong.
That is kind of what Paul was doing in this passage of Scripture. He was clearing some miss understandings about the battle we find ourselves involved in as Christians. The bad guy isn’t always who we think it is and the battle isn’t always fought as we think it should be.

Who is Our Enemy?

Paul used imagery with which folks in Ephesus would be familiar. Ephesus was under the control of Rome and seeing Roman Soldiers in their full armor would have been a normal site. In fact, if Roman imperialism was threatened, people would have seen soldiers in action, using their weapons and armor to express their military might.
Paul used imagery with which folks in Ephesus would be familiar. Ephesus was under the control of Rome and seeing Roman Soldiers in their full armor would have been a normal site. In fact, if Roman imperialism was threatened, people would have seen soldiers in action, using their weapons and armor to express their military might.
For a Roman soldier, knowing their enemy was no problem, but Paul said that as Christian soldiers, knowing who the enemy was wasn’t always clear. He said, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (vs 12)
It is awful easy to mistake who the enemy is. A co-worker offends us, a neighbor violates our trust, a driver cuts us off while changing lanes, a wife or husband betrays us; and we consider them our enemies. We can look in the news and find literally hundreds of enemies. But Paul said those are not really our enemies. The true enemy is the devil and the evil spiritual forces at work.
I have always been suspicious of those who see the devil behind every tree, behind every act of evil and disobedience, because the devil isn’t omnipresent. The devil isn’t the opposite of our omnipresent God. But it is clear that their are evil, spiritual forces at work tempting, influencing us into unrighteousness.
Peter warned us with these words: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, stand firm in the faith, because you know your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering.” ()
The enemy isn’t our co-workers, our neighbors, or even those who would wish to do us harm. The enemy, the battle is within. It is our flesh, our lusts, our desires that the devil and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms are constantly scheming against; trying to persuade us into unrighteousness.

On to Victory

So how do we defeat the enemy? Well, normally one would go through each element of the armor and what it represents: truth, righteousness, faith, salvation, the Spirit and the word of God, and prayer. These are all the weapons of a spiritual warfare. But I want to focus on something that comes before all of that.
In verse thirteen Paul writes, “Therefore put on the full armor of God.” I find it more than interesting that Paul used the same phrase in 4:24 when he writes, “to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” ()
But I want to focus on something that comes before all of that.
When we submitted our lives to Jesus, we were made as new creatures in Christ. But that new creation is only as effective as we are willing to “put on” the new self. It is through denying the flesh and walking according to the Spirit that we have the power to overcome the schemes of the devil. The power and the victory is in Christ and the more like Christ we become, the less influence the enemy has on his.

Conclusion

So it is important that we recognize there is a battle that is raging, even though we don’t see it.
We need to recognize who the enemy is; it is not those who the enemy influences, it is the devil himself, the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
And we need to, before all else, put on the new creation, to put on Christ, in order to defeat the enemy. Christ has already defeated the devil on the cross. By dying to himself, he was able to defeat sin and death, and to defeat the devil and his power over us. If we will clothe us in his righteousness.
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