9-16-2018 Fight, Fight, Fight, Fight! Ephesians 6:10-18
As we all know now, there have been some families who have left our church over the past few months. The latest being Joey Neal who has been called away, even by our Lord, in pursuit of a full time paid youth pastor ministry.
We can rejoice in this because we know it was the Lord who called him away. And we know this because it was the Lord who gave Joey a desire to see young kids come to Christ and then the strong desire to be able to follow up with discipleship on a more long-term basis. Northland was able to use Joey, but now he has been called to a different set of kids to minister to them and see them grow. As sad as it is for us to see them go, we are able to praise the Lord that the Gospel will continue to spread and the Neals will fulfill what the Lord designed them to do—and really what we all are designed to do— go make disciples! Similar things could be said about the Kimbroughs and of some of the Northland students, faculty, and staff that had been through our doors in times past.
However, this was not always the case for the other families that have left. Several reasons and factors have led to the empty seats that you see around you, and if these empty seats could talk, they would tell stories. For some it was job changes, yet for some others it was primarily intense spiritual warfare which was not being eased here, and my fear as the pastor here, is perhaps I did not help them much, or even you to prepare for this level of warfare.
I think all of us would agree here that our adversary, the devil, has a bit to do with the recent struggles we’ve had, and it would be foolish of us to continue on here without considering the serious nature of the power of satan. The reality of satan and his demons typically are minimized, even in American churches due to our secular culture’s rejection of all things unseen. However, our Lord Jesus, Himself, has a bit to say in His Word about satan and his demons. And the best news is that Jesus has not left us here to fend for ourselves alone! He gives clear instructions in His Word that is well worthy of our attention this morning.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
In contrast to modern skepticism toward evil spirits, Paul pictured the church’s battle for survival as a struggle against the devil, demons, and malignant supernatural beings. In fact, this certainly is not the first time Paul has made reference to the reality of satan’s power in this one epistle:
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—
So how do we fight an enemy who is stronger than us? How do we fight an enemy who is smarter than us? And even worse yet, how do we fight an enemy that we can’t even see coming?
At first glance, this warfare doesn’t look good for our side. But I want to consider a few things as we prepare for this kind of battle. First..
I. Our Source of Strength (v.10)
I. Our Source of Strength (v.10)
Our source of strength in waging this warfare
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
The phrase here, “be strong” in the Lord’s power refers to strength derived from YHWH, not strength we humans have to somehow obtain. This verb to “be strong” is grammatically interesting! In the Greek, it is a 2nd Person Passive Imperative! We actually don’t have a way to communicate this exact grammar in English! Imperative simply means it is a command. 2nd Person is not referring to the 2nd Person of the trinity; rather, grammatically it means “you” or in this case, it is plural which would be like “you all or y’all.” The problem in the translation here is the Passive voice. Passive voice is an English construct as well.
For example “She was being loved by her mother” uses passive voice and we understand that the subject “she” did not perform the action. Instead, the subject “she” is receiving the action from the object of the sentence, namely, her mother. We English speakers can understand this easily except in the context of a command! How can we have passive voice in a command?!? Paul says be strong! the implied subject is the “you” so we understand here that “you” are the one to perform the command “be strong,” BUT that understanding is wrong in Greek grammar! The proper understanding is somehow, we are commanded to participate in the “being strong” but since it is a passive command, another Person is performing the action of being strong. In this context it is the Lord! The grammar proves that our source of our strength is the Lord!
This is very important, because when we fight what we perceive is the enemy with our own strength, one of two things will likely occur:
We’ll find out our strength is no match to satan’s strength; and/or
We might fight the wrong enemy.
What do I mean?
I mean that either we attempt to resist evil on a path to failure and/or we might have friendly fire in battle because we are not in tune with the Commander, Jesus. Christians, can and do attack other Christians failing to realize their enemy is satan not the other person.
YHWH’s strength is continual empowering of the Christian community. YHWH’s power is part of the Kingdom blessings available to His people. The power that raised Christ from the dead empowers God’s people as they prepare for the spiritual battle they must face on this earth.
Another problem can arise when Christians have enough faith to make them “decent” and look good on the outside, but not enough to make them “dynamic” and charged on the inside. The reason this happens is that we fall pray to depending on our ingenuity rather than the Spirit’s inspiration. Paul says since we are involved in a spiritual warfare, our strength must come from a spiritual source. As long as we trust in the strength and might of men, we won’t see the power and might of YHWH! Spiritual warfare that requires spiritual resources and spiritual strength! That’s why we must realize that the strength we need to wage this warfare will come only from the Lord. He is our source of strength. Isaiah confirms this!
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
v. 31 “Wait” in the Hebrew sense means also “to trust, hope, or have confidence in.” The phrase, “they who wait” speaks of continual action. This person is one who trusts the Lord in everything. Originally, the Hebrew word meant “to twist, bind.” It speaks of the twisting process used in making rope, which is a tool that is strong and capable of holding a heavy weight. Waiting on, or trusting in the Lord strengthens us in three ways (v.31):
Improved perspective - “wings like eagles”
Informed priorities - “run and not be weary”
Incredible perseverance - “walk and not faint”
We are to trust in our Lord by communing with Him daily and seeking His still small voice among the chaos of battle. We accomplish this by recognizing our own strength.
II. Our Enemy (vv. 11-12)
II. Our Enemy (vv. 11-12)
We must know the enemy we face in waging this warfare to recognize the threat.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Our enemy here is the devil and his demons. His schemes are craftier than man’s. But because he is a created being, he is not omnipresent. So, he works through a well-defined organization. In verse 12, Paul walks us through Satan’s organization:
Rulers - Generals (Daniel 10:12-13 - Prince of Persia)
Authorities - Commissioned Officers
Powers of this dark world - this likely is Propaganda Agents
Spiritual forces of evil - Rank & File Demons
In 1 Peter 5, we see that this is a wide-spread problem! It is not just us here at Grace who experience the attacks of satan and his minions
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
So what else do we know about our enemy?
sinned against God. 2 Pe 2:4; 1 Jo 3:8.
was Cast out of heaven. Lu 10:18.
was Cast down to hell. 2 Pe 2:4; Jude 1:6.
is The author of the fall. Ge 3:1, 6, 14, 24.
he tempted Christ. Mt 4:3–10.
he perverts the Scripture. Mt 4:6; Ps 91:11, 12.
he opposes God’s work. Zec 3:1; 1 Th 2:18.
he hinders the gospel. Mt 13:19; 2 Co 4:4.
he works lying wonders. 2 Th 2:9; Re 16:14.
he assumes the form of an angel of light. 2 Co 11:14.
he accuses the brethren. Revelation 12:10
are the children of satan. Mt 13:38; Ac 13:10; 1 Jo 3:10.
turn aside after satan. 1 Ti 5:15.
do the lusts of satan. Joh 8:44.
are possessed by satan.. Lu 22:3; Ac 5:3; Eph 2:2.
are blinded by . 2 Co 4:4.
are deceived by. 1 Ki 22:21, 22; Re 20:7, 8.
are ensnared by. 1 Ti 3:7; 2 Ti 2:26.
are troubled by satan. 1 Sa 16:14.
and are punished together with satan. Mt 25:41.
afflicted by satan, only as God permits. Job 1:12; 2:4–7.
tempted by satan. 1 Ch 21:1; 1 Th 3:5.
sifted by satan. Lu 22:31.
believers Should resist satan. Jas 4:7; 1 Pe 5:9.
should be armed against satan. Eph 6:11–16.
should be watchful against satan. 2 Co 2:11.
believers have already Overcome satan. 1 Jo 2:13; Re 12:10, 11.
and will finally triumph over satan. Ro 16:20.
the devil’s character is:
presumptuous. Job 1:6; Mt 4:5, 6.
proud. 1 Ti 3:6.
powerful. Eph 2:2; 6:12.
wicked. 1 Jo 2:13.
malignant. Job 1:9; 2:4.
subtle. Ge 3:1; 2 Co 11:3.
deceitful. 2 Co 11:14; Eph 6:11.
fierce and cruel. Lu 8:29; 9:39, 42; 1 Pe 5:8.
cowardly. Jas 4:7.
the devil is compared to:
a fowler. Ps 91:3.
birds. Mt 13:4.
a sower of tares. Mt 13:25, 28.
a wolf. John 10:12.
a roaring lion. 1 Peter 5:8.
a serpent. Revelation 12:9; 20:2.
and finally, he Shall be condemned at the judgment. Jude 1:6; Re 20:10. and an everlasting fire is prepared for him. Mt 25:41 — So says R.A. Torrey, The New Topical Text Book.
Recognizing our source for power, and knowing this about satan, now what do we do? Paul tells us:
III. Our Strategy (v. 13)
III. Our Strategy (v. 13)
What our strategy is in waging this warfare
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God”
We need armor, and next week we’ll dive in deeper into this armor.
The word translated “stand” means “to defend the ground already taken.” It speaks of waging war from a position of victory. How was this victory won? How was this ground taken? By the cross of Christ! In secular warfare, tactical victory (taking hills, cities, etc.) makes strategic victory (the overall victory-winning the war) possible. In spiritual warfare the opposite is true. It is the strategic victory (the overall victory won by Christ by the cross) that makes our tactical victories (individual, daily victories) possible! THIS IS GOOD NEWS!
Paul’s instruction in verse 11, to put on the full armor of God, is a command. We must obey if we are to stand against these attacks and wage a winning warfare. During times of war in our country, men in past times have received a letter in the mail, that began, “Greetings from the President of the United States.” That letter, as you may know, was a draft notice. The President’s “greeting” was not an invitation, but a summons. If one ignored it, there were serious consequences. Paul’s instructions here are similar, yet even weightier. He says every Christian has been drafted, not invited to be involved in this conflict! We’re not encouraged to put on the “full armor of God,” we are commanded to!
A story is told about a man in the Army of Alexander the Great who was brought before the emperor, accused of showing cowardice in battle. Alexander, who asked what his name was. He replied softly, “Alexander.” “I can’t hear you,” the ruler stated. The man again said, a little louder, “Alexander.” The process was repeated one more time, after which Alexander the Great reprimanded him by saying, “Either change your name or change your conduct.” To how many of us is Jesus saying, “Either change your conduct, or change you name?” If you are truly a Christian, trust in me. If you are truly a Christian, look to my Word. If you truly are a Christian, seek me in prayer. If you truly are a Christian, walk like it, talk like it, work like it, worship like it, witness like it! Quit being a wimp, and commit yourself to becoming a warrior! For the sake of a lost world, for the sake of His kingdom, for the sake of your family, for the sake of your marriage, for your own sake, respond to the call to “take on the full armor of God!”