"NO TRUCE OR CEASE-FIRE"
(A Series on Ephesians)
C.R.5/17/87a.m. Ephesians 6:10-24
PROPOSITION:The believer must face the reality that he
or she is locked in mortal battle with the unseen powers of darkness until the end of this life but is guaranteed victory in Christ and is given the equipment for the appropriation of the victory over every attack of the enemy.
- WHEN Christ died for the sins of the world He had a plan to redeem for Himself a great church...a holy people......a glorious representation of Himself for the world to see His power.
- THAT supreme price that He paid on the cross was to deliver for Himself a people, from the darkness of sin and the devil, and make them mighty.
- THE church of Jesus Christ!
- IT was to be a strong people.......a people of power...power over crippling sin...power over the lusts of the flesh....power over the thoughts of the mind...power over sickness....power over the wiles of the devil.
- THE church was to be a joyful people......where holy laughter and happiness prevail, not because of circumstances but because of who He is and who we are in Him....because we have read the end of the book and we win.
- WE are to be a people with purpose......a people who have a reason to live that is far greater than a career or relationships, or material possessions.
- WE are to be a people with love....agape love, giving ourselves to the highest good in each other......without limiting condition....because Christ first loved us that way.
- WE are to be a people of the Word.....who are nourished daily on the life of God in the Word.
- THE church was to be a people of prayer......where the essence of life flowed every day between God and His people.....where the bands of the enemy are snapped and prisoners released.
- IT was to be a people of worship....where God is exalted in daily praise and honor.
- THE church was to be a people of revival......not just once every century or so....but for every generation.
- AND this is the very picture of the true church of Jesus that Paul paints with words in the first five and a half chapters of the book of Ephesians.
* In chapter 1 we are chosen in Him before the creation of the world.
* We are redeemed through His blood.
* We are forgiven of all our sins.
* And given the incomparably great power of God.
* In chapter 2, we who were dead in our sins, are made alive together with Christ.
* We are built together into the church, the dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.
* In chapter 3 the mystery of the church is His manifold wisdom and it is made known through us to rulers and authorities in heavenly places.
* We are rooted and grounded in love.
* Strengthened with power in the inner man.
* Filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
* In chapter 4 we are one body in Christ.
* Bearing one another's burdens.....humble and patient.
* Receiving gifts from Christ to equip the body for works of service.
* Living as children of light.
* In chapters 5&6 the families are totally committed to each other, loving and submitting to one another.
- WHAT an incredible picture of life, the way God fully intends us to be living NOW!.....not to mention the way it is going to be in heaven.
- BUT right on the heels of this inspiring picture, in verses 10-24 of chapter six, Paul writes some chilling words of warning.
- THERE is someone out there whose soul objective is to destroy all this before it can mature into the kingdom reign of God.
- THERE is a very real devil out there whose purpose with you is to steal, kill and destroy the works of God.
- OH, I realize that in our super-sophisticated world, we don't believe in a real devil.....that there is a natural explanation for everything that we see or experience.....but God's word says that he is real....and I am here to tell you he is real....I saw him yesterday in Chester, Iowa.
* Wanted some pop, so I stopped at the first pop machine that I saw.
* But I didn't have any change....so I slipped into a tavern that was the only place open.
* And the minute I walked in I knew he was there and I could feel the hostility. (Describe scene....including little children.)
* I walked outside and the funniest thing happened....the children all followed me out....as if they wanted out.......wouldn't you......and they stood watching me as I got my pop.
* Pretty soon their dad walked across the street......long beard......black everything......shirt sleeves rolled up.....and looked at me and snarled at his kids, "What are you doing out here, get back in there!"
- OH, he is real alright, and you don't have to go to a Hindu ceremony to see him....he is alive and well in this country and in this city.
- AND he is out to destroy YOU!
II.BE STRONG IN THE LORD
- THAT'S why Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:10&11;
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes."
- THERE exists a scheme, a carefully laid out strategy, to steal, kill and destroy your life.....by a very real satan and a grisly gang that work his wicked will.
- HE does not appear to you dressed in a red suit with a pitch fork and horns.
- HE is much too smart for that....and since nobody believes in him any more in this country...he is free to run just about any kind of game plan that he wants...even in the church to destroy the work of God.
* In the church in Jerusalem he brought the lies and deception of Ananias and Saphirra.....then he brought division over doctrine.
* In the church in Corinth he brought selfishness.....over-emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit.....lawsuits....and condoned immorality.
* To Galatia he brought false prophets.
* To the church in Crete he brought gluttony, the pursuit of personal comforts and laziness....conforming to the leisure pursuits of their society.
* To Thyatira, in Revelation 2:18, he brought compromise with the world systems.
* In Laodecia he brought complacency and self-satisfaction.
- OH, he is very cunning how he sneaks up on our blind side to do his evil work......he has a scheme against you...against me......against this church.
* His plan is to discourage you and then isolate you and then pick you off.
* His plan is to defeat you through your circumstances.
* His plan is to neutralize you and your effectivity for the kingdom of God.
- THAT'S why Paul writes, "BE STRONG in the Lord and in His mighty power."
- YOUR power isn't strong enough.
- IT wasn't Alec Rowlands that caused hostility in that tavern in Chester....it was Jesus in me that ran smack into the minions of hell. I had been listening to Hossannah worship tapes for an hour before I got to Chester, Iowa.
- WHEN you are in the power of His might...clothed in His armor......you can STAND against the schemes of the devil.
- GREATER is HE that is in you than he that is in the world.
III.OUR STRUGGLE IS NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD
- YOU see, the battle that I sensed yesterday in that tavern in Chester, Iowa was NOT really against the people in that tavern......that is a trap that we fall into really easy and we get into a fight with the wrong enemy...over the wrong things. (Drugs, booze, the way they dress.)
- THE battle was because the demons of hell were there....and I had just been worshipping the King for over an hour...and His presence was all over me when I walked into their territory.
- IN verse 12 Paul says;
"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."
- THERE are demons whose responsibility is Chester, Iowa. (See Daniel 10....the prince of Persia....prince of Greece.)
- THERE are demons assigned to Cedar Rapids....I dare say that there are some assigned to do whatever they can to pull down the work of God here at First Assembly.
* Trying to discourage us and isolate us and pick us off one by one.
* Trying to defeat the work of God in us.
* Trying to neutralize us.
- THERE is a battle raging in the heavenlies concerning this service right now....that's why we ask for no unneccessary distracting movement in the sanctuary during services....and especially during the message and altar call. There is a battle going on in the unseen world over this place and you.
- AND it is imperative that we be armed aganst their schemes.
- HISTORY records that in 1936 Winston Churchill begged the British Empire to prepare for war and arm themselves. They had little or no military hardware.
- THE politicians thought that he was just trying to get attention for his waning popularity so they dismissed his call to arms.
- REPEATEDLY he called the nations attention to Hitler's aggressive plans for the manufacture of weapons.....battle ships......bombers and fighter aircraft.
- REPEATEDLY the nation believed the best of Hitler's intentions and went about business as usual.
- NOT very long before Hitler took his army on the road for the first time against Poland in his first dark move on world dominion......England still had no defensive or offensive military hardware.......she still believed that there was not going to be a war.......and Churchill stood before British Parliament and said;
"If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed. If you cannot fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you, and only a precarious chance of survival. There may be even a worse case; you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."
- BUT parliament ignored him again...and inside of eighteen months Great Britain was scrambling the pieces of inadequate WWI hardware against Hitler and the Nazi armies......and trying to catch up with the weapons while they were engaged in battle.
- THE war would have been won is half the time with the half the cost of human lives if someone had listened to Churchill calling for the manufacture of field weapons and hardware.
- THAT is the condition of the church in America.
- IT is the condition of the believer in America.
- WE don't believe that we are in a war with satan and all his demons arrayed for battle against the church of Jesus Christ.
- WE have become so sophisticated in our human explanations for everything that we see and hear that we have left no room for the supernatural....either God's supernatural or the other side.
IV.THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD
- SO the first step is to recognize that there is an enemy....and that it is not flesh and blood.
- THE second step is to recognize where the battle rages....in the heavenlies.
- THE third step is to recognize that, even though he is defeated at the cross, he has been allowed by God to rule this world for a season......and while we have power over him through the cross, it is not automatic.
- WE MUST PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD to succeed against him.
- PAUL writes in verses 13-18;
"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. 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. 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 saints."
- NOW, you have all heard many sermons on each of the weapons of God, so I am not going to take a lot of time to go over them.
- BUT it is important to remember that they are put on as a result of putting on Christ.....and walking in Him, consciously, every day.
* The belt of truth.
* This was a leather belt that kept your clothes up, kept you braced up and held your sword.
* This is the truth of God's Word.....and living in truthfulness and sincerity if heart.
* If you live in deception of any sort, you will be vulnerable to satan's attack.
* The breastplate of righteousness.
* This is the righteousness of Christ that is yours by faith.....your standing....your confidence.
* But it is also right living.
* The shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace.
* This is the solid stability of having the gospel of Jesus under your feet.
* And it is the readiness of Him to DO through you whatever is needed in any given day.
* The shield of faith.
* The shield is God Himself. (Prov.30:5)
* It cover us by the power of God....against every fiery arrow.
* The helmet of salvation
* The sword of the Spirit.
- THE equipment is suppiled by God, but has to be picked up and used by us to do any good.
- WE must put it ALL on.
- AND the key is praying in the Spirit at ALL times.
- WE must be ready.
- WE are going to win....because Jesus won...and has provided the equipment and the power for us to win.
- ARE you going to work with Him in the appropriation of the victory for your life?
- THAT is the question. Paul gives you the how.