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Ready to wrestle?- Eph 6:10-20

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Introduction

This morning is another in a one off sermon as we are in a holding pattern on our sermon series.
I was directed to this passage on Tuesday morning as I opened God’s Word and I thought, why Lord, this is an all too familiar passage.
I hope this morning, as I discovered this week, the message Paul presented in this passage is something that we need to be continually reminded of as we walk the Christian life as followers of Christ.
As I began to study and meditate on this verse one word seemed to jump out at me,
Wrestle
That word brought back a few thoughts in my life. Specifically, grade 9
It was a new school for me, having enjoyed grade 8 we now were sent to a much larger school, a high school.
This particular school was known for its successful wrestling program.
Can I share, I was not their model student for this program. One advantage I did fit into a lower weight category because the sport of wrestling is all about matching opponents with the perceived weight advantages. The problem is that I did not have the muscle or skill advantage. What I did learn is that the skill can be taught.
So why did Paul use the word wrestle in this passage?
What has wrestling have to do with our walk with our God?
If you are taking notes, or have a piece of paper, or just put this as a marker in your thought as we read through the passage.
Why wrestle?
Before we look into God’s inspired Word and allow His Word to speak to us today, let’s pray.
PRAYER
If you have a Bible open, turn to the last chapter in Ephesians and I will begin at verse 10
Ephesians 6:10–12 ESV
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.

In Closing

Paul begins this passage with the word, Finally.
It’s the word most people want to hear when listening to a long winded pastor,
This is a closing section. To fully understand the message that Paul is about to deliver to the people you must have an understanding of what came before the finally.
As this could take several sunday sermons to cover, let me just give you an overview.

The Life of a believer recap

Paul had just completed a section on living our lives as believers.
One person wrote;
Having concluded his discussion regarding respect and proper functioning within household relationships,... His previous exhortations regarded how those within the church should function together as they sought to maintain unity and achieve spiritual growth.
In other words, it was Paul’s words of how we are to live in the context of community.
Remember the definition of a disciple
One who is seeking to know God, while begin transformed into the image of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit in the context of community.

Our walking Eph 5:1-21

Paul outlines in these verses how we are to imitators of God. How our transformational life should be transforming into Christ’s image.
He goes on to say what different outward marks that identify us as believers.
He ends this section with what we are to filled with. Filled with the Holy spirit that empowers us to live that life that is God honoring

Our relationships Eph 5:22-33

The next section is in our relationships with one another. He addresses specifically the relationship we are to have if we are in a marriage relationship

Our obedience Eph 6:1-9

The last section of our walk that Paul outlines is in the context of of obedience and accountability. Obedience to our family order and obedience and accountability to those who we are accountable.

The source of our strength to live our lives

Finally, Paul states after that, all of that,
Be strong in the lord.
your strength should be coming from the Lord.

How we are to live our lives

How are we to live our lives. Paul begins by stating that of how our lives should be lived out, described as, and marked by ones who are strong in the Lord.
In grade nine as I began to learn some wrestling techniques it began to give me some advantages that I never had before.

The source of our strength

Secondly he points out to the believers listening to this letter, words inspired by God, that our source of strength should be that of the Lords.
So I ask you, on those days when it seems like you are at the end of your rope, what do you turn to to be strengthened.
Many of us have things that strengthen us, but as Paul exhorts us, Christ should be our first stop.

Put on & Stand

Put on the whole armor of God.
Once you have put on the amour .... Stand.
One thing that was impressed upon me is that we are not putting this on for Christ’s sake.
This application from Paul is for us personally. It’s for our own well being. It is not marking us as believer, but what we need.
We are putting on the amour of Christ so that we can stand against the schemes of the devil
In this small section of scripture, Paul addresses the external aspect of believers’ lives. While his instructions for internal relationships centered on respect and unity, his concern in these verses is based on a recognition of the hostility for which Christians must prepare. Thus he calls on them to be strong and equipped to do battle against those opposing the gospel (6:10–17).
Are you prepared to wrestle? Are you up for it?
Many have told believers that once you accept Christ’s work on the cross for our salvation, life comes smoothly.
Your problems will disappear.
Some have promised prosperity. Name it and claim it. God’s riches are there for the taking as believers.
Is this the life Paul outlines as a believer.
Not according to these verses.
Paul is telling us to prepare for a battle, a fight.
When we declare our allegiance to God Almighty we have chosen a side and there are those automatically against you and I.
Choosing Christ comes with consequences. fortunately in our country, there is not overt persecution for those who stand for Christ.
You must realize in some countries and cultures that to proclaim allegiance to God will become a threat to your life. In some families disciples who have chosen to stand for God are cast out of their families and lose all support from their families.
Most of us have it easy when we made a decision to stand for Christ. In my case, the cost was easy. My parents stood for this truth, and they raised me in a church that stood for the truth. It was easy to take a stand for Christ.
But if you look at this scripture, Paul address ALL believers that a battle will be coming.
A battle we must all acknowledge.
A battle we must all prepare for in our lives.
Battle plans must be drawn.
Preparation must happen.
You may be asking yourself, what battle is coming?
Paul spells it out in the second half of verse 11
Ephesians 6:11 ESV
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Schemes of the Devil

Schemes of the Devil
This is the battle we are to face if we are on the side of Christ.
Schemes-
Job faced them as he sat in under dismay not knowing why he had lost everything.
Peter had them, when he tried to rebuke Jesus
Adam & Eve defiantly fell prey to his schemes
People building the Tower of Babel were scheming
2 Corinthians 2:11 ESV
11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.
If we look at this passage, his designs are clear. They can be identified as we prepare for battle.
If you haven’t quite caught the concept that we are in a battle let me describe how are adversary really is
Before we look at the battles we will face and knowing that Satan has schemes, let’s take a moment to get to know our enemy.
Like a sport’s team prepares for games they study their opposition.
What abilities they may or may not possess. Ways to win in a head to head competition with their opponent. The more they know and recognize the easier it is to compete.
What about waging war against an enemy.
There are spies sent throughout your enemies to discover their strategies. Their plots, their plans. Why and where they would attack.
So too is our understanding as we Put on and stand.
John Wesley gives a vivid description of who our adversary is one of his sermon, let me summarize six points that give a clear description of the enemies of us
1. Satan and his armies were the created the same as God’s armies. They were created to serve not bound by flesh and blood. They were given understand with liberty and power. They were given this in order to pledge their allegiance or rebellion against God.
2. Satan’s armies were created with the original properties as other angels.
“There is no absurdity in supposing Satan their chief, otherwise styled, “Lucifer, son of the morning,” to have been at least one “of the first, if not the first Archangel.” Like the other sons of the morning, they had a height and depth of understanding quite incomprehensible to us. In consequence of this they had such knowledge and wisdom, that the wisest of the children of men (had men then existed) would have been mere idiots in comparison of them.”
It is with this knowledge that he had a sphere of influence and at least a third of the created angels followed his leadership.
3. We do not know exactly when these created angels fell as God’s word does not directly state, some hold to ps 2:6-7 that pride and placing themselves equal to God. We assume that this would have brought about a change in their being. It is an astonishing change from the holiest of creatures of God to become the most unholy.
4. The moment that they rebelled against God and their allegiance to him they removed all goodness within them. Everything was in complete opposition to what God stood for.
They became full of pride, arrogance, haughtiness, and raising themselves above all.
Take notice that they are full of cruelty and rage against those, namely us, who will “inherit the kingdom” that they were once a part of before that great fall. They desire so desperately for us to experience that same misery.
“ 5. In the prosecution of this infernal design, they are diligent in the highest degree. To find out the most effectual means of putting it into execution, they apply to this end the whole force of their angelical understanding; and they second it with their whole strength, so far as God is pleased to permit. But it is well for mankind that God hath set them bounds which they cannot pass. He hath said to the fiercest and strongest of the apostate spirits, “Hitherto shalt thou come, and no farther.” Otherwise, how easily and how quickly might one of them overturn the whole frame of nature! How soon would they involve all in one common ruin, or, at least, destroy man from the face of the earth! And they are indefatigable in their bad work: They never are faint or weary. Indeed, it seems no spirits are capable of weariness but those that inhabit flesh and blood.”
6. His final point is that this force does not wander aimlessly on the earth but are bound together for one purpose and order under the direction of the “prince of this world”. Satan’s aim and purpose is to undermine all God’s plans and directions for our lives. It’s even a wonder that these fallen angels are bound to him for they lack the love for someone, but are connected by their desire to bring about evil in this world. [1]
[1] Wesley, J. (1999). Sermons, on several occasions. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
With this in mind, Paul writes,
Ephesians 6:12 ESV
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.
Take a moment to reflect upon our adversaries.
Rulers, those who have authority, those involved in this present darkness, spiritual forces, evil spiritual forces that we are not able to see with our eyes.
It’s like swinging at a pinata blindfolded hoping to hit and conquer.
It is no wonder why we are told strongly to Put on and Stand
Did your catch the term Paul used in our interactions with these adversaries.
Was it a friendly debate with each side given a time limit to state our case and time for a rebuttal
Was it a card game to see who wins or losses.
Is it a friendly game of dominoes
By no means,
Wrestle,
Wrestle: It is a not a group event.
Each one of us is in a wrestling match
It’s greek word is Pale - It is literally a struggle.
Grappling. Hand to hand combat.
Are you ready to wrestle?
Are you prepared to wrestle?
Did you even know that this is a part of the life of a believer?
Do you realize that one of the schemes of the devil is to whisper in your ear that you don’t have to be in a wrestling match. It’s not that bad.... he says.
You don’t need to be on guard.
Folks every day of our lives we are in a constant wrestling match against things that can’t be seen.
It is no wonder why we crave Sunday morning gatherings to come together to encourage one another. To be healed by one another as we show our bruises and bumps from our wrestling matches.
If you feel you are tired, or that this is hopeless, stay with me. We can have victory.
Before we walk through our armor there is one last thing I want to point out to you.

Whispers of the Devil

For many of us there are schemes that come our way that affect our understanding before Christ. If we thing of wrestling and hand to hand combat these schemes can and often do come in the form of a whisper or worse yet, words from those around us.
The first set of the whispers that are used are the

NOT Enough Whispers

Not enough whispers or statements that we have all heard and for some of us have come to believe that they are true for us as we wrestle. These are used to get us off our mark.
I remember one thing from wrestling classes in grade 9.
When you are in the stance with your opponent arms wrapped around each other, place your head in his neck and shoulder and dig. This digging with cause your opponent to focus on that and lose attention.
These are some , not an exhaustive list of whispers we encounter in our lives that make us feel we can’t possible win or even fight.
Not Good enough
Not strong enough
Not pretty enough
Not smart enough
Not wise enough
Not stable enough
Not healthy enough
You’re not good enough for God
He even whispers in our walk with God
You don’t pray enough
You don’t have enough faith
You don’t trust enough
Maybe there are not enough whispers you have been listening to in your life.
They are weighing your done and you have heard them so often that you feel defeated.
The first thing you need to do is to identify those whispers in our lives that we have come to believe true. Call them out. write them down
tell a close friend, tell them to God
Then take the word from Paul Put on and Stand
Ephesians 6:13 ESV
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.
Paul uses a different word to once again tell us how to prepare for our wrestling match.
In grade 9, the only thing that was required was a uniform, or gym clothes.
Not so with our wrestling with Satan.
Take up, translated from a single greek word meaning to lift upwards and to take with you.
Do you arise in the morning and intentionally reach for your spiritual Armour?
Let’s take a look at our armor
Ephesians 6:14 ESV
14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
The belt of truth. A belt is there to hold all things together. Every thing we hold to be true.
Remember the whispers. Many are which are not true. We need to wrap the truth of God’s Word in all that we do. IT’s that truth that holds everything in place.
The second is the breastplate of righteousness.
The breastplate is that protection of our vital organs.
Our heart. Our innermost being. Who we are in God’s eyes.
Earlier in this book, Paul states this
Ephesians 4:24 ESV
24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
We are a new creation when we accept Christ. We are being transformed into the likeness of Christ. The breastplate of righteousness is our standing in God’s eyes and not those of the whispers of the evil one.
Ephesians 6:15 ESV
15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
Paul then moves to the footwear of our lives.
Do you have a job that has you on your feet all day. I did at one point and the proper footwear is important to last the whole day.
Standing in peace. Peace with one another. Peace with God and through Christ’s work on the cross.
Readiness to stand and go knowing that we are at peace with God.
Ephesians 6:16 ESV
16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
Shield of faith.
Up to this point, the armor has been attached directly to our body, but the shield of faith is an extension of the Armour.
A shield is a movable object to defend oneself from flaming darts.
These are far from the simple whispers, they are events in our lives that can bring about destruction.
In the roman army the shield would be held out in front of the soldier and if they marched side by side the shields would create a wall against any arrows thrown at them.
In the idea of a shield of faith one can wonder if this is where we band together in our faith.
As we are all in a battle we share our journey of faith, the journey that God had taken us through to assist others who are currently walking down that road.
It is critical that as disciples of Christ that we are in a context of community to support one another.
When we often wonder why we have gone done a road and have made it through the other side. Maybe our shield of faith has been placed there to support another what they are currently experiencing.
Let’s take hold of our faith and protect and encourage one another as we journey together.
Ephesians 6:17 ESV
17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
The final two pieces protect our mind and the weapon of defense of our lives.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 ESV
8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:8 the helmet is identified with the hope of full salvation. This may well be the inference here (Eph 1:18).

The helmet protects the knowledge of our hope in the salvation we receive through Christ.
There is coming a day where we will stand in front of God and be declared redeemed for the rest of eternity.
Salvation comes, salvation for eternity.
The final thing that we must pick up. Pull up and take a stand is that of God’s Word.
Has it become a part of your daily life to seek God’s word?
When the whispers and flaming darts were directed at Jesus after 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, Satan attempted to pursed Jesus to follow him.
He whispered to the humanity of Jesus, humanity things that we face on a daily basis.
What was Jesus’ response?
Matthew 4:4 ESV
4 But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
God’s Word. He spoke and continues to speak with us when we daily open his Word.

Conclusion

So in conclusion,
Let me ask you this.
How is your wrestling match going?
Are you struggling, feeling that your losing ground.
Take up and stand firm
Are you exhausted by the many flaming arrows that have been thrown at you and you tired
Take up and stand firm
Have you been missing something lately and wondering why
Take up and stand firm
If you feel you can’t do it, listen to Paul’s final words.
Ephesians 6:18–20 ESV
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Paul reached out to those in faith. If you are struggling today, find those in your life to support you in your faith.
Finally,
When we join allegiance with God Almighty be rest assured that we enter into a constant wrestling match with the ones who oppose all that God wants to do. The beauty is that in the end, God almighty will be the supreme winner and our wrestling will not be in vain.
So how is your wresting?
take up, pick up and stand firm.
Ephesians 6:10 ESV
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Amen
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