************ Sermon on Ephesians 6:10-13 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on Feb 4, 2018
The person I live with has been after me for a couple of years to preach on the armor of God. Since my wife is so persistent, I thought I had better listen. So tonight we begin a series of sermons on the armor of God.
In his State of the Union address this past week President Trump talked about the War on Terror. He told us a horror story about families who lost loved ones to terrorists in New York City. Far worse and far bigger than the War on Terror is the War on Christians by the devil and the forces of evil.
You need to realize that we have an enemy inside of us as well. You and I are born with an old self which is being corrupted by its evil desires (Eph 4:22). This old self is on the warpath against the Spirit. We don't need to blame the devil for this war: original sin and total depravity take the blame here. But when you add the presence of the devil, the battle becomes much more fierce. That's why Paul warns us back in Ephesians 4 "do not give the devil a foothold" (Eph 4:27).
Do you know why Satan attacks Christians? Because he hates losing anyone. Because he hates it when anyone who once was in darkness is now in the light (Eph 5:8). As Paul puts it in Colossians 1, we've been rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son (Col 1:13). Once we were in the clutches of Satan and in Christ we have been released. Satan hates this. Satan hates it that we are no longer part of his kingdom. Satan hates it that we aren't under his rule and authority anymore. So he attacks us.
I Be Strong in the Lord
A With this in mind, notice how our Bible reading starts: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power" (Eph 6:10).
How strong is this? How mighty is His power? Back in Ephesians 1 we are told that Christ Jesus is
(Eph 1:21-22) far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (22) And God placed all things under his feet ...Jesus is the head of everything. Which means He is over all demonic powers, including Satan. Satan rebels against this rule of Jesus. Satan attacks this rule of King Jesus. Does he stand a chance? Of course not! Because Jesus has "incomparably great power" (Eph 1:19). Satan hates you and attacks you so be strong in Christ's mighty power.
B There are three verses that say more about this as we face the attacks of Satan:
(1 Jn 4:4) ... the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.The same power that raised Christ from the dead is in you. It is the same power that exalted Him at the right hand of God. And, it is the same power by which He rules all things today.
(Phil 4:13) I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
(Eph 1:18-20) I pray ... that you may know ... (19) ... his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, (20) which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms ...
That power, that incomparably great power, is in you, my brothers and sisters. It is in you so you can fight off the attacks of the evil one.
C So, "be strong." This is not a time for weak people. This is not a time for appeasement. This is not a time for compromise. Be strong. Rest in the power of the Lord. Be strong in the Lord. Be strong in His mighty power. Because we are under attack.
"Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power." You don't have to request this power. You don't have to pray God will give you this power. It is already yours. Christ is in you. Christ is with you with all His fullness and all His power and all His might. All that we need to fight Satan is ours in Jesus Christ.
D How do you tap into this limitless power? How do you end up using it? What you need to do is "put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" (Eph 6:11).
By putting on the armor we tap into the strength of Jesus, we tap into the power that is there, so we can stand against the devil. We aren't looking at the armor tonight. In the next number of weeks we will look at the Christian's armor.
II The Enemy We Face
A Whether it is the War on Terror or World War II or the Iraq War, we need to know and understand the enemy. Our soldiers and generals and leaders need to know who the enemy is, where he is, and what he can do. The same principle holds for spiritual warfare. Not only in Ephesians 6, but throughout the entire Bible, God instructs about the enemy.
B Our enemy has so many different names. He is called the devil some thirty-five times in the Bible; devil means accuser because he accuses God's people day and night before the throne of God (Rev 12:7-11); his accusations, of course, are slanderous. Fifty-two times he is called Satan; Satan means "adversary"; he is the enemy or adversary of God and His people. He is called the serpent (Gen 2) and great dragon (Rev). In John 17, Jesus calls him the evil one. In Revelation 9 he is the king of the Abyss whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. He is called the tempter in Matthew 4. In Ephesians 2 he is the spirit at work in those who are disobedient. One name the Bible does NOT give him is Lucifer.
Listen also to how our enemy is described. Peter describes him as a roaring lion who goes about seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet 5:8). Jesus says he is a murderer and a liar (Jn 8:44).
The Bible tells us Satan has helpers. Paul calls them rulers, authorities, the powers of this dark world, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph 6:12). Revelation 12 indicates that when Satan fell he took a third of the angels with him. So there are twice as many holy angels as there are fallen angels. However, since the number of angels is uncountable, this means there are countless demons in Satan's army.
C Our struggle, says Paul, "is not against flesh and blood" (Eph 6:12). People are not our enemy. We may think so at times. We may identify liberals and atheists as the enemy. We may identify the enemy as those godless people who advocate immoral things. But they are not our real enemy. For our real enemy is far, far more powerful. We aren't struggling against flesh and blood. Our struggle is against Satan and his helpers.
To withstand this enemy, to withstand Satan, we need to "be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power" (Eph 6:10). This admonition indicates that Satan is a strong enemy, so strong that we need the power of God to stand against him. Never, dear friends, never underestimate the power of the devil. He is not compared to a lion or dragon for nothing! The story of Job tells us what Satan's power can do to a man's body, home, wealth, family, and friends. Jesus tells us Satan comes to steal and to kill and to destroy (Jn 10:10).
D Our text tells us to stand against the devil's "schemes" (Eph 6:11). A literal rending of the Greek is "method." Stand against the devil's method. Or tactics. Which is what? Guile, deceit, craftiness, subtleness, slander, murder, temptation. Paul tells us to be aware of Satan's schemes so he might not outwit us (2 Cor 2:11) or gain a foothold (Eph 4:27). We are not to let him take advantage of us. "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power" (Eph 6:10).
To see Satan at work let's go to the beginning of time, in the Garden. Four to five years ago when I preached on Genesis, I took note of eleven things Scripture tells us about the serpent:
1. Like all the other creatures, the serpent was made by God (Gen 1:24).
2. Like all the other creatures, the serpent was made good (Gen 1:25).
3. When all the animals passed before him, Adam gave it the name "serpent" -- which comes from a Hebrew root meaning"shiny" and "enchanting" -- telling us something of the serpent's appearance and character; and, remember, whatever name given by Adam was exactly the right name (Gen 2:19).
4. The serpent was rejected as a suitable helper and companion for Adam (Gen 2:20).
5. The serpent was "more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made" (Gen 3:1); the Hebrew word for "crafty" is not necessarily something bad; in Proverbs, the same word is translated as "prudent"; so, that word "crafty" right away means the serpent is more than an unthinking, unfeeling beast.
6. Scripture puts the serpent in the category of "wild animals" -- in other words, it was not a bird nor was it livestock (Gen 3:1).
7. The serpent was able to talk -- which, together with craftiness, implies the ability to think and reason (Gen 3:1ff).
8. In view of the curse put on the serpent to crawl on its belly (Gen 3:14), it is possible the serpent had legs; some scholars even think it had wings and stood upright.
9. The serpent was used as a tool of Satan to question the Word of God, the authority of God, and the image of God.
10. The Lord God spoke to the serpent -- again, implying some kind of ability to think and reason.
11. The serpent was cursed by God for the part it played in the Fall.
The story of the serpent is the story of Satan: created good by God, alluring, rejected as a helper for man, crafty, able to talk and reason, cursed by God, uses lies to question God's Word and authority and image.
We go back to the story of the Fall in the Garden and we see that Satan likes to pretend he is God. Satan's number, remember, is 666. God is a perfect 777. Satan is not God. Satan is less than God. Satan is limited in his knowledge and activity. Unlike God, Satan is not all-knowing, all-powerful, or present everywhere.
Let say more about Satan's method. He tempted Eve (Gen 3) and Christ (Mt 4). He twists God’s Word (Gen 2, Mt 4). He opposes God’s work (Zech 3). He hinders God’s servants (2 Thess 2). He tries to restrict the proclamation of the gospel (2 Cor 4). He snares the wicked (1 Tim 3). He deceives the nations (Dan, Is, Ezek, Rev). He fights God's holy angels. He uses physical persecution: beatings, jail sentences, confiscation of property, bloodshed, and death. He also uses deception and lies and falsehood: false religions, false theologies, false prophets, and false doctrines. He masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). He loves to interfere in the life of the church.
Let me tell you some of Satan's lies. Satan has the world convinced there is no such thing as right or wrong. Satan has the world convinced homosexuality is something to celebrate. Satan has the world convinced that man is basically good. Satan has the world convinced that tolerance is the greatest good. Tolerance used to mean that though I disagree with you, I still will treat you with respect. Today, tolerance means I no longer am allowed to disagree with you. Tolerance means I am wrong if I judge your behavior or your beliefs!
Are you starting to get the picture of how dangerous the devil is?
Let me say something Satan does NOT do. No Christian in the Bible is ever pictured as being indwelt by a demon. Christians are indwelt by the Spirit, not by a demon. The only people in the Bible that had demons in them were non-believers. And, the only people who had demons cast out of them were non-believers. I bring up this point because there are those in the Christian world who say Satan attacks us this way. You don't have to worry about Satan coming into you to make his home there.
III Our Participation
A Verse 12 uses the word "struggle." Another possible translation is "wrestle." We struggle. We wrestle. In mind is a hand-to-hand battle. We are not mere spectators at a game. We are involved. We are participants. Don't think you aren't involved. Don't think the battle does not include you. Satan wants to take us down. Satan wants us to surrender to him and his ways and rejoin his army.
B Should we fear? Should we be scared? Yes, the battle is fierce. Yes, the enemy is relentless and mighty. Listen to what Paul tells us to do:
(Eph 6:13) 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.We should not react with fear, but with readiness. Be ready to fight. Anytime. Anywhere.
What is the "day of evil" mentioned by Paul? It is any day in which evil comes. It is the whole time period between the day man fell into sin and the day of judgment. In the future another day is coming: the day of righteousness. How we Christians look forward to that day. But in the meantime we live in the day of evil.
Resist. Put on the full armor of God. That's the command of God as we face our enemy in the day of evil. Resist so we can stand against his schemes. Resist!
This command comes with a promise. It is implied in our text but it is stated outright by James:
(James 4:7) Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.We can resist. We can fight. And the promise is victory. When the battle is over, when the smoke is cleared, when the dust is settled, we are still standing. Not beaten. Not barely standing. Not leaning on crutches. We are standing firm. The devil can throw everything he has at us but he cannot be victorious. Instead, we are victorious!
Why? Why are we victorious? Because we are "strong in the Lord and in his mighty power." It is the Lord's power that sees us through. It is His victory that gives us victory.
Christian, do you struggle
on the battleground,
'gainst the powers of darkness
closing in around?
Christian, rise, take armor,
soldier of the cross;
for the sake of Jesus
count your gain but loss.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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