Here are my extended notes from my talk at Bath City Church on Sunday 14th June.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armour of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armour of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” (NASB)
Chapter 6 of Ephesians concludes the book. The introductory word “finally” leads us into a section that sums up and concludes the epistle.
- Ephesians 1-3 are what D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls the ‘fundamental postulates’, how to become a Christian etc.
- Ephesians 4-5 tells us how to live, including a plea to “live in a manner worthy of your calling. (Eph. 4:1)”
- Ephesians 6 tells us that there is a very real adversary and calls us to action.
The illustration of the text is that we’re in a war. So what are we going to stand and fight for?
Now an interesting point here, is that the language used further on in chapter 6 is descriptive of OT Israelite warfare, first and foremost and this would have been the image in Paul’s mind rather than a Roman soldier. There are many similarities between the two soldiers of course, but Paul consistently uses OT themes to show how God planned salvation from the very beginning. Paul was keenly aware of the overall message of Scripture and carried this in in his writings. We’ll see a corresponding link to an image presented to us in Isaiah later on.
With a topic such as this one, it’s very easy to use emotive language to get a response. I could think of pictures of great military victories such as Trafalgar, Battle of Britatin or the yomp to Port Stanley. It’s fairly easy with a subject such as warfare to create an emotional response but we’re hungering for what God would say to us through His Word.
Taking Apart the Scripture
v.10 be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might – Paul lays out the idea that ‘we can’t’ but ‘God can’. It’s not our strength that makes us warriors. In fact, there’s no power that we possess that enables us to fight against the enemy. Indeed, before we were Christians we were in fact on the same side as Satan (Rom. 5:10). It is only, and totally, in the power of the Holy Spirit that we can display strength.
v.11 & v.13 “stand firm” – The power of the Holy Spirit allows to stand firm. To hold the line. We stand on the immovable foundation of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11) and from it we cannot be shaken.
v.11 “schemes of the devil” – The enemy is a scheming, plotting enemy. He is cunning and he plans and plots destruction. We should not be fooled into thinking that our adversary is weak, powerless, and easily defeated. Remember, it’s only in Christ’s strength that we have victory. We used to participate ourselves in these evil schemes, but no more. We stand firm against them. (See Isaiah 32:7 and Ephesians 4:14).
v.12 “rulers … powers … world forces” – See 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. One key principle of the spiritual warfare that we are involved in is that we are fighting against the lie. There are “arguments” and “lofty opinions” that oppose God. Do we allow these lies to flourish or do we take action by proclaiming the truth. It’s a two-fold attack: 1) against the lies directly, in response 2) proclaiming Jesus frequently, loudly, repeatedly. Jesus is King, Jesus is victorious, Jesus is the answer – to everything, all of the time!
v.12 “this darkness” & v.13 “the evil day” – The darkness is real and days we live in are evil. Sin is the curse of the fall and affects the whole world. Wherever there are people there is sin and evil abounds. The Bible tells us that we are in a wicked time (Eph. 5:16).
v.13 “Therefore take up the full armour of God” – Paul’s use of repition, within just a couple of verses, emphasises to us the importance of what he is saying. This is serious stuff my friends!
Now we know that there is the truth, and there is the lie. The lie first came into the world at the fall (Gen. 3) through the sin of Adam and Eve and has affected every part of Creation, and every man (Ps. 14:3). The attacks of the enemy come at us from many different angles, both within the church and outside of it. The question that we must ask ourselves is, “Am I defending truth on all fronts?” The lie will come in many different ways, at different times in history, and in different guises. We must be fighting where the attack is now. Martin Luther says it this way:
“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battle front besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.” Martin Luther quoted by Francis Schaeffer in ‘The God Who Is There‘
We should be asking ourselves where the battle is raging. Where is the attack on truth? Where is the enemy spreading his lie right now?