March 8, 2023

March 8, 2023

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
March 08, 2023

“Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. 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. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 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, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Ephesians 6:10-20

You could almost say this, maybe you never thought of this I did recently- its kind of a strange way to end the end the epistle. When you think about it he mentions the devil, war and conflict and he sort of ends on a negative note, war and conflict. Here’s a question we might ask why didn’t he give a greater focus to Christ at the very end? Why didn’t he give a greater focus? If you know anything about Paul and you read any of his writings he’s always bringing Christ into the picture. You read in Philippians for example when he deals with humility he brings Christ into the picture. When he deals with the matter of Christian liberty in Ephesians or Galatians chapter 5 he brings Christ into the picture. When he deals with marriage in Ephesians 5, husbands love your wife as Christ loved the church. Dealing with church unity again he brings Christ into the picture, Ephesians 4 when dealing with sexual lust and temptation he brings Christ in the picture. First Corinthian 6 Christ is the touchstone you could save every time Paul deals with any major subject and here we’re dealing with with warfare, I think this is pretty significant matter. And think again how he starts off the letter in Ephesians chapter 1 he must mention Christ Jesus at least 20 some times in that first chapter. “In him, In him, In him” he brings all of those blessings we have in Christ but wants us to know that all of those blessings are ours because of Christ. But no question Paul was determined to preach Christ and him crucified.

When we come here at Ephesians 6 it’s almost like he’s forgotten Christ, but has he? I don’t think so, look carefully at the soldier or this warrior. Commentators and a lot of preachers myself included have always thought that Paul had in view a Roman soldier sitting there in the jail cell because he is in jail. Look what he says in verse 20 “I am an ambassador in chains,” and so here’s the question that came to my mind in a more focused way. Was he thinking of a Roman soldier or was he thinking of Christ? Well maybe the answer is both. If you were in the Sunday school hour and Dr. Sinclair Ferguson referenced Ephesians chapter 6 and he seemed to say, at least that was my understanding he was persuaded that Paul wasn’t thinking so much about Roman soldiers but of Christ himself. For one thing Roman soldiers would not have been dressed in full military garb sitting in a jail cell and this came to my mind this afternoon. Think of one of the first times we see Jesus the preincarnate Christ, think of the very first time in the Old Testament Joshua chapter 5, remember that? Joshua was about to engage on a military campaign standing in front of him was that huge symbol of Jericho, it was considered to be an impenetrable city. But before Joshua takes any steps forward militarily he has an extraordinary encounter with what could be called a theophany, an appearance, a strange appearance of a man holding a sword. The individual’s obviously prepared for battle, he’s threatening enough because Joshua asked the question, “Are you on Israel’s side or Jericho’s side?” He’s wondering and here’s what he says to Joshua he was the commander of the army of the Lord. That’s a divine warrior and most commentators at least anyone I’ve read believes that was Christ, in a preincarnate state, that was Christ.

And then if you read through the book of Isaiah and you went looking for the exact language that Paul uses in Ephesians chapter 6; the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, you have the helmet of salvation, all of those things are mentioned in the book of Isaiah. The belt of truth is the belt that girds the Messiah king. The breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation comes from the divine warriors arsenal. The sword of the spirit mentioned in Isaiah chapter 49 that’s the weapon that’s wheeled by the promised servant of the Lord. So what am I saying? I believe that in Ephesians 6 Paul hasn’t forgotten Christ. The same battle armor that you and I wear to go against the devil is the same armor that Christ wore. He’s the divine warrior, and he won the battle, he won the battle. You see when we put on the armor of God we don’t want to forget our Savior. Jesus won and so will we, he conquered and so will we. A notice he gives priority to prayer when fighting this battle. Look at Ephesians 6 verse 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”. So we’re not just praying for ourselves but we’re praying for all the saints. But to fight this battle and win this battle we have to be praying, obviously not just for ourselves but also for one another. The church is engaged in warfare, Jesus picks up that image himself when he talks about the gates, the church, “I will build my church and the gates of hell” that’s military language “will not prevail against her” and this is a war we can win and will win because of our commander-in-chief Jesus Christ. John piper says “Unless you know that life is war, Christian life is war you cannot know what prayer is for”. You don’t know that we’re in a war you won’t really understand what prayer is for. Onward Christian soldiers marching as to the war. We not only have the weaponry we’re fully provided for all that we need defensive and offensive weapons; the belt of truth, the shield of faith, the sword of the spirit, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation but even more look here we have more than the weaponry we have the almighty on our side- verse 10 “Finally be strong in the Lord and in the power or the strength of His might.