July 28, 2021

July 28, 2021

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
July 28, 2021

“Finally, be strong 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

When you compare Ephesians chapters 1 and 6 you see a significant contrast, it might even be called polar opposites as far as experience. He opens up Chapter 1 on a high note of praise and adoration. It is a sentence someone has said that begins in eternity. Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Then he enumerates those blessings that are ours and the key phrase is, “in Christ.” All of these blessing are ours only because we are united to Jesus Christ. If you are outside of Christ, none of these blessings belong to you. One shouldn’t read Ephesians 1 without smiling from ear to ear if you are a Christian. Just reading that first chapter you would almost think that the Christian life is a bed of roses, like walking on clouds, not one negative is mentioned. But when you come to the last chapter, Ephesians 6, you get a good dose of reality. Dr. John Stott says of Ephesians 6, “Paul brings us down to earth and helps to explain why the Christian life will be a hard, tough life to live. Boots on the ground, and this is everyday life. We are in a war, not against flesh and blood. He tells us that we are up against powers and authorities of darkness, spiritual forces of evil, and behind it all is the arch enemy called the devil. There is no one more wicked, more malevolent than the devil. All of the Hitlers and the Stalins of the world are like pussycats to this one who is likened to a lion.

The question could be asked looking at what we are up against, “Who can fight these enemies and win?” Just standing there looking at the enemy, if we could see them we would be shaking in our boots. The apostle Paul didn’t write Ephesians 6 to scare us or frighten us. He gives us a good dose of realism, lets us know what we’re up against, but he doesn’t want us to run and hide or bury our heads in the sand.

If you read the whole chapter, notice the section that was read, there is a wonderful balance of perspective; realism balanced by optimism. How or why can we be optimistic when it comes to fighting this fight? There are two things that he emphasizes here that should encourage us as Christians when we go to fight against our enemies. First, in verse 2, we have the Lord on our side, “Be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might.” He gets our eyes off ourselves, and off the enemy and gets our eyes on God. He is the almighty one. Someone has said, “God plus one equals a majority.” With God on our side we can’t lose. It is similar to what Paul says in Romans 8 after he describes the opposition and the forces that are against us. He says that we are more than conquerors, we have the Lord on our side. If God be for us who can be against us.” That’s the first great encouragement when you think of going to battle against the devil and the forces of evil. God is omnipotent, he is all-powerful and he is on our side.

The second great encouragement when it comes to fighting this war or this battle is that we have the full armor of God. Twice we are told to put on or take up the whole armor of God. Then he gives an explanation. There are eight pieces of equipment here. Some believe there are three offensive weapons, some argue there is two; we can say from verses 17 and 18 that there are two offensive weapons: the Bible, the sword of the Spirit; and prayer. We are focusing on prayer tonight. We can’t win this battle without prayer; individual as well as corporate. Dr. Piper says, “Why do comfortable Christians go prayerless? It is because we don’t really believe we are in a war. If they don’t believe they are up against an enemy called the devil, how are we ever going to get them to pray when they don’t believe in a real enemy?” He says, “There is a peacetime casualness in the church today about spiritual things. Because there are no bombs falling, no bullets whizzing past our heads, all is well in America, the Disneyland of the Universe. Millions and millions of Christians don’t believe we are in a war and that explains why there is no urgency, there is no watching and very little praying. The words of Jeremiah should warn us, ‘preach peace when there is no peace.’”

So how do we combat that? We have to develop a wartime mentality. We have to pray that God would remind us again and again that we are in a war. We have to immobilize ourselves by prayer for lost souls, the church, the kingdom of God as we go into this world.