Ephesians 6:14 Walking Worthy of the Gospel: Put on the Armor of Truth and Righteousness

Ephesians 6:14

Walking Worthy of the Gospel: Put on the Armor of Truth and Righteousness

 

Truth and righteousness, these two go together like a hand and glove.

“Truth and ethics are tied together. Creedal confession and transformed living go hand in hand.”[1] – D.A. Carson

The armor of truth and right living can’t be separated, and must be part of the Christian’s defense against the onslaught of the Enemy’s schemes to cause us to give ground rather than stand the ground of the kingdom.

Our belief in the truth and our ethical living of that truth are vital. So, let’s take a look at them today.

  1. Put on Truth

When we are talking about putting on truth, Paul’s language is key. “Truth” is a noun, not an adjective. In other words, we are not putting on “some truths”, but we are putting on the every essence of what is true.

I would argue that a failure to put on truth is a failure to believe the gospel of the kingdom. A person who does not love or obey the truth cannot call himself or herself a Christian.

Jesus’ stated mission in John 18:37, in his incarnation, living, dying, rising and ascending is to testify to what the truth is.

Jesus’ stand on the declaration that the metanarrative he has been revealing since creation until that point and on to the restoration of all things is the truth, and that truth is what the whole earth is to live by, and the truth his kingdom rests on means that he is either right, lying or deceived.

God’s Word tells us THE metanarrative. A metanarrative answers the questions: “where did everything come from”, “who am I”, “who are you”, “why are we here”, “how should we live”, “why do we die”, “what happens when we die”?

Every answer to any of these questions has to come from THE metanarrative of Scripture or some other metanarrative and they are either right or wrong. Jesus’ declaration demands he be right or wrong and that others be right or wrong. This is why Jesus is not so super popular unless one takes the position that Scripture “contains” truth rather than “is” truth. That is what liberal perversions of the faith have done.

A. God’s Word is Truth (noun not adjective) John 17:17

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

B. Other worldviews answer these questions: Naturalism’s branches:

  1. Existentialism – I must find meaning IN my life because there is

no meaning OF my life

  1. Hedonism – Life has no purpose other than pleasure, so go for it.
  2. No place for suffering, so suffering must be wrong or out of

place or not God’s purpose.

  1. Nihilism – Life is nothing, empty; I can do anything I want.
  2. Humanism – I must make the world a better place for humans.

Listen to (1) what the Manual tells us about truth, (2) the world system’s response to the truth and (3) the consequences of not putting on truth or obeying the truth.

2 Timothy 4:3-4

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

Romans 1:18, 25

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

Romans 2:6-8

“He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well- doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self- seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”

2 Thessalonians 2:9-13

“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

C. Satan is the father of lies and author of other metanarratives John 8:44-47

“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

If this is the case, then all answers to the ultimate questions that don’t come from the philosophy of Jesus Christ, in whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, are lies and generated by Satan and are schemes of his to bowl us over.

How do we practice the truth?

  1. Don’t be taken captive Colossians 2:6-8

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

  1. Engage culture (in but not of)!

2a. Don’t withdraw (not in it and not of

it; offended by culture).

2b. Don’t conform (in it and of it; seduced by it).

  1. Use truth to destroy strongholds 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,…”

  1. Put on Righteousness

When we are talking about righteousness, we are talking about the noun, righteousness, not the adjective. We are talking about the outworking of the truth.

Righteousness is the behavior that comes from the truth.

We are talking about the behavior of those who claim the truth. We are not going to talk about too many super specific sins that constitute unrighteous behavior. Those can be too varied and that would take too long. We will mention a couple of explicit ones straight out of the text of Scripture.

Also, we have the issue of a conscience informed by the Holy Spirit that is unique to each person.

We are going to be keeping this big picture in regard to walking in righteousness.

The word “unrighteous” is “adikia” and is translated as “wrongdoing” and “unrighteous”. These words are interchangeable.

1 John 5:17 tells us that all “unrighteousness” / “wrongdoing” is sin.

So, unrighteousness is sin.

Putting on righteousness is loving holiness over sin. So, when we talk about sin, we are talking about unrighteousness.

You will note that below we are talking a lot about “unrighteousness” rather than “putting on righteousness”. Why?

As a diamond’s brilliance is most clearly seen against the backdrop of a black cloth, so righteous behavior becomes clearer when seen against the backdrop of sin and sin’s death.

Putting on righteousness will become clear.

“When you say no to sin and yes to righteousness, you win a spiritual battle. When you say yes to sin and no to righteousness, you lose a spiritual battle and need to quickly repent, turn to Jesus, renounce your sin, and press onward in Christ’s righteousness.” – Mark Driscoll

A. Satan was the Originator of and Instigator of the Deception of Sin

Genesis 3:1-6; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4

“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed (the liberal Jesus and the evangelical Jesus are two different folks)[2], or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.”

In other words, as Satan deceived Eve, so these imitations seek to deceive you. Meaning, it’s the same deception from the same source.

So, avoid the imitation metanarratives that are unrighteous.

B. Sin, Satan’s Best Friend, Will Seek to Master you

Genesis 4:7

“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Sin, unrighteousness, will become a master over you.

C. Satan Uses Sin to Accuse Jesus’ People

Revelation 12:10; Zechariah 3:1

“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”

D. Realize A Life Pattern of Sin as The Characteristic of Life is Evidence of Belonging to Satan

1 John 3:8-9

“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”

E. Temptation to any idolatry, no matter how subtle, is Satanic and intended to Drag You Into the Demonic

1 Corinthians 10:1-22

“Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability (you are able because he provides a way of escape), but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (11-13)

What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?” (19-22)

So, any temptation to put anything before God and his kingdom, is a temptation away from the truth and is Satanic and a participation with demons.

Chew on that reality for a while.

F. Unrighteous Anger Invites Satanic Activity

Ephesians 4:26-27

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

G. Disgraceful behavior is a Satanic Snare

1 Timothy 3:7

“Moreover, he (the pastor and others in the congregation) must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”

So, what might putting on righteousness look like?

  1. Putting on righteousness will look something like this:

1a. Repentance as the characteristic of life

1b. Sanctification through the transformation of our thinking

Romans 12:1-2

1c. Leaning on the renewal activity of the Holy Spirit as we

repent, are sanctified in thinking and establish new norms of

holiness by this grace

  1. Put off the old self and put on the new self.

Ephesians 4:22-24; Romans 8:13

  1. Trust in and Bank on the Truth That God Keeps us from the Evil One

1 John 5:18

3a. We believe that Father has the Enemy on a leash (Job 1-2)

3b. We rest in the truth that Father will sustain us

  1. Put this armor on by praying Ephesians 6:18

Remember, prayer is how we get this armor on.

Prayer is practical ministry and it is the confession that we can’t and Father can.

We are not capable of truth and righteousness. We are capable of lies and sin. However, due to the grace of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit, we can be guided into truth and we can live holy lives that honor God.

So, we go to Father through prayer asking Father for these good gifts of armor, and Father is good to give them to us.

  1. Worship Father for Providing Us with all we need

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”

[1] Taken from Carson’s tweet on 5/27/15

[2] Italics Mine

Walking Worthy of the Gospel: Stand Against the Schemes of the Devil 3

Ephesians 6:13

Walking worthy of the Gospel: Stand Against the Schemes of the Devil 3

Its does not make sense to rush through a section on spiritual warfare, when it’s loaded with what most of us in the west are unfamiliar with. It makes sense to slow down and plow through with thoroughness in the belief that the Holy Spirit would teach and deepen our understanding of and ability to engage.

Notice I did not say “experience”. I would dare say that all of us are experienced in spiritual warfare; we just don’t know we are and are mostly victims of it rather than skillful warriors.

Yannick Basabakwinshi, a former intern and Shorter graduate, who is from Burundi and grew up during the Rwandan genocide, used to be amazed that we could not discern / see what he so readily saw clearly as demonic activity and the effects of spiritual warfare. He was even aware of physical manifestations. What others called hauntings, Yannick knew as demonic.

I find it interesting that a cultural dynamic saturated and so affected by naturalism will doubt that Satanic and demonic activity are real but will so quickly believe that ghosts and hauntings are real.

I wonder if that is a delusion brought on by the Liar and father of lies.

Paul wants the Ephesians and all those who follow Jesus to be able to stand against the schemes of the Devil and thus walk worthy of the gospel.

Lets continue to grow in our understand of and discernment of the Accuser and Adversary so that we can stand and actually fight well.

Today, we will look at verse 13 and 18.

A few matters to consider as we move forward and before we actually address the armor section itself so that as you read ahead you can know:

“Gentile readers would no doubt have thought of the Roman soldier, but Paul (as at 1 Thess. 5:8) has cast his description mainly in terms of God’s armor in Is. 59:17 (and the description of God in Wisdom of Solomon 5:17–20 is even closer). Here, however, the Messiah’s belt of truth and breastplate of righteousness are added, along with his powerful word, which strikes judgment (Is. 11:4–5). All this strengthens Paul’s assertion that it is the Lord who gives the necessary armor, armor that is fashioned by his grace in us. Note that the metaphors are not rigid: in 1 Thess. 5:8 the ‘breastplate’ is faith and love, while here it is righteousness.”[1]

  1. All the armor is God’s armor and the armor of the Messiah not something uniquely fashioned for creatures. This is why we must pay attention carefully to the whole of the passage and the sources Paul is using.

We don’t just skip over Paul’s prior instruction to the armor without first understanding who we fight and what our protection is and whose armor it is.

  1. The armor is not outward, but fashioned in us by grace, not something we can put on without the work of kingdom happening on the inside.

In other words, if you are nominal in your walk with Jesus and not really walking with the Lord, don’t expect a reading of this text and some witchcraft type disciplines applied to the faith to bring you much help.

The armor is the result of grace applied as we walk worthy of the gospel of the kingdom as we have been instructed in since chapter 4.

  1. The metaphors are not rigid nor even the point. Don’t make more out of he helmet than salvation. Don’t apply the helmets role to guarding the mind either, since it’s not static. The point is salvation, not the metaphor Paul employs.

As noted in 1 Thessalonians, the breastplate is not righteousness, but rather faith and love.

Just note that the metaphor is not the point. Don’t make more of the metaphor than the intended point that we are at war not peace.

So, with that in mind, let’s launch into verses 13 and 18. Verse 13 is going to round out Paul’s instruction before putting on the armor and verse 18 is going to address how we put on the armor and wield the weapon in order to fight well equipped.

“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.”

“…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…”

  1. All of the armor we need is available to us v. 13

“…whole armor of God…”

“Since we are fighting against enemies in the spirit world, we need special equipment both for offense and defense. God has provided the “whole armor” for us, and we dare not omit any part. Satan looks for that unguarded area where he can get a beachhead (Eph. 4:27). Paul commanded his readers to put on the armor, take the weapons, and withstand Satan, all of which we do by faith. Knowing that Christ has already conquered Satan, and that the spiritual armor and weapons are available, by faith we accept what God gives us and go out to meet the foe. The day is evil, and the enemy is evil, but ‘if God be for us, who can be against us?’”(Rom. 8:31)[2]

  1. Father has not failed to give us all we need to fight well

In Christ, every good gift is available to be protected and to fight well. Father has not held out on us.

  1. We must take up the armor v. 11, 13

“Put on the whole armor of God…”

“Therefore, take up the whole armor of God…”

This is, again, in the imperative. Taking up the armor is a command. It’s the Lord’s command.

If we are to take advantage of the armor, we must take it up.

As we will see in verse 18, taking up the armor is a discipline and must be engaged in by the follower of Jesus Christ.

  1. We take up the armor by praying and keeping alert in prayer v. 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…”

“Praying” is a participle that modifies the “taking up the whole armor of God”.

Some translations end verse 17 with a period and start verse 18 with “and”. This leaves too much guesswork. Is the “and” logical or temporal? If you leave the participle in place it’s clear that “praying” is the means of putting on the armor.

Verse 18 is a treasure trove on prayer as the primary task of spiritual warfare.

  1. Pray always – “praying at all times”

This obviously does not mean “always saying prayers.” We are not heard for our “much speaking” (Matt. 6:7). “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) says to us, “Always be in communion with the Lord. Keep the receiver off the hook!” Never have to say when you pray, “Lord, we come into Thy presence,” because you never left His presence! A Christian must “pray always” because he is always subject to temptations and attacks of the devil. A surprise attack has defeated more than one believer who forgot to “pray without ceasing.”[3]

  1. Living in the awareness of and practicing the Spirit’s presence and his pleasure or grief over our actions
  2. Private worship
  3. Repentance
  1. Communicating like we truly have a good and loving Father who

never leaves us

  1. Pray with all prayer – “praying at all times…with all prayer and supplication”

There is more than one kind of praying: prayer, supplication, intercession, and thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6; 1 Tim. 2:1). The believer who prays only to ask for things is missing out on blessings that come with intercessions and giving of thanks. In fact, thanksgiving is a great prayer weapon for defeating Satan. “Praise changes things” as much as “prayer changes things.” Intercession for others can bring victory to our own lives. “And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).[4]

  1. Supplication – appeal made to someone in authority
  2. Intercession – appeal made on someone else’s behalf
  3. Thanksgiving – giving of thanks
  1. Pray in the Spirit – “in the Spirit”

The Bible formula is that we pray to the Father, through the Son, and in the Spirit. Romans 8:26–27 tells us that only in the Spirit’s power can we pray in the will of God. Otherwise, our praying could be selfish and out of the will of God. In the Old Testament tabernacle, there was a small golden altar standing before the veil, and here the priest burned the incense (Ex. 30:1–10; Luke 1:1–11). The incense is a picture of prayer. It had to be mixed according to God’s plan and could not be counterfeited by man. The fire on the altar is a picture of the Holy Spirit, for it is He who takes our prayers and “ignites” them in the will of God. It is possible to pray fervently in the flesh and never get through to God. It is also possible to pray quietly in the Spirit and see God’s hand do great things.[5]

  1. Pray in step with the Spirit’s will
  2. Pray in the power of the Spirit’s gifting, discernment and joy
  3. Pray in the assurance that the Spirit may give to ask for certain

things

The best way I can illustrate this is for you to get George Muller’s journals for $2.99 and invite you to pray like that.

  1. Pray alertly – “keep alert”

Some translations translate the phrasing as “pray watching” or “keep watch in prayer”.

Watching means “keeping on the alert.” (as the ESV translates it)[6] The phrase “watch and pray” occurs often in the Bible. When Nehemiah was repairing the walls of Jerusalem, and the enemy was trying to stop the work, Nehemiah defeated the enemy by watching and praying. “Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch” (Neh. 4:9). “Watch and pray” is the secret of victory over the world (Mark 13:33), the flesh (Mark 14:38), and the devil (Eph. 6:18). Peter went to sleep when he should have been praying, and the result was victory for Satan (Mark 14:29–31, 67–72). God expects us to use our God-given senses, led by the Spirit, so that we detect Satan when he is beginning to work.[7]

Keeping alert is also what will happen as we pray in step with the Spirit.

Holy Spirit will inform us of what we need to know and pray for and how we need to go about it.

Praying alertly is also being at the ready. It’s being ready to go to prayer. Prayer does not have to be a formal activity requiring gear up.

  1. Pray in real time (know what is happening and engage)
  2. Be ready to get to prayer in the second
  3. Don’t get too comfortable with things and become a target
  4. Expect spiritual struggle
  1. Keep on praying – “with all perseverance”

The word perseverance simply means, “to stick to it and not quit.” The early believers prayed this way (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:4); and we also should pray this way (Rom. 12:12). Perseverance in prayer does not mean we are trying to twist God’s arm, but rather that we are deeply concerned and burdened and cannot rest until we get God’s answer. As Robert Law puts it, “Prayer is not getting man’s will done in heaven; it is getting God’s will done on earth” (Tests of Life, [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1968]). Most of us quit praying just before God is about to give the victory. Not everybody is so constituted that he can sincerely spend a whole night in prayer, but all of us can persevere in prayer far more than we do. The early church prayed without ceasing when Peter was in prison and, at the last moment, God gave them their answer (Acts 12:1–19). Keep on praying until the Spirit stops you or the Father answers you. Just about the time you feel like quitting, God will give the answer.[8]

  1. Luke 18:1-8 Faith prays without giving up
  1. Pray for all the saints – “making supplication for all the saints”

The Lord’s Prayer begins with “Our Father”—not “My Father.” We pray as part of a great family that is also talking to God, and we ought to pray for the other members of the family. Even Paul asked for the prayer support of the Ephesians—and he had been to the third heaven and back. If Paul needed the prayers of the saints, how much more do you and I need them! If my prayers help another believer defeat Satan, then that victory will help me too.[9]

  1. Pray for our workers in our UPG
  2. Pray for the future parents of our foster home
  3. Pray for each other
  1. We take up the armor “so that” we can withstand

Taking up the armor is God’s appointed means of withstanding.

God, in his grace, can preserve us without us exercising any spiritual discipline, but his means are our obedience to his commands.

So, although God may preserve a disobedient son, his normal way of preserving us is through our obedience to his commands.

We know that if we take up his armor we will be able to withstand.

Verse 11, 13 and 14 all tell us that we are to “stand”. That is that we are to take up a position and defend it to the death.

If the command is to stand, then the temptation may be to give ground.

  1. Don’t give God’s ground to the world system; stand on truth
  1. Pick your global social issue and stand on the kingdom value and

defend it to the death.

  1. Father gives us all the armor we need to take up so we can withstand in the evil day

Ephesians 5:16 “…making the best use of the time, because the days are evil…”

The NIV makes it sound like the concept of the day of the Lord in Jewish apocalyptic material. But for Paul, he understands that evil day to be here already in that Satan is seeking to make war on the church (Revelation 12) and we (saints then and now) need this armor so that we can stand precisely because there is a war going on.

Revelation 12 reminds us that the “Dragon” is making war on the saints. We are perplexed but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned because we are in a war.

Don’t buy the lie that the church is in a state of peace.

One scheme of the Adversary is to get you to take the kingdom for granted and to be bored by the kingdom due to constant exposure and ease.

  1. Expect to have to withstand
  2. Don’t expect withstanding to be in the form of difficulty.
  3. Sometimes we have to withstand the onslaught of ease.
  4. Ease can cause us to take the kingdom for granted
  5. Ease can bring a leisurelier rise to a myriad of sins
  6. Ease can cause us to become numb to Father’s intended

difficulties that will show us more of his power

  1. Worship is a way to voice our thanksgiving and requests to Father and thus bring the war to the Adversary

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sin praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”

[1] D. A. Carson et al., eds., New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1243.

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 58.

[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 60.

[4] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 60.

[5] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 60.

[6] Parenthesis mine

[7] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 60.

[8] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 60.

[9] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 60.

Walk Worthy of the Gospel: Stand Against the Schemes of the Devil 2

Ephesians 6:10-12 Part 2: Walk Worthy of the Gospel: Stand Against the Schemes of the Devil

“The burden of discipleship lies with the disciple, follow me is the invitation and the rest depends on what I do with that.” – Omar Reyes

 

Who Our Enemy Is Not: Flesh and Blood

The text is clear. Our enemy is not each other. Our enemy is not even those that the world system calls our enemies.

Sometimes people are an unwitting tool of the enemy, but are in and of themselves not our enemy. Sometimes flesh and blood must be opposed because it can threaten harm as an unwitting instrument in the work of the enemy.

Paul tells us that we are not to be combative and quarrelsome toward our opponents (those who are opposed to the gospel) because we hope for their rescue. Listen to why Paul says they need to be resuced:

“…and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:26)

Muslims are not our enemy. They’ve been taken captive. We free captives.

Liberal theologians are not our enemy. They’ve been taken captive. We free captives.

Our enemy plays creature against creature and we must be aware enough to fight the right war.

Sometimes there are those on the inside who claim to work for the gospel but actually are instruments of Satan to disrupt the work of the gospel. Paul says that his tactic is to continue to do what he is doing “…in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles…disguising themselves as apostle of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness…”

These people, unlike those taken captive in their unbelief, are to be undermined and opposed. Jesus called them wolves. Paul called them wolves.

How did Jesus oppose them? He rebuked them harshly in Matthew 23:1-36. He screamed at them.

Sometimes we will find ourselves loving those opposed to the gospel because they have been taken captive.

Sometimes we will find ourselves screaming while seeking to undermining Satan’s disguised instruments of upheaval, but the source is one and the same. It’s Satan.

Therefore, in our fighting, we must remember that we seek to attack and destroy the evil one and his works not those taken captive.

Sometimes it’s hard to know if you are attacking the enemy or the one take captive.

To know how to distinguish between captive and evil one we will need:

  1. To be actively engaged in the fight

You can’t fight a spiritual war while on the sideline or in the stands criticizing those on the field for their work.

  1. To be dependent on the Holy Spirit to give you discernment

Who is Our Enemy: Our Enemy is Satan and all the angelic hosts who followed in the rebellion

Rulers – act, cause or beginning; head; thus the translation “rulers”

Although debated, some argue that this passage teaches a “hierarchy” in angelic and demonic orders.

Authorities – authority, right, liberty, power to do something

Cosmic Powers – lords of the world; can be referencing demonic entities or even humans who are agents of demonic entities; more likely, in context, referencing Satan and his demons

This Present Darkness – (has the article) darkness, works of darkness; with the article it means “the works of darkness”

Spiritual Forces of Evil in the Heavenly Places – literally “spiritual the evil in the heavenlies”; spiritual, meaning not physical; (the article is present meaning “the evil”) evil; in the realm of the spiritual

  1. Daniel 10:12, 13; cf. v. 20

“Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty- one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come…”

  1. 1 John 5:19; 2:15-17
    “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one…”

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life —is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever…”

  1. 2 Corinthians 4:4

“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

  1. Ephesians 2:2

“…in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience…”

  1. Acts 26:18 (Paul’s recounting of his transformation and calling on the Damascus road encounter with Jesus)

“…to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me…”

  1. 2 Corinthians 11:12-15

“And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”

  1. 1 John 4:1-3

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”

What Describes our Engagement with the Enemy: We Wrestle

Wrestle – struggle; hand to hand combat

Paul chooses the word “wrestle” to describe our engagement with the enemy.

Paul even gives “wrestle” the article, and literally it would be translated “the wrestle”. This indicates that this standing against the schemes of the Devil is “the wrestling” that needs to be done. It is the primary fight.

Perhaps one scheme of the Devil is to deceive us into thinking wrestling with each other is a primary task. If we are busy going hand to hand with each other, guess who is freely and covertly attacking? Satan!

We are to go hand to hand with Satan and his demonic hoards.

How are we to wrestle?

  1. Be aware this wrestling is real
  2. Take your thinking captive to the truth of Scripture
  3. Don’t be a victim of your emotions and by all means don’t make

decisions based on your emotions

  1. Don’t underestimate the spiritual warfare invited when we live

in sin and rebellion

  1. Don’t think that because you are obeying and seeking to be actively

engaged in the work that spiritual warfare won’t be needed

  1. Don’t assume that the spiritual climate here is benign. Naturalism is

part of the spiritual deception and the enchantment is real. Doubt

about the legitimacy of spiritual war is spiritual war and you are

loosing the battle.

Illustration: Demonic voice telling me my sister was dead to keep me awake and not able to preach (I had pneumonia and was sick in Africa while sleeping in a tent and needed rest) is normal for Africa. But silence and concealment is part of the bewitching warfare in the materialistic west. Silence does not mean absence. It means that the warfare is more insidious.

  1. Pray for discernment to be aware of and identify specifically the demonic
  2. Hebrews 5:14

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

There is Holy Spirit discernment that is given for the moment and there is discernment gained by walking in the truth and being able to discern a lie because you are so trained by the truth. This takes practice.

  1. Don’t be afraid to call the demonic out and command it to leave
  1. Don’t play games with the occult for curiosity. Rebuke it.
  1. Be in community
  2. 1 Corinthians 12:10

Some may be given the gift of distinguishing between spirits to know evil from holy. You want to be around these people. The Spirit may just send them to you at the right time.

Illustration: Joseph Colston and I rebuking death and destruction.

  1. Don’t fear, the Lord Jesus has given us authority over the demonic
  2. Luke 9:1-2

“And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.”

  1. Fear and avoidance is just what the enemy would like, so don’t

avoid spiritual conflict

  1. Don’t play curiously with spiritual conflict
  2. Acts 19:11-20

Understand and Practice Worship as Wrestling: Worship King Jesus for his Dominion

Colossians 1:16

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”

Ephesians 1:15-23(see verse 20); 2:4-6

“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…”

Walk Worthy of the Gospel: Stand Against the Schemes of the Devil

Ephesians 6:10-12

Walk Worthy of the Gospel: Stand Against the Schemes of the Devil

From chapter 4 to the end of the letter to the Ephesians we have been learning how to walk worthy of our calling in Christ.

Verse 11 of chapter 6 introduces the purpose of this last instruction, “…that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”

So everything in verses 10-20 is about standing against the schemes of the devil.

Satan is no respecter of gender or special days, like “Mother’s Day”. Satan is no respecter of gifting or skill set. He is an equal opportunity wrecking ball.

Mothers, particularly today, be on guard lest you be an easy target.

We are talking about spiritual war. We are talking about fighting the unseen forces that run the world system that instigated the rebellion in the garden and propagates the rebellion in the world system by standing opposed to the kingdom of God.

Perhaps some of us are still products of naturalism’s influence on the ethos of the western world and …“The prevailing materialistic, mechanistic thinking of our age leaves no room for the supernatural, or indeed anything without a physical cause.”[1]

This kind of thinking will lead you to be plundered.

Perhaps some of us are products of the other end of that pendulum swing by attributing all things that happen to the work of Satan and demons while forgetting that man is fallen and sinful and capable of great evil without Satan’s hand being at work.

This kind of thinking will lead you to fear and foolishness and failure to take responsibility for one’s on sin.

Both of these are wrong.

But the reality is that the Christian worldview has no place for a merely physical world, and there is no place for ignoring man’s hand in propagating evil.

The enchantment of the curse is thick and those bewitched by the curse and dead in sin may either be fully aware of the evil and a glad servant of it or unwitting victims, but both are in need of regeneration and transformation.

This should not be nor ever be the case with those who are followers of Jesus Christ.

We know from Scripture and experience that we fight a real battle against a real enemy who schemes against the kingdom and thus against us.

Again, the main point of this last passage is that we walk worthy of our calling in the gospel by standing firm against the schemes of the devil.

The purpose of the text, however, is preceded by two commands. Let’s look at them.

Two Commands of Standing Against the Schemes of the Devil:

  1. Be Strong in the Lord (passive imperative) – Find your strength in the Lord
  • Our strength for standing against spiritual evil is in Christ not our methods 
  • Colossians 3:1-5

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry…”

  1. Put on the Whole Armor of God (middle imperative: middle voice: the subject of the verb is acting and being affected by its own action) – You must put on the armor to take up the armor’s protection
  • Christians must actively put on God’s armor
  • This is an action for the Christian to undertake
  • This is a disciplined action of warfare
  • This is a disciplined action for our ability to stay in the fight

Purpose of the two commands: Stand Against the Schemes of the Devil

We are told our purpose is to stand against the schemes of the Devil, but we are not told what those schemes are.

Could it be that the schemes of the Devil are to contest all the instruction they have been given up to this point in Paul’s letter? Could it be that the schemes of the Devil are to oppose everything Father is about and instructs?

  1. Not bearing with one another in love 4:2
  2. Division in the church 4:4
  3. Not engaging the use of one’s gifts from Jesus in the life of the church 4:7ff
  4. Being tossed back and forth by every wind of doctrine 4:14
  5. Failure to grow up into Christ because each part is not working 4:16
  6. Not putting off my old self but rather enjoying my sin 4:22
  7. Grieving the Holy Spirit 4:30
  8. Not imitating God, but fallen man 5:1
  9. Sexual immorality and all forms of impropriety as the norm 5:3-14
  10. Foolishness 5:15
  11. Not submitting, but seeking to dominate and rebel 5:21
  12. Marriage relationships turned upside down 5:22ff
  13. Children dictating the family’s direction due to parental failure 6:1-3
  14. Our concept of work turned upside down 6:5ff
  • Our task is to stand against such schemes!!!
  • We stand by seeking Christ and putting on the armor (we’ll get to that in the coming weeks)

Who Our Enemy Is Not: Flesh and Blood

The text is clear. Our enemy is not each other. Our enemy is not even those the world system calls our enemies.

Muslims are not our enemy. They’ve been taken captive. We free captives.

Liberal theologians are not our enemy. They’ve been taken captive. We free captives.

Those inside the church who don’t want my thing are not our enemy.

Our enemy plays creatures against creatures and we must be aware enough to fight the right war.

Who Our Enemy Is: Satan and all the angelic hosts who followed in the rebellion

  • Rulers – act, cause or beginning; head; thus the translation “rulers”

Although debated, some argue that this passage teaches a “hierarchy” in angelic and demonic orders.

  • Authorities – authority, right, liberty, power to do something
  • Cosmic Powers – lords of the world; can be referencing demonic entities or even humans who are agents of demonic entities; more likely, in context, referencing Satan and his demons
  • This Present Darkness – (has the article) darkness, works of darkness; with the article it means “the works of darkness”
  • Spiritual Forces of Evil in the Heavenly Places – literally “spiritual the evil in the heavenlies”; spiritual, meaning not physical; (the article is present meaning “the evil”) evil; in the realm of the spiritual
  1. Daniel 10:12, 13; cf. v. 20

“Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty- one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come…”

  1. 1 John 5:19; 2:15-17
    “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one…”

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life —is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever…”

  1. 2 Corinthians 4:4

“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

  1. Ephesians 2:2

“…in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience…”

  1. Acts 26:18 (Paul’s recounting of his transformation and calling on the Damascus road encounter with Jesus)

“…to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me…”

  1. 2 Corinthians 11:12-15

“And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”

  1. 1 John 4:1-3

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”

What Describes our Engagement with the Enemy: We Wrestle

Wrestle – struggle; hand to hand combat

Paul chooses the word “wrestle” to describe our engagement with the enemy.

Paul even gives “wrestle” the article, and literally it would be translated “the wrestle”. This indicates that this standing against the schemes of the Devil is “the wrestling” that needs to be done. It is the primary fight.

Perhaps one scheme of the Devil is to deceive us into thinking wrestling with each other is a primary task. If we are busy going hand to hand with each other, guess who is freely and covertly attacking? Satan!

We are to go hand to hand with Satan and his demonic hoards.

  1. Be aware this wrestling is real
  2. Pray for discernment to know of and identify the demonic
  3. Be in community
  4. Don’t fear, the Lord Jesus has given us authority over the demonic
  5. Do fight for the things necessary to walk worthy of the gospel

See and Practice Worship as Wrestling: Worship King Jesus for his Dominion Don’t Give in to the Enchantment

Colossians 1:16; Ephesians 1:20; 2:6

[1] Kent Hughes, Ephesians, (Wheaton: Crossway, 1990), p. 211.