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.”
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:
- 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…”
- 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?
- Not bearing with one another in love 4:2
- Division in the church 4:4
- Not engaging the use of one’s gifts from Jesus in the life of the church 4:7ff
- Being tossed back and forth by every wind of doctrine 4:14
- Failure to grow up into Christ because each part is not working 4:16
- Not putting off my old self but rather enjoying my sin 4:22
- Grieving the Holy Spirit 4:30
- Not imitating God, but fallen man 5:1
- Sexual immorality and all forms of impropriety as the norm 5:3-14
- Foolishness 5:15
- Not submitting, but seeking to dominate and rebel 5:21
- Marriage relationships turned upside down 5:22ff
- Children dictating the family’s direction due to parental failure 6:1-3
- 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
- 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 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…”
- 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.”
- 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…”
- 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…”
- 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 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.
- Be aware this wrestling is real
- Pray for discernment to know of and identify the demonic
- Be in community
- Don’t fear, the Lord Jesus has given us authority over the demonic
- 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
 Kent Hughes, Ephesians, (Wheaton: Crossway, 1990), p. 211.