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.

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