Over the past months we have been studying our way through Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. We have learned the historical context of Ephesus surrounding the believers in the church. Paul’s intention was to inform the saints of their position IN CHRIST and all their spiritual blessings (Eph 1-3). But he was imparting more than just head knowledge, Paul wanted the church to learn how to live out their faith IN CHRIST in Roman society (Eph 4-6). They were to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel, there were not to live like the Gentiles, there were to live a life of love, to live in the light and to live in wisdom (Eph 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15).
Paul spoke of the church living in wisdom because the days are evil, which often refers to bad men, a bad devil and bad behaviour (Eph 5:15). The Apostle Paul now leads the Ephesians saints into battle over darkness. In contrast to modern skepticism toward evil spirits, especially in first-world countries, Paul pictured the church’s battle for survival as a struggle against the devil, demons, and malign supernatural beings.
Here is some of Paul’s theology behind the devil and his demons:
· in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Eph 2:2).
· His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (Eph 3:10).
Stand for God and against the devil
Now in Eph 6:10-20, Paul instructs believers to stand up for God and stand against the evil forces at work in the world. “Finally,” Paul sums up the challenge of living appropriately before God and each other. This last section discusses a believer’s use of God’s resources to help him stand against evil powers. This passage is not a manual on deliverance from demons, but an exhortation to stand up for God and to resist the enemy. Paul uses three distinct ideas to help us in our Freedom IN CHRIST:
1. A description of the nature of the battle (Eph 6:10–13)
· Our strength is in the Lord and his mighty power. In other words, our victory over the devil is established when we focus on God, not the devil. Remember your position IN CHRIST – Chapters 1-3…
· We have the Armour OF God. How could we ever go wrong with this? Put it on! Do not go into life unarmed.
· Paul’s use of the Greek word methodeia (methods, schemes and strategies) tells us that the devil is cunning and uses deception to advance his evil purposes. 2 Cor 11:3 - But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. Stand against the devil’s schemes, strategies or methods; accusation, deception, lack of spiritual passion, confusion about your purpose in life, unrighteousness, unbelief, unforgiveness… The struggle against the enemy is this – DO NOT BE DECEIVED INTO THINKING YOU ARE UNDER SATAN’S AUTHORITY! Remember we are seated with Christ in heaven…
· We don’t fight people we fight forces of wickedness in heavenly places. Look at the world around us, the devil has us fighting each other; wars and rumors of wars… Just as the devil has his schemes he also has his demonic hierarchy.
· THEREFORE, because of who God is and the reality that the battle is real with the devil – PUT ON THE FULL ARMOR OF GOD AND STAND!
2. A call to resist evil powers by putting on the armor of God (Eph 6:14–17).
Twice, the Apostle Paul tells the believers in Ephesus to put on the FULL Armour of God. Paul uses the symbolism of Roman armour, but focuses more on the attributes of God than the armour itself. Now he begins to describe the process…
· Truth which stands against the lies of the enemy.
One of the first casualties in war is the truth. Therefore, hold your ground against lies and untruth or half-truths. Deception is one of the basic strategies of Satan. One of the dangers of deception is this – you don’t know you are deceived. Therefore, we must intentionally engage in the Truth of God’s Word and in Jesus, who is full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
The belt of truth held the breastplate of righteousness and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God in place. In Ephesians, Paul uses truth to direct us towards God and appropriate living.
· Righteousness which stands against all the unrighteousness of Satan and Society.
The breastplate speaks of our righteousness found in Jesus Christ. The breastplate also speaks of our call to integrity and moral behaviour. In other words, we are righteous positionally IN CHRIST and need to display this practically and ethically.
The enemy often uses guilt to shame or blame us, when we fall short of God’s glory. We need understand the truth of our righteousness being as filthy rags, but IN CHRIST we are the righteousness of God.
· Peace which stands against the fear and confusion of the enemy.
Fear is another choice weapon to get our eyes off of God Almighty. Paul wanted the church to be ready with peace in the midst of a turbulent Roman Empire.
This peace is found in the Gospel as well as peace of heart from knowing Jesus.
Isa 52:7 is a great Old Testament counterpart – “How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
· Faith to combat unbelief.
Unbelief is a weapon of the enemy used against God’s people. Doubt and unbelief rob believers from the confidence that is ours in God. We are to have faith in God for salvation, but also the hope and trust to live rightly and freely in God. Faith is spoken of as a shield which is moveable. In other words, we all have situations in life that are difficult and, in those moments, we need to move our shield of faith to resist confusions and doubts; Satan’s fiery darts. In this sense then, the shield of faith is both defensive and offensive as part of God’s armour.
· The Helmet of Salvation
Righteousness and salvation are connected biblically as seen in Isa 59:7a - He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head… Now he gives the believer the Helmet of Salvation. The enemy often attacks our minds. We are told to think right over and over in Ephesians in relation to God and each other. What kind of helmet is it? Salvation, new identity, and victory. We must remember that God is victorious over the enemy.
· Sword of the Spirit which is God’s Word.
The last aspect of the armour of God is the sword which is an offensive weapon. It is used to combat and kill one’s enemy. We know that the battle is not against flesh and blood, so we are not killing anybody. Paul tells us that the Sword is the Word and we are to use God’s Word to combat and resist the methods and schemes of Satan. In other words, when in battle we are to read and speak God’s Word. Rhema is the word Paul uses in the Greek language to speak of God’s Word in the context of Spiritual Warfare. Rhema describes the living and knowledgeable combining of the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. It is alive and active and produces freedom and victory for us in Christ.
3. A reminder to pray and be alert (Eph 6:18–20).
· Prayerlessness is a grievous sin in the Body of Christ. The enemy will do everything and anything to keep God’s people from praying… As breath is required to live, so prayer is essential to the armour of God and spiritual warfare. Paul knows this and therefore ends this section on Spiritual Warfare by commanding the church to pray and pray even more on all occasions and with all kinds of prayer. This is not a study on prayer, but I can say that the full armour of God without prayer is inadequate.
· There are times in life and spiritual warfare when praying in English does not bring us to breakthrough. Therefore, Paul says, pray in the Spirit, pray in tongues.
· “I have never cursed God or man when praying in tongues” (Don Byrt).
· Paul goes onto to ask for prayer so that he may fearlessly preach the gospel… Amen.
We are coming to the end of our study through Ephesians. We are to think rightly about God (Eph 1-3) and live rightly before God and our fellowman (Eph 4-6). In this life there will be great joys and intense battles. Paul reminds us today that our God is strong and mighty and he wants us to be strong in him. Spiritual warfare is real and if we don’t take up God’s armour and pray we are in danger of being wrestled down by the enemy and pinned to the mat.
Spiritual warfare is of an eternal nature, and God has supplied us with everything we need to live in freedom over sin and Satan. However, Satan does not fight fair. Therefore, we need to be prepared and alert with truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation. And remember that God’s Word is an indispensable weapon that is life giving to us and deadly to Satan and his demons. As well, prayer is 100 % essential if we are going to live in the Freedom of Christ.
In closing Paul ends with some final greetings and this statement - Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love (Eph 6:23-24).