Christ and the Church: Christ In My Battles
- Ephesians 6:10-17
In keeping with our theme our title is Christ in our Battles, but in another way you could still see this chapter as a continuation of the Christ in our Walks, this one the Walk of War.
Chapter 1 Who We are In Christ
1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Chapter Two - Salvation In Christ
2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Chapter Three – Grow In Christ
3:18 (You) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Chapter 4: Christ In Our Inward Walk
Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called
4:2-6 Walk In Unity
4:7-16 Walk in Maturity
4:17-32 Walk In Newness
Chapter 5 Christ In Our Outward Walk
Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
5:2- 6 Walk in Love
5:7- 14 Walk in Light
5:15-21 Walk in Wisdom
Today passage could also be applied as another of those outward walks, our walk in warfare and I would be just fine with that. I however want to leave the walks behind and get right down to the war.
Initiative - Eph. 6:10-11
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Paul Final Exhortation
In vs 10 Paul says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” The entire book of Ephesians is built upon the theme of Christ, the church and me. Seventeen times in just 6 chapters the phrase “in Christ, or in the Lord is used. Here once again, he reminds of that crucial life theme and tells us to be strong in the Lord. It is not our strength, it is not our ability, talents, skills or power but His. If we don’t know how to put our soul in Christ, we cannot be saved and even after salvation if we don’t put our lives in Christ we cannot fulfil or calling as Christians. As Paul says here Ephesians 6, if we don’t begin with being strong in the Lord, we will lose the spiritual battles that we will fight.
Then in vs. 11, he expands on how we are to be strong in the Lord and in his might, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Once again Paul is challenging the members of the church at Ephesus and the members of this church to take action, make a conscious, deliberate decision. “This you must do in order to prepare for the battle, to be in the strength of the Lord.” You must put on the armor or God.
Preparing for the Battle for us means that we are consciously and consistently making the choices and taking the actions what will bring victory in the battles of life. It is not an automatic, passive occurrence.
We must understand that actively choosing to be strong in the Lord and to everyday, putt on the armor is vital if we are going to make it when the battles come and we all know they will come or they are already fighting them right now.
These battles are part of the Christian experience, Paul told his son in the faith, Timothy in his second and last letter written from prison: 2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
You must chose every morning to “put on the armor, just as earlier we were told to everyday put off the old man, with his doubts and defeats and put on the new man with his hope and happiness.
Eph 4: 22-23 … put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
In a sense putting on the new man is how we prepare our inner attitude and our inner walk while putting on the armor of the Lord is how we prepare for the battles in the world.
Illustration: Psych-ing up before the Football Game
One reason I was so lousy in football was because I thought this was all a joke. I never practiced as hard as I could. Before the games when everyone else was focusing on the game. I was thinking about how not to get hurt. I played football to impress the girls, not the coach and it showed. Because I didn’t prepare well, didn’t focus, didn’t work, I didn’t excel.
You know why many of you are getting beat in the battle of faith? You are taking the preparation too lightly. Many times we are defeated before we begin because we have refused to prepare ourselves. Now in the perspective of eternity, a high school football game won’t be a blip but the battle of the Christian life, well lived will have continuing echoes in eternity.
Transition: What are we getting ready for? What is the battle we face?
Engagement - Ephesians 6:12
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Paul describes the battlefields that we must engage the enemy in. He says that we fight ...
Principalities: princes of Satan who control sections or provinces of this world
Powers: Satanic forces which attack our person feelings and lives.
Rulers of Darkness of this Age: Evil spirits who foster superstitions and the occult
Spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places: religious demons who deceive millions as angels of light.
So what is spiritual warfare? How do we actually engage the enemy on a spiritual level? Is it demons and angels, fighting in the spiritual realm while we pray, praise and preach? Perhaps it is. The Bible mentions times when angels and demons do battle during the prayer of Daniel in the book of Daniel chapter 9.
Sometimes we think that this is what spiritual warfare is, demons and angels slug it out in the spiritual realm, right over our heads and we don’t see it. It could be and certainly Paul tells us that demons are involved in this world around us, but I don't believe our spiritual battles are nearly so dramatic. If I am to fight and in Christ win, the real spiritual battle of my life then I must understand the way these battles are fought. I must know when I have entered the arena of engagement.
Arenas of Engagement
For us, normally, warfare in the ethereal realm is not what effects our daily life. It is the warfare that takes place in our kitchens, living rooms, church pulpits, fellowship halls, our workplaces, our city halls and the voting booths of our nation that are the spiritual arenas of engagement where we should be fighting.
When a husband and wife have conflict it is a spiritual battle. There are forces at work trying to destroy what God has created. But the battle takes place with words, actions, forgiveness or bitterness in a home not in the supernatural dimension.
When a child is tempted with drugs or a alcoholic, it is a spiritual battle, a battle that plays out in the playground or pool hall or what my grandparents used to call a beer joint. The spiritual forces do not show themselves, they hide behind the faces of people, friends and acquaintances and often use them to try and defeat us. Make no mistake, these are spiritual battles and we will lose those battles if we don’t see them for what they are.
In our schools and colleges, the demons don’t have fangs and horns, no, they appear intelligent and articulate. They tell our children there is no God, that the universe itself is just chance and blind luck, that in reality we are all just animals and that we were not created in the image of God. If our children come to believe this psuedo-wisdom, then life will become meaningless and random. They might pick up a pencil and notebook and go to school to learn or they might instead pick up a rifle and some ammunition and go to school to kill. What difference does it make? Maybe I’ll die, maybe you’ll die. After all, it’s all just random chance, we’re just animals and God is only a myth.
What about a church? We don’t see demons standing outside our doors or harassing members as they get ready for church. No instead, we see whispering in the hall. We see people who no longer talk to each other. We see people who won’t reach out and witness. Soon the church dies and everybody blames everybody else, while the demons of hurt, offense and bitterness take joy at our ignorance of what and where the spiritual battles were.Another family is lost, another child is lost, another church is lost another community is lost, …our nation could be lost, because these spiritual battles were lost, and too many Christians don’t even know they were supposed to be fighting. They neglected their relationship with Christ, neglected to put on the armor and went out and got whipped and sometimes the consequences of losing those battle can be eternally devastating.
If you don’t want to get beat, then listen to Paul, prepare and then start the fight, but make sure you walk out to the battlefield with the right equipment.
Equipment - Ephesians 6:13-17
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
We have heard this part of Paul’s message so often that we tend to forget how masterful a description of Christian life actions it really is. We’ve heard it since Sunday School and it is such a verbal illustration that we don’t even need the visual illustration. Would you think it overkill if I preached this message with a full suite of Roman armor on? (fake for armor under the pulpit) Actually unless your teaching young children, that would probably be a distraction. You just don’t need it when Paul presents it this way. So lets look at the armor
The Belt of Truth
In Roman armor, the belt tied together all the other armor, it was the foundation for the other pieces, from it hung the sword and it encompassed the soldiers body.
To me this means that truth should also be our foundation. I must know, what is true, what is right, what is moral. This is the post modern age of relative truth, where what is true for you may not be true for me. (If I hear one more character in a movie or tv episode say, “This is my truth” like a strung out doper philosopher, I may throw something at the tv.) Truth is not relative to me or you. Truth does not change or adapt to circumstances. Truth is and it is truth because of God writing it in His word or weaving it into His world. Put on the belt of truth if you don’t then the rest of the armor will not function.
Breastplate of Righteousness
The breastplate was the armor that protected the heart and chest. But the armor was only as good as the metal it was made from. This breastplate is Paul says is righteousness, and that righteousness is forged from and by our Savior Jesus Christ.
His righteousness becomes mine at when trust him as my Savior.
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5: 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
When confronted with sin, in this world, in my church, in my nation and in my life, when I am tempted to give in to that sin, it is then that I need to remember I am protected by the righteousness of God’s own Son. Sin and death could not defeat Him, he rose from the grave and because I have put on the breastplate of righteousness, sin will defeat me. I stand fully defended and utterly strong in Him.
Shoes of the Gospel of Peace
Ephesians 6:15 your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
Isn’t that an interesting phrase, he doesn’t just say put on the sandal of peace.
I believe Paul was thinking of this verse in Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Paul is making a greater point, that is vital to understand our spiritual armor. He is telling us that it is through the gospel that true peace comes and that is what moves us forward in battle. This is our motivation, this is what keeps us taking another step forward. It’s the Gospel of peace.
Having my feet shod means I am ready to go. At a moments notice I can take the gospel where it is not and bring the hope of peace to those who do not have peace.
This is an article of amor that I must really prepare to put on. I must be ready right now, both intellectually and spiritually to share the gospel. I can’t do that unless I made preparation. Can I tell someone how to be saved from the pages of my Bible, from my testimony and also show them from the life I am living. You don’t just slip these shoes on you must be prepared before you even tie the first lace.
Shield of Faith
Ephesians 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
The Shield of faith was the overall protection for the Romans army. They would often join shield together and form a shield wall or with their shield held over their heads and all around them make a formation called the turtle, under those shields they could and did storm strongholds and the arrows and stones of the enemy could not stop them.
Paul says our shield is of faith. Again this in not my armor it is the armor of God. This is not my self-discipline or self-deception this is faith in what God says and who God is. Faith if it is to truly protect me and allow me to take strongholds, is not some internal will-power or strong emotion. The shield of faith is forged from God’s word and no matter what circumstances the battle is fought under, that shield will not fail.
Scripture: Habakkuk 3: 16 -18 When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
Helmet of Salvation
Ephesians 6:17 a And take the helmet of salvation
The Roman helmet of course protected the head of the soldier. This was so important because a blow to the head was quickly fatal and even if not fatal it could would so rattle and disorientate a warrior that he could no longer fight.
Once again Paul qualifies the armor and say the helmet is “of salvation.” But Paul is not talking to lost people and he is not tell Christians to get saved. I believe he is reminding the Ephesians Christians that in putting on the helmet of salvation they are making sure, having confidence in their salvation. If you have no confidence in your helmet you are likely to go into a battle without it and lose the fight, if we don’t have the assurance of our salvation then we also will lose our spiritual battles. One of Satans more effective tactics to defeat Christian Soldiers is to make them doubt their salvation, make them leave their helmet at home.
Scripture: John 3:16; 5:24; 6:27-40; 10:27-29; 11:25-26
Put on the helmet of God’s salvation by fully believing that God will never let you go. You may go through some tough times may even lose some battle but Jesus has already won the war for you soul. You are on the winning side, so put on your helmet and don’t be afraid of the dents and dings it may suffer, because it won’t fail you.
Sword of the Spirit
Ephesians 6:17b and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
In the Roman army, the sword was the most important weapon of all. It was called a gladius and with that sword, Rome won an empire and kept it longer than any other empire in all of human history.
Paul’s describes the Christian sword is forged by the Holy Spirit and to make sure you understand he adds, “which is the word of God.”
Scripture: Hebrews 4:12-13 tells us why our sword is so important and why it is so effective. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
The Roman soldier trained for countless hours to be able to fight with his gladius. In every kind of battle, against every kind of enemy, he had to know how to handle his most important weapon. Can we afford not make the same kind of preparation with our sword.
It takes practice, preparation and patience to be able to skillfully take up the Sword of the Spirt, the Word of God. Yes, it takes Sunday School, it takes Sunday evening, it takes midweek Bible Study, it takes reading it daily, memorizing it as needed and applying it in everyday life and everyday battles for the soul.
Is this too much? I suppose it is if you think that eternity is not important, or souls are not at risk or that families with help will take care of themselves or a nation can survive without morality or that you can somehow comeback with God’s words of hope and encouragement when the world knocks you down, and counts you out. When you consider what is at risk, we all need to be master swordsmen everytime we take up God’s word.
Paul concludes by telling the Ephesians to pray for each other and for him. Isn’t it interesting the most famous missionary, the most influential apostle, a man of such outstanding strength, stops and asks this church, “Pray for me.”
I love the way James, the brother of Christ talks about prayer in James 5:16 …pray one for another, … The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Shouldn’t that tell us how important it is in our lives? How much are we seeking it, applying it, practicing it, believing in it’s power? How many days go by in which I have not even lifted my eyes to heaven and thought of my God, much less talked with Him.
Is it any wonder that I’m losing the battles. I’m not putting on the armor. I’m not using the weapons. I’m not talking with my commander. How can I hope to win, in most battles, I’ve already lost and just have not felt the bitter pangs of a defeat yet.
It shouldn’t be to be that way. It doesn’t have to be that way.
We can stand against the wiles of the devil, we can wrestle against principalities, power, rulers of the darkness of this work, again spiritual wickedness in high places. We can fight and we can win these spiritual battles by putting on the armor of God and having done all, We Will Stand!
Illustration: Christian Defeats Apollyon
John Bunyon, the Baptist preacher in prison because he refused to accept any authority to preacher other than the Lord Jesus Christ and His church. While there writes “Pilgrim’s Progress”
Apol. Then Apollyon broke out into a grievous rage, saying, I am an enemy to this Prince; I hate his person, his laws, and people: I am come out on purpose to withstand thee.
Chr. Apollyon, beware what you do, for I am in the King’s highway, the way of holiness; therefore take heed to yourself.
Apol. Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the way, and said, I am void of fear in this matter. Prepare thyself to die; for I swear by my infernal den, that thou shalt go no farther: here will I spill thy soul. And with that he threw a flaming dart at his breast; but Christian had a shield in his hand, with which he caught it, and so prevented the danger of that.
Then did Christian draw, for he saw it was time to bestir him; and Apollyon as fast made at him, throwing darts as thick as hail; by the which, notwithstanding all that Christian could do to avoid it, Apollyon wounded him in his head, his hand, and foot. This made Christian give a little back: Apollyon, therefore, followed his work amain, and Christian again took courage, and resisted as manfully as he could. This sore combat lasted for above half a day, even till Christian was almost quite spent: for you must know, that Christian, by reason of his wounds, must needs grow weaker and weaker.
Then Apollyon, espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall; and with that Christian’s sword flew out of his hand. Then said Apollyon, I am sure of thee now: and with that he had almost pressed him to death, so that Christian began to despair of life. But, as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his sword, and caught it, saying, Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise, and with that gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound. Christian perceiving that, made at him again, saying, Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us. And with that Apollyon spread forth his dragon wings, and sped him away.
I don’t know about you but I’m ready in so many areas of my own spiritual warfare to give the Devil a deadly thrust.