strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able
to stand against the wiles of the devil." Ephesians
Christians are defeated in their Christian lives because they
are not seriously engaged in the warfare to which we are called.
J. C. Ryle saw this in the 19th century. He wrote,
symptom about many so-called Christians is the utter absence
of anything like conflict and fight in their Christianity.”
great spiritual warfare -- its watchings and strugglings,
its agonies and anxieties, its battles and contests -- of
all this they appear to know nothing at all.”
Perhaps they came
to Christ under a false “sales pitch.” They were told, “Jesus
will solve your problems. He will give you peace and joy. He
will give you a happy family life. Come to Jesus and enjoy all
of these blessings and more. He promises you abundant life.” And
so they signed up for what they thought would be a wonderful
life of peace and happiness.
All of those
claims are true, but they’re only half of the picture. Jesus
promised to give us abundant life (John 10:10), but He also said
that He was sending us out as sheep in the midst of wolves
might not fit your idea of an abundant life! Jesus promised
peace, but in the same breath He said that in this world we
would have tribulation (John 16:33). He assured us of His love,
but He went on to say that the world would hate and persecute us
(John 15:12-13, 18-21)....
It is vital for
your survival as a Christian that you realize that when you
became a Christian, you were drafted into God’s army. Daily you
are engaged in a battle with an unseen spiritual enemy that
seeks to destroy you. Otherwise, when trials hit, you will think
that something is wrong. You will wonder why God has allowed
this. You won’t understand the reality of your situation.
I have seen even
pastors that think that because they are serving the Lord, He
should bless them by keeping them from conflict and personal
attacks. So when they are criticized or slandered or when
problems hit their families or their churches, they run from the
battle. They don’t understand that when God blesses a work, the
enemy will increase the attacks against it. When a man’s
ministry is effective, the enemy will work overtime to bring him
down. It may be through internal problems in the church or
through key leaders who turn against him or through
discouragement or through temptation to moral failure.
When Paul was in
Ephesus, he wrote (1 Cor. 16:9), “for a wide door for effective
service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” He
did not say, “but there are many adversaries,” but
rather, “and there are many adversaries.” Adversaries go
along with open doors for effective ministry! So the apostle
Paul closes his letter to the Ephesians with this great section
on the Christian’s warfare.
"Be strong in
the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole
armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the
wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and
blood, but against principalities, against powers, against
the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual
hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to
withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having
put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod
your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above
all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able
to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
"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, being watchful to this end with
all perseverance and supplication for all the saints...."
...The text falls
into three sections: (1) The explanation for the fight
(6:10-13); (2) The equipment for the fight (6:14-17); (3) the
effecting of the fight (6:18-20). Today we will only look at the
first half of the first section, where Paul makes the point: You
must be strong in the Lord and put on His full armor, so that
you may stand firm against the enemy....
Because you are
fighting in the Lord’s army…
MUST BE STRONG IN THE LORD!
...in 1:19-20 [Paul]
surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
These are in accordance with the working of the strength of
His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised
Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the
Also, in 3:16
Paul prayed that God would grant you …
“to be strengthened
with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”
... In other words, we are not strong in ourselves. Our strength
comes from the Lord....
While he was on
the run from Saul, David had wrongly allied himself with the
Philistine king and was about to go into battle against Saul and
the forces of Israel when God intervened. David and his men were
sent home from the battle. But they arrived to find their city
burned with fire and their wives, children, and possessions
taken captive by the Amalekites. At that point, David’s men were
so embittered that they were talking about stoning him.
Then, in the
middle of the verse, there is a great hinge that turned things
in a new direction (1 Sam. 30:6b):
“But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”
What a dramatic turnaround! ...
graciously directed David to pursue the raiders and recover all
of their families and goods. That same strength is available to
every Christian. You may be at your lowest point. You may be
discouraged. It may seem that God’s promises are not true.
But no matter how
much may seem to be against you, you can “be strong in the Lord
and in the strength of His might.” You can strengthen yourself
in the Lord your God. How?
A. To be strong in the
Lord, you must be in the Lord.
to be strong in the Lord rests on his first two chapters, where
he makes it clear what it means to be in the Lord. To sum up his
treatment, he wrote (2:8-9),
“For by grace
you have been saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works,
so that no one may boast.”
To be in the Lord
means that He has saved you from God’s judgment by His grace
alone through faith in Christ alone. Salvation is not based on
anything that you have done or deserved. As we have seen, one of
Paul’s frequent expressions in Ephesians is the phrase, “in
Christ,” or “in Him” (1:3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13). You cannot
begin to understand what it means to be strong in the Lord
unless you truly are in the Lord through saving faith
in Jesus Christ.
B. To be strong in
the Lord, you must know your own weakness.
This is a
continual, lifelong process that begins at salvation.We cannot
trust completely in Christ to save us until we come to some
awareness that we are helplessly, hopelessly lost and unable to
save ourselves by our own good works. As Spurgeon put it, we
must see that we are convicted and condemned, with the rope
around our neck, before we will weep for joy when Christ pardons
us (...Banner of Truth, 1:54).
But then we must
go on to grow to know practically our own weakness so that we
take refuge in the Lord’s strength. Jesus taught this by using
the analogy of the branches abiding in the vine, and said (John
“for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Peter needed to
learn this lesson. He boasted that although everyone else would
desert Christ, he would remain true. But the Lord allowed Peter
to go through his terrible denials so that he might not trust
in himself, but in Christ alone.
.... to keep Paul
from exalting himself, the Lord sent a messenger of Satan to
torment him. The lesson that Paul learned was (2 Cor. 12:10b), “for
when I am weak, then I am strong.”
blinds us to our true condition. It makes us think that we
have some measure of strength in ourselves. Pride makes us think
that the longer we are Christians, the stronger we become. But
we never become stronger in ourselves. In reality, the strong
Christian is one who has come to see more and more of his own
weakness and propensity towards sin. That awareness drives
him to depend all the more on the Lord’s strength. To be strong
in the Lord, you must know your own weakness.
C. To be strong in the
Lord, you must know the Lord’s strength.
Satan is a
powerful foe, but he is only a created being, whereas God is the
eternal, almighty Creator of the universe. If the Lord so
willed, He could annihilate Satan in an instant. He has already
defeated him at the cross and resurrection of Jesus (Col. 2:15).
In His perfect timing and plan, He will throw Satan into the
Lake of Fire, where he will be tormented forever and ever (Rev.
From start to
finish, the Bible proclaims the mighty power of God. He spoke
the heavens and earth into existence out of nothing. He
delivered His people from Pharaoh’s clutches through the
miraculous plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. He sustained
them in one of the world’s harshest environments through the
pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, where He provided
daily manna and water from the rock. When fierce enemies
threatened to annihilate His chosen people, time and again the
Lord provided deliverance....
name of the Lord is a strong
tower; the righteous
runs into it and is safe.”
MUST PUT ON GOD’s FULL ARMOR SO THAT YOU MAY STAND FIRM AGAINST
A. Standing firm
against the enemy is the result of putting on God’s full armor.
“Stand” is a key
word in this section. He repeats it in verses 11, 13, and 14.
Also, the word “resist” (6:13) comes from a Greek compound word
from the root, “to stand,” meaning literally to stand against.
It’s a military term for holding on to a position that is under
attack. It implies the courage to hold your ground because of
your allegiance to King Jesus, even when others may be fleeing
from the battle because the enemy seems so strong....
We rely on God’s
strength and use His armor, but we must take the initiative
to put on the armor and stand firm in the battle because we
love Jesus. It’s not a matter of “letting go and letting God,”
where you are passive and God does it all. Nor is it a matter of
gritting your teeth and doing it yourself, with occasional
assistance from God. Rather, it is a blending of His power and
our striving. As Paul puts it (Col. 1:29),
purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which
mightily works within me.”
Putting on God’s
armor means that in every trial and temptation by faith you
appropriate Christ’s strength in place of your weakness. By
faith you cry out to Him for deliverance and strength to
persevere. By faith you rely on His promises, even as Jesus
defeated Satan by quoting Scripture (Luke 4:1-13).
B. Stand firm against
the enemy by growing in biblical understanding.
God’s full provision. Paul wrote the first three chapters of
this letter to set forth the necessary doctrinal foundation of
all that God has provided for us in Christ. Strong Christians
are doctrinally grounded in the truth of Scripture. Unless you
know the Word well, as Jesus did when He defeated Satan, you
will not stand firm in the evil day.
Satan’s schemes. ...Paul states (2 Cor. 2:11), “so that no
advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant
of his schemes.” If you’re ignorant of his schemes, the devil
will be able to take advantage of you.
invariably use cunning and deception. He often works through
secular culture, to carry us downstream with the prevailing
ideas of the day. In our day, many Christians are deceived by
the ideas of postmodernism, which asserts that there are no
absolute truths in the spiritual or moral realms (except for the
absolute that there are no absolutes!).
repeated attacks on the credibility of Scripture, whether
through evolution or by attacking the person of Christ. Satan
lures us into sin by portraying it as pleasurable and by hiding
its consequences. He uses discouragement, pride, selfishness,
the love of money, lust, and many other traps to lure us away
from the Lord. To stand firm against the enemy, we must
understand his schemes.
C. Stand firm against
the enemy with biblical practice.
traps. Get out of your comfort zone and do something where you
have to trust God to get you through.
As Hebrews 5:14
solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their
senses trained to discern good and evil.”
I read about a
missionary years ago in the jungles of New Guinea who wrote the
following letter to his friends back home:
"Man, it is
great to be in the thick of the fight, to draw the old
devil’s heaviest guns, to have him at you with depression
and discouragement, slander, disease. He doesn’t waste time
on a lukewarm bunch. He hits good and hard when a fellow is
always measure the weight of your blow by the one you get
back. When you’re on your back with fever and at your last
ounce of strength, when some of your converts backslide,
when you learn that your most promising inquirers are only
fooling, when your mail gets held up, and some don’t bother
to answer your letters, is that the time to put on mourning?
No sir. That’s the time to pull out the stops and shout
Hallelujah! The old fellow’s getting it in the neck and
leaning over the battlements and watching. “Will he stick
with it?” As they see who is with us, as they see the
unlimited reserves, the boundless resources, as they see the
impossibility of failure, how disgusted and sad they must be
when we run away. Glory to God! We’re not going to run away.
We’re going to stand!"
© 2008 by
Steven Cole. Used
Read the entire message at http://www.fcfonline.org/content/1/sermons/012708M.pdf
Flagstaff Christian Fellowship
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