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August 20, 2023
We’re at War – Part 3
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
Ephesians 6: 10 - 13

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This powerful series will challenge you to understand your role in the body of Christ. Through the book of Ephesians, Pastor Philip will remind us of the joy and blessings God intends for believers to experience in the church as they live as a united family in Christ.

More From This Series

Transcript

We invite you to take your Bible and turn to Ephesians 6:10-13. This is part three, but it’s the last sermon we’ll be doing on this section. And then, God willing, next Sunday morning, in the tent, we will work through the remaining verses 14 to 17, looking at each of the individual parts of the armor.
But here we are in the message, “We are at war, part three.” Paul says, “Finally, my brethren, 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 evil one or the wilds 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. Therefore, put on or take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, having done all to stand.”
After a series of defeats from Dunkirk to Singapore and at the darkest point of the Second World War when Europe was overrun and the Nazis were raining tons of bombs down every night on the City of London, Churchill at last was able to stand before the House of Commons and communicate some good news. General Montgomery and the Eighth Army had turned back Rommel’s forces at El Alamein, thus winning what Churchill called the Battle of Egypt.
Addressing the chamber, here’s what he said, “We have a new experience, we have victory, a remarkable and definite victory.” And then later in that famous speech, he said these famous words, “No, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But perhaps it is the end of the beginning.” What is true of the battle of Egypt is also true of the Christian experience.
Conversion’s not the end of our struggling. It’s not even the beginning of the end. It just might be the end of the beginning, because from the moment you and I trust the Lord Jesus Christ, a lifetime of spiritual conflict will follow. We will fight the Christian Battle on three fronts. We have an enemy on the outside, the devil, who has an ally on the inside, our fallen human nature, our flesh, that wars against the spirit, and then we contend against him, the devil, from all sides in a hostile environment we call the world. A world in rebellion against God.
So, we’re fighting on three fronts: the world, the flesh and the devil. And know this, that Satan fought our coming to Christ. And having lost, he’s even more determined to fight our following after Christ. When you and I swapped sides, when we threw our lot in with the Lord Jesus Christ and became his disciple, at that moment we became enemies to our friends. We became a stranger to the world and we remain a target for Satanic opposition.
I like the story of the man who came up to a preacher one day and he commented, “What does all this talk about Satan? I’ve never met him once in my life.” Quick as a flash, the pastor reply, “Well, of course not. You never meet someone when you’re going in the same direction as he is. But if you turn around and start going the other way, you will meet him soon enough.” I love that little illustration because, you see, repentance is turning around. And when you and I repent and put our faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ and take that first step into eternal life, as we make that turnaround, we start to meet the enemy that we were going in the same direction with up until that moment.
You and I are in the fight of our lives. We’ve said that. I’m not minimizing what you’re struggling with, but I would remind you our greatest fight is not with cancer. It’s not with false friends. It’s not even our sluggish self and disappointment with our lack of achievement or systems and situations in the world or in the political field that are stacked against us.
According to this text, we’ve been looking at it for a couple of weeks, our greatest fight is with unseen forces. The word of God teaches us, history shows us and our own experience tells us that the devil opposes and the devil obstructs God’s work in us and through us. Remember about his fall. He rose up in pride against God. He set out to throne God and he’s determined to rob God of His rightful rule in the hearts and lives of man. He is the enemy of God. He’s the enemy of all that is good. And he is certainly the opponent to the Godly.
So, let’s return to the text we just read. I hope you’ve got your Bible. Turn to Ephesians 6:10-13. Remember, this is the longest passage in the New Testament regarding spiritual warfare. And we would do well to linger long over it. Here is a biblical intelligence briefing on the whereabouts of our enemy, the company he keeps, the plans he’s pursuing, and the means by which we can combat and conquer his intentions. If you’ve been keeping track, we’ve been working through four headings: the exhortation, the enemy, the engagement, the era.
Last time we were together, we were in the middle of The Enemy. We were reminding ourselves that the first rule of war is to know your enemy. Victor Hugo said, “A good general must penetrate the brain of his enemy.” Remember, back in the Book of Numbers 13:18, Moses sent out 12 men, 12 spies into Canaan. And here’s what the text says, “To see whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many.” You need to know what you’re up against. You need to know your enemy.
Remember what the Lord Jesus said in Luke 14:31? What king going to make war against another king does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with 10,000 to meet him who comes against him with 20,000? And that’s kind of where we’re at. We’re trying to get a measure of our enemy, his size, the terrain he operates in, the tools or weapons he uses, and are there angles of attack for you and for me?
Now, we looked at Satan’s territory, we looked at Satan’s title, and we paused at the end of last week to look at Satan’s tactics, what he does and when he does it. And if you remember, we can now go on the little side road, based on Luke 4:13 where it says, “After Jesus was tempted, that Satan left him for a more opportune moment.” And I was just thinking out pastorally and practically, what are the times? What are the seasons? What are the moments where you and I are most vulnerable?
We covered four of six. We looked at a time when we step out in obedience, when we enjoy an elevated moment of spiritual success, when we have sinned grievously or when we are low physically or sick, dealing with a medical condition. All of those moments, all of those seasons, make us vulnerable to see it. And I’ve got two more, and then we’ll get back on track here.
Here’s another moment that I think is opportune for him. Five, when we become conceited and pride and self-reliant, we’re making ourselves a sitting duck at that moment. Why do I say that? Because pride and self-conceit and arrogance was the devil’s original sin. Don’t you think he wants you to make the same mistake that he made? Don’t you think he wants to exploit the sin of pride since it was his favorite? The reality of that, in fact, we have 1 Timothy 3:6 where we’re given the qualifications of an elder and we’re told what he should be. But where interestingly, we’re told who shouldn’t be an elder. And one of the people that shouldn’t be an elder is a novice, a young converter man, new to the faith, lest he be puffed up with his leadership and the authority that he has been given and the adulation, perhaps, of the congregation or the respect of people.
And he gets puffed up and then it says, “And he falls into the same sin and condemnation of Satan himself.” But the passage I’m really thinking about here is the fall of Peter, and we’re not going to take time to go there, but if you want to look at it later, Luke 22:31-34 and Matthew 26:33, where Jesus talks about his betrayal. And high, when the shepherd is struck, the sheep will scatter. Most of the disciples are kind of like a deer in the headlights, but not Peter.
He’s always first to speak and he was happy to boast. Lord, I don’t know about these guys. In fact, they’re probably going to let you down, but not me. They’re going to fall, but I’m not going to stumble. And Jesus says, “No, Peter, before the cock crows tonight, you will betray me. You will disown me three times.” It’s kind of a sad story. And we know that when it happens to Peter, he runs out of the courtyard, weeping bitterly. His words are haunting him.
But the point is simple. When you and I get puffed up, that’s the moment that Satan will bring us down. When we get too big for our britches, so to speak, when we begin to lean on our own understanding, when we begin to forget that whatever we have, God has given us it, and His mercy and His goodness have brought us to whatever moment we are enjoying, or we think that we can run prayerless and wordless into any given day and lean on our own self. At that point, that’s an open invitation to the devil.
It’s hunting season when you and I become self-conceited. That’s why James, in James 4, 6, and 7 tells us that, “God resist the pride and gives grace to the humble.” Then he goes on immediately to say, “You know what? If you resist the devil, he’ll flee from you.” And then he goes on to talk about drawing near to God. There’s a great statement that I came across many years ago, “Wheels that come up to spite off, get harpooned.” And when you and I begin to spite off, we begin to forget that we’re only sinners saved by grace and we’re reliant on God for our very breath, let alone our spiritual protection, we’re going to get harpooned. We’re putting our head above the trench, and giving the devil a shot.
Here’s another season. Number six, finally. When we get angry in a sinful manner, when we get angry in a sinful manner. And for this one, we’re actually in the book of Ephesians. If you remember back in Chapter 4, it might seem a long time ago, we read these words, “Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath nor give place to the devil.” You see, we can be angry and not sin when we’re angry at sin alone, when we’re not driven by peevishness or a self, but we’re driven by God’s glory and a desire to uphold righteous standards. And we do that equitably, in a balanced manner, and we do it with integrity.
But too often we’d have to admit, wouldn’t we? We like to think that every time we’re angry, it’s righteous anger, but I don’t think any of us are batting a hundred. James tells us, “Remember the wrath of man doesn’t produce the righteousness of God.” That’s a warning, isn’t it? When you and I give vent to our emotions, when we don’t control our responses, we’ve just given Satan a foothold. A beachhead is… this is a military term, beachhead or foothold.
The believer who nurses bitterness. Could that be you? The believer who harbors resentment, holds on to unforgiveness, who won’t mend the fence, who won’t pull some of the bricks down off the wall, so he can look his brother in the eye or his sister in the eye. I want to tell you, if that’s you and at any point that’s me, we have just afforded Satan, a wonderful beachhead into our lives, from which he will advance with devastating results.
Angry people are never happy people, who dwell in peaceful homes. The longer we practice unrighteousness, the more territory Satan gains in our lives. Let’s take this image as we close this thought up. Foothold or beachhead. Imagine a bad person is chasing you down your street and you run to your front door, you look over your shoulder in great nervousness, you’re fumbling for your keys, and you turn the lock and you get inside and try to slam the door. But as you slam the door, it doesn’t close because the person that’s been chasing you to do you harm stuck, their foot in the door. And the door won’t close because they’ve got a foothold. That’s the image that Paul is using.
Satan’s on our tail. And you know what? If you want to slam the door in his face at least in one area of your life, guard your emotions and your temper and the management of your moods. You can be angry and sin not, but when you’re angry in a sinful manner, you’re allowing Satan to put his foot in the door.
Look, that’s his tactics and I’ll say this, he plays dirty. He’s like a terrorist who seeks to exploit your vulnerabilities, who will attack you when you least expect it. There’s no spiritual Geneva Convention. He doesn’t abide by any rules. He’s cunning and his cohorts are ruthless, relentless, and remorseless. Listen to me. Expect no breaks. Anticipate no mercy. If things are quiet in your life right now, thank God, but keep one eye open because Satan is still plotting your destruction, waiting for an opportune moment.
And here’s another thought, and he’s smart at it. He’s ruthless. He doesn’t play by the rules. He’s a dirty player and he’s smart. He has honed his skills over hundreds and thousands of years, and you underestimate him at your peril. The devil has existed for a long time, from the beginning of creation. He was there at the beginning of creation when the sons of God sang the praises of God in the Book of Job, we read about that. He’s got vast knowledge.
He’s not omniscient. Only God’s omniscient. But he does know a lot of things about human nature. He’s a keen observer. Across all of history, he has picked up knowledge about men and women and he’s got a far superior knowledge about you than you have of yourself, and the sins that so easily beset us and the patterns that man take. I like what R. Kent Hughes says in his Ephesians commentary on this. This is worth pondering about Satan’s effectiveness. All right?
We’re talking about these moments he’ll wait for because he’s smart and he’s dirty and he waits for you to give him a chance to become vulnerable. And here’s what Hugh says, “I am no genius at mathematics, but even with my limited capacities, I would and could be terrific at it if I worked at it for a hundred years. If I labored hard at it for 1000 years and read all the learned theories, I would be a Newton. I would be an Einstein. Or what if I had 10,000 years? Given that time, any one of us could become the world’s greatest philosopher, psychologist, theologian, linguist, mathematician. Satan has had multiple millennia to study and master the human disciplines. And when it comes to human subversion, he is the ultimate manipulator.”
Good little insight. He’s had plenty of time to get his game down. So, be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God because this is an evil day and the evil one goes about seeking whom he may devour given the slightest opportunity. Let me talk about his team just quickly.
And we looked at his territory, the world, we’ve looked at his titles that tell us something about him. We’ve looked at his tactics, what he does, when he does it. What about his team? Well, this is verses 12 and 13 of Ephesians 6, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against notice, principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Here we’re being introduced to the spiritual mafia, the real underworld, Satan’s evil empire of demonic leaders and foot soldiers. Now, what are demons? They are fallen angels. I think we touched on that already, but I’ll go back over this kind. If you read Revelation 12:4 and 9, you’re going to see that when Satan fell after Creation, I would argue he did not fall alone.
The Bible talks about the devil and his angels, doesn’t it? Interestingly, Matthew 25:41, “Hell wasn’t made for you and me. It was made for the devil and his angels.” It seems that one third of the angelic host joined him in that act of pride and rebellion. There’s a large number of demons. In Mark 5:9, in one incident, we have an incident and an environment where there is a legion. All legion was 6,000 Roman soldiers. In that particular moment, there could been up to 6,000 demonic entities working in that context. We don’t know what their number is, but we think it’s vast.
It’s a third of the original angelic hosts. And since they don’t procreate, their numbers is fixed. It doesn’t decrease, it doesn’t increase. Demons are real just like Satan. They’re not symbolic, they’re real. They exist. They’re mentioned 80 times in the New Testament. They are menacing. Demons can and often do cause mental and physical affliction. You can read about that in 1 Samuel 16:14 and in Mark 5:4-5. According to Leviticus 18:6-30, “They promote immorality and perversity.” According to Leviticus 17:7, “They promote idolatry.”
And in a verse that’s familiar to us, 1 Timothy 4:1, “They promote false doctrine.” There’s the doctrine of demons. Remember we said that Satan is the ape of God. He’s got his own church and his own ministers and his own false gospels. We know that they can hinder prayer, or at least they attempt to do that.
Daniel 10:12-20, they certainly incite division among believers as well as persecution against believers. James 3:13-16 and Revelation 13-7. They’re menacing, they’re real and you should take their threat seriously. And they also seem to be organized. John Stott says of this description by Paul that, “We have here a full and frightening description of the forces already against us.” There’s a debate, but most biblical scholars and Bible commentators seem to believe that Paul seems to be indicating perhaps ranks and columns of demons.
He separates each of these entities by the word against, “We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities.” One category, against powers. Against rulers of the darkness of this age, and other category, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. I’m not going to get into the depth of this. In fact, I’m going to let John MacArthur speak to us, I think in a way that is perhaps one of the better understandings of this.
He says this, “The demonic categories are not explained, but rulers no doubt reflect high order of demons. Powers are another rank.” And in fact, it’s interesting. Principalities and powers are also used in Ephesians and Colossians to speak of unfallen angels. But the two phrases I think jump out are, “The world forces of this darkness or the rulers of this darkness,” perhaps refers to demons who have infiltrated various political systems of the world attempting to pattern them after Satan’s realm of darkness.
“Many stories are told worldwide,” he says, “of conspiracies ranging from those mentioned in ancient Egyptian writings to today’s suppose modern cabals. We have no way of absolutely identifying the networking of these various schemes of Satan and should be wary of those who claim to do so, but we can be certain that he is active behind the scenes of every Christless human endeavor, both in the overt, obviously evil works of man, as well as in the covert, the seemingly innocent and good works of humanistic endeavors.”
In this final phrase, “The spiritual forces of wickedness are possibly those demons who are involved in the most wretched and vile immorality, such as perverse sexual practices, the occult, Satan worship and the like.” Other commentators would kind of echo what John MacArthur has mentioned there, but I think he put it in a way that you can, I can get our head around.
Back to Stott, “Whatever these entities are, there is a full and frightening description of the forces already against us.” Satan is organized. We have almost ranks of his dark army. I think I’ve mentioned this before at a Shepherd’s Conference a few years ago. CJ Hanney talked about studying in a Starbucks not far from his church and as he was reading his bible and thinking about the gospel, he got an opportunity to share something of God’s word with a man sitting nearby him. And as he get into the gospel, a man put his hands up and said, “You know what? I’m not interested in an organized religion.”
And CJ Henney said, “Don’t worry about that. Come to my church. We’re not that organized.” But I’ll tell you this, I know that we get the point CJ Henney was saying. At the end of the day, the church is an organism before it’s an organization, but let’s be aware that our enemies are organized. And you and I need to organize ourselves around the truths of Ephesians 6, and be strong in the Lord and the power of His might, and putting on and taking up the armor of God.
Which brings us to my third point is the engagement. The engagement. We’ve looked at the exhortation finally or could be as we’ve said, “This word, hands forth. This is what you’re up against from this point forward until Jesus comes.” We’ve looked at the enemy. Now we’re looking at the engagement. Despite a formidable and frightening enemy and I’ve underscored that… I do want to remind you that we are encouraged and exhorted here to engage in spiritual warfare, not to run, not to hide, not to cower in fear.
Now, we’re told here, “Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might and put on the whole armor of God.” Verse 11 and verse 13, “Take up the whole armor of God so that you’re able to stand.” The Christian does not need to cower before Satan when we first buy before Christ who’s seated at the right hand of God, above all principalities and powers. That’s the language of Ephesians 1:19-21, “In his death and burial and resurrection and now enthronement, Christ has declared his victory and authority over the domain of death and the kingdom of darkness, which will be worked out manifested visibly in a day to come when he comes to reign on planet earth.”
I like what one writer says about the language of this passage. The entire passage is suffused with the spirit of confidence and hope, and the reader is left not with the feeling of despair, but with a sense that Satan can be defeated. And I hope you come away with that by the time we’re finished here this morning.
The engagement. Three things quickly: the strength, the stance, the suit. The strength, the par already against us is no equal to the power that works within us. That’s worth the price of admission. I want to say that again. This is what Paul wants us to take away. He wants us to understand the enemy is real and the threat is strong. And unguarded, the damage can be devastating. But it doesn’t need to be that because the power already against us is no equal to the power that works in us. We can be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Satan is mighty, but God is almighty. Amen?
Amen.
If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31, and then 1 John 4, “Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world.” Remember that line in Luther’s Hymn, “On Earth is not his equal?” That’s true. When it comes to Satan, on earth is not as equal. You and I are no match, in and off ourselves, for the enemy. But in heaven, there is his equal. The one who has been exalted above principalities and powers.
I would remind you, in this engagement, in this tussle, in this fight, in this conflict, this is not a battle of equals. Satan is in opposition to God, but he is not the opposite of God. Let me say that again. Satan is in opposition to God, but he is not the opposite of God. He’s a creature. He’s finite. In fact, he’s accountable to God.
We made reference, I think, to Job 1 and 2 a couple of times and we’ve made reference to Peter’s sifting by Satan. Can I remind you that in Job 1 and 2, it is Satan who has to appear before God and he has to get permission to do what he wants to do to Job? Remember what Jesus said to Peter, “Satan has asked, desired to sift you.” Satan’s strong, but he’s not stronger than God. Satan’s mighty, but he’s not almighty. And Satan’s in opposition to God, but he is not the opposite of God. This is not a bottle of equals.
When you and I are strong in the Lord and in the power of His might and we put on the whole armor of God, we can defeat him. He cannot defeat us. Satan’s power is not inherent, but permitted. Satan’s power is not invincible, it’s broken. Paul has already told us that the incomparable great power of God that raised Jesus from the dead in triumph over Satan and death and hell is already ceaselessly working in us. Go back to chapter one in verse 19 and you’ll see that, “What is the exceeding greatness of his power towards us who believe according to the working of his mighty power, which he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at the right hand of the heavenly places, far above principalities and powers and might and dominion.”
The power that raised Jesus from the dead and displayed his authority and lordship over Satan and his kingdom is at work in you and constantly at work in you. You’ve been sealed by the spirit, until the day of redemption. God will never leave you or forsake you. That’s a good encouragement, isn’t it? Our strength is not self-generated strength. It’s divinely given strength.
In fact, the Greek here is passive in voice, “Be strengthened in His almighty power.” The ground of our victory is our union with Christ and our abiding in Him, through prayer, fasting, making certain biblical truth ours, fellowship, encouragement from other Christians, praises and worship, drawing near to God, participating in the Lord’s supper, being filled by the spirit, exercising spiritual gifts, putting on the whole armor of God.
When I was a young Christian, a pastor doing a children’s talk, illustrated the strength we have in Christ in a manner I’ve never forgotten. He brought into the pulpit a length of linked chain, and then a length of string or thread and he said, “Hey, here’s the thread.” And he pulled on it and he stretched it and for a moment it held up, and then he pulled it harder until it snapped. And he said, “That’s us. Yeah, we can fight and for a moment or two. We look like we can stand our ground, but when push comes to shove, when Satan attacks we’re going to break.”
And then what he did was he took that thread and he wove it through the links of the chain, as if the threads in union with the chain or in interacting with the chain or connecting with the chain. And then he said, “Now watch me as I try to break the thread.” It’s impossible, right? Because the thread’s now in union with the chain and the chain’s stronger than the thread and the chain’s unbreakable. And he said, “That’s what it’s like when you and I are in union with Christ and we connect with him and we wave our everyday experience with our life in Christ.”
We’re strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. And His might is creation might, sovereign might, everlasting might, conquering, unquenchable might the stance. Christians have got to stand up to the enemy who is staring them down to go back to the text. Notice in verse 11 and 13 and 14, although 14 is not what we’re looking at today, but I’ll go there. We’re told to stand. Verse 11, “Stand against the wiles of the devil.” Verse 13, “That you may be able to withstand in the evil day, having all to stand in.”
Verse 14, “Stand therefore having girded your waist with truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” That’s the chief admonition. Four times, we’re told to stand. We have got to put up a fight. We’ve got to resist the onslaught of the enemy. We’ve got to stay loyal to Jesus like Judah to David. In 2 Samuel 2:10.
Here’s another interesting little insight. I didn’t touch on this, but verse 12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. The word wrestle is not a military term, it is an athletic term. It is what it seems to indicate: it’s a wrestling match. And if that’s Paul’s word, it’s just a reminder that this fight is close quarters. It’s a wrestling match. It’s not one army lobbying cannon fire or missiles across a distance towards each other. This is hand-to-hand combat. This is a wrestling match. This is the First World War in fighting in trenches with [inaudible 00:34:29].
This is not something we keep at arm’s length. That’s the point. This is an ongoing reality. The fight will come to you and it will be close quarters. You’ll feel it, you’ll sense it, you’ll smell it, you’ll have to engage it. But here’s what’s interesting. We’re called the stand, not to attack or not to advance. I think for two reasons. Number one, we do not need to go looking Satan. He will find us. That’s why you’re going to have to stand. You don’t have to go looking him. You don’t have to go and advance and engage him. He will find you. We see at Job 2:1-2, where it says, “When Satan appears before God,” it says that, “He comes from going about to and fro throughout the Earth.” Interesting little phrase.
So, imagine that. Satan is constantly with his corrupt cohorts going throughout the Earth. They’re not omnipresent, but given their size, they cover a swath of ground. And angels move fast. I would assume that’s the same with fallen angels, and they’re going throughout the earth looking whom they may devour, looking for those opportune moments, those six seasons at least, where they can do their most devastating work. Seen in 1 Peter 5 or 6, “Be sober, be vigilant for your adversary, the devil…” What?, “Goes about, seeking who he may devour.”
We don’t need to advance. We don’t need to go looking for Satan to fight him. He’ll find us when we’re making a stand for Jesus Christ, when we’re living the gospel, when we’re the righteous in the midst of the unrighteous. We live where Satan dwells. Don’t forget that. And where Satan reigns. The world is under his sway. We identified that a couple of weeks ago, but if you go to Revelation 2:13, Jesus says about the saints in Pergamos, that Satan’s throne is where you live.
Now if you’re living in Pergamos, you don’t need to go looking for Satan, you don’t need to advance. That’s his territory. You’re an enemy territory. You’re behind enemy lines. And in number two, we don’t have to defeat Satan. We don’t have to advance or attack because he’s already been defeated. We just need to stand our ground. We need to enjoy the victory that’s already been accomplished. As the old preachers used to say, “We’re not fighting for victory, we’re fighting from victory.”
And I think Paul’s kind of intimating that, implying that when he says, “Stand.” You don’t have to go and fight him and beat him. He’s already beaten. So, stand and your family will survive, stand and your church will grow, stand and your community will enjoy light and salt. Stand and your nation will benefit. We don’t have to defeat Satan because Satan has already been defeated. We stand with courage, confidence because Christ has already won the victory.
The victory is ours and we show it by standing, not cowering, not running, not hiding. We don’t have to defeat the devil because Jesus has already defeated him. We don’t have to claim new territory from him because the entire world belongs to Jesus and he will prove that in a coming day. We don’t have to achieve anything ourselves. You simply have to trust in what the gospel has already achieved and says to be true.
I love that reality. Listen to John Stott, “Wobbly Christians, who have no firm foothold in Christ are uneasy, pray for the devil. And the Christians who shake like reeds and rushes cannot resist the wind when the principalities and powers begin to blow. Paul wants to see Christians be strong and stable, that they remain firm even against the devil’s wiles.” Paul wants us to stand, sit, live what we already have in Christ. All the benefits talked about in Ephesians 1 are ours. We’re well-equipped. The ground in which he stand is blood-soaked as an evidence of Christ’s death and burial and resurrection, indicating indeed we have the victory.
Pat Williams in his book, 21 Great Leaders, tells a story about Margaret Thatcher, one of my heroes, or heroines would probably be better put. It was the time of the first Gulf War and Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait, and the nations were kind of paused to get together and try and think out their response. And according to him, in this background story, George H. Bush wasn’t sure about what to do next.
The Middle East argued that this was an Arab problem that demanded an Arab solution, so the West should stay out of it. Colin Powell advocated for sanctions, as the first plan of attack. Thatcher disagreed. She met Bush and she got a sense he was like a deer in the headlights due to conflicting advice, and she looked at him over a cup of tea and she said, “Look, George, this is no time to go wobbly.” I want to tell you, Paul would say the same thing to you and me. This is no time to go wobbly and we don’t have to.
We can stand, having put on the whole armor of God, living out the privileges that are ours already in the gospel. Brings us to the suit, the armor, the stance, the strength, the suit. The Christian’s ability to stand, we kind of touched this, and now we get into it. It’s tied to their putting on the whole armor of God. Verse 11, “Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” That’s repeated again with a different verb. Take up. It’s actually a verb that is like the trumpet is blown. The call to arms has taken place, and the soldiers are running with urgency to take up their weapons and their pieces of armor and put them on.
God strengthens His saints for battling by clothing them with power, by putting on the armor that He has provided for them in Christ. Now this phrase, we’ve talked about this before, “Put on the whole armor of God.” This takes us back to Ephesians 4:20-23, “Put off the old man and put on the new man, created after the Lord Jesus Christ.”
What we’re really dealing with here is putting on spiritual armor amounts to believers drawing fully upon their identity in Christ and the spiritual resources we already possess in Him. Seated in the heavenly places with Him, we have forgiveness, redemption, the indwelling part, the Holy Spirit, the hope of heaven. We could go on. That’s our new identity in Christ, united to Him. And putting on the whole armor of God is, in a sense, putting on Christ, putting on the benefits of the gospel that we possess in union with Him.
In fact, if we go to Romans 13, it’s interesting the language that’s used. Let me read it, knowing the time, that it’s high time to wake up out of our sleep, Paul says, “For our salvation is near them. We first believe the night is far spent, the days at hand. Therefore, notice cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Similar language, similar image. Let us walk properly as in the day, not in revelry, drunkenness, not in lewdness, lust, not in strife or envy. But notice this, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh.”
So, putting on the armor of light in this context is putting on the Lord Jesus. And I think we can make that argument in Ephesians 6, putting on the whole armor of God is putting on the Lord Jesus, understanding your identity with Him and what accrues to you through union with Him and living that, enjoying that. This was the argument of my old professor and a former member of Kindred Community Church, the beloved Dr. Jim Roscop.
In an article that was published in the Master Seminary Journal, Jim argued on this very passage that the armor was Christ. The belt of truth was Jesus because he’s the way, the truth and the life. The breastplate of righteousness is Jesus who was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. The shoes of the gospel of peace is Jesus. Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The shield of faith is Jesus.
Look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. He’s the helmet of salvation, “There is salvation in no other for there’s no other name under heaven given among man whereby we might be saved.” Acts 4:12, and he’s the sword of the spirit. He’s the Word. In the beginning, the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
You want to know the way to defeat the devil, the evil, darkness? It’s by focusing on Jesus. It’s by reminding yourself of what you are in Him and what He is to you forever. And it means living in union with Him day by day, following him. Ray Steadman, wonderful pastor here in California for many years in Palo Alto. It’s not what the Lord said this, “When I get up in the morning, I put on my clothes, intending them to be part of me all day to go where I go and to do what I do. They cover me. They make me presentable to others. That’s the purpose of clothes.”
In the same way the apostle is saying, “Put on the Lord Jesus when you get up in the morning, make him part of your life, intend that he goes where you go and that he acts through you and everything you do.” I love that. Such simple analogy. But isn’t that what maybe Paul’s driving out here? Put on the armor like you’d put on clothes and put on Jesus. Jesus goes with you wherever you go and let him work through you and whatever you do and you’ll be able to stand in the evil day.
Or to change the analogy, my friend Mark Hitchcock’s got a wonderful book on Satan and demons and spiritual warfare. He kindly dedicated to me because of our friendship and I’m thankful for that honor, and he draws this analogy.
“If you’re a quarterback, you don’t keep your eyes on the linebackers in the defensive backs. If you do that, you’ll never connect with your receiver. The quarterback must focus primarily on his own backs and wide receivers, but at the same time, he must be aware of the defensive players and anticipate their move or throw that could be intercepted.” So, his point is, yeah, he’ll keep an eye on the defensive backs and the linebackers on the other team, but he’s really got to focus on his own team, his own receivers, his own plans.
He’ll study opponent’s tape, their formations, but his ultimate focus must be on his own assignments, his own team’s game plan. And that is what Paul’s remind us. He’s told us about the enemy and the linebackers and defensive backs that we’re up against. He’s given us the tape and their game plan, but that’s not our focus. Our focus is putting on the Lord Jesus. That’s our focus.
Let’s get to our last thought here, the era. We’ll wrap this up quickly. Not going to say a lot, but it’s worth saying. The era is you and I are in the evil day. That’s the period in which you and I live. Paul describes it as the evil day back in chapter 5:16. He talks about the days of evil. Galatians 1:4, he talks about this present evil age, “The evil one operates during the evil day.” Broadly speaking, we’re dealing with the time between Christ’s first advent and the second, or just from the fall of man to the rise of Christ in the millennial kingdom when Satan will be bind and eventually cast into the Lake of Fire. Until then, it’s an evil day.
Man’s foolishness and fallenness and Satan’s authority has a demonstrable sway in the world. Narrowly, it perhaps speaks of seasons of intense targeting and fierce personal attack. Within the evil day, there can be evil days for you and me as he pursues those opportune times. So, as we close, every day is part of the evil day. Therefore, you cannot afford to take a day off. The devil takes no holidays, neither should you. He loves it when you skip church. He loves it when you postpone prayer. He loves it when you watch TV without watching over your soul and its sanctification. He loves it. When you tempt yourself through lack of vigilance. He loves it when you leave your Bible closed. He loves it when you cozy up to the world in rebellion against God.
Every day is part of an evil day. Therefore, you’ve got to stand and be strong in the power of God’s might and you’ve got to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. In his book, Well Versed, Jim Garlow… It’s an excellent book by the way, about where our culture’s at and how we can deal with it. But in his book well versed, Jim Garlow tells this story. He was a pastor down in San Diego for many years.
An elderly former Marine, a retired college mathematics professor in his church shocked him one day with these words. He says, “Pastor, I was a good marine. I just never had a chance to prove it.” Jim asked for an explanation. He said, “What do you mean, Dennis?” “Well,” he said, “I was a marine after the Korean War and I was a Marine before the Vietnam War, and since I was between wars, I never got the chance to fight. I never got a chance to prove what a good marine I was.”
We learned last Sunday, the Sunday before that, and this Sunday we learned we’re not living between wars. We get every opportunity every day to prove we’re a good marine for the Lord Jesus Christ. Be strong in the Lord. The power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God. The war’s on. Thank God, someday it will end. But until then, let’s persevere by God’s grace through God’s mercy for God’s glory.
Father, we thank you for our time in the Word. We thank you for this closing message on Ephesians 6:10-13, and we just ask for your help. We want to be strengthened, so help us to take of the means of grace. Help us to pursue spiritual disciplines. Help us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Help us to have sanctifying friendships. Help us to be in the Word. Help us to have a strong faith. Help us to live in union with Jesus Christ and live out our righteousness and sanctification through Him.
This is an evil day. And every day we get a chance to prove ourselves to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Lord, someday we will wear robes of glory. But today we wear armor. We’re in the fight of our life. Help us to be on our guard. Help us not to underestimate the enemy who’s sly and dirty and relentless, but help us not to overestimate the enemy. We’re not focusing on him, we’re focusing on Christ, who leads us in triumph, who causes us to enjoy victory. Lord, help us to stand in this evil day, having done all to stand. For we pray and ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.