Ephesians 6:10-24 Spiritual warfare 1: The reality of our warfare

Outline notes from sermon preached on 29th April 2012

 

Paul’s Finally in v10 it’s not an introduction to an afterthought which we can just think about at our leisure. What follows in this passage is essential teaching for every Christian to understand and to be victorious in our everyday lives.

1Cor 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The teaching of Ephesians 6:10-24 helps us understand the victory God gives us through Jesus.

1. We must know that we are in a spiritual battle – two extremes to avoid

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

If we are going to live out the vision of Ephesians in this world and apply biblical truth into our lives, we will soon realise the reality of our spiritual struggle.

We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against … spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

There are two important extremes to avoid when talking about the devil.

a.       an over-emphasis on the devil.

There is the danger is then of thinking the devil behind every trouble we face.  Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed he snake, (and the snake didn’t have a leg to stand on!)  We must take responsibility for our own lives and our own sin.  But an over-emphasis on the devil isn’t our problem.

b.      an under-emphasis on the devil.

We are far more likely to under-estimate the work of the devil, not recognising the devilish source of the temptations and struggles we face.  The prevailing ideology of our culture is materialism which leaves no room for the supernatural at all.  It is all just poppy cock.

In my own life I only became unaware of spiritual conflict when I became a Christian.  In fact it was a real spiritual struggle to become a Christian and submit my life to the Lord.

In v11, Paul talks about a real devil.  In v12 he talks about a a lowerarchy of evil, spiritual beings, rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world and spiritual forces in the heavenly realms.   They are presumably they are fallen angels, though I don’t think we can work out exactly what these are.

Many Christians don’t believe in a real devil.  Many theologians don’t believe in a devil.  They demythologise the Bible.   However Paul the theologian who wrote Ephesians believed in a real devil, and so did Jesus. To deny the devil is the rob Christians of their spiritual victory and power.   Whenever we take a step towards God, to follow His call, or even to engage in simple tasks like prayer and Bible reading 101 thoughts flood into our minds why we it’s not a good idea.  There is a fight of faith to fight,

1Ti 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

 2. We must know our enemy – two mistakes to avoid

Governments spend millions and billions on intelligence since they know how important it is to know their enemy.  To live in the victory God gives through Jesus Christ we also need to know our enemy.

The only reliable source to find out accurately about the devil is in the Bible.  We can find out a lot about the devil from the names given to him. He is called,

  • Satan” which means adversary or accuser or slanderer.  The trouble is human beings do the devil’s work for him, when we slander and accuse others.
  • “the dragon,” (Rev 12:9)
  • “the old serpent” (Rev 20:2);
  • “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; Joh 14:30);
  • “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2);
  • “the god of this world” (2Co 4:4);
  • “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph 2:2).
  • “the evil one” (1John 5:19)
  • “the tempter”
  •  “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44)
  • “Beelzebub, the prince of the devils” (Matt 12:24).

One commentator says, “He is the constant enemy of God, of Christ, of the divine kingdom, of the followers of Christ, and of all truth; full of falsehood and all malice, and exciting and seducing to evil in every possible way.”

There are two mistakes we can make concerning the devil.

a.       to underestimate his power. 

The power of the devil can seem very great in the world.  He is called the god of this world and it is his power which lies behind the evil empires of this world.  Jesus victory over Satan’s power on the cross doesn’t mean his activity on earth has been removed, at least not yet.

He is a “roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1Pe 5:8).   When religious extremists kill (or any murderers for that matter) they are doing the devil’s work like a roaring lion.

As Christians we are warned against his “devices” (2Co 2:11), and called on to “resist” him (Jam 4:7).

Christ has redeemed us his people from “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb 2:14).

Do you know, Satan has not signed the Geneva Convention?  He doesn’t fight by the rules.  He knows your weakness and he will attack you at your weakness.

His main power is as the accuser.  His chief aim is to accuse and slander the Lord of Glory, and get us to do the same.  It is as if Satan and his legions join in a diabolical chorus of slander and accusation against the goodness and holiness of God, and Satan’s purpose is to get as many of God’s children to join in with him, since he knows his time is short.  This, I think, is our greatest temptation and the heart of our spiritual conflict, especially in times of trouble.

b.      to overestimate his power. 

Although we shouldn’t underestimate Satan’s power, we shouldn’t over-estimate it either. Satan is not all powerful.  He isn’t omnipotent!  It’s not a battle of light versus darkness, pulling one way, then the other.  It’s not even a contest since God has all power.  In the Old Testament King David prayed in a way which showed God’s power and victory,

Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever.  Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.  Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.  And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. [1Chronicles 29:10-13]

In every circumstance Jesus is Lord and he promises that we may share in his victory.

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One Response to Ephesians 6:10-24 Spiritual warfare 1: The reality of our warfare

  1. Pingback: My Thoughts On ~Spiritual Gifts~ « Knowledge Is My Wisdom

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