ALIVE | Warfare | Ephesians 6:10-24
Topic: New Testament Passage: Ephesians 6:10–6:24
Christopher Rich – February 23, 2020
ALIVE | The Way Unearned | PART XIII
ALIVE Warfare | Ephesians 6:10-24
Introduction | Finally
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we conclude our series walking the through the book of Ephesians called ALIVE: The Way Unearned where we see life with God has been given to us.
In Christ, we have been made alive for a purpose. To live in the way God has created us. Both the rewards of and endurance in this life are by His grace alone so they are by nature unearned.
We are people who have been known loved and saved by the grace of God the Father through faith in Christ Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit to be adopted into God’s family, citizens in His kingdom, individuals with a promised inheritance, a communal body growing in maturity. We were spiritually dead lurching as self-consumed zombies now we have been made alive to contribute good works God has prepared for us walk in. From this new identity we now live a new way in terms of every earthly relationship. Walls racisms, classism, hostility have been torn down. We are forgiven people who forgive others. Our speech and engagement with others is seasoned with grace in good times and conflict. Our sexuality is aligned to God’s design. Our marriages are reflections of love, honor, respect, and self-sacrifice which reflect the truth of Jesus love for His people. Our families are led by firm and gentle fathers and mothers who have children who know they’re loved and respond to love with joyful obedience. As workers and leaders we are all aware we are ultimately under God’s authority so we work and lead for His approval and purposes to bring Him Glory and to promote our joy and flourishing. We hear this, read this, and assuming it’s all carried out perfectly we should have heaven on earth and be coasting toward eternity. And yet…. Our life seems so different. As Ephesians closes, we are reminded of the fundamental truth that while we have been made ALIVE by God, have promises of a forever future with God, and are living a new life for God now, we are not yet home. Reality of life is not us effortlessly strolling through a pastoral glad but trudging through a gory battlefield of opposition, oppression, and ongoing struggle where we wonder if we’ll make it through and if there will ever be real rest, peace, and victory. We need the clarity of understanding conflict, how we are equipped to endure until we can be at a place of eternal enjoyment. Paul, writing to the Ephesian church (and to us), closes this letter with a charge to keep fighting to the end.
PART I |ALIVE Enemy| Ephesians 6:10-12
Eph 6:10-12 |10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
While we are alive in a world marred by sin, we will experience painful conflict because evil is real and there is an active enemy. Walking out the way unearned will lead to seasons growth, flourishing, and advance where it seems like we’ve “gained ground”. In warfare the objective is not merely to gain ground but to hold it. Each season and foot of advance will be met with a counterattack desiring to unsettle your position, drive you defeat and demand your surrender. In the face this, we are called to, Stand, Hold, stand firm, there is ground gained for the purpose. It is to be held. The way unearned is not a way without difficulty or opposition. There is strong, significant spiritual opposition seeking your defeat.
Our strength and God’s strength. We are weak, He is strong. I think I am courageous, I think I am bold, I think I am strong, but even the stiff wind of circumstances, or stifling assault of oppression and I want to fold like a house of cards. When I was young, I thought I would make a good solider and be one who would endure in battle, not getting hit. But then I went paintballing when I was in college. The whistle blew and I was hit in an instant, game over. If it’s Normandy I am not the hero, I’m just another body stacked on the beach. We need more hope than our strength. We are not called to be strong, but strong in the Lord established by His might, rooted in His power. This is so necessary as we stand against the enemy.
Know your enemy - Cosmic powers, devil, present darkness, sounds creepy – To be clear it is. I would love to completely de-mystify the conflict and say it’s really against economic injustice, different political philosophy or just people you don’t like or who don’t like you. We need to be aware the enemy is:
Present – Let’s be clear there is a real enemy, the devil, prowls around like a lion, who is active and influential in the world we find ourselves in. It is present in the darkness sin, brokenness, and death.
Powerful – We are told to be strong, rest in God’s might, be equipped and aware because the enemy isn’t only real but real powerful. It says he has a level of authority, cosmic power, capable of inflicting great damage. The enemy is not to be taken lightly or easily disregarded. He requires strong opposition.
Plotting Cunning/Scheming – Sometimes is seems like we’re suffering in a way that seems coordinated, specific to our own weaknesses. That is because the enemy is actively planning to both discourage you and defeat God’s will. He has been plotting from the beginning scheming to separate God’s people from God’s protection, provision, and presence. He had some success and is persistent.
Pure Evil – God is good, the enemy is not. This is an evil enemy who needs to be defeated. He does not desire life and flourishing but comes to lie and steal joy, flourishing, and life. If/when we’re are walking out Good works, we are aligned with a good God. With an enemy like this arrayed against us there is a lot to fear. We need a God who is bigger, stronger, who’s plans are for our Good, who is loving and who’s purposes will ultimately prevail. We are able to stand against this enemy as we stand in the Lord.
Who is the battle with? As important as it is to know your enemy it is also essential, we recognize who are battles in not with and who is NOT our enemy. We don’t wrestle with Flesh and Blood, that’s other people.
We will struggle with other people, but the real battle and enemy we face is a spiritual one. The battlefield isn’t in the world or culture, it’s in your mind and your soul. The conflict may be experienced here and now but it’s not a physical one, or even a cultural one. Don’t disengage but remember your battle isn’t with people but with “principalities.” The culture war, or a political war are all are all side skirmishes which can easily distract us from what is really going on. Victory in these arenas is not what will give us lasting peace. The Gospel of Jesus is where victory is found. We are on a mission to tell and point people to where life is found so they can experience, life joy and peace with God and join His mission as well.
If our mission is to bring the Gospel TO people, then our battle cannot be WITH people. If the enemy is not truly other people then it is easier to extend grace to them, love them, forgiven them, and not walk in bitterness, enmity, or unforgiveness towards them. The devil wins when we forget he is the enemy, and the devil wins when falsely believe other people are our enemies. Your battle isn’t against people but the voices you hear might be the voices of people you know. You cannot stay in bitterness but walk in forgiveness.
PART II |ALIVE Armor | Ephesians 6:13-18a
Eph 6:13-18a |13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
We are equipped for battle. To be truly alive is to know we are weak, but not without strength. We recognize we are not strong enough to repel or overcome this enemy or win any battle on our own. We only have a chance of endurance when we recognize how needy we are. However, we have been given all we need to endure an assault as we have the strength of the Lord who has equipped us with His truth, righteousness, and peace with salvation through faith in Him.
In Isaiah, there are similar allusions to the “armor of God” but it’s always God who has it. Here, we see that as new creations, with a new mission, God has given us new equipment. He has called us to join the battle and shared with us His armor so we can endure the battle. (Mandalorian armor is made of the amazing steel). If you are Alive you have been drafted into battle, but you haven’t been drafted to be the QB of the Jets with a porous line not protecting you. You’ve been drafted to the forever reigning Super Bowl champs with a hall of fame impenetrable O-line. We are comprehensively equipped to prevail.
Fastened the belt of Truth (literally “gird your loins’, modern translation “put a cup on”)- The idea is protection where you are most vulnerable and able to maneuver in a difficult and ever changing landscape. When you’re held up by truth of the good news of the gospel that doesn’t change you can navigate a world that always seems to be changing, while ensuring you’re not wounded where you are most sensitive. That is what the Gospel does.
Breastplate of Righteousness – This is your new identity in Christ. You are covered, clothed by His righteousness. The very core of who you are is protected by Christ’s righteousness. So you don’t have to fear a mortal wound to your heart because you have a new heart that beats for God. You can breath easy in the battle knowing your lungs are covered.
Shoes of Gospel readiness- We are in a battle against an enemy but we come in peace and with peace. The Gospel isn’t an invitation into conflict it is the announcement that the conflict we have been in with God has been resolved by Jesus taking our defeat and giving us His victory. That means the battle we’re in now is not to achieve victory but to apply victory that has been received. So the gospel equips us and it motivate us to keep going. As we go…. we proclaim peace as people who have received peace.
Shield of Faith Extinguishing Flaming darts of the Evil one – While we have armor and we are not going to be ultimately killed it is still terrible getting shot at. It paralyzes us, keeps us from moving forward, can send us to places of panic. The enemy is still firing at us to drive us to fear. We are to be shielded by protection with faith. Faith is the answer to fear. What are we protected against? Conscience Conviction replaced with Cunning and Condemnation. Lies over truth. This can be unnecessary guilt and shame. Voices and word of condemnation. How does the enemy attack us? What are the ways the enemy lies to us? What lies are you believing and what truth do they need to be replaced with? What do you hear in your head? One of favorite line of a new Ghost ship song Belief is “I’ve tasted truth and I’ve eaten lies”. When we put down the shield of faith we’re not just letting ourselves get hit by darts (4’ torched arrow) but we’re eating them and then wondering why we have holy heart burn or want to leave the battle.
Helmet of Salvation - As bullets fly and the battle rages, what we wear on our heads is the saving work of Jesus Christ work on the Cross in our place to save sinners to become sons and daughters. This means snipers of the enemy can fire away but there is no possibility of a kill shot. Even when it feels like defeat is eminent or we will be overwhelmed we can know we are safe and secure covered by Christ’s salvation.
The way unearned is not one merely surviving attacks but also actively advancing. We have been fully equipped Defensive for protection and offensively for advancing. God’s word and prayer.
Sword of the Spirit (Word of God) – This was understood in the not to be simply the Hebrew Bible but the good news of the Gospel. That means we are combatting the lies of the enemy with the truth of the gospel. This “weapon” is powerful, the Gospel is power of salvation for all who believe. Hebrews says the Word of the Lord is sharper than any two-edge sword so cutting the heart. We need to hold this sword, learn to wield it well for effective combat. So we point people to Gospel Truth, but don’t forget to remember who the enemy is and isn’t. We have the “sword” to combat the enemy, like Jesus in the desert responding to satan, not to stab sinners with the bible or bludgeon other believers in non-essential theological debate.
Prayer in the Spirit (v18) – We need to remain in communion with the power and purposes of God. When do we pray? “at all times” How do we pray? “in all types and supplication” Who we do we pray for? All the saints. For what purpose? All perseverance. We align our hearts and alleviate our fears, and ask for His action when we’re in prayer. Simple weapons of God’s word and prayer, empowered by the Holy Spirit, are more than sufficient for us to persevere in what God has called us to do. In Christ, we are equipped by the Father and empowered by the Spirit to endure the battle with the assurance we will enjoy victory.
“My identity and my security are not in my spiritual progress. My identity and my security are in God’s acceptance of my given as a gift in Christ.” – J.D. Greear
PART III |Alive Ambassadors | Ephesians 6:18b-22
Eph 6:18b-22 |To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. 21 So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.
We are all ambassadors in chains. Paul is an ambassador in chains. He is likely chained to a roman solider who’s armor he just described. We are people who represent a great and powerful king whose kingdom is ever expanding with no known limits, but we are people with great limitations. Limitations of time, space, energy, resources, influence. Yet no matter where we find ourselves our focus is no supposed to be on our circumstances and limits but on the limitless mission God has called us to. We are limited, but not on potential to impact the world with the gospel. If Paul is asking for the church to pray for Him, he’s acknowledging His dependence on God for all things. We are dependent people too. This not some distant struggle for spiritual elites this is real people with real problems, part of a real community who need one another and need prayer for one another. To pray for someone is to enter their battle with them and bring them to where victory is found. We need to remain in communion with the source. We need to remain in prayer. Prayer to persevere, prayer for boldness to proclaim what is true. Pray for the protection, perseverance, and provision of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the strength to stand firm in all circumstances. Pray to encourage endurance. Praise God for His strength and equipping us for battle.
PART IV |Alive Encouragement | Ephesians 6:23-24
Eph 6:23-24 |23 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.
Know where the way unearned will take you. This letter ends how it begins. Focused on the grace and peace of Jesus experienced by His people. We are realistic about the nature of the world we are in and the conflict that exists, but take heart! Regardless of what we are experiencing now, we rest knowing Christ has already secured victory for us. We experience eternal peace with God who loves us incorruptibly and has made us truly alive with Jesus Christ. Grace has been given to us! We are more Alive than we deserve and we are walking out The Way Unearned empowered by faith and love. His love is undying, never ending, perfect and not able to be corrupted. Perfect love cast out fear. Know, there will ALWAYS be a time of conflict, battle, trial from now until we meet Jesus face to face. Know, we have been equipped to endure so we will emerge victorious. This means we great hope even in the midst of great discouragement that this story ends well. Without Christ defeat is inevitable. With Christ Victory is assured. Trust Jesus!