We’ve come to the end of our whirl-wind tour of Ephesians! We’ve only been hitting the high-points—and even those we’ve done at top speed and from forty thousand feet! On week one, we began where we’ll end up today: by seeing that we have a crafty, diabolical enemy, and that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood”—all of our interpersonal struggles are really with Satan. Chapter 1 began preparing us for that struggle by showing us all the riches that we have “in Christ” to help us fight him. In Chapter 2 two we learned that every human being starts out in bad shape—spiritually dead, obeying the devil, and under God’s wrath (2:1-3). But then everything changed, with two wonderful words… “But God…”! (2:4-9). We also were introduced to that invisible “zone” called “the heavenly places”: Satan and demons are there (6:12); God and Jesus are there (1:20); because we are “in Christ”—saved people are there (2:6); all of our spiritual blessings are there (1:3), and all of our struggles—with “flesh and blood” people—actually are spiritual, and are conducted there, “in the heavenly places” (6:12)! It’s a busy place! For Chapter 3 we looked at “The Boldest Prayer Ever Uttered” (3:14-21), which, among other things, asks God that we may “be able to comprehend what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled up to all the fullness of God…” In Chapter 4 we turned a major corner in the content of Ephesians. The first three chapters laid a theological foundation. Gospel simply means “good news”, and we learned that that good news comes in both “telephoto” (2:8-9) and “wide-angle” versions (1:3). Because we’re “in Christ” and have “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”, we’re supposed to live a gospel-centered life. Chapters 4 and 5 both made the point that this changed life doesn’t come automatically—we have to choose to live a life that honors God (4:1, 17). In 6:10-13, Paul repeats some important ideas: the need to “be strong” (3x) and to “put on/take up the full armor of God” (2x). To “stand firm” is a military term which means to “hold one’s position”. If we stand firm, using God’s gospel truths as armor, we’ll win the battle.
Each piece of the Roman soldier’s armor is employed as a metaphor for the gospel. Roman soldiers wore a heavy belt which served as one of the attachment points for the other pieces of his equipment. For the Christian, our belt is truth (6:14 cf. 1:13). The gospel which saves us is “the message of truth”. Other messages of “salvation” aren’t. Tthe Roman soldier only loosened his belt once he was off-duty. Christians are never off-duty! A bronze breastplate covered the Roman soldier from neck to thigh, protecting all of the vital organs. God’s righteousness is our breastplate (Romans 3:22 cf. Isaiah 59:17). Only Christ satisfied God’s righteous standards. We only are acceptable if we are “in Christ”. The Roman soldier’s footwear was was a technological break-through which permitted them to accomplish long marches at high speed over rough terrain. Why is the gospel associated with footgear? The gospel requires movement toward other (Romans 10:15; 16:20). Let’s hasten Satan’s doom—OK? Lace up those gospel sandals and take the good news to your neighbors! Evangelism is love—and it’s one way we fight the spiritual battle. The Roman shield was made of wood, covered with leather, and bound with iron. When soldiers formed a phalanx they created an almost impenetrable wall. For the Christian, our faith is that protective shield. The shield of faith is mobile, able to extinguish Satanic attack from any angle. “Faith” means both the content of our faith—doctrinal truths—as well as our own reliance upon those truths. How much doctrinal truth do you know? How big is your shield? The Scriptures liken our salvation to a helmet. The Roman helmet was made of sturdy bronze, held firmly in place with a leather chin strap (1 Thessalonians 5:8). Christians “take up and put on” these great salvation truths as protection against Satan’s lies, deceptions, and accusations. Our battle cannot be only defensive, however. Our one and only offensive weapon in spiritual battle is ”the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”. For each of Satan’s three temptations in Matthew 4:1-10, Jesus replied with, “…it is written…” and then used memorized passages of Scripture to send Satan packing!
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Decide to develop a new seriousness concerning the Word of God. Commit to learning the general content and location of key passages from each chapter of Ephesians.
- Quit fighting the wrong enemy. Satan – not people – is our enemy.
- Quit fighting with impotent weapons. Spiritual – not fleshly – weapons are needed.
- “Preach the gospel to yourself” each morning. Rehearse the great Gospel truths of Ephesians 1-3: Eph. 1:3-6, Eph. 2:1-3; 8-10, Eph. 3:14-19; 20-21, Eph. 4:1-2 & 17; 30-32, Eph. 5:10; 15-21, Eph. 6:10-18