Battle Plan

Facing the foe in the armor of Christ. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Pastor Terry Inman

10-28-12

This incredible letter has clearly laid out the blessings we have “in Christ”. In the second half we have seen what to do with these blessings. The first half was what we believe the second half was how we behave.

Last week we talked about the Family Plan, God’s blueprint for our relationships. At church, at home and at work we are to submit to or prefer one another “in Christ”. It’s really only possible “in Christ” because it just doesn’t come naturally for us. We are pretty self-centered.

So it can really be a battle. Which is a great transition to today’s final episode of Paul’s e-mail, The Battle Plan: Facing the foe in the armor of Christ. As we have mentioned many times one of the central themes of this letter to the Ephesians is what it means, to “be in Christ”.      

So Paul starts right out with this directive, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Eph. 6.10 (NIV) He again uses three expressions for power that we have seen earlier in this letter.

The first chapter Paul prays that the “eyes of our heart” may be enlightened to “God’s incomparably great power for us who believe.” He says, “That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…” Eph. 1.18-21 (NIV)

These three expressions describe the dynamic force, the energy or effects andthepotency or dominance of the power that raised Jesus from the dead and also raises us from our spiritual death to new life!

Again in chapter three Paul prays that, “he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” Eph. 3.16 (NIV)

His benediction to the first half of this letter includes yet another description of this incredible power. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Eph. 3.20 (NIV)

So we are not talking about our muscle, our might or our right, we are talking about, “may the force be with you”! The force is the power we have in Jesus Christ. We are part of heaven’s armed forces!  “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Phil. 4.13 (NIV)

You can be sure that when you commit your life to Christ you signed up for a battle. You were already in a battle. It was just a loosing battle. Now you are in a winnable war!

So Paul says, suit up and stand up! “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Eph. 6.11(NIV) In the military, you put on your issued gear and stand at attention. Earlier in this letter Paul said to “put on Christ”.

We suit up so we can stand up to the enemy! Paul uses the term “stand” four times in this passage, it’s a military term for taking and holding a position. We stand against the devil’s schemes. Schemes (methodeias) are deceitful and devious methods.

The first century Christians faced demonic persecution even martyrdom. But in this letter Paul is more concerned about the invasion of false doctrine, and dissension in the church. “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Eph. 4.26 (NIV)

Paul told the Corinthian believers to forgive each other “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” 2Corinthians 2. 11(NIV)

Next Paul describes the real enemy. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, (comic chiefs) against the authorities, (command and control) against the powers of this dark world (tyrants) and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (celestial spirits) Eph. 6.12 (NIV)

Satan is megalomaniac loser, a power hungry master-mind of an evil empire that is doomed to an eternal black hole. Revelation 12.12 (MSG) says, The Devil’s come down to earth with both feet; he’s had a great fall; He’s wild and raging with anger; he hasn’t much time and he knows it.       

The bible is not as concerned about describing the make-up of Satan’s empire as some charismatic ghost busters are. Earlier Paul said, God raised Jesus to his right hand in the heavenly realms “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”  Eph.1.21 (NIV)

Any good strong military has to have good military intelligence. “Therefore” Paul says, “put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”  Eph. 6.13 (NIV)

The full armor is what God himself wears. Isaiah 11.5 says, “Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.” Isaiah 59.17 says, He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.” 

This is a description of a conquering liberator. This is prophetic proclamation of the Lord Jesus Christ the commander in chief of the armies of heaven. In Him we suit up and stand up to the enemy!

Paul now under house arrest in Rome, probably has a Roman sentry.  Instead of viewing him as the enemy he uses his uniform for a great illustration. He repeats the command to stand firm in the face of the foe.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Eph. 6.14-17 (NIV)

Now there are at least six pieces of spiritual protection mentioned here. Some people make this into some kind of religious mantra. It probably doesn’t hurt to go through a mental exercise of putting this stuff on but that’s really not Paul’s intention

He is just using these things as a vivid metaphor for the powerful defensive and offensive spiritual body armor we have been given in Christ.  

These items of armor are simple illustrations of our spiritual equipment. They are listed in the order that they would be put on by a Roman soldier. 

The Belt of Truth: The belt tied tightly around the waist prepared the soldier for action. To loosen the belt was to go off duty. It held several things in place; the short tunic, the breastplate and the sword. 

The truth has already been identified earlier by Paul. “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Eph. 1.13 (NIV)

Because we live in the truth we also practice the truth, it’s our greatest defense against Satan’s deceptive schemes. “Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” Eph. 4.15 (NIV)

There is a subtle lie behind everything Satan does. You can defeat it with truth. The truth is in Christ and His word! His spirit is the spirit of truth.

The Breastplate of Righteousness: is the “heart protector” It was made of bronze. Righteousness is uprightness or integrity or character. It’s not our righteousness but Christ’s that protects and defends us.

If I try to stand against the accuser in my own righteousness I’m vulnerable. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD our Righteousness. Jer. 23.6 (NIV) Jesus is my heart-protector!   

Feet fit with Gospel of Peace: Once the breast place is in place the soldier puts on his battle boots. It’s interesting that this is a symbol of peace. These boots were described as shoes thickly studded with sharp nails to ensure a good grip. They were needed for stability and durability. 

This one is a little difficult to translate. It reads, “with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” 

We need to always be on duty, ready or prepared to take a stand against the enemy. It is our peace or reconciliation with God through Christ that gives us the security and stability to make that stand.

We also take ground from the enemy by sharing our hope in the gospel. “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good news, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52.7 (NIV)     

The Shield of Faith: is something the soldier is to pick-up and hold up in combat. It was a long, wood protector bound together by iron and covered with hide or cloth. It was especially effective when used side by side in battle. The shield would absorb and extinguish the sharp incendiary devices of the enemy.

Active faith or trust in Christ and His word puts out the piercing fire of fear. “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,”  Isaiah 54.17 (NIV)

The Helmet of Salvation: The helmet made of bronze with leather straps was obviously made to protect the warrior from a death-blow to the head. The language is important here. Paul actually says receive the helmet of Salvation. The helmet and the sword would be handed or given to the combatant. Salvation is something we receive. It is our eternal hope.

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 1Thess. 5.8 (NIV) Salvation is wholeness, spiritual emotional and physical wellness.    

The Sword of the Spirit: refers to the short two-edged cut-and-thrust sword wielded by the heavily armed legionary. “The word of God” here is (rhema) a spoken or revealed word from God. This could be from the scriptures, a written word or an impression of the spirit.   

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4.12 (NIV)

Jesus wielded the sword of the spirit against the taunts of Satan when he was being tempted and tested in the wilderness. In the book of revelations a double-edged sword comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Spiritual warfare is letting the Holy Spirit fight for you. He is the spirit of truth he loves to expose and free us from the lies of Satan. The Spirit also fights for us through prayer.

Paul adds, And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Eph. 6.18 (NIV)One of my Pastors friends says, pray on site with insight.

We don’t always know what to pray or how to pray but the Holy Spirit helps us. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. Rom 8.26-27 (NIV)

Praying in the Spirit in our leaned language or in spiritual languages is simply spirit-directed communication with God. It’s battlefield prayer.

Paul concludes this Battle Plan by asking for prayer support. “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” Eph. 6.18-19 (NIV)   

Paul is not a victim he is a victor. He is not embarrassed by his need for prayer. But is request is not for sympathy or even support it is that he will fulfill his purpose and powerfully communicate the good news!

I can relate to that. Some media ministries promote October as Pastor Appreciation Month. One of the best ways you could do that for me is to pray for me. Pray that I will hear from God and share what I hear without any fear! I would really appreciate that!

Now let me pray for you!