Sermon: A Biblical View of Spiritual Warfare (Ephesians 6:10-24)

A Biblical View of Spiritual Warfare

Ephes. 6:10-24 (ESV)

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.  [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,  [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.

[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.

As we begin to unpack these verses this morning we must first see the imagery Paul is giving us in this last section of the book.  He has taught us doctrine in the first three chapters.  In the last three he is teaching us duty.  Here, in this final piece of the puzzle, he is giving us the means in which we can live out those great commands that he’s issued in this great book to the church.

He uses a Roman Soldier as a metaphor picturing the Christian Soldier.  As we examine each piece of the Christian Soldier’s suit of armor I pray we will see clearly how the Lord has equipped us for this battle.  Every Christian is in this battle.  The Lord wants us all to be fighters and not bench warmers.

Let’s look together at A Biblical View of Spiritual Warfare

1. The Soldier’s Strength (Ephesians 6:10-12)

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.

There are forces that are alive and well in this world that are hostile to you as a Christian.  These evil forces work against everything that you are to be engaged in as a Christian.  More than anything else, these forces are fighting against the Gospel.

To close out the Book of Ephesians, Paul makes it very clear that all the doctrine he has laid out for us and all the proper behavior he has taught us is going to meet with extreme resistance.  Satan and his army are battling us.  Satan is the prince of the power of the air.  He is lord of this present darkness.

I hope you realize that the Christian life is a constant battle.  The moment you let your guard down, you go backwards.

The Church will be victorious, the gates of hell are no match to the church.  And at the same time, we’ll only be victorious if we wear the armor and fight the war.

As a Christian you are a soldier in the Lord’s army.  At conversion, you were taken out of the army of Satan and placed in the Lord’s army.  As we think in terms of a war and in terms of being soldiers, Paul shows how important it is to be ready for battle.

We need to be strong and engaged in the battle, and yet in our own power, we are not spiritually strong.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

The Lord knows that in our own strength we would be sitting ducks for the forces of evil to attack us and destroy us.  So the Lord so graciously gives us His strength.

If you’ve been fighting the battle of the Christian life and you believe you’ve been losing or if you’ve not been in battle but are currently avoiding the battle then this text is for you.

The spiritual war cannot be fought in the physical realm.  Spiritual warfare is different; it must be fought with spiritual weapons.  Usually that’s where we’re defeated most often.  Often we are defeated before we ever really begin because we’re not armed with spiritual weapons.

Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world and neither is the kingdom of the enemy.

John 18:36 (ESV)

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

So often we are thinking in terms of the physical realm…the realm we can see.  Jesus has us fighting in a war that isn’t of this world.  So our weapons must not come from this world but come from God.

We can fight a spiritual battle and win if we are using the Lord’s strength not ours.

To fight successfully, we need the Lord’s strength and the Lord’s weapons.

[11] Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

As Christians the Lord has prepared for us the proper weapons to engage in the war successfully but we must arm ourselves with them and also be trained in how to use them.  We must dress for battle.

If we Put on the whole armor of God, then we will ready to fight.  We’ll be able and ready to stand in battle not sit along the sidelines and watch.  A soldier, to be of any use in battle must be on his feet.  Look what we are to stand against…

the schemes of the devil. The Greek word translated here as schemes is the word we get the English word methods.  By putting on this spiritual armor that the Lord provides strengthens us for battle.  Spiritual armor is to equip us for the fight.  To be successful in this spiritual battle we must understand who and what we’re fighting against. We fight against Satan and his methods or tactics.

What are some methods he uses to defeat us?

He may use your past.  He might whisper in your ear that you’ll just fail again, just like always.  He might continually remind you of past sin.

He may try to get you to think that you’re not a Christian.

He might do many different things to defeat you.

Whatever, method he uses to try and defeat you, you can stand strong in the Lord’s strength and overcome if you’re ready for battle.

Don’t think when the devil tempts you, you can get ready.  You must be ready beforehand.

It would be like a soldier in bed asleep when the enemy arrives.  He wouldn’t have time to dress for battle as the enemy attacks.  He must be ready.

2. Put on Spiritual Strength (Ephesians 6:13-20)

[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,  [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.

Many preachers have taken weeks to work through these verses, the great Puritan William Gurnall, preached 261 sermons from our text today.  His classic work The Christian in Complete Armor is an excellent work for you to acquire and slowly read through over the course of many months. Here’s the subtitle of that book: The Saint’s War Against the Devil, Wherein a Discovery is Made of that Grand Enemy of God and His People in His Policies, Power, the Seat of His Empire, Wickedness, and the Chief Design He Hath Against the Saints; a Magazine Opened, from Whence the Christian is Furnished with Spiritual Arms for the Battle, Helped on with His Armor, and Taught the Use of His Weapons, Together with the Happy Issue of the Whole War.

At any rate, let’s work our way through the armor of God…

Paul pictures for us a Roman soldier in the ancient world.  I don’t think it’s hard to figure out where he got this illustration from.  Paul being under house arrest saw many of these soldiers.  At time he had one chained to him.  A Roman Centurion soldier had to be the kind of fighter who could be relied upon.  He was dependable and did what he said he was going to do.  In the heat of battle, this soldier could be trusted.  I’ve been around Christians who I would not want to be fighting a battle side by side with.  I’ve been associated with these people and they rarely follow through with anything and rarely do what they say.  Paul explains to us that a soldier is trustworthy, dependable when he says, and having done all, to stand firm.

In other words this soldier in the Lord’s army is dependable and ready for the fight.  When the fight starts he is fighting not doing something else.

I’d like to march you down through the various pieces of a soldier’s armor in order that we can be a church who is prepared to do spiritual warfare.

Again we see that we are to stand firm in the Lord’s strength for the spiritual battle.

Each piece is mentioned in the normal order in which a soldier would equip himself.  Notice that it is the sword the most offensive of all the pieces saved for last.  All these weapons are gospel driven.

[14] Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth

Gospel Truth…

Now, does this mean truth in the sense of doctrine, or does this mean truth in the sense of integrity or faithfulness? The commentators wrestle with that, but which ever way we take it, I think it’s important for us to understand that it is truth worked deep down into the inner parts of the Christian that produces integrity of life and faithfulness of service. In other words, we must have truth worked into our hearts, and that truth produce a sincerity of mind and heart – wholeheartedness, integrity – if we are going to be able to stand in the day of evil. In other words, the doctrine has to be worked right down to our bones so that it becomes a part of us and if affects everything that we are and we do, so that we are people of truth and integrity, and then we will be able to resist the devil in the evil day.-Ligon Duncan

Satan will always try to draw into question truth.  To Eve he said, did God really say????

To us he often will try to get us to question God’s call in our lives, our salvation and a hundred other things.  Know this, if you begin to doubt something you know to be true, remember you have left yourself open in some way for this attack.  Examine the Scriptures and then examine your heart and resist the devil.

having put on the breastplate of righteousness-

Gospel Holiness…

If we are to battle successfully, we must have a life characterized by holiness.  We must understand that Paul isn’t directly speaking of what we would call imputed righteousness although everything concerning the spiritual life springs from that.  By imputed righteousness, I’m referring to the righteousness we as believers acquire from Jesus Christ.

When Jesus died on the cross our sins were placed on His account.  He died the death we deserved.  The wrath of God meant for us exploded and was absorbed by the sinless Son of God.  Just as our sins were imputed to Him, He gives us His righteousness.  So, imputed means a foreign or alien righteousness that comes from somewhere else.

Here in the text what I believe Paul is getting at is that our lives must be characterized by holiness.  We must be marching over the powers of evil and developing righteousness of our own.  When we are engaged in this battle, it’s like putting on a bullet proof vest that can withstand the bullets of Satan’s methods.

He may try to convince me that I’m not a Christian.  However, If I’m pursuing godliness I’ll be able to look and see progress toward Christ likeness.  I can shake my head and tell him that he is going to have to try harder next time.  But if I’m lazy and not pursuing holiness then I am more inclined to believe his lies.

as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.-

Gospel Readiness…

Here the Apostle Paul is speaking of Gospel readiness.  A soldier’s shoes were what gave him the ability to stand and be ready for battle.  They had cleats much like football cleats of today.  These shoes were what gave the soldier the ability to stand under the pressure of battle.

If we are not armed for battle and standing firm, Satan will rob us of the readiness and boldness to share the gospel.  Another method he uses is to get us sidetracked or defeated in such a way so that we don’t share the Gospel.  When Christians have integrity and striving for holiness they will be ready to share the Gospel of peace.  When we’re suited for battle we will have gospel readiness.

[16] In all circumstances take up the shield of faith,

Gospel Faith…

What Paul has in mind here is that we should be living in the realm of faith.  You’ve probably heard the old saying that “So and so, is so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.”  Most of the time we’re so earthly minded that we’re no heavenly good.

The shield of faith is confidence and trust in God and His promises.  As we have complete confidence in God, it acts like a shield for us against Satan’s arrows.

If you’ve ever read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, you may remember Christian’s encounter with Apollyon, when Apollyon says to Pilgrim, “I’m going to spill you on the ground!” And then he launches one of his fiery darts, and what does Pilgrim do? John Bunyan tells us that he happens to have a shield. And he lifts up that shield and it deflects the darts of the evil one against him. Of course Bunyan is pulling that right out of Ephesians 6:16. So the point is, of course, that to resist the devil we must have faith in God. We must have trust and entire confidence in God.

When Satan cannot infiltrate our minds with doubt and guilt, he may shoot a fiery arrow at us. He may shoot an arrow of worldly worry or worldly cares.  Perhaps we’ve just received news that our job is in jeopardy or a sudden medical condition has entered the picture.  Satan may whisper inn your ear that God must not love you if these bad things are happening.  These whispers fall on deaf ears…or they hit our shield of faith and are deflected when we know that God does love us and that He is sovereign working His plan out for our good and His glory.  When we have confidence in God, we can lift our shield and deflect the attack.

[17] and take the helmet of salvation

Gospel Assurance…

As the enemy of our souls seeks to render us defeated and useless, we must understand that we have the assurance of our salvation.

I’ve spoken to folks who have no assurance and who even believe that it’s impossible to have assurance of salvation.  Those who think you can be saved and then lost again are susceptible to attacks.  It is the confidence of salvation that acts as a helmet that we wear.  It is the very knowledge and operating in the realm of faith that will ward off the arrows that Satan shoots at us.

Romans 8:31-39 (ESV)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  [32] He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  [33] Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  [34] Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.  [35] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  [36] As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

[37] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  [38] For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  [39] nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. In other words, to resist the devil we must be assured of our salvation. What does Satan so often do? He attacks Christians at the point of their assurance, and he leaves them all tied up in knots wondering, “Does He love me? Or does He love me not? Does He love me, or does He love me not? Am I saved, or have I fallen away? Am I saved, or have I backslidden right out the back door of the kingdom? Am I in Christ or out of Him? Am I justified or not? Am I God’s child or not?” And the Apostle Paul is saying the helmet of salvation is to be assured of your security, past, present and future: that nothing can pluck you out of God’s hand. And he’s saying if you know that, just what is it that Satan can threaten to take away from you?                                                                                   sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  [18] praying at all times in the Spirit– In this last piece of armor is a special piece that must be handled with prayer…

Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  [18] praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

Gospel Word…

The sword is called the sword of the Spirit because the Bible, the Word of God is given by inspiration from the Holy Spirit.  It originated from the Father and has been passed to man through the direct influence of the Holy Spirit.

Do you remember when Jesus battled Satan in the wilderness?  Do you remember how He fought Satan and his methods?

He quoted Scripture back to Satan and every time it was like He stuck him with His sword.  Quoting Deuteronomy to the Devil…

After three tries, the gospel account says that Satan left Him.

James 4:7 (ESV)

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Satan’s method in this encounter with Jesus was to try to get Jesus off His mission.  Jesus came to seek and save the lost and Satan was trying to talk Him into using His divine attributes for self-exaltation.

Jesus stabbed him with the Word of God.

We are told how to wield this sword of the Word…Praying.

Satan will and has attacked us with his various methods and tactics.  These are all in the spiritual realm.  He may use something from the physical realm but it is always with the spiritual in mind.

Put on the armor and take up the sword and battle to victory in Christ alone.

A Gospel Primer…

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