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Sermon #80Ephesians Sermons

 

Title:                           Our Warfare

 

Text:                           Ephesians 6:11-13

Subject:               The Believer’s Spiritual Warfare

Date:                          Tuesday Evening — October 3, 2017

Readings:     Bobbie Estes and Mark Henson

Introduction:

 

Open your Bible to the 6th chapter of the Gospel of Ephesians. I want to talk to you for a few minutes about Our Warfare. That’s my subject. — Our Warfare. My text will be Ephesians 6:11-13. — Our Warfare (Ephesians 6:11-13).

 

Our Warfare

 

In verse 10 we read “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” While we live in this world, we are a people at war, relentlessly at war. We must, therefore, seek the strength and courage of confident faith in Christ. In my text (vv. 11-13), the Apostle shows us why such holy courage is required. It was the desire of this noble warrior, when he was about to retire from the field, to prepare his successors for the battle. The fight is on. We must be strong. Therefore, he says…

 

(Ephesians 6:11-13) “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

 

Throughout this epistle Paul has stressed both the absolute sovereignty of God and the total responsibility of man in the matter of salvation. Salvation is the product of God’s sovereign grace. Yet, it is the gift of God to man’s faith. And these two things are beautifully combined in the close of this epistle. We must equip ourselves with a full suit of arms. It is our responsibility to put the armor on, and our responsibility to use it skillfully.

 

Our Armor

 

Nevertheless, the weapons are called “the whole armor of God.” It is God who has forged them. It is God who gives them. Man is not able to employ them, not even for a moment, except by the power of God.

Š      The battle is the Lord’s.

Š      And the victory is the Lord’s.

We are soldiers at war. We shall overcome. We will be triumphant. But our victory will be by “the blood of the Lamb.”

 

Illustration: “Jesus wins!

 

William Hendriksen made this observation. — “It is true that the counsel of God from eternity will never fail, but it is just as true that in that plan of God from eternity it was decided that victory will be given to those who overcome. Overcomers are conquerors, and in order to conquer, one must fight.”

 

Our Enemies

 

We have enemies who are hell-bent on our destruction.

Š      The Destruction of Our Souls

Š      The Destruction of God’s Church

Š      The Destruction of Our Cause — The Glory of God — The Furtherance of the Gospel — The Building of God’s Kingdom

 

Therefore, we must be valiant warriors. And, if we would be valiant warriors, if we would prevail over our foes, we must “put on the whole armor of God.

 

The word that Paul uses to describe this warfare is “wrestle. This is not an impersonal conflict. It is personal, hand to hand, face to face combat. Every child of God is engaged in a face to face, hand to hand, foot to foot battle unto death.

 

Having declared the necessity of the warfare, the Apostle Paul points out the enemy. He says our enemies are not material; they are non-material. They are not visible, they are invisible. They are not physical, they are spiritual. Paul would be the first to declare the insignificance of material enemies. The church lived and prospered for over three hundred years under the most vicious and violent persecutions imaginable. Paul himself had experienced much violence from the force of physical enemies. And he counted that but a light thing. To this man, physical warfare was not worth mentioning. The real enemies he faced were unseen. They were not flesh and blood, but “principalities and powers.” These are the enemies we must face. Let us be well prepared. Be of good courage. Rely upon the strength of our God. The strife is long. The battle is hard. But victory shall be ours.

 

Proposition: If we would be triumphant over the prince of darkness, we must be clothed with Christ in the armor of light.

 

Divisions: In these verses Paul gives us three words of direction.

1.    If we man profess faith in Christ, we must prepare for war (v. 11).

2.    We must recognize our enemy (v. 12).

3.    We must meet the enemy (v. 13).

 

Prepare for War

 

1st — Paul’s first word of direction is this. — If we profess faith in Christ, we must prepare for war (v. 11).

 

(Ephesians 6:11) “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

 

I will, deliberately, spend the bulk of my time here. — Our Savior declared to his disciples, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). — “He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38). — “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

 

The life of faith is the greatest fight on earth. The gospel trumpet is blown. Let those who would follow Christ prepare themselves to battle. No man goes to war without preparation. If he does, you will find him very soon, either slain or wounded on the battlefield, or hiding in a ditch. Here, Paul shows us how to prepare for war.

 

When a soldier prepares for war, he puts on his armor. What is the armor we are to put on? The believer’s armor Christ himself.

 

(Romans 13:14) “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

 

Paul tells us to avoid our carnal lusts of rioting, drunkenness, and wantonness. Perhaps you are thinking, “Pastor, how am I to avoid the lusts of the flesh?” — Put on Christ! — Paul does not say, “Put on sobriety, temperance, and chastity, as the moral philosopher might.” He says, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Until Christ is put on, man is unarmed. It is not man’s virtue and morality that repels Satan’s temptations, but Christ.

 

The believer’s armor is the grace that God in Christ provides for all who trust him.The girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shield of faith.” — The unregenerate man is an unarmed man. To be without Christ is to be without armor.

 

You who are without Christ are in a helpless condition before the fiend of hell who seeks to devour your soul. The person that is without Christ is unarmed. He is unfit to fight Christ’s battle. A soul out of Christ is naked and destitute of all armor to defend himself against Satan. Through the fall of our father Adam, all the race of mankind became naked and subject to the power of Satan. Finding us naked and unarmed, he takes us in the snare of sin and makes us his slaves, until God comes by almighty grace and delivers us from the kingdom of darkness. — You are without Christ! — Do you realize what that means?

Š      To be without Christ is to be alienated from God.

Š      Those who are without Christ have no part in the promises of the covenant. You have no promise of anything from God, but judgment, wrath, and everlasting destruction.

Š      To be without Christ is to be in utter ignorance.

Š      If you are without Christ you are subject to being taken captive by Satan at his will (2 Timothy 2:14-26).

 

How wisely Paul instructs preachers and tells preachers to instruct those who are trusted to their pastoral care.

 

(2 Timothy 2:14-26) “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. (15) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (16) But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (17) And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; (18) Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (19) Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (20) But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. (21) If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. (22) Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (23) But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. (24) And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, (25) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (26) And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

 

The unregenerate are children of darkness. They may be ever so wise in this world, but they are ignorant of all things spiritual and ignorant of Satan, sin, and the devices of hell.

 

Š      The man who is without Christ is impotent, as well as ignorant. Even if he knew his ruined condition and the evil purposes of Satan, he has no power to withstand the wicked one. The wicked have no power to cast off the yoke of their oppressor. Satan fills their hearts and takes them captive at his will.

Š      And the unregenerate are in a state of friendship with sin and Satan. All the unconverted are in their heart in league with Satan against God. — Oh, pity the poor soul who is in league with hell!

 

Let men pretend what they will. They may be very moral, very religious, and very respected, but if they have no heart faith in Christ, they are at enmity against God. — You are either a believer bowing to Christ the King, or you are a hater of God in arms against Christ our King. There is no in-between ground.

 

Practical Lessons

 

There are some very practical lessons for us here. We should never be surprised to see Satan’s dominion over men made manifest.

Š      When Satan comes against a natural man and overthrows every moral restraint, it is no marvel. The man is unarmed.

Š      But when he comes against one of the weakest of God’s saints, he can do no harm. We are protected with the walls of salvation. All the fury of hell cannot break through the Bulwark of Zion (Isaiah 11:9; 65:25; Acts 28:6).

Š      You may rest assured that Satan will be in a rage wherever the gospel is preached, for the preaching of the gospel is the battering ram of heaven that destroys the gates of hell.

 

When a man stands forth to preach the gospel, Satan will raise up opposition to him. But the gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation. The gospel shall prevail. One angel goes out to preach and another angel flies back with the report of victory. — “Babylon is fallen, is fallen!” It was by the gospel that the apostles turned the world upside-down. And by the gospel, the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of God’s dear Son.

 

Š      Realizing what a sad condition men and women are in by nature, we should be faithful to declare the gospel.

 

I fear that many a professor of religion will be found naked, unarmed, without Christ in the evil day. Therefore, Paul’s admonition has a ring of fervency about it. — “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

 

God’s Armor

 

The armor which we must put on is “the whole armor of God.” We must not decide for ourselves what armor we will wear. The trash of your own whims will not do. It is not left up to the soldier to bring what weapons he pleases. He must take the armor of God.

 

Our armor is and must be the armor of God. We are bound up to God’s order. Those who employ what God has not appointed shall be called into account, even though they appear successful in their labors. The Lord God will say to them, “Who hath required this at your hands?”

 

We dare not add anything to God’s Word, or God’s rule, or God’s weaponry. His ways are above our ways. Read again the wars of Israel. God told them when to fight, who to fight, and what weapons to use. And we too must submit to God’s authority (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

 

(2 Corinthians 10:3) “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (4) (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) (5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

 

There are many who have added to God’s armor; we must never be named among them.

Š      Papists Who Add Works, Ceremonies, and Indulgences to the Gospel

Š      Protestants Who Add Law and Sacraments to the Gospel

Š      Baptists Who Add Law Obedience, Sabbath Days, Altars, and Religious Entertainment to the Gospel

Š      We must build God’s church with the gold, silver, and precious stones of the gospel, not with the wood, hay, and stubble of the flesh.

 

God’s Power

 

Not only must we use the armor that God has ordained, we must rely upon him for its success. God alone can and will make the weapons of our warfare effectual.

Š      Prayer is a weapon in God’s arsenal; but only God can make our prayers effectual.

Š      Faith is a weapon in Christ’s cause; but only Christ can make our faith fruitful.

Š      Hope is a helmet to protect us; but only God can give us a good hope.

Š      Righteousness is our breastplate; but it must be the righteousness that God gives in Christ.

 

It is that prayer, that faith, that hope, that righteousness which is born of God that overcomes the world. Let us never be satisfied with any armor that is not of God.

Š      He has provided us with armor in Christ.

Š      He bestows the armor.

Š      And he alone makes it effectual.

 

Complete Armor

 

The armor that God provides for us is whole, complete, and entire. — Nothing is lacking. God’s armor and that alone is suitable to fight his battles.

Š      It is complete, because it protects us on every side.

Š      It is complete, because it serves us in every need.

Š      It is complete, because it is sufficient to withstand every enemy.

 

Must be Used

 

This armor which God has so graciously provided must be used. It must be worn. The Christian’s armor is made to be worn. There is no laying it down till our warfare is ended and our course is finished.

 

The Necessity

 

The Apostle also shows us the necessity for putting on the whole armor of God. “That ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” — Satan is a very subtle and crafty foe. He is called the old serpent, because the serpent is the most subtle of all creatures. The old serpent is a master-deceiver.

 

Satan shows his subtlety in choosing the most advantageous time to tempt us.

Š      He is always quick to bring temptations upon new converts.

Š      He tempts us severely when we are brought down with afflictions.

Š      Anytime a man undertakes a noble work for God’s glory, Satan will assail him furiously. This is especially true regarding gospel preachers.

Š      When believers become weak through pride and self-contentment, Satan tempts them. — David — Peter.

 

Satan uses a very clever strategy against God’s people.

Š      He mixes truth with error.

Š      He quotes Scripture.

Š      He appears as an angel of light.

Š      He fashions his ministers into apostles of Christ and makes them preachers of righteousness.

Š      He persuades men that he does not exist.

 

Satan uses those we might least suspect to turn us from God’s gospel, God’s Word, and God’s will.

Š      Delilah did more with Samson than all the armies of the Philistines.

Š      Job’s wife tried to poison his soul.

Š      Peter tried to keep the Lord Jesus from going up to Calvary.

Š      Agabus and the Apostle Paul’s travelling companions tried to keep him from going up to Jerusalem.

Š      Preachers are the serpent’s favorite targets. — False Doctrine — Novelties — Religious Controversy — Curiosities.

 

Satan also assails the saints as a malicious and deceitful accuser.

Š      He aggravates us with our sins.

Š      He mocks our services.

Š      He ridicules our faith.

Š      He seeks to destroy our peace.

Š      He always tries to keep us looking to ourselves.

Š      He tries to divide brethren.

 

Know your Enemy

 

2ndWe must recognize the enemy. I will be very brief here, because we have already seen something of the wiles of the devil. But Paul identifies our enemy in verse 12.

 

(Ephesians 6:12) “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

 

Our enemies are not mere frail men. “Flesh and blood.” We are not warring against mere men. The enemies of our souls are spiritual. — Satan and the hosts of angels who followed him in rebellion are opposed to us.

Š      They are mightier than we.

Š      They are smarter than we.

Š      And they are expert in every form of religion.

 

But Christ, our mighty Captain, our omnipotent Man of War, has conquered Satan already. Therefore, we need not flinch to oppose him (John 12:31; Colossians 2:6-15).

 

(John 12:31-32) “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. (32) And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”

 

(Colossians 2:6-15) “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: (7) Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (8) Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (9) For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (11) In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: (12) Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (13) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (14) Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; (15) And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

 

Meet the Enemy

 

3rd — Paul’s last direction is this. — We must go out and meet the enemy in the field (v. 13).

 

(Ephesians 6:13) “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

 

Those who go to war in Christ’s armor do so with deliberate purpose. Being clothed in the whole armor of God you are now able to meet the evil one.

 

The church as a whole should be on the attack, constantly assaulting the gates of hell with the gospel. God’s promise to his church is just as true as it was in the days of Joshua.“Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given to you, as I said unto Moses….There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee; nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage” (Joshua 1:3, 5, 6). The gates of hell shall not prevail against the assault of God’s church. — Compare that with Hebrews 13:5-6.

 

(Hebrews 13:5-6) “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (6) So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

 

We have the promise of God’s presence and his power. Let us therefore be strong, courageous, and valiant in the cause of Christ.

 

(Matthew 28:18-20) “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power [authority, control, force, ability, competency, and might] is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

 

Let us also be found faithful, even in the heat of the battle.

Š      Be faithful to God’s cause.

Š      Be faithful to God’s glory.

Š      Be faithful to God’s gospel.

Š      Be faithful to God’s people.

 

The church as a whole and each individual believer, must go out against Satan, the prince of darkness. The church is only as strong as her individual members.

 

Having done all, in this evil day, let us, like true soldiers, stand, earnestly contending for the faith. The day has come of which Paul warned. Sin and iniquity abound, error and heresy are received as truth, persecutions arise, and the love of many waxes cold. So, stand fast.

 

Illustration: “Those Carolina boys stand like they’ve got tar on their heels.” — Tarheels

 

Š      If need be, like Athanasius, stand alone.

Š      Withstand the course of ease and pleasure.

Š      Withstand every temptation to quit your post.

Š      Withstand error, every heresy, every distraction from the gospel.

 

Stand firmly upon Christ as the only foundation of your soul before God.

Š      His blood is your only cleansing.

Š      His righteousness is your only righteousness.

Š      His forgiveness is your only hope.

Š      His power is your only strength.

 

Stand in the plain truth of Holy Scripture.“Having your loins girt about with truth.”

Š      Satan will try to entangle you with obscure Scripture texts.

Š      He will try to entrap you with mysterious questions.

Š      He will make mysterious prophecies a snare to your soul.

Š      Stand resolutely upon God’s rich grace in Christ.

 

In the last part of verse 13 Paul gives us a word of assurance.“Having done all (or overcome all, or accomplished all, or finished all), to stand.”

Š      Satan, with all his wits and wiles, shall never vanquish one soul that is clothed with Christ and armed with his grace.

Š      All the saints are sifted; but they are all triumphant. — David, Job, Peter, Paul.

Š      Satan himself shall soon be bruised under the feet of God’s elect (Romans 16:20).

 

Application

 

(Revelation 3:21) “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”

 

(Revelation 21:7) “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”

 

(Romans 16:20) “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”

 

Come, now, and enlist in the army of God, under the banner of the cross. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Š      Wash your soul in his blood.

Š      Put on his garments, the garments of salvation.

Š      Go to war! — Put on the whole armor of God (The Girdle of Truth — The Breastplate of Righteousness — The Boots of Grace — The Shield of Faith — The Helmet of Salvation — The Sword of the Spirit — The Weapon of Prayer), and go to war against hell, standing with your feet firmly planted on the Rock of God!

Š      Victory is sure!

 

Do you remember the story I told you at the beginning of my message? — Jesus wins! And we shall too!

 

Our Captain leads us on;

He beckons from the skies,

And reaches out a starry crown,

And bids us take the prize.

 

“Be faithful unto death;

Partake My victory;

And thou shalt wear this glorious wreath,

And thou shalt reign with Me.”

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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