"Be strong in the Lord ... " (Ephesians 6:10).
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).
As we consider the war which is going on in our lives – between God and Satan, we will see that this is the greatest war of all. The most cruel war ever fought by men is child’s play compared with this spiritual war, in which we battle against Satan, the enemy of our souls. To win a battle – even one as bloody as the two World Wars of the twentieth century, and lose the war against Satan is to be defeated.
What about our world today? Are we a winning the battle, and losing the war?
We dare not take pride in the fact that we have known more peace than in the years of the two World Wars. God is asking us, “Are you winning the real war, the most important war, the war against Satan?”
We need not lose the war. We can be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” – our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:37).
Is this what you want? – “More than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
What is the first step towards being “more than conquerors”? What is the first thing we must do? What is the first thing God is saying to us? – “Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.”
This is the first thing that we must hear – The Lord is strong, and we are strong in Him.
Look at what the Scriptures say to us about the strength which we have in the Lord.
(1) “Be strong and very courageous” (Joshua 1:7).
What does this mean?
Read the rest of the verse – “being careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you.”
- Those who are strong are those who are obedient to God’s Word.
This is not the way in which our society speaks about “the strong.”
The strong are the successful – those who get on in the world by trampling on the opposition. Success according to the world’s standards is very different from the “good success” which God promises to those who are obedient to Him. There are many whom the world calls successful – but God says, “You have failed. You have not learned what life is all about.” In the world’s eyes, success has nothing to do with God, and a great to do with getting on in the world, no matter what it costs in terms of who you hurt and what harm you do to yourself. According to God’s Word, “good success” is bound up with obedience to God. We are to live according to God’s Word: ”Turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7).
Do you want to have good success” in the one war that matters more than any other – the war against Satan? “Be strong and very courageous.” “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”
(2) “The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action” (Daniel 11:32).
Knowing God is more than head-knowledge. We are to stand firm in our commitment to Christ. We are to take action as we live out our commitment to Christ. To know God involves much more than believing with our minds. Our hearts and lives are to be given to Him.
Satan is happy to have us believing with our minds, so long as our hearts and lives remain untouched.
How are we to “stand firm and take action”? We must “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” When Satan comes to attack us, we must face him in the strength of the Lord.
Satan will come to us and say, “It’s okay. You can be a half-hearted Christian.” In the strength of the Lord, we must say to Satan, “No. I will be a whole-hearted Christian, totally committed to Christ.” We must resist Satan in the strength of the Lord. We must say to Satan, “No. I will live for Christ. I will live in obedience to Christ.” In the strength of the Lord, we must let Satan know that we want to have nothing to do with him.
What does it mean to live in the strength of the Lord? Before we ask this question, we must ask another question: What is the strength of the Lord?
In Scripture, God is called “the strength of Israel” (1 Samuel 15:29). He is the strength of His people. He’s not only the strength of Old Testament Israel. He’s the strength of His people of all nations and every generation. He is our strength. The Psalmist praises God: “Blessed be the Lord my strength” (Psalm 144:1). He is our strength. By ourselves, we are weak. In Christ, we are strong.
The Lord is strong and mighty. He is the Almighty God.
Do not think small thoughts about God. He is the Almighty God.
Do not think small thoughts about yourself. The power of Almighty God has been given to you. The power, which brought the people of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt, the power which raised Jesus from the dead – This is the power which has been given to you.
Is there any sin more powerful than the power of God? Is Satan more powerful than Almighty God? No!
When you are overwhelmed by guilt, God says, “I will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
When you feel utterly defeated, God says, “Sin shall not have dominion over you” (Romans 6:14).
How are we to know the strength of the Lord? – “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31).
We have, in Scripture, one perfect Example of a Man who waited upon the Lord and renewed His strength. Remember Jesus, when He was tempted in the wilderness. Remember Jesus, when He was tempted in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus stood upon the Word of God. Jesus prayed to the Father, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” Jesus went to the cross in the strength of God. This strength is made available to us through the death of Jesus, our Saviour. As you remember the Saviour, who died for you, let Him give you the strength that you need to live for Him.
"Put on the whole armour of God ... " (Ephesians 6:11).
"Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11).
In this verse, God tells us two things: (i) what we are to do - "Put on the whole armour of God"; (ii) why we are to do this - "that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
To put on the whole armour of God involves, first of all, a change of heart. This may be seen when we look at two other passages where Paul says, "Put on."
- "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 13:14).
- "Put on the new man (or new nature)" (Ephesians 4:24).
If you are to put on the whole armour of God, you must, first, put on the Lord Jesus Christ.You must have Jesus Christ, living in you.
If you are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, you must, first, put on the new man (or new nature). You must be born again. You must become a child of God before you can be a soldier of Christ.
To understand the intensity of the conflict between god's people and Satan, the enemy of our souls, we must go back to the beginning of the Bible. In Genesis 3, Satan is described as the serpent. He is subtle. He tricked Adam and eve, and he is out to trick us too. When Adam and Eve followed Satan rather than God, they were naked (Genesis 3:7). This is our position, if we are not armed with the whole armour of God. If we are to fight against Satan and be victorious over him, we need to be alert and well-equipped. This is why God says to us, "Put on the whole armour of God."
To be armed with the whole armour of God, you must take off the filthy rags of your own self-righteousness. You can't have both. The armour of God won't fit on top of the filthy rags of your own self-righteousness.
If we are to walk in the strength of the Lord, we must not try to live in our own strength. You and I must say, "In myself, I am weak. In myself, i can never be strong. I will always be weak" - but there is something else we must also say: "In Christ, I am strong." In Him, we have true strength, the strength which becomes ours when we put on the armour of God.
Remember - it is not my armour or your armour. It is the armour of God. As we put on the armour of God, our trust must be in Him, the God of the armour, the God who has provided this armour for us, the God who, alone, gives us the power to be victorious for Him. This armour of God is also described by Paul as "the weapons of our warfare." It is only through God's power that these weapons become "mighty through God" (2 Corinthians 10:4).
In our conflict against Satan, we have a wily enemy. Scripture speaks of "the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11). The devil is subtle.He is "the serpent." When you see a snake, creeping along, You can never be sure which way it is going to go. The devil is like that. The Word of God tells us that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14).
Do you remember the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The wicked queen came to Snow White, dressed as an old lady. She came with beautiful apples. They were full of poison. Things were not as they seemed. that's the way it is with Satan.He's the deceiver. He comes to us, quoting from the Bible. This is what he did when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Why does he quote the Bible to us? Does he hope to strengthen our faith? No! He wants to sow seeds of doubt. The Apostle Pal wrote, "We are not ignorant of his devices (his clever arguments)" (2 Corinthians 2:11). If we are to be victorious over the devil, we must "not be ignorant of his devices." What about us? Are we ignorant of his devices?
Satan is not only the deceiver. He is also the tempter and the troubler. He comes to us with temptations. He comes to us.
Even while we with accusations. He does nothing but make trouble for us.
He attacks those who are newly converted. He loves to bring ministers down. He loves to complicate things for theologians so that their "minds are corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3). when we are going through hard times, Satan says, "Blame God. It's all his fault." When we're rejoicing in the Lord and His goodness, Satan says, "This is all too good to be true. All this talk about God - it's all in your own imagination." When things are going badly, we must not over-react. "Blame God", says Satan. This is what we must not do. We must trust Him in the difficult times as well as praising Him in the good times. When things are going well, we must not become complacent. We must not take it all for granted. That's what Satan wants us to do. When things are going well, we are at our most vulnerable. we can so easily become proud of our own achievements and forget all about God.
There are times when Satan does not seem to be troubling us too much. These are the times when we must take great care. In Luke 4:13, at the end of Jesus' temptations in the wilderness, we read, "When the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time." Satan only appears to leave us alone. In these quieter times, he's busy - planning his next attack. He will never give up his evil plan to disturb God's people.
Even, in the hour of death, Satan will be busy seeking to disturb the peace of those who belong to Christ.
Even, while we are worshipping the Lord, Satan is desperately trying to undermine our faith - "You don't think God wants to have anything to do with a sinner like you."
When you feel that your sins are greater than the grace of God, be sure that this thought comes from Satan, and remember this: "Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin."
When Satan accuses you, don't argue with him, saying, "I'm not as bad as all that." Send him to Jesus. Let Jesus answer for you. When Satan accuses, let it make you more humble, more careful and more prayerful.
Wrestling Against Satan (Ephesians 6:12)
“For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Here, we learn about the character of the warfare in which we are involved. It is a fierce struggle against a strong foe. Satan is a determined and skilful enemy. Our battle against him is described as wrestling – “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers … “
Wrestling is a one-on-one sport. Satan’s activity is personal. Satan hates me. Satan accuses me. Satan tempts me. Over against this, we set the love of God and the salvation of God. God loves me. God forgives me. God sustains me.
In wrestling, the aim is to put your opponent on his back and keep him there. This is what Satan is trying to do to us: Get him down and keep him down. This is how we must wrestle against Satan. In the name and power of Jesus Christ, our goal is to get Satan down and keep him down. This will not be easy. Satan is both determined and skilful.
In this spiritual warfare, we are wrestling for God and against Satan. Never lose sight of whose side you’re on. Don’t let Satan trick you into taking sides with him.
To wrestle for God is to enjoy the promise of a sure victory. To wrestle against God is to be heading towards certain defeat. The final victory of God – This is what we must never forget if we are to keep our wrestling against Satan in its true perspective. The battle may be fierce, but the victory is certain: “Fierce may be the battle, strong may be the foe, but the King’s own army none can overthrow. Round His standard ranging, victory is secure, for His truth unchanging makes the triumph sure.”
In this battle, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood”, but against Satan, the enemy of God and His purpose in our lives. We do face our own weakness. We do encounter difficulties. There is more to it than that. There is Satan. He is always seeking to exploit our weakness for his evil purpose. Behind the difficulties with other people, Christians as well as those who are not Christians, we must learn to discern the activity of Satan. He is trying to bring us down. He will use anyone he possibly can.
“We are contending against the principalities … in the heavenly places.” Who is our enemy? – “the prince o this world” (John 14:30); “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). This is Kingdom against kingdom. This is a battle between two kingdoms which are completely opposed to each other. Satan is king in his kingdom. His kingdom is set over against God’s Kingdom.
As we consider this battle, we must never forget that it is an unequal battle. The Lord our God is the true King. Satan is nothing more than a pretender to God’s throne.
Notice that Satan is called “the prince of this world” and “the god of this world.” In the world to come, Satan will be seen for what he really is a pretender who has absolutely no authority in the Kingdom of God.
Satan is called “the prince of this world” and the god of this world.” We must never forget that there is a higher prince and god than Satan. In Isaiah 9:6, we have a great prophecy concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. He is described as the “Prince of Peace”. He is called the “Mighty God.”
How is Satan defeated?
C S Lewis died on 22nd November 1963, the day that John F Kennedy died. C. S. Lewis wrote “The Screwtape Letters” – an exposure of Satan and his evil activity. Satan cannot be silenced by an assassin’s bullet. Satan cannot be harmed by this-worldly weapons. The war against Satan is spiritual. Our weapons are spiritual.
A political assassination arises out of a conflict over politics, a battle for political power. The defeat of Satan takes place when the power of Satan is confronted by a greater Power – the Power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This defeat will be complete when Christ returns. Here and now, we must believe that the victory is certain. We must believe that this victory is ours in Christ.
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
“Christ died so “that , through death, He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).
This is why Christ died – to destroy the devil, and to destroy the works of the devil.
Day by day, through faith, we must enter, more fully, into Christ’s victory over the devil.
As we consider our conflict with Satan, we must have a healthy respect for him, but we must never fear him.
How are we to enjoy the victory of Christ in our lives?
Satan is the ruler of this present darkness. The opposite of darkness is Light, Jesus Christ – “the Light of the world” (John 8:12).
We must expose the darkness by shining the Light upon it. the Word of God is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119: 105). God’s Word is a lamp to our feet, not our tongues. The Christian life is a walk with God, not just a talk about Him. We need to let God’s Word shine into our lives. This happens when we read the Word of God and hear the Word of God.
Some read a bit, then they don’t look at God’s Word for weeks. Some say that they want to know God better, but they hardly ever come to the place where they will learn more of God from His Word.
we dare not settle for a casual acquaintance with God, when He is calling us to a close friendship with Him.
In this life of faith, we encounter “spiritual wickedness.” In Satan, there is pride (Isaiah 14:12-17,19a). He seeks to reproduce this pride in us. He tries to make us think we are strong. he tries to make us forget that “our sufficiency is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5); he tries to get us to say to ourselves, “Let the weak go to God for help. I can manage perfectly well on my own.”
God says, “Let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). The next verse contains a great promise of victory over temptation, but we must not take victory for granted. When we look at those who have fallen into sin, we should say to ourselves, “He fell today. I may stumble tomorrow.”
Keep wrestling. There’s a great deal at stake. There’s a war, going on in “the heavenly places.” Keep on believing that Christ has won the victory in “the heavenly places.” He has won the victory for us. He’s calling us on to “the heavenly places.” He’s leading us home to “the heavenly places.” In “the heavenly places”, there will be no place for Satan.
"Take The WholeArmour Of God, And Stand" (Ephesians 6:13).
"Therefore take the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:13).
In Ephesians 6:11, we read, Put on the whole armour of God." Here, in Ephesians 6:13, Paul says, "Take the whole armour of God."
Why does he repeat himself? It's because this is a matter of the greatest importance. There is a great danger for God's people. Satan, our greatest enemy, makes sure of that. If we are not to be taken beyond danger and into disaster, we must put on the whole armour of God, and we must keep on the whole armour of God.
Teaching a child to cross the road - we need to do this again and again. The child must learn to cross the road carefully and safely. If we are to avoid a disaster, the child must be made aware of the danger.
The Christian must learn to fight against Satan and to be victorious over Satan.
Why must we be reminded, again and again, of the need to out on and keep on the whole armour of God? - It's because Satan will destroy us, if we give him the chance. If we want to defeat Satan, we must keep close to God.
What are the dangers we face in our battle against Satan?
* There is the danger which comes from temptation. Satan tempts us to sin.
* There is the danger that comes from neglect. Satan is behind this. We give him the foothold into our lives when we neglect to do those things that we really need to do if we're going to keep close to God.
Here are some things, we need to do often, if we are to stand any chance against Satan.
* (1) Renew your repentance.
"O happy day, that fixed my choice on Thee, my Saviour and my God ... That vow renewed shall daily hear."
Recall the first joy of your salvation. Remember your early love for the Lord. Have you lost that first joy of your salvation? Have you lost that early love for the Lord? If so, then here's what the Lord says to you: I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first" (Revelation 2:4-5).
* (2) Reaffirm your faith.
"As, therefore, you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in Him" (Colossians 2:6).
How did you receive Christ?- By faith. How are you to go on with Him? - By faith.
What is the result of going on with him in faith? - "rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving" (Colossians 2:7).
* (3) Read your Bible.
Read it more! Let God take you more deeply into His Word. Let the Bible, God's Word, be "the sword of the Spirit" in your life. "The sword of the Spirit" is so vital in our battle against our enemy, the devil.
* (4) Pray.
You cannot "put on the whole armour of God" without prayer. That is why, in Ephesians 5:18, after speaking about "the whole armour of God", Paul says,"Pray at all times in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication."
* (5) Seek fellowship with other believers.
This is a source of great strength. we need this strength for our battle with Satan. It's no surprise to hear that a house is burgled - when it's miles from the nearest neighbour. If you keep your distance from God's people, you will be much more vulnerable to attacks from Satan. If, on the other hand, you walk in fellowship with the Lord's people, you will have the added protection, which comes from their encouragement and prayers.
Why must you and I "put on the whole armour of God"? - It's the only way in which we will "be able to withstand in the evil day."
What does this mean - "the evil day"?
(a) Our whole life - Satan is always there, and we must never relax our opposition to him.
(b) Times of great difficulty - How much we need "the whole armour of God" when Satan's onslaught is at its most intense! A time of great difficulty is a time to "be strong in the Lord."
(c) Death is "the evil day." - It is a day when Satan will seek to steal away our joy, a day when Satan will remind us of our many sins. We must be prepared for this day, Paul said, "To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). Paul was able to speak in this way because he did not live by fear. He lived by faith:"I press on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14). " Our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body" (Philippians 3:20-21).
We may think of "the evil day" in terms of particularly difficult circumstance, but we also think of it in terms of the whole of life, ending in death - the final test of our faith in the Lord.
Jesus says, "He who endures to the end will be saved" (Mark 13:13). This is what Paul means when he speaks of "having done all." We have not "done all" until we have endured to the end. So long as we are in this world, we will be in conflict with the enemy, Satan. If we are to persevere to the end, we need "the whole armour of God." Paul speaks about "having done all", and, then, standing on the day of judgment.
* "If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?" (Psalm 130:3). In ourselves, we do not, and cannot stand. In Christ, we do stand.
* "The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment" (Psalm 1:5). There is only one way of standing in the judgment. It is the way of standing in Christ.
When we speak of our perseverance, we must never forget that, underneath our perseverance, there is the perseverance of God. God perseveres with His purpose of salvation. "He didn't bring us this far to leave us. He didn't teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn't built His home in us to move away. he didn't lift us up to let us down."
"Stand" (Ephesians 6:14).
To stand is the opposite of to flee or to surrender.
- "Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin" - Note the distinction between temptation and sin.
We must not lie down. We must stand.
It won't do us much good to be dressed in the best armour, if we're lying down and have no intention of using our weapons.
The whole armour of God is not just for wearing. It's to be used.
- "Your adversary,the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith" (1 Peter 5:8-9).
- "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood" (Hebrews 12:4).
Our struggle against sin will be costly. How costly it may become, we don't know. We don't know exactly what lies ahead of us. We must, however, make our choice to take our stand against Satan. We must not lie down to him.
- "By faith, Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin" (Hebrews 11:24-25).
Why did he choose to stand with the people of God rather than enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin?
- "He considered abuse suffered for the Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked to the reward" (Hebrews 11:26).
What is "the reward"?
Look at Moses' life. Before there is the glory of heaven, there are many rewards along the way (Hebrews 11:27-29).
- (a) The Passover - "When I see the blood, I will pass over you" (Exodus 12:13). Those who choose Christ God's enjoy forgiveness.
- (b) The Exodus - Those who choose Christ enjoy new life.
- (c) The Crossing of the Red Sea - Those who choose Christ share in His triumph over the enemy.
- (d) The Giving of the Law - Those who choose Christ enjoy the ongoing experience of becoming more like Jesus.
All of this is accompanied by many difficulties, but it is rewarding, and after this life with its conflicts and rewards, there is heaven.
- Stand and face the enemy. There is no armour for the back.
"My righteous people ... will believe and live, but if any of them turns back, I will not be pleased with him" (Hebrews 10:38).
If we are to press on, with the Lord, in the way of faith, we must hear His Word of warning. If we are to know the blessing of the Lord on our life, there can be no thought of turning back.
- Stand. Do not sleep: "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light" (Ephesians 4:14). Those who know the Lord best and enjoy most are those who are wide awake.
Paul emphasizes the importance of truth - "having girded your loins with truth" (Ephesians 6:14) - "with truth as a belt tight round your waist" (Good News Bible); "the belt of truth buckled around your waist" (New International Version).
Good News Bible - The waistline can tell us a good deal about the person - whether it's a trim waistline or a flabby waistline.
New International Version - A belt is to be buckled. There's no point in having a belt, if it's not buckled.
There's not much point in saying that we believe the truth of God, if we do not build our lives upon it. The spiritual 'waistline' tells its own story. Is the truth of God drawn tight in your life? Or, does the truth of God hang loose in your life?
We are to believe the truth of God with our minds. We are to live out the truth of God in our lives. We are to let the truth of God, His Word, be the controlling factor in our thinking and our living. we are to be true to the Lord. We are to be loyal to Him. We are called to be faithful - sincere followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The truth of God's Word and a true heart - These are the two vitally important principles which we must underline here. If we are to grow in Christ, We must build our lives on the truth of God's Word, and we must pray for a true heart, a heart that truly loves the Lord.
- (1) Build your life on the Word of God.
We have the written Word - the Bible.
We have the living Word - the Lord Jesus.
When the Apostle Paul says, "Put on the belt of truth", what he is really saying is this, "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 13:14).
When we come to this command - Put on the Lord Jesus Christ", we must ask the question, "What is truth?" Jesus gives us His answer: "I am the truth" (John 14:6).
Jesus is the living truth. The Bible is the written truth. We need both, if we are to grow in the Christian life. We need Scripture to show us the truth of God. We need Jesus to bring God's truth alive in our lives.
Note the word, "therefore." Their faith was grounded in the Word. They did not believe because a preacher had told then these things. They believed because they had found these things for themselves in the Word of God. Our faith is based on the teaching of Scripture, God's Word.
Many people will tell us, "It doesn't matter what you believe, so long as you're sincere." What they're really saying to us is this: "It doesn't matter what you believe, because what you believe doesn't matter." There's a problem with this way of thinking. It fails to recognize that there's a difference between how we believe and what we believe.
"We believe sincerely." "We believe the truth." Are these two statements saying the same thing? No! They're not. You can believe something with great sincerity, but if it's not true, no amount of sincere believing will make it true. We need truth as well as sincerity. Without truth, sincerity means nothing. It's an illusion. We're deceiving ourselves, if we think that sincerity is enough.
Does Jesus tell us that sincerity is all that we need? No! he says, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).
If Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, it doesn't make any sense to say that it doesn't matter what you believe.
When Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth and the life", He is saying that we must make a choice. Either Jesus is right, or He is wrong. if Jesus is right, then we are wrong if we say that it doesn't matter what we believe.
"It doesn't matter what you believe." Where does this kind of teaching come from? Does it come from God? No! It comes from Satan. It's the lie of the devil, and it has drastic effects in the lives of those who believe (2 Peter 2:1-2).
Why do people promote such false teaching? - "In their greed they will exploit you with false words" (2 Peter 2:3).
What are we to do? How are we to respond to false teaching?
From the greed of those who should know better, we turn
to the need of God's people.
The great need is for preachers who will be faithful to the Word of God. Without this faithful preaching of God's Word, the Lord's people will not grow strong in faith. When our faith is not grounded in the Word of God, we will be "tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:11-16).
- (2) Pray for a true heart.
We are to "love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love" (Ephesians 6:24). Praying for a true heart - Where are we to begin? We must begin with the truth that has been given to us. Truth is more than a feeling. It's the foundation for our faith. Our commitment to the Lord can never be anything more than a response to His revelation. In John 17:17, Jesus tells us that God's Word is truth. He also tells us that we are to sanctified by God's truth. We're not just to say, "I believe God's truth." we're to be sanctified by His truth. We begin with believing God's truth. We cannot be sanctified by God's truth if we do not believe His truth. We must never rest content with believing His truth without also praying that we will be sanctified by His truth. We're not only to believe what Jesus believed - God's Word is truth. We're to be changed by God's Word. We're to become more like in Jesus in the way that we live. What we believe is important. How we live is also important.
The importance of having a true heart and becoming more like the Lord is emphasized in Eddie Espinosa's prayer-song: "Change my heart, O God. Make it ever true. Change my heart, O God. May I be like You."
The truth sets us free (John 8:32). We are set free from sin. we are set free for God. Our life is to be changed by the Lord - changed in the church, changed in the world.
Let us never pretend that, in the church, everything is well. Let us never adopt the superior attitude that says, "It's the world that's the problem - not the church."
Even in "the ark", we can get seasick! Even in the church, the devil can set an obstacle course for us. We can never rest on our laurels, blaming the world for all the problems. This kind of "us and them" won't do any good. we need to see ourselves as part of the problem. Praying that the Lord will change the world must begin with praying that the Lord will change us.
If we are to be set free from sin and set free for God, we must to learn to pray, with the Psalmist - "Examine me, O God, and know my mind; test me, and discover my thoughts. Find out if there is any evil in me and guide me in the everlasting way" Psalm 139:23-24); "Create a pure heart in me, O God, and put a new and loyal spirit in me" (Psalm 51:10).
God doesn't want us to be hypocrites. He wants us to be His holy people - men and women of God. What a difference there is between the two! It's like the difference between a person and a puppet. A hypocrite looks likes a real Christian. The outward appearance is impressive - but the vital spark is missing. There's no spark of life. It's the life of the Spirit that makes the difference.
Do you remember the children's story - Pinocchio?
Pinocchio was a puppet. He was made of wood. He knew that he was different from real people - but he longed to become like real people. Are we not a bit like Pinocchio? There is still to much of the hypocrite in us - and not enough of Jesus.
How can we become less hypocritical. How can we become more like Jesus? Can we change ourselves? No! Jesus must change us. The spark of life must come from above. It must come from the Lord. He must make us new. This is a life-long process. It begins when we come, in faith, to Jesus, our Saviour - but it doesn't end there. We begin in faith - and we must go on in faith. We come to Jesus at the beginning of our faith. May God help us to grow closer to Him as we learn to walk with Him in our journey of faith.
The Breastplate Of Righteousness
In Ephesians 6:14, we are told to do three things: (i) Stand; (ii) Put on the belt of truth; (iii) Put on the breastplate of righteousness.
In our battle against Satan, truth and righteousness are very important. It is highly significant that truth and righteousness are found together in the same verse. They belong together. Righteousness is based on truth. Truth leads to righteousness.
- What good is it if we have a form of righteousness, but it is not based on the truth of the Gospel? The attempt to saved by works will always end in failure. There is only one way of salvation. We are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation is God's gift. It cannot be earned by our works of righteousness. It can only be received as a gift when you look away from yourself to Jesus Christ, your Saviour.
- What good is it if we claim to believe in all the right things, yet we do not allow the truth to change our lives? We have been saved by the grace of God. We are to "lead a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called" (Ephesians 4:1).
- We now turn our attention to "the breastplate of righteousness." We are to put on, and keep on, the breastplate of righteousness. Think of it as a spiritual bullet-proof vest. Wear your spiritual bullet-proof vest. It will protect you from Satan' bullets.
Why is the breastplate so important? - It covers the heart.
A soldier may survive a wound to the arm or the leg. If the bullet hits his heart, he is dead.
If we are to preserve our spiritual life, we need the breastplate of righteousness. If you are to preserve your spiritual life, you must guard your heart. That's why you need the breastplate of righteousness.
- Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).
Throughout the whole course of the Christian life, from its beginning to its completion, righteousness is the work of Jesus Christ.
- (a) Justification - just as if I had never sinned
This is the work of Christ for us: "The vilest offender, who truly believes, that moment, from Jesus, a pardon receives."
- (b) Sanctification - becoming like Jesus
This is the work of Christ in us: "Every virtue we possess, and every thought of holiness, are His and His alone."
In the Christian life, holiness and humility belong together. As we become more holy, more like Jesus, we must remain humble, giving all the glory to God and claiming any credit for ourselves.
- (c) Glorification - heaven
This the completion of the work of Christ: "When I stand in glory, I will see His face, and there, I'll serve my King forever, in that Holy Place." (Keith and Melody Green).
God will complete the work of our salvation: "God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6); "We look forward to possessing the rich blessings that God keeps for His people. He keeps them for you in heaven, where they cannot decay or spoil or fade away. They are for you, who through faith are kept by God's power for the salvation which is ready to be revealed at the end of time" (1 Peter 1:4-5).
- If we are put on, and keep on, the breastplate of righteousness, we must understand what righteousness as well as what righteousness is.
- (a) Righteousness is not to be dismissed as something negative. It's extremely positive. Some people have a moral righteousness, but they do not walk in the way of true holiness. The person who says, "I don't drink anymore" needs to be asked the question, "Are you filled with the Spirit?"
The Word of God, in Ephesians 5:18, does not stop at saying, "Do not get drunk with wine." It goes on to say, "Be filled with the Spirit."
- (b) Righteousness is not just something religious, something that you can leave behind when the church service is over. It's for the whole of life. We're not to leave our Bibles in the church, thinking that we won't need them for the rest of the week.
- (c) Righteousness is not for Sundays only. It's for every day of the week. "Read your Bible, Pray every day and you'll grow, grow, grow."
- (d) Righteousness is not only for our time in the House of the Lord. It's also for life in our own home: "I will walk within my own house with integrity of heart" (Psalm 101:2).
- (e) Righteousness is not just a personal thing. When we pray for personal righteousness, we should also pray for a revival of national righteousness - "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34).
- Why is it so important that we put on, and keep on, the breastplate of righteousness?
The devil is firing his bullets. One of his favourite bullets has this message - You can be happy without being holy. This is a lie of the devil. Many people seek happiness in sinful ways. The Word of God teaches us that we will only find happiness when we seek holiness: "In Thy presence, there is fullness of joy. At Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11).
The Shorter Catechism asks the question, "What is the chief end of man?" It gives this answer: "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."
True happiness is grounded in real holiness. Both holiness and happiness are found in Christ: "None but Christ can satisfy"; "Hallelujah! I have found him, whom my soul so long has craved. Jesus satisfies my longings. through His blood, I now am saved."
We may speak about finding Jesus. the deeper truth is this: He has found us. Once He has found us, He calls us to live a holy life.
The call to be holy is both a command and a promise. "Be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15, King James Version); "You shall be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15, Revised Standard Version).
We may hear the words, "Be holy" as a command. If, however, that is all that we hear, our holiness will be a legalistic thing. It will be more about ourselves than it is about the Lord. In the call to holiness, there is more than a command. There is also the promise: "You shall be holy."
What comes first - the command or the promise? The promise comes first. How can we possibly make ourselves holy, if God has not promised that He will make us holy? Before we even begin to think about this - "Work out your own salvation", we should think about this - "God is at work in you" (Philippians 2:12-13).
The Gospel Of Peace
“And having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).
- (1) Our feet must be standing on a sure foundation.
Jesus tells us this in His parable of the wise man and the foolish man (Matthew 7:24-25).
Paul says us this – “no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).
Jesus Christ has laid for us the sure foundation of His salvation.
The story of David and Goliath provides us with a helpful illustration of how Christ gives us a sure foundation for living a life of victory over the enemy, victory in Christ.
- (a) In this battle, there are two men. One was hardly any more than a boy. The other was a giant of a man. They represent two nations. David represents the Israelites. Goliath represents the Philistines. From this battle between the Israelites and the Philistines, let your mind move to the great battle between good and evil. On the side of good, fighting the battle for us, as our Representative, is Jesus Christ. Against an enemy, far more powerful than Goliath, Jesus Christ has won the victory for us. This is good news.It’s great news.It’s “good news of great joy.” Jesus Christ has won the victory for us.
(b) David was the rank outsider. No-one really expected David to defeat Goliath – but he did. Why? He had the Lord on his side.By faith in the Lord, David won the victory – “This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:4-5).
The victory is not given to us automatically. The victory must be claimed by faith.
There is victory in Christ. This is the good news, sent to us by God. When we hear the good news, we must send good news back to Him – there is “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:7,10).
God’s good news requires our response – faith.
- (c) How did David win the victory? He did not wear man’s armour. For David, God’s armour was a sling. Only one stone was needed. It was so simple! There is a lesson for us. God’s way of salvation is simple. God loves you and He wants you to be saved. You can be saved through faith in Jesus Christ. God’s way of victory is simple. Put on the whole armour of God. There is really nothing complicated about it. If David could win the victory over Goliath, we can surely and truly say, “With Christ within, the fight we’ll win, on the victory side.”
- (2) (i) Peace with God; (ii) The Peace of God. Both come from the God of peace – not our own good works.
- (i) Jesus is “the bridge over troubled water.” He is the bridge between man and God.
- (ii) The peace of God – this is not only forgiveness. It’s a “more abundant life” (John 10:10).
Jesus is the bridge over troubled water. With Him, there’s no sinking. With Him, we keep our heads above water – “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:2).
Peace with God – This is salvation. The peace of God – This is the assurance of salvation.
- What must I do to be saved? This is the salvation question.
- How can I know that I am saved? This is the question concerning the assurance of salvation.
God wants you to be saved, and He wants you to be sure that you are saved.
- We enjoy this peace through the ministry of the Spirit, the Comforter (John 16:7). He comes with good news. He is the Dove of Peace. After the flood, and after Jesus’ baptism, we see the dove. At the time of the flood, the dove speaks of the peace that has come. At the time of Jesus’ baptism, the dove speaks to us of the coming of the Spirit. He brings peace to us by leading us to Jesus, who “is our peace.”
- Peace is not only a personal blessing.
- (a) There is to be peace among God’s people.
(i) We see this in the ministry of John the Baptist: “He will turn many sons of Israel to the Lord their God, … to turn the hearts to the fathers to the children” (Luke 1:16-17).
(ii) Jesus has given us “a new commandment …. love one another” (John 13:340.
(iii) Paul said this: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).
*(b) We are to share peace with others.
In Ephesians 6:15, we read about ”the readiness to announce the good news of peace” (Good News Bible), “wearing for shoes on your feet the eagerness to spread the gospel of peace” (Jerusalem Bible). The King James Version speaks about “preparation” – We’re to be people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:17). The Revised Standard Version speaks about “equipment” – We’re being equipped for service (Ephesians 4:11-12). God is calling us to serve Him. He’s preparing us. He’s equipping us. He’s making us ready for His work.. He’s creating in us an eagerness to share His peace with others.
The Shield Of Faith
"Besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one" (Ephesians 6:16).
Above all: Paul emphasizes the importance of faith.
This is the way of salvation (Acts 16:31).
The shield is the defence for the whole body, not just one part of it
A soldier is extremely vulnerable if he loses his shield. The shield is an important defence against the flaming darts of the enemy.
Faith is absolutely essential if the other pieces of the armour are to be used effectively.
- We must believe the truth. By faith, we must build on God's truth.
- We are declared righteous through faith in Christ. We become more righteous through the obedience of faith.
- We receive the blessing of peace with God through faith in Christ. We come to enjoy the peace of God as, through faith in Christ, we stand on God's promises.
- We receive salvation through faith in Christ. Our experience of salvation increases as our faith in Christ grows stronger.
- The Word of God is to be heard. It has also to be believed. This is the way of blessing (Hebrews 4:2-3a).
- Together with all the weapons, there must be prayer. Our experience of salvation begins with the prayer of faith. We are to grow in faith. We are to grow in prayer.
- We will face attacks from the flaming darts of the evil one. We are not left on our own. we have the fire of the Holy Spirit.
In God's Word, we read about fire. We see this in the lives of Moses and Elijah. We see it in the the book of Daniel (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego).
The flaming darts of the evil one were fired by unbelieving and disobedient kings - Pharaoh, Ahab and Nebuchadnezzar.
The flaming darts can also come through our own minds - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life (1 John 2:15-16).
Whatever form the flaming darts may take, we must realize that their ultimate origin is Satan.
Satan comes to us with many temptations. He pretends to be an angel of light, but he is really the prince of darkness. His goal is to undermine our faith. He seeks to lead us into despair. He's trying to make us despise God.
If we are to kept from this tragic defeat by Satan, we must have faith - confidence in God and expectation of His blessing.
- Faith is to be a growing experience.
Our faith is in God - the God of love, the God of holiness. He wants to recreate in us the character of love and holiness.
"May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men ... so that He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness" (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).
- "This is the will of God, your sanctification" (1 Thessalonians 4:3) - This is God's purpose for our lives. He will fulfil His purpose: "May the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
- We began by speaking of our faith. Now, we have come round to speaking about God's faithfulness. This is how it should be. It is not so much our faith that is the important thing. It is the faithfulness of God. It is not so much our faith that gives us strength. It is the faithfulness of God, which makes us strong.
We are called to have faith, to go on in faith, to grow in faith - but it is not faith in ourselves. It is faith in the God of faithfulness.
- How can we be sure of our salvation? - "He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it." This doesn't mean that we don't need to have faith. What it does mean is this: Our faith is in the faithful God.
The Helmet Of Salvation
"And take the helmet of salvation" (Ephesians 6:17).
"And" - This is a joining word. It's a word that joins one part of a sentence to the next part of the sentence.
Each part of the armour of God belongs together with the parts that come before it and after it.
We are to take the helmet of salvation. We take the helmet of salvation when we take the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour.
Faith - Forsaking All I Take Him
"I took Jesus as my Saviour. You take Him too."
(a) Have you been saved? - "The hour I first believed."
(b) Are you being saved? - "Faith works by love" (Galatians 5:6).
(c) Will you be saved? - "Christ ... will appear a second time ... to save those who are waiting Him" (Hebrews 9:28).
- (i) The way of salvation begins with the realization that you are lost. Jesus emphasizes this in His parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:17-18).
- (ii) The way of salvation is grounded in the love of God. The story of the prodigal son is also, and always, the story of the loving father, yet, for most of the story, the son did not realize how much he was loved.
- (iii) Salvation becomes a personal reality when I come to see that "the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
- (iv) How do I come to realize this? - "He drew me and I followed on."
- (v) Once the initial decision has been made, what happens next? What we must never forget is this - "He'll finish what he started."
- "Put on ... for a helmet the hope of salvation" (1 Thessalonians 5:8).
A paper hat is no good for rain, fire, or stones. We need a crash helmet. We need hope.
- (a) What is this hope?
Hope involves looking beyond this earthly world. "To die is gain" (Philippians 1:21); "My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better" (Philippians 1:23).
With this hope, we are better people in this world. we bring Christ to others.
- (b) How does this hope help us, here-and-now?
This hope gives us strength. It enables us to face life's difficulties with confidence in God.
Where there is no hope, there is no strength (Lamentations 3:18). When we're living for this world, we won't have the strength to keep on walking with God and living for Him (2 Timothy 4:10).
We need a vision. This vision must come to us from the Lord. We should pray to the Lord, "Be Thou my Vision." When it seems that the fulfilment of this vision seems to be a long way off, we must hold on to the promise of the Lord: "though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry" (Habakkuk 2:3).
For this great vision, we bless God - "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:3-4).
Through this vision, we are blessed by God - "But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit" (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
God's Word And Prayer
* The Bible is "the sword of the Spirit."
"Throughout the ages, the sword has been a most necessary part of the soldier's equipment and has been used more than any other weapon" (William Gurnall). "A soldier without his sword" is "ridiculous." A Christian who is not learning to understand and use the Bible is ridiculous - yet, so often, this is a description of our lives. No matter what other pieces of armour you may have, if you don't have your sword in your hand, you will be easily disarmed. The sword is used for keeping the soldier safe. It is used for killing the enemy. The Bible is used to strengthen our lives. It is used to defeat our enemy, Satan.
* When we speak of the Bible as "the Word of God", we must remember that it is not the book which we worship. It is the Christ whom the book proclaims to us. John 1:1 tells us that Jesus Christ is the Word of God. it also tells us that "the Word was God." Revelation 19:13 says this about Jesus Christ: "The name by which He is called is the Word of God."
* The Bible is more than a collection of human writings. It is "the sword of the Spirit." If we are to be victorious in our battle with Satan, we need more than human resources. We need spiritual resources. We must always remember that we are weak. We must never forget that Jesus is strong. God has given us spiritual resources. Jesus is the living Word of God. The Bible is the written Word of God. In our battle with Satan, we have spiritual resources, given to us by God: "the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17).
* Hebrews 4:12 compares the Word of God to a "two-edged sword" - "the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword." God's Word has two sides to it. It is God's way of strengthening the believer in faith. It is also His way of overcoming the enemies of the Gospel.
* How are we to use the Bible in the Christian life?
(1) We are to hear the Word of God.
"Faith comes by hearing , and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17, King James Version), "faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ" (Romans 10:17, Revised Standard Version).
(2) We are to read the Word of God.
"Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein" (Revelation 1:3).
(3) we are to study the Word of God.
"Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received the Word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so" (Acts 17:11).
"Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing (or handling) the Word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).
(4) We are to memorize the Word of God.
"I have laid up Thy Word in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee" (Psalm 119:11).
"This Book will keep me from sin, or sin will keep me from this Book" (D. L. Moody).
(5) We are to meditate on the Word of God.
"This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall have good success" (Joshua 1:8).
"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1:1-2).
"Get more deeply into the Word, and let the Word get more deeply into you. This is the way to a consistent, victorious Christian life" (Waylon B. Moore).
* Paul calls us to pray (Ephesians 6:18).
- We learn from Acts, a Bible book that teaches us so much about prayer.
A-C-T-S: Adoration; Confession; Thanksgiving; Supplication
- God's Word calls us to stop what we're doing and start thinking about Him and speaking to Him.
S-T-O-P: Sorry prayers; Thank you prayers; Others prayers; Please prayers
At the heart of true prayer, there is repentance and faith. This is not just for the beginning of our Christian life. It's for the whole of our Christian life.
- We are to pray "for all the saints" - all of God's people (Ephesians 6:18).
- We are to pray for the advance of the Gospel (Ephesians 6:19-20). We are to pray for those who have been called to preach the Gospel (Ephesians 6:19-20). Paul was the Lord's servant. He said to God's people, "Pray for me." In our day, we must pray for the Lord's servants.
- We are to "pray at all times in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:18).
Our whole life is to be life in the Spirit. At the heart of this life in the Spirit, there is to be the sword of the Spirit and prayer in the Spirit.