Ephesians 6:10-18

I grew up going to court with my dad when he had trial at different times. It was never anything quite like the Conrad Murray trial of recent weeks, but it was an amazing experience for a young kid to witness the sights and sounds of a courtroom. I have a vague memory of my dad standing before the judge and jury making his closing arguments in a case. You may be familiar with that type of scenario from personal experience or an overdose of TV crime/legal dramas.

Usually an attorney uses his closing arguments not to give the opposing side a black eye per say, but to summarize the key points of his or her case. The closing statement needs to remind the jurors why the side of the case being presented is so important. Why it’s necessary for you to believe them and side with them. It shouldn’t be where the case is won, but should be a confirmation of the validity of their side of the case. The apostle Paul spent five and a half chapters in the Book of Ephesians helping the believers in Ephesus understand the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the unity they have in Him as one body, confessing faith in one Lord and one baptism. Then in Ephesians 6:10 and said, “Finally, to sum up what I’ve been telling you…Be strong in the Lord.”

Then he went on to remind them how we can do that as we wage a spiritual battle with the forces and principalities at work in the world around us.

Read Ephesians 6:10-17.

1. Be Strong in the Lord.
So the apostle Paul tried to articulate the unity of the church under the Lordship of Christ and how that manifests in daily living, how it impacts families, the church, marriages, etc.; and he says again to them be strong in the Lord and His mighty power.

What does that mean, to be strong in the Lord?

It doesn’t mean you are a bodybuilder as my friend from high school. It means to stand firm as Paul mentions in Ephesians 6:11; but it also means your relationship with God is the foundation for your life, just like a building must have a solid foundation laid for it.

We have to stand firm against all of the strategies the devil will use to get us sidetracked. Isn’t it amazing how Satan knows exactly what areas in our lives are weak areas that he can expose and manipulate in order to get us focused on ourselves and sin rather than on Christ. This is a serious battle we face each day to resist the powers of Satan and live our lives for Jesus.

2. Put on the Full Armour of God
To be strong in the Lord we must put on the full armour of God that Paul described in detail here. We could spend many hours talking about the Christian’s armour and how we appropriate it and use it, but I won’t bore you with that.

In the 1650s, Puritan preacher William Gurnall published a book, The Christian in Complete Armour with a subtitle 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, seat of his empire, wickedness, and 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 armour, and taught the use of his weapon; together with the happy issue of the whole war.

In it, he spends 1,500 pages dissecting these select verses.

I assure you, I will not be giving you that much detail here. The most helpful thing for us to do is to look at the armor of God as a cohesive unit, “the full armor of God.” If we are going to stand strong for God then we must have the total armor of God, not some missing pieces.

When I played football in high school it was important that I have all my pads and equipment if I was going to be able to play and perform to the best of my ability. Just as the believer in Christ must put on the full armor of God-not just a piece here or a part there.

High school athletes are just as regimented as college and pro athletes you have routines to check to make sure you have all of your equipment, your clothes, the right socks, the right shoes, etc. I couldn’t afford to walk onto the field without having all my equipment on and being ready to go because I wouldn’t be ready to do a battle and block, run, and tackle.

In verse 11, Paul said to put on the full armor of God so we can stand firm against the devil and all his strategies. In our modern world, we have begun to dismiss the devil as a real being. Instead, we have personified Satan in social and economic systemic evils of our world, or we have psycho-analyzed any role the devil may play in the world around us so we don’t have to deal with all of those things. In my own life, I’ve had recent conversations about spiritual warfare that Paul described in verse 12 about which I have been skeptical, and it has challenged me in my own faith.

Do I really believe in the cosmic spiritual forces at work in the unseen realm? The powers and principalities at work scheming against us as Christians to accomplish the devil’s work? Isn’t that what C.S. Lewis talked about in The Screwtape Letters? The exchange of letters between a young apprentice demon and an older wiser demon talk about the best way to get Christians to dismiss the authorities and power of the unseen reality is to let them become content in their faith and their walk with the Lord. Then they believe their only struggle is with flesh/blood enemies, not with the spiritual forces at work in our world; but as Christians, we are waging a war with the forces of darkness that we can see and the ones we can’t see!

In Ephesians 6:13, Paul tells us put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil then after the battle you will be standing firm.

Thursday was the birthday of the Marine Corps, Friday was Veterans Day. Perhaps one of the most challenging times in our nation’s military history was the years of conflict and war in Vietnam.

My dad was a machine gunner in a CH 46 Sea Knights helicopter flying missions to insert troops in part of the DMZ. He says they rarely could see anything or anybody on the ground, and the NVA were skilled at ambush and surprise attacks. Let me share with you some of what he has recounted of some of his missions.

Sometimes all you could see were the tracers (every third or fourth round—I don’t remember which) coming toward you. Sometimes it seemed like an unbroken line coming up which meant you were really taking heavy fire. So when you returned fire, you’re aiming at the source of the tracers even though you could not see anything else. I do remember one mission flying with Charlie Hipsher in EP159 and the NVA regulars were coming out of the tree line on his side of the airplane. One guy was taking a firing position to shoot at us and Charlie zeroed in on him with his 50 cal. Body parts were flying in every direction. Before that mission I was flying with Bungardner and we had a team to insert up around the DMZ. We were circling at 3,000 feet looking for the zone when all hell broke loose. An explosive round had come up through the floor and exploded seriously wounding Bumgardner, slightly wounding me and one of the grunts.

Bumgardner and everyone else started firing down into the jungle, but I could not see anything or anybody on either side of the helicopter. They could have just as easily have been firing into friendlies. Did I ever personally kill an enemy? I can’t say but I know I totally saturated bushes where tracers were starting upward. Sometimes they would pop up from a tunnel to fire and then pop right back down.

Similar to American forces in Vietnam fighting against the unseen forces in the dark jungles of SE Asia so our struggle is not against what we can necessarily see but against what we can’t see. The forces at work behind the schemes of the devil, the temptations that come our way, the trials of life. But if we will put on the full armor of God. We will be better ready to stand against the enemy.

How do we put on the armor of God?
Reread vs. 14-17

We must first remember that it is God’s armor, ready for us to step in and wear. Again we don’t need to be concerned with the individual pieces-collectively they represent a life lived in total surrender and under the direction of God.
We appropriate God’s armor by pursuing God through what we call the classic spiritual disciplines.
1. Prayer
2. Scripture readying and study
3. Journaling
4. Solitude
5. Fasting
6. Service
7. Confession
8. Worship

It’s always good to stop and evaluate our lives to see if we are being consistent in pursuing a relationship with God through these disciplines and others.

Are we stagnant in our growth as a Christian or pursuing God whole-heartedly? Growth might be a slow steady pace, but you never grow by staying in the same spot.

3. Pray in the Spirit

Praying in the spirit is this idea that as we go about our daily routine we have an attitude of humility and prayer. We don’t have to stop 5 times a day for prayer like Muslims do, but that we find opportunities for prayer in our daily routines. That when someone suddenly pops into your mind, then that’s an opportunity to pray for them, or perhaps you are driving down the road, turn off the radio and pray, but keep your eyes open.

Those in the Catholic tradition are more attuned to this method of prayer. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians to Pray without ceasing or to pray continually. The monk Brother Lawerence was perhaps the best example of this type of life. He loved to spend his time in the kitchen of the monastery scrubbing pots and pans because it allowed him to talk to God all day long.

Praying in the spirit for believers everywhere is only possible if we have put on the full armor of God, if we are truly growing in Christ and seeking to beat back the forces, powers, and principalities that wage war against us.

Conclusion: The question for us to consider tonight is, are we being strong in the Lord by putting on the full armor of God or are we fighting the battle half clothed and prepared.

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