Proper 16 (B), August 24, 2003
Ephesians 6:10-20

The imagery in our text today carries a special weight
considering our present conflict in Iraq. We’ve watched with great
diligence as our country progresses toward victory.

We boast an astonishingly well trained military with superior
technology for defense and engagement. We have soldiers who believe
their cause to be just and who pursue their assignments with great
persistence, tenacity, and courage.

With such might and determination, it seems easy to place
confidence in our military. But even with so great a strength, there
is no absolute certainty. Though powerful, we’re not omnipotent nor
omniscient. These attributes belong to God alone. And our confidence
can possess perfect certainty only in God and His promises. His
strength is infinite; no one and no thing can compare to the
“surpassing greatness of His power” and the “working of the strength
of His might” (Eph. 1:20).

The apostle urges us as he draws his letter to a conclusion:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (v.
10). Considering all that we face – the powers, the world forces of
this darkness, the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly
places – we can, we must be strong in the Lord.

How has our great God and Father equipped His elect for the
battles of life? He’s given us armor for defense, a weapon for
engagement, and a posture for communication. We are fully equipped
for this war, and the outcome has been determined.

Therefore, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”

I. A Soldier’s Defense (vv. 13-17a)

Soldier, put on the armor of God! Gird your loins with truth; put
on the breastplate of righteousness; shod your feet with the
preparation of the Good News; take up the shield of faith; cover your
head with the helmet of salvation. This is God’s armor: truth,
righteousness, the Good News, faith, and salvation. He has crafted it
with absolute precision and perfection.

Live truthfully with faithfulness and integrity before a desperate
and dying world. Pursue righteousness; depend on the sanctifying work
of God in your lives. Stand firm in the Good News of your salvation,
knowing that you are at peace with God, having been reconciled. Trust
in God, fixing your eyes always on Him – this will extinguish the
flaming deceitful arrows of the evil one. Your salvation protects you.
It is God who gave you new life in Christ, and it is He who sustains
you.

Therefore, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”

II. A Soldier’s Weapon (v. 17b)

Soldier, raise high the weapon of your victory – “the sword of
the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17b)! This sword is sharper
than any two-edged blade ever fashioned by man. It cuts deeper than
the flesh, “piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit” (Heb.
4:12).

The evil one has no defense against this perfect weapon. For all
that is spoken by God will come to pass, including the defeat of
death and sin.

Therefore, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”

III. A Soldier’s Posture (vv. 18-20)

Soldier, remember the source of your strength! It is God who
equips you for battle. A soldier’s posture is on His knees in
prayerful communication with the Commander and Chief. It is from Him
that we get instructions, and it is He whom we call for backup and
assistance on behalf of our fellow soldiers – our brothers and sisters
in Christ.

Many are suffering just as Paul who was an ambassador in chains.
We must be on our knees before God in praise, gratitude, and
supplication, asking for boldness for those with whom we serve on the
battlefield of life. We know that God is powerful to answer prayer,
and that even in our weakness and inability to pray as we should, we’ve
been given the Spirit who “intercedes for us with groanings too deep
for words” (Rom. 8:26).

Therefore, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”

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Sermon brief provided by: Jonathan Kever, Preaching.

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