Our strength, Armor, and enemy
Text: Ephesians 6:10-20
Preached in Quabbin Valley on 3/8/09
There are three things that a person needs to know when faced with war. The first is is to know where their strength is, their might. The second thing a person needs to know and to have is armor and weapons. What are my armor and my weapons? The third is they need to know who they are fighting who is the enemy.
Paul is going to address all three of these areas in relation to the war every Christian faces.
1) Our Strength (Eph 6:10)
a. Paul says: Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (Eph 6:10 NIV) or “…in the strength of his might.” (Eph 6:10 ESV)
b. Psalm 81:1Sing aloud to God our strength; (Psa 81:1 ESV)
i. As Christians our power comes from knowing and recognizing that we are weak and not able to stand in our own strength. We are those who have confessed that we need God and that we are weak but it’s in that weakness that we are strong.
ii. When we realize, in and of ourselves are weak we will rely on the Lord for his power and we will have his strength.
iii. 1 Corinthians 1:8 He (Jesus) will keep you strong to the end... (1Co 1:8 NIV)
c. In our weakness we are strong because we will be relying on God’s strength and not our own and if God strengthens us we will not lack in might, strength, or power.
d. Ephesians 6:10 … be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (Eph 6:10 ESV)
e. Where does our strength come from? Our help our strength comes from the Lord.
2) Our Armor (Eph 6:11,13)
a. What’s our armor, our weaponry? And Is it important to have armor?
b. One of every 400,000 babies is born each year with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease, or SCID, a disease that leaves the child with no body-chemistry defenses to fight infection from the germs that constantly attack one’s body. For such children, life is often short and always filled with danger. In a similar manner, the Christian who is not protected by the armor of God is defenseless against the attacks of the flesh, the world, and Satan. Sin, like an infection, can eat its way into his life because he has no defense against it.
i. Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God… (Eph 6:11 ESV)
ii. Ephesians 6:13 …take up the whole armor of God… (Eph 6:13 ESV)
c. Paul talks about the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the Gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.
d. In military terms this is the same as what Paul has said in other places. Putting on the “New Self” or “putting on Christ”. The armor of God is Christ, all the pieces of armor point to Jesus Christ in some way.
i. The belt of truth, truth has to do with reality. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. Jesus is reality; we are to live in reality.
ii. The breastplate of righteousness, all of us know that we are not righteous in and of ourselves but the Christ has made us righteous by what he has done for us on the Cross and we are to live righteous lives because of Christ and with his strength. We are to live Christ-like lives.
iii. Feet fitted with the Gospel of peace, the good news is that Jesus died for sinners and brings peace between God and man by his sacrifice, by his taking away our sins. Our feet should be bringing that good news of peace to others.
iv. The shield of faith, our trust in Jesus, our trust in his sacrifice, our trust in his resurrection.
v. Helmet of salvation, our salvation is found in Christ and no one else.
vi. The Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God which tells us of God’s love and promises that all find their fulfillment in Christ Jesus who is the word of God made flesh.
e. The armor of God is Christ centered. Paul uses military imagery to get us to see that we are to put on Christ. To be reminded of him and what he has done for us and to remind us of how we are to live each and every day in Christ.
i. Romans 13:12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Rom 13:12 ESV)
ii. Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Rom 13:14 ESV)
iii. Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Col 3:12 ESV)
iv. 1 Thessalonians 5:8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. (1Th 5:8 ESV)
f. How many things are we to put on? How many different types of armor are we to put on? The armor of light, the armor of God, the new self, there all the same thing. Paul is saying the same thing in different ways. Put on Christ, be strong in him. We have a choice each day to put on the armor of God or not. Paul encourages us to live each day in truth, love, and obedience to God.
3) Our Enemy (Eph 6:12,13)
a. Why are we to put on the armor of God? Why are we to live this way? Because we have an enemy but the question is who is our enemy?
i. 7163 Who is Enemy? When World War I broke out, the War Ministry in London dispatched a coded message to one of the British outposts in the inaccessible areas of Africa. The message read: “War declared. Arrest all enemy aliens in your district.” The War Ministry received his prompt reply: “Have arrested ten Germans, six Belgians, four Frenchman, two Italians, three Austrians, and an American. Please advise immediately who we’re at war with.”
b. Its one thing to know that we are at war but if we don’t know who we are fighting, who the enemy is then we are lost, everybody is an enemy or nobody is. Our enemy is not a physical one but one who dwells in the spiritual realms.
i. 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1Pe 5:8 ESV)
ii. Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12 ESV)
c. But just because our enemy dwells in the spiritual realms doesn’t mean we won’t face physical challenges and obstacles, but it does mean the attack is from what is behind the physical, Satan and his demons.
d. We will be attacked in both physical ways and mental ways but they are all spiritual ultimately.
e. Remember that at the time when Paul is writing there was a lot of military power and fighting going on. Paul wants to make it clear that he is not talking about picking up physical weapons to fight the pagans, Romans, and the persecuting Jews but to pick up your spiritual weapons and fight the real enemy, the forces of darkness.
f. You will remember how people thought Jesus was going to over through the Romans with physical forces and set up a physical kingdom but he wasn’t, he even told Pilate that his kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36).
g. Jesus did defeat the world governments and armies but it was in the spiritual realms which affected the physical. There is no more Roman empire but there is still the Kingdom of God and Christ. That kingdom is an eternal one.
i. Colossians 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Col 2:15 ESV)
h. Here is a description of what happened at the Cross, Christ defeated all the demonic forces and we have strength to stand firm because we stand firm in the one who has already defeated them and the one who is victorious.
Paul wants to encourage the Ephesian Christians and we, as Christians are to be encouraged as well. Be strong but be strong in the Lord and in his strength. Be ready for war because we are in one. Put on the armor of God, put on truth, righteousness, love, put on Christ and know who your enemy is and where the war is waged.
Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.