Conduct in the Conflict - Ephesians 6:10-20 (NRSV)
The Introduction: Rules of Engagement, the Geneva Convention established a code of conduct in times of war.
The story has been told of a mental hospital that many years ago devised an unusual test to determine when their patients were ready to go back into the world. They brought a candidate for release to a room where a water faucet was left on so that the sink overflowed and was pouring water all over the floor. Then they handed the patient a mop and told him to mop up the water. If the patient had enough sense to turn off the faucet before mopping up the water, he was ready to be released. But if, as in the case of many, the patient started mopping while the water was still flowing, they kept the patient for more treatment.
As Christians, all of us face the world in which we live and are confronted with the need to do battle with the evil that dominates it. But, like the patients in the mental hospital, until we realize where the source of that evil is, we will make no real contribution. To see less evil in the world means that we must conquer the evil that is pouring forth from our own heart. That is conversion. Then, to deal with the evil around us, we need a “mop and bucket,” the spiritual armor that God has provided for us.
Point I. - The reality of the invisible conflict (6:10–12). Our principal warfare is not against our circumstances or opposition from people who seem to stand in the way of progress. Our true enemies must be identified and then assaulted with the spiritual weapons at the disposal of the Christian.
Believers are responsible for putting on God’s (not their) full armor with all urgency.
Based upon scripture, I believe that we can only win if we are continuously empowered in union with Him. He is the source of spiritual power. Spiritual battles require spiritual strength.
Point II. – Put on the whole armor of God. God supplied, the complete armor, but He expects the Christian warrior to put it on. In order that you may stand your ground and not retreat or fall in the struggle.
Terrorist warfare is a different way of fighting, because it turns what you think are your best abilities in to liabilities!
The devil’s wiles are attractive, deceptive, and ensnaring. He uses clever and crafty methods to deceive. Men dream of a devil that is a hideous, horned, and hoofed monster; but God says he fashions himself into an angel of light and fashions his ministers as ministers of righteousness (II Cor 11:14–15).
He is the champion of liberalism, ritualism, rationalism, and every other “ism” that seeks to displace Christ. One of the biggest strategies of the devil is to send a false teacher, a very impressive teacher, across the path of the believer. We must never forget that Satan is not a fiery red person with horns, a pointed tail, and a pitch fork in his hands. He is a living being in the spiritual world—and he has ministers who walk about as ministers of righteousness, but they proclaim a righteousness other than that of Christ. Their message is that of self-righteousness, that of...• human goodness and works.• ego and self-image. - such messages are not the basic power needed by man. Substitute saviours always will give you substitute results!
They cannot deliver man from the great trials and sufferings of life or death. They can only lead man down the path of all flesh—that of death, decay, and eternal judgment.
The believer is doomed unless he is clothed in the full armour of God. Never underestimate the enemy. His aim is to substitute something else and something different for the grace and truth of Christ.
Victories are never won while resting in the barracks. God’s soldiers must always be alert and dressed in full armor. That armor includes six important pieces: (Ephesians 6:10–20)
• The belt of truth (warriors with absolute integrity).
• The breastplate of righteousness (people must see our good works).
• Sandals of peace (though soldiers, we are called to be peacemakers).
• Shield of faith (for extinguishing all of Satan’s doubts and fears).
• Helmet of salvation (one of Satan’s chief attacks is the mind).
• Sword of the Spirit—the Word of God (our only offensive weapon).
The purpose of the armor of God is to “withstand in the evil day”.
Verse 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Eph 6:16 (NRSV)
“Flaming Arrows” “Fiery darts” were arrows covered with pitch or tar and set afire. They were then shot into the bodies of enemy soldiers. Faith in a Christian’s life produces a shielding effect that effectively deflects and extinguishes Satan’s flaming arrows.
Point III. - Prayer and God’s Word are the two weapons of the people of God who are engaged in spiritual combat. The Word of God offers the terms of God’s purpose on the issues being “wrestled” over, and prayer is the spiritual exercise that ultimately brings the victory of God to our struggles. Paul is not describing a Sunday school picnic.
Point IV. - Paul exhorted believers to be strong in the Lord and in the might (kratei, “power that overcomes resistance” as used in Christ’s miracles) of God’s inherent strength (ischyos; cf. “the power [kratous] of His inherent strength”. Believers can be strengthened not only by the person of the Lord but also by His resources (Phil. 4:13).
Point V. Let us observe: 1. The true Source of strength: “In the Lord” (verse 10). 2. The true amour to seek. “The whole amour of God” (verse 11). 3. The true enemies to be overcome. (Verses 11,12.) “The wiles of the devil,” and other unseen spiritual foes.
The Conclusion: Spirit-filled Christians will manifest Christlikeness in the home (vv. 1–4), on the job (vv. 5–9), and on the battlefield (vv. 10–20). In some ways the devil is like the villain in the old melodramas. Remember how the plot always develops? The heroine seems to be doomed, and the villain always appears to have the upper hand as he twirls his mustache and rubs his hands together. But at the critical moment the rescuing hero arrives and the plot line changes. The villain is beaten, his scheme fails, and he slinks off the stage muttering, “Curses! Foiled again.” Of course that is exactly what happens to the devil when a Christian is willing to stand firm, fully outfitted in the armor God has provided (Eph. 6:10-17).