Dear Student of the Word,I missed getting this last installment of the Ephesians study out last week due to my being in Egypt, where I did not have good Internet connections. This is the last of six Ephesian studies and in this week's study, we see Paul's instructions to families along with some insight into the concept of spiritual warfare. This week I wrote in the fourth of this seven-part study:
6:10 – Paul urged the Ephesians to be strong in the Lord. In Judges 14:6, we see that the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson so that he was able to tear a lion apart with his bare hands. The account literally means that the Spirit clothed Himself with Samson, like as if He were putting Samson on as one would a coat or garment. That is what I think of when I think of being strong in the Lord. God uses me as He created me to be and I obtain significant results because He is working in and through me according to His good pleasure. Is God your strength? When is that strength most evident?
I love you, O Lord, my strength (Psalm 18:1).
It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect (Psalm 18:32).You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet (Psalm 18:39).
O Lord, the king rejoices in your strength. How great is his joy in the victories you give! (Psalm 21:1). The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song (Psalm 28:7).
6:11 – The believer needs the full armor to stand against the devil’s schemes. The devil is intelligent. I sometimes hear believers mocking and belittling the devil. That is something I have never done. I have a healthy respect for my enemy and always keep my focus on God and never on the devil. The devil is always planning and scheming and I need everything that God has for me if I am to resist his entrapments.
6:12 – I must constantly be reminded that my warfare is not with flesh and blood. For example, Muslims are not my enemies, but the antichrist spirit of Islam is indeed my enemy. Have you made flesh and blood your focus? You need to look past the human to the spiritual cause that lies behind.
6:13 – Paul wrote “when” the day of evil comes, not “if” the day of evil comes. There are some who underestimate the level of warfare once they put their faith in Christ. Jesus said to Peter: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). Some have mistakenly assumed that since the gates of hell will not prevail or overcome the Church that the gates of hell will not try to prevail. That is incorrect. When you became a Christian, you are a marked person, an enemy of the kingdom of darkness. You may not want to fight, but you will have no choice.
Paul wanted the Ephesians to stand their ground. Ours is not always an offensive warfare. We saw earlier that we have all things in Christ (see Ephesians 1:3); the enemy will try to take away what we already have. You must take a stand and resist him as one of David’s might men did in 2 Samuel 23 and as Paul urged the Corinthians to do:
Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel's troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory (2 Samuel 23:11-12).
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).
Some have noted that there is no armor of God for the back, only for the front. We must face our enemies and not turn our backs to run or flee. Are you standing firm or running right now in your life?
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the unpublished volumes of The Faith Files.
If you would like to read about my tour to Israel and Egypt, just go to my travel blog (the code is johnacac if you need it) and read the accounts along with some pretty good pictures. Then send me an email to let me know if you would like to go back with me to the Holy Land in May, 2012.