Armed And Dangerous?
Reading Ephesians Ch. 6v10-12.
We live in a dangerous and hostile world. There are many today that are armed and dangerous. It seems like daily we watch via our television screens and discover yet more men have died in Baghdad one horrific way or another. Just a few days ago Assam Ben Laden sent another recording of all his wicked threats to the western world making all sorts of threats. We see some countries have a desire to accumulate Nuclear Power with which to threaten their neighbours and nations.
There is, however, a scene being played out in every corner of the world much like that one. The only difference is that this scene takes place in the invisible realm of the spiritual world. Although we can experience its effects, the major difficulty of our day that this battle can rage on undetected by many.
You see, there are armies armed for battle that are not of this earth. While the fourth largest army in the world has been neutralized, and the threat of the Soviet Union eliminated, and the fear of nuclear holocaust reduced, there is a much more dangerous enemy with whom we must contend. This is no new foe. This enemy has been around since the beginning of time. And in this conflict there is more at stake than there was in all our wars combined. Because our enemy is armed and dangerous, we must learn how to be armed and dangerous ourselves. This is the battle that counts. This is the battle we must make certain we win. It is the spiritual battle against the demonic forces of Hell.
I remember once hearing Bishop Whipple ... utter these beautiful words: "For thirty years I have tried to see the face of Christ in those with whom I differed." When this spirit actuates us we shall be preserved at once from a narrow bigotry and an easy-going tolerance, from passionate vindictiveness and everything that would mar or injure our testimony for Him who came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them. W. H. Griffith Thomas, quoted in Streams in the Desert.
The amazing thing is that our enemies vary. Do you know that in 1982, for example, Iraq, in its bloody war with the Iran, was selling tanks to Iran so Iran could fight them with those same tanks? Iraq captured about 150 Iran tanks; American, Chrysler-built tanks that U.S. supplied earlier to Iran. But Iraq has a Soviet arsenal and couldn't use the tanks. They needed money desperately. Since Iran couldn't buy any more arms from us, Iraq sold the tanks back to Iran, because they needed cash to continue the war! Maybe that's biblical: you bless your enemies! I don't know. It's seems strange to me. Bruce Larson, "When Your Enemy Prospers," Preaching Today, Tape No. 78.
1. This Is An Encouraging Message! Ephesians Ch.6v10.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, And in the power of his might”
The true Christian described in Ephesians Ch's1-3 who lives the faithful life described in Ch's4-6v9 can be sure that he will be involved in the spiritual warfare described in Ch6v10-20. The faithful life is a battle; it is warfare on a grand scale, because when God begins to bless a work, or bless a people, you can be sure Satan will attack with great ferocity.
If we are walking worthy of our calling, in humility rather than pride, in unity rather than divisiveness, in the new self rather than the old, in love rather than lust, in light rather than darkness, in wisdom rather than foolishness, in the fullness of the Spirit rather than the drunkenness of wine, and in mutual submission rather than self-serving independence, then we can be absolutely certain we will have opposition and conflict.
Jesus' ministry began in a great battle with Satan that lasted forty days (Luke Ch.4v2). As Jesus' ministry ended, Satan besieged Him again in the garden of Gethsemane with such force that He sweats great droops of blood (Luke Ch.22v44). And if you read those accounts carefully you will discover, the battle may not become easier as we grow in obedience to God, it may in fact become more severe because Satan will, be assured, turn up the heat. As believers grow stronger, so will Satan's attacks. So Paul gives us this very powerful word of encouragement. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."v10
As soon as Paul was saved, he threw himself with a heart and a half into this warfare, this battle for God. Dr. Luke in Acts Ch.9v22 uses the word endunamoo to describe Paul's activities as a new believer: "Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is the very Christ." When in Ephesians Paul uses the passive form of endunamoo he is reminding us to be strong, not in our own strength, but "in the power of his might" Your power, my power does not depend on the number of years saved, it depends on how we rest in Him and draw our power from him.
Being strong "in the power of His might" is not simply we being in control. Some people are control freaks and want to do everything and they think that is being strong in the Lord. No, that is weakness. Simply because you cannot delegate and let others be involved because you think they are not able or fit is your weakness and not your strength in the Lord. I display my strength by being strong in the Lord and then encouraging others to take their duties by being strong in the Lord also. That's been the whole purpose of my ministry here, it’s to cause you, maybe out of frustration, or out of annoyance, or whatever other reason you can think of, you decide, because the Pastor is not doing A.B.C. I will do it. Well that was my purpose in the first place that you would be prodded into doing what God wanted you to do. But please don't compound matters by trying to do what others should be doing, let them do it. You are not a one-man band there are other players in God's orchestra.
Paul's encouraging word to be strong in the power of his might is important because we are in a battle with the most fearsome of foes and we should never underestimate his strength and power and we must remember we will never overcome him, only "in the power of his might."
I want to share with you a question by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who is certainly not known as a Pentecostal preacher. When he held the great pulpit at Westminster Chapel in London as the great preacher of Reformed theology, near the end of his life--and some say at the very pinnacle of his ministry--he asked his congregation a question. He said, "I want to talk to you today about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. You may call it what you want, but I want to know have you experienced the fullness of the Spirit. I know all of you listening to me come as I do from a Reformed background. But it's not good enough. I know that all of you would want to say to my question about the Holy Spirit, 'Well, we got it all at conversion; there's no need for any more experience.' Well," said Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "I have only one other question to ask you. If you got it all at conversion, where in God's name is it?" - Robert L. Roxburgh, "The Right Ambition," Preaching Today, Tape 61.
2. This Is An Enlightening Message! Ephesians Ch.6v11.
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil”
a. This Is To Initiate Our Protection: v11a. "Put on the whole armour of God."
Many the times the Apostle Paul had been chained to soldiers. He had in past days been in the company of soldiers as he set out to arrest Christians or for some other reason. So it would appear he knew all about the soldiers armour and maybe indeed, this is where he drew the analogy from he's about to use just now.
Now, its interesting, Roman armour was designed to protect the soldier's body from the enemy's weapons. The Christian's armour, on the other hand, is designed to protect the Christians soul. God does not throw us unprotected into this amazing battle with Satan. God has provided all we need for complete protection of mind, heart, soul, spirit, conscience, and will. But listen! Listen! It is we who must put the armour on. "Put on the whole armour of God" we are to put on that armour piece by piece, its to be placed in such a way that we are afforded the most protection, therefore we are to put the armour on deliberately, intelligently, thoughtfully and prayerfully.
b. This To Identify Our Protagonist: v11b. "That ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
The enemy we face is called many things in Scripture. The names we know him best by are Satan and the Devil (Revelation 20v2). As the Devil he is the accuser, the one who constantly brings accusations before God about us, now whether those accusations are true or false is most certainly in our hands. When he came to accuse Job before God, it was all lies and God knew it. When he comes before God about you is it lies or truth?
As Satan, he is the adversary, the one who opposes God and continually seeks to prevent us from entering into the best blessing God has for us. Some folks think that because they have a good bank balance and things are pretty rosy in that area that they are being blessed of God and that's a stamp on everything else they do. Not so! Sure, that is a blessing of God because he has given you the ability to work and the ability to be frugal and wise with your money. Please do not use that as a measuring rod of blessing for all else you do. The blessing of God Paul is talking about is a deeper thing by far than the size of your bank balance.
The blessing of God Paul is speaking of here is the blessing of being able to stand against the wiles of the devil. The evil one is a raging and roaring enemy, but is powerless before a child of God who is daily putting on the whole armour of God and is continually filled with the Spirit of God, and strong in the power of His might! That's the blessing of blessings, strong in His might. If the Church is to be armed and dangerous it will only be so in his Power.
Do not weigh highly who may be for you or against you. But take thought and care that God be with you in everything you do. Have a good conscience, and God will defend you well. Thomas a Kempis: The Imitation of Christ.
3. This Is An Enabling Message! v12.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Throughout his ministry, Paul faced opposition from many dangerous men who tried to destroy his influence and defeat his purposes. There were times when their carnal and wicked ways would have bent the apostle's back to breaking point. Pharisees criticized his doctrines; professing Christians opposed his teaching; some professed converts said he was inferior to Apollos! Yes, even Satan was baying at his heels with a soothsaying maiden that simply annoyed him to no end as he made his way to a prayer meeting on the banks of the river (Acts Ch.16vv13-18).
Paul became highly indignant at this point and rightly so for the conduct of his opponents was disgusting. But even then, through all the stress and strain he never forgot that Satan was just using them. Paul never forgot that Satan was the real enemy and indeed it might well have been advantageous to destroy his messengers, but then he also knew, others would simply rise up in their place. So very forcibly Paul reminds the Ephesians and us today, people are not our enemies, but Satan and his emissaries are the real enemy, the thing is, do we know the enemy? When he attacks, can we set the battle in array, as we should? Now, Paul lists four distinct Satanic orders against whom we wrestle but can we recognize them when they appear?
A. We Wrestle Satan's Crowned Dignities v12a.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities."
A great many spirit beings reside in the unseen world. The eye does not see them unless they choose to be seen. When they were first created they were the most beautiful of beings, they were glorious to look upon, and they came from the heart and hand of the great creator who makes all things good. There's was to occupy the area around the throne of God praising Him continually.
There were hosts yes, hosts of angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim and at the head of them all was none other than the one who was most beautifully created, he had the greatest of intelligence, he was called the sun of the morning, the anointed cherub, Lucifer. Ezekiel Ch.28vv11-19.
When Lucifer fell, the hosts of heaven were divided for in his fall he drew many others with him. Listen beloved, we never fall but we bring others with us, never, never, forget that. His name is as we saw in part one of this message Satan and The Devil and he is now lord over all who fell with him. Let me tell you dear Christian friend, he is always a hard taskmaster, for although he is a fallen fiend, he is still a mighty enemy.
He is called the god of this world, the prince of this world, and the prince of the power of the air, as we saw in Bible Study through Genesis Tuesday evening it was he who deceived Eve and used her to bring about Adam's downfall. Satan was then able to seize the kingdom of this world to ruin it and to rule it in defiance of the Living God. And some of those who fell with Satan are now called principalities, high ranking, governing authorities who are at Satan's back and call at all times.
We beloved, need to understand, such crowned dignities of Satan carry with them amazing power and it's they against whom we wrestle in prayer to God and service for God. Please remember this! These principalities absolutely detest any challenge to their cruel hold on the kingdoms of men; they will not easily give up. But praise God they are already a defeated foe only they don’t want us to understand that, that's why Paul is teaching this wonderful truth.
The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy. Corrie Ten Boom.
The triumphant Christian does not fight for victory; he celebrates a victory already won. The victorious life is Christ's business, not yours.
Reginald Wallis. Don’t give in! The last shot may give us the victory.
B. We Wrestle Satan's Conquering Deputies v12b. "Against Powers."
The word "powers" there is the word in the Greek "exousia." It’s the word normally used for "delegated authority" it means you have the liberty and right to exert power. Make no mistake about it, Satan is powerful, he is amazingly clever, and he is tireless in his endeavours to bring down the work of God and the people of God, but understand he is not God! He is a created being but is not at all endowed with any of the attributes of Deity.
Yes, he is full of knowledge, deceit and cunning, but he is not omniscient. He does not know all God knows; he does make mistakes. Mistakes like taking on God through Adam and Eve, or again taking on God through motivating the crucifixion of Christ. Satan has disabling power beyond anything we could imagine. He gives people the ability to perform miracles but he is not all-powerful, he is not omnipotent. He can be thwarted and overruled by the power of God, praise the Lord.
Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees. (William Cowper) Oh! That we could grasp that wonderful truth!
You know friends; I have a felling we don’t understand this enemy of such power today.
In 1665 London was in the grip of the great plague. People were dying by the thousand, faster even than they could be buried. Corpses where stacked like cardboard boxes outside stricken houses and then carted away to hastily dug pits on the outskirts of the city. All business came to a halt. Court was disbanded there were no criminals. People fled London, taking the disease with them. Nobody knew the cause of the plague. The most common notion was that it was carried in the air, so people burned all kinds of noxious material to try and stop the disease from spreading. It never dawned upon them that it was a problem of sanitation and hygiene. Open sewers ran down the streets, rats and vermin multiplied, and their fleas spread the plague. But sadly, people were unable to see any link between the unsanitary conditions and the spread of the plague. In 1665 people knew nothing of germs and viruses and since germs and viruses could not be seen, smelled, touched, heard or tasted, no one ever suspected that they could cause the plague.
Likewise today, most people do not believe in evil spirits. Some may be interested in the occult, witches or ghosts but laugh at the idea of Satan having an organized band of the foulest creatures imaginable with their deepest desire, to obliterate the Church of Jesus Christ. Oh! I know they will not succeed but my word they can make a powerful mess on the way through. And the terrible thing is many Christians give them every helping hand they can.
People sit on the edge of their seats when someone comes on television and talks about contacting extraterrestrial beings and continually speculate as to whether or not intelligent exists elsewhere. But beloved the human race has already been invaded from outer space and is held in the power of that invading force and sadly many professing Christians act like they are under the spell. We need to act as free men and women for that’s what we are.
An Arab chief tells a story of a spy who was captured and then sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and the big, black door. As the moment for execution drew near, the spy was brought to the Persian general, who asked the question, "What will it be? The firing squad, or the big black door?" The spy hesitated for a long time. It was a difficult decision. He chose the firing squad. Moment's later shots rang out confirming his execution. The general turned to his aide and said, "They always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. Yet, we gave him a choice. "The aide said, "What lies beyond the big door?" "Freedom," replied the general. "I've known only a few brave enough to take it." Don McCullough, "Reasons to Fear Easter," Preaching Today, Tape No. 116.
C. We Wrestle Satan's Capable Deceiver's v12c. "Against the rulers of the darkness of this world."
Again we notice the Greek word used here is the word "kosmokrator" and interestingly, it only occurs in Scripture here and means "world rulers."
In other words, the beings spoken of here by the Holy Spirit are "the worlds rulers of this darkness." Satan's master plan for holding the world in subjection can be summed up in one simple word: deception. He keeps people in a state of spiritual, philosophical, religious, political, social, and personal blindness. It is he who has invented every false religion and is the master of every false philosophy, every false ideology, and every false theory. He keeps people in a state of absolute darkness and he has a legion of evil spirits whose supreme task is to bind men and women to these false ideologies, they are capable deceivers.
Why is it we cannot halt the drug trade that is damning souls? Why is it we find it so hard to get stiff laws against drunk driving? Why has sodomy become acceptable? Why is pornography such big business? Why can we not stamp out child abuse and put an end to the legalized slaughter of the unborn in abortion clinics? Why do the cults grow stronger and stronger? Why? Because all of these are under the power of Satan's capable deceivers!
Satan is the unsuspected god of this world. He is not afraid of us and we are no match for him. But I'll tell you what, he is afraid of the Holy Spirit, that beloved is why we can only wage our warfare against Satan in "the power of His Might." Eph.6v10. be daily filled with the Holy Ghost!
d. We Wrestle Satan's Countless Demons v12d. "Against spiritual wickedness in high places."
The unseen world is swarming with demons. One poor man in Jesus' day was in bondage to a legion of them. How man in a legion? Well some six thousand comprised a Roman Legion of soldiers. So this dear man was well beyond human help (Mark Ch.5vv1-7). Do you know when Jesus came to earth there was an extraordinary outburst of demonic activity? The bible teaches there will be another outburst when the antichrist reigns, that outburst of activity seems to have started already.
Satan has countless hoards of demons at his disposal. The word Paul uses here is the word "poneria" and is in this passage translated "wickedness"v12.
Paul's purpose, however, is not to explain the details of the demonic hierarchy but to give us some idea of its sophistication and power. We are pitted against an incredibly evil and potent enemy. But our need is not to specifically recognize every feature of that adversary but to know God and to turn to Him at all times in all situations and trust Him to be our protector and victory.
You see this, is all the workings of Satan to destroy the work of God and I must not allow him to use me in that diabolical work. Listen beloved, there is no believer who can deal with Satanic power except by the power of God, none! Let God have His way!
To take all that we are and have and hand it over to God may not be easy; but it can be done, and when it is done, the world has in it one less candidate for misery. Paul E. Scherer.
It is no use pretending we are broken before God if we are not broken in our attitude to those around us. God nearly always tests us through other people. There are no second causes for the Christian. God's will is made known in His providence and His providence's are so often others with their many demands on us. Roy Hession in “The Calvary Road”