Ephesians 6 - Spiritual Warfare
SCRIPTURE – Ephesians 6: 10-17
This message is part 2 of an exegesis on God’s grace and satan, where part 1 was about the fall and origins, now I wanted to bring second part about satan in his current world system. This chapter of Ephesians concentrates on the whole armour of God and why we need it when we are dealing with satan and his minions
Definitions of spiritual and warfare
Definition of spiritual is relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
Definition of warfare - the activity of fighting a war, often including the weapons and methods that are used:
We are definitely talking about warfare here as in not passive but an offensive action.
Paul woke up the church in Ephesus with his strong comments which had somewhat military overtones and weren’t liked, he probably would have been quite direct and hard when he showed where the churches were going wrong.
As well as practical advice, our strength must come from the Lord and the military aspect might have been through Pauls dealing with Roman soldiers, but I think it references the battle we have on an ongoing basis.
If we refer to military terms, the battlefield is life itself where there is an invisible battle, battle for your soul where victory is an eternity with God and losing is an eternity without God.
Paul talks about in this verse 12, about the battlefield itself and who we are fighting who are the rulers, authorities and powers and I do not believe these are earthly figures which some commentaries point out, but spiritual ones.
When we are in a battle, we have weapons, and the weapons are the tools at Gods and satan’s disposal. The main weapon we have is God’s word the bible.
The methods by which the battle is won are called tactics, which are “the actual means used to gain an objective” and are to implement a specific mission, objective or target.
In a war there are tactics and Gideon in the book of Judges blew horns and flashed lights confused the Midianites which resulted in them slashing and killed each other and then they went into the battlefield and finished the job and chased them out of the area.
Tactic 1 - Spying
Satan uses repeated reconnaissance and spying, like in war where “exploration outside an area occupied by you to gain information about natural features and enemy presence.” And you repeatedly do it to build up a picture of how to defeat your enemy. Peter quotes satan as a lion stalking and similar to how wolves in the wild spot animals with injuries. With this, satan gains intelligence about us, prowling and watching.
Tactic 2 - Uncertainty and doubt
Soldiers in OT times would have 2 shields, one was called the buckler and was small in size as well as one large shield for him to cover and hide behind which is what we are talking about here. To protect us for doubt we are to wear our righteousness in order to protect us from uncertainty similar to the priests who dressed appropriately for dealing with the ark of the covenant as in;
Psalm 132: 9 - Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.
Uncertainty arises when you are worried what the future holds and when you go through one set of difficulties and life becomes monotonous. We know suffering is part of the Christians life and the older you get; you know you are going to suffer but there is a reason for it. God loves you and he allows pain in your life to strengthen you and faith is knowing there is a reason for your suffering, and it will pass.
Also, like a father there are the “Chastisements of Love” (which in Hebrew is pronounced Yissurin Shel Ahavah) which our Father God allows us to go through and God corrects and punishes those he loves where he is protecting somebody from the worst outcome. For us the final punishment through rejection of Jesus Christ is eternal punishment being away from God.
I like this story from one of my Jewish commentaries; Student asked his Rabbi – “Do we get punished for our sins”, he answered “only if we are fortunate”
I like to think of this as we do not want to be outside Gods love through his son Jesus Christ, hence we are punished because he wants to put us back on the right path as in
Hebrews 12:5-6 (CJB) Also you have forgotten the counsel which speaks with you as sons: “My son, don’t despise the discipline of Adonai or become despondent when he corrects you. For Adonai disciplines those he loves and whips everyone he accepts as a son.
Another tactic satan uses is doubt and it is not a sin to doubt as with the story of Thomas, where Christ actively encouraged him to feel his hand scars in the face of his doubt. We sometimes do not understand why God allows things to happen in your life and as with the story of faith and the mustard seed.
It is s a sin as a result of your doubt ,looking for alternatives to God such as when Moses went up the mountain to speak with God and upon his return found the Israelites had built a golden calf to worship. What I find amazing is they could see the cloud and see wonders of God working yet they still chose to worship an idol. Sometimes when we doubt, we quickly look for alternatives to God in our life. The best remedy for this is to read God’s word.
Although in life, sometimes we give satan too much credit for sin and it is our own desires that lead us into committing it.
Tactic 3 - Temptation & Conviction
There are many examples of sin in the bible we realise that once you have sinned then the conviction takes place and you are remorseful hence why one of satans other names is the ‘accuser’ as in “You have sinned and done this”.
When this happens, we need to repent (Hebrew word Teshuvah)
We cannot avoid temptation but it is how we act upon it that is key, and an important point is God does not tempt you and one of the reasons God became man was so he could empathise and understand your temptation:
James 1:13 - No one being tempted should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, and God himself tempts no one.
Tactic 4 - Teachers and doctrine
When I study, I use a variety of sources and I usually cross check each commentary or source against another one. In terms of teachers, if there is one place satan wants to get to it is within the church. The bible talks about false teachers and the destruction and damage they do.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 - 13. The fact is that such men are pseudo-emissaries: they tell lies about their work and masquerade as emissaries of the Messiah.
14 There is nothing surprising in that, for the Adversary himself masquerades as an angel of light;
15. so it’s no great thing if his workers masquerade as servants of righteousness. They will meet the end their deeds deserve.
To put them into perspective we need to look at satan’s fall;
Isaiah 14 :12-15 (CJB) - “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, [b] son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit?
In the first verse there is a reference to son of the morning which refers to the morning star translates as Heleyl (hay-layl). Lucifer translates Heleyl and if you ever seen one you will see it is brighter than the rest. This relates to Lucifer’s elevated position within the kingdom of God before he was ejected. Now satan convinced one third through deception of the other angels to join his rebellion and ultimately be banished from heaven. To put this into perspective with his minions, the place they want to attack is the church and especially its leaders and ministers of his word and be seen as light to it.
2 Corinthians 2:17 talks about corruption and the Greek word is Kapeleuo (kapey-lu-oh) which means to water down or adulterate (i.e. make weaker and lower the quality)
Examples of false teachers
Joyce Meyer – Quote ““I didn’t stop sinning until I finally got it through my thick head, I wasn’t a sinner anymore.”
Romans 3 :23-24 - since all have sinned and come short of earning God’s praise.
24 By God’s grace, without earning it, all are granted the status of being considered righteous before him, through the act redeeming us from our enslavement to sin that was accomplished by the Messiah Yeshua.
Steve Chalke on civil partnerships.
1 Corinthians 6:9 - Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
Joel Osteen: Quote: “I can’t be a big blessing if I’m poor and broke”
Luke 21: 3-4 - 3. He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all the others.
4. For they, out of their wealth, have contributed money they could easily spare;
but she, out of her poverty, has given all she had to live on.”
These people forget Jesus wasn’t rich, he had no possessions. The wisdom of prosperity is best explained in Ecclesiastes;
Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 - I denied my eyes nothing they wanted. I withheld no pleasure from myself; for I took pleasure in all my work, and this was my reward for all my work.
11. Then I looked at all that my hands had accomplished and at the work I had toiled at; and I saw that it was all meaningless and feeding on wind, and that there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
Wealth is Pointlessness if it distances you from God and only, he can satisfy you. Possessions and wealth can lead to spiritual complacency and materiality satan exploits man fear of losing wealth, which can take your eyes off the Lord.
What does the bible say about false teachers?
The bible is very clear about these people’s intention’s
Jude 1:4 (CJB) For certain individuals, the ones written about long ago as being meant for this condemnation, have wormed their way in — ungodly people who pervert God’s grace into a license for debauchery and disown our only Master and Lord, Yeshua the Messiah.
The Greek word for ungodly is “asebēs” (as-a-base) and David talks about it in the Psalms as does the book of Peter. These people are made to look attractive, to put forward things which are attractive to your ears, to forsake the truth and mask the word of a living God.
The punishment associated with this is in;
James 3:1 - Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, since you know that we will be judged more severely.
L.S. Chafer quotes - "denying the Master who bought them" does not mean that false teachers will necessarily deny the person of Christ – they may only (surreptitiously i.e. done in secret) deny the work of Christ and the need for His death to cleanse us from sin or deny His true humanity, or deny His deity, For it is true that there are many ways to deny Him in fact while giving the appearance of embracing Him. Wrapping their lies in cocoons of hypocrisy, giving their false teachings bright and shiny "white-washed" coverings, cleaning the outside of the pot, the outside of the tomb, but brimming with abomination within are all tell-tale characteristics of false teachers concerning which our Lord Himself warned us to beware. Ultimately, only Biblical Christianity is of God – all else is of the devil. Between the false extremes of materialism and superstition stands the truth of the Word of God.
As a teacher you have to be careful what I teach you, I use the word of God and if I ever make a point then I will tell you where it is my thought. I ask for the Lord to correct me graciously in anything I tell you if I am wrong.
Punishment was also dealt to believers Ananias and Sapphira who were manipulated by satan and they were dealt with swiftly by God for lying to Holy Spirit.Satan can use people within the church to deceive and lie to destroy testimonies of people and the church as we are to be examples to the outside world
Tactic 5 - Twists the truth
In the scripture it talks of the belt of truth and tis refers to where satan likes to twist the truth. When Jesus was in the wilderness and satan quoted Psalm 91 to Jesus and omitted – “In all thy ways” in other words God and his angels were ALWAYS watching him.
What this says is satan and his minions He can quote the bible, he can twist and distort the truth as he is referred to in the book of John as the father of lies .If he can convince third of angels who had seen God as in Genesis 3:8 to go with him he can convince you and me. I find this amazing when you are studying about these heavenly battles which took place and are still going on and then will complete in the future.
Satan’s other tactics
As we know we have our old sinful nature which is like a bomb awaiting activation. He knows our past and what has caused us to fall in the past
We all get tired as his Servants and in
Galatians 6:9 - So let us not grow weary of doing what is good; for if we don’t give up, we will in due time reap the harvest.
I get tired and I know we need to carry on regardless and accept my strength comes from Christ.
God should be our focus and see him always, we get by with work and all the striving we do. We build busy lives and as a result take our eyes off God and off our own mortality as Dr Luginbill states “Godless pursuit of pseudo happiness and false security can take the sting out of death”. If your busy all the time, you don’t think about things and most importantly have time for God.
If we think about how short our life is and the name Abel is related to the Hebrew word hevel which is stated in Ecclesiastes as meaning light or vapour. As life is brief like Abel’s life was cut short by his brother. God should be our focus and see him and one of the devil’s main lie is that happiness can be achieved without God. i.e. material goods such as money, cars, houses etc. These are short term items, and will one day will be destroyed, so try and take the long view or the eternal one.
If we narrow this down, it relates to lots of areas of our life such as health, our personal status etc. Luginbill – “Whenever our thinking tends to be dominated by personal concerns to such a degree that we lose our perspective about our place in God’s plan then our spiritual life is bound to suffer”. Think of Martha fussing rather than hearing the words of Jesus and we realise most stresses or concerns in life can usually wait and accept you are mortal and realise God will get you through and call you home when his work is done.
I believe the closer your walk with God, the more opposition and persecution you will get as in;
2nd Timothy 3:12 - Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution
We are not going to get acceptance of or from the world and if you are always concerned with what people think then that in itself is going cause you issues. The world hates Jesus, it mocked him shook its head in resentment even whilst he was being crucified and as a result, we will be persecuted. Satan sees this and will use it by using people around you and even your family.
To avoid Christian family or friend is another way of how he can use the people around you. Next time read the word of God and remember that.
Satan can use internal strife or dissension amongst the members and an extreme of this is Judas, seen miracles yet he sold Christ out.
1 Timothy 2:23-26 talks about this and can happen between all members of the church and its leadership. James M.Rochford “When we start to buy into Satan’s accusations against fellow believers, this makes communication and reconciliation very difficult”
Ephesians 4:3 - Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
This is where you ignore or avoid people, don’t give satan a foothold be polite with people you don’t have to like everybody but ask how they are and pray for them
Instead, the solution is to confront the person (Colossians 3:16), forgive them (Colossians 3:13) and is a very difficult issue. Try and be careful about what we say about other brethren and imagine saying it directly to them and ask will it encourage them?
In the verse, it talks of the breastplate of humble i.e. one of humility. What is the opposite of humility is pride as in 1 Timothy 3:6-7 where Paul talks about “Lifted up with pride” and “Lifted up” is linked to the word ‘smoke’ which is the Greek word “Tuphos”. The thicker the smoke gets, the blinder you become and as a man pride increases, so does his blindness. If we accept that we are only made acceptable to God through God humbling himself to become man through his son Jesus. We must accept he was humble enough to allow our sin to keep him on that cross and our sin that kept him there, not the nails as one commentator writes.
We should live humbly in remembering this as satan is waiting for us to forget this and trip us up because he has an active ear with all of us.
There are 3 areas where satan refutes and lies to us;
Lie 1 - We DO NOT need God
Matthew 6:33 seek ye first the kingdom of God
This is when we put our needs before Gods, but we must remember he is the eternal life giver and he put this in man’s heart, there is an in-built awareness of God.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 - He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
What we do is put off Gods kingdom for another day by delaying our own conviction and saying we can do it tomorrow.
Acts 24:25 – Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”
Another big lie is we also believe through other believers we are justified through prayer after death as with Catholicism and the concept of purgatory and a points-based system.
Lie 2 - We are God
Self-elevation and self-glorification that mask our need for God and if we rely on ourselves there is no need for God. It is self-delusional as to our own capabilities like the Pharisees were arguing with Jesus in John 9:39 – 41 he told them they were blind because they thought they could see. Ultimately it is rejection of Gods authority and our dependence on him as Adam and Eve did back in the garden of Eden.
Lie 3 – Gods desire for us
Some people in my life talk about the self-righteousness attitude of saying “ I’m a good person, I don’t harm people “ We must recognise as in; Titus 3:5. The concept is that of the Mikveh which is a Jewish bath. But unlike physical cleanliness people don’t see the need for spiritual cleansing. They see charity as an act of self-justification, for example those people who spend endless time fund raising, remember these are worthless if not done in the right spirit. You must ask is the charity done with self-promotion i.e. what is the purpose of our sacrifice?
As with Cain’s offering in the story in Genesis, he didn’t offer God what was required i.e. Meat which some commentators say is a representation of Jesus sacrifice as he offered Vegetables.
Summary Point 1 – satan and his schemes
Satan unambiguously wants to destroy us;
John 10:10 - The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
We live in dark times and satan has reign of the earth Galatians 1:4 – ‘present evil age’ and satan doesn’t own this earth, God allows him to rule some of mankind.
Summary Point 2 – Gods Plan
We must not forget God is all powerful who is in control and ultimately all those in his will be blessed as in Genesis 50:20. As well as the fact that God gives satan limitations on his control like with Job where he couldn’t touch his life. Remember “Every action satan and his subordinates have ever taken has been fully incorporated into Gods plan”.
Summary Point 3 – Man’s Futility in materiality
Psalm 49:16-17 - Do not be afraid when one becomes rich, When the glory of his house is increased; For when he dies, he shall carry nothing away; His glory shall not descend after him
Let’s remember what the bible teaches us about the wise man who built his house upon the rock. We must remember material wealth we gain in this life is in vain there is no point as everything man plans and builds and acquires, turns to dust.
Summary Point 4 - Man’s Rejection
This can be the results of rejecting Gods truth through the hardness of his heart and blindness through himself and satan obstructing the truth
2 Corinthians 4:4 - whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them
We must remember that it was man who rejected God and man isn’t innocent where man chose (and still chooses) darkness over God whereby he was punished for an act of disobedience.
Summary Point 5 - Gods lifeline
We are all sinful because of this disobedience and we will all perish. It was Adam who effectively disobeyed and suffered the whole of humanity to die. But God in his infinite grace gave us a lifeline, a lifeline to an eternal life through his son Jesus Christ.