Lesson 12- Ephesians 5-6.
In Ephesians 5:18 we are told to be filled with the Spirit. Then we see the results of being filled with the spirit in the following verses. We are told as a result we will speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs and have song in our heart. That is JOY- a result of being filled with the Spirit is JOY. Second we see we are filled with THANKSGIVING; and third we see we are filled with a spirit of SUBMISSION.
In the next section, dealing with relationships do not miss the commandment that governs the relationships which is contained in Ephesians 5:21:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
This commandment is the basis for the relationships Paul discusses in the following verses from 5:22 6:9. It is what is often referred to as MUTUAL SUBMISSION.
Mutual submission we are told is out of reverence for Christ, who gave, submitted Himself for us.
Mutual submission is one of the most powerful relationship dynamics. Paul tells how this works- between a husband and wife; between a child and parent and between a master (employer) and slave (employee).
When a husband and wife each put the other first- that is a relationship at its best. And we can apply this same truth to each of these relationships. Imagine an employer who puts the welfare of his/her employees above his/her own welfare. Can you imagine the loyalty of the employees that results from this type of submissive relationship? Or a child who desires to do what is pleasing to their parents and in turn his parents are more than willing to sacrifice to give this child what is best for him. Imagine a government that actually places the good of the people above its own agendas.
In this type of relationship wealth, status, intelligence, power or position are not relevant. This type of mutual submission does away with fear and replaces it with trust.
But here is the most amazing truth about mutual submission. We were created by a God who before He created us, created the plan of salvation. A plan that called for Him to submit Himself to us and for us. God put me and you ahead of Himself, because He wanted the best for me and you. What an amazing God, a King who died for His servants.
For you see, Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. We love Him, because He first loved us. God Himself, took the first step in submission and God because He loved the world gave us His Only Begotten Son. Amazing Grace- Amazing Love!
I like what Dr. Lawless said last Sunday, he said a Christian who is in the right relationship with God can: Live in Joy and Die in Peace. Isnt that comforting? Remember what the acronym J.O.Y stands for: Jesus first, Others Second, Yourself Third. We can live in joy when we understand the truth of mutual submission and we can die in peace for we have the assurance of the very words of Jesus that he told Martha in John 11: He who believes in me will live even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Now having shown us the resources that are ours that come from our position of being SEATED WITH HIM IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS IN CHRIST JESUS; Paul tells us how we ought to live or WALK and finally Paul tells us how we are to STAND against the devils schemes.
Know this for sure- if we walk the walk- the Lord will bless us. And whom the Lord blesses- the enemy attacks ( Think- Job) . That leads us to the last part of the letter to the Ephesians and to us believers in the 21st century- to get ready for opposition, adversity and conflict.
As we grow as Christians, as we gain knowledge and understanding through the study and obedience to His Word, we will find the ability to resist certain temptations easier as we walk in the Spirit. However, the enemy will find other ways to attack us. That is why we are told to be sober and vigilant for the enemy goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
Preparation is critical. To be unprepared is to invite failure. Failure to plan is a plan for failure, as the saying goes. It is certainly true here. We will read there are pieces of armor to put on and the inference is they are not to be taken off, no more than a soldier on the battlefield would take off these pieces. We will also read there are pieces of the armor the believer must take up or take.
Verse 10 begins the section with the most important instructions: Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Remember these basic facts: Satan hates you. Satan is out to get God, to make Him look bad .Satan attacks God through us. But as Paul learned, the source of our strength and power is in Him, the Lord. Jesus said, my power is made perfect in weakness.
The victory over the devil has been won. It was won at Calvary. However, just as Germany was defeated on D-Day, there continued to be skirmishes, we face the same. Know this: no battle we ever fight against the enemy can be lost if we are strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Whereas we are no match for the enemy in our own strength, but thanks be to God, greater is He who is in us that he who is in the world. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Always remember- the battle is the Lords. We are like the sentry who stands guard, when we see the enemy advancing we report to our commander who then directs the action.
How do we appropriate this strength? We are told in Colossians 2: so then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him. How did we receive Him? Ephesians 2 tells us by grace through faith. This then is how we are to appropriate His strength and the power of His might. His grace is always sufficient. Grace is the enabling power of God. Faith is in Him and Him alone. Human power is woefully insufficient and lacking. Recognizing our weakness is the environment in which His power is perfected. (2 Cor. 12) We also appropriate His strength through prayer, knowledge and obedience. So in summary, we appropriate this strength by : grace through faith, prayer, knowledge and obedience.
So here in the last part of the letter- Paul instructs us how we are take our stand against the enemy. Put on the full armor of God. Be prepared. Be on guard. Understand what the enemys strategy or scheme is.
The schemes of the devil are based on deception, stealth, and cunning which is why Peter compares him to a lion. Regarding deception, he can appear as an angel of light. In his stealth, he is like the lioness seeking out the weak and vulnerable to leap upon. His names describe his very being: an adversary, a liar, a murderer, a thief, a deceiver, and a slanderer. This is your enemy- cunning, intelligent, powerful and filled with hatred. His weapons are disappointment which leads to discouragement which causes us to doubt. He gets a believer to question Gods word in three areas: authority, accuracy and acceptability. This was his strategy from the garden of Eden until today. He will come at us through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and pride of life. His allies are a world system or society that he controls and uses to conform thinking and the flesh, our old sinful nature. Mans greatest strength is to trust God; therefore, the devil s goal and objective is to make us distrust God, to make God appear to us as not being trustworthy.
But the next truth shows how deceptive he is and how effective his strategies are: our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms. ( Ephesians 6:12) Our greatest enemy is not the world we see, it is the unseen world.You might be thinking as I am- you sure could have fooled me that these people are not my problem. In the world we face bosses who sometimes make our lives miserable; people, sometimes family members who get under our skin, like a thorn; as well as a world filled with godless people who promote sin of every type. In fact it seems the world in general rejects God and His word and we find it is difficult for us not to feel resentment toward flesh and blood. This scripture also reveals that our enemy is highly organized.
In addition to these facts we encounter what appears to be seemingly meaningless tragedies- the sudden death of a loved one, health problems, the death of a young person or child that disappoint us. Remember disappointments are one of the enemys weapons that lead to discouragement and doubt. One will never figure out life without seeing it from a Scriptural point of view. We are living in a physical, visible world where an invisible, spiritual battle is taking place in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
If we try to fight this battle in our own strength- we will lose, we will be disappointed, discouraged and doubt will replace our faith. So let us look at the provisions God has provided for we are given weapons that are not carnal, but mighty with divine power to demolish strongholds.
Paul has the perfect illustration standing nearby as he writes this letter, a Roman soldier in his uniform. As he looks at how this soldier is prepared for battle, the Holy Spirit gives him the perfect illustration.
First he starts with the belt buckled around the soldiers waist. ( Girded about his loins, KJV). The soldier wore a simple short robe or tunic as his outer garment. In battle or when he needed to move quickly, he would tuck his robe into his belt so that he would not be tripped up or hindered in his movements. Securing his tunic with his belt was probably his first act of preparation for battle.
In the same way, we must first prepare for battle by girding our loins with the belt of truth of Gods word. How else can we recognize the schemes and lies of the deceiver if we have not prepared with the truth. We are told to study the word, to continue in the word if we are His disciples and we shall know the truth and the truth will set us free to battle against the wiles and schemes of the deceiver. Our Lord Jesus faced temptation in the wilderness after His baptism ( Matthew 4).The weapon He used as a man against the wiles of the devil was the Word of God, the Truth.
But here is the key to understanding all parts of this armor- the Lord Jesus Christ is our armor; He is our defense. Romans 13:14 tells us : Rather clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ , and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature And remember the Lord told us- I am in you, and you in me. We must learn how to lay hold of the armor and to take it up. This armor is specifically designed as a specific defense against the various types of attacks from the enemy.
There are two division of this armor.
*The first three pieces of armor are spoken of in past tense having already been provided@ salvation.
1. Having girded your loins with truth ( KJV)
2. Having on the breastplate of righteousness ( KJV)
3. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace ( KJV)
These three pieces are mentioned in order of preparation and notice they are referred to as having already been provided. WE NEVER TAKE THESE PIECES OF ARMOR OFF. Here is a suggestion: begin every day with Bible study and prayer and pray for a conscious awareness of God at all times.
- The second division includes armor which are to be put on ( taken up) when under attack- these include : the shield of faith; the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.
As Christians we know life is a struggle and that we struggle not against flesh and blood. In fact we are engaged in a spiritual battle between God and the devil. The world does not know this truth because the whole world is under the control of the evil one. (I John 5:19)
The first piece of armor is the belt of truth. When we came to the Lord Jesus, the Son of God as our Savior, we came to the One who is the way, the TRUTH, and the life. (John 14) We need to remind ourselves of this truth when conflict arises, when worry, anxiety and fear are attacking you. Picture that Roman soldier about to engage the enemy in battle, his first action of preparation is to tuck his robe into his belt, so that he will not become entangled in it. He sets is aside.( Hebrews 12) These truths contained in the Word of God and this One who is Truth and cannot be separated. His Word will prepare us and defend us in the time of attack. We dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. The Word of God is Truth. His resurrection proves Him to be who he said he was. Do you know how you also recognize truth? TRUTH DOES NOT NEED TO BE UPDATED. It is the same today as it was yesterday, as it will be tomorrow. (1+1 =2.) The Bible is truth- nothing has ever been discovered in all these centuries that made any of it obsolete.
So first things first- loins girded about with belt of truth.
Next attached to the belt of truth, anchored to the belt of truth is the breast plate of His Righteousness. This gives us our right standing with God and protects our heart where our emotions lie. The enemy loves to attack us in our area of emotions. If he can get to your heart, your emotions, he can make us act upon our feelings. Emotions can cloud our judgment, our thinking and thus our behavior. So we guard our heart with all diligence for out of it comes the issues of life.
Now follow Pauls illustration as he shows how first we put on the belt of truth, never to take it off. For we are clothed in Christ. Next we put on the breast plate of His Righteousness- this will never be taken off either. For nothing can ever separate me from His love. Who can even accuse us? ( Romans 8) This gives us our right standing with Holy God and allows us to be adopted as His Children with full rights. Having our loins girded with the Truth and His breast plate of righteousness gives us our secure standing with God. This is represented by having our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Having our feet shod properly allows us the traction we need to stand against the enemy. Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. ( Romans 5:1)
The enemy will in different ways always attack us on our position in Christ as our Truth, Righteousness and Peace. We believe these truths and now by faith we take up these last three pieces of armor. Faith is always seen in action. In Hebrews 11 we see the actions taken based on faith as we read: by faith Abraham , by faith Abel , by faith Noah so goes the story of faith all through the Bible. We believe these truths and by faith we put these beliefs into action.
Now these first three pieces of armor are in place, never to be taken off. But when the attack comes, when the battle begins we must take up three critical pieces of armor.
- The shield of faith.
- The helmet of salvation.
- The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
The shield of faith is used to quench the fiery darts the enemy fires at us. This defensive shield of the Roman solider was a large as a door made of leather and wood with the leather soaked in water prior to battle. The shield of faith keeps the fiery darts of doubt and confusion from reaching their target. It is part of the believers mighty weapons that take captive those thoughts and temptations that exalt itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. ( 2Cor. 10)
Whenever we feel doubt, confusion or fear arising in our minds- take up the shield of faith which is resisting the devil. The scripture in James tells us when we resist the devil, he will flee.
The helmet of salvation. Our first thought is once saved, always saved so why would this helmet have to put back on? Of course once saved always saved, but to understand this instruction we need to refer to I Thess 5:8, where Paul writes: putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. The hope of salvation as a helmet refers to ( I believe) the threefold work of salvation. We have been saved (past tense), that is justification. We are being saved ( present tense), which is sanctification. And we shall be saved ( future tense) which is glorification. When satan attacks our position of salvation- we know our hope is in Him and His word, His promises. We have been justified our sins are forgiven at the moment we place our faith in Christ at salvation. Nothing can separate us from His love nor can anyone or anything snatch us from His hands. We are being saved, sanctified and this involves our life on earth in the here and now. The scripture tells us we can be confident that He who has begun a good work will complete it. ( Phil 1) And lastly,we are told the Lord Jesus is coming again- He said he was. We are told when He appears we shall be like Him and that is glorification. ( I John 3) In the meanwhile I am confident He can work all things together for good to those who love the Lord and were called according to His purpose. ( Romans 8) So when I put on my helmet of salvation it is protecting my mind from any thinking that would cause doubt about my salvation- past, present or future.
Our next piece of armor we take up is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. There are two words used to described the word of God. Logos which includes the entire Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us all scripture(logos) is God-breathed. It is inspired, it is infallible, and inerrant. It is also alive and powerful. Sharper than a two edged sword. It brings new life as we are born not of corruptible, but incorruptible word of God. It is life giving, life changing and life sustaining- man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes forth from Gods mouth. The other word is rhema- a specific word or promise from Gods word that the Holy Spirit brings to mind to defend or attack- to parry the deadly thrusts of the enemy. When we take up the shield of faith to protect ourselves, the word rhema is instrumental in this action. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word(rhema) of God. A specific word from God for a specific temptation or situation. Look at Jesus encounter with the devil in Matthew 4 and see how our Lord used the word(rhema) to resist the devil and cause him to flee. In my own life- a verse of scripture ( I Cor. 10:13) enabled me to resist the devils temptation and cause him to flee. I must warn you- he always returns. We will discuss prayer in our next lesson- but in the meanwhile- BE PREPARED.