Delivered By
C.C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
July 2, 2017
Central Passage
Ephesians 6:10
Attached Document
Open Document
Description

Finally, be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand (Ephesians 6:10-13)

 

This is very appropriate Scripture for Christians celebrating their independence. We tend to forget that the day a person becomes a Christian…he or she goes to war against the forces of evil in the world. Another thing we tend to forget is that no one is drafted into God’s army. Everyone who wears armor supplied by God is a volunteer.

 

So, if you’re a Christian…you don’t have to wait for a political leader to declare war. God has already done that…and you’re immediately called to the frontlines in the battle against the devil’s schemes.

 

And those schemes are not only embedded in the swamp that is Washington, D.C. They exist in every nook and cranny of this world.

 

Scripture tells us we’re to pray for rulers and authorities…but Paul also tells us these are the very people we struggle against…that they’re among the leadership carrying out the devil’s schemes.

 

In these verses of Scripture, the apostle speaks of a spiritual conflict in which you confront a real enemy. Unfortunately, too many Christians don’t see Satan as a real enemy. Too often they perceive him like a UFO…something other people claim to have seen…but which they’re not sure exists.

 

When someone commits a heinous crime…there are always people who want to excuse the perpetrator’s actions on his or her environment…or on some other odious reason? They never attribute the crime to satanic influence or pure evil…and, of course, Satan is pure evil.

 

And where Satan is concerned…there are no degrees of evil. He is the purest form of evil…and Scripture tells us he walks the earth like a roaring lion…seeking someone to devour.

 

When a Christian or a church begins focusing on what Jesus wants them to do…they always come under spiritual attack. Satan has a huge army of demons under his command…and they always attack Christians where they are most vulnerable.

 

But there’s nothing to fear from demons…other than your inability to cope with the satanic temptations they present to you. If you’re truly in the Holy Spirit…they’re like dry grass facing a raging fire. Having said that…it’s important to know that Satan and his minions are expert at infiltrating, invading, and attacking you in your most vulnerable areas. Those attacks always cause a crisis…at home…and in the church.

 

In any conflict, it’s important to know your enemy. Unfortunately, most believers are only vaguely aware of the location, organization and strategic mobilization of the enemy that Paul speaks of in Scripture…yet this enemy is more dangerous than any other you will ever encounter.

 

Satan has inside knowledge of how to operate in our lives. That’s what Paul was talking about when he wrote, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood.” His words infer hand-to-hand conflict…an individual encounter at close quarters.

 

Such a fight in the Roman world was often a fight to the death. At other times the loser had his eyes gouged out as a penalty for losing. So, we’re talking about serious and close personal conflict…and we’re talking about a terrible price for losing.

 

Paul, obviously, wanted to grab our attention with his words…to make us aware of the nearness of the diabolical enemy with whom we fight. He wanted us to understand that ours is not a battle in which we simply hear artillery in the distance. It is, instead, real, difficult real, dangerous and near us. It’s not like being bombed from 30,000 feet.

 

Where do you picture the enemy of your spiritual life? Do you think of the enemy as soaring around in the heavens? Do you think of the enemy as being in some hell-hole of sin at a distant point of the earth? Paul said you had best understand that he is right before you…right in front of your eyes.

 

In military terminology, there are divisions…companies…platoons…and squads of Satan’s minions, lackeys and demons with which you must fight daily. He roams the earth…and our daily battles are with his cohorts…detachments…and contingents that come from hell itself. They may be unseen…but they’re very real.

 

Alexander White, a great preacher from Edinburgh, Scotland, confessed to a long battle with Satan. He said, “If men knew what I was thinking as I walked down the streets of Edinburgh, they would spit in my face.”

 

Can we identify with that? Can we admit how difficult it is to keep our thoughts pure…on things of God…rather than evil? It isn’t easy. It’s why every day we must work toward what Paul speaks of in Philippians 2:5, “…having the mind of Christ.”

 

Some of God’s greatest saints confess that life for them has been hand-to-hand conflict with the ultimate evil…Satan himself.

 

The Romans had schools to train gladiators for hand-to-hand combat with each other. They fought to entertain huge crowds in the coliseum…and their battles were bloody, brutal and to the death.

 

What Paul is speaking about in Ephesians is a similar school to prepare us for hand-to-hand conflict with a mighty spiritual enemy…but there’s nothing entertaining about it. It’s just as brutal. It’s going to rage on until we die. And, we must continually keep in mind that our enemy is supernatural in his personality.

 

Paul wrote, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood.” Why did he state it that way? Well, the rabbis of Paul’s world used the phrase “flesh and blood” to define humankind in our corporal human weakness.

 

So, Paul wanted us to realize that we’re not in a battle with people like ourselves…people who have physical weaknesses as we do. He emphasized that our enemy is much more than a physical presence.

 

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:50, “…flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Neither can corruption inherit incorruption.”

 

So, we keep coming back to “flesh and blood,” and its true meaning in Scripture. Paul stressed that while we are a disintegrating, decomposing and declining people…our enemy is not. Satan has fought God’s people for generations without weakening. The world’s cemeteries, mausoleums and tombs are filled with those he has outlasted.

 

When one generation is gone, our spiritual adversary says, “Bring on another one.” He’s not hampered by corporal weakness.

 

But, this is not just a physical thing. The phrase “flesh and blood” also refers to the intellectual weakness of humankind. I’m sure you recall Jesus saying, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you.”

 

That’s a very important statement. The underlying meaning is that our finite minds lack the wisdom to discern great spiritual truth. We lack experience. We’re amateurs. For proper discernment, we need God’s help. We need the Holy Spirit.

 

Satan, on the other hand, has been in this continuing, raging conflict for centuries…which has kept his mind sharpened for battle. And, he’s done battle not only with the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul, but with great believers of every age.

 

The truth is…he can eat most of us for lunch. He’s well practiced in what he does. He’s done it time and time again. Like an athlete, he’s good at what he does because of repetition. That’s why Paul wrote, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood.”

 

Satan’s hierarchy is organized. In verse 12, we read about different levels and ranks of spiritual opposition to God’s people…the rulers…the authorities…the powers of this dark world.

 

In his Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis referred to the satanic organization as the lower-archy instead of the hierarchy. He was being only half humorous…because in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we’re given a suggestive rather than exhaustive account of the satanic organization. The word that is used for principalities literally means first ones…or princes…those of the highest rank. Powers represents those authorities…or potentates…invested with lesser authority.

 

An interesting concept is suggested by the phrase, “World rulers of darkness.” The word cosmos-crater in the Greek New Testament refers to those who have active dominion over the world as it exists in darkness, ignorance and alienation from God.

 

Most Christians recognize that heaven has a certain organization. In Revelation 4 and 5, we’re given insight into the organization around the throne of God…the living creatures…the 24 presbyters…the myriad of concentric circles of angelic hosts. It’s a fascinating picture.

 

But, Paul tells us hell’s headquarters are also organized. We’re not facing a foe that attacks at random. We’re at war with an entire intransigent bureaucracy of the demonic.

 

Some may say, “You’ve got to be kidding.” Some of you may believe that anyone who believes in an evil personality with his own minions, lackeys and sycophants is akin to a person in a mental institution who says, “I’m Elvis Presley” or “I’m a poached egg.”

 

But, if you believe in biblical Christianity…you must accept the concept that there is a personalized hierarchy of evil at loose in today’s world. It’s not an impersonal force such as gravity or pseudo force. It has behind it a calculating personal dimension. This comes through most conclusively when we come to understand that this world is strategic in its methodology. That’s why Paul spoke of the “wiles” or “schemes” of the “evil one.”

 

In verse 11 he said, “Put on the whole armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

 

Satan is, indeed, strategic in his methodology and organized in his hierarchy. His wiles…or schemes…represent crafty strategies personalized for each of us. The Greek word methodia…which translated schemes…means following something systematically…to learn it…or to pursue it.

 

Our spiritual adversary knows the Achilles heel…the weak point…of each of us. Rest assured, Satan has a strategy for our spiritual defeat that he follows relentlessly.

 

Paul wanted us to know the strategy of our enemy. He wanted us to know that strategy demands a comprehensive defense on the part of each of us. That’s why he said, “Put on the full armor of God so that you may take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

 

The emphasis is on the source of the armor. It must come from God. Physical, mental or volitional resolve on our part won’t get the job done.

 

The armor we wear as Christians must be forged in heaven itself…and it must be comprehensive in its protection.

 

So, what does this enable us to do? Well, Paul didn’t say to “charge hell itself.” No, he said you’ve done something if you can even stand after the battle is over. Having done all that you can…to even stand against the evil one is a victory.

 

Confederate General Stonewall Jackson died of wounds on the battlefield on May 10, 1863. He was against the war, but when he committed to the South he said, “Draw your swords and throw away your scabbards.”

 

That’s what we must do as Christians. General Robert E. Lee said about Jackson, “There he stands…like a stone wall.” And that’s the way that we must stand as Christians…no compromise with the devil…and no surrender to him.

 

There’s a greatness about godly and saintly men and women who…day after day…and decade after decade…simply stand like stone walls against everything that Satan and his minions throw at them.

 

In all the vicissitudes and attacks of life…illness, depression, financial loss, family tragedy and national calamity…they continue to stand firm in the face of the enemy.

 

There is something to be said for putting on the full armor of God…and when day is done and your battle is won…to stand.

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