Text: Ephesians 6:10-11, Title: Conspiracy Theory, Date/Place: NRBC, 1.27.13, AM
A. Opening illustration: Talk about the roller coaster of Les Cox’s spiritual life over the past 14 years, but the
relative stability over the past 2 years because of his recommitment to Christ. Now he is at Southwestern
College working on his degree and areas of his spiritual life that have plagued him for years. He made the
statement last night that during a recent fast (his first one ever) God revealed to him something. He spoke
about how a particular temptation was a way that Satan used to get him off track that he hadn’t recognized
before. I realized that much of his spiritual victory was due to his ability to recognize satanic schemes.
B. Background to passage: The Ephesian letter was probably intended to be circular, and so didn’t deal with
a whole lot of specific situations for individual churches. It covered proper theology of salvation and the
church, then transitioned into the behavior of born again, spirit-filled believers. One of the culminating
pieces at the end of this letter is Paul’s instruction on spiritual warfare in Eph 6 (just by the way, the best
book I have ever read on this topic is derived from a study of this passage; it’s called The Invisible War, by
Chip Ingram). I just want to focus on a very small part of the instruction, not so much on the pieces of armor,
but of the purpose of this instruction: beware!
C. Main thought: Satan uses deceptive and devious schemes to stifle God’s work in His church if we let him.
Purpose (v. 11)
1. This warning is a culmination and direct command to avoid the pitfalls of false theology and sinful
practice previously mentioned in the book. Why? Because Satan is like a roaring lion seeking people
to devour. Paul knows, and reminds them that they are a target, and Satan will come to get them. The
flaming darts will come and the deceptive strategies (the real meaning of the word “wiles” or “schemes”)
will be launched. Jesus tells us that it is Satan that comes and steals the word from the hearts of those who
hear the word, but don’t understand their need. But with believers, this is not possible. Affirm eternal
2. 1 Peter 5:8, Matt 13:19, 2 Cor 4:4,
3. Illustration: “Sharks are coming to get me!!!”
4. Let me give you at least four of the main purposes that deceptive schemes are launched. 1) To hinder
the gospel—2 Cor 4:4. Satan wants to stifle the advance of the gospel, especially into places that only
get glimpses. You will note that the most opposition we experience in when serving to advance the
gospel. This is also the case when the church is growing and advancing. Therefore when little advance is
happening, smoother seas will prevail. 2) To derail your walk with God. We will talk tactics in a minute,
but know that if Satan cannot get you lost, he can sure make you distance and ineffective as a believer. He
wants to get you to withdraw from Him, from church, from ministry for whatever reason. Hurt feelings,
church splits, and even moves can be used to get us away from the body. He wants you useless to the
kingdom. Know that when you withdraw, you are helping him achieve his purpose. 3) To incapacitate
and distract the kingdom work of the body. Satan wants the church to be ineffective, self-focused, and
powerless. He wants us to be a social organization, a country club, a wall flower, an isolated, inwardly
focused, navel-gazing group of people. This is why our situation is so critical now—great facilities,
great people, time of refreshment, great potential, fresh vision, new year—attacks will come. And to fall
to them destroys kingdom advance through us. And the way that Satan gets the church is through you
and me. 4) To defame Christ and His church. Satan wants to run the reputation of Jesus and New River
Baptist Church through the mud. He wants the whole community and world to think bad of our Savior,
because they think bad of us. And this also is the antithesis of the reason that we exist! But if he can
get people in the community talking about “the church that constantly runs preachers off” or that “hates
homosexuals” or that harbors them, if they know the church as one who is always fighting or always
begging, he is accomplishing his work. We must be on guard at how we are perceived, because perception
is often reality in the minds of people, regardless of its validity.
B. Tactics (v. 11)
1. The language
used in this text indicates that the schemes are repeated and great in variety. The word
means deceptive strategy, or cunningly devised trickery. It is where we get our word “method.” It was
used in the context of a predatory animal stalking its prey.
4. I want to give you about a few common strategies that Satan uses to accomplish his purposes to serve as
a reminder that they ARE satanic attacks. Can’t go into many of these with any depth, but it is wise and
good to be reminded, because we should be wary of what he does to cause us to stumble.
i. According to Eph 4:14, the “slanderer” uses strained human relationships as a strategy. He
tempts us to believe that resentment and anger are things that we can harbor without spiritual
consequences, and that they are things that we cannot control. But the gospel is a destroyer to
all sin (more on that in a minute). He also uses them to destroy churches from the inside out.
Over-sensitivity and bitterness also fall into this group. Sit down beside someone…
ii. Another strategy that Satan employs is to undermine truth by mixing it with error. Most
cults are started this way. Also distracting doctrines and practices within churches are often
founded on faulty interpretations of scripture. If he can get us to believe a partial truth, it can
undermine our foundation. Example: natural selection/survival of the fittest.
Satan also uses fear and doubt to immobilize you. If you can be tricked into
doubting your salvation, God’s sovereignty, His love and compassion for you, he has
paralyzed you. If he can help cause depression, worry, discouragement, loneliness, he has
derailed you in your walk with Christ and your ministry effectiveness. It’s actually what you
do with these things that hurts or helps your walk with Christ. Spurgeon’s wife and deacons
dealing with him.
iv. Ephesians 4:25-32 covers a whole host of deceptive schemes used by our adversary to “get
a foothold” or “place” in our lives. Know that lying is simply Satan tempting you to feel
the necessity to save face or your own skin and disregard truth. Destroys relationships and
trust. Anger is another thing previously mentioned that is very destructive to individuals and
the kingdom. TV show the other night where character explained that when she gets angry,
she hits people she loves, and her friend understood that. Stealing says that you believe God
has not provided enough for you, and you are entitled to take something that is not yours.
Laziness says that you are not willing to fulfill your responsibilities to family, community,
church or job. Piercing words or vulgarity also creates wounds that are very deep. How
quickly does is happen to say things you can’t take back, or send an email that shouldn’t be
sent Satan wants you to hurt or anger people with your behavior and speech. All these are
tactics of the devil. When you comply with them, you are simply fulfilling the desire of our
v. Immorality and worldliness is rampant in our society, and is used greatly to destroy the
lost and saved alike. Unfortunately much of it begins as small breaches of moral or ethical
behavior, that seemingly causes little impact. But soon the fires of flirting turn to adultery,
the fires of lust turn to pornography, the fires of the need to relax turn to alcoholism, the fires
of desire for things burns into materialism. Long term damage can follow you, crippling your
testimony for years to come even though forgiveness may come.
vi. Worldly philosophies like popular psychology, evolution, secular humanism, and many
other liberal agendas corrupt our thinking, and cause us to stumble and not adorn the gospel of
our Lord and Savior. Could go on, but let’s move on…
C. Stance (v. 11)
1. Paul tells the
churches of that day to “stand” four times in as many verses in this text. So I want to take a
few minutes and give some thoughts on our stance. If we want to stand, how do we do it?
3. Illustration: “put on the gospel armor”
4. Just a couple of quick thoughts:
i. Over and over by several authors in the NT, including Jesus himself, we are told to be
watchful. We are told to be aware that there is a spiritual battle around, and you are in it, like
it or not. In battle you must be wary and keep your eyes open, or you die. So constantly be on
the lookout for schemes and deceptions in your path; and call them out! Every turkey of past
springs should have looked for the deception a little harder.
ii. James 4:7-10 gives five instructions about avoiding Satan’s scams. First, he tells us to be
submissive to God’s authority and instruction. Known areas of disobedience, deal with them.
Then he says resist the devil. We you know you are under attack, make it known that you will
refuse and you will follow Jesus. Asking for prayer, speaking it out loud in the moment can be
helpful. Next he says to stay close to Jesus. Tell about the advice that Everett gave to me on
Tues morning. Staying in the Word and praying in the Spirit are the two best weapons in the
battle. This is part of putting on the gospel armor that Paul describes. Do everything in your
power from a proactive standpoint in your life to prepare your heart for attack. Next he says to
purify your hearts with repentance and weeping and mourning. Lastly, he says to stay humble.
Pride goes before destruction, so avoid thinking highly of yourself.
Don’t love this world. 1 John 2:15-16 tells us “Do not love the world or the things
in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in
the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father
but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the
will of God abides forever” To have or foster excessive affections for things of this world
(this doesn’t only mean immoral or unethical things, just earthly or temporary) will cause you
to succumb to deceptions. Try a fast from worldly things. Check your attachment to things
of earth. Have someone who has the permission and ability to speak words of admonition into
your life; and give them regular opportunity. Meetings with pastors and disciples.
iv. In 1 Peter 5:8-9 we are told some of these things, but one notable addition is that we
are called upon to remember our brethren in the world who are suffering great pain and
persecution by Satan. Peter doesn’t explain himself, but we all know that we are thankful
for the ease of life that we have here, and unfortunately that ease can lead to a certain
vulnerability. He probably also wants us to know that our struggles and stumbles are common
to all believers (that doesn’t make them OK), but encouraging that we are in this thing
together. So read the stories of saints of bygone days, and those currently suffering. Recent
story of pastor from Boise who is suffering in Iran. Remind yourself that you are not alone,
and your life is extremely important to the church and to the kingdom. But finally…
Closing illustration: THRIVE work and upcoming presentation. Lots of work. Lots of potential. Lots
of vulnerability for scheming. But we have got to come together to make this vision great, make it work,
and fend off the torpedoes of Satan that seek to sink the ship as she heads out for another voyage.
B. 1 John 4:4 says, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” We are linked to victory. You
can overcome in Christ. Jim Duggan tweeted this week: "A man with God is always in the majority." --
C. Invitation to commitment
Is Christ Exalted, Magnified, Honored, and Glorified?