Summary: The mighty power of God at work in and through us empowers us against evil.
Title: Armed to the Hilt with Christian Virtues (The Whole Armor of God)
Text: Ephesians 6:10-18
Thesis: The mighty power of God at work in us and through us empowers us against evil.
In July I traveled to Winterset, Iowa to attend the annual Newton Family Reunion. As I traveled east on Interstate 80 I began to notice military convoys traveling west. I had a little flash-back to my childhood days when every summer we would see military convoys traveling north to Camp Ripley in Minnesota or south to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri for summer training exercises.
It occurred to me that perhaps I should stop and call the Counter Jade Helm Conspiracy Theorists in Texas and warn them that the feds were about to impose martial law, confiscate everyone’s guns and that mysteriously unoccupied Walmart stores would be used for concentration camps and that the Blue Bell Ice Cream refrigerated trucks traveling in the area would be used as mobile morgues.
Things like that always remind me of Walt Kelly’s comic strip, Pogo. Pogo was set in the Okefenoke Swamp which straddles the Florida/Georgia border. The cast in the comic strip is made up of anthropomorphic animals who act like human beings. There is Albert the Alligator and Howland the Owl and Porky Pine and Remus the Mush Rat as well as many others. The main character of the comic strip is Pogo the Possum. Pogo deals with all the drama of swamp life which is a parody of how humans live and relate. Pogo is amiable and reasonable. He is patient and thoughtful… and Pogo is credited with the famous line, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
There is a new grassroots movement called the Coffee Party whose goal is to restore public and representative democracy, civility and economic security. Their call to arms is: Incite Civility and Reason! Their website recently posted a John Steinbeck quote, “All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”
As if there is not sufficient conflict in the world our text today speaks to how we, as Christians, may identify the real enemy in the world and how to live out our faith in the context of spiritual warfare.
Our text begins with a final word… the Apostle Paul wanted to leave to the church of Jesus Christ on how to live in a hostile world.
I. Be strong, 6:10-12
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Ephesians 6:l10-12
We need to be strong because life is a spiritual battle… Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “You know the Caledonian Railway Station in Edinburgh? One cold, east windy morning, I met Satan there.” (Wm. Barclay, Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, P. 216) Perhaps you can relate.
That is why we are told to be strong in God’s mighty power.
A. God’s mighty power, 6:10
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power… Ephesians 6:10
The intent of this word is to be strengthened or to have added strength. It means “wax-strong.” To wax-strong is to defeat decisively as in an athletic contest. It means we are to enter the arena of life fully prepared to deal with whatever comes our way.
And here is why we need to be waxing strong-strong…. We live in a world of evil powers.
B. Evil powers, 6:12
Put on the whole armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty power in the dark world, and against spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:11-12
This is not the first time Paul spoke of the mighty powers of this dark world and evil spirits in heavenly places. At the conclusion of Romans 8 he wrote:
“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow, not even the powers of hell can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:38-39
The people to whom Paul wrote were living in times that were terrifying to them. The lived in a world where the air was filled with demons and devils and evil spirits. We may or may not see the world as they saw it but there is no doubt that there is an active power of evil at work in the world today.
There are spiritual forces at work in the world that are not working for the good of mankind… for peace and harmony. There are forces at work in our country fueling the fires of bigotry and hatred. There are forces at work in our country that are loving the widening gap between the rich and the poor. There are forces at work that are tearing our country apart politically. There are spiritual forces at work in the world that do not want you to live a Christ-like life. There are forces in the world that do not want you to reflect God’s love for others… that want you to think anything and everything other than understanding, compassion, mercy and grace. There are forces at work that want you to be hateful. There are forces at work that do not want our church to be a place where people an belong to a loving faith community or come to believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and most certainly do not want this to be a church where everyone is becoming more and more like Jesus.