Sermons

Summary: An examination of "the full armor of God" (Ephesians 6) and the way God gives us faith, protects us from evil, and strengthens us to live by faith

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Be Strong in the Lord

Introduction

The television series “Band of Brothers” follows the experiences of a company of paratroopers as they participate in the invasion of Europe. In one scene Lt. Richard Winters is leading his men into the heart of the Battle of the Bulge. Another Lt. is pulling back from the front line, and he gives Winters a dismal report. “Looks like you’re going to be surrounded.” Winters replied briefly and confidently. “We’re paratroopers. We’re supposed to be surrounded.”

So many people today complain about the most minor inconveniences: The traffic is bad. There’s too much homework. My life is boring. I need more money. Yet they have no idea what is really happening around them. The Bible tells us that we are surrounded by a powerful army of spiritual enemies. Our ignorance of this reality plays right into their hands. Like the officer in WWII, God wants us to wake up, pay attention, and be strong in the Lord for this struggle.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians beautifully presents the truth of God’s rescue mission for this messed up world through Jesus. He then explains the new life that believers in Jesus have – a life that is not controlled by lusts, selfishness, and bad choices. But he concludes the letter with an appeal to persevere even against many opposing spiritual enemies.

I. Know Your Enemy

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Here Paul explains the realities of evil in this world. How different this is from popular ideas about evil. There is a comical view of evil – the character who wears a red suit and carries a pitch fork. Then there is the Hollywood view of evil as we see in the Star Wars movies: Darth Veder, Darth Maul, and (for the serious Star Wars fans…) Darth Sidious. You can picture these figures dressed in black with haunting faces and piercing eyes. But is that a realistic picture of evil?

It is not. Evil is more likely to be found in comedians, actors, singers, politicians, or even pastors. St. Paul said, “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11.14). Evil is found wherever we are led away from God.

Paul also speaks about the “schemes of the devil.” The Greek word is “methodia” or the “methods” of the devil. What are these? Probably the most important is that of deception. The word “devil” means “deceiver.” He is so adept at this that he is not at all afraid to use the Bible. In fact that is one of his favorite schemes. In the Garden of Eden he tempted Adam and Eve beginning with God’s word and causing them to doubt it and finally to disobey it. In the wilderness he tried to tempt Jesus by quoting Scripture.


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