Summary: This sermon uses several sections of Ephesians to describe why we need to take our Spiritual warfare seriously.
OPEN: (We opened with the promo for the new movie "Get Smart" starring Steve Carell. It starts with the phrase:
"There has always been a delicate balance between Kaos and Control. Now, with that balance threatened, it’s time to turn to one man...")
He was known as the Butcher.
A follower of Stalin, this man was sent to the Ukraine shortly after WWII to put down a rebellion by Ukrainian nationalists. He was so efficient at what he did that he earned the name “The Butcher of the Ukraine.
When Stalin died, there was a short power struggle. But eventually, the “Butcher” became the leader of the Communist Soviet Union from 1958 thru 1964.
Does anybody know what his name was? (Nikita Khrushchev)
He was a bully.
A brute intent on cowing the world into submission.
At one point, he sat at the United Nations, took off his shoe and pounded it on the table in attempt to intimidate the representatives of the other countries who were present.
He even brought the US to the very edge of nuclear holocaust when his actions created the Cuban Missile Crisis.
And he once declared to the Free world:
“Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you.”
To many Americans, Khrushchev was a very scary man.
He represented the worst of our enemies.
He stood for the struggle between communism and democracy - between totalitarianism and freedom.
This was an age of fear and great concern for many Americans.
It was one of the worst parts of an age that was called the “Cold War”.
In the midst of this uncertain age, this Cold War, there were a number of movies and TV shows that dealt with spies and espionage.
There was 007,
The Man from UNCLE,
Mission Impossible and others.
And they all dealt with the conflict between the forces of the “Free World” and organizations intent on destroying that freedom.
Among those shows was a hit TV sitcom called “Get Smart”.
And in that comedy, the writers gave names to their two opposing spy networks:
Control – the good guys, upholding the cause of Freedom.
And Kaos – an evil organization committed to world domination.
Now, "Get Smart" poked fun at the spy shows of its day.
BUT in naming the those two organizations Control and Kaos, the show’s writers summed up the very conflict of the day… as well as the more fundamental conflict of mankind down thru the ages.
You see, the Bible tells us that there are 2 forces at war in this world.
There are the forces of darkness and evil - forces bent upon robbing us of our freedom and creating chaos in our lives. They are forces that Ephesians 6:12 calls “… the rulers, … the authorities, … the powers of this dark world and… the spiritual forces of evil...”
And then (by contrast) , there’s the forces of light and freedom - forces controlled by the power and love of God.
THAT’S US. We’re the good guys.
“…put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes (and it will come), you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
Now, there is a stark contrast between the world darkness’ and chaos - and the world of God’s Control.
Khrushchev understood that contrast. He once said:
“The difference between Christianity and Communism is great.
When someone strikes you on the face, you turn the other cheek.
If you strike me on the face, I’ll hit you so hard your head will fall off.”
Paul describes this contrast in Ephesians 4:17-20
“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.”
What Paul is saying is this:
The world of chaos is filled with darkness and selfishness.
These are a people who controlled only by their own sense of morality.
But you’re a Christian and you’re called to live differently than that.
But we weren’t always in the realm of God’s Kingdom.
A couple of chapters earlier, Paul told Ephesians – you used to live like that.
“…you used to… (follow) the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” Ephesians 2:2-3