Summary: Being prepared for our battle against Satan.
BACKGROUND: The book of Ephesians was written by the Apostle Paul sometime around A.D. 63 while Paul was a prisoner in Rome. The letters of Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon were also penned by Paul during this period.
The theme of Ephesians is “the glorious church” and its purpose is to describe the redemptive grace of God toward his church.
The theme of chapter 6 is the “Full armor of God.”
BIBLICAL PROBLEM: Satan was fighting the Ephesians with various tactics and deceptions.
BIBLICAL SOLUTION: In order to defeat Satan they needed to “put on the full armor of God.”
CONTEMPORARY PROBLEM: Satan fights us using various tactics and deceptions.
The Greek word that Paul uses in verse 11 that is translated as “schemes” in the New International Version comes from two Greek words which mean “after” (meta) and “to journey” (hodeuo). This compound word describes how we achieve something-- we journey after it.
This shows us that Satan journeys after our weaknesses -- he investigates and goes after our vulnerabilities. He shrewdly seeks out the points in our lives that are susceptible and open to attack, and then he launches his fierce assault.
And we are up against a formidable enemy. Whatever name he goes by: Satan, the devil, Lucifer, Beelzebub; the Bible says that he is:
1. a murderer (John 8:44)
2. a liar (John 8:44)
3. a thief (John 10:10)
4. a destroyer (John 14:30)
5. an accuser (Revelation 12:9-10)
6. a devourer (1 Peter 5:8)
7. a deceiver (2 Corinthians 11:13-14)
8. a masquerader of goodness (2 Corinthians 11:13-14)
I want to ask you one question: Are you prepared to wage war against Satan?
(Sermonspice.com video: “The Unseen World”)
“In our age, evil spirits, witches and demons have come to be celebrated. Many have come to regard the evil world as mere myth or superstition. But the truth is, Satan and his power are very real...but so is the Lord... and victory is in Christ Jesus”(sermonspice.com).
Thesis: In order to stand up against and defeat Satan we need to “put on the full armor of God.”
In verses 14 and 15 the first three pieces are presented:
1. First: The belt of truth-- Letting Jesus firmly embrace us enabling us to be ready for battle.
2. Second: The breastplate of righteousness-- Living a life that enables us to have a clear and good conscience before God.
3. Third: The shoes of peace-- Standing firm against Satan with hope and trust in God.
TRANSITIONAL STATEMENT: In verses 16 and 17 we find the fourth, fifth, and sixth pieces of God’s armor with which we need to be equipped in order to defeat the enemy.
I. THE FOURTH PIECE OF GOD’S ARMOR WITH WHICH WE NEED TO BE EQUIPPED IS: THE SHIELD OF FAITH.
The shield in ancient Roman armor was a defensive weapon.The word Paul uses in verse 16 that is translated as shield is thureos. It derives from the Greek word thura, which means “door.” That’s because the primary shield of the Roman soldier was not the little tiny circular shield we so often think of. Rather, the Roman soldier’s shield of this period was a large, rectangular weapon of defense. It was much like carrying a small door. The shield was 4 to 5 feet high and 2 ½ to 3 feet wide. Since the average Roman soldier stood at about 5’5” this large shield protected a considerable portion of his body.
Also, while in combat the soldiers could stand side by side, and holding up their shields they would be protected by a giant portable wall. It was by joining together that the soldiers could powerfully advance against the enemy. Bible commentator Markus Barth points out that although the shield was a defensive weapon, “men advancing behind their huge shields…were as threatening in the ancient world as soldiers riding in an armored car are today; and closely formed units, advancing shield by shield and with a compact cover of shields above their heads, were as much instruments of attack as modern tanks” (Markus Barth, Ephesians, The Anchor Bible, Volume 34A [Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974], 772).
These shields were “made of two pieces of wood laminated together with leather on the front” (E. E. Elliott, A Study of the New Testament, Volume 2 [Newburgh, IN: Trinity Press, 1996], 176). There were as many as seven layers of leather. There is an ancient document (Thucydides 2.75.5) which tells us that just before battle the shields were soaked in water so that the leather layers were saturated. The reason this was done was because enemies of the Roman Empire would take arrows and dip them in distilled tar. They would then set the arrows ablaze and fire them at the Roman soldiers. Usually the very nature of the thick leather layers would deflect the arrows completely. But even if an arrow stuck, it would burn itself out in the wet leather without causing any harm.