Summary: Spiritual warfare for today.
Ephesians 6:10-18 Immortal Combat
Most popular video games in recent years have been violent hand-to-hand combat games. Mortal Kombat, the most popular, pits a single warrior against an increasingly hostile force of talented and often magical attackers. The challenge is to defeat and often kill the opponent. At least one of the more advanced battles in Mortal Kombat ends when either the player or the computer pulls his opponent’s heart out his chest and holds it up to celebrate his victory.
This is extreme in the most gentle sense. But there is indeed a war of sorts going on today. We may not see the hand-to-hand side of it, but the reality of its existence is not diminished. Paul says in today’s passage, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.” We Christians are engaged in combat of another kind. I call our battle, Immortal Combat.
There are four imperative commands for the one who would engage in Immortal Combat. Each is stated plainly in the Scripture, and each carries with it specific requirements for our lives as Christians.
1. Be strong.
This comes from the same word in Greek we translate as dynamic. It is also the same word we use to derive the word dynamite. When Paul says “be strong,” he implies a sense of power which is potentially devastating to the enemy. We must be strong, but notice also the how of our strength: “in the Lord and in the power of His might.”
How can we be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might? If we are to build our physical muscles, we do it through diet and exercise. I believe that our spiritual muscles in the same way. Listen to what Jesus said:
“My meat is to do the will of Him that sent
me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34)
“I am the bread of life.” (John 6:48)
“If any man thirst, let him come to me and
Paul captured the type of spiritual exercise necessary to building stamina for the fight in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27. (READ) In Philippians 3:12-14, he pictured the Christian as a runner in a race, pressing on toward the mark.
We just got a new computer this past week, for which I am very grateful. It is a powerful tool and very useful to me as I work on sermons and serving the church effectively. But as great as it is, unless I learn how to exercise its full potential and develop my skills in using it, it is nothing more than another electronic gadget good for playing Solitaire and listening to music.
Our Christian lives are much the same. We must train our skills and develop our strength and perseverance in order to be effective against the onslaught of the devil.
2. Put on the whole armor of God.
There are six pieces of armor mentioned in this passage:
1- The Belt of Truth When Paul told his reader to gird up his loins with truth, he literally
said, “Shore up everything in truth.” Not unlike the words of 1 John which advise us to test the spirits and see if they are true, or the earlier words of Ephesians encouraging us not to be blown about by every wind of doctrine. The Bible says that Satan is the Prince of Lies and an Angel of Light who deceives many. We must know the truth in order to defend against his attack.
2- The Breastplate of Righteousness Beneath the breastplate of an ancient soldier’s armor lay the heart and vital organs. The breastplate had to be strong and durable to prevent injury. The only righteousness suitable to prevent injury to us is the righteousness we receive through Jesus Christ. Isaiah said our righteousness was as filthy rags. Jesus was and is and ever shall be the perfect, sinless Son of
God. God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us. That is the perfect standard for our breastplate.
3 - The Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel
This piece of equipment is for all, especially those who need motivation to witness about Jesus. We need to be ever ready to take the message of Christ to the
world. Don’t be misled: the world is waiting to hear about Jesus. Our motivation to tell them is not worked up or fired up. Our motivation to tell them is the direct result of the work of God in our lives.
4 - The Shield of Faith There is an old hymn in our hymnal entitled, “Faith Is the Victory” which points to the necessity of faith in waging war. We see in Hebrews 11 the great hall of fame of faith. The first line of defense in our battle is our faith.