Summary: Ephesians 6:10-12 teaches us that every Christian is engaged in a great spiritual battle.
Today we begin a new sermon series in Ephesians 6:10-24 that I am calling, “The Whole Armor of God.”
Commentators note that Paul’s letter to the Ephesians may be divided into two major divisions: Ephesians 1-3 are doctrinal and Ephesians 4-6 describe our duty. However, some commentators suggest, not without merit, I would say, that there is a final division which may be regarded as a separate section. Ephesians 6:10-24 describes our spiritual warfare.
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. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:10-12)
If you have watched movies that involve battle scenes, you sometimes see the leader addressing his troops before going into battle. He gives a rousing speech designed to bolster his troops as they are about to engage in battle.
This, it seems to me, is what the Apostle Paul is doing in the final section of his letter to the Ephesians. He wants the believers in Ephesus—and, indeed, all believers everywhere—to understand that they are engaged in spiritual warfare. He wants believers to understand what is involved in the battle in which they are engaged. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that our text is “a stirring call to battle….Do you not hear the bugle, and the trumpet?…We are being roused, we are being stimulated, we are being set upon our feet; we are told to be men. The whole tone is martial, it is manly, it is strong.”
I have in my library a book by the Puritan minister William Gurnall that runs to nearly 1,200 pages of double-columned print that is an exposition of just these eleven verses in Ephesians 6:10-20. The title of Gurnall’s 1665 book is The Christian in Complete Armour. Its sub-title, however, is typical of Puritan sub-titles and describes very well the author’s intent: The saints’ war against the Devil, wherein a discovery is made of that grand enemy of God and his people, in his policies, power, seat of his empire, wickedness, and chief design he hath against the saints; a magazine opened, from whence the Christian is furnished with spiritual arms for the battle, helped on with his armour, and taught the use of his weapon; together with the happy issue of the whole war. Regarding the armor of God, Gurnall writes, “In heaven we shall appear not in armour but in robes of glory; but here they [that is, the pieces of armor] are to be worn night and day; we must walk, work and sleep in them, or else we are not true soldiers of Christ.”
Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has written two volumes on these same eleven verses in the last century that add up to 736 pages. The titles of his volumes are The Christian Warfare and The Christian Soldier.
Clearly, teachers in former ages understood the importance of our spiritual warfare. We live in an age in which so many pay so little attention to our spiritual warfare.
Ephesians 6:10-12 teaches us that every Christian is engaged in a great spiritual battle.
Let’s use the following outline:?
1. Our Preparation (6:10)
2. Our Provision (6:11a)
3. Our Enemy (6:11b)
4. Our Battle (6:12)
I. Our Preparation (6:10)
First, let’s look at our preparation.
No soldier goes in to battle unprepared. When I went in to the South African Air Force I spent 15 weeks in preparation, called “basic training.” In our first week of basic training, we could not march in sync with one another, we were unfit, we did not know how to handle our weapons, and we did not know how to dress properly in our uniforms; in short, we were unprepared for what lay ahead. But, 15 weeks later, we were prepared, well-trained, and ready for battle.