Summary: Message teaches the practical application of the metaphor of armor in Eph. 6:10-17. Christians are in a spiritual battle simply because they are Christians. In an increasingly antichristian culture this teaching becomes even more essential.
The title of this message is: Stand Your Ground! There are times and season when the devil’s assaults against believers are more intense than at other times. Scripture not only tells us to be prepared for such times, but also tells us how to be prepared. That’s our subject today.
I am an optimist. I believe we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. I believe God is wholeheartedly for his people and when we live in obedience to him, no weapon formed against us will prosper. But those biblical assurances do not mean there will be no battles. David faced a Goliath and Daniel faced a lion’s den. The battle was only an opportunity to glorify God through trusting him with the results. The more we assertively proclaim the gospel in an antichrist culture, the more opposition we will face. But with that always come grace sufficient for the occasion. Paul told the church at Corinth, “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Cor. 16:9). Church, a great and effective door is opening to you, but make no mistake about it, with that there will be adversaries. Forget about avoiding the battle. You already signed up for the Lord’s army. You’re already in the war. When you’re in a fight, the best thing you can do is fight! Fight with skill and tenacity, but fight!
Anyone who is awake and breathing knows there is a spiritual battle raging in America. Yes, it manifests in political and cultural issues. But those are secondary. Those are symptomatic of the real problem. The real problem is spiritual wickedness in “heavenly places,” in the spiritual dimension that is all around us. As Jack Hayford put it, “In the heavenly realm that is one foot over your head and one foot to the right.” How do we stand strong in a culture that opposes truth at every turn? How do we stand firm when the cost is greater than it was yesterday? How will each and every one of us stand strong in our faith when many are departing from the faith, both doctrinally and in lifestyle?
In Ephesians 6 Paul referred to times like that as “the evil day.” In verses 10 – 13 he wrote, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles [or strategies] of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day [times when the battle is particularly challenging], and having done all, to stand 14 Stand.”i
Paul makes 3 points in that passage that we must never forget.
(1) If we are to stand strong, we must do so “in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Anyone who tries to stand against the adversary in his own strength, will lose. Paradoxically God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. Why is that? Because when we feel our own weakness, we tend to lean on God’s strength. And that’s faith! All the victories recorded in Hebrews 11 are preceded by the concept or phrase “by faith.” “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (v. 32-35). Yes, I believe in “aliens.” Not little green men only 3 ft. tall, but something far more sinister: fallen angels that have your eternal destruction in mind! “The battle is not yours but the Lord’s.” But to participate in his victory, you must be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Paul is about to tell us how to do that. It is important information that is essential for victory. How do we stand strong in difficult times?
(2) Stay clear about who the real enemy is! In the midst of the fray, it is very easy to lose sight of that. Why? Because the real enemy uses people to oppose you. If you try to win the fight by wrestling “against flesh and blood,” you will lose! The Democrats are not your enemy. The Republicans are not your enemy. The tax collector is not your enemy. That cantankerous coworker is not your enemy. Satan’s primary strategy against believers is to “divide and conqueror.” Anytime you find yourself opposing a fellow believer, stop and ask yourself: Are we both being dupped by the devil? Church splits usually end with no winners except the devil.