Summary: WE need to be constantly alert to what Satan will do.
Ephesians 6:10 – 18
It is said that most Christians in 2007 would almost see these verses as null and void. The most popular of preachers today tell us that becoming a Christian leads to all things positive and peace on earth. Many teach that Christianity is an exit from warfare and not an entrance to it. If you are sick Jesus will make you well. If you are discouraged Jesus will make you happy. If you are poor Jesus will make you rich. You get the impression from those who talk like this that to believe in Jesus is to enter upon a smooth path and to enjoy smooth sailing.
Another approach says this: Christianity begins by sitting with Christ in Heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), that is you rest with God’s achievement. It continues by walking out the Christian life (Ephesians 4:1), that is living Christianity practically. Finally it involves standing on ground that Christ has already won (Ephesians 6:11; 13-14). Watchman Nee says that because of Christ’s victories our battles are always defensive in nature.
I believe there is some truth in that. But that has led to the belief that as Christians there is very little for us left to do. “Let go and Let God” some say. The battle is not ours. Let go and let God do the fighting. All you need to do is stand your ground. It is true that Paul uses the word stand four times. But when he speaks of the armor he speaks not only defensive such as helmet, shield, and breastplate but also our offensive weapon, our sword. And regardless of whether he is talking about offense or defense he is talking about fighting against one of the most powerful and cunning foes.
John Stott shows that this struggle is inevitable. This is shown in the first five chapters of Ephesians and God’s purposes against chapter 6 which shows the existence of Satan and his opposition to those purposes.
Stott “Is God’s plan to create a new society? Then they (the hostile spiritual forces) will do their utmost to destroy it. Has God through Jesus Christ broken down the walls dividing human beings of different races and cultures from each other? Then the Devil through his emissaries will strive to rebuild it. Does God intend his reconciled and redeemed people to live together in harmony and purity? Then the powers of hell will scatter among them the seeds of discord and sin”
The very fact that Paul follows his beautiful and uplifting portrait of peaceful Christian homes and happy Christian relations with this stark description of warfare indicates that even these things will not be achieved without conflict. Clearly the victories of the Christian life are to be achieved by a relentless and lifelong struggle against evil.
However even those who realize this need to be reminded.
The Law of Familiarity reads: “All things of value will, with the passage of enough time, be taken for granted.” It is very difficult to keep intensity for a long period of time.
This is true in driving a car. When we first drive, we are so cautious. We keep our hands at 10 & 2. But it’s not long before we are turning on the radio, reading the newspaper, or talking on the phone. Someone saw a bumper sticker that said, “Hang up and drive!” They also saw another bumper sticker that said, “Cats, the other white meat.” (If you stay alert it is amazing what you’ll see.)
The same is true for relationships. It is difficult to keep intensity for a long time. When couples first go out, or when they are first married, each partner is very alert to the other’s needs, and they are thoughtful and sensitive to each other. But as time goes on, people get careless and thoughtless and the marriage can head for a crash.
The military can suffer from lack of intensity. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor succeeded in part because our guard was down.
Ephesians 6 teaches that God expects us to “Stay Alert” in the Christian life. For the past several weeks we have been studying through the last 3 chapters of Ephesians looking at the Great Expectations that God has for His children. We have seen that God wants us to Grow Up, Be Distinctive, Keep Pure, Get Smart, Honor Marriage, and Respect Authority.
The last expectation from this book is that we stay alert. That is not easy to do over the long haul because being a Christian is like being in a relationship. Maybe you’ve been in church since you were little. You’ve heard all the songs. You’ve heard most of the sermon topics. You know a lot of Scripture and your life has been pretty smooth, so it’s easy to just turn the auto-pilot on and not pay attention to what we are doing.