Summary: This sermon looks at our adversary, armor and activity in spiritual warfare
Preaching Series: The Tie That Binds
The Battle of the Church
Text: Ephesians 6:10-20
Introduction: True story....A Christian leader was traveling recently by plane. He noticed that the man sitting two seats over was thumbing through some little cards and moving his lips. The man looked to be in his fifties and somewhat professorial with his goatee and graying brown hair. Guessing that he was a fellow-believer, the Christian leader leaned over to engage him in conversation. "Looks to me like you’re memorizing something," he said. "No, actually I was praying," replied the other man. "I believe in prayer too," the Christian leader responded. "Well, I have a specific assignment," said the man with the goatee. "What’s that?" "I’m praying for the downfall of Christian pastors." Surprised, the Christian leader said, "I would certainly fit into that category. Is my name on the list?" "Not on my list," the man replied. Stories like this can make us uneasy, but they also remind us that we are firmly entrenched in the midst of a spiritual conflict. While the outcome has already been determined by Christ’s victory over sin and death (See 1 Corinthians 15:56-57), the battle rages on. The enemy, the Devil, seeks to rob God of glory by leading men and women on a pathway of rebellion (See Ephesians 2:1-2). So it becomes important for Christians to take time every now and then to review our understanding of this ongoing spiritual war lest we become casualties in this great battle.
Background: Though the church at Ephesus was undergoing only minimum persecution from without at the time this letter was written (See Acts 19:23-29), they were experiencing some conflict from within. Some influential, yet ignorant men (See 1 Timothy 1:6-7) were teaching false doctrine, propagating fables and genealogies (See 1 Timothy 1:3-4) and putting forth ideas such as the forbidding of marriage and abstaining from certain foods (See 1 Timothy 4:3). Paul understood that they constituted a very real danger to the believers in that city and so he warned Timothy to guard what had been entrusted to his care (See 1 Timothy 6:20). Yet he never considered that the battle was to be fought against flesh and blood (i.e. other people). The real conflict was of a spiritual nature and so had to be approached with this perspective in mind. Listen to what he says about the nature of spiritual warfare.
I. Our adversary in warfare (See Ephesians 6:10-13). Make no mistake, our enemy is the Devil. He is constantly scheming to ruin mankind.
A. Here are some of Satan’s schemes for unbelievers.
1. He blinds the minds of unbelievers (See 2 Corinthians 4:4).
2. He snatches away the Word of God (See Matthew 13:19).
3. He sets traps for the unwary so that they oppose the Lord servants (See 2 Timothy 2:24-26).
4. He masquerades as an angel of light (See 2 Corinthians 11:13-14) to deceive men and women.
B. Here are some of Satan’s schemes for believers.
1. He fills our hearts to lie (i.e. sin--See Acts 5:1-6).
2. He hinders the servant of God from doing His work (See 1 Thessalonians 2:18).
3. He destroys the unity of the church by creating discord (See Ephesians 4:26-27).
4. He leads the world to persecute the church (See Revelation 2:10). Application: 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us that the Devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He is to be respected for his strength (See Jude 9) and, in fact, can only be overcome by complete reliance upon the power of God. His greatest weapon is deceit. Illustration: You may remember the Twilight Zone episode where an American on a walking trip through Central Europe happens on a residence for a brotherhood of monks during a raging storm. Much to his surprise, they only reluctantly take him in. Later that night, the American discovers a cell with a man locked inside. An ancient wooden staff bolts the door. The prisoner claims he’s being held captive by the "insane" head monk, Brother Jerome. He pleads for the man to release him. The kindly face and gentle voice of the prisoner win him over. The American confronts Brother Jerome, who declares that the prisoner is actually none other than Satan, "the father of lies." He is held captive the "Staff of Truth," the one barrier he cannot pass. This incredible claim convinces the man that Jeromis is indeed mad. As soon as he gets the chance, he releases the prisoner---who instantly transforms into a hideous, horned demon and vanished in a puff of smoke! The stunned American is horrified at the realization of what he has done. Brother Jerome responds sympathetically, "I’m sorry for you, my son. All your life you will remember this night and whom you have turned loose on the world." "I didn’t believe you," the American replies. "I saw him and didn’t recognize him"--to which Jerome solemnly observes, "That is man’s weakness...and Satan’s strength."