Summary: Described in the sermon are the three things necessary to declare war on evil in our world. They are: to know the enemy, be trained to do battle and have a plan.
Ephesians 6: 10 – 20 We Are At War
Intro: One fact always struck me as a history teacher. It seems that throughout recorded history there have been wars. Modern history is no exception. Our country was born as a result of the Revolutionary War. As a nation, we have experienced the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Korean Conflict, the Viet Nam War, the Gulf Wars and now we are engaged in a war of a different sort, a war against terrorism. Those who fought those wars and those who continue to fight know the enemy, have been trained to do battle, and have a plan to defeat them. --- But there is another war being fought right here on our soil as well as in many other nations. It is a war for the hearts and minds of people. It is a war between the forces of good and evil, between God and Satan. The stakes are high. It is heaven or hell, life or death, darkness or light, freedom or slavery. And as a believer in Christ Jesus you have been drafted!
I. The conclusion of this letter to the Ephesians urges them to first of all, know the enemy they are fighting. Verses 10 – 13 tells them and us who the enemy really is.
A. Ancient people believed the air to be filled with evil spirits. --- “God bless you” when someone sneezed. --- The very words Paul uses, “powers, authorities, world-rulers” are all names for different classes of these evil spirits and demons.
B. We, as contemporary, enlightened people know the air is not filled with demons. We no longer fear such demons; but, that doesn’t mean they do not exist. We tend to believe the demons are not external beings but are internal forces that infect the psyche. Christian warfare is not mere ignorance, or weakness, or a yielding to temptations of the senses. It is warfare against spirits of evil as well as against manageable matter.
C. In his book, “Fuzzy Memories,” Jack Handey writes about a bully who would demand his lunch money every day. Since Jack was smaller, he gave it to him. --- One day, Jack decided to fight back and started taking karate lessons. The lessons cost $5 each. To Jack it was a lot of money and he found it was easier and cheaper to pay the bully, so he gave up karate.” --- There is an active power of evil in this world; but, we find it easier to give in and pay the price rather than stand our ground and fight.
II. Once a soldier has come to grips with WHO the enemy is, they must be trained to wage war appropriately. --- Do we feel unprepared to stand and fight?
A. Verses 14 – 17 is a striking metaphor for divine protection for the battle against evil. The striking visual image is of the Christian standing as a fully armed Roman infantry soldier.
B. Here we read of the 6 pieces of the “armor of God:”
BELT OF TRUTH / BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS / SANDALS / SHIELD / HELMET OF SALVATION / SWORD Note: there is no armor for the soldier’s back --- there is no protection for those who retreat in God’s army.
C. The preparation to withstand the attack must be continuous. Believers must hear sermons, read scripture, talk with other Christians, engage in regular prayer and sing the praises of God in order to be adequately “trained to do battle.”
III. The final item needed by those who are engaged in conflict is to have a plan.
A. In verses 18 – 20 the emphasis switches from defense to offense. Ours is not a strategy of holding. Our commanding officer has ordered us to take as much territory as we can. We’re to take the battle to the forces of evil.
B. The battle plan is for us to be united in Christ. We do not fight FOR victory; we fight FROM the victory. The victory was won for us on calvary by Christ Jesus. Verse 18 says “. . . praying always with all kinds of prayers and requests.” As long as the lines of communication are open, we can call for firepower to help when we need it. The devil fears prayer because he knows what a vital force it is when set against him.
C. We are not in the battle alone. We have allies: the three persons of the Trinity, God the Father to pray to, The Spirit of God to pray in, and the Son of God to pray through. And we have each other and all who fight against the forces of evil in our world. We must stand and take this community for Christ Jesus one person at a time.