We’ve come to the end of our time in Ephesians. I hope you’ve come to understand more of how God’s grace changes everything in our lives. Now, as we leave and move forward, we’ll see how God’s grace enables us and prepares us to fight the good fight of faith.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 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.”–Eph. 6:10-12
If we’re going to fight, it’s important to know what and who we’re fighting. The fight of the Christian is not against other people. We do not seek to lay hands on non-Christians in order to save them. That’s not how the gospel works.
No, our fight is against anything that keeps us from glorifying God in this life, against anything that would keep us from being holy and obeying God. Paul says we make war against the devil and his schemes, against sin and evil that pervades our lives and this world.
“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. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one, and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”–Eph. 6:13-18
As a redeemed sinner, I often wonder why I struggle so much with the sin that remains. I often find myself asking, “What the heck is wrong with me?” We all struggle with besetting sins, and are all called to move forward in our pursuit of holiness. But praise God we are not alone. We cannot forget all of the gifts God has given us. Let’s look at those:
Belt of truth: A belt keeps you from being embarrassed. It keeps your clothes where they need to stay. As silly as that analogy may be, think about how truth is like a belt. Ever heard someone spout off something they thought was true, I mean, really thought was true, only to be told they were 100% wrong? It’s embarrassing, right? When you don’t know the truth, it leads to embarrassment. But in Christ, we know the truth. We have God’s Word. We don’t have to be embarrassed by lack of knowledge.
Breastplate of righteousness: We are righteous in Christ, and only because of what He’s done. But we are called to live out that righteousness and put off sin. When we live righteous lives, it stands as a critical piece of armor, protecting us from accusations of sin and immorality. There is much gain in godliness, while there is no gain in sin. Choose obedience.
Shoes outfitted with the gospel: Everywhere you go, share the gospel. The Great Commission says “Go make disciples.” Scholars have long understood that “go” in the original Greek means “as you go,” that is, whether we are on a “mission trip” or at the office, we are ready to share the hope of Jesus with everyone and anyone around us.
Shield of faith: Faith protects us from the “flaming darts” of Satan. He would accuse us of sin, but we have faith in the blood of Jesus. He would make us question God’s goodness, but we have seen and trust that the Lord is good. He would make us anxious, but we must trust that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him.
Helmet of salvation: Ever heard the expression “he/she’s got his/her head on straight?” We typically say that of someone who understands his or her responsibilities and is living a responsible, good life. When we know we are saved, when we’ve experienced the grace of God, we are able to move forward confidently in our lives, with our heads on straight, because we know we have Jesus forever, and nothing can take that away. The “helmet” of salvation allows us to think rightly about God, life and even death. Nothing can truly hurt us, not eternally, if we are in Christ.
Sword of the Spirit/Word of God: This is the only offensive weapon listed here. The Word of God is not to be hidden, but rather used to fight sin and point people to Jesus. Spurgeon once said of the idea of “defending” the Bible: “Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion? Unchain it and it will defend itself!” The Bible is a tool meant to be used to help us fight sin and advance God’s kingdom by rightly understanding what it says.
Prayer: Prayer is not usually listed with the rest of these, but if we aren’t praying, the rest is pointless. Prayer connects us with God, who reminds us of all we have in Him. Prayer keeps us in connection with God.
“To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts. Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”–Eph. 6:18-24
Lastly, we must pray for and encourage one another. There is no such thing as “lone ranger Christianity.” You are either connected to a church as a Christian, looking for a church, or you are dying spiritually.
Paul was in prison, and he coveted prayers, not for his release, but for his faithfulness. What a testimony! How often do we pray for the safety or release of persecuted brothers and sisters, instead of their faithfulness? While praying for those things may not be bad, we must remember that God is sovereign, and His purposes in persecution are not just for safety, but for His glory. We should pray for the faithfulness of those being persecuted.
We must encourage one another so that we all can grow to love Jesus with “love incorruptible.”
Lord, may we love you and love each other. May we use the weapons and tools that you give us. May we grow to be more and more like you, and may we keep fighting the good fight of faith until we see you face to face.