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November 6, 2023

Ephesians Part 14

Let’s wrap up our study of Ephesians.




Ephesians 6:5-24

Let’s wrap up our study of Ephesians. We’ll spend most of our time this morning in v 10-17. That’s going to be the meat of our lesson, the armor of God. I look at this lesson like a sandwich. You have the meat in the middle surrounded on both sides by slices of bread. On one side is Paul’s instructions on Christian work relationships (5-9). The other are Paul’s final words in Ephesians to us, the church (18-24).

There are several things we need to bear in mind as we go thru the practical application portion of Ephesians, the last 3 chapters…

  • Paul’s audience – talking to Christians, addressing the church.
  • Notice this picture. You have here a group of soldiers preparing for battle. A bit later we’re going to be talking about spiritual warfare. Listen, we don’t fight our battles alone. One of the resources God has given us is each other. We come alongside our brothers and sisters and we battle the enemy together. We have each other’s back!
  • The prerequisite for everything Paul teaches about our behavior here in Ephesians is stated in Eph 5:18 “Be filled with the Spirit.” Our lives must be controlled by the Holy Spirit. That’s a given. Otherwise nothing Paul says is going to be a reality in our lives.
  • The key to all human relationships (Chaps 5 & 6) is submission – mutual submission. Eph 5:21 says, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Phil 2 defines submission: “counting others more significant than ourselves,” Christ is our example.

Let’s begin by looking briefly at our work relationships. I The quarterly skipped over these verses, but I didn’t want to do that. There are some important truths here for us. Even if you are not currently employed, chances are you know another brother or sister who is. These verses may be helpful for them in their situation as you minister to them.

READ Ephesians 6:5-8

Here Paul addresses “bondservants,” (“slaves” KJV). Paul is NOT advocating slavery. It was the common practice in the Roman society of Paul’s day. For us living here in America, slavery was abolished officially in 1865 (13th amendment). Yes, there are some places today where slavery still exists but it’s illegal and as Elsa told us her organization IJM is working to end modern day slavery. So, today’s equivalent of bondservants and masters is employees and employers (bosses, supervisors, managers). So then, the principals laid out here for the bondservants and masters apply to this relationship. Paul says that bondservants (the employees) are to submit to their masters (their bosses). Employees submit by being obedient, by doing as their bosses have directed them. When I was working the thing I had to constantly remind myself of was that I wasn’t working for Bruce or Steve or Don or Evelyn or Craig or Tammy, whoever my boss was at the time. I was working for the Lord. “As I would Christ,” v 5 or “as to the Lord,” v 7. That’s where the attitude of “fear and trembling” that we see in v 5 comes into play. This is not fear of our boss but a fear of God. We’re to show the same respect to our earthly bosses as we would to the Lord Himself. After all we’re really working for Him.

As I studied this whole section on human relationships I was struck by a profound truth: There is no biblical distinction made between one’s secular life and one’s spiritual life. They’re directly linked together. Where does our reward for a job well done come from? We might at times get a raise or a promotion or praise from our boss. We might not. Our reward comes from the Lord Himself, v 8. So here’s the bottom line – work hard, be diligent, don’t be lazy, be content, don’t complain, follow the rules, don’t argue, don’t cheat the company, go the extra mile, do the best job you possibly can and why? Because you work for God. And some day you want to hear those words from Jesus: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  I

READ Ephesians 6:9 [comment on picture]

The workplace can get a bit crazy at times, can’t it? A lot of pressure is put on employees by customers, by mgt – pressure to perform or produce at a high level. The stress can be overwhelming. This one verse, v 9, is God’s word to masters, to those given the power and authority to supervise others. Bosses are to submit. How? Meeting the needs of their employees. Bosses need to remember who they work for – GOD. All the things that applied to the employees in v 5-8 apply to the bosses, v 9, “do the same to them.” Same principle.

One thing that Paul admonishes bosses NOT to do is “Stop your threatening.” People in the workplace can be frustrating! That’s why Christian bosses must prepare themselves daily in prayer, asking God for wisdom to deal with all the demands of the job, to deal with sometimes difficult people and challenging situations. Go the Lord and ask Him for wisdom and strength. Notice that in Christian work relationship (as with the others) there is this mutual submission, “as unto the Lord.” I

[Spiritual warfare slide] 

How many of you realize that we are at war? I mean right now, today, you and I are at war! We are in a spiritual war. Who’s our enemy in this war? First Peter 5:8 tells us: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” So, who’s the enemy? Satan. He is many things, but primarily he is a liar and a deceiver. You need to know your enemy. You need to know his method of operation. I

This is a familiar passage of scripture. Chances are you’ve probably heard a sermon or two on it. READ Ephesians 6:10-17

V 10 “Finally” – Paul’s final word to the church. “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” V 13, Paul says “stand firm.” Our confidence is not in ourselves. It’s in the Lord. We know from Eph 1:21-22 that Jesus is sovereign, that He is “far above all rule and authority.” We know that God “put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church.” He’s our Commander in Chief. He’s Lord. So stand strong, stand firm in Him, in the strength of HIS might, HIS authority!

V 11 reminds us that we are in a war against a real enemy, the devil. And because of this we are told to put on the whole armor of God. We’ll talk about this in a minute. V 12 tells us that Satan is not working alone. He has an army. The rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness, spiritual forces of evil. Our enemy is a formidable opponent. He is relentless in his efforts. In v 12 we also learn something about the battlefield, where this spiritual war is being fought. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. The physical world is what we can see with our physical eyes, what we can reach out and touch. But that’s not where the warfare is taking place. It is happening in “the heavenly places.” It takes place in the spiritual realm. In the heavenly realm where God and Christ dwell (1:3, 18). Positionally that is where we are. Eph 2:6 tells us that we have been raised up with Christ and are seated with Him in the heavenly places. Here’s the idea -- Physically we are here on earth, but spiritually we are in two places at once – we are here and at the same time we are there. We learn an interesting but sobering reality from Eph 3:10 and from Eph 6:12 that the heavenly places is also occupied by Satan and his army. So the heavenly places is not heaven as we think about it – our permanent home – but it is in a broader sense the spiritual realm. That’s where the war is being waged. It is spiritual warfare. So since we’re at war, v 13 tells us, we need to take up the whole armor of God so we can stand against the devil. Paul adds the phrase, “in the evil day.” We are in a state of war. all the time, every day, while we are living here. However, there are certain times when the enemy will attack us. Usually his attacks are surprise attacks. That’s the nature of war. In war you are in an adverse environment constantly. But the enemy attacks sporadically. Therefore, Paul says, “take up the whole armor of God.” You need to be ready. I

In v 14-17 Paul describes this armor. He’s obviously using the imagery of Roman soldiers dressed for war. I’m not going to focus on that so much as on what the elements of this armor are for us. Practically speaking what the various pieces of armor mean for us as we fight our war against the enemy. Let’s take a closer look.

  • Belt of truth, v 14. Truth is God’s view of a matter. It is God’s absolute standard. It is fixed. It does not change. Truth is more than merely facts. We can have the facts and yet interpret them wrongly. Truth gets to the heart of the issue – it is how God sees it. In John 8:32 Jesus told His disciples, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” When are we set free? When we KNOW the truth. This is essential in this war we’re fighting because our enemy is a liar. Satan is a master of deception. He twists things, confuses us, sidetracks us, etc. But when we know the truth, we can counter what Satan is trying to do and we can carry on with doing God’s will.
  • Breastplate of righteousness, v 14. Knowing God’s truth, His absolute standard, we can now do the right thing. Knowing the truth leads to a right action on our part. And Paul has spent a lot of time in Ephesians talking about right behavior for believers.
  • Shoes of readiness which have been provided by the gospel of peace, v 15. How do I know that I’m on the right track, doing the right thing? How do I know that I am doing God’s will? Peace. God’s peace in my heart. Amid the chaos of life we have an assurance, a calm spirit that God is in charge and everything will be OK. At the close of our lesson I’ll show you a picture of peace.

These first 3 pieces of armor (truth, righteousness and peace) we have been instructed to “put on.” We’re at war. We wear our uniform at all times. Truth, righteousness and peace are our lifestyle 24/7. But then there are going to be times, what Paul refers to as the “evil day,” when we’re going to come under attack. The enemy will assault us. The next 3 pieces of armor we’re told to “take up.” Let’s look at these.

  • Shield of faith, v 16. Faith extinguishes the flaming darts, the fiery arrows of our enemy. Faith is acting like God is telling the truth. It is an action on our part based on what God has told us. Heb 11 is the Faith Chapter. The writer lists who the people are and then what they did to show they had faith. Faith is action. So if we know the truth, are living out the truth daily in right behavior and we have peace knowing we are in God’s will then when the assault on our life comes we can step out in faith with full confidence in God against Satan.
  • Helmet of salvation, v 17. A helmet protects the head, where our mind is, our brain, our thinking. Here Paul specifically deals with our thoughts of salvation. We are saved. Therefore, we should constantly think about, meditate upon, ponder, remind ourselves who we are in Christ. This has been a major theme in Ephesians. As saved people, we have a new position in Christ which we need to live up to. [Beverly Hillbillies analogy]
  • Sword of the spirit, v 17. This is the only offensive weapon we need. Paul makes it clear what the sword of the spirit is – the word of God. The Greek word used for “word” in this verse is Ramah – that which has been declared by God. Clear instruction, commands. Remember we are at war and so we fight based on the authority of God’s word to us.

So, the armor we put on or take up is not belts, breastplates, shoes, shields, helmets or swords – those are just pictures. The armor, the tools, the resources we’ve been given, that we’ve been instructed to use in our spiritual warfare are truth and righteousness and peace and faith and realizing our position in Christ and the authority of God’s word to us.

Everything we need to be successful in the Christian life and to defeat our enemy is available to us. It’s up to us to use them. I

Let’s wrap up Ephesians, Paul’s final words. READ Ephesians 6:18-24

V 18, Realizing that we are in a spiritual war, pray for each other and, v 19, Paul says, “pray for me as well.” Prayer has been defined as earthly permission for heavenly intervention. Remember we are in a spiritual war and prayer is the means by which we communicate with Christ, our Commander in Chief. Prayer is a vital resource in the Christian life.

In v 20 Paul reminds the Ephesian believers that while he is writing this letter, the reality is that he is a prisoner in Rome. He refers to himself as “an ambassador in chains.” If you read the end of the Book of Acts, the timeframe that Paul is writing this letter you understand he had a vibrant ministry there even as a prisoner “proclaiming the kingdom of God… with all boldness and without hindrance.” (Acts 28:31) I

V 21-22 This letter was apparently hand delivered to the Ephesian church by a man named Tychicus who ministered alongside Paul. He will encourage the Ephesian believers when he gives them an update on Paul and his ongoing ministry in Rome.

V 23-24 Paul ends with a beautiful closing doxology. He prays love, peace, and grace upon the dear saints of Ephesus. We’ve talked a lot about spiritual warfare today so in closing I wanted to focus our attention on the Christian concept of peace. Earlier I defined it like this: “Amid the chaos of life we have an assurance, a calm spirit that God is in charge and everything will be OK.” I

[show picture] In the middle of the storms of life – you have the howling wind, the driving rain, the flashes of lightning, clasps of thunder – in the middle of all this chaos, a bird rests safely protected by the rock.

We’ve read the Book. We know that in the end we win the war. In the meantime, today, we are Christian soldiers, aren’t we? Sing “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

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Ephesians 6:5-24

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