On Mar 29, 2015, pastor Darin preached from Eph 6:10-23, Withstanding the Schemes of the Devil. Paul concludes this letter to the Ephesians by focusing on spiritual warfare, which is given to a great deal of confusion. CS Lewis said "There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them." We want to avoid these errors as we unpack what this text says about spiritual warfare. The main idea of the passage is that we must be clothed in the full armor of God to withstand the schemes of the devil. There are 3 points:
1. Evil is real and powerful and is against us
a. Verse 11 – “schemes” (methods): The devil plots how to make believers fall.
b. Verse 12–13 – Spiritual forces of evil are at work behind the scenes in our relationships (home, workplace, church) to bring conflict. Dig deeper: we must not feed the conflict with the fuels of anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc.
c. Verse 12 – Our struggle against evil is more like a wrestling match: a slow struggle. Dig deeper: How do we “wrestle?” By resting in the power of our champion, the risen Christ who has saved us by His blood. Read and take hold of the promise in 1 John 4:4.
d. The objective of evil (vv 11–13) is for you to reject Christ or be ineffective for Christ.
1) The devil tried to get Jesus to doubt God’s goodness (Matt 4).
2) Jesus rebukes Peter for not having God’s mission in mind (Matt 16:23)
2. Four strategies that evil employees
a. Verse 14 – “belt the truth” - Satan wants to enslave us to lies. Example: “I can’t go to church because I’m a bad person.” Result: keeps us away from God’s means of grace.
b. Verse 14 – “breastplate of righteousness” – Satan wants to get you entangled in sin (Heb 12:1-2). Dig deeper: We need to stop nursing our secret sins and wage war against them. How? Through God’s Word, prayer, and fellowship (accountability).
c. Verse 15 – “ready… gospel of peace” – Satan wants us to be obsessed with ourselves and not share the gospel.
d. Helmet of salvation – the devil wants you to doubt that God loves you. Martin Luther said “So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: "I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!” Dig deeper: Preach the Gospel to yourself every day. Remind yourself of Christ’s perfect sacrifice for your sins and your right standing before God due to your union with Jesus by grace alone through faith alone by Christ alone.
3. How Christ protects His church: Christ provides protection through His Word and His Spirit
a. Sword of the Spirit – God’s Word gives us responses to Satan’s strategies:
1) to his lies, we have the truth of God’s word. Dig deeper: reflect on Psalm 1.
2) to sins entanglement, Christ enables us to die to sin and live unto righteousness.
3) to being ingrown, the Spirit enables us to be His witness with the Gospel. 4) to doubting salvation – God renews our mind, and reassures us of His love for us in the Gospel and how through faith in Christ’s atoning work on the cross, we could have our sins cast as far as the east is from the West, and could belong to God forever.
b. Praying at all times in the Spirit: we must have constant dependence on God as we are engaged in spiritual warfare. John Piper says, "Prayer is a wartime walkie-talkie for spiritual warfare; not a domestic intercom to increase the comfort of the saints.. ." Dig deeper: As the saying goes, we need to make prayer the first resource, not the last resort.
c. Dig deeper: God’s Word and Prayer lay at the heart of our faith in Christ, which is a shield that extinguishes the fiery darts of evil. Why? Because faith is directing us toward something outside of us—to the crucified, resurrected, and living Christ.
Conclusion: Ultimately, every piece of the armor of God points us to the perfect and finished work of Jesus Christ, who went to the cross and was stripped bare as He bore our sin so that we could be clothed in the armor of God—clothed in the person and work of Jesus (Rom 13:14). It is through faith in Christ--clothed in this glorious armor---that we can withstand the schemes of the devil.