The letter to the Ephesian church was written by Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in order to encourage us, the saints of God, in our walks of faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Right off the bat, thus, he let us know that our adoption into God’s family was according to the purpose of God’s will, to the praise of his glorious grace. And his will for us is that we should be holy and blameless before him in all of our conduct (Also:1 Pet. 1:15).
So, continuing on, he talked with us about the importance of growing in Christ to maturity, and that we no longer remain spiritually immature, tossed back and forth by various winds of teaching of men in their deceitful scheming. But, through speaking the truth in love to one another, that we should grow up spiritually in every way into Christ, who is our head.
And, then he reminded us of how we came to know Christ, if indeed we did. He reminded us that we are not supposed to live any longer like we did before we believed in Jesus, if we did truly believe in him. We are to put off our old self, which belongs to our former way of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires. And, we are to be renewed of the Spirit of God in our minds, and we are to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
And, then he listed for us all sorts of things we are to put off and put on, like putting off lying and telling the truth, putting off stealing and work with our hands and give to others, and to put off anger and to be kind to one another. And, we are to put off sexual immorality, and put on purity and faithfulness, etc. For, we are to be imitators of God, i.e. we are to be like him in character, in conduct, in thinking, in attitude and in our speaking.
And, then he reminded us that if we make these sins our practice, our “go to,” our normal course of living, that we will not inherit eternal life with God (See also Gal. 5:16-21; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8).
So, we are to look carefully how we live, how we walk, not as unwise, but as wise, not living out of control, but being filled with the Spirit of God, following in the ways of the Lord, obeying our Lord’s commandments.
So, these final instructions here are in conclusion to all that he shared with us, the saints of God, prior to this in his letter. And, thus, we can take these final instructions as applying to what was said prior to this, as well, regarding how we are to live our lives, what our conduct should be like, and how we are to live holy lives, being like Christ, in surrender to him.
Ephesians 6:10-12 ESV
“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 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.”
So, just because we are new creations in Christ Jesus, and we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with him to newness of life in him, it doesn’t mean we can’t be tempted to sin or that it is not possible for us to fall into sin again. Otherwise, why would Paul have had to give all those instructions to believers in Jesus regarding putting off sins and putting on what is of God?
We have an enemy. His name is Satan (or the devil, or the dragon). And, he is out to get us in any which way that he can. For, his goal is to defeat us. His goal is to turn us away from Jesus Christ and to get us back following him. And, so he is not only going to tempt us to sin, but he will lie to us, and try to make us afraid, and he will try to get us to doubt God, and he will twist the scriptures and take them out of context, too, to try to convince us that what we are believing is not true and so we need to believe him.
And, he will use politicians and the news media and some pastors and/or influential people in the world to lie to us so as to convince us that the lies are the truth and that the truth is a lie. So, it isn’t just that he tempts us to sin in ways that are obvious, but that he is very cunning and crafty and so he will lie to us in ways that seem like the truth, and in order to manipulate us into believing his lies and into doubting God.
Ephesians 6:13-17 ESV
“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…”
So, if we are going to defeat Satan and his temptations and his lies, his tricks, his schemes, his deceptions, etc., we need to be fully dressed in the armor of God in order to fight off his evil schemes against us.
So, we have to pray for wisdom from God to know the truth from the lies, for not all lies are all that obvious, especially if they are not specifically directed against God’s word in obvious ways. That is why it is called deception. So, if we are going to put on the truth and put off the lies we need discernment of God to know the lies we are believing and what the truth is so that we can put off the lies and put on the belt of truth.
We are not going to discern lies from truth, though, if we are feeding our minds continually with the messages coming from the world or with the filth of the world, or if we are willfully living in spiritual adultery against our Lord, and if we are not putting on the righteousness of God in our lives. And, by “putting on” is not meant a performance or faking it, but it is applying the righteousness of God in our daily lives in all of our conduct.
And, the shield of faith is, as well, not just some profession of faith in Jesus Christ. For, when “the rubber meets the road,” a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ is not going to do it. It will fall apart at the seams. For, real faith in Jesus Christ applies his word to our lives in obedience to his commands and in surrender to his will for our lives. And, only that kind of faith will have any impact on defeating our enemy.
Also, if we want to defeat Satan and his evil schemes against us, we have to be walking in the Spirit and not according to the flesh. And, we have to be applying God’s Word to our lives in our daily walks. For, putting on the Sword of the Spirit is not just quoting scriptures we have memorized, but it is living the Word of God in our day to day lives.
Ephesians 6:18-20 ESV
“… praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. 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.”
We are not going to defeat Satan, either, if we are not in continual communication with our Lord. For, prayer isn’t something we do five minutes a day during a “quiet time” with God. It isn’t a routine we go through. It is a relationship with Almighty God, with him living within us, to where we are in communion with him, and him with us, all the time.
So, we can be talking to the Lord while we are working, while we are driving, while we are doing routine things throughout our day, while we are walking, etc. And, it isn’t constant talking. But, it is continual open communication that can take place at any moment during the day where we voice something to our Lord and where he speaks his words to our hearts.
And, it is really important that we pray for one another. But, it is also important that we ask the Lord what we should pray, too, so that we are praying according to the will of God and not against it. And, we do need much prayer, all of us do, for boldness in sharing the gospel of our salvation with the world around us, for many people need to be saved from their sins.
Soldiers of Christ Arise
Lyrics by Charles Wesley, pub. 1741
Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies, through His Eternal Son.
Strong in the Lord of Hosts, and in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.
Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
That, having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
Ye may o’ercome through Christ alone and stand entire at last.
Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul;
Take every virtue, every grace, and fortify the whole.
From strength to strength go on; wrestle, and fight, and pray;
Tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well-fought day.
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