The Full Armor of God: The Struggle

The Full Armor of God: The Struggle

Time To Suit Up


Christians: Waging War or Walking Wimps?

Quote: Waging War
“Once war is forced upon us, there is no alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end. War’s very object is victory-not prolonged indecision.” Patton

Background of Ephesians

For a brief time at the end of his second missionary journey, and then for more than two years on his third missionary journey, Paul ministered to the church at Ephesus (Acts 18:18–21; 19:1–41). During his time in this city that housed the famous temple to the Greek goddess Artemis, Paul saw many converted to faith in Jesus Christ and many others who opposed his preaching in the synagogues and homes. One prominent silversmith, Demetrius, who made implements for the worship of Artemis, found his business suffering greatly because people were converting to Christianity. The ensuing near-riot led Paul to leave the city, but only after the apostle had done much to stabilize and grow the Christian community there. 

Paul divided his letter to the Ephesians into two clear segments; applying the truths of the first makes possible the actions and lifestyle of the second. Paul spent the first three chapters of the letter discussing God’s creation of a holy community by His gift of grace in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The members of this community have been chosen by God through the work of Christ, adopted as sons and daughters of God, and brought near to the Father through faith in His Son. All people with this faith—Jews and Gentiles alike—were dead in their transgressions and sins but have been made alive because of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

While Paul was not responding to a particular theological or moral problem, he wanted to protect against future problems by encouraging the Ephesians to mature in their faith. So after laying out profound theological truths in the first half of the book, Paul made his purpose clear: he expected that this community of faith would walk in accordance with its heavenly calling (Ephesians 4:1) and grow as mature believers in the faith. As a result of the theological realities Christians accept by their faith in God, several practices should follow in their relationships within the church, in the home, and in the world.

Maturity yields benefits in believers’ moral lives, but it extends far beyond that as well. Increased maturity benefits the community at large, leading us as Christians to present a more consistent witness to the working of God in our lives as well as protecting us from the harmful divisions and quarrels that have plagued so many communities throughout history. 

Scripture 

Ephesians 6:10-13 ESV
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 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. 13 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.

How Will We Win Our Battle

I. Rely vs. 10
Ephesians 6:10
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 

Point:
Sometimes being strong is hard.  Sure, we have strength on our own.  This type of strength only gets us so far.  Eventually we will give out.  Even the Bible says that, check out Isaiah 40:30,

Isaiah 40:30 ESV
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted…

There are days that your energy and strength are just going to run out.  So, when you are weak, where do you go?

Illustration:
A few years ago I used to lift weights pretty hard.  There was a day where I was bench pressing around 400 pounds.  That’s a lot of weight.  Of course, I couldn’t do that today.  Every time I would lift that sort of weight, I would trust a spotter.  A spotter would stand over me.  He would help me lift the bar off the rack.  The spotter would keep his hands on the bar the entire time.  He would go down with me and then up with me.  If I tired, he would help me lift the weight.  

You see, God is our spotter.  When things start getting to much we rely on Him to lift the load.  Maybe you are feeling overwhelmed today.  Maybe things are going tough at home or at work. Either way, God is the greatest load bearer there is.  

Scripture tells us that God is mighty.  Paul makes that promise that God will meet our needs, carry our burdens and give us grace.

Practical Illustration: Paul’s Thorn
2 Corinthians 12:7 NLT
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, he addresses a thorn in his flesh that was delivered by Satan.  That’s one bad thorn.  This thorn is more than uncomfortable.  It is painful.  So, what does one do when they find themselves in pain.  They pray.  I have been in hundreds of hospital rooms where people find themselves in debilitating pain.  I have heard them pray and pray and pray.  When we are in real pain, it drives us to pray.  Paul was no different. He prayed three times for God to remove the thorn.  God never did.  He allowed Paul to suffer and hurt.  Why?  

Pain keeps us humble. When we are in pain, we realize that we don’t have all the answers.  We need help.  

Pain keeps us prayerful. When pain comes, we pray to God.  We need His support and aid.  We depend on him.

Pain keeps us empathetic.  Sometimes God lets us hurt so that we can know what feels like to walk in someone else’s shoes.  There is nothing that binds people together quite like pain and suffering.  

So, what was God’s answer to Paul?

2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT
Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

Paul, my grace is sufficient.  I am spotting you here Paul.  You are not alone.  You are not going to have to lift this burden alone.  I am working through you.  

Illustration: Footprints In The Sand
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it. 
"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You'd walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."
He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.

How Will We Win Our Battle

I. Rely vs. 10
II. Ready (Prepare) vs. 11,13
Ephesians 6:11
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Illustration: Dead On Impact
On February 22, 1911, Gaston Hervieu climbed the Eiffel Tower to test a new parachute for pilots. He checked the wind, took a nervous breath, and began the test. His silk parachute filled with air, then sailed safely to the ground. Hervieu did not make the jump himself; he used a 160-pound test dummy. To one man this was an outrage. Franz Reichelt was an Austrian tailor who was developing a parachute of his own. He denounced Hervieu's use of a dummy as a "sham" and, one year later, on the morning of Sunday, February 4, 1912, arrived at the Eiffel Tower to conduct his own experiment.

As Reichelt posed for pictures he announced, "I am so convinced my device will work properly that I will jump myself." Gaston Hervieu pulled him aside and tried to stop him. Hervieu claimed there were technical reasons why Reichelt's parachute would not work. The two men had a heated discussion until, finally, Reichelt walked away.

Modern parachutes use 700 square feet of fabric and should be deployed only above 250 feet; Reichelt's parachute used less than 350 square feet of fabric, and he deployed it at 187 feet. He had neither the surface area nor the altitude needed to make a successful jump. Hervieu was not the only one who had told Reichelt that his parachute suit would not work. It had also been rejected by a team of experts who told him, "The surface of your device is too small. You will break your neck."



He not only ignored experts, he also ignored his own data. He tested his parachute using dummies, and they crashed. He tested his parachute by jumping thirty feet into a haystack, and he crashed. He tested his parachute by jumping twenty feet without a haystack, and he crashed and broke his leg. Instead of changing his invention, he clung to his bad idea in the face of all evidence and advice.

Reichelt fell for four seconds, accelerating constantly, until he hit the ground at sixty miles an hour, making a cloud of frost and dust and a dent six inches deep. He was killed on impact.

Point:
Franz’s story is one to remember for sure.  He was not prepared to make the jump.  Others tried to tell him to stop and even pointed out the flaws in his plan.  That did not stop him.  He jumped to his death. 

Ask yourself, “am I prepared”. Everyday we wake up, we are making a jump into the great unknown.  We have no idea what is going to happen.  We make plans but we have no idea of our plans will ever come to fruition.  James, the brother of Jesus talked about the great unknown and making plans.  

James 4:14-15 ESV
Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

James knew something that most of us deny.  We are not in control.  Therefore, we better prepare for everything.  There are things at play in this world that are hidden from our vision.  Hidden pitfalls and forces that desire to hurt us and damage us.  Last week we talked about the Devil, today, it is demonic forces.  These demons, like Satan, are real and very active.  They seek to harm you and trap you.  

We better get ready.  We better be prepared.  

Biblical Illustration: Trees
Open your Bibles to Mark 8:22-26 ESV

Mark 8:22-26 ESV
22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

Wait! What just happened here?  A blind man healed by Jesus, but there is something more.  Jesus spit on his eyes and the man can see.  Not just see, but really see. In that moment, Jesus pulls back the curtain.  I believe that for a short moment this man saw something so frightening, so terrifying, something so unbelievable that his friends were compelled to ask “did you see anything”.  Another translations states that his friends asked “what did you see”.  Most theologians and scholars believe that Jesus revealed the hidden spiritual world to this man.  He saw something like trees walking around. You and I know that trees to not walk around.  This man did not see a showing of The Two Towers.  I believe that this man saw the presence of either angels or demons.  When he saw what was taking place behind the curtain, he was woefully unprepared.  

Point:
Friends, there is a spiritual battle being waged and we are blind to it.  This war is being waged in our flesh.  We battle lust, idolatry, addiction, gluttony, and so much more.  

Galatians 5:17
For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. -

We are in a spiritual war in a our faith.  That is what Ephesians says.  We are in a spiritual battle against forces of darkness.  

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 

So, we are at war in the flesh and in faith.  Are you prepared for that?  Are you ready to do battle.  

Our Battle Is With 

A. Flesh

B. Faith

Illustration: So Sad
I heard recently of a seminary professor at my seminary who took his life.  He secretly battled sexual addiction and when it finally came to light, he took his life.  You see friends, this is life and death.  I told you last week that Satan wants to rob you of your life. He wants your physical and spiritual life eradicated.  The sin we court is a big deal and it can demand from us everything we hold dear.  This seminary professor lost his job, his career, his family, his children and yes…his life.  Why, because the battle overwhelmed him.  Friends, we are no different.  The battle can easily overwhelm all of us too, if we are not careful.  

In the coming weeks, we will talk about the preparing for the battle.  We will talk about the full armor of God.  Today we will just see the struggle.  We will see the trees.  

So, we need to rely.  Rely on God.  He will carry us when we are week.  We need to ready ourselves.  We need to start preparing today for the battle that we carry in the flesh and in the faith.  Now, we must respect the enemy we are fighting.  Why?  We respect him because he is formidable.  Last week, we talked about the Devil, today let’s meet his forces.  

How Will We Win Our Battle

I. Rely vs. 10
II. Ready (Prepare) vs. 11,1
III. Respect vs. 11-12
Ephesians 6:11-12
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 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.

Point: C.S. Lewis and Demons
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. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.

Point:
Today, I don’t want to peak your interest in demons but I do want to reveal their purpose and what they hope to achieve.  Now we do not have time to read the entire story.  If you turn in your Bible to Mark 5:1-20 you will come to the story of the demon possessed man in the county of the Gerasenes.  He lived among the tombs.  People tried to bind him but no one was successful.  He would carry on and cut himself.  Until Jesus showed up and liberated him from this demonic possession.  Then the demon jumps into a heard of pigs and those pigs go squealing over the side of mountain meeting their death.  Remind me of something.

Mark 5:1-13 ESV
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.

Point: Demons Are Like A Bad High School Party
I can remember growing up and there was that kid who parents had vacated the house and left their teenager in charge.  So, naturally, what does the kid do? He has a party.  Not by himself, he invites other teens over.  They smoke, drink and turn the music up really loud.  Next thing you know, the couch is on the lawn, the door is off the hinges and someone just ran by in their underwear.  

Folks this is demon possession.  You see a demon loves the person who does not know Jesus.  That demon enters the home, invites his friends, and starts destroying property.  It is not until the cops show up that the demon tucks tail and hides.  That’s what demons do.  

A Demon’s Desire

A. Dismantle (Cut You Off From Friendships) -This man lived outside of town and among the tombs

B. Dominate (Control) -This man was compelled to cut himself 

C. Demand (Others Join In) -Demons joined in

D. Destroy -The pigs, like the man unless Jesus came were destroyed

Quotes:
The devil has more temptations than an actor has costumes for the stage. And one of his all-time favorite disguises is that of a lying spirit, to abuse your tender heart with the worst news he can deliver-that you do not really love Jesus Christ and that you are only pretending, you are only deceiving yourself. — William Gurnall

Don’t think of Satan as a harmless cartoon character with a red suit and a pitchfork. He is very clever and powerful, and his unchanging purpose is to defeat God’s plans at every turn – including His plans for your life. —  Billy Graham, The Journey

Point: 
Should we respect our enemy? Yes!  Should we fear our enemy? No.  For those of us who possess the Holy Spirit, there is no place for evil to reside.  A Christian cannot be possessed.  2 Corinthians 6, for example, is that the indwelling Holy Spirit could never cohabit with demons:What harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people”  (vv. 15–16).  We find out in Mark 5 that these demons can only do what Christ allows them to do.  So, Christ is in charge here, not the demons.  

Point:
Yes, Christ is in charge but we can let demons have influence over our lives if we will.  We can choose to listen to their sinister plans and schemes and give and ear to temptation.   You may think that is impossible.  How can a Christian do such a thing?  Friends I see it every week.  Another brother or sister in the faith saying yes to the devil and his demonic forces.  Be careful.  Be prepared.  Be sober minded.  Make sure that you are doing everything to prepare yourselves and protect yourselves against the dark forces of this world.  

2 Corinthians 2:11: "In order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his (Satan's) schemes."

How Will We Win Our Battle

I. Rely vs. 10
II. Ready (Prepare) vs. 11,1
III. Respect vs. 11-12
IV. Remember vs. 13
Ephesians 6:13 ESV
13 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.

Point: 
Paul reminds the believers of Christ to take up the whole armor of God. Some translations say take up the full armor.  Why, because the days are evil.  Not that we needed much notice of that.  

Illustration: Joshua Chamberlain
Friends, do you know the story of the school teacher named Joshua Chamberlain.  He was from a small town.  He was the first to enlist for the Union Army so they made him a Colonel.  Chamberlain fought in the Battle of Gettysburg.  It was charged to him to defend Little Round Top.  If the Confederate Army were to take Little Round Top they would have had the military advantage and most likely won the battle.  Two times the Confederates charged Little Round Top and each time the Union army took them back.  Chamberlain’s men started with 1000 and now they were down to 80.  They were also out of ammunition.  The Confederate Army decided to make one last push of the side of the hill.  Realizing that they were undermined and out of bullets, Chamberlain yelled “fix bayonets” and the Union Army charged down the hill towards the Rebels.  The Confederate Army was stunned.  They thought that Chamberlain’s army had been reinforced and they ran.  



You see, Chamberlain remembered his orders.  

You see, Chamberlain remembered his weapons.

You see, Chamberlain remembered his courage.  

Chamberlain’s 80 men captured over 400 Confederates by remembering their calling.

When Chamberlain remembered all these things, he charged forward ready to defeat the enemy.  Friends, this was a physical battle but it has spiritual implications.  We have been given orders by God to live lives of holiness.  We have powerful weapons like His Word, prayer, worship and accountability.  Our battle is already over and our enemy has been defeated.  Why would we give the enemy our hearts, minds and souls?  

Point:
Rely
Be Ready
Respect The Enemy
Remember God’s Call and Be Confident

2 Corinthians 10:4 ESV
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.


Remember God’s Call And Be Confident!

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