Introduction: Last week I spoke about 5 great revivals that came to America, their significance and their God-anointed, God appointed leaders.
This week let me move you into Ephesians 6 to give you a description of our opposition and what is needed to outlast and out-do our enemies’.
Ephesians 6:10-20 is the final section of this epistle and returns to the theme of divine power, introduced in the opening section.
Ephesians 1:15-23 ‘Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding1 being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all’. (Eph 1:15-23 NKJ)
Two things to remember here:
- Christ has triumphed over powers at work in this present age (1:21, 2:2; 3:10);
- Jesus’ exaltation provides the energy/power at work every believer.
‘Ephesians 6:10-20 is the peroration (long speech characterized by lofty and often pompous language) that brings the letter to a rhetorical conclusion.’
The final remarks of Ephesians are a call to battle. This prison epistle moves from describing the exaltation of Christ above any and all powers to a general’s call (Paul, who although in chains) has to his new army of believers moving into battle.
Application: This is the head coach giving his team a pep talk before the start of a contest.
- In verses 10-13 give the command to take up God’s weaponry against hostile spiritual powers.
- Verses 14-17 link items of divine armor with virtues or gifts of salvation
- Verses 18-20 return to the theme of prayer. This prayer asks that the imprisoned apostle continue his bold witness.
In 2 Corinthians 10:1-10, Paul there also provides an indication that the general’s call to arms and the bold prisoner image could be combined in describing not only himself, but those who will follow by faith.
2 Corinthians 10:1-10 ‘Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ– who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. 2 But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. 7 Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s1. 8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us1 for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed– 9 lest I seem to terrify you by letters. 10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.’ (2Co 10:1 NKJ)
Transition: It’s these principalities and powers in both verses 11-12 that I want to start with.
Wiles of the ‘Devil’
2 Corinthians 2:11 ‘lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices’. (2Co 2:11 NKJ)
There are three primary words that are used in the NT for Satan
- Satan – from OT Satanas
- Diabolos – Devil
Diaballo (formed from dia, through, and ballo, to throw) means to throw over or across, divide, set at variance, accuse, bring charges, slander, inform, reject, misrepresent, deceive.
In the OT (LXX) diabolos occurs 21 times (13 times in Job 1-2).
In the NT diabolos occurs 37 times, Satanas 36 times (Bee(l)zeboul 7 times = prince of the devils.
Transition: Not only are we informed by Scripture that we are fighting to stay free from the Devil/Satan, but it goes on further here in Ephesians 6 to address principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age, spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Question: So, who and what is that?
While the term ‘ruler’ and ‘authority’ are frequently found in the NT, the expression ‘cosmic powers’ and ‘spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places’ seem to have be coined here in Ephesians.
Question: Theology? Cosmology? Mythology? Astrology?
Transition: We are not just fighting tradition, intellect, religious persuasions, or philosophical inclinations…we are fighting (I believe) deep, dark and strong spiritual forces.
Gregory A. Boyd – God at War – The Bible and Spiritual Conflict – InerVarsity Press
‘It is all too easy for modern Western people, Christian and non-Christian alike, to dismiss mythologies and religious practices such as demons and spiritual-warfare as mythologies and (mere) religious practices to nothing more than ignorant, primitive superstitions. The warfare worldview that comes through in these mythologies and practices simply does not square with either our modern Western materialistic view of the world or many traditional Christian assumption about God.’
‘Hence for all their emphasis on the radical uniqueness, sole eternality and absolute sovereignty of Yahweh, biblical authors generally assume the existence of intermediary spiritual or cosmic beings. These beings, variously termed ‘gods,’ ‘angels,’ ‘principalities and powers,’ ‘demons,’ or in the earliest of writings, ‘leviatan,;or some other cosmic monster, can and do wage war against God, wreak havoc on his creation and bring all manner of ills upon humanity (including evil).
Question: What do we know?
- There is a Chief / Head – Satan – Found in Genesis in the garden of Eden ‘doing this thing’ but present from the onset of creation. – Ezekiel 28:11-19 (dual reference?)
2. Oppose God’s Plan & Purposes – Daniel 10:1-14
3. There is some sort of principalities and powers of darkness infiltrating and undermining God’s perfect plan and purposes. (Some believe territorial, others political rulerships and some even affecting religious / spiritual truth(s).
Transition: Before you freak out & panic: 2 Kings 6:8f
Question: What do we know in response to this enemy: 2 Corinthians 10:1-6
- Our war is not merely against human entities. Walk – behave, conduct, lead, walk about
‘We do not war after the flesh.’ – verse 4
2. Our weapons are not carnal. 10:4 = tools we implement;
3. Mighty in / through God for: powerful, capable.
A. Pulling down strongholds = destruction of forces.
B. Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself above God. = destroying speculation and lofty matters; faulty human reasoning; taking them captive.
C. Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ = thought, purpose;
D. Ready to punish all disobedience. = bring under submission.