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SPIRIT-FILLED WARFARE - PART 1
Intro: Finally! The first word of verse 10 is a blessing, isnt it? That word indicates that we have reached the last major section of the book of Ephesians. As Paul nears the end of this precious book, he closes with a final series of admonitions. He challenges his readers to open their eyes to the spiritual warfare in which they are engaged. He calls them to be sure they are on the right foundation, wearing the proper spiritual garments, fighting the right enemies, and trusting the right Lord. Verses 10-18 are a statement about the matter of Spirit-Filled Warfare.
I am not sure that always recognize it, but we are always engaged in spiritual warfare. I will say more about it in a moment, but by way of introduction, I would remind you that the people of God face some very real, very powerful enemies in this world. There is a being called Satan, and he controls and evil kingdom of demonic forces. Satan and his demons are doing all they can to undermine the work of God in the world. They are doing all they can to defeat and discourage the people of God. They are doing all they can to hinder the church, the body of Christ. They are doing all they can to see that we, the people of God, fail in our mission to live for God and to bring Him glory.
The enemies we face are powerful. The battles we fight are real. The costs of defeat are far higher than we realize. The glories of victory are far more wonderful than we can imagine. This passage tells us how to avoid failure, and how to achieve success, in the spiritual battles of life.
This passage is about how we are conduct ourselves in the spiritual warfare that rages around us, and sometimes within us. I want to being preaching this passage today, and to talk to you about Spirit-Filled Warfare. Today, we will look at Spiritual Power. Notice the truths found in this passage that speak about the warfare we fight and the Spiritual Power we need, if we are going to be victorious in our Christian walk.
I. V. 10 THE SOURCE OF OUR STRENGTH
If we are going to be victorious in the spiritual battles we face, we are going to spiritual power. The problem is, none of us possess spiritual power within ourselves. We are weak, frail, fallible, foolish creatures, and we are often on the losing side of the battles of life. If we hope to achieve victory, we must have true spiritual power. This verse tells us where that power originates.
A. Our Strength Comes From A Person - Be strong in the Lord - The word strong means to be empowered; to be strengthened. It was used to speak of a deathbed patient recovering from an illness. It is the picture of someone who is weak being made strong. That sounds like what we need.
We are weak creatures! We are weak emotionally. We are weak in the way we think. We are weak in our spirits. We are weak when it comes to temptation and sin. We are weak in our ability to control our own wills. We are simply weak and we need someone to help us. The strength we need to walk in victory in the battles of life will never come from within ourselves. The strength we need can only come from the Lord.
This verse says, be strong in the Lord. That means that any spiritual strength we can ever hope to possess must come from Him. Spiritual power can only be ours through a relationship with Jesus Christ. This means that just as we trust Jesus and His death and resurrection to save us, we must trust Him to give us the spiritual power we so desperately need. Just as we need His righteousness to enter into Gods Heaven, we need His power of we are going to stand against the attacks we face in life. Just as we need His blood to take away our sins, we need His power to defeat Satan.
B. Our Strength Comes From A Provision - In the power of His might - The word power refers to dominion. It speaks of the power to complete and perfect something. The word might has the idea of force and strength. It speaks of someone who possesses absolute ability.
These two words describe the kind of power we need if we are going to experience victory in the spiritual battles we face.
How do we get this power? We get it the same way we have our sins forgiven. We get it the same way are given His righteousness. We get is the same way we are saved. We get it simply by trusting Him, and not ourselves. If I try to stand against Satan and his forces in my own power, I will fail. If I can ever learn to lean on the Lord, confess my own weakness, and place my faith in His power alone, I become a candidate for victory.
One of the truths Paul has been trying to teach us that when we are saved, we are made one with Jesus. Thus, His life becomes our life. His truth becomes our truth. His way becomes our way. His power becomes our power. His strength becomes our strength.
Here is what we forget: When Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead, He defeated Satan and all his works. That means this war is already over, and Jesus has already won it! We are not fighting for victory; we are fighting from victory. If we can come to the place where we understand that our Lord has already defeated Satan, and that when we are in Jesus, we are partakers of His victory, it will help us walk in that victory in the day-to-day battles we face in life.
So, again, I ask the question, where do we get this power? It comes from simply being in Jesus! When you are in Jesus by faith, saved by His grace, you become a partaker of His power, His strength and His ability!
If there is to be any spiritual power, any spiritual victory, it must come from Him. It must be given to us by the Lord. True spiritual power will only come to those who are in the Lord. So The Source Of Spiritual Strength is Jesus Christ, and His power is only given to those who are in a faith relationship with Him.
This verse reminds us that we are foolish when we trust in ourselves, and in our own power. We are foolish when we think we can fight the devil, his demons, sin, temptation, the world, and the other enemies of life in our own strength. We are foolish when we think we can handle it on our own. We must realize that we cannot handle it. We must realize that we are weak. We must realize that, if we try to do it on our own, we will be defeated. We must trust not ourselves, but in Jesus Christ Who has promised His power and His victory to His people.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me, Phil. 4:13.
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, 2 Cor. 2:14.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us, Rom. 8:37.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. 15:57.
I. The Source Of Our Strength
II. V. 11 THE SOURCE OF OUR STABILITY
This verse teaches us the glorious truth that it is possible for us to stand against the enemies who stand against God and against us.
A. How We Are Embattled - the wiles of the devil - This phrase both identifies our enemy and how he works. We are told that our enemy is the devil. We will talk more about him in a moment, but for now, let me just say that he is the enemy of God. He stands against everything God stands for. He hates God, and wants nothing more than to destroy God and install himself as the Lord of all.
According to the Bible, the devil is the source of evil. Sin first bared its fangs in the heart of the creature known as Lucifer. He determined that he would be god, and that he would exalt himself above the throne of the One and True God, Isa. 14:12-17. Satan was defeated and cast out of heaven, along with one-third of the angels, Isa. 14:12; Heb. 12:22. Those fallen angels are demons, and Satan still does all he can to dethrone God and to rob God of His glory.
That is our enemy. He is ancient. He is powerful. He is deceptive. He is experienced. He has been attacking, deceiving, and defeating the people of God since he tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He has had over 6,000 years of practice, and he knows what he is doing. I am not giving him any glory, I am simply telling the truth about our enemy.
Paul says that God will give us power to cause us to stand against the wiles of the devil. The word wiles speaks of scheming tricks. It is the word that gives us the word methods. Satans methods and to use tricks and schemes to deceive the people of God. The word was used to speaks of a wild animal that silently, cunningly stalks its prey and then unexpectedly pounces on it, devouring it. We will say more about Satan and his schemes in a few minutes. For now, just remember that Satan has always been, and always will be a scheming trickster. Remember that he has a plan to trick you.
B. How We Are Equipped - put on the whole armor of God - God has equipped us for the spiritual battles we face by giving us His armor. This armor is listed for us in verses 14-17. Every piece of the armor of God is designed to protect the people of God from the attacks of the enemy. In our next message we will talk about each piece of the armor of God. We will learn what it is and what it does in our lives.
In this message, I want you to consider the words armor, whole, and put on.
The word armor refers to the equipment that God has provided for us to wear in the day of battles. There is truth to wear as a belt. There is righteousness to protect the heart. There are shoes to protect the feet. There is a shield to deflect the arrows of the enemy. There is a helmet to protect the head. There is a sword to use to engage the enemy. All of this has been provided to every believer so that we might walk in victory.
The word whole suggests that every piece of the armor of God is essential to endure our victory over the enemy. We cant put on a few pieces and leave a few pieces off and expect to achieve success. We must wear every piece all the time. If we do not, we will be attacked, and we will be defeated when we are.
The phrase put on, is in a tense that suggests that when we put on the whole armor of God, we put it on once for all. The idea is that we dress for the battle and we never take off the uniform. When we put on the armor of God we are to leave it on all the time. We are to be constantly dressed for spiritual warfare. There are no days off in this war. There are no vacations in this war. Every day is to be spent on the front lines of battle, engaging with the enemy in vital, spiritual combat.
God has equipped us for the battles we face. He has given us everything we need to stand against the enemy and to enjoy His victory day by day. Still, it is up to us wear the armor we have been given, it is up to us to put it on and leave it on. It is up to us to be sure that every piece is in place. If we dont obey Gods command, and wear the armor He has provided, we have no one to blame but ourselves when we suffer defeat.
C. How We Are Enabled - that ye may be able to stand - Through the Lord, and what He provides us, makes us able to stand. The word able has the idea of power, permission, ability. We are able to stand not through our own power, but through the work of God in our lives. His power gives us the ability to stand. The word stand is a military term. It means to hold a critical position during a time of enemy attack. It is the image of a soldier refusing to yield even one inch of ground to an attacking foe. It is not the image of someone on the offensive, but rather, it is the picture of a soldier on the defensive, protecting the ground that has already been won.
For us, this phrase suggests that our enemy, the devil, desires to take what we have been given.
He wants our truths.
He wants our doctrines.
He wants our testimonies.
He wants our churches.
He wants our families.
He wants our marriages.
He wants our children.
He wants our spiritual power.
He wants everything God has given us.
God is able, through His power, to enable us to take our stand against the attacks of Satan. He can enable us to stand and protect everything we have been given. When Satan attacks, we are made able to stand. We do not have to give ground. We do not have to be defeated. We do not have to lose the battles of life.
This matter of standing is illustrated by the Lord Jesus when He was tempted by the devil, Matt. 4. In that passage, Satan was the one on the offensive. Jesus merely stood on the Word of God and refused to yield. He will enable us to do the same thing. The Lord Jesus said this to the church of Thyatira in Rev. 2:25, But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. We cant do that in our selves, but He makes it possible.
I. The Source Of Our Strength
II. The Source Of Our Stability
III. V. 12 THE SOURCE OF OUR STRUGGLES
There are a couple of words in t his verse that demand special attention. One of the word wrestle the other is the word for.
The word wrestle is a word used to describe hand-to-hand combat. It speaks of the ancient struggles that took place in the Roman arenas. When the combatants met on that field of battle, they were not wrestling to win a prize like modern athletes. They were fighting for their lives, because those ancient contests were a fight to the death. Thus, it really was no holds barred wrestling. The combatants used deception and trickery to defeat their opponents. They cheated, and did what they had to do to win.
The word for reminds us why we must wear the armor of God, if we are to be successful in the battles of life. The very nature of the enemies we face along the way require that we face them in Gods power and not in our own strength.
We are in a literal fight for our lives. Our enemy will stop at nothing to destroy us. He will use any trick, any deception, any tactic at all to bring about our defeat. We need Gods power. We need Gods help. We need Him if we hope to stand against the relentless attacks the enemy. Notice what this verse teaches us about our enemy and his identity.
A. Who The Enemy Isnt - we wrestle not against flesh and blood - The implications of that verse are crystal clear. Our enemy is never another human. People hurt us. People lie to us. People are mean to us. People do us wrong. But that does not make them the enemy. They may be doing the work of the enemy, but they are not the enemy. They may want to see our destruction, but they are not the enemy. They may hate us, but they are not the enemy.
When other humans act against us, we have two choices. We can become angry, hold a grudge and try to get even, or we can forgive them and move on. If we take the first option and seek our pound of flesh, we are really no different than the person who has wronged us. If we hate, hold grudges, and grow bitter toward others, damage our testimony and we dishonor the Lord we claim to love. However, if we forgive the offending party, we act like Jesus, because that is what He did when He was crucified, Luke 23:34. We act like Him, because that is what He did when we came to Him for salvation, and when we have returned for cleansing time after time. He does not hold our past against us. He forgives us and He restore us. That is the same kind of love and grace we are to extend to others.
So, the enemy is never another human. One of the greatest tricks of the devil is to focus our attention on other people and what they do to us. He uses them to distract us from walking with the Lord. When we take that bait and focus our attention on what people do, we lose sight of Jesus Christ and the will of God. When that happens, the enemy wins battle and we are defeated.
When we fight one another, Satan simply takes what he wants, because we are not in a position to stand against him.
When we fight one another, we give up the high ground of love and grace in action.
When we fight one another, we shed the amor of God and walk in the flesh.
When we fight one another, we tell everyone who sees it that the Gospel is a lie.
When we fight one another, we always lose and Satan always wins.
B. Who The Enemy Is - The enemy is Satan, and all the spiritual forces he controls. We dont need to get hung up on the individual classifications and ranks mentioned here. What we need to know is that there is a real Devil. He hates God and is doing everything he can to steal Gods glory and undermine Gods kingdom. He commands a vast army of demonic spirits that are actively seeking to destroy, defeat, demolish, and dismantle the kingdom of God. Satan has power, but he does not have all power, 1 John 4:4. Satan is the god of this world, 2 Cor. 4:4, but he must bow before the God of the universe! Satan has a vast kingdom, but Gods kingdom is infinite.
So, Satan is our enemy. He is out to destroy everything God is and everything God is doing in the world. One of the ways he does this is by attacking the children of God. Verse 11 talks about the wiles of the devil. As we have already mentioned, that phrase refers to deceptive tricks. Satan wants to defeat you, and one way he does that is through deception. Let me mention a few of the ways Satan deceives us.
He deceives us by lying to us about the consequences of our sins. For instance, he will tell you that its OK to experiment with sex, but he doesnt tell you about venereal diseases, unwanted pregnancies, broken homes, and broken hearts. He does this in any area where sin in involved. Thats what he did to Eve in the Garden of Eden. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die, Gen. 3:4.
He deceives us by casting doubt on the Word of God. He will tell you that truth is a lie. He will also tell you that lies are truth. He will introduce you to false doctrine. He will cause you to believe good things and trust those good things to save your soul. Thats what he did to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Yea, hath God said , Gen. 3:1. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die, Gen. 3:4.
He deceives us by causing us to doubt Gods goodness. He will tell that there is a better way than serving the Lord. He will make you think that God is holding out on you. Again, thats what he did to Even in the Garden. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil, Gen. 3:5.
He deceives us by causing us to think that we achieve salvation or victory on our own. He will cause you to try to be good enough to be saved. He will cause you to try and earn salvation through good works and self-righteousness. Even after we are saved, he will deceive us into thinking that we dont need God any longer. He will cause us to think that we can do it on our own. Thats what he did to Eve in the Garden. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat, Gen. 3:6.
Our enemy is deceptive. He is smart. He is powerful. He is after you, and he will destroy you if he gets an opportunity. Here is how the Bible describes him. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, 1 Peter 5:8.
Conc: How do we defeat an enemy like that? Heres how: Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Thats the only way it can be done!
You are no match for the devil. You are no match for his demons. But, Jesus is! When we stand in Him, He will equip us to stand for Him.
So, two questions come to mind as I close.
Are you in Him? If you are, you can stand. If you are not, you are already defeated, but you can get in in Him, if you will come to Him.
Are you standing in His power? Are you fighting the right enemies? Are you winning or losing in the battles of life?
If you need help in the spiritual battles of life, I invite you to come to Jesus Christ, call on Him for the help you need. He will enable you to stand.