Ephesians 6:10-11; The devil’s schemes use people’s sins as its tools.
length: 69:16 - taught on Feb, 17 2022
Thursday February 17, 2022
Paul’s epistle to a close with a final section and his concluding greetings.
Paul’s final doctrine concerning the life of the new self is the spiritual warfare we find ourselves in.
After spelling out in masterful discourse what God has made us to be and the gifts He has given us, most importantly our so great, eternal salvation by grace, and after detailing for us the divinely ethical life that accompanies that calling, including the church and the home, then Paul tells us of the prince of the demons.
I once saw this as a building up, a crescendo of strength in the believer who learns to handle himself, his church membership, his marriage, family, and daily responsibility and then, and only then, is he ready to face Satan. I don’t hold this view any more. I don’t see it written here that Satan’s schemes are only for the very mature believers. It is true that Job was attacked when he was the greatest believer on the earth, but that was at God’s request. Satan is gone after chapter 2 and is not anywhere in the next 40 chapters. Paul tells the whole church that they have to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. I would confidently conclude that he has schemes for all levels of believers and unbelievers.
What I see now is Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, weaving a masterful plan in this letter for exhorting us. If we were still on the fence about the accountability, need, and value of the life of the new self by the time we heard or read through to slaves and masters, when we heard that the devil, the great adversary of God, man, and all things good, would take advantage of us and use our sinfulness to his own advantage, what would you think about the matter now?
If you knew that God’s #1 adversary could use your sinfulness to advance his own agenda, you would reevaluate the importance of the new life.
We must never forget that Christ defeated this foe of God and that Christ is superior to all things, having ascended to the right hand of God. Paul has revealed Christ’s superiority throughout the letter. Christ sits at the right hand of God. He has the power to unite Jew and Gentile in one body in Himself, who are one temple for God in His Spirit. Paul revealed to us that Christ alone brought all things together under Himself (1:10). The unity of humanity in Christ foreshadows the ultimate unity of the cosmos under the love of God. This promise sounds the death knell for the powers and principalities that incite evil. Paul does not neglect the power of Christ here as we might seem to be on our own against His first adversary. The power of Christ is worn by us when we live by faith in the doctrines He has given us, which are here imagined by Paul as pieces of armor. Let us not give way to fear.
We move from the household to believers in military garb. And we should see this imagery as the ancients reading this letter, which was not an individual soldier but with emphasis on a unit working for one common purpose.
It will become clear to us that this final section will summarize the entire letter. Everything we have heard and read and learned will be needed on the great battlefield that God encamped the human race, most of whom do not even know they’re on it, nor that a war is even happening, but the angels do, for they are intently watching (3:10). The unknowing are tragic victims in this war.
Now we are introduced to the one who is behind all the lies and deceit - the devil, and how to resist him - clothe ourselves with the gospel.
In our topical work we will study the doctrine of this creature and his schemes. We will also study the doctrine of spiritual warfare. For now, we will seek to grasp the overall meaning of the passage and complete our overview of the book.
When you read a passage, read the entire context (the book if necessary), which is usually the paragraph and maybe the surrounding paragraphs and try and find the main idea. With this in mind you will read with intent, and you will need to read it multiple times to discover and confirm the idea. Sometimes the main idea is at the front, the end, or in the middle.
Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might [His mighty power - same phrase 1:19 “surpassing greatness of His power toward us”]. 11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Main idea: stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
Paul’s calling here for all believers to stand firm is in contrast to his earlier call to walk. We will see that they are two aspects of the same thing, the life. Satan is going to try and knock you over while you’re walking. Imagine walking across a river that has a strong current.
The power of the armor flows from the love of Christ, the source of His gospel.
There might be two more ideas that are central, and they would be related. But I think most people who know of this passage think it is mainly about the armor of God. It is about that, but there is a reason for the armor of God, and that gets closer to the central idea. Paul says that we put it on to stand firm against the schemes of the devil, and this (to me) is the main idea. The other things written around the main idea supports it. But if we know the main idea we can better remember what God wants us to know. We must stand firm against the schemes of the devil. And then we can ask, “What does God instruct us on how to do that?”
It is not to stand firm against the devil himself, but the schemes that he uses to deceive the world, and specifically believers. Satan has schemes to fool the world concerning Christ, that He is not God, nor a Savior; about God, that He is not personal, nor the only Creator who is perfectly holy; about the Bible, that it has errors and is only a suggestion; and about a bunch of other things that would no longer fool a believer, at least a knowledgeable believer. These things are no longer weapons against you. But he has other schemes that are aimed at believers, and even maturing believers. These are the ones that we have to stand firm against.
Paul has already made us aware of false teachers.
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming [methodia - the devil’s weapon in 6:11]; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ,
First, we acknowledge that there is a real, living, and active creature named the devil; really a title that means slanderer or accuser.
God hates sin. “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1JO 1:5). God outlaws sin, judges it, redeems people from it, and suffers to do so. God does not ever encourage sin, condone it, sponsor it, or support it. Not so for the one the NT calls Satan or the devil. He stands directly against God’s love.
Devil - liar, murderer, deceiver, accoster, seducer, accuser, destroyer. The god of this world. The prince of the demons. He is no match for Jesus Christ.
Since we will overview this passage at first, we will not spend time on the doctrine of this creature. We find him in the Garden of Eden speaking through the serpent and we find him being cast into the Lake of Fire by our Lord Jesus near the very end of the book of Revelation. He has no hope. He will be judged, but not by anyone other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
We find him doing horrible things to Job, but he could not have done anything unless God had allowed him to. In fact, God brought up the subject of Job, not Satan, knowing full well what Satan would accuse him of and challenge God with.
Satan cannot harm those who wear the armor of God, which we will see means to wear Christ and the gospel. The articles listed by Paul are all a part of the gospel. The gospel refers to more than what you believed when you believed in Christ as your Savior. That was your introduction to the gospel. The word means “good news” and within it is all the Person and work of the humanity of the Son of God and the Trinity in redeeming mankind.
Armor: truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, salvation, Holy Spirit, and the word of God.
This is what Paul gives us to stand firm with. This is what blocks the blows from Satan that are sure to come against us. When we see the devil’s schemes (the Bible has stolen the enemie’s plans) we will see the armor’s role clearly. The armor has direct applications of faith.
In the gospel is Christ’s victory over the devil, who earlier had tempted Christ to be defeated in the wilderness.
Secondly, he has schemes (Greek: methodia), which is a cunning device, wile, or trickery. He can tempt, accuse, accost but not destroy armored believers.
Paul already used this word to describe the false teachers in EPH 4:14, translated “craftiness” in NASB and many other good English translations.
Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.
The new self (vs. 24) speaks the truth. If he finds himself getting angry, even if he thinks justly, he doesn’t let it fester long enough that he would find himself under the control of the old self. We will go into this latter when we study the doctrine of man, but I am more convinced that this commandment to be angry is not a command of righteous indignation. I see it as an acknowledgment that anger does occur in us, and sometimes for right reasons, and a warning by Paul not to let anger last long within us. In that time sunset was thought to be a limiting factor for a lot of things. (What if you lived in Alaska in the summer?) This statement is like an idiom for keeping it short.
Festering anger gives the devil an opportunity, as does failing to put off the old man and speaking falsehood. The sister passage in COL 3:8 says that we are to put aside anger. James says for every man to be slow to anger. Remember that it was anger that motivated Cain and it cost him his relationship with his brother and with God.
Satan lurks around lies and anger, especially when they are together.
In similar fashion to festering anger is lack of forgiveness.
But whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.
The person in question, the man who bedded his father’s wife and bragged about it, had felt the sorrow of repentance and changed his ways. The Corinthians would not accept him back.
Forgiveness prevents a designing Satan from gaining the advantage over believers.