Ephesians 6:10-20; Ephesians 6:10-20; The schemes of the devil..
length: 86:08 - taught on Feb, 27 2022
Sunday February 27, 2022
We strive to fulfill the standard of life that God has made, graciously given, and set for us. We do this despite our own reflection of weakness that too often lowers our countenance to the point of despair. There is a reason why we don’t quit and know in our hearts that we will never give up the good fight. We belong to Christ, the Victor and our Savior, and He will never quit on us.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is courage to continue that counts.” [Winston Churchill]
Christ has won the battle forever. Our daily struggles will be either victory or failure, or some mix of the two, but no success is final. We must fight on. And no failure is fatal. We have a new day ahead in which we can be the new self instead of the old.
Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might [His mighty power]. 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.
The imperatives are: be strong, put on, and stand firm. These are supported by the rest of the text - a description of what this means.
Paul emphasizes that our struggle is not against people. Leave them to God is a theme that runs throughout the Bible, i.e., David and Saul.
Stand firm is an imperative as are “be strong” and “put on the full armor of God.” These imperatives dominate the passage and the rest is explanatory of these which are related to the main idea. We have to stand firm against the schemes of the devil, and to do that we have to be strong and wear God’s armor.
Imperatives in the spiritual life are things that we just have to be.
No excuses. No introspective long self-talks. We just have to be them and that’s it. We were made new just for those imperatives alone. They are the unbendable way of Christ.
Despite our track record so far, we are to stand firm by wearing God’s very armor. We are no longer under the devil’s power if we are battling him. We each have the opportunity to stand strong in victory against this greatest enemy of God as creatures that are so much less than him on a physical scale, but with God’s armor, His indwelling presence, and possessing the finished work of Christ as our own, we are superior in strength to him.
Life is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
We walk in the Spirit in a manner worthy of our calling and we put on the new self, we put on Christ, we put on the armor of God and stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
We are always in a war with the devil and his powers and we always possess God’s armor because of what Christ did for us.
The passage is a rousing call to the readers to summon all their energies in the firm resolve to live out the sort of Christian existence in the world to which the whole letter has pointed. The battle arouses a sense of urgency and intensity.
The schemes of the devil are made clear:
During the first centuries after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the churches in various towns were run by bishops - the bigger the city and the church, the more prominent the bishop. A significant church was founded in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, and during the late 200s and early 300s, the bishop of the church was a man named Alexander. By all accounts, Alexander was a gentle soul and a good bishop.
Alexander had a presbyter (elder) in his congregation whose name was Arius. Arius greatly desired to be the bishop of Alexandria, and for a while he patiently bided his time, convinced that he was next in line. When Alexander stepped down or died, Arius would step into the role. In his eyes it was bound to happen.
It was bound to happen, that is, until Alexander took on a young protégé named Athanasius and made him his assistant. Suddenly, Arius had a rival, and this did not sit well with him. As time passed, it became more and more obvious to Arius that Alexander favored Athanasius and that Athanasius would succeed Alexander and not him. As would come to light over time, Athanasius was very qualified to be a bishop and was one of the most influential of the early church fathers. He was a humble and wonderful theologian and leader. Arius couldn’t see the qualifications of Athanasius. He only saw a rival.
Arius figured that if things continued as they were, Athanasius would be the next bishop. Arius figured that his only hope was to discredit Alexander. If Alexander fell, then Athanasius would follow, clearing the way for Arius to take his rightful spot.
Arius decided to paint Alexander as a modalist, and advocate of the false doctrine (already risen and debunked) that God was one and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were three personas that God took when He wanted to. Modalism is God with three hats. Then, to really stand out as separate from Alexander (who in the local paper is a modalist though he isn’t) Arius proposed a theory of God that firmly separated Jesus from the Father. He began to teach that the Father and the Son were so different that they were not only different persons, but were also different in essence. To make things even clearer, Arius proposed that the Father brought the Son into existence by creating Him. Arius did not deny that the Son was a god, but that He wasn’t the God. He taught that the Son was the first created being. It would seem that Arius did this because of his envy of Athanasius and his ambition to become bishop.
Satan uses certain sins as open channels for the inflow of his schemes.
Saul’s jealousy of David is a similar story.
The devil 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.
Similar to lies, anger, and lack of forgiveness is lust for supremacy over others - all are tools for Satan’s schemes.
Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
The liar, opposer, hater, takes advantage of lies, anger, lack of forgiveness, and opposition in man.
Like sin is a parasite, meaning it needs a host to live, the devil is similar. Mankind’s sin gives Satan the tools to work.
It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money. 4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
A pastor with wrong motivation or who is under the control of the flesh is skillfully used by the devil.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.
The full armor is “of God.” This genitive would certainly mean that God supplies the armor, but with the OT references it is hard to avoid the impression that the armor is God’s own.