Ephesians 6:10-11; Standing firm vs. fighting the good fight.
length: 87:46 - taught on Apr, 3 2022
Sunday April 3,2022
The royal priests stand firm and fight like their High Priest. Our kingdom is not of this world.
In 1Pe 2, Peter establishes who we are as priests and where we serve (God’s eternal holy temple promised thousands of years ago).
And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood [a spiritual house has a solid foundation upon its High Priest], to offer up spiritual sacrifices [what are these?] acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For this is contained in Scripture:
"Behold I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone,
And he who believes in Him shall not be disappointed." [ISA 28:16]
This prophecy/promise from Isa 28 was in response to Judah’s decision to make a pact with Egypt in the hope of defending themselves from Assyrian aggression. Judah sought to establish their house on a foundation of an alliance with the world. God’s response was that He was going to build His house on the foundation of Himself - the Son of God would be the precious and costly corner stone.
but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house whose house we are
The writer of Hebrews contrasts Christ’s house to the house of Moses (Tabernacle) …
For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.
Even those I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar;
For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.
How blessed is the one whom Thou dost choose, and bring near to Thee,
To dwell in Thy courts.
We will be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house,
Thy holy temple.
The church becomes the beginning of the fulfillment of this prophecy. That does not mean, as replacement theologians mistakenly teach, that the promise is removed from Israel. It is not. The final fulfillment of the promise will be in the nation of Israel during the literal one-thousand year reign of Christ on the earth, His Millennium. Prophecies do not have to be totally fulfilled in a moment. The prophecy begins to be fulfilled in the church. The members of the body of Christ, who are such by faith in Christ alone, are made royal priests by God to serve the one High Priest, Jesus Christ. The royal priests live in a holy temple that has been built upon the corner stone. That temple is not literal on the earth just yet, and the house has only begun to be built. However, the priests themselves are indwelt by God. As Paul writes in Eph 2 and 3, God made the Jew and the Gentile into one new man and breaking down the barrier of the dividing wall and making one building, fitted together.
God planned the members of the priesthood (Israel and the Church) before the foundation of the world.
Not one thing in the history of angels and man has caught God by surprise. When we analyze that truth to any depth we run into paradoxes that we cannot unravel surrounded by questions that we cannot answer. But like a child with a child’s brain cannot fully understand a mature adult with a mature adult brain, but can trust that adult and prosper greatly through obedience to him, so we can have the faith of children before God clear revelation. Of course, the gap between us and God is far wider than the one between a child and an adult, it is infinite, but we can trust, and when God became He showed us that a godly man does indeed work really, really well.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
The priest is made holy and holy he is to live. Peter describes this and it is the same holy conduct that Paul writes of since holiness has one source. It does us good to read through this chapter, although we read it last time. Repetition is good for us.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers [citizens of heaven] to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul [a divided soul cannot stand]. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles [unbelievers], so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers [they are wrong about it], they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake [not your political party’s sake] to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men [schemes of the devil]. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil [GAL 5:13], but use it as bondslaves of God [complete obedience]. 17 Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
Though Christ’s house is holy and wonderful, our earthly homes are not perfectly so, and in some cases, they are quite difficult.
No matter what our home on earth is like (even unfair and difficult), we are to live holy as we will in Christ’s house.
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up [endures] under sorrows [not that it doesn’t hurt] when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 21 For you have been called for this purpose [one of the reasons for your existence], since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 [and here is His example] who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
Being God in the flesh, Christ had every opportunity to easily fight His torturers and accusers, but that would be fighting the bad fight. That is not how heaven fought its enemies on earth. We will have to make sure that we know what fight the good fight means in connection with standing firm.
Abstain from lust because it wages war with the soul. The soul is to be adorned with Christ. Lust is war with Christ.
Submit to the Lord and every human institution. Don’t use your freedom as a covering for evil (hiding evil and claiming freedom in grace). Patiently endure suffering when you do what is right, for you are following in the Lord’s footsteps. All of it equates with standing firm.
Standing firm vs. fight the good fight of faith.
Some time should be taken in order to clarify what may look like a contrast among the instructions from God to us. He tells us to stand firm and He also tells us to fight. A careful examination (and we should always think and carefully examine) of the passages in the NT about these terms will show us that they are not in contrast to one another, but rather support one another.
Fighting (striving, contending) in the NT does not mean attacking. It means straining to win at the spiritual life - not the defeat of a foe.
who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;
The fight of Christianity is unique and therefore very different from the fights or contests in the world. In every world contest, the winner scores more than the opponent (field sports), or removes the opponent (sumo), knocks out (boxing; chess), and sometimes kills (war, gladiator). This is not true for Christians.
fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience …
Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
I squeezed these in one slide, but we’re going to go to them soon and read them in their contexts. It is a very important truth. We are commanded to fight. We must know how and what our weapons are. We cannot fight in any other way than what God commands, nor use any other weapons than He has given. If we do, we end up fighting in our own war, of our own making, and we do so on our own, without God’s power or armor, and each of us should know how that is going to turn out.
“fight” - agonizomai = to contend in the public games, to contend perseveringly against opposition and temptation.
One time in the Scripture agonizomai is used for actual combat “fighting” but that one is not for us (JOH 18:36). It is helpful to look at this passage and discover why the Lord says this.
Pilate therefore entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus, and said to Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?" 34 Jesus answered, "Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?" 35 Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You up to me; what have You done?" 36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm."
If Jesus’ kingdom was of this world then His disciples, including us, should be fighting for control of the world. Remember, when Peter drew the sword he was carrying and swung it, Jesus told him to stop and put it away, saying, “Everyone who lives by the sword will die by the sword.” That is the plight of the kingdoms of this world. Kingdoms must defend themselves, and peace never lasts long. They live and die by the sword. But remember, our struggle is not against flesh and blood. We should be so grateful that the Lord’s kingdom is not of this world. Unfortunately, some Christian churches think that this world is the goal. They have to interpret the Bible in a non-literal fashion to arrive at that erroneous conclusion.
The Lord’s Supper is many things to us, all of these things wrapped up in the Person of Christ, the God/Man. Of its many reminders, one is that our kingdom is not of this world.
And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. 25 And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called 'Benefactors.' 26 "But not so with you, but let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. 27 "For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.
The Lord would go on to tell them that after He left them that they would need to survive in this world, which sometimes would mean to use money and the sword. We will look at this more deeply very soon. Still, the principles of the kingdom of God overrule all else, which became the reality of history through the many martyrs of the first, second, and third centuries.
Regardless of the difficulties that a world of sinners would bring upon the righteous, there is overwhelming joy in the saints because of their permanent place in the kingdom of the Lord of Hosts, in the holy temple of priests, serving their High Priest, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.
And when the hour had come He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15 And He said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. " 17 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, "Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes. " 19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.