Ephesians 6:13-17; The messenger stands firm against false gospels.
length: 33:19 - taught on May, 3 2022
Tuesday May 3, 2022
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 [readiness] of the gospel of peace;
Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace!
This was said to Judah upon the threat of Assyrian invasion. Assyria would be destroyed, but they would not. Believers get to be the messenger that tells others that sin and death have been destroyed and that they can have life in Christ Jesus. Not everyone believed the prophets and not everyone will believe us, but like these great prophets, despite the discouraging lack of response and persecution, we must keep our readiness and show the gospel as well as speak it.
God knew that when He created mankind that He would need to add humanity to the Son and create hell. The life of every person is important.
Human history is not some fun experiment that God thought He would try and see what happens. The full understanding of what God has done (GEN 1:1) is on a plane that transcends our finite minds. Through what we have seen (especially the cross of Christ) we rest our faith in what we cannot see. None of us, including the most mature believers, understand the true heights of what holiness is nor the true depths of what wickedness is. Heaven and hell are vital doctrines but are short ones because the curtain over each is only drawn back an inch.
The salvation of any person depends on God alone. God will bring the gospel in some way to every person. Still it is vital that we are witnesses of the gospel.
The evangelist (all believers) is vital though salvation doesn’t depend only on him.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
This participle, “we beg” means to call on someone with the expectation of a response. It can mean to comfort, but here the desired response is for the listener to be reconciled to God. Therefore, it is entreating or beseeching. Begging might be a little strong.
Our ability to be great witnesses, or ambassadors, for Christ is clearly revealed in the manner in which God puts the whole witness of the gospel in the hands of the church and then allows the devil and his angels to oppose that witness with great power and authority in the world. It is also clear that it is vital that we do so. We are not to, in the face of such a difficult enemy, lay down our spiritual weapons and say to the lost, “Good luck,” or “Go with God,” or something flippant like that. When David said that the battle was the Lord’s, he still ran to the battle line and slung a stone.
Using Paul’s writings, we noted the attacks by Satan against the messenger. Satan uses people to shame the messenger in some way so that they will fear the opinions of others, but to this Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (ROM 1:16).
Satan will try to ruin the reputation of the messenger so that his audience will decide that it is either dangerous, or simply a waste of time, to listen to him even before he has said anything. They said of Jesus that He was a drunkard, a blasphemer, uneducated, had a demon, and that He did His work by the power of demons - all so people would make up their minds not to hear Him, because Satan knew the results when people did actually have ears to hear. It was rumored of Paul that his presence was unimpressive and that his speech was contemptable (2CO 10:10). Paul revealed in that passage that the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of speculations and prideful things raised up in opposition to God. I know that if anyone listened to the apostle Paul when he was teaching God’s truth, they would never have concluded that he was unimpressive or contemptable.
Satan infiltrates the world through media, schools, public commerce and many kinds of interactions with false gospels and false depictions of Jesus. Even if the church tried, she would never be able to stop this. We are not commanded to. We are commanded to stand firm against it and be always and joyfully ready with the gospel of peace.
Paul relates the infiltration of the world with lies right to the first lie told to us when the devil, in the serpent, deceived Eve in Eden by his craftiness (2CO 11:3). To Eve, Satan depicted God as something that He wasn’t; one who holds back good things from His creation and is in fact afraid of them moving too high up. And to the world, Satan depicts a similarly fabricated gospel and a Jesus that is not the real one. Paul also writes in our epistle that we are to be on our guard for “the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (EPH 4:14).
Satan also will resort to physical and material intimidation of the messenger. He will call (in whatever way he accomplishes this) for people to threaten the messenger with bodily harm, at times they will actually carry it out; throwing the messenger into prison or executing them.
Then He continued by saying to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, 11 and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake. 13 "It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony [a fair description of the life of the apostle Paul and probably all the apostles]. 14 "So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; 15 for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. 16 "But you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, 17 and you will be hated by all on account of My name. 18 "Yet not a hair of your head will perish. 19 "By your endurance you will gain your lives [psuche = soul, life; likely referring to that which is life indeed].
I find it interesting, and disconcerting, that nations are occupied with such massive things as wars and even world wars, and they still find time to persecute the lowly messenger of the gospel. Satan hates the gospel with a passion because he knows that it is the one truth that can free people from his prison.
Paul was beaten, whipped, and cast into prison. He went without necessary provisions and was often in danger of death. He was abandoned by his family. He lost all things for Christ’s sake.
God has allowed opposition in His world and He is commanding us, His own, to stand firm against it.
Still, how beautiful was Paul and the others to those to whom they brought the good news of Jesus Christ? The messenger, equipped with the truth and with righteousness, stood firm against all of this and broke through all barriers with the universal gospel of peace.
We are the light of the world. He has made us His lights and He is in us, clothes us, with us, at the right hand of God constantly praying for us. We are the light of the world.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.
The calling to be a bright witness in this world, which every believer has, is as much about our healthy spiritual lives as it is about our encounters with people.
And He also cautioned us not to make our idea of being the light of the world in any way about us. It is always about Him alone. He is the gospel. He is our peace - the only peace for the human race. We can very subtly and deceptively begin to look at ourselves, as almost an outer body experience, while we teach and witness and pray and wonder at how good we are at it. “Look at me witness of Christ.” The next words are almost there, “How lucky this generation is to have me.” This will kill our witness and Jesus warned us to beware of it.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”
He follows, when you give money, don’t sound a trumpet; and when you pray, don’t shout it from the street corner. Do all knowing that only your Father sees - Our Father who is in heaven, sanctified by Your name (not mine).
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Thy name give glory
Because of Thy lovingkindness, because of Thy truth.
The shod feet that are ready with the gospel of peace must be done in the same way. Glorify God, no self, nor any other man.
Now, notice what immediately proceeds these words - perhaps the greatest challenge to us in this Sermon.
“You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you 45 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? 47 And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more
than others (how are you extraordinary)? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
“Hey, look at me saying hi to my enemy,” or I’m looking at myself saying hi to my enemy and marveling at how wonderful a chap I am.
"Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.