Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Context of the term, finally. We are talking about living a life worthy of the grace of God that has worked in our lives. Jesus came that we might have the best life possible that God has for us. Paul tells us that God has prepared that life in advance for us. Paul tells us that will come about as we submit to God’s way of living in the world rather than just doing what our culture says is good. There is struggle in this. A change of thinking, a pursuit of faith. We obey the law, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and God’s power. We have life in spite of the curse because we follow Jesus Christ and His submissive approach to God. We end the letter with the idea that there will be conflict as we aim to live in God’s life. Paul addresses that conflict in our passage today, and we will talk about that for the next three weeks. There will be a struggle for life. The first point Paul wants to make is that we don’t need to express our conflict against other people, even if we have conflict with them. (And Paul certainly often did.) People are not the issue, and God has not called us to war!
- We Are Not Fighting People
- Do not make people your enemy
What kinds of people? Spouses, family, co-workers, bosses, employees etc.
Conflict requires two people and you only have control over one of them, and make no mistake, you do have control over one of them.
This attitude attacks all blind spots! Think about that.
This is a reaction born of faith! We will only do this if we believe that God will give us life.
- Self-control comes from the Holy Spirit
The fruit of the Holy Spirit, Whom we are commanded to be controlled by is self-control. Self-control is best managed early on. Do not encourage anger, bitterness, lust, or other negative emotions, get those stirred up and then talk about not being able to control yourself. Get that stuff early.
- Focus your attention inward
Control what you can control, which is your actions and attitudes.
- God has given us tools to use in the conflict
Those tools are called the armor of God. We will focus on them next week. And in very real ways, they are tools that will help us to manage our own attitudes. Which means the battle is inside of us to the degree that that is true.
- We are Battling Satan’s Schemes
- It is a battle about what to believe
Examples from the previous passage. I don’t want to submit to spouse, to work, to family, to God.
If you do not trust and obey the truth that God has revealed then you will walk in darkness and chaos in life.
It doesn’t matter if you have walked an aisle and said a prayer.
It doesn’t matter if you ask God for forgiveness.
It doesn’t matter if you are a teacher and leader.
You will reap what you sow in life.
Gal 6: 7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Singing while doing the dishes at Stoby’s on a Friday night. The battle is for life. When you realize that it is a battle and that Satan is trying to steal your life, you will be more motivated to compete against him.
- Faith directs action in spite of feelings
This is a battle where feelings often lie.
God does not ask you to feel any certain way before you obey Him. We have become conditioned in our culture to do as we feel is right. That is the kind of language that we use. This is not a good strategy. You will lead an up and down existence in your relationship with God at best when you live this way.
- Faith requires waiting on God
Read your Bible from this perspective. Whenever God gives a promise, we are often required to wait. And when we wait on God, we must have faith.
See Abraham as the example: Here are God’s promises to him: Genesis 12: 2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.[a]
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
1 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
2 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Hebrews 11:6 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him.
God rewards those who diligently seek Him. What is the reward? It is what God has promised.
- What is Satan’s strategy?
He will lie. He always tells a shaded part of the story.
John 8: 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.[b]”
39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would[c] do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
He will undercut God’s wisdom, power, goodness and love.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.
The pursuit of pleasure, pride and greed for life
Do not love these things. (Even though your friends and neighbors may. Even though you sacrifice reputation as a result)
I believe this is a life-long fight.
I watch fishing videos occasionally and this guy will go out in the ocean and throw a bunch of chum in the water to attract fish so he can trick them and hook them. He uses their natural weaknesses and desires against them. If they had known, they would have stayed away. Well, that is the way we must learn to be. You can be a preacher and feed on pride, or greed or pleasure.
If we can see God as the sovereign ruler of our lives, where nothing gets to us without going through Him, then we can stop reacting to impulses and react to Him. This is why it is really important to spend time with God intentionally. We need to focus our attention on Him so we don’t get distracted and chase these other things.
Agree with the Holy Spirit who is at work inside of you
Sacrifice these things in obedience to God!
- Stand firm
You are standing in Christ’s victory. You are in the light that He has provided for your life.
Satan has already lost. He is a defeated foe.
His power is derivative.
What does that mean? It means that an enemy that has to win by trickery is not strong enough to win by a powerful assault. Satan is described as a roaring lion. A lion does not roar to stalk and kill prey. They crouch, get quiet and pounce. A roar is a threat. Satan seeks to steal your life, to kill you by separating you from the life that God has for you, like he did Adam and Eve. He seeks to destroy you by getting you to destroy yourself!
So, he seeks to defeat you, but you are already victorious in Christ. He is the attacker and he is attacking from a position of weakness.
Picture of ancient battle: The armies lined up and waded into each other. You will be waded into by life. Stand firm. You have already won. Do not give up your victory to lies, threats and intimidation. God has given you armor to wear to protect you. Use those things that are true. We will talk about that armor specifically next week.