Ephesians Session 11:
Engaging in the Battle 

To hear Brian's excellent encouragement to us as we conclude our study of Ephesians 6 then please click here

 

You can also see the powerpoint he used here

 

Ephesians 6   Engaging in the Battle
In this final chapter of Ephesians, Paul starts to introduce the topic of spiritual warfare
If I were to ask you what are some of the biggest sources of opposition, or warfare that the Christian faces today what would you say? Might it be,

  • Terrorism that stems from misguided religious zeal?   
  • Today’s culture, that flies in the face of biblical standards?
 
So how should we pray in these situations? If we read Ephesians  6: 12 we will see that our battles are not against flesh and blood but against, principalities (a territory ruled by a prince), powersrulers of this dark agehosts of wickedness in heavenly places
 
These powers (that are not of this earth) are the real enemy of all followers of Jesus, and Ephesians calls us to be aware, and to stand against all such evil forces.
 
Now, many of our prayers don’t involve a spiritual battle,
  • such as praying a blessing on someone,
  • seeking guidance over a job application,
  • or asking God for wisdom how to handle a particular situation
 
However, we can miss the fact that some do, and our call then is to engage in that battle
 
If we pause to consider more closely what we are praying about we will discover that frequently our prayers concern human affairs and situations influenced by evil.  
 
When this happens, too often we direct our prayers at the situation alone, asking for God’s intervention to achieve a good outcome, when the Bible instructs us to address the evil influence that has permeated into the hearts and minds of unscrupulous men.   We mustn’t forget all evil stems from a realm above led by Satan that is in constant conflict with God’s kingdom of righteousness and light.
 
It’s rare that we talk about spiritual warfare and battles in the heavens, but the Bible has given us a few glimpses of what is going on. We are told of certain senior participants,
  • Michael, the only heavenly being identified in scripture as an archangel.
  • Lucifer (a beautiful angel who we know as Satan) believed (but not stated) to once have been of similar senior rank.
We also know of God’s bearer of good news, the angel Gabriel, who appeared to Daniel (Dan8:16 and again in Dan9:21), Zacharias (Luke 1:19), Mary (Luke 1:26) but we have little individual knowledge of the other angels, cherubim and seraphim, and the host of angelic beings. Yet we are given a few insights,
Lucifer’s rebellion against God in Isaiah 14:12-15
How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, who did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the farthest sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet you shall be brought down to sheol, to the sides of the pit.
 
Archangel Michael’s involvements,
Another unknown angel speaking to Daniel in a vision talks of the conflict he experienced in attempting to bring a reply to Daniel’s prayer,
Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom (another reference to Satan) resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there.  Dan 10:12-14
If it took twenty one days for Daniel to obtain a response because of a heavenly battle, it shouldn’t surprise us if sometimes it seems a long time before we receive answers to all our prayers!
We all know that Satan’s days are numbered. Jesus confirms Satan’s destiny when he sees seventy of his disciples returning joyfully from their mission, declaring “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:18)
Even today, Satan still uses the same method that he used against Eve, subtly trying to persuade his victim. He infers, ‘Don’t let doubts spoil your intentions.’    He places tempting thoughts into the mind any human who is willing to entertain them.
 
But, neither Satan nor his demons can make anyone do anything! There is no such thing as, the Devil made me do it!  We sin, when we allow his persuasive voice to become our own personal choice. We alone choose!   He cannot force us!
 
Paul understands this and accordingly exhorts the Christian to take every thought captive,
 
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10: 4,5
 
 Paul is suggesting that we need to modify and take control of our thinking. In the same manner this also suggests that our prayers should not only be a list of requests, but an engagement against the evil powers that have influenced these deluded men.
 
  • Against terrorism, our prayers shouldn’t just seek a change in their behaviour, but form a demand, made in the name of Jesus, to the powers of darkness that have been given control of the minds these wicked perpetrators. “In the name of Jesus, take your hands off these deluded men!”
 
  • Against things happening in our society that disregard God’s standards, we need to address the evil powers that are corrupting the minds of mankind, and influencing leaders that promote ungodliness.  Our battles are not against flesh and blood!        You corrupt powers. You defy the principles of our God and corrupt the minds of susceptible men. The Lord rebuke you! “
And if you’re unsure what to pray in these circumstances then take up the offensive by praying in the Spirit,   Pray in the Spirit at all times with every kind of prayer and request. v18
 
Christians can get all spooky and hesitant when it comes to addressing these supernatural enemies of God. But we have absolutely nothing to be afraid of. We are covered with the sanctifying blood of Jesus. He has already obtained the victory against all these powers!
 
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. 1 Cor 15: 57-58, NIV
 
For whoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?   1 John 5: 4-5, King James 2000
 
Paul wants us to realize our status in Christ. Remember what we considered in chapter 1 of this series?
 
 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet.. Eph 1:18-23
 
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Finally we come on to the metaphor that Paul uses for our battles. He uses a recognizable and familiar illustration of that era. He describes the armour and weapon of a Roman soldier.
Stand firm, therefore, having fastened the belt of truth around your waist, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and being firm-footed in the gospel of peace. In addition to having clothed yourselves with these things, having taken up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to put out all the flaming arrows of the evil one, also take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Eph 6:14-18
 
The thing is, armour is to worn in battle. And the battle isn’t inside the cosy walls of a church meeting. Our place as Christians is not confined to just a holy huddle amongst other Christians.
 
Our mission lies beyond these walls, among the communities where we live, in the workplace, in the office, among our neighbours, our unsaved friends and our needy family members. And it’s for this reason alone that we have been promoting community groups. We are called to stand. We are called to action.
 
It’s in these places that we need to
  • reveal the truth,
  • demonstrate the righteousness of God’s kingdom,
  • letting people see in us a gospel of peace,
  • faithfully deflecting any falsehood,
  • confident of our salvation,
  • always ready to give an account of the hope that is within us, as the Holy Spirit directs.

 
There is a desperately needy world out there that needs you. And you are already fully equipped, fearlessly to take your stand there as a warrior for Christ.
 

Brian Foster, 03/11/2015