#BetterTogether Series 
  • We all know life is richer and more meaningful when we're connected yet for centuries tensions exist in society due to terrorist activities, racial divisions, fearful economics, and the seeming futility of "success." Relationships have deteriorated all around us. We believe God has planned more for His people, don’t you? Come with us as we study Ephesians...together!
6. We Are Alert [Ephesians 6:10-24]
  • We are in a war emotionally, relationally, financially, spiritually. Stand your ground! Pray for boldness to share the gospel.
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance – What are the central ideas of the text?
    • The Church is in pitched spiritual warfare with the devil. (Ephesians 6:10-12)
    • God has provided believers with complete armor with which to stand against the devil and his schemes. (Ephesians 6:10 & 11, 13-18)
    • In the midst of spiritual warfare, believers are to stand firm and proclaim the gospel message with boldness. (Ephesians 6:13, 19 & 20)
  • Implications - What questions should the listener be asking?
    • How should you live your life as if you are in a spiritual battle?
    • If spiritual armor of God is necessary for the spiritual battle, are you fitted with that armor?
    • How can you stand firm and proclaim the gospel in the midst of spiritual battle?
Talk it Over Discussion Guide 
  • Interpretation - What is the text telling/showing us?
    • What does it mean to be strong in the Lord? How strong is the Lord?
    • Why is it that we are to “put on the whole armor of God?”
    • Who is the devil and why must we be aware of him and what he is up to?
    • What is the devil up to and what methods does he use to try to accomplish his purposes?
    • What is the spiritual battle, and who are the forces the Church is up against?
    • What is God’s charge to us in terms of the spiritual battle?
    • Describe the spiritual armor Go has given us in your own words? Why do we need God’s whole armor?
    • How can God’s armor enable us to stand against the devil?
    • Why is prayer so important as part of God’s armor? How are we to pray? List the ways
    • Why is prayer important for others in the Church?
    • What are the impact of peace, love with faith and grace for the life of the Church?
  • Implementation - What should the listeners response be?
    • How can you be strong in the Lord?
    • How can you put on and take up the whole armor of God? When should you do so?
    • Do you believe that Satan is real? What is his aim and purpose, and why is he our enemy?
    • Do you consider Satan and his hordes to be your enemy? If so, why? If not, why not? And if not, you should!
    • How are you doing in standing against the schemes of the devil? How do his schemes impact you and what do you do to stand against them.
    • How does the devil attack you? Attack your family? Attack your church?
    • What is your defense against the devil? What is the church’s defense against the devil?
    • Why is it important that the Church as one body stand against the devil as a body?
    • What do peace, love with faith and grace mean to you?
Sermon Teaching Notes (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)
  • Investigation - What's generally going on in this area of scripture?
Paul is about to bring his letter to the Ephesian church to a close. He has written about God’s great plan and the place of the Church in that plan; and he has written about the new life that is to mark the lives of Christ followers as the Church and as individuals. Starting in verse 10 of Chapter 6, Paul issues a clarion call to the Church as it faces the spiritual battle that rages. As followers of Christ, we are literally at war with God’s enemy, Satan. (Ephesians 6:11) The unity of the body of Christ, the Church, is not only crucial for the health of the Church Ephesians 4:1-6), it is crucial for engaging in the spiritual battle itself. So Paul sets forth a call to arms, so to speak, and a charge to believers to stand and fight. Yes, Jesus has already won the ultimate victory (Ephesians 1:20-23); but believers still live on earth where Satan has sway and power until the very end, and meanwhile is doing all he can to oppose and thwart the advance of God’s kingdom, to render believers ineffective and unproductive for the kingdom, and to bring the name of Jesus into disrepute and ridicule.

Verse 10 begins with the word “Finally,” which suggests he is wrapping up. But his “wrap-up” is not a summary, but, as noted above, is a call for application. A loose paraphrase might be, “Finally, you’ve heard about God’s plan and your part in it as transformed individuals working together, now here’s what to watch out for as you walk the walk of faith and here's how you can stay strong in Him because He is strong indeed.” The popular translation, “The Message,” puts it this way: “And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong.” Simply put, believers, “be strong!” Interestingly, the Greek can be translated to read, “be empowered continually in the controlling might possessed and exerted by God.” Remember Paul’s earlier description of God’s mighty power in Ephesians 1:19 & 20: God’s power is limitless; it is exerted in His actions; it is under His control pursuant to the operation of His will; it is effective in achieving the intent and purposes of His will; and it is inexorable and irresistible in its application. (cf. Ephesians 3:20). That’s the might in which believers stand!

What a place to start! As believers, we can be strong because we are His children, indwelt by God the Spirit, and endowed with His strength! But how can we appropriate that power and for what purpose? Well, we can, and must, appropriate that power by putting on “the whole armor of God.” (Ephesians 6:11) And why? So that we can take our stand in the spiritual warfare against the devil and his wily schemes. The “whole armor” is a picture of a Roman soldier. As a prisoner, Paul was guarded by Roman soldiers, so he had them in mind as he wrote and enumerated the fighting gear of the soldier ready for battle. In addition, to take one’s stand was also a military term used for a soldier holding his position against the attack. In verse 12, Paul describes the enemy and the battle; he writes that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” One commentator calls this a “war to the death against supernatural forces.” In short, ours is no ordinary battle, and it is a fight we cannot win without God’s armor and His strength. The word “wrestle” is also translated “struggle” or even “fight,” and it looks to the Greek wrestling contest in which the loser had his eyes gouged out. Thus, it is a desperate battle, and a close, hand-to-hand combat that must be won.  The battle is constant and unrelenting, a steady onslaught of the enemy which we must resist and oppose with preparedness, steadfastness and watchfulness.

And Paul tells us that the battle is against the supernatural, which he describes with four terms: rulers; authorities; cosmic powers; spiritual forces of evil. These forces of the devil are hordes of demons who have been given limited authority in the realm of the earth, and who, together with their general, Satan, seek dominion and control of the earth and its inhabitants, and who inhabit “the heavenlies” outside of the earth. Another commentator states that these enemies are “the demonic hosts of Satan, always assembled for mortal combat, and who seek to rule over the world for their lord, Satan. These forces attack the Church to bring about disunity, distrust, distraction, dissension and distress through lies and deception (cf. II Corinthians 2:11). Among other ways, they attack the Church by promulgating false doctrine, planting false believers in the Church, fomenting dissention among believers, causing disunity and infighting, leading people into overt and unchecked sin, and fostering financial greed and sexual sin. These forces have organization, rank, large numbers, power, and they are active. They are under the control and rule of the devil, Satan, who is real. He is an accuser (Revelation 12:7-11), the tempter (Matthew 4:3), the evil one (Matthew 13:38 & 39), a murderer (John 8:44), a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44), an adversary (I Peter 5:8), the god of this world (II Corinthians 4:4), and one who disguises himself as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14). He is also a schemer who employs craft and deceit with methodical cunning. Note, however, that Satan is a created being; he is not equal to God; he is not “omni anything.” Thus, although he operates with great power, that power is limited, as it is under God’s overall realm of rule and authority.

But make no mistake, Satan is powerful; and so God does not leave us to engage in this fight without resources. So he provides believers with His whole armor to fight against Satan and his forces. So Paul continues and says “take up” the whole armor (Ephesians 6:13). Interestingly, he uses a different verb than the one he used in verse 11 where he told us to “put on” the whole armor. “Put on” has the sense of “be clothed in,” whereas “take up” has the sense of”receive” or “assume.” Taken together, we are told to be outfitted in general with (“put on”) the whole armor of God, and to “get dressed” (“take up”) with the various pieces of the armor and use them. And further, it is the “whole” armor which tells us that God’s armor is complete, it is sufficient in quantity and quality for the battle; there’s nothing lacking in what we need in order to defend against (“withstand.” Ephesians 6:13) the attack and stand firm to the end. But just what is the whole armor? It is the following, and note how the text indicates that we are to take up each piece of armor (“fastened on;” “put on” in Ephesians 6:14. “put on” in Ephesians 6:15.” “take up” in Ephesians 6:16.” And “take” in Ephesians 6:17):

the belt of truth – (cf. Isaiah 11:5) the belt held up the tunic the soldier wore, kept the breastplate in place, and was used for the scabbard that held the sword. For the believer, God’s truth, namely the truth of the gospel and who Jesus is and what He has done, supports the rest of our spiritual armor. The truth is the defense to the lie; the truth sets us free (John 8:32).

the breastplate of righteousness – (cf. Isaiah 59:17) the soldier was covered from neck to thighs by the metal breastplate which protected the heart and inner organs; there was generally also a matching backplate. For the believer, the breastplate is righteousness, namely the righteousness of Jesus which covers us and protects us, and is the morality and purity that are to mark the life of the believer and the Church.

feet shod with the gospel of peace – (cf. Isaiah 52:7) the soldiers wore boots that were tough and thickly studded with nails on the soles for good grip. The believer wears the solid foundation of salvation in Jesus through which we have peace with God, with self and with one another, and a secure foothold for life.

the shield of faith – the soldier held the shield, approximately 2’x4’ in size, of two layers of hard wood glued together and covered with flame resistant hide and bound with iron. It was used to protect from arrows and blows. The believer uses faith, namely faith in Jesus for salvation and the living of a victorious life and a life hereafter. We live by faith (Romans 1:17); we serve by faith (Romans 12:3 & 6); we stand firm in the faith (II Corinthians 1:24); we walk by faith (II Corinthians 5:7); we fight in faith (I Timothy 6:12); we keep the faith (II Timothy 4:7); and we persevere in faith (II Thessalonians 1:4). Such faith and a life of faith stops the fiery darts and arrows of the devil and extinguishes them.

the helmet of salvation – (cf. Isaiah 59:17) the soldier wore a metal helmet which protected the head from deadly blows. It was handed to the soldier by the armor bearer which is why the soldier would “take” the helmet. The believer is to accept the gift of salvation of God; to receive it. It is not something we can produce. Once accepted, we are protected (cf. I Peter 1:5) by the salvation that comes through belief in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.

The sword of the Spirit – the sword referred to here is the short, two-edged sword used for close-in fighting, slashing, cutting and thrusting. The sword of the believer, the only armor piece that is used both for defense and offense, is the authoritative, powerful, and ever-lasting word of God. In this spiritual battle, we are to read it publicly (I Timothy 4:13); teach it faithfully ((II Timothy 2:2); handle it accurately (II Timothy 2:15); use it effectively (II Timothy 3:15-17); preach it continually (II Timothy 4:2); treasure it willingly (Psalm 119:11); and follow it constantly (Psalm 119:105).

Praying in the Spirit – while not related to a specific piece of equipment, this piece of armor underscores the fact that the soldier needed to keep in direct touch with his commander for instructions, encouragement, and the like. The believer must likewise constantly stay in touch with God through prayer, using all kinds of prayer (thanksgiving, praise, request, intercession, etc.), all the time and especially on behalf of other believers. We must “keep alert” (literally “be sleepless”) in our praying, on our guard in the battle, knowing that we pray in the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26 27) who takes our prayers and ignites them in the will of God.

Having enumerated the whole armor of God, as part of the community of faith and the “one another” of the Church, Paul asks for prayer for himself (Ephesians 6:19), and specifically that he would be empowered to speak the gospel boldly. Paul knows that he is one member of the body of Christ, and no more important than any other member; and in that knowledge, he is acutely aware of his need for prayer from the body. And so he unashamedly asks for it. It seems likely that Paul is thinking about the appearance before the imperial Roman court which he awaits. He wants the power to speak and even the words to use as an “ambassador” for the true King Jesus. Paul wants to use the right words at the right time in the right way, with freedom (“boldness”) and confidence (Ephesians 6:20). Paul is thus supremely aware that he has been called to speak for Jesus and that as such, though he is in chains in prison, he is still the representative of that true King and thus has the opportunity of a lifetime to share the gospel to those in power at the very core of the Roman empire. What a place to be, for sure!

Paul has reached the end of his letter, and of the clarion call for the entire body of Christ, the Church, to be the Church that it was made to be, its members using their gifts to minister the gospel to the world, living righteously in the world in the new life, and standing firm in the full armor of God against the devil and his hordes. His final words in verses 21 through 24 are personal and meant as encouragement to the believers in Ephesus and in all the other churches who would read this circular letter from Paul, who is part of the Ephesian's church body and of the larger body of Christ. He wants his fellow believers to understand his own circumstances so they can pray for him intelligently and know that he is in the center of God’s will, even while they overcome any discouragement they may have in the midst of the spiritual battle. To that end, Paul is sending his trusted aide and co-worker, Tychicus (Acts 20:4; II Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12), to give them details and further information in person. Paul then closes his letter with a wonderful benediction and blessing which reflects the key thoughts he expounded in the letter, namely peace and reconciliation, love with faith, and abounding grace. In short, the blessing says to his readers and to all who are in Christ, be at peace with one another with the peace that comes from Christ through faith, and live and minister together in the love of Christ which is imperishable. Amen!