The Believer’s Present Relation to Satan: Spiritual Warfare - Page 1 (series: Lessons on Ephesians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Commentary on the Book of Ephesians

By: Tom Lowe Date: 2/11/18



Lesson 27: The Believer’s Present Relation to Satan: Spiritual Warfare

(Ephesians 6:10-20)
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Introduction

It is a serious mistake for anyone to think that in the happy hour of our conversion all trouble and strife comes to an end. In reality that hour marks the beginning of a lifelong warfare—not a war for our salvation, but a war involving those in Christian service. The closing portion of Paul’s letter contains his account of this conflict of the Christian with the forces of evil.

A note of tranquility permeates most of Ephesians. Beginning with a doxology of praise to God for the blessings of redemption; it proceeds to speak of the electing grace of God, the wonder of spiritual resurrection in Christ, the blissful indwelling of Christ in his people, and the pure and holy lives they are to live. The epistle closes, however, with a rousing call to arms amid the sounds of battle. For all the joy and for all the peace and happiness of the Christian life, it is nonetheless a life lived out on a spiritual battlefield.

Some commentators equate the Christian experience to life within a camp located in enemy territory. Within the camp the scene is one of loyalty, love, and fellowship. The ramparts, however, cannot be left unwatched for even a moment. The saints must never live and move unarmed.

What the apostle said here is meant for everyone. Like a general leading an army against the enemy, Paul issues commands and gives instructions. He mentions the believer’s strength (v. 10), his foe (v. 12), and his protection (v. 11, 13-17).


The Lesson (Ephesians 6:10-20, KJV)

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

As Paul prepares to leave Ephesus, he thinks of the great struggle which lies before them. Undoubtedly life was much more terrifying for the ancient people than it is for us today. They believed unreservedly in evil spirits, who filled the air and were determined to do men harm. The words which Paul uses―powers, authorities, world-rulers,―are all names for different classes of these evil spirits. To him the whole universe was a battleground. The Christian had not only to contend with the acts of men; he had to contend with the attacks of spiritual forces which were fighting against God. We may not take Paul’s actual language literally; but our experience will tell us that there is an active power of “evil” in the world; just watch the TV news, for there is almost no good news, but plenty of bad. We recognize that we have all felt the force of that evil influence which seeks to make us sin.

So how can the Christian become strong enough to resist these evil influences? This kind of strength is only available from Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul knew well the secret of this Christ-inspired strength, as Philippians 4:13 shows: “I CAN DO ALL THIS THROUGH HIM WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH.” The source of the strength needed is brought out by “IN THE LORD,” the idea

being that by virtue of our union with Him the power that is inherently His may be drawn upon by us. In Him we can do all things; apart from Him defeat is inevitable.

What it means to “BE STRONG IN THE LORD” is further explained by the phrase, “AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT.” To be strong in the Lord is to be joined to the strength which belongs to His MIGHT. Observe the two principal words—“POWER” and “MIGHT.” The former which is used in the New Testament only, and only within the framework of supernatural power—whether satanic (Hebrews 2:14{1]) or divine (everywhere else)—denotes POWER as an active force, POWER exercised. The latter word, which is more passive in meaning, speaks of strength inherently possessed, whether exercised or not. This impressive accumulation of terms for STRENGTH, POWER, and MIGHT brings to mind 1:19{2], where Paul describes the exceeding greatness of the power of God available to believing people. Here, the readers are urgently encouraged to lay hold on that POWER in order to meet and vanquish the evil forces that attack them.


[1} “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). The devil is said to have the power of death, not because he can kill and destroy men at his pleasure, but because he was the first to introduce sin, which brought death into the world, and so he was a murderer from the beginning; and he still tempts men to sin, and then accuses them of it, and terrifies and frightens them with death; and by divine permission has inflicted it, and will be the executioner of the second death.
[2} “and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might” (Ephesians 1:19). “Of his great might”—Greek, "of the strength of His might."

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

All this time he was chained by the wrist to a Roman soldier. Night and day a soldier was there to ensure that he would not escape. Paul was literally an envoy in chains. Now he was the kind of man who could get along side any one; and beyond doubt he had talked often to the soldiers who were compelled to be so near him. As he writes, the soldier’s armor suggests a picture to him. The Christian too, has his armor; and part by part Paul takes the armor of the Roman soldier and translates it into Christian terms.

The Christian is called to fight against “THE WILES OF THE DEVIL,” which are temptations to sin in every shape and form. For this he needs “THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD”: the complete suite of chain mail, body armor, and weapons which God supplies. Before he describes them, Paul identifies the enemy to be fought (v. 12).

The Christian finds protection in this mortal conflict by making use of “THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD” (vs. 11, 13-17) and the practice of incessant prayer (vs. 18-20).

The expression “WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD,” employs the imagery of the Roman soldier, fully equipped for heavy battle. It is the armor “OF GOD” in the sense that it is armor which God provides. Each piece is furnished by Him. It is called “THE WHOLE ARMOR” to stress the completeness of it. We must see to it that no portion of our person is left exposed and unprotected.

God provides the ARMOR, and it is ready for our use. But it is we who must, on our part, faithfully accent every instrument and implement which God offers. We are therefore urged to “PUT ON” the whole Armor of God in order that we “MAY BE ABLE TO STAND AGAINST THE WILES OF THE DEVIL.” The tense of the verb “PUT ON” denotes urgent and decisive action. When the enemy has already been engaged, it will be too late to arm ourselves. “TO STAND” in this context means not only to stand ready to fight, but to hold ones ground. The “WILES OF THE DEVIL” are his strategy, and the many and subtle ways by which he attacks God’s people. The Lord Jesus has demonstrated that when properly warn the armor God provides will protect the one who wears it.

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