Sermon by Daniel L. Sonnenberg | 2013-09-08
” 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For 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. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God… (Eph.6:10-20)
Sermon Outline: Our enemy; Our weapons; Our stand
Since the Garden of Eden, and until Christ comes again, the devil seeks to use every means available to him to thwart God’s plan for his people. He appears in Scripture as the adversary opposing God’s people from Genesis to Revelation. By nature he is cunning and powerful and evil.
The devil is Cunning
The devil is cunning. In this passage we are commanded to 11 …stand against the schemes (wiles, designs) of the devil, because he uses many forms and tactics to accomplish his goal.
He is crafty, causing us to question God’s word. In the Garden of Eden, “…the serpent was more crafty than any other beast that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”” (Gen 3:1)
His cunning causes us to question our identity as God’s people. “And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”” (Matt.4:3)
He uses various disguises to deceive us. “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. And those who serve him do likewise. ..his servants, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” (2 Co.11:14-15)
He causes us to deceive one another. ” Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?” (Acts 5:3)
The devil is Powerful
Not only is the devil cunning, he is also powerful.
12 …we wrestle the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places
The devil has power over all the kingdoms of the world. During his testing in the wilderness “the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”” (Lk.4:5-7)
He has power over the whole world. He is called “the deceiver of the whole world.” (Rev.12:9)
He has power over death. He is ” the one who has the power of death, that is the devil.” (Heb.2:14)
But he is not as powerful as God. God is omnipotent. Satan’s power is like one of God’s greatest angels like Gabriel or Michael, but like them he is a created being, not like God.
And the fallen angels who serve under are not as powerful as God’s angels. When Elisha and his servant are surrounded by a massive army, the prophet says, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”” (2 Ki.6:16) Likewise Jesus said to his disciples, “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 Jn.4:4)
Yet his power is greater than ours. A line in Luther’s A Mighty Fortress says, – SING – “his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal…” That leads us to the last characteristic of his nature.
The devil is Evil
Not only is the devil cunning and powerful. He is also evil. Luther says he is “armed with “cruel hate.” In these verses he rules over 12 this present darkness, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, and is called 16 the evil one. He does evil, he rules over evil and is evil.
He is an accuser. The prophet Zechariah sees “Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.” (Zech.3:1) He is “the accuser of the brethren…who accuses them day and night before our God.” (Rev.12:10)
He is a hindrance. “Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. (Matt.16:23) “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me” (2 Co.12:7)
He is a liar. “there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (Jn.8:44)
He is a betrayer. “When Satan entered into Judas, He conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray [Jesus] (Luk 22:3-4)
He is a tempter. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matt.4:1)“Simon, Satan demanded to sift you like wheat, (Luk 22:31-32). “…the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested,” (Rev.2:10)
He is a murderer. “He was a murderer from the beginning…” “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1Pe 5:8)
How should we respond? We should admit our helplessness in the face of such a formidable adversary. Eve could not overcome him in her strength even in a perfect world. How can we hope to overcome him on our own in a fallen world where he has been given such power, where he has perfected his schemes over millennia, and where he has multiplied evil to the nth degree? With mass-murder, sexual slavery, suicide and war all around us. And with temptations, doubts and fears within, we need hope for one who can deliver us from all these things. And that is just what God has provided to us by faith in Jesus Christ.
OUR WEAPONS (13-20)
God has equipped us with everything we need by faith in his Son. Though he has placed us behind enemy lines and the battle is raging, we can be assured of final victory through the strength and weaponry he provides.
We are filled with God’s strength and covered with God’s armor in order to stand against the devil in this evil day.
It is God’s strength. We are told generally, in verse 10 “be strong in the Lord, in the strength of his might. We are not told to be strong in our own strength, but to be strong in the Lord, in the strength of his might. That is, in dependence on him when we face such a formidable foe.
- Not only is it God’s strength, more specifically it is God’s armor.
- We are told in vv 11 and 13, 11 Put on the whole armor of God…and 13take up the whole armor of God…. This “whole armor” or panoplia of God covers the entire body.
- It is a complete covering to protect every part of you.
- The word used is found in Wesley’s hymn “Soldiers of Christ Arise.”
- The second stanza says, “Stand then in his great might, with all his strength endued, And take to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God.”
- It is equipment forged and supplied by God, and it is found in Christ himself.
- We saw this earlier in our OT reading. It is the coming Christ who is prophesied in Isaiah, (11:1, 5; 59:17; 61:1, 10).
- Christ is “the shoot from the stump of Jesse” whose “Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.”[The LORD] put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head…”
- Jesus confirmed that these spoke of him when he read that day in the temple, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me…my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness…”
- The NT confirms that this armor is God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ.
- The belt of truth is Christ. Jesus said…”I am the way, and the truth, and the life. ( 14:6)
- The robe of righteousness is Christ. Christ Jesus, became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Co. 1:30)
- The gospel shoes are Christ. It is called “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1.1)
- The shield of faith is Christ. “the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, (Gal. 2:20)
- The helmet of salvation is Christ. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
- The sword of the Spirit is Christ. “the word became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn 1.14)
The purpose of God’s armor is to enable you to stand firm against. Against the devil, against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.]
- Remember the story of David and Goliath? David wanted to go up against the giant, who dared to “defy the armies of the living God” (1 Sam.17:26).
- So Saul put his armor on him. But it didn’t fit, it was too big. It was “man’s armor.”
- Saul was trying to protect David in his own strength.
- But David trusted in God’s armor saying, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”” (1 Sam.17:37) “45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Sam.17:45)
- We prepare for battle in the sheep fold as David did.
- We attend to the spiritual disciplines and the means of grace – corporate and private reading and studying the bible, corporate and private prayer, and participation in the sacraments and the fellowship of the saints.
- So that -“having done everything, we stand.” When the evil day comes – when we are faced with the giant of devil, we will be able to stand firm in Christ.
- Don’t trust yourself or your own strength to enable you to stand when the enemy comes.
- Trust in the strength of Christ alone. “in Christ alone, my hope is found, he is light, my strength, my all”
- Trust in the complete armor which Christ wears that he has been applied to you.
- Luther wrote,
- “Did we in our own strength confide; our striving would be losing// Were not the right man on our side; the man of God’s own choosing// Dost ask who that may be, Christ Jesus it is he// Lord Sabaoth – Lord of God’s army – his name// From age to age the same// And he must win the battle.”
- …This is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.”