Our Adversary, Our Armor, Our Obligations
New Relationships with Each Other Because of Our Relationship with Him
God's Will and Way for His Glory and Your Good in Marriage
The Ruling Principle for All Relationships
Be Filled - Not Fooled, part 2
Be Filled - Not Fooled, part 1
How Do You Define Love? The Divine Way or the Deceiver's Way?
Walking in the Light: What it Looks Like and Why We Do It
A New Life Resolution for a New Year
Father, we come to you, a very exciting place in Scripture, a spot that always spikes our interest. We are thankful that your Word, God, is so relevant. We thank you that we don't have to wonder if, when we open it up, it's going to be something that would encourage us. We know that your Word is living and active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword. It can pierce us, pierce us to the core. It's able to judge the thoughts and intentions of our hearts.
God, I pray that tonight you would do all that, that you would pierce us, that you would motivate us, that you would stir us to be obedient to your Word, not just to know it, but that we might respond in obedience, that the world might see what you can do with an individual whose heart is completely set for you.
I pray for those who are out there tonight who aren't sure that God's Word is something they should base their life upon, that they would just be drawn to our sincere worship of you, our sincere love of one another, and our sincere desire to try and let your Spirit have this Word work a miracle in our lives. I pray that you would take us who were dead in our spiritual sensitivities and continue to enliven us and quicken us in Christ, that the world might know that you can do a wondrous work. We thank you, in Christ's name, amen.
There's a great book by a guy named C.S. Lewis. Many of you have at least heard about it; it's called The Screwtape Letters. He wrote it with the idea of helping individuals know what it must be like in the demonic realm. We're going to talk about something tonight called spiritual warfare, or how we delve and deal with our Enemy, the Devil.
A lot of folks have a hard time with this idea of the Devil because as soon as he's mentioned, they immediately do what I do. I'm a victim of Bugs Bunny cartoons where I see a little spiked guy, a little red guy with two horns and a tail with a spike on the end of it. I think of that as the Devil, and that's a ridiculous view of the Devil. It's one that the cartoons have invented for us, not the Scriptures. We're going to talk about tonight the fact that we have an Enemy that is alive and real, and we do do battle with him.
C.S. Lewis wrote this book, and he talked about how difficult it was for him to share the insights of an experienced demon who is writing to his nephew who has been assigned an individual. He tells this young nephew of his how he can best torment this individual, how he can prevent him, horror of horrors, from coming to know the truth because it's the truth that shall set him free, he tells him. He says, "The one thing we don't want is for those individuals to have the freedom that we can never taste and have again."
Lewis says it was an easy book to write because he felt like he had a lot of insight to how a demon tempts a man. I love what D.L. Moody says about the Enemy, about Satan. Whatever you think of him tonight, D.L. Moody says this: "I believe Satan exists, for two reasons: first, the Bible says so and, second, I've done business with him!" We've talked about that before. I can stand before you tonight, and I believe he exists, too, for two reasons. They're the same two as D.L. Moody brought out: the Bible says he does, and I've done business with him.
Lewis says in the introduction to this book that there are two equal and opposite errors we can make regarding this Enemy of ours. I'll just read it to you, right from the preface. It says, "One is to disbelieve in [his] existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in [his existence]. [Demons] themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight." I'll tell you we have a society that is on either one of those extremes. We don't have a lot of folks who have a biblical view toward our Enemy.
We have a lot of folks who are materialists. They laugh at the fact that we believe there is an Enemy in the heavenly places (see: the unseen realm), that we have an Enemy who we can't see, but that he's out there, and he's against us and seeks our destruction, that he is here to steal, kill, and destroy. They laugh at us. They are materialists. They don't believe in that which is not material. They don't believe in a spirit realm.
We have another very large part of our country that is into the mystical, that is into the magical, that is into the occult. They are fascinated by the promise of power, by delving in and messing with these individuals, these demons, these people who it says angels don't even mess with without clear instruction from God.
I remember a number of years ago, I was watching a special on TV about individuals who mess with the occult. They had an FBI agent on there who dealt with a lot of kids who were involved in Satanic religions, Satanic cults. He said that again and again, these kids get in there thinking it's a little bit of a joke at first, and they mess with all different types of games and events. He said, "When they get in there, not every single one of them get sucked in and end up having it ruin their life."
This is a non-believing FBI agent. As best you could tell, the guy had no spiritual roots himself, but he just simply said this: "What is clear is that when a child or an adult begins to mess with the Devil, it is like stepping inside of a cage with a lion. The lion may be passive, he may be sleepy, he may be well-fed, but whatever is the situation with that lion, one thing we know for sure is that when you step inside and begin to mess with him, the initiative is now moved from your control to the lion's."
What you need to know is when you mess with the Enemy, either by ignoring his existence, or by being infatuated with who he is and toying with him, now the initiative has left your control, and it is now in his. You don't want to give the keys to a murderer. That's what we're going to find here in Ephesians 6:10-17 tonight.
Notice that we are in a part of the book that follows out with this whole area and this extended section we've been talking about with relationships. Again, as a way of overview, the Scripture said in Ephesians that before the foundations of the world, God had a plan to build a new community of individuals that would be unified, that they would be pure, that they would be subject to one another, that he himself would redeem them and become their righteousness. He shared all of this with us, up until Ephesians, chapter 6.
I don't think it's any coincidence that he gets to the idea, when he gets here in Ephesians 6:10, that he says, "Finally…" We'll talk about that word in a minute, or what some manuscripts say it means. It's no coincidence that coming on the backside of relationships, and all the temptations and struggles that are there, and how we submit to authority, it's no coincidence, I believe, that here is where he says, "Beware of your Enemy."
One guy said it this way: "It's not a coincidence at all that it came shortly after his instruction on marriage because after the honeymoon, that's when the war starts." He's going to tell you how to handle warfare. Look back there at Ephesians 5:18. Look what he says as he begins to tell us how we as Christians ought to look.
In this very key passage, he tells us to "…be filled with the Spirit…" to be dead to the flesh and to let the Spirit of Christ which indwells us, the Scripture says, to live through us. He goes through and gives all kinds of instruction. "You'll be joyful, thankful, and you'll be subject to one another because you have the mind of Christ. You'll have the mind of Christ in your marriage. You'll have the mind of the Christ in your parenting and in your child/parent relationships. You'll have the mind of Christ in your employer/employee relationships. But that won't be easy."
He borders it with "…be filled with the Spirit…" on one side and then this verse right here in verse 10: "…be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might." Let's learn from Paul here. Let's read these seven verses, and then we'll come back and have some fun picking them apart. Ephesians 6:10:
"Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
This is a very familiar text. If you've been an FCA group at any point in your entire life, this is one of the devotionals they did for you, right there. They took you through, and they had some guy dress up in his football outfit, and they said, "This is what a modern-day warrior wears." They went through and tried to give you a little bit of a picture of what Paul did.
Let me share with you what Paul's doing here. We're commanded in the Scriptures to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. When Paul wrote this letter, he was in a prison in Rome. It is what is called a prison epistle. When you were in prison in Rome, and sometimes under house arrest, you were often chained to a Roman centurion. Paul is writing to encourage his brethren in the church at Ephesus. He's sitting there, and he's scribbling down a note, and he looks over at this huge man chained to him.
He looks at him, and he begins to say, "You know what? I can make an analogy here. I can encourage myself, and I can encourage my friends. Everybody is familiar with a Roman soldier and his garb. As I look at him, it reminds me of how we need the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness. We need to gird ourselves with truth. We need to shod our feet."
Often Roman soldiers, we'll talk about, had nails, hobnails, on the bottom of their feet so they could dig themselves in, anchor themselves on the soil so they would not retreat. They had a huge shield; we'll talk about what that shield would look like. Paul looked at it, and he drew some analogies from it.
Let me just say this. There's an old song, a country and western song, by a guy named Tex Ritter. It's called "Deck of Cards." It's about an individual who was in Egypt serving and fighting in that war. When he was over there, he came into a town where there were a bunch of casinos. He and his buddy went out late that night, and they were playing some cards.
He went to church the next day. His buddy brought his Bible, but he didn't; he just brought his deck of cards. When the pastor got up there to teach, he said, "Open up your Bibles," and his friend opened up his Bible, but this guy opened up a deck of cards and just laid it all out. Whether it was because he was bored, we don't know in the song, or whether his heart was intent and he was just crafty, we don't know.
What was interesting is a sergeant leaned up to him in the song and said, "Put those cards away, son." After the service, he took him, and he impounded him. He said, "I'm going to take you before the court, and we're going to try you." He said, "Before you do that, let me explain myself." He said, "You'd better explain yourself because if you don't tell me what you were doing, I'm going to punish you more than I've punished any man in my entire outfit for playing cards in church, embarrassing us like that."
The guy went through, and in the song, he says, "Let me tell you what I did. Here's the ace; the ace reminds me that there is but one God. Here's the two; the two reminds me…" He shared what the two reminded him of. He goes through, and he says, "The three reminds me of our Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."
And the four, he shared something. And the five, he shared about the five virgins who trimmed their lamps and were ready and faithful for the bridegroom to come. "Six reminds me of the six days the Lord took to create the heavens and earth and make us. Seven is when the Sabbath was, and the Lord rested. Eight reminds me of the righteous people the Lord saved with Noah through the ark: Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives; eight righteous. Nine reminds me of the nine lepers who didn't return and give thanks."
He went through, and he did 10, and he did the jack, it reminds us of the knave, the Devil, our Enemy. The king reminds us of our Lord Jesus who is the King. The queen reminds him of the mother of Christ, our example of virtue, he went on. He talked about how the deck of cards, when you looked at, he went even so far as to say, "When you count the number of spots, diamonds, spades, hearts, and clubs, there are 365 of them on a deck of cards, the number of days in a year.
I am to be mindful when I look at these days to number my days and be faithful. There are 52 cards in a deck, the number of weeks in a year. There are four suits in a deck, the number of weeks in a month. There are 13 cards in a suit," he goes on to say, "the number of weeks in a quarter, that I might not even waste yet a quarter of the year." He goes on to say, "I want to be completely faithful to my Lord, so I lay out the cards to remind me of my faithful Savior."
There are so many of us who get hung up seriously, and I want to make a little transition here, with certain symbols we believe are un-Christian. Did you know that every year, there are people who scoff at you because you put a Christmas tree up in your house, a pagan symbol that had its roots in medieval Germany? They think Christians shouldn't do that.
Let me tell you something. When I put a Christmas tree up in my home, I am not thinking of the pagan symbol that went on in medieval Germany. It is a way for me to celebrate with my family. We surround it with gifts for each other, that we might be thankful of all the goodness and gifts of Christ. If I want to, I can say that the green in that tree, the evergreen, reminds me of the eternal life Christ gave me. I'm not afraid of the Christmas tree.
I'm not afraid of the Easter bunny. I don't make that the focus of my Easter, but I'm not going to tell my kids, "Never think of the Easter bunny." Some people say you trace Easter back to Ishtar, and my goodness, Christians shouldn't even call Easter, Easter because it has a reminder of an ancient pagan goddess. The bunnies have a reminder of the fertility ritual that goes on there.
"When you celebrate the Easter bunny, do you know that you're really participating in pagan worship?" No, I'm not. I'm not celebrating the Easter bunny, but I'm not afraid of my child hunting eggs. I'm not afraid to talk about a bunny, and I tell my child, "Hey, listen. This is a picture of multiplicity. As a Christian, you ought to disciple others, all right?"
The point is that there is so much in our culture that we can Christianize. Be careful with what you do; don't rationalize away everything. But we have ourselves so afraid that if it's not completely sterile and spiritual in its appearance, that we had better have nothing to do with it. Let me tell you; Paul took what was around him and he said, "Let me tell you what this reminds me of. This sign of oppression, this sign of bondage reminds me of freedom. It reminds me of hope."
Don't allow people to step on all of your joy. Have some fun. Encourage each other, careful to keep Christ at the center of the picture of everything. Don't play too many games with yourself, but let's not take ourselves too seriously. When you look at a deck of cards, have fun and enjoy it. There's a time for everything. Use it. When you look at an ace, "There's one God. There are three persons that are one God." Go through, and remind them to remember that stuff, but don't let anybody discourage you in that way.
Look what it says in Ephesians 6:10 right here. Paul is looking at that Roman centurion, and he is reminded of the battle he is in. There is a new relationship you are a part of as a member of a new society. You have a new heart, you're a new man or a new woman, and he says, "There's one thing, though, that you also need to be aware of. Not only are you now new individuals in this society, but you have a new enemy. Formerly, he was not angry at you because you were one of them, but now that you are a saint, you are at war with the Enemy."
He says, "Part of the new relationships that happen when you trust Christ is that you are at war." He tells you in Ephesians 6:10, "Finally…" Some manuscripts have that word translated a different way. It's more this: henceforth. In other words, until the end, until Christ returns, you're going to be in constant battle.
So, henceforth, from now until the end… Either way you look at it, whether you realize there is a battle going on, from now until you die, or from now until Christ comes back, or whether it's just finally, in closing, in order to live this way, you need to know this, it makes no difference. Both are true.
Paul is reminding you, "Do you want to live as a unified body? Do you want to live as a purified person? Do you want to live in subject to one another? Know this, that the Enemy loves to see division. The Enemy loves to take that unity, which Christ brought about, and start to build walls again.
Where there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, where there is no oppression by men on women, he loves to rebuild those walls that Christ shattered. Where there is purity that Christ has instituted by his own righteousness, he loves to see impurity reintroduced. So you are at battle." He says, "…be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might."
I want to throw this out there. There are so many folks, as we get ready, like I said, who are going to go, "What is this deal about spiritual warfare?" Some of us have a real great interest in it, and others scoff at it. We don't really see that it's such a big deal that we prepare ourselves for this battle. This is not a text for those of you who are going to go into exorcism as a profession. This is not for individuals who are going to leave here tonight and go find Linda Blair in a room, vomiting and her head spinning around. You go, "Oh my goodness, how do I fight him?"
This text, I believe, is for everyday Christian living. Paul is saying, "As you try and be faithful every day, this is what it's going to take." Don't think you have to wait until it's Halloween, and the Satanic cults are praying for all kinds of hell to be broken loose, that you have to get this out and decide how you're going to protect your family on this awful evening. This is how you protect yourself every single day. It says, "Finally, until the end, be strong in this." There is going to be no truce. There is going to be no silencing period in this war. It's going to continue, so prepare for the battle.
It says this in 1 Peter. As Peter closed out his book, he had a lot of the same things in mind. He said, "You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES [strength] TO THE HUMBLE. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time…"
There are going to be some individuals in here tonight who listen to me, and you're going to go, "Well, it's just not that big of a deal, Todd. You can just will yourself to not blow it." I'm going to tell you that what Paul is saying is that if you desire to live faithfully for him, you must do what he tells you to do here. This is the key to daily victory in Christ.
If you don't humble yourself as you get ready to walk for Christ, you're going to have your head taken off. Why? Because you're going to have two enemies. First, the one who we talk about right here and, second, the one I just mentioned in 1 Peter 5. What did I say? If you don't walk in humility, if you don't take God's instruction, you're going to have two people opposed to you: Satan, and God is opposed, 1 Peter 5, to the proud.
What this section is saying is that if you want to walk with Christ, you're going to have to walk in humility. You clothe yourself in humility. You realize your weakness, you realize your need, that you need something other than yourself. Christians, listen to me. To try and defeat the flesh, the draw to sin, by the will of the flesh is a hopeless battle.
If you go out and say, "I'm not going to blow it like I did. I'm not going to go back to my gambling addiction. I'm not going to go back to my pornography addiction. I'm not going to go back to my gossiping. I will not think evil of an individual again. I will not be lazy. I will discipline myself to study the Word." If you just go out and will yourself in that direction, you are not walking in humility, submitting yourself to the strength of his might. You are not filling yourself with the Spirit.
The Bible here doesn't tell us that the flesh is your enemy. It says that you are to reckon the flesh as dead, Romans 6, 7, and 8, and to let Christ live in you. Our Enemy is Satan, the world, and our flesh, but it says, "The way you deal with your flesh is to reckon it as dead." I'll say this again: the Bible has no program to improve your flesh. It doesn't want you to curb your flesh; it wants you to crucify it. Do away with it. Consider it dead.
That is the picture of baptism. When you have been baptized as a Christian, it shows that you are dead, buried, but that you raise again, and you live again with Christ. Your flesh is dead, therefore "…it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…" (Galatians 2:20). Remember Ephesians 6:10? It says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might…" not your own.
Look at verse 11. It says, "Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil." Know this: it says there is a divine enablement he gives us, it's the full armor of God, but you have to put it on so that you can stand. There's a contrast here. It's not just, "Oh, God, you have to be involved." God will give you what you need, but we must respond to it. There's a divine enablement, but there is a personal responsibility. There's a personal challenge here. We need to make sure we do both.
"Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil." Who is the Devil? Notice it's singular there. The Devil is somebody, the Scriptures tell us, who was a created being. He is not omni. He is not all-knowing. He is not all-present. He is not all-powerful. He is limited.
Be careful, because we cannot mock at our Enemy, but he is not, understand this, able to be everywhere at one time. The Devil is a created being; he is one. He cannot do what God can do. He is not eternal. He is not all-powerful. His power is limited, the Scriptures tell us. He can't be everywhere at once. If he's bothering you, he can't be bothering me.
That gets us, though, what many people believe right there into verse 12. Look at this. It goes from the Devil, singular… It says this: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [we talked about that] , but against the rulers [plural] , against the powers [plural] , against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Against those who are in the invisible realm…
What many people believe is going on here… Revelation 12 tells us that when Satan rebelled against God, a third of the angels fell with him. Many people believe, orthodox Christianity would probably believe, that what's going on here is this is basically Satan's hierarchy. These are his boys; this is the demonic realm. They are called rulers and powers, world forces of this present darkness. A guy wrote a little book about that: Frank Peretti, This Present Darkness. They're the spiritual forces.
You can go look at Daniel, chapter 10, and you can see how Daniel, when he was praying again and again and again, and he was not having the answer to his prayer, we find that finally, an angel of the Lord comes to him and says, "I've heard your prayer from the beginning." Daniel must have been thinking, "Well, why didn't you come and answer me right away?"
The angel goes on to tell him, "I was retained, resisted, deprived of coming to you by the king of Persia." There was a battle that was going on, and until that angel was freed up by Michael himself, who came and defeated the king of Persia, that angel was prohibited from coming and giving Daniel what he sought. It wasn't Satan himself; it was the king of Persia.
When you're out there and are tempted, very few of us probably do personal interaction with the Devil. It really doesn't matter to me whether it's the Devil or one of his boys; they're both fighting for the same thing. The point is, know this: He has a plan. He has a pattern. He has forces, and they are well-organized, and they seek our destruction.
Paul knew this, so he writes about it. He says, "You need to be aware that they're out there, and that they are not for you, that there are many of them, and they're about darkness, and they're about wickedness. This is how you can stand firm, because Christians are not about darkness; you're about light. We're not about impurity; we're about purity. We're not about division; we're about unity. Those forces are not for us."
Here we get into this very familiar part. It goes in verse 13, and it says, "Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm." Notice how many times, it's three in just these short little passages, that we're told to stand firm, to not go back. We're not so much to go out and fight, but just to hold our ground. We do not fight for victory, Christians; you fight from victory. What the Lord asks us to do is go and stand firm.
There's going to be a day when this Enemy will ultimately be defeated finally as it is anticipated at the cross, where he was ultimately defeated. That will be lived out, Revelation tells us, in the day that Christ himself will destroy Satan. He will first bind him. It drives me nuts when somebody says, "I bind Satan in the name of the Jesus." I want to say, "Let me tell you something. You can't bind Satan in the name of Jesus. Jesus will bind Satan himself in Revelation 19 when he comes and locks him up for a thousand years."
The problem I have with that is if you right now think you can bind Satan, then you have called a truce. You think there's peace, there's a ceasefire, that you no longer need to be concerned about him. Satan is not bound; he is a roaring lion who seeks to devour you. There are ways to fight him, to stand firm against him, but don't let yourself think there is something you can do, seven magical steps to spiritual freedom.
It is a daily battle. Christ says, "If you desire to be my disciple, then you can take up your cross daily, deny yourself, and live for me." Follow him. It is a battle. There are ways that we're to resist the Enemy, and he'll flee from us. We're to dig in and stand firm and not retreat, but it is not ours to ultimately win. It is Christ's. He's going to use us to invade upon his kingdom.
In the Old Testament, we had a political people who were taking a physical land. In the New Testament, we are a spiritual people who are taking captive the hearts and the thoughts of mankind. We're defeating the enemies of God in that way. We go and preach the gospel, and we win victory that way. We do not ultimately defeat Satan ourselves. We resist him, and we stand firm, Christian.
That's the thing. You look at the church… Has that been your experience of the church, that we've been standing firm against the attacks of the Devil? Let me just ask you this. In your mind this week, as a body, or as an individual Christian, how many of you have lived the pure life that Christ would have you live, completely? How many of you have seen in every way to build unity and to model sacrificial love to others in every single way? Or, has there been some division? Has there been some lack of unity? Has there been, in individual lives in here, a lack of purity?
We need this text. We need to know how we can stand firm with God's enablement and our response to it, with his armor, not our work, what he gives us. Paul's going to lay out basic spiritual living and the things we need to do to be successful daily as we do battle with Satan, who wants to destroy the new humanity, the new womanhood, the new manhood that God has put in us. He wants us to leave righteousness and go back to darkness.
It says this: "Therefore, take up the full armor…" Not a part. "…of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything [he's about to tell you] , to stand firm." Let me throw this out as well here. There are a lot of folks who take a part of what we're about to follow. One person said it this way, that there are a whole bunch of folks who put on the helmet of salvation, and that's it. They are spiritual streakers. They just got saved, and they're kind of running around naked. That's a problem because they're not standing firm.
Do you know anybody who has done that, who you think genuinely has converted to Christ, who has put on the helmet of salvation, who has trusted Jesus, but they're getting butchered because they're not clothing themselves the way Christ said to clothe themselves? They're not walking in humility, making themselves subject to one another, and they're certainly not arming themselves with that which Christ said would make them successful as they do war with their newfound
Enemy. Yeah, a bunch of spiritual streakers, and they're not standing firm.
I was talking with a friend this week who's pouring her life into some folks. So many people, we get involved, and we do a part of what I'm about to talk about, and we're getting butchered. We go, and we say, "Okay, I don't want to stand alone. I'm going to get involved with an accountability group. I'm going to get involved with a Bible study." We go and get involved with this Bible study or this accountability group, but we're not willing to do daily, moment-by-moment, day-by-day, what the Scriptures say we need to do.
It's not enough just to show up and say, "I really want to live for Jesus. I want to tell you how I blew it this week." That's not standing firm. That's kidding ourselves. We need to begin to love each other enough just to simply do this, to say, "Okay, well listen. Please know this: I love you, I'm glad you're here, I'm glad you want to live for Christ, but let's acknowledge this. You have not done, this last week, what you know you need to do in order to be successful in standing firm against your Enemy, the Devil.
It doesn't mean I love you less, it doesn't mean Christ loves you less, but it means you have not been faithful in doing what Jesus asked you to do. You have not been able to stand firm and thus be a testimony that Christ is the strong one who can resist the Enemy, the Prince of this world, because he is the King of the universe.
Your life this last week has been a life of defeat. The world might think that you don't have a King who is sovereign, you don't have a King who can deliver, and it's because you have not been disciplined to take the armor God has offered you and to put it on. You have been prideful, and you have been a slacker. I tell you that in love, but I don't want you to think, though… The reason I must tell you that is because you haven't put on the full armor of God, and you haven't done everything it says right there in verse 13."
When you get frustrated with your life, don't think you've tried Jesus. That's what happens to a lot of people. The slow dance or they kind of tap dance in and out of the church, but they've never really done what Christ asked them to do, to make themselves subject to others, to join the church, get involved, be discipled, disciple others, learn to share their faith, share their faith, confess their sin, rebuke each other in love, commit themselves to a body that they can be humble before and subject to.
In every way, study the Word daily, memorize the Scripture, participate in times of prayer alone in your closet, that you might stand firm. If your life is still a life of defeat, I just want to say, if you're not doing what we're about to look at, don't blame Jesus. So many folks leave the church, and they think, "Oh, I've tried the religious thing. I've tried the small group thing. I've tried the Christian thing." No, you haven't. If you arm yourself this way, he guarantees us victory.
I want to say this. There are going to be casualties. There are going to be days when it's difficult, but what I'm talking about are the individuals who never really do it. It is a war, and it's difficult. You're going to take an arrow every now and then. You're going to feel like, "Golly, I'm in this fight alone." You're going to be discouraged, but don't confuse a half-hearted attempt, putting on half your armor, and think that this Christian thing isn't real. Are you living this way?
Here's where it comes. He's going to tell you. As he looks at this centurion he's strapped to, he's going to say, "This is how you do it." Verse 14: "Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH…" When you look at a centurion's outfit back then, I'll just tell you this. That girdle, that belt, is what held all of his armor together. If you took that off, literally, he'd be caught fighting with his pants down. If you don't have the one thing that holds it all together, you can't do battle.
It is a proud person who doesn't take their divine quartermaster's given material. Do you know what a quartermaster is? The quartermaster is the one who distributes the goods. "This is what you need." It is Q to Bond. Every time you watch James Bond, one of your favorite parts of the movie is when he goes in there and Q gives him his latest pen that's an explosive device and a tie tack that's a laser beam that can saw through any material. He takes it because Bond knows that without Q telling him what he needs to be victorious in his assignment, he's going to be defeated.
God is our divine quartermaster. He says, "This is what you need." So take it with you. It's a foolish special agent who says, "I'd rather not take that. I'd rather not use that." Take what your divine quartermaster has offered you. The first thing is to gird your loins with truth. Don't get caught with your pants down. You have to do battle.
Know this, that Satan, it says, is the Deceiver. John 8:44 says that Satan is a liar, the father of lies. He's going to ruin your life, and you're going to trip all over yourself because he's going to get you to buy his lies, to live according to the lies. "Gird yourself with truth." It is the first thing he mentions.
Look at what the next thing is. "…HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS…" Now ultimately, and you're going to find, we're going to go through at the end and we're going to show you that if you are in Christ, you have all of these things. What this basically is saying is Paul is doing what Jesus said in John 15: "…apart from Me you can do nothing."
The fact is that many of us don't live in constant communion with Christ. We aren't filled with the Spirit, and we aren't strong in the strength of his might. We just go do it for him, and that's not the idea. To put on the breastplate of righteousness, that is certainly something that is positionally true of us. Ephesians 1 says that we are seated in the heavenly places, but it's not just positionally where we are by faith, it is practically the way we must live.
It tells us in the Scriptures to guard our hearts with all diligence, for from it flow the wellsprings of life, to adorn yourself… Look over there in Ephesians 4:24. Let's read that one together, remind ourselves of this. Coming out of verse 23, which encourages us to renew the spirit of our mind, verse 24 says, "…put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." Adorn yourself in that.
It is a fact that that is done for Christians, but it is something… "Hey, listen. Don't live like a man in rags. You're no longer a man of this world. You are now a Christian, so dress like your Daddy wants you to dress. Think like he wants you to think." Let's go on and read something here.
Look at verse 25: "Therefore, laying aside falsehood…" Here's an example of the righteousness you ought to adorn yourself with. "…SPEAK TRUTH, EACH ONE of you, WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another." There's the unity that Satan doesn't want to see there. Verse 26: "BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger…"
Look at verse 27. "Don't let the sun go down on your anger, and in doing that, you won't give Satan the opportunity." We looked at that before, but that word for opportunity is the word topos in the Greek, which is where we get the idea of a topographical map, where you have certain sections that are set apart from one another.
He's saying, "If you don't adorn yourself with what Christ would have you adorn yourself with, to put away all slander, malice, lust, and selfish living, what you're doing is allowing there to be a hole in your armor. There's an area of your life which Satan can grab ahold of. It is an opportunity, a spot set apart from everything else in your life where he's going to get a foothold and a wedge, and he's going to work for it."
I'll tell you: the guy is a master marksman, and he's going to fire right at it. If you have bitterness in your heart toward somebody, he's going to take that bitterness, he's going to nurture it, and he's going to let it grow. If you haven't forgiven somebody, he's going to aim right at that. That is an opportunity.
If you have a problem with lust that you're not willing to bring out into the open, if you have a sin you think you can't let anybody else know about, that is an opportunity. It is set apart from the rest of you. It is a lie. It is not a breastplate that covers all of you; it is a breastplate with a hole. You do not have on the full armor, and you haven't done everything possible like it says in verse 13. He will take advantage.
Certainly it's true that we are to put on the new self. That is a fact that has happened, but it's also a personal responsibility that we respond as Christ would tell us to respond, that we do the things that are listed out there in verses 25 and following. Jump back over there with me now to Ephesians 6. We have to gird our lions with truth; we have the breastplate of righteousness. Look at verse 15: "…and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE…"
When you would do battle back then, as Paul looks at this guy, he has sandals at least, if not shoes, that have spikes in them so they can dig in and hold their ground as the armies would charge and do battle. By the way, Paul is saying, "You're going to do battle as you wrestle with the Enemy." It has the idea of hand-to-hand combat. That is what you and I are all in. This is not high-tech warfare. It is what every single one of us in.
It is like the movie Braveheart, where you're going to be battling that way, not with computers and ballistic and intercontinental missiles. He's using that Roman centurion and the battle that Roman centurion participated in to be a picture of how you and I do war with the Enemy. We have to gird our loins with truth, which our society has such a hard time with. We have to put on the breastplate of righteousness, and then we have to shod our feet in the gospel of peace.
As we go out, and we dig in, what is the one thing that you're really firm about? Paul is saying right here that as Christians, if we want to have victory in our society in standing firm against the Devil, there is one thing we have to stay rooted in. It is the gospel. What is the gospel? What a simple question.
The gospel is simply this: We believe no man, according to his own works, can please God. We believe that his standard is perfection and that our efforts to meet him will always fall short. We call out and say, "God, if it isn't for you making a means for us by which we might be righteous in your eyes, we would never have anything we could give to you to make ourselves righteous in your eyes." Christianity is not what you do do. It is not what you don't do. It is whom you trust.
Do you want unity? Do you want to have love in the body? Let me tell you this again. The way to affect Dallas, Texas…the way to stand firm against Satan's spreading in this city…is not through legislation. It is not through negotiation. We are not to sit down at a table and say, "Let's negotiate. Let's keep the strip bars in this part of the city. Let's make sure that they're at least 100 feet away, any kind of alcohol, from any kind of school."
It is not through legislation, it is not through negotiation, it is not through intimidation, that if you don't live this way, we'll expose you. We'll send out fliers telling everybody that you're an abortionist. It's not through reorganization, that what we need is better planning. There is one way that we are to change Dallas, Texas. What is it? It is through the regeneration of the hearts of individuals. It's not legislation. It's not negotiation. It's not intimidation. It is regeneration, and the only way a man's heart can be changed is through the gospel.
He says, "When you go out to do battle, when you go out to stand firm against Satan's growing influence in Dallas, Texas, there is one thing you have to dig yourself in with, as you yourself live like a man who has been regenerated because of the truth that holds your life together: the fact that Jesus Christ died for you and gave you a new heart. You stand firm with the gospel, and don't back away from the fact that the answer is Jesus when it all comes down. If there's anything good that happens in life, it's Jesus." That's what that passage means.
Are you standing firm in the gospel? Do we have a different hope for this country than that? We should vote for righteous men and righteous women. We should want to see evil eliminated in our society, but that's not going to do it. All we'll have is a clean society that doesn't have regenerated hearts; it's going to look for new ways to invent evil. "Shod your feet with the gospel of peace." "Therefore…" it says in Romans 5:1, "…having been justified by faith, we have peace with God…" That's the gospel of peace.
Look at the next one. It says this, verse 16: "…in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one." A guy name Herbert Lockyer, who lived in the 1800s, early 1900s, went through and counted all of the promises in the Bible. There were 7,487 promises, he says, in the Bible.
The way that you extinguish the fiery missiles, the fiery darts of the Enemy is with the shield of faith. Now this is not a little round shield like this. A Roman centurion had a shield that was usually two feet by four feet, that you could hide your entire armor behind. In fact, without it, your armor was pretty much worthless.
It was usually made out of wood and covered with leather, and it would absorb arrows that would be fire at it, or spears that would thrown at it. In fact, on the outside of the shield, there were interlocking pieces that when you sat down in it and got behind it like this, that four foot, five foot piece of wood, it would lock into the person's next to you, and you would become invulnerable to the fiery darts of the enemy.
As Paul looked over and saw that shield, he goes, "You know what? Without faith, we are nothing." You can take all of the rest of this stuff, and if you don't have faith that God's Word is true, it's meaningless to you. Your life's going to fall apart. If you don't have faith that Christ is your righteousness, you're not going to live a life of righteousness. If you don't have faith that the gospel is true, you have nothing to stand firm in. You just have the latest opinions of men.
It says in Hebrews 11:6, "Without faith, it's impossible to please God." Faith is what reckons us as righteous. Faith is going to be the key to us living a victorious Christian life. It is the ultimate thing which enables us to then use our armor the way God wants us to use it, to believe it's significant.
Let me just ask you this. Do you know what the promises of God are that you can even have faith in? So many of us don't even have a shield; we don't even know what to believe. Of the 7,487 promises that Lockyer counted in the Bible, how many of them could we recite as a body tonight?
I went through and took our prayer letter, and I was kind of going through with the different things that are going on in here right now. I was overwhelmed at the hurt within our body. Do you want a fiery dart? "Where is your God? How does he really care for a body of people when all of this is going on?" What's the fiery dart that's been coming at you lately? "You're 36 and single? You're married, you've been trying to have kids, and you can't have kids? Where is your God?"
I scribbled down a few of them; maybe you've heard some of these. "There's no hope for you if you don't fight for yourself. Are you kidding me? You have to fight like the world fights: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. What do you mean you're going to love and serve your enemies like Wagner talked about last week in Romans? Are you out of your mind?" Have you heard that fiery dart?
How about this one? "He's not going to forgive you again and again. How many times do you think you can struggle with that sin and he forgive you yet one more time and cleanse you? Are you serious? Do you think God wants to talk to you right now?" Have you felt that fiery dart lately? What Scripture do you have faith in to know that he's a liar?
How about this one? "Christianity is a crutch for weaklings. That's fine for you, you simpleton, you child, but it's not really for somebody like me. You really believe in things you can't see? You really believe there's some God who we're all accountable to, that that Bible, coming down through the ages, is really God's Word, and even if it is God's Word, that it's accurate? I mean, come on." What are you going to do with that fiery dart?
There need to be things that you can hold onto, Scripture that you have equipped yourself with, that gets us into the very next one, that you can have faith in. So many of us want to have faith. We never take time to build our shield. We don't even know what those 7,487 promises are. They're there, and they're good. They're what enable us not just to absorb his darts, but to defeat him and to stand firm.
That's gets us to the last one. It says, "…in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Hebrews 4:12 says this: "The Word of God is living and active. It's shaper than any two-edged sword. It's able to pierce between the soul and the spirit, joint and marrow. It's able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians, saying, "We don't fight fleshly battles. We fight with a different type of warfare. We fight with the Word of God." It is what enables us to defeat him when he lies at us. When he says to me, "Wagner, how you can you go and say you're a minister? How can you and go say that God loves you when you live the way you do, when you think the way you think?"
I say, "Let me just tell you something. You're right in accusing me and telling me that I'm not, in and of myself, anything that God would love, but the Scripture says that God demonstrated his love to me in that while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. It says that in Romans; do you remember that?"
Then he'll say something to me like, "Yeah, but how many times do you think you can go and struggle and continually have fits of pride or fits of anger or spikes of spite?" "Well, it just tells me that all I can do is every time I struggle with that, if I confess my sins as a believer, that he is faithful and just to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Thank you for pointing out some areas in my life that I need to work on." And you go on. You have to know God's Word.
It's interesting that only one out eight Christians reads their Bible daily according to recent surveys. We don't even look at it, and this is the only offensive weapon that our Lord has given us, in order that we might fight back. Know that Satan is going to get into a little swordfight with you. He did with Jesus; why don't you think he will with you?
Do you remember when Jesus was tempted? What did Jesus use? He stood firm, by faith, believing that God did care for him. He said, "You know what, Satan? It says, 'Man doesn't live by bread alone.'" Three times he responded in Matthew 4 and the other places it appears in the gospels and stood firm against the Devil by using the Word of God and by standing firm in the faith. When was the last time you resisted sin by quoting three verses from Deuteronomy, personally? Probably not this week, but that's what Jesus did.
What did Satan do? He said, "Okay, you want to use your Bible? Then let's do this," and he misquoted a verse. He took it, and he said, "Well, I'll tell you what. Why don't you just cast yourself off this? It says that God will give you this many angels to minister to you." What did Christ do? He said, "You didn't finish. You have to read the whole thing."
Did you know the largest supplier of cults in the country is church kids? Church kids who find somebody who speaks with power and enthusiasm, who's taking the Word of God and distorting it and twisting it… One guy said it this way: "You can pretty much substantiate anything you want from the Bible." It's true; you can.
Did you know the Bible says that there is no God? That is in your Bible. Psalm 53 and Psalm 14 say, "There is no God." It happens to say, around that and before that, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'" But what would you do if somebody came up to you and said, "Do you know the Bible never mentions the word Trinity? Let me give you a pamphlet, now that I'm at your doorstep, explaining to you the Bible." And you read it.
So many of us aren't familiar with our weaponry. We aren't familiar with what God said is going to be that which will deliver us. In fact, because we're not familiar with it, we're like so many guns in households in America today. What was meant to become a protection for us becomes a destruction to our family.
We need to be with the Bible like the SEALS are, and the Green Berets are in the army. Those guys can be put in a room blindfolded with their gun, take it completely apart, and put it back together, never having looked it. If somebody slips them a part that doesn't go with that gun, they'll know it. They'll go, "Nuh-uh. That doesn't go in here. I am intimately acquainted with truth."
We need to do with our Word what the FBI and Secret Service agents do with those who are put out from the Treasury Department to keep counterfeiters from coming into our society. All they do is give them the real dollar bill, have them go through, feel it, smell it, touch it, and look at it. If somebody slips in an inauthentic bill, they know right away because they're so familiar with the real, so they can't have this thing which was meant to be a source of great provision for them become a source of great destruction. How well do you know your Bible? It's the only offensive weapon the Lord has given you.
Let me go through with you, having looked at some of this, and think about how you have to be firm in the gospel. You have to make sure that you're not being led astray, that you hold firm to truth. Our society is so amazing about truth. Let me read you two interesting things because it gets right to the heart of what we're talking about. Eighty-six percent of the American public believe strongly or somewhat that there is only one true God who is holy and perfect and who created the world and rules it today. Eighty-six percent of our country believes that.
Let me show you this. If 86 percent of our country believes that, go figure this. Seventy percent of our country believes that there's no such thing as absolute truth. Do you see the logical contradiction there? The reason our culture is falling apart is because the very first thing Paul says we need to do to stand firm against the wiles of the Devil is to gird ourselves with truth.
We say that 86 percent of us believe there is one God, who is holy and perfect, who rules the world today and we are accountable, but then 70 percent come back and go, "There's no such thing as absolute truth," which means they just contradicted themselves. Either they're absolutely ignorant of the fact that that's a contradiction, or they don't care.
Do you know what's even more amazing that? It's not that 67 or 70 percent believe that there's no such thing as absolute truth, but that 50 percent of people who have identified themselves as having shod their feet with the gospel of peace don't believe there's anything called absolute truth. Do you wonder why we're not standing firm? It's because our pants are falling down because we don't have anything we can hold onto. The Scripture says, "You have to gird yourself with truth." It is true; do you know it? Hide yourself behind it.
Let me give you a couple of things in closing and just tell you some sources of application and little things we can say are true as a result of what we've looked at today. Simply this: We are his warriors. It says that in Ephesians 6. We are his warriors, and if we don't fight, if we don't stand firm, then our world is going to be continually beaten, and Satan is going to continually advance.
Let me say that again. We're his warriors. He wants us to stand firm. He wants us to be a light amidst the darkness. He wants us to take captive the thoughts and the souls of men. He wants to see light invade the darkness. If we as Christians are not that salt and that light, then the means through which God has ordained to happen are going to be handcuffed. We're not going to do, in Dallas, Texas, what he says.
If you rely on politics, if you rely on negotiation, if you rely on just being coy, it isn't going to happen. You have to fight the way he says to fight. Shod your feet with the gospel. We're his warriors. If we don't fight, then our world is going to be continually beaten and become increasingly darker.
Here's another one. We're in a battle, and because we're in a battle, there are going to be casualties. The way we respond to casualties says volumes about both our cause and our commander. We're in a battle, and there are individuals in this room who have been beat up. There are individuals in this room who have never done anything but put on the helmet of salvation, and they're getting mauled.
Do we care about them? Do we go up to them and say, "Hey, listen, you need to do more"? "Now having been saved, put on the breastplate of righteousness. Let me explain that to you. Here's some truth; let's buckle yourself up with it. Do you know how to share the gospel which saves you? Let me dig your feet in the ground with it, and then let's begin to have faith together. Without faith, it's impossible to please God."
One guy said this: "The Christians are the only army in the world who shoot their wounded." We do. There are so many people in this room right now who are scared to death to tell me or to tell you what they're struggling with because they think if they tell, we're going to go, "Aha! Look at you, you weakling." No, what we should do is begin to build back into them. The way we respond to our wounded says a lot about our cause and about our commander.
We are in a battle, and as a wise soldier, we must stay in constant contact with our commander. What kind of fool would check in with Schwarzkopf at the beginning of the war and then just wait and see until they picked up a newspaper in Baghdad saying, "The war is over," and, "Go back home"? Nobody.
But how many of us are in daily communion with our Commander in Chief? We're in a battle. You have to stay in the Word. I have to be in the Word daily. Not one out of eight Christians, every single one of us. "God, what would you have me do today? How can I be faithful to you today?"
Here's another one. If you're not in the battle, it's because of one of three possibilities. First, you're AWOL; you're absent without leave. Secondly, you're infirm. You're a person who has been beat up and needs to be nursed back to health. You need to say to somebody, "I'm not doing a good job in the battle because I don't even know how to fight." You need to voice that. Or, thirdly, it's because you're allied with the Enemy.
Now, think about this: which one of those three do you want to choose? If you're not in the battle, fighting, is it because you're AWOL, just blowing off your Commander? Is it because you're right now being so beaten up that you're afraid to tell somebody and not get the healing from that which is killing you and making you ineffective? Or, is it because you're of the Enemy?
One gentleman said this: "There are three types of people. There are those who walk around all dressed pretty in the church in parade dress and walk around with navy blues on, looking all fine, but they're not out there fighting like they should be. They're carrying their little Bible, wearing their starched shirt with a smile, shaking hands, and holding their wife's hand on Sunday. That ain't what it's about. There are other people who are POWs, prisoners of war, who are beaten, who are oppressed, and they don't think there's any way out. Then there are the Marines, who are doing battle, and they're doing it in a platoon." That's what we ought to be.
One last one. Be encouraged that we have a commander who, in this battle, wants us to win, who has decreed that we will win, and guarantees that we will win. Be encouraged that you have a commander who loves you in the midst of the battle. He knows your case. He knows your struggle, and he wants you to win. He is for you to win.
Patton was one of the most beloved generals our country ever had, and the reason he was so beloved is because he was in the battle with the soldiers every day. Every day, Patton drove to the front, and all of the soldiers watched him as went by. He didn't just sit back; he didn't take a helicopter up to the front. He drove to the front, and went by all of the men, encouraging them on the way as they watched their leader go to the frontlines and be there. They though, "This man is in it with us. He loves us. He knows our struggle."
You have a God who loves you, who cares for you, and he guarantees the victory, so persevere to the end. We're in a battle. If we don't fight, it says in the Scriptures in Ezekiel 33, "The blood is on our hands." If we fight, and they choose to not fight with us, then God says he'll hold the blood on their hands, but we must do the battle. Fight with me, won't you? Let's pray.
Father, we know that we're in a battle, a battle that we don't often like to fight. We're in a battle that is real, with an Enemy who is real, and we want to not complicate this and make it more than it is. We don't want to make it more than it is, but we need to gird ourselves with truth. We want to gird ourselves with truth. We want to put on the breastplate of righteousness, knowing that Christ has ultimately done it for us, and then personally respond to it.
Father, we want to know the promises that you have given us. We want to hide behind them in faith, knowing that without faith, it's impossible to walk in victory, knowing that without faith, it's impossible to please you. We hide behind your promises, and we have faith in them. Lord, we have learned your Word, and we desire to learn your Word, to become so familiar with our sword that we always know where it's pointing, we always know what it's to be used for. No one can use it against us, but it's our sword. It's that which you give us for victory.
Lord, may you increase, in this body, a humility that we cannot do it on our own, that daily we need to check in with you and find out how you would have us fight. Daily we need to take your strength and your might and put on your armor, realizing that without your armor, without your divine distribution of things we need for victory, we will not be successful in our own lives or in changing Dallas, Texas.
So God, we go out, and we will shod our feet with the gospel of peace, and we will stand firm in it. Father, we go out, and we will let the Enemy do what he wants. We will forsake any area of our lives that is not covered with your righteousness. We will confess it, agree with you that it isn't right, and not give the Enemy an opportunity. By your grace, God, we will stand firm in it. Help us to run the race. Help us to be faithful in our service for you. In Christ's name, amen.
I know the battle is tough, and I know the road is long, but keep running. Stand firm in the Lord and do it his way. Better that you should suffer for the cause of Christ than that cause of Christ should suffer. Many of us out there are going to be struggling and hurting. Take time to say this to somebody: "I have a problem. Nurse me back to health. Will you help me no longer be infirm?"
Some of you are prisoners right now. Would you go to somebody and say, "Would you help me deliver, by the Word of God, break me out of this prison that I'm in, the bondage that I'm in, with an Enemy who no longer has authority over me? May I stand firm with you? Would you get me out here?" Can we have that humility to come to each other in that way?
If you feel like you're being defeated right now and that you're in a war you can't ever win, I love the thought of a great leader in World War II, who though it was difficult, knew that ultimately the Allies would win. He said, "I would rather be a loser in an ultimately victorious cause than a winner in an ultimately defeated one."
If as you struggle to live for Christ, you feel like a loser because you can't live the righteous life you always want to live, first of all, do two things. Know the promises of Christ and know the faith that you need and that's going to protect you from the fiery darts of the Enemy. Don't just get right with God with faith; lock yourself next to others. It's going to protect you from every angle.
Join us, won't you? Get in here and be a part of the body and be a winner in an ultimately victorious cause. Let us encourage you. You don't need to be a POW. Lord knows this church doesn't need to be a bunch of folks in parade dress. We are in a battle, so we are going to have folks who are beat up and hurt.
We're going to have folks who are going to make bad decisions as we did this week with folks attempting suicide from our body, people wanting to cash it in from our body. Let's encourage each other as we have, as we've come around those individuals and love them. Better for us to suffer for the cause of Christ than for the cause of Christ to suffer. Will you stand firm with me? Go in peace.
Most people are desperately looking for answers to such age-old human dilemmas as violence, greed and racism; not to mention personal pain and disappointment with our own duplicity and lack of fulfillment. In this series on the book of Ephesians, Todd Wagner challenges us to open our eyes to the truth that Christ has called us to be part of a completely new society called the Church. Our highest calling then is to be men and women whose lives have been regenerated and empowered through faith in Christ. Our 21st century challenges are not unlike those faced by followers of Christ in first century Ephesus. The Apostle Paul, author of this letter to the Ephesians, emphasizes that the problem with the Church then and today is not that God hasn't given it everything necessary to be successful in its mission. Rather, our problem is like that of a wealthy miser who dies of starvation rather than dip into the abundance of resources at his disposal. Allow yourself to be challenged and encouraged by this ancient letter that adroitly analyzes the plight of Christ's bride, the Church, and then paints a vivid portrait of what we can - and indeed do - look like as His redeemed people. This volume covers Ephesians 5 and 6.