This is War!
The date–April 18th,1521. The location–Worms, Germany. The occasion–a German monk stood trial before The Holy Roman Emperor and other religious elites. The charge—heresy. The monk taught and wrote against the Catholic church–he taught and wrote of a biblical salvation by faith alone in
Christ alone. The monks’ books were laid out in front of him. The question from the Diet was direct and simple–do you recant your teachings in these books?
The monk had taken already 24 trembling hours to process his defense and its ramifications. Finally, Martin Luther stood before the Diet and said, “I will speak clearly. Unless I am convinced by sacred Scripture, or by evident reason, I cannot recant. My conscience is held captive by the Word of God. And to act against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand; I can do no other; God help me!”
Christian, will you stand? In your hour of trial, testing, attack, or persecution, with your freedom on the line, your comfort on the line, with your life on the line–will you stand? Maybe you only think of the big moment, the day when your faith might cost you your life. You think, “I’ll be ready when it comes. Until then, I’m going to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.”
Christian, this is war. The Christian life is a call to arms. We’re enlisted, soldiers in His army. We have battles to fight every day. There is an enemy on the prowl, seeking to devour you now. He is active, he is working. The war is here. He is throwing arrows of temptation, trial, suffering, persecution, and attack at us every day. Are you ready to stand strong?
The apostle Paul did not say at the end of his Christian life, “I bought a house, I had a good retirement plan, I voted, I had a picture perfect, instagrammable family, went to church on Sundays. He says, “I fought the good fight.” Our day only gets darker, our enemy grows stronger, the Church universal is taking hits. The war is here, it is now, this is the evil day. The question is, “Will He find FBC fighting the good fight, standing strong–not in your strength, but in His, in Christ?”
Turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 6 and prepare for war. Paul has taken the Ephesians to the summit of their salvation. The first half of Ephesians is a mountainous testimony of God saving sinners. In chapter 1, we get Heaven’s perspective of salvation. In chapter 2, we get the human perspective of salvation. And in chapter 3, we have a sort of salvation appendix, which clarifies the mystery of our salvation.
Chapters 4, 5, and 6 get to the practical, living out your salvation. The key transition is in chapter 4 verse 1, “I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of your calling.” In other words, “Here is the mountain of your salvation, now balance the scales with your life and live a life that measures up, by the power of God that works within you.” Chapter 4 focuses on Church life. Chapter 5 focuses on your walk, your everyday, the habits of your life. End of chapter 5 and beginning of chapter 6 focus on family life, and 6:10 is the beginning of Paul’s final charge, his last words.
We know that last words are important. There is great angst and urgency in Paul’s writing. He says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For 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. 13Therefore 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.”
1. Be STRONG in CHRIST Verse 10
Ephesians 6:10, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” This command, “be strong,” is interesting. First of all, it is plural—y’all. This is a command for the Church together, not individuals separate from each other. This is a war we prepare for together, and fight in together–no lone warriors in Christianity. It is essential to be an active member of a local church when you fulfill these commands. We need each other in this fight.
Second, this command is a present passive imperative, meaning that Paul is commanding you to do something that must be done to you–be strengthened. Paul is not telling the Ephesians to muster up courage or strength on their own. One of the things I will often say to my kids when they are afraid or they fall is, “Be strong.” What I mean is, “Muster up the strength, the courage, resist the pain yourself, figure it out.”
I stopped the other day and wondered, “Is that right, is that biblical?” Does God ever tell His children, “Figure it out! Find the strength within yourself to stand up, to fight, or to persevere”? No, He doesn’t. The power/strength is not within you–it is outside of you. There is an external power source. It’s in someone else. Where is the Christian’s power sourced? Look at the next phrase. “In the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
Praise God–because if my fight was dependent upon my strength, I would fail, I would fall, I would not and could not stand on my own! But Praise God, my anchor is in the Rock of Ages. My power is sourced in Christ. It is His power that holds me. It is His power that infuses me. I can stand, I can fight, I can be strong in Him.
When we lived here, we used to go to San Diego beaches—and the waves there are smaller. But now that we live north of here, we go to Orange County beaches. And I don’t know if you know those beaches, but they have more of a shore break with bigger waves. My kids are five and three, and they can’t stand in the shore break alone. But when they reach up and get in my arms, they can. In your own strength, you cannot stand. In His arms, you can.
Exodus 15:2, “The Lord [YHWH] is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”
Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Deuteronomy 20:4, “For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.”
Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
True power in the Christian life is in the arms of God. What kind of power is in God and what kind of power do we have access to as His children? Let me take you to the precipice of power. This is a picture of the lighthouse at Nazare, Portugal–home of the biggest waves known to men. That little speck is a surfer. Every winter, thousands of spectators come through this lighthouse and watch the giants roll in (70-, 80-, 100-foot waves). This is an incredible display of power–waves that can swallow a five-story building.
I’d like to take you to the lighthouse, the precipice of our salvation, to see a more incredible display of power. This is power beyond anything natural or man-made. This is incomparable, immeasurable power, found in Ephesians 1:19 to 23. Paul prays that you may know “what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might 20that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
This is your power plant Christian–resurrection power. He raised from the dead and is seated above all others. He raised you from the dead and seated you with Christ. Your salvation and position is secure by His power, and no one can take that from you. Our anchor is in His throne! No matter what hits you (trial, test, suffering, persecution, death–He holds the rope, and He’ll never let me go.
Knowing that, I can stand with Him in any battle . . . stand with Him through any trial . . . stand with Him against any enemy. Where is your strength, Christian? And if you lack the courage, the strength, the energy to fight–look no further than the God of your salvation.
2. KNOW your ENEMY Verse 12
In verses 11 and 13, Paul makes similar points and emphases, so we will save that for last. But in verse 12, we understand the nature of our war. We understand our enemy. Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood [not so much a physical war, but it is spiritual], 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.”
Paul repeats the word “against” five times in this passage, for emphasis. Knowing who you ultimately stand against is important. It’s not a politician. It’s not a political party. It’s not big tech, government, universities, or even the Taliban. These are physical forces. Paul says our fight is against spiritual forces. That is not to say that some of these physical forces can’t be operated by a greater spiritual force, maybe. We must exercise great biblical discernment and caution to be on the alert against the greater enemy.
Profile of our Greatest Enemy and His Forces
We see in the text that he is a schemer. He’s a master strategist. He’s been at it for 6,000+ years. He plays the long and the short game. He’s an opportunist. We also see in the text here, it’s not flesh and blood powers, but cosmic and spiritual rulers, authorities, and powers. Our enemy has a system, an army, divisions, ranks, even assignments beyond the physical.
Daniel 10, the angel who ministered to Daniel told him that he was stopped up in a battle against the princes (demonic powers) of Persia–the archangel Michael swooped in to help a brother out. Interesting insight–there were dark/evil spiritual powers assigned and stationed in the Persian Empire–the world dominating empire of its day. This isn’t a one-man army. There are spiritual legions working against us in this world.
Do you think that what is happening in Afghanistan is a happy coincidence for the enemy? Do you think that all these tests and trials that the Church has gone through in the past two years is just a lucky draw for the devil? “Finally a hand that works in my favor.”
2 Corinthians 4:4, “…[he is] blinding the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
1 Peter 5:8, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
2 Corinthians 11:14, “…for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”
John 8:44, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him…he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Ephesians 6:16, “[he’s throwing]…the flaming darts of the evil one.”
Make no mistake, we have an active enemy, a master strategist. He’s working to induce fear, to discourage faith, to keep you comfortable behind a screen–so that when life’s attack hits you between the eyes, you don’t even know it’s coming. He can’t take the Church, but he can take culture. He is the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), and “the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One” (1 John 5:19).
He would love for people to live in fear, believe the lies, fight each other, spend three hours or more a day scrolling through social media–anything that would distract, divide, and dissuade against Christ. Christian, don’t sit and watch the world fall apart–know your enemy and discern his attacks so that you can stand and fight. How do we stand and fight against the enemy? First Peter 5:8 and James 4:7, “Resist Him.” Jesus shows us how, with a shield and a sword.
The late, great Kobe Bryant, in an interview with ESPN, talks about where all his moves on the basketball court came from. He says, “There isn’t a move that hasn’t been done before, I stole all the moves from the great players that played before me. I would watch them play and take notes.” Oscar Robertson’s attack to the basket, Jerry West’s jump shot, Magic Johnson’s vision and passing ability. He was a student of the game–watching film, taking notes, and applying the same principles to his game.
What I would like us to do is to watch our Champion and take notes. Here was a man directly attacked by Satan. The attack was vicious—he threw everything at Him. Yet this Man stood His ground and walked away. Let’s roll the film and take notes.
Matthew 4:1 to 11, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ 4But he answered, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” ‘ 5Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,” and “On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” ‘ 7Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” ‘ 8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ 10Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” ‘ 11Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”
How do we stand and fight against the enemy? A shield and a sword? Faith and the Word of God–read, know, and trust the God of the Word! Take up the shield and wield the sword. Neglect Him, neglect His Word, forget Him, forget His Word—and you will surely fall.
3. SUIT UP to STAND Verse 11
Ephesians 6:11 and 13, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand. . . . 13Therefore 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.” This is the imagery of the soldier dressing for battle, getting ready for war–there are certain pieces of necessary equipment to be prepared for any attack or situation. Each piece is laid out in detail in verses 14 to 20.
Don’t forget to put on the whole armor. Don’t leave any of the pieces behind. When you read through verse 14 to 20, you see in the pieces of armor the means of grace, like the word and prayer. You see the essential truths of the Gospel like truth, righteousness, salvation, peace. Put the pieces together and you get a complete picture of Christ.
Fasten the belt of truth—”He is the way the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Put on the breastplate of righteousness and the shield of faith—“Not having a righteousness of my own, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9). Put on the shoes, the gospel of peace—”He came and preached a gospel of peace” (Ephesians 2:17).
Put on the helmet of salvation—”For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God—”The word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Are you unsure what it means to put on the armor of God? Let me give you a kickstart–follow Jesus! Romans 13:12 and 14, “Put on the armor of light . . . put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
You want to be prepared for battle? Read of Christ in the gospels. Love Him. Know Him. Imitate Him. Walk like Him. Talk like Him. Follow Him. And when you fail–run to Him. The whole armor is in Christ (Isaiah 59:17). What does the armor prepare you for? What’s the goal, Christian? Is it to attack, to charge, to flank left, flank right, to pursue the enemy? No. Your goal is to stand. Ephesians 6:11 and 13, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand. 13Therefore 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.”
You don’t want a glass jaw, spiritually speaking. In boxing, if you have a glass jaw, you have a weak chin and are easily knocked out. I have a glass jaw, physically. I’ve been knocked out cold three times in my life–all in football. That’s why I have a motorcycle helmet next to my self-defense weapon at home. Little clip to the chin, I’m done. Got to put that thing on first ‘cuz I have a glass jaw.
Too many Christians have glass jaws, spiritually speaking–they can’t take hits. They are easily offended, easily tempted, easily tested, easily give in, knocked down, pushed over, and pinned to the ground. The word wrestle in verse 12 is a picture of hand-to-hand combat. This is Jiu jitsu. Your goal is to be the man or woman on top–not blindsided by an unforeseen attack, not tripping over your own feet, not knocked over by the outside force or pressure but still standing, holding your ground.
Have you “done all, to stand firm”? In your struggle against sin, have you resisted to the point of shedding blood (Hebrews 12:4)? Have you removed all opportunities for the enemy (Ephesians 4:27)? Have you radically removed temptation in your life (Matthew 5)? Are you making every effort to supplement your faith (2 Peter 1:5 to 7)? Are you diligently pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11)? Are you night and day meditating on the Word of God like the strong tree planted by streams of water (Psalm 1)?
What are you doing to fight the good fight of the faith, to stand strong, to hold your ground against the enemy? Whatever comes my way, persecution, attack, trial, test, temptation—I want the Lord to find me standing. Not in my own strength, but in His. That’s the only way I’ll make it. I preach this message to you because I want you to stand with me, Bibles in our hands, men and women covered in scars, not on the ground, but standing together in Christ.
This is war! Be strong, know your enemy, and get ready to stand.