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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, October 19, 2018

Ephesians 6:13-17 (Lesson 39)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Ephesians (6:13-17)                                                       (Lesson 39)                               

Welcome to HBS.

The common consensus is our Apostle Paul’s conversion occurred on the road to Damascus about two years after Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, around 32-34 AD (Acts 9).  Near the end of his life Paul spent two years in Rome under house arrest.  There he wrote the prison epistles Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.  He also preached the gospel to Caesar’s household unhindered until he was released around 61 AD (Acts 28:30-31).  The major persecution of Christianity began about 64 AD while Nero was emperor.  Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome, as an evil-doer, was around 67-68 AD (2 Timothy 2:8-9).  He was martyred by Nero shortly thereafter.

Paul’s final letter to his protégé Timothy was written between the years 67-68 AD.
In this passage of scripture Paul, the Lord’s bond-servant, sums up his life:

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure (from this world) is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith;” (2 Timothy 4:6-7).

I instruct my Bible students not to major on the minors.  When you’re looking at biblical events this far back in time, exact dates are difficult to establish.  So, let’s not focus on the dates, but on the event(s) and the message.  What I want y’all to see from this is Paul’s ministry to the churches lasted approximately 30 years, and during that time he suffered greatly for the cause of Christ Jesus:  For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles – if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; (Ephesians 3:1-2).

After Paul’s conversion, the risen Lord told Ananias not to fear Saul of Tarsus because “He had chosen him to bear His name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:13-16).

In defense of his apostolic authority, Paul wrote this message to the Corinthians:  But in whatever respect anyone else is bold – I speak in foolishness – I am just as bold myself.  Are they Hebrews?  So am I.  Are they Israelites?  So am I.  Are they servants of Christ? – I speak as if insane – I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.  Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I spent in the deep.  I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;  I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.  Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:21b-28).

In the following scripture passage Paul said true Believers will be persecuted but then goes on to explain how he was able to endure and stand firm for the faith.  From this we should understand our life in Christ Jesus will not be a walk down Primrose Lane.

You, however, have observed my teaching, my conduct, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance, my persecutions, and the suffering that came upon me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra.  What persecutions I endured!  Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.  Indeed, all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (2 Timothy 3:10-12).

Paul relied on the Lord’s strength to see him through the temptations and trials of life. This continuous conflict is described as spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6 and we’re to recognize our true enemies as being the flesh, the world, and Satan.  We’re going to have to deal with all three as we strive to walk worthy of the calling with which we have been called.  Paul likened the individual’s walk to a race which is to be run in such a way as to take the prize.

I do all this for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.  Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way as to take the prize.  Everyone who competes in the (Isthmian) games trains with strict discipline.  They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable.   Therefore I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight like I am beating the air.  No, I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified… (9:23-27).

Paul kept the faith; he dedicated his life to the Lord and preached the gospel unadulterated faithfully.  He calls each of us to follow in his footsteps not for notoriety or material gain, but to bring honor and glory to God (1 Corinthians 6:20, 10:31; 2 Corinthians 4:13-15; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to my pattern you have in us (Philippians 3:17).

You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

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Please open your Bible at Ephesians 6:13-17.

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will 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 BREAST-PLATE 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 arrows of the evil one.  And take up the HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Last week we learned Paul made sure the Ephesian saints were aware their struggle is not against flesh and blood (each other and those outside of Jesus Christ) but “against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” 

The word “rulers” is from the Koine Greek word Arche, and it has various meanings.  The word “powers” is from the Koine Greek word Exousia, which means:  power, ability, privilege.  We note these words are used of both human and spiritual powers.  Then Paul used the term “world forces,” which comes from the Koine Greek word Kosmokator.  This word is only used in the N.T. and it means:  lord of the world, world ruler.  He goes on to say, “against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places;” from this we note he labeled these forces of wickedness as “spiritual,” (not human), and they dwell in “heavenly places. They are not confined to hell, in other words this comes later; hell was created for Satan and his forces of wickedness (Matthew 25:41).

At this time I remind the group the world-at-large denies the existence of Satan and his demonic forces.  Furthermore, some churches teach Paul’s message was meant for the first-century Believers only.  These folks are saying our struggle is not against the devil and his demonic horde today we’re up against life’s normal, everyday run-of-the-mill problems.   Do not be deceived!     

The point I want to make is we must be extremely careful that our understanding of what truth is comes from the Word of God and not from other sources.  Unfortunately, what most people believe about Satan and spiritual warfare is derived from these other sources, such as cartoons, fiction, magazines, the movie industry, T.V., and let’s not neglect mentioning erroneous Christians.  If you are following myths rather than God’s Word, then you have already been deceived by the master deceiver and your defeat is all but certain. 

We must understand Satan and his evil forces are real entities with real power, but we must also understand their power is limited and true Believers need not fear them, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (Job 1; 1 John 4:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:3).  However there’s a fine line to walk between fear and complacency.  Those who ignore the fact that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour will find themselves succumbing to temptation and his snares one of which is he doesn’t exist.    

Therefore, take up (Put on) the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm (6:13).

Paul is known for his usage of rich metaphors in his letters to the churches to help Believers understand his message and we have one of these here.  Paul knew people would recognize the imagery of a Roman legionnaire dressed for battle.  He became familiar with Roman weaponry while serving the Lord Jesus Christ.  His frequent imprisonments would be one example.  This is when he had the opportunity to view Roman soldiers wearing their armor up close and personal. 

The next thing we should understand is the primary message here is “stand firm.” We know this because he uses the term twice more in this passage (see 6:13-14), so he’s definitely stressing this teaching point to the Ephesians.  Then our Apostle Paul describes six pieces of armor.  I point out six is also the number of man symbolizing human weakness, the evils of Satan and the manifestation of sin.  All of these pieces were considered defensive weapons except for the sword of the Spirit this was to be used both defensively and offensively.

Paul’s telling these folks if they’re going to stand firm they’ll have to “dig in” most of the time to defend the faith the Holy Spirit delivered to them (Acts 16:6-15; Romans 10:17).  This is what Paul meant when he said, “Stand firm therefore, HAVING YOUR LOINS GIRDED WITH TRUTH” (6:14).  Said differently, “Hold the ground that Christ Jesus has won, defend it; don’t surrender an inch to the enemy!”

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking (what) the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ… (Ephesians 4:14-15).

While standing firm we are wield the sword of the Spirit, offensively, to advance the cause of Jesus Christ.  In plain English, “We’re to assist in winning souls for Christ, teaching the ABCs of the faith, sharing the Word of Truth, rightly divided, with those folks God places in our lives” (Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 2:10).

Did you notice Paul divided the armor of God into two sets of three?  This number is used 467 times in the Bible.  It pictures completeness, though to a lesser degree than the number 7.  This number is the first of four spiritually perfect numbers (the others being 7, 10, and 12).  The three righteous patriarchs before the Noahic Flood were Abel, Enoch, and Noah.  After the deluge, there was the three righteous “fathers of Israel” Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.  There are 27 books in the N.T., which is 3x3x3, or completeness to the third power.  Jesus prayed three times in Gethsemane before His arrest.  He was placed on the cross at the third hour of the day and He died on the ninth hour.  There were three hours of darkness that covered the land while Jesus suffered on that cross (from the sixth to the ninth hour).  Three is the number of His resurrection for He was dead three complete days and three nights, a total of 72 hours.

 Getting back to Paul, he had observed that the Roman soldiers guarding him never removed their belt, breastplate, or their sandals.  Here’s why.  If the enemy launched a surprise attack the soldier would be caught unawares and improperly dressed for battle.  Because he was not prepared for the assault, he would likely become a casualty. 

Paul introduces the next set of three with the words, “… in addition to all, taking” implying the shield, sword, and helmet could be placed aside temporarily to be taken up when needed, in the case of a surprise attack, for instance.  This battle Armor was a vital part of the soldier’s equipment.  This is true today, although the technology is far more advanced.  While modern armor is mainly centered on protecting the military and law enforcement from bullets and shrapnel, the armor of Rome was designed to protect soldiers from projectiles such as spears or javelins, arrows, swords, and daggers. 

I pray y’all remember from last week’s lesson Believers need not go looking for the armor of God, He has already provided these items.  All we need do is be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might and Put on the full armor of God.    

The Belt of Truth

Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH THE TRUTH (6:14a).

This was a very important piece of the Roman Soldier's armor.  The Roman soldier put around his waist a very wide belt which held a lot of equipment (a police officer wears a similar belt around their waist today).  There was a loop, for example, for the different swords.  Other loops held ropes and a rations sack.  When the legions conquered a city, the soldiers would empty out the ration sack to make room for gold, jewelry, and other loot they picked up.  There were loops on the belt for darts.  The belt was tied in several places to stay in place, so that no matter how the soldier moved about, fell down, climbed hills, etc., the belt was always in place with weapons at the ready.  If the belt were not on straight, then everything would be out of place for the soldier.  This would greatly reduce his efficiency in battle and could cost him his life.

Spiritual Warfare Application:  the belt was the very first thing the soldier put on, so Paul’s indicating the first thing we’re to put on is the Word of Truth and bind it tightly around our core.   The belt of truth gives the true Believer inner strength and the necessary confidence when they confront “the father of lies.”  Truth exposes deceit and falsehoods.   As I mentioned, the Roman soldier doesn’t remove his belt because in the heat of battle there’s no time to dress for battle.  Thus, the Believer must be prepared beforehand.  It is imperative that we study the Word of God, acquiring a well-rounded knowledge of the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27; 2 Timothy 2:15).   Sadly today when people should be standing firm as teachers of God’s revelations themselves, especially the revelation of the mystery of God’s grace, they need to be taught again the basic principles of the faith (1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12).

Are you prepared to defend the gospel of grace against those who preach another gospel, such as the prosperity gospel or those who believe there are many ways to heaven (Relativism - New Age concept)?  Are you prepared to defend the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ against those who say He was merely a Jewish rabbi (teacher) and prophet but not the Son of God?

The Breastplate of Righteousness

Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREAST-PLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS… (6:14b).

The Romans had the ideas for armor design which provided light weight combined with ease of movement and protection from multiple blows.  This breastplate was attached to the belt by leather thongs passed through rings on the bottom to keep it solidly attached.  It was anchored to the belt, and it was above the belt.  Note:  the belt had to be put on first, then the breastplate.  One key area the soldier's breastplate protected was their heart.  While the heart is the one key organ responsible for sending blood through our circulatory system which keeps us alive, our spiritual lives are less effective if our hearts are not right with God.

Spiritual Warfare Application:  when you walk in the righteousness of God, it is a weapon of defense against all those slanderous accusations and devious strategies of the devil.  The Bible declares the heart of man is prone to be tempted (Matthew 26:41).  However, those in Christ Jesus are justified and the righteousness of Jesus Christ was imputed to us (Romans 3:21-26; 5:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21).  So we are righteous in God's sight, not because of anything we’ve done, but because of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us.  Thus, the breastplate of righteousness is a “practical righteousness” which emanates from our new inner man (our new nature) that is said to be “created in righteousness and true holiness: (Ephesians 4:24).  This piece of armor has to do with protecting our integrity, our morality, purity of thought and life, and piety while performing that which is right by living a life of good works.

Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us (Titus 2:7-8).

The breastplate of righteousness is a safeguard against the enemy’s attempts to discredit us and our message.

Feet Fitted with Readiness

…and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE (6:15).

Some historians credit footwear as one of the greatest reasons why the Roman Army was so victorious over its enemies.  The Roman Soldier was equipped with footwear that had spikes or nails on the soles which provided them a strong enough stance and balance to give them a superior posture in battle on hills and uneven terrain.  The other part of their footwear was the greaves which were fitted to their legs and designed to defend them from danger.  These were often made of brass (1 Samuel 17:6).  Again, these sandals were put on and never removed. 

With the preparation of the gospel of Peace – it is difficult to determine Paul’s exact meaning.  Paul is providing the imagery of a Roman legionnaire dressed in full armor and true Believers were to resemble him; this we know.  An important part of this armor or preparation for battle consisted in the covering and defense of their feet.  It was meant to preserve their feet from danger, to facilitate their ability to march in rank and to make their stance firm in battle. 

Paul may be saying true Believers are to be prepared beforehand with the principles of the gospel of peace to assist them as they march through enemy territory and to rise to the occasion, making their stance firm in battle.  Peace manifests itself in many ways in Paul’s writings.  He mentions the “grace and peace from the God the Father,” “peace with God,” “He (Jesus Christ) is our peace,” “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding,” etc.  The Bible states quite clearly, if we have “peace with God” we are at war with Satan.

So, this speaks to the heart and mind (the emotional state) of the true Believer in Christ Jesus.  Paul pictures the Ephesian saints in the heat of battle, “fighting the good fight of the faith.”  Each new day brings with it a new set of circumstances, new dangers, and conflict of various kinds.  So, our Apostle Paul exhorts them, “Have your shoes on,” be ready with the gospel of peace, i.e. whatever you are called upon to face, let “the peace of God” which surpasses all understanding… keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ” (Philippians 4:7).

Spiritual Warfare Application:  offensively this item will help you to stand with your feet planted firmly on the Word of God and remain there, unmoved by the devil's threats and lies.  It will protect you when you walk through the rough places and keep you steady in the heat of a battle.  

The Shield of Faith

…in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows (darts) of the evil one (6:16).

Paul’s saying, “in addition to all,” that is, in addition to all the equipment just mentioned, the Believer should add the shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (6:17).  The first set of three were never meant to be taken off after being put on, however, this set of three could be laid aside, but kept within arm’s reach in case the enemy attacked. 

The Romans had a long, rectangular, knees-to-chin shield which protected them from arrows, spears, and lances.  They could kneel down behind it and be protected during a flaming arrow barrage for example.  It was quite a bit heavier and clumsier then the smaller Greek circular shield; but there was a series of exercises, a manual of arms, designed to give the soldier flexibility and strength in the use of the shield.  Groups of soldier who were besieging a town could form close together and hold their shields over their heads to make a huge circle to protect the group from the enemy’s fiery arrows.

Spiritual Warfare Application:  in this verse, the Roman shield stands for the faith of the Believer in the promises of God.  The value of faith lies not in the person exercising it, but in the person whom the faith is in.  Faith is something that all people possess and use every day.  Every time you choose to sit down in a chair you are exercising faith in that chair to support your weight.  I’ve been known to test a few chairs in my time because of their rickety appearance, but normally I take a seat without giving it much thought.  My questions for you are “Do you realize God’s promises to the faithful are yours today, if you truly believe Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sin in full?  “If this is true, can you name at least five of these promises (blessings)?”  Most Christians cannot.   

One writer declared the shield of faith is the quick application of what we believe to be true, as an answer to everything single thing the devil fires at us.  We must place our total dependence on God, “who is a present help in time of need” (Psalm 46:1-2).

Paul stated in Romans 10:17 “So faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Knowing the Bible and especially the writings of our Apostle Paul produces greater faith.  Remember “What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?”  (Romans 8:31 – BSB)

The Helmet of Salvation

And take up THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (6:17).

The Romans had the best helmet of the ancient world.  Many other nations used helmets of cloth wrappings, animal hides or bones, or hooves, etc. The Roman helmet was made of leather covered with strips of brass.  This helmet was designed to protect the soldier from various angles of attack.  Its primary purpose was to protect the wearers head.   

Spiritual Warfare Application:   the greatest spiritual battlefield is in our minds.  This is the area the devil wants to attack the most.  One key area he wants to damage is our assurance of salvation.  Paul gives some good advice in Philippians 4:8: 

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Our mind is facing a continuous assault from the world, so we must guard what we permit to enter our minds.  Satan is very subtle in these areas.  He has blinded the world and he will do the same to the unsuspecting or careless Believer.  We must be sober (clear) minded in order to be discerning in all situations.  This is accomplished by immersing yourself in the word of God and frequent prayer.

The Sword of the Spirit

Paul spoke of one of five different types of Roman swords.  This particular one was a two-edged sword with the end turned upward.  It inflicted much more damage than the other swords.  Not only was it intended to kill, but also it could rip the enemy's insides to shreds.  It only needed to penetrate the enemy a depth of two to three inches to mortally wound him.  Another advantage to this sword is the soldier did not have to turn his sword around to inflict damage to the enemy.  It cut in two directions.  This was seen as a very deadly and powerful weapon.  Paul describes the word of God as an awesome and powerful weapon of the true Believer.

Spiritual Warfare Application:  our sword of the Spirit is the word of God.  When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He didn’t employ carnal weapons.  He quoted His Father's words and spoke them with authority.  Consequently, each word spoken was like a sword-blow to Satan's head!  God has given us the authority to use His words because we are all called to the ministry of reconciliation as ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). This is the Believer’s ministry today and not the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20.

It is said the son of a Roman soldier who kept losing to his sparring partner said, “Father, my sword is too short.”  To which the father replied, “Take one step forward son, and it will be right length.”  As we go on the offensive against Satan and his many schemes, we too must take a step forward with the word of God to advance the cause of Christ Jesus.  This begins with evangelism.  Paul said, “Do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5).  Every Believer bears the responsibility to share Jesus Christ with others.  Although churches have developed multiple ways of drawing lost souls into their building, it’s a well known fact the lost do not attend church.  The most effective tool at our disposal is the Scriptures.  God uses His Word to convict the sinner of their sin which is step one.  You have to admit you have a problem, before the healing process can begin. 

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

God speaks as the Sovereign authority in the universe, and not the devil.  He spoke and the world we know came into being from nothing.  When we speak God's word according to his will, there is no power in the universe who can withstand it!

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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Friday, October 12, 2018

Ephesians 6:10-12 (Lesson 37)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Ephesians (6:10-12)                                                       (Lesson 38)                               

Welcome to HBS.

For the past two weeks we’ve been studying Satan simply because many people deny his existence.  He has these folks believing him to be nothing more than a “principle of evil;” a disciplinary tool used by the Jewish fathers of old to frighten their children into behaving.  Today our society believes this “principle of evil” is comparable to a virus or a disease, an intangible unseen thing that floats around in our atmosphere attacking mankind.  And then there are folks who ignore him altogether, including Christians.  Do you not know the existence of Satan cannot be determined by the opinions of men?  The only source of truth about the devil is the Bible; that is why he tries to discredit God’s Word.  His attacks on Believers are designed to make them ineffective servants of God.  So, make no mistake Satan is not some imaginary principle, He is a real being and he’s every true Believer’s adversary:  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking someone whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8 - KJV).

Naturalists have observed a lion roars when he’s hungry.  They also say this is when he is the most dangerous.  Perhaps this tidbit helps some of you understand why the Apostle Peter warns people to be vigilant.  Note how he describes the devil.  Peter said, “he walketh,” he roareth,” and the Apostle John later wrote, “He is to be chained” (Revelation 20:1-3).  Ask yourself, would these men of God have written these words of warning to Believers, if Satan were only a “principle of evil.”  The short answer is “No.”  They’re telling us the devil is as real as real gets!

In the Grace Age our Apostle Paul identifies Satan as “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), and “the god of this world (i.e. age)” (2 Corinthians 4:4).  The latter doesn’t mean Satan is the God of the earth for that designation belongs to the Creator God:  The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1).  The god of this world (or present evil age – 5:16) means Satan is the god of the world systems, i.e. business, politics, religion, and every facet of society.  If you question this truth, try to name one world system that is not corrupted by evil (wickedness)!

The prince of the power of the air “means Satan is the ruler of the powers of darkness of the spirit world (Ephesians 6:11-12) and his position is so exalted Michael the Archangel may not speak against him (Jude 9).  He is so powerful mankind hasn’t a chance against him without divine assistance, and this is why we’re all here.  To answer the question:  What does this book have to say about our chief enemy and his schemes?

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Please open your Bible at Ephesians 6:10-12.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle (we wrestle – KJV) is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Here we have our Apostle Paul’s final command on how to walk worthy in this section of scripture.  He begins with the word “Finally,” but it doesn’t mean we’ve reached the end of Paul’s letter.  It conveys the meaning “here’s the final item you need to tend to, in addition to those things I’ve already mentioned.”  What still has to be done?  Believers are to “Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. 

There’s a similar message to Joshua in 1:6-7 I want y’all to see:  Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people (the Israelites) possession of the (promised) land (flowing with milk and honey) which I swore to their fathers to give them.  Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.

Through Moses, the LORD God promised His chosen people they would inherit a land “flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8).  This was the Promised Land and it would belong to the nation of Israel always, God said so.  But here’s the thing, there were enemies living in the land, some of whom were giants (See Goliath).  Thus the reason for the LORD’s admonition “be strong and very courageous.”  The LORD had promised He would go before His people as a “mighty Man of war” to do battle on their behalf:

“The LORD is a man of war:  the LORD is His name (Exodus 15:3). 

These words are actually part of a song or poem, raised by Moses and the whole nation of Israel after the LORD God spared them from the wrath of Pharaoh and his army by destroying them in the Red Sea. 

I mentioned last week most Christians either overplay spiritual warfare or they don’t give it a second thought, thereby playing right into the devil’s hand.  Believers are to be sober minded, vigilant 24/7/365, otherwise even the elect can be led astray.  

Jesus Christ is informing those who have “ears to hear” how it will be in the last days:
For there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect (Matthew 24:24 - KJV).

It isn’t likely a true Believer will set themselves up as Christ Jesus, or as a false prophet, but it is possible for a true Believer to be temporarily deceived and this is because there is so much around us that is designed to lead us astray.  But if you’re a true Believer, led by the Holy Spirit, holding fast to what the Bible has revealed, you won’t be deceived for very long.   

Why?  Counterfeits are easy to spot if you’ve studied the real thing!  Rookie treasury agents are trained to recognize counterfeit money by studying genuine U.S. currency.  They spend so much time poring over real money, when they come across the “funny money” the deception is rather obvious.  Thus, if you’re a diligent Bible student intent on obtaining knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, you too will recognize a “wannabe” or a false statement, even if you’ve been momentarily deceived. 

Therefore every Believer needs to familiarize themselves with the writings of our Apostle Paul (he is God’s called Apostle to the Gentiles – Romans 1:1) such as the heavenly blessings they have received at conversion and their eternally secure position in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1, 2).   In addition they should recognize the spiritual significance of each blessing because the battle has shifted from the earth to the heavenly realm, as Paul explains in 6:12: 

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 (where) in the heavenly places. 

At the present, the heavenly realm (the first and second heaven) is occupied by Satan and his fallen angelic host, and he has no intention of relinquishing any of his authority or territory without a fight!

Since Satan’s rebellion in eternity past, he has sought to thwart the plans and purpose of God.  It begins for us in Genesis chapter 3 when the serpent deceived the woman, this caused the man to decide to eat the forbidden fruit for sin and death entered the world through the man not the woman (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:21).   In order to prevent the seed of the promised Redeemer from entering the world, he influenced Cain to kill his brother Abel (Genesis 4:1-17).  Cain’s descendants perished in the world-wide flood.  The genealogy of Adam goes through his son Seth to Noah (Genesis 5:3-32; Luke 3:23-38).   Then in the days of Noah he corrupted the entire human race (Genesis 6:1-2).  When the LORD God turned His attention from the Gentiles (the entire human race) to Abraham (the father of the Jewish nation – Genesis 12), this placed a target on his back and then the Israelites in turn, causing them to disobey and rebel against the LORD God repeatedly.  Some of you may be aware Satan tried to do away with the baby Jesus.  When King Herod the Great, the Roman-appointed King of the Jews, heard of Jesus’ birth from the Magi, he ordered the death of every infant two years old and younger (Matthew 2:16).  

Now that Israel has been set aside in unbelief (but not forgotten as some people believe – Acts 7) God has turned His attention to the Body of Christ (the church) and all true Believers are targeted by the devil, especially if you’re leading in the cause of Christ.  Believe me when I say Satan intends to silence you and the message of the Cross.

This is why Paul said, “Be strong in the Lord,” or “Strengthen yourselves in the Lord.”  The first thing y’all should realize is we’re no match for Satan.  He is a powerful spiritual being and we must not try to take him on alone.  Satan knows God is our power-base.  Therefore it stands to reason Satan’s goal is to get between you and God and the world is filled with stuff to accomplish this.   

Satan was defeated and his stranglehold on humanity was broken at the Cross of Christ Jesus.  But the devil doesn’t want people to be aware of this:

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). 

Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.  Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:30-32). 

Let’s study Ephesians 6:10b next. 

and in the strength of His mightfirst, this is the Lord’s battle, not ours.  The next thing is we are merely willing soldiers in Christ Jesus’ army and we obey all orders from Headquarters without question (2 Chronicles 20:12-15; John 14:15, 21-24; 2 John 1:6).

The Apostle James wrote:  Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7), meaning we all should keep as much distance from the devil and his schemes as humanly possible.  Paul exhorts us “… do not give the devil a foothold” in your life (Ephesians 4:27).  Although our Apostle Paul is tying this command to his previous statement, ‘BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger… (4:26), in essence he’s saying, “Do not yield to the suggestions and temptations of your adversary.”  The old adage, “Give the devil an inch and he’ll take a mile” has meaning.  We put distance between Satan and ourselves by recognizing the snares he has laid in our path and saying, “No” to temptation. 

If you’re frequently revisiting sinful practices, playing in the devil’s sandbox, you are first and foremost not displaying Christ-like character.  From the world’s standpoint this makes you a hypocrite, because you’re trying to wear two faces simultaneously, one a Christian and the other the devil’s playmate.  Secondly, Satan is achieving his goal in making you an ineffective ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). 

“…and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one;” (Matthew 6:13).

No temptation has seized you, except what is common to man.  And God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able (to resist; just say no), but will also provide with the temptation the escape, to be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13). 

…if all this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment (2 Peter 2:9).

Idle hands (and minds) are the devil’s workshop” (Proverbs 16:27-29).  Here’s an example from scripture which most folks are aware of:  King David, “the man after God’s own heart,” opted to stay at home instead of leading his men in battle.  In a moment of idleness, i.e. “weakness” he spied Bathsheba taking a bath from his rooftop and the rest is unfortunate history.  I say unfortunate because this event and those that followed could have been, should have been, avoided.   If David had tended to the LORD’s business instead of engaging in monkey business, he would not have had to deal with the effects of his sin (Numbers 32:23; 2 Samuel 11).    

So Paul challenges all true Believers to be strong in the Lord because we’re up against a formidable adversary.  Please don’t misunderstand.  His power is limited; he can’t read our minds and he can’t be everywhere at once, for instance.  In the book of Job we find Satan seeking permission from the LORD to harass Job (Job 1).  But the devil knows us better than we know ourselves and by that I mean to say “He knows our weaknesses and floods our life with them.”  And he doesn’t work alone.  He has his forces of this darkness to help him do his dirty work. 

Perhaps you’ve seen an episode on Animal Planet (or the like) where they show a lion on the prowl and him attacking his prey.  This is usually the animal found daydreaming or lagging behind the main pack due to illness or a physical restraint?  The film shows the lion pouncing on his prey, dragging it down, and devouring it.  Satan operates in this fashion.  His primary goal is to drag you and as many others as he can down.  He is crafty; he waits and watches for the best time to attack us, usually when we’re alone because this is when we’re most vulnerable and prone to weakness.  So, we must never take Satan on in our own strength because we are powerless to defeat him; we’ll simply suffer one setback after another.  The only way the Believer can endure the devils attacks is to “put on the full armor of God and standing firm relying solely in the strength of His might (6:10-11).

So my question for the group is this, “Why would Believers doubt God’s is Omnipotent (all powerful) after all He’s done for us?”  Paul began this letter with a list of God’s blessings we all received at our conversion:   

God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we would be holy and blameless before Him (1:4)

He predestined us to adoption as sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will (1:5)

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us (1:7-8)

He made known to us the mystery of His will (1:9)

we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will (1:11)

having also believed (the gospel, a.k.a. good news), you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption (1:14)

But God being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (2:4-6).

God is on His throne and in control.  Knowing this why do people believe God lacks the power to get them through the trials and tribulations they’re facing along with those unseen difficulties just over the horizon?  The greatest display of God’s power was demonstrated in raising His Son from the grave on the third day? 

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of His power to us who believe.  He displayed this power in the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:18-20; Psalm 110:1; John 10:11, 17-18; Acts 2:24, 27, 13:33, 37).     

If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31).

Being strong in the Lord and in the power of His might without a doubt is preliminary to the preparation for spiritual warfare.  It will do you no good to put your armor on and enter the fight if you have no source of strength.  Imagine a knight of the realm putting on all that heavy armor and attempting to go into battle with a serious case of the flu.  What do you think will happen?  The armor is of no use to him because he lacks the strength to lift his shield and parry his enemy’s sword thrust.  He will become a casualty of the battle and of no use to his liege quite quickly because he’s unable to stand firm.     

Thus, the preliminary step in preparation for battle is to be strong and in spiritual warfare that strength cannot be found in us.  If you think our knight was in trouble trying to fight while suffering from the flu, trying to fight against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (6:12) in your own power is considerably worse.

An example of this principle occurred in Ephesus in Acts 19:13.  There were seven sons who were Jewish exorcists and they went from place to place attempting to cast out evil spirits.  They would try to get the demons to leave an individual by invoking the name of Christ as an incantation saying, I bind you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.”  Verses 15-16 record the evil spirit’s response, I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”  And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued and overpowered them all, so that they fled out of the house naked and wounded.  This is the result of going into spiritual warfare without being “strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

To be strong in the Lord literally means:  to be strong or courageous in His cause.  Our Apostle Paul suffered greatly “for this cause” (Acts 9:15-16).  One example of this is he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon (the prison letters) during his first Roman imprisonment.   What was the cause?  Paul preached the revelation of the mystery to Gentiles and the Jews: 

…if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you (Gentiles); that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery (secret), as I wrote before in brief (Ephesians 3:1-12). 

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; (Romans 16:25-26; 2 Corinthians 4:5-18).

…giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry (the cause) will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report… (2 Corinthians 6:3-10).

Like ocean waves beating against the shoreline, persecution, trials, tribulations, and the ensuing suffering come in unrelenting waves.  Case in point, no apostle of Jesus Christ suffered more than our Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 11:22-28) and yet he “fought the good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).  He didn’t surrender to his hardships, in other words.  He stayed the course for the cause for which he had been called, i.e. the stewardship of the mystery of grace, giving God the glory. 

Our Apostle Paul didn’t have a moral flaw to attack, so here’s an example of the devil’s all out attack on his person and the reason for it:    

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!  Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.  And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Paul’s thorn in the flesh came by way of a messenger of Satan with a dual purpose.  Whatever this malady may have been it tormented him day and night and it kept him from being conceited or as Paul said, “to keep me from exalting myself.” 

Who among us has not experienced persecution, trials and tribulations, things that torment us mentally and physically in this life?   But who, when they felt cornered and  the weight of the world was upon their shoulders realized God is not only with us He is for us (Romans 8:30-32, 37-39).   

Look at what Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:7:  For God has not given to us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  

And then to the saints in Philippi:  I can do all things through Him (Jesus Christ) who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). 

The battle isn’t ours; it belongs to the Lord and we draw our strength for spiritual warfare from Him.

The next thing Paul said we’re to do is Put on the full armor of God.  Why - “so that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

True Believers mustput on the full armor of God.”  Some may be asking “Where do I find this armor?  It’s important to understand God has already provided us this armor; all we need do is put it on.  I find it remarkable many people look to worldly armor for protection.  Permit me to explain:  the theologian Charles Hodge (1797-1878) correctly warned “men have always been disposed to trust [the arms] which they provide for themselves or which have been prescribed by others. Seclusion from the world (i.e. flight rather than conflict), ascetic and ritual observances, invocation of saints and angels, and especially, celibacy, voluntary poverty, and monastic obedience...” This is the armor of false religion, and not the armor of God.

The purpose for this spiritual armor is so we may be able to “stand firm” against the “schemes” of the devil.  The Koine Greek word for “stand firm” is Steko (stay’-ko), Verb, Strong’s Greek #4739, meaning:  to stand firm, to persevere.  Paul borrowed a military term to convey the meaning Believers are to hold their ground, i.e. hold their present position. 

The word “schemes” is the Koine Greek word Methodeia (meth-od-i’-ah), Noun, Feminine, Strong’s Greek # 3180, meaning:  a method; scheming, craftiness, deceit.  We get our English word method from this term.  Paul’s saying the great deceiver, the devil, has many methods which he uses to attack people.  Paul’s saying “stand firm; hold your position against these attacks.” 

We will discuss this further in the upcoming Bible lesson, but for now I want us to focus solely on the devil, his demonic horde, and his well organized schemes for it is these we’re to stand firm against.  Why, because one of Satan’s schemes is distraction.  He wants the Church not only to be divided against itself, he wants them thinking people are the real problem.  Warren Wiersbe brings this matter into the light by saying, “We are wasting our time fighting people when we ought to be fighting the devil who seeks to control people and make them oppose the work of God.”

The devil wants our focus off of the spiritual battle and onto the problems we’re facing.  He wants us to believe people are the problem, when in fact Satan is behind the disorder.  We know this because Paul clarifies it in 6:12, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood…”  People are not the problem.  Sin and the devil are the problem and if we lose that focus we end up fighting one another which is a complete waste of time and energy.   

We need the full complement of the armor of God because the devil is scheming – methodical – in trying to exploit our weaknesses.  He’s looking for weaknesses in our armor so he can attack us.  We also need it because Satan has a well organized horde of demonic followers.  We also learn this from v12 Paul said our struggle is “…against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

The KJV uses the word “we wrestle” instead of the word “struggle.” This is a good description of our struggle because the language used here is that of hand-to-hand combat; the most brutal type of fighting there is.  Today we launch cruise missiles at our enemies from far way never seeing their face.  The type of fighting Paul explains is front line action; trench warfare.     

Revelation 12:4 indicates a third of the angels rebelled along with Satan and they were defeated.  Paul has divided these demonic forces into ranks.  We need to know this is a vast army, and it is well organized.  Here Paul describes these forces of wickedness as:

Rulers or principalities (Ephesians 3:10); Powers (Ephesians 3:10); World-forces of this darkness (Ephesians 1:21); and Spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:2). 

Some people in the church have tried to specify the abilities and duties of each of these ranks.  However, the Bible doesn’t go there and neither will I.  We understand we’re not wrestling with flesh and blood, an allusion to the ancient Isthmian Games of Greece.  It was named after the Isthmus of Corinth where they were held.  One of the fan-favorites was wrestling (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).  Here it refers to the struggle or combat which the true Believer must maintain. 

We also know a demon referred to as the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” withstood the angel sent to answer Daniel’s prayer for 21 days until the Archangel Michael, called on one of “the chief princes” to help (Daniel 10:13).  This tells us God’s angles and Satan’s demons are both ranked, but here’s the thing, the ranking and ability of any demon is unimportant to us, what is important is the devil’s demonic ranks attack us from the second and first heaven so, we need to stand firm 24/7/365.  

(To be continued)

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