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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 26, 2018

Ephesians 6:18--20 (Lesson 40)


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 (6:18-24)                                                       (Lesson 40)                               

Welcome to HBS.

In our study last week we looked at the full armor of God and why every man, woman, and child in Jesus Christ (or true Believer) is required to put it on.  Clearly, this is God’s will for us rather than just good advice.  Putting on the full armor of God” may be likened to “putting on the Lord Christ Jesus” and it too is not a suggestion:

The night is almost gone, and the day is near.  Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:12-14).

The word darkness is often used in Scripture to symbolize sin (deeds of darkness) and its negative effects.  You’ll also find it is often contrasted with light, as a symbol of forgiveness, the times of the gospel (good news), and the presence of God.

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.  For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people:  but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee (Isaiah 60:1-2).

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not (John 1:5).

And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, (why) for their deeds were evil (John 3:19).

(But) Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor the darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:5 -KJV).

In using the term darkness here, Paul explains our present saved yet imperfect condition in this present evil age (5:15-16) as contrasted with God’s pure Light.
Therefore – in preparation for the Body of Christ’s glorious Rapture, true Believers are to walk (live out their lives) blameless and holy (Ephesians 1:3-4) with eager expectation of this event and pleasing God in every way.  Our Apostle Paul writes:

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you may walk (how) in a manner worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way:  bearing fruit in every good work, growing in knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have full endurance and patience, (Colossians 1:9-11)

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

Let us put on (clothe ourselves) with the armor of light - the word "armor" means “instrument of war.”  These include the belt, breastplate, helmet, sandals, sword, and shield (Ephesians 6:11-17).  It is used in the New Testament to denote those spiritual aids which the Believer in Christ Jesus has at hand to conduct spiritual warfare.  God has provided both defensive and offensive instruments so His adopted children can stand firm against their enemies which this book flags as the flesh (Galatians 5:16-21); the world (James 4:4-8); and the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 6:12).

These six instruments of war represent the true Believer’s inner strength (the belt of truth), the role of righteousness in their life (the breastplate), inner peace (sandals that represent the preparation of the gospel from which they go forth having “the peace of God”), hope (the shield with which they defend the faith for true faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen (Hebrews 11:1),  the helmet (meant to protect one’s mind from the impurities of this fallen world), and a two-edged sword (which represents God’s Word spoken boldly to advance the cause of Jesus Christ in the Church Age – Ephesians 2:8-10).

It is called armor of light, because it is not meant to accomplish any deeds of darkness for those in Christ are represented as children of light (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying (Romans 13:13 - KJV).

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (Romans 13:14 - KJV).

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Please open your Bible at Ephesians 6:18.

The term "put on" in Ephesians 6:11 is a word denoting action; a reoccurring physical activity we are to take up.  It is from the Koine Greek word Enduo (en-doo’-o), Verb, Strong’s Greek #1746, and it means:  to clothe or be clothed with (in the sense of a garment which one wraps around themselves).  So, Paul commands the Ephesians (and us) to put on the full armor of God, which is equal to putting on the Lord Jesus Christ as we would a garment.  In effect Paul’s saying we’re to imitate God in all respects (5:1) for He is our armor, that is, He’s more than capable of protecting us from the devil’s schemes, daily temptation, and strengthening us so we can stand firm during trials:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10).

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, but will also provide with the temptation the escape, to be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13 - BSB).

Now let’s look at Ephesians 6:18-20.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times, in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.  

There’s a lot to talk about here, so I’m uncertain as to how much progress we’re going to make.  I don’t believe we’re going to wrap up this passage this week is what I’m saying.  I want to explain this passage without leaving anything out for your sake.     

Our Apostle Paul is primarily talking about prayer here.  I should point out some folks believe this is one more piece of armor.  But note he doesn’t say “Put on prayer,” so we should not assume this.  However, the truth of the matter is after reading about the six instruments of spiritual warfare, people tend to skip this section of scripture and that shouldn’t happen.  Paul definitely continues with the military imagery.  I say this because the original manuscripts didn’t have chapter and verse addresses, so verse 6:18 is connected to verse 17 and reads thusly,

And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit.”   

Paul’s saying “take (up) the sword (God’s Word)… praying… at all times.”  From this we are to learn prayer is the power that wields the weapon of God’s Word.  You get some idea of the power of God’s Word in the book of Revelation.  Turn with me to Revelation 19:11-16:

The Second Coming of Christ

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.  His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.  He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God (John 1).  And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.  From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, (Jesus Christ isn’t going to strike down His enemies with a physical sword, by this we understand He will use the Word of God to destroy them.  After all, God only spoke and the heavens and the earth were made and life was created.  Thus, it’s not a stretch to understand by speaking alone He is able to end life as well) and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.  And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Let’s look at a passage from John 6:63:

"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”

So, we understand the Apostle John to mean the Lord Jesus Christ will subdue His enemies with the spoken Word.  Let’s look at one more Bible passage in support of this truth.  Please turn with me to Hebrews 4:12.

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 (what) judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 

Paul wants these folks in Ephesus (and us) to know prayer is a fundamental discipline of the Believer’s life, combined with a regular Bible study regimen, fellowship with other Believers, and always being a reliable witness in support of the Truth.  These are the basic spiritual disciplines every true Believer should be involved in to promote spiritual maturity.  

What does support the Truth mean?  I’m glad you asked.  I’ll illustrate.  Just this week someone in my social circle posted this message on my Facebook page: 

Trump is a joke.  Jesus never spoke out once against homosexuals, so neither should we.  We should accept people for who they are.”  Is this a true statement or an exaggeration of truth? 

It’s true Jesus Christ did not directly address this immoral activity, but it’s a stretch for someone to say He approved or condoned the activity.  The Lord was a sinless Jew and lived by the moral code passed down through Hebrew tradition.  Among the many tenets we find this:  If a man lies with a male as with a woman, they have committed an abomination; the two of them shall be put to death” (Leviticus 20:13). 

In the New Testament the risen Lord speaks and works through His called apostles.  He also worked in and through our Apostle Paul but kept him insulated from the twelve because God was doing something new in preaching the revelation of the mystery to Gentiles and Jews alike.  When Paul speaks (writes), the revelation of God is made known to true Believers and the world-at-large for that matter:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses (the mindset of those who oppose the Truth).  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete (1 Corinthians 10:3-6).

If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.  But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized (1 Corinthians 14:37-38).

Our Apostle Paul said, “Flee from all sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18); “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who (do what) suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them… (Romans 1:18-32).

Jesus said, “If you love Me, you’ll obey My commandments” (John 14:15).  So, in response to this individual’s personal view of the LGBT agenda, God has spoken and we obey.  True Believer’s don’t “go with the flow” or “follow the crowd” (Matthew 7:13-14) so as not to cause unrest.  It’s far better for an individual to be made uncomfortable here on earth rather than suffer terribly for eternity in the Lake of Fire.   So, here’s the thing, denying Truth does not alter it or negate it.  We are to stand firm in defense of the Word of God. 

Returning to the subject of prayer, Paul said, “pray at all times” not only when we find ourselves in harm’s way.  But how are we to pray?  The answer is in accordance with the Word of God, rightly divided.  I add he considers this to be a vital truth.  We know this because he mentions “prayer” four times in this passage.  He also mentioned the word “all” four times in verse 6:18 saying, all prayer, at all times, with all perseverance, and for all the saints.   

The next thing we notice is Paul presents prayer using three different Koine Greek words, Proseuche, Deesis, and Proseuchomai.  Koine Greek is a.k.a. Alexandrian dialect.  Koine is the Greek word “common.”  We find this word in Koinonia; which means “fellowship.”  Fellowship is having something in common, such as the Word of Truth.  So, Koine Greek was the “common” language of the Mediterranean world in the first century; thanks primarily to Alexander the Great.  He spread the Greek language and culture far and wide. 

Looking at these words individually, we first have the word prayer Proseuche (pros-yoo-khay), Noun, Feminine, Strong’s Greek #4335, which denotes the Believer’s privilege to communicate with God:  For through Him (Jesus Christ) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father (Ephesians 2:18).  Prayer is also an intimate form of worship, in that it is most often done in private and often spoken non-verbally, in the Spirit:

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there (Mark 1:35).

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray (Luke 5:16).

What is the outcome then?  I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also (1 Corinthians 14:15).

Samuel M. Zwemer said, “True prayer is God the Holy Spirit talking to God the Father in the name of God the Son, and the Believer’s heart is the prayer room.”    

We could begin a lengthy discussion here as to why the prayer-life of some Believers’ ranges from nonexistent to as needed.  But instead of doing that I’m going to mention a few reasons, in no particular order, why people aren’t praying as Paul directs. 

Disenchantment:  people are troubled by what they deem as unanswered prayer, so they place little value on this activity.  Contrary to popular church teaching, God doesn’t answer prayer in three ways, i.e. “Yes,” “No,” and then “Maybe.”  People have this idea because they are taught it in church and Sunday school.  But the folks teaching this are erroneously leaning on God’s promises to the nation of Israel, His earthly people, and they usually borrow verses from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. 

There are more than few verses in the four gospels promising answered prayer, “If you believe.”  But here’s the thing, the four gospels are Jewish ground.  The Lord Jesus Christ is only ministering to His countrymen, i.e. the nation of Israel (Matthew 10:5-7, 14:23, 15:24; John1:1-12; Romans 15:8).  If you know God’s Word, then you know the nation of Israel rejected their Messiah and sanctioned His death on the cross. 

But then the Lord did something that had never been prophesied or promised.  Instead of pouring out His wrath upon the unbelieving world, He reached down in utter grace and saved the man who was leading the rebellion against His Son.  He saved His greatest enemy, a man named Saul, who I refer to as “Our Apostle Paul” for he was chosen by the risen Lord to be the Apostle to the Gentiles.  Paul called himself “the chief of sinners” or the first person “in line” to be saved by the grace of God (alone) and sent to the Gentiles with a message that had never been revealed before.  Below you’ll find Paul explaining his God-given responsibility:

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the stewardship (dispensation) of God’s grace which was given to me for you, that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery…” (Eph. 3:1-3a).

The Lord Jesus Christ had a “mystery;” the word “secret” is a better word.  Paul’s saying this new revelation, this “dispensation of the grace of God” apart from the Law was made known only to him.  Paul often writes about this special ministry given to him.  Said differently, he was not preaching “the gospel of the kingdom” as were the twelve, because the Lord had revealed something new and different to him.

To me, the very least of all saints, this grace (unmerited salvation) was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light (to reveal what had been hidden in the mind of God since before the foundation of the of the word) what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;” (Ephesians 3:8-9).

The Lord Jesus revealed to Paul “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” The Kingdom blessings were promised and written about all through the Old Testament, but now the Lord revealed a program of blessings that were “unsearchable.” You can search the O.T. Scriptures but you won’t find this information, because it was “hidden in God” until the Lord revealed it to Paul for you and me today (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Now, let’s see what the Lord Jesus told Paul about how prayer works today in the Church Age.  Here’s where we find the answer to the problem of unanswered prayer!

We begin with a passage in Paul’s letter to the Romans where Paul begins to explain what the Lord told him about prayer today under grace, and why you aren’t getting everything you pray for:

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we (what) do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:26-28).

For those of us in the dispensation of grace, God never promises He will give us everything we ask for.  The life of Paul proves this truth out.  He wrote thirteen letters, from Romans to Philemon (He may have written the letter to the Hebrews, but the jury is still out on this subject) and you don’t find a prayer promise like, “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full” (John 16:24).  Instead, Paul said, “You do not know how to pray.” 

God said He’d “work all things together for good” in our lives, but He doesn’t explain how He’s going to do that.  He’s promised it, and we receive this promise by faith and believe He is working “all things to our good. The thing is we often can’t comprehend how God intends to do this, which is why Paul said “We walk by faith, not by sight.” 

Since we don’t know how God is going to work all things for our good, we don’t know exactly how to pray.  So, think this through.  How can God promise us He will answer every prayer, if He tells us up-front “we don’t even know what to pray for?”

Paul’s letters contain many testimonies of his unanswered prayers.  He knew how to pray in the dispensation of grace, and didn’t become discouraged when he didn’t receive what he asked for.  He believed his Father in heaven had everything under control and was working all things together for his good.  One of these testimonies of unanswered prayer is in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given to 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.”

We see in verse 7 God allowed Paul to suffer with this “thorn in the flesh,” some physical suffering that came from Satan, but God allowed it to stand for a good purpose in Paul’s life.  Even after Paul pleaded for the Lord to remove the problem, we know no explanation for his suffering was offered.  When people do pray it is often because they too have a problem they want God to fix.  But what did God say?  He didn’t say, “Whatever you ask you’ll receive, if you have faith!” That wasn’t it!  The Lord told Paul His grace would be enough, sufficient, for him—and His grace means His power working in and through Paul for “My power is made perfect in your weakness.”  We always want God to fix our problem; but He wants to show the sufficiency of His grace, and the magnificence of His power working in our lives so that we can “bloom wherever He has planted us!”

Paul’s whole attitude about suffering changed as a result of this prayer experience.  Our mental attitude needs to change as well.  We need to learn it is not God’s will to take away all our problems, to fix all our weaknesses, to grant our every request.  But it is God’s will in all the circumstances of our lives to give us all the grace and strength we’ll need so we can manage hardships and trials properly and bring glory to God.

Ignorance:  Paul has already informed us we don’t know how to pray, so this is a “No Duh.”  Contrary to popular belief, ignorance does not mean “stupid.”  It means uneducated; here it means they’re uneducated about how to pray.

These two thoughts can be combined as one because people “lack knowledge.”  Please understand if this is you, you’re in good company because the Lord’s disciples questioned Him about how to pray.  They asked Jesus to teach them to pray.  The result is one of the most copied prayers of all times; we call it the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:19-15). 

But here’s the thing, the Lord didn’t mean for them to recite His prayer verbatim, He gave them the outline for prayer.  They were to consider each aspect of the Lord’s outline, meditating on the Sovereignty of God, what He’s done and is presently doing, and our relationship with others.  So repeating this prayer “word for word” is little more than scripture memorization.  You’re missing the point, in other words.  That point is Jesus came preaching the Greatest Commandment, i.e. the need to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength and equally as important:  ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Pride:  pride and selfishness build a barrier between an individual and God, “Pride goes before destruction a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).  C.S. Lewis called pride “the great sin.”  I point out what the Bible describes as a deadly vice is now celebrated as a virtue in our culture.  Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise but as wise…” Ephesians 5:15-16. 

If pride is causing you to exalt yourself please know this is not in accordance with God’s Word for it says “Humble yourself and I will exalt you” (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6-8).  When you humbly “Put on Christ” you adopt His way of thinking; His attitude and values become yours.  The Lord emphasized the need for humility multiple times and was Himself a living example of meekness.   So, pray for the God the Holy Spirit to change your hearts and minds.   God will never move you to pray for something not sanctioned by His Word. 

Praying in the Spirit” literally means to pray in harmony with God’s Word, rightly divided, or filled with the Spirit (under the Spirit’s control) – Ephesians 5:18.  Prayer is communication (conversation) with God ultimately seeking His will and His glory.  We’re to take the back-seat and let Him drive in other words. 

The best example from scripture I can think of to help you understand this truth is found in Luke 22:42.  In this passage we find the Lord Jesus Christ, God incarnate, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His arrest, “Saying, Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

If God did not remove this cup from our Lord and after our Apostle Paul’s request was denied, even after three attempts, I believe we are in good company.  I have learned to be grateful in all circumstances, I’m still working being “content” but I know God will keep His promises, and “…cause all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” 

This is as good a place as any to close this week’s Bible lesson.  We’ll pick it up from here when next we meet.

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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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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