STRONG & DEPENDENT, SPIRITUAL WARFARE, EPHESIANS 6:10-12, ENJOY GOD 48

STRONG and DEPENDENT

Ephesians 6:10-12

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

The voice of Scripture is diverse: at times it speaks softly, at times it speaks lovingly, at other times Scripture speaks forcefully, and in some places it speaks demandingly

Here, Scripture in a command mode: we are told to “be strong with the Lord’s mighty power”

Strength is a concept most of us understand, especially those who have been through times of military conflict and terrorism that have been leveled against us as a nation

There is a simple, yet profound truth that we subscribe to that will be the theme of my message today: we need to be stronger than our adversaries

The great Apostle Paul issues a clarion call that is challenging to all of us down through the ages:

BE STRONG!

Paul’s challenge is a concluding word to his Epistle to the Church at Ephesus and looks wistfully to the past as it projects itself into the future of the reader’s life

It looks backward as a connective point that ties us to his previous arguments

It looks forward as he begins to tell us about the spiritual armor we both bear and wear as we face the spiritual conflicts that this life presents us with

Today, I want us to see how these simple words of strength and discipline of the Apostle can speak into our lives now, as they call to a place of dependency upon the Lord to lead us into a victorious life in Him

Observe with me how Paul challenges us to:

  1. I) BE STRONG… STRATEGICALLY
  2. II) BESTRONG… DEPENDANTLY
  3. ) BE STRONG…  MIRACULOUSLY

 I) BE STRONG… STRAGECICALLY

Paul’s speech and composition is borrowed from something he was painfully aware of, along with most of the secondary cultures of his era: Rome had a powerful army

As such, Paul would regularly borrow military terminology in order to convey the truths of the Gospel to his listeners

Military lingo involves the conveyance of strategic ideas and concepts that if successful, result in victory over an enemy

By using this terminology, Paul reminds us of a deep, yet simple truth: we have been enlisted into a battle by default through conversion

In verse 10 we are told to be strong: in verses 11-12 we are told who we fight against in this battle

There is a fact that we all face: we have a powerful and formidable enemy who has many allies

There is another fact that we are confronted with: in order to fight effectively we must be strong

It is also a fact that in order to obtain strength for a battle, we must train effectively

So, how do we train when the world is against us?

I was recently reminded of a great novel that impacted my life as a teenager: To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee Harper

It’s an incredible story of one man standing against the forces of a town’s acceptance of prejudicial attitudes and customs that had a stranglehold on the Deep South

It recounted the story of Atticus and his crusade to free a black man who had been accused of raping a white woman through the eyes of his young daughter

Atticus was a trained attorney, who had to summon all of his skills, education and training in order to defeat an enemy that was stronger than he was: the prejudices of a culture

In the end, he prevailed, just as we will as we follow the age old path of skill acquisition in doing battle

We acquire our supernatural skills by studying the Bible, praying, fellowshipping, fasting, witnessing, working for the church’s advancement, standing in truth, righteousness, exercising faith, worshipping and praising, etc.

These areas of strength are promoted by Paul in this passage on spiritual warfare as he challenges us to:

Be Strong in Character (v. 14)

Be Strong in Faith (v. 16)

Be Strong in Scriptural Knowledge (v. 17)

Be Strong in Prayer (v. 18)

All of these factors are important for us to consider and adopt as we navigate this life in a world that has went side ways in so many areas: situational morality, rejection of Judeo-Christian values socially, apathy in the church, and so on

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us that, though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does, For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled

We wage war through our bodies but we repudiate the standards and values of the world – we don’t use its tactics/schemes to achieve our goals

We do this because our struggle isn’t against flesh and blood exclusively

Behind and beneath the daily earthly struggles with people, institutions and ideologies is an unseen spiritual battle

Friends, we need to understand the critical nature of this challenge and make our stand for what our convictions are, because he who stands for nothing stands on nothing, as it was once said

So what do we do if we agree with this challenge, but our life experience is anything but being strong? If that’s the case, and it is that way with all of us at various times:

II) BE STRONG… DEPENDANTLY

Let’s face it people: sometimes good words and great exhortations are meaningless to us due to our weaknesses, trials and failures

Temptation can put us on the ropes of life and a lack of discipline spiritually can be debilitating

The struggles we all face can push us toward the precipice, causing us to wonder: should we even continue to move forward, or should we give up?

Maybe you’re even saying in your heart of hearts as I’ve been speaking: Lord, I’ve tried to be strong, I’ve tried to do what is right, I’ve tried to stop behaving the way I do, to change my language, to control my temper, to stop worrying, to stop wounding others with my tongue

Maybe there have been times where you have stepped out, trying to develop a devotional life, trying to be faithful, trying to be committed, yet failing over and over again

Maybe you are at the point of saying: “what’s the point? Why keep trying?”

Hear me on this point friend: there is an answer to this dilemma: it’s called co-dependency

Yes, I know that’s a bad word in our modern society, but it’s a Scriptural principle that is encouraged here by Paul

We are to be strong with the lord’s mighty power (emphasize with)

Finally, after all has been said and done… one more thing/the best for last

Be strong in the LORD – we aren’t told to just be strong only

Self reliance in spiritual warfare is dangerous and useless. We are not called to make war in our strength

Joshua 1:6-9 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go

1 Samuel 30:6 Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God

2 Chronicles 20:15Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s

Psalm 18:1;31-32 I will love You, O Lord, my strength… For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? 32 It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect

It’s really OK to trust in Jesus grace and forgiveness, becoming dependant upon him to rescue us from our troubles

There are schemes out there that are trying to hurt you

The schemes include: temptation, accusation, intimidation, division… these are the assaults against individuals and the church

Being strong with His mighty power puts us in a position to rely on Him to impart to us that which we need in order to secure our victory as we train for this battle we have been enlisted into

If that isn’t enough, this passage also encourages us to:

III) BE STRONG…  MIRACULOUSLY

“Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might”

There is a miraculous nature to these words that are clearly defined by the expression: naturally supernatural

He does His part, we do our part, and together we win!

What this addresses for us is the truth that there are some things we will never overcome alone, some battles we will never win no matter how hard we try or train

There are times when we face rivers that are to strong for us to forge on our own, mountains that are to difficult to scale, adversaries that are to smart, strong, to cunning for us to defeat

Some of these challenges are natural, some are supernatural

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

The times when we face greater resources, greater influence, superior connections, better skills than what we possess

You know the story: the kid who ran faster than you did, jumped higher, earned better grades and drove the new car

Sometimes the challenges that we face in life can be formidable and daunting

Now that you are sufficiently depressed, let me tell you the good news: the Savior we serve is powerful! As a matter of fact, “all authority in heaven and earth is his (Matthew 28:18), and we can exchange our weaknesses for his strength, according to Isaiah 40:31 “They that wait on the lord shall renew their strength. They will mount up on wings like an eagle. They will run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Regardless of what we face, we can and will overcome, because God is on our side

That’s why Paul exhorted us to stand firm

This challenge is issued three times in verses 11, 13, and 14

This means you are to hold your position, resist opposition, refuse to surrender ground to the enemy, to preserve and maintain what has already been won

Victory/Revival isn’t a one size fits all.  Revival/Victory can look different in different times and different seasons. Sometimes it’s great expansion, at other times it just maintaining the ground that has been won.

Conclusion

Friends, our crucified, risen and ascended Lord is the one who gives us the victory

One of the great paradoxes of life is the truth that He invites the weary and defeated to come to Him

As we respond, He has promised to give us rest

The key to overcoming is learning to trust Him for our deliverance

 

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