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AT WAR (3): UNDER ORDERS (Ephesians 6:10-13) God instructs us in Eph 6:10, Finally, be strong in the Lord and

in the strength of his might. Its a command from our Master. Muscle up. We are at war invisible, but real. So in Eph 6:10-20 Paul gets us prepared by showing a Wartime Perspective (10-13): Wartime Provisions (14-17) and Wartime Power (18-20). Our orientation is found in verses 10-13 where Paul identifies for us I. The Opposition; II. The Objective; III. The Orders; and IV. The Obstacles. The opposition a personal devil and his demonic followers in rebellion against God who govern the world system and attack us individually. Our objective -- to stand. Four times in these verses Paul emphasizes -- STAND. We are not here to win popularity contests. We are here to stand to stand in the evil day against the schemes of the devil. No retreat, no back door, no excuses. We are to keep our feet as we take territory for Christ standing on His word and commands. III.The Orders So he objective is stand. How do we do that? Two specific orders. Two commands. Be empowered and be armed. Get in the weight room and muscle up. Then get into uniform. I want you empowered and equipped. Verses 10-11: Finally, be strong (a command) in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (Be empowered) 11 Put on (a command) the whole armor of God, (be armed. Why?) that you may be able to stand (a against the schemes of the devil. The orders and the objective. Repeated in verse 13 in case we missed it, Therefore take up (command) the whole armor of God (be armed), that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. In simple terms be armed and be empowered to use the arms. Not just one or the other, but both. Armed and dangerous. A. Be Empowered Verse 10: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Be strong. The word Paul uses is the word from which we get dynamite (). It is often used of physical strength, but when speaking of spiritual issues it means to be established in our faith, stable, confirmed, unmovedable. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Paul uses three different words for strength or power in this one
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phrase. Hes obsessed with the need for strength. And he depicts a beautiful balance between what we do and what God does. Be strong! Its a present tense command meaning it is to be our constant pursuit. But it is in passive voice better translated, Keep on being made strong. Thats the literal sense. It doesnt come from within us. The world always tells us, Look inside. Find the inner you. Not Paul. He says, Be made strong in the Lord. Be made strong in the strength of his might. Spiritual strength is not from within; it is from without. Its not from me; it comes from Him. Paul is saying Put on Gods strength every day. Gods might is useless in my world unless I put it on. And I am useless unless He activates it. Do you see the wonderful balance? I do and He does both required. But why? Why is Paul so insistent about Gods strength? Its because he knows the enemy is strong. Weve all seen some kind of movie scene where the hero issues a warning to the bad guy who is sitting behind a table or something. Then, the bad guy stands up. Hes 7 feet tall and built like a tank. Our hero swallows hard, but hes made the threat, so hes got to go through with it. He throws his first punch. The bad guy catches his fist in mid-air. Thats when you know youre in big trouble, right? The enemy is powerful. He is smart and clever and ruthless and strong. Peter says in I Peter 5:8, Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. If I go in my strength, the enemy will eat me alive. John reminds in I John 4:4, he who is in you (Christ) is greater than he who is in the world (Satan). But notice He is great, not me. On my own, I am toast! Ill be down for the count before I know what hit me operating on my own. The idea that the Christian life is any easy one is a 20th century American fabrication. We expect spiritual entitlement. But Christ never promised an easy life to anyone. Heres what He promised in Luke 21:12, They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my names sake. He promised persecution to His followers. He promised persecution! Spiritual warfare. But He also promised in Matthew 5:10, 10) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. We must be strong because our enemy is strong. So, lets look at our part. Next week, His part. 1. Our part
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Some say our part is just be available. Let go and let God. But this is simply not a biblical perspective. It is true we can accomplish nothing on our own. We cannot change a heart or love our brothers and sisters in Christ, let alone our enemies, apart from Gods work thru us. We cannot meet the temptations of the world the flesh and the devil on our own. Temptation will win every time apart from Christs enabling. Nothing counts unless He is in it. But we must also be an active participant. Its a team effort, Beloved. It is His power; it is His might; it is His productivity, but accomplished through my dedicated efforts. His might alone has no instrument apart from me. And my effort alone has no impact apart from Him. Do you see the relationship? Like the old farmer, showing off his magnificent stand of crops to the new pastor. The pastor responded, Isnt it amazing to see what the Lord can do with a place? To which the farmer replied, Yes, but you should have seen what it looked like when the Lord had it by himself. Do you see the point, Beloved? The instruction is not Rest comfortably and do nothing in the Lord and in the strength of his might. The instruction is Be made strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. The instruction is not Let Him cloth you in the whole armor of God, The instruction is Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. This is a dynamic partnership. God does not say, Be powerful. That would be all us. Every English translation seems to say that. But that is not what He says. The verb is passive in verse 10. Literally, Be made strong. Not Be strong, but Be empowered. We must do something to be made strong by someone else by Him. Partners! So, how? What is our part in being strong in the power of His might? Well, how do we gain strength physically? We eat; we exercise; we endure; and we expect. And the same list applies spiritually. Lets examine each. a. We eat You cannot get strong physically without food. Neither can we get strong spiritually without food. Aint gonna happen! That means reading, absorbing, understanding and applying the Word of God. God is not going to make me strong apart from His Word. Jeremiah15:16, Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart. The Word of God is without question what fuels spiritual growth and strength. Rom 10:17 reminds us, So faith comes from hearing, and
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hearing through the word of Christ. Thats true of saving faith and it is equally true of sanctifying faith. No one can live a Christian life without the Word. That is exactly why God says in II Tim 2:15, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. Do your best! Not a grudging effort, but your best to handle Gods Word. Think about that for a moment. God is saying I want you to be super conscientious so you can explain Gods Word to God! Whoa! Think about that. How would you like to explain John 3:16 to God Himself?! Man! I sweat bullets just thinking about that. Are you ready to handle the Word of truth before God Himself, Beloved? Its a command not an option. You cant live the Christian life without the Word. You cant get strong if you dont eat. This is basic. My younger brother, Mike -- #6 -- about 3 years old, was sitting on his high stool looking at our traditional leftovers in water on Saturday night generously called vegetable soup! Mike wasnt interested, but someone told him it would make him grow big and strong. For the next 15 minutes no one paid any attention to Mike until he suddenly blurted out, Im sitting here on my stool getting bigger and bigger and bigger. He was in a bit of a hurry, but got the point. We cant be strong if you dont eat. Are we feeding on the Word? A few weeks ago, I mentioned that John MacArthur, author of over 100 books on the Bible, said this, Early on I found that I would read some section and five minutes later, I had no recollection of what I had read. Were all the same, Beloved. This is no easier for one than for another. So, what did he do? He took a small book I John and read it for 30 days straight. Short book. He said, after 30 straight days, you will know what you have read. You will be able to say, Oh, yes, John says that we have to confess our sins. That is in the second column of page 1 about half way down. You will know what you have read, and if you have been asking the Holy Spirit to teach you that Word will begin to capture your heart. Try any 2 or 3 chapters at a time. Anybody can do this! Im challenging all of us find a book or passage and read 30 days straight. Lets get serious about Gods Word. Dont let Satan take you down for the count. This is your life. You say, I read, but I dont understand it. Fair comment. The Bible is not always easy. The more we know it the easier it gets, but it is sometimes difficult. So read ahead of our Sunday sermons. See what God gives you, then come hear an exposition. Get excited about Gods Word. Get a onevolume commentary, like we have on our book table. It will help greatly on hard parts. Learn to observe, think, tie it to other Scripture. Get into a Bible
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study where questions guide your efforts and you get answers during a class session. No one said this would be easy but you will find over time it becomes a joy and it leads you to God. You cannot get strong without feeding on the Word. Get someone to read with you. I will gladly do a study with anyone who wants to. You are out of excuses. To be made strong, our part is to feed on the Word! So lets do it. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. Its Gods command. b. We exercise Building strength requires exercise. Be empowered by exercise. So what is spiritual exercise? I Tim 4:8, For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. Paul equates physical exercise to spiritual godliness. Living a godly life. Seeking holiness. Thats our spiritual exercise. Jas 1:22, Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only. Exercise what you have studied. Look at Heb 5:14, But solid food (Gods Word) is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment (ability to tell right from wrong and do right. Now watch this who have their powers of discernment) trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Practice? Did you know that holiness is a matter of practice?! No pain, no gain! I was in 5th grade when a 9th grade neighbor boy got me interested in pole vaulting. We built a little landing pit, built standards, kyped a broken pole from the high school and pole vaulting became my passion. I practiced every change I got. It was challenging to learn to run with the pole and to go over on the right side. Then it was practice, practice, practice. I plateaued quickly. Weeks went by with progress measured in random inch segments. Progress was excruciatingly slow. But one night everything suddenly clicked. I didnt change anything I was doing, but all of a sudden, I broke my record by an inch. Then I tried another inch. Cleared it by a mile. Mom called us for dinner, but I was on a roll. Before I finished I had broken my old record by a foot and a half. It was exhilerating. It came from practice! And thats exactly how we grow strong spiritually strong in the strength of the Lord. We practice. When we get it wrong, we confess our sin and try again. When we get it right, we add strength; we get better at combining our effort with His might to produce holiness. It is a beautiful existence when we begin to see progress in holiness. It is exhilerating to become doers of the Word through repeated practice. Are you practicing having your sense
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trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil? We become empowered through the practice of godly living. Thats our exercise. c. We endure Endurance builds strength. It is one thing to exercise spiritual muscles; it is another to endure adversity when we dont know how it will all end. Many of you have been there. Many of us will be called upon to go there. When the time comes, we can fold our tent, deny our faith, give up our hope. Or we can patiently endure because it is another way we are empowered. Rom 5:3-5, More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4) and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5) and hope does not put us to shame, because Gods love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Listen God often provides relief from adversity. It is a test, as are all things in life. But there are times when He says Live through it. Endurance empowers us. He says in II Tim 2:12, if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us. There is not a lot of middle ground there, is there? But there is an amazing promise. Endure and we will reign with him. God empowers us through endurance. In 1927 the Sudan Interior Mission sent missionaries to the Wallamos a wild tribe of Satan worshipers in the mid-Ethiopia. At an annual Passover they sacrificed a bull to Satan, sprinkling blood on doorposts and serving its raw flesh to family members. Satan imitating God. The atmosphere reeked of demons. Eventually a small church was established, but then Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935, forcing the missionaries out. In 8 years, they had gone from 0 to 48 native believers who gathered to wish them farewell. They worshiped, wept, and shared Communion. Then they were evacuated. One missionary, Raymond Davis wrote, We knew God was faithful, that he was able to preserve what he had begun among the Wallamos. But still we wonderedif we ever come back, what will we find? The missionaries returned on July 4, 1943. Persecution had been rampant. Italian soldiers had tried to stamp out the small church. Church leaders were given 100 lashes, and one was given 400. They were unable to lie on their backs for months. Several died. One of them, Wandaro, preached to the crowds between lashes. Another, Toro, stripped in the marketplace, shouted the gospel while being flogged. Amazingly, conversions multiplied. The Wandaros began sending missionaries to other villages. And -- Instead of 48
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believers, the returning missionaries now found18,000. Beloved these are going to reign with Christ one day. Will we? Endurance empowers us. d. We expect This so critical, friends. That we hope. Romans 5 tells us endurance results in character which results in hope. Then a critical point in 5:5: and hope does not put us to shame, because Gods love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. When would hope put us to shame? When it fails! Right? Ever expect a new bike at Christmas and it didnt happen. You were compromised, right? Put to shame. But God always delivers. Hebrews 11:1 is mighty: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Faith in Gods promises isnt a maybe it will, maybe it wont proposition. Faith in Gods promises is a sure thing and hope empowers. We expect; we hope and it empowers us. Why do athletes endure rugged practice schedules and the adversity of hard fought games? Because they like pain? Is that it? They are sadists? Of course not. They are looking for the win, right? They hope. Only theirs is a maybe, maybe not proposition. Only one team can be the champion. With God, expectations are sure. Hope is a sure thing and that empowers. Hebrews 11 illustrates with a whole list of people who accomplished great things for God. Why? Because they looked forward to the reward. They expected and it empowered them. Look at Moses in Heb 11:24-26, By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaohs daughter, 25) choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26) He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. No one in history had it better than Moses. Every luxury furnished; no desire denied. He had it all. But he gave it all up! Why? What a fool from the worlds perspective! Why? Because -- he considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, (now watch) for he was looking to the reward. Man that is powerful! That is being empowered. Has this truth grabbed us? Beloved life is short and eternity is long. Does that fact inform our living like it did Mosess? That is what drove every one of these heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. Every one of them chose to live for eternity rather than time. Are you in? Thats a choice we must all make. We cant live for both. What is your choice? Jill Briscoe is no intellectual lightweight. She is a graduate of
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Cambridge University in England. According to her book, Eight Choices that Will Change a Womans Life, shortly after she received Christ as her Savior and Lord, her then boyfriend took her to the May Ball at Cambridge the social event of the year. After a couple of dances, the young man said shyly, "Jill, I have to tell you something. I went to a meeting and heard Christianity explained, and I gave my life to Christ." Jill says, I stopped in shock, right there in the middle of the dance floor. He was rather a wild young man (as I had been rather a wild young woman), and I could not believe it. He looked decidedly nervous until I burst out with, "Oh, how wonderful! I became a Christian too!" Then, still standing in the middle of the dance floor, they shared how they came to Christ. After a bit the young man asked, "Do you know hes coming back?" Jill said, What do you mean? She had heard no such thing. The boy told her, "Someone at the meeting I attended said hes coming back again to earth." Jill asked, "Like another baby?" He said, I dont know, but I have a Bible in my room that might help. Listen are you getting this? Does Jesus mean this to you? Jill and her friend went off to a century old room in Queens College, Cambridge, poring over a Bible to find passages regarding the Second Coming of Christ. As they read promise after promise, they were filled with hope so filled with hope that they went back to the Ball and spent the rest of the night sharing their new found discoveries with various groups and individuals sharing the gospel and the hope of the Second Coming at the May Ball at Cambridge University. Is that great or what? Empowered! Dont you want to be impowered? Jill says of that night, I learned then that the doctrine of the Second Coming of Christ can bring warning to the lost and encouragement to persevere to the found. And shes continued to share that gospel with husband Stuaart through the next 50 plus years. I think we get so used to what we have that we forget how startlingly wonderful it all is. Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. How do we do our part of that? We eat (study the Word); we exercise (practice holiness); we endure (live thru adversity) and we expect (looking for Gods reward greater than any on earth. Listen it costs to get empowered. It aint easy! Theres an enemy who will fight us every step of the way. But it is infinitely worth it! Lets do it. Together lets do it! Lets pray.

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