Big Idea: The Christian Life is about Walking the Walk, and taking your Stand
Intro: Well morning Church family, friends and visitors. My name is Matt Johnson and we are in the midst of Sydney covid chaos. But today, God has given us a passage in Ephesians 6 – that is probably as good as it gets for times such as these. So today, as we finish Ephesians, I am going to try to apply it – to what is happening around us, right now. Let’s pray…
Well today as we finish up Ephesians – let me say God loves the church and he wants his people to be UNITED. Remember the words in Ephesians 4 – keep the unity of the Spirit. Now the way we keep our unity as Christians is by walking the walk and talking the talk. Paul told us to (Slide 2). This really is a winning formula for maintaining our Christian unity as a church. But right now – our Christian unity and maturity is being tested. We are all angry and frustrated and fearful – and we are in danger of turning on people we love.
Have you all heard the saying 1 step forward, two steps back. The saying actually comes from the Russian leader Vladimir Lenin. In 1904, Lenin faced a problem in the Socialist party because people were dividing into two factions the BOLSHEVIK’S and MENSHEVIK’S. So Lenin wrote a tract called the “CRISIS IN OUR PARTY” where he made the famous statement 1 step forward, 2 steps back. Lenin was saying that the division in their party was actually counterproductive to their objective. For every step forward, they were actually taking two steps backwards.
Sadly, whenever the church divides over anything less than the absolute truth of God’s Word – it is one step forward and two steps back. Unnecesary division is always counterproductive. Now thankfully, because we have the Holy Spirit sanctifying us – the church is always moving forward. The sanctifying work of the Spirit means the church usually takes 3 steps forward and only 2 steps back. As Christians, the steps forward always exceed the steps back – because the Holy Spirit is with us…
But what if – we could AVOID many of our backward steps – altogether. Or what if we could SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE them? How much more progress would we make as Christians if we stopped taking a step backwards every fourth step?
Well today Paul tells us to WALK, WALK AND WALK and then take our stand against the enemy. Today Paul explains that the best way to avoid backward steps as a Christian church is to know our enemy and be ready for him…
Point 1: Our Struggle is against Satan & the Spiritual Forces of Evil
Show: Eph.6:10-12 (READ)
Explain: Well friends, please notice the words “take your stand”. The words “take your stand” gets used FOUR TIMES in this passage. It is a kind of military idea. This is how armed forces take a beach or climb a mountain. 1) Three steps forward, stand your ground against the enemy’s assault and then another three steps forward. Paul is making it clear that the Christian walk is not quite the same as a walk in the park. The Christian walk is a military battle. At the end of verse 11 – you’ll see it talks about the devil. Again, in verse 12 – Paul tells us our enemy is the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Paul is saying the Christian church is in spiritual battle.
Illustrate: In Sun Tzu’s famous military book “THE ART OF WAR”; he says (Slide 3). Notice that Sun identifies that to be successful in any military battle you need to know yourself, but you also need to know your enemy.
So before we look at the ARMOUR OF GOD – we actually need to consider our enemy. Who is the devil? (Slide 4; Job.1:6). Although, Satan is not specifically called an angel, we see that he is grouped with the angels. In Revelation 12 we are told (ENTER; Rev.12:7-9). Notice again Satan is grouped with the angels. We know from the book of Jude that Michael is an archangel (Jud.1:9). AN ARCHANGEL is simply a leader of the regular two-winged angels called cherubim. But here we see that Michael is able to defeat Satan. So this tells us that Satan is no more powerful than an archangel because Michael is able to beat him.
Now exactly, how Satan became a bad angel is not straightforward. The book of Isaiah says (Slide 5; Isa.14:12-15). Now the phrase “morning star” was translated as LUCIFER, first in the Latin vulgate and then also in the King James Version of the Bible. So this is where we get the name Lucifer for Satan – and it basically means bright one or shiny one – reflecting his angelic roots…
The second passage that may speak of Satan’s fall is Ezekiel 28 (Slide 6; Ezek.28:14-17). Now some scholars are adamant this is talking about the King of Tyre and not Satan. The problem with the King of Tyre theory is that nowhere in the Bible is the word cherub ever used to describe a human being. The word cherub or cherubim is always used to describe angels. In the Bible there seems to be two orders of angels – Cherubim who have two wings and are the regular angels. And Seraphim which have six wings and are the supreme angels. Isaiah 6 tells us that the SERAPHIM have 6 wings and they surround God’s throne in heaven forever singing holy, holy, holy (Isa.6:2). In Revelation 4 & 5 we are told the FOUR LIVING CREATURES in heaven also have 6 wings, they surround God’s throne and forever cry out “Holy, Holy, Holy.” So the Seraphim are the highest spiritual powers in heaven after God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
But Ezekiel 28 says a GUARDIAN CHERUB fell into pride and rebellion. A cherub created by God – becomes proud because of his beauty and was kicked out of heaven. Although this does not specifically say that cherub was the Devil – many Christians (including myself) believe this is probably talking about the fall of Satan.
Apply: So following Sun Tsu advice what do we know about our enemy. In Ephesians 1, Paul told us that Jesus is seated in the heavenly realms, far above, all other spiritual powers. Not just a little bit above. But far above. So (Slide 7). Jesus (God the Father & the Holy Spirit) is on the throne far above all other powers. Then we have Seraphim who are closest to the throne. Then we have archangels like Michael. And then we have regular angels called cherubim. Now where does Satan fit in the pecking ordee? At best Satan is an archangel given Isaiah calls him a guardian cherub. But Revelation tells us Michael was able to defeat Satan – so maybe Satan is just a regular cherub. Now Satans angels seem to be called DEMONS throughout the Bible. A fallen, rebellious angel is called a demon.
Please notice: Satan is not God’s equal. God is the CREATOR, Satan is created. God is OMNISCIENT, OMNIPRESENT AND OMNIPOTENT. Satan, (like all creatures) is limited in his knowledge, presence and power. But that does not mean we should underestimate his schemes. Satan is a real enemy and many people, institutions and governments – are pawns in Satans hand.
Now I know that what I’ve just described sounds like the Keanu Reeves movie “The Devils Advocate.” Quick pass me the holy water. But yes, I unashamedly say THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW is different to the philosophical materialist view that says – nothing exists except the physical world. (Really. Prove it. You can’t It’s just a hypothesis). Now those who study metaphysics tend to agree with Christians that real things do exist beyond the physical world. So, as Christians we accept the Bible’s worldview. If we believe God exists then it’s plausible other spiritual entities also exist. But before we consider how these spiritual forces attack us – we need to REMEMBER that as Christian’s we are SAFE AND SECURE in Jesus. As Jesus says (Slide 8; Jn.10:28). Or as Paul says in Romans 8 (ENTER; Rom. 8:38-39). So we are not putting on the armour of God in order to get to heaven. No! We are putting on the armour of God in order to avoid injury along the way…
Point 2: Our Struggle involves Recognising Satan’s Schemes
Show: Eph.6:10-12 (READ)
Explain: Well as you can see Paul talks about SATAN’S SCHEMES. If you know your enemies schemes – you can outmaneouver them every time. And really all the pieces of armour – are simply counters to Satan’s schemes. Satan has certain schemes that each part of the armour counters. But remember – everything is happening in the invisible spiritual realm.
That’s why PRAYER mentioned towards the end is so essential. I’m of the opinion that prayer is not really part of the armour. It is more like the undergarments before you even put on the armour. If you do not have a living relationship with God, that is humbly and visibly expressed in prayer – forget about the rest of the armour altogether. PRAYER is so fundamental in spiritual warfare – that it should be considered the undergarments that goes on first and comes off last. So if you are so busy watching all the UPLIFTING STORIES on the news at the moment AND you have neglected praying I guarantee you are already sliding backwards whether you realize it or not. If we want to prevail in any battle we need to be humbly relying on God in prayer…
- But let’s get to SATAN’S SCHEMES. Four things: Satan attacks us with GUILT, LIES, FEAR AND LUST – and God has given us armour to protect us from each ot these things. (Slide 8; Rev.12:10-11). Notice, Satan is called the accuser. The problem is Satan has a real accusation against us and before God. The Bible clearly teaches that the wages of sin is death. So, if people sin against God – they deserve to die. And Satan, holds God to His Word. Satan’s like; you said, God that if people sin they have to die. I got them to sin, so they now have to die and go to hell.” Knowing that God can’t lie – Satan calls God to be true to His Word. But God outsmarted Satan. Yes, people who sin MUST die unless of course, they have a sacrifice to die in their place. Notice Satan is kicked out of heaven and loses his place as the accuser because of the blood of the Lamb.
(GOSPEL) It’s talking about Jesus. Jesus came to earth and died in our place for our sins – so that we could be spared. Jesus took the punishment for all our sins. So if you are a Christian Satan can no longer demand that you die and go to hell because Jesus did it for you already. But truth be told, Satan can’t really condemn anyone anymore. There is a sacrifice for sin in Jesus – for everyone who beleives. So, Satan can’t really condemn us – anymore. But we can condemen ourselves. If we refuse to accept Jesus as our Saviour and Lord – we condemn ourselves. Satan is no longer in control of our destinies. Its now up to you. WILL YOU A) accept Jesus as your Saviour and Lord or B) will you condemn yourself to eternal death? (If you want to find out more about Christianity – look up our website and find out how to become a Christian. But seriously, look around you, the world is getting pretty messy right now and putting this off may be the dumbest thing you ever do.
But for those of us who are Christians – Satan keeps up his accusations. Having been kicked out of heaven (Satan and his cronies) come alongside us and accuse us. “You’re not good enough for heaven. Your pathetic, worthless. You will never amount to anything. God would never let a drunkard, a porn-addict, a liar, a gossip, fill in the blank – like you into heaven.” We’ve all experienced this in one form or another and when Satan gets into our heart and head – we start sliding backwards. We get discouraged or we feel guilty. So we stop 1) reading our Bibles, 2) we stop going to church and 3) we stop doing the things we know God wants us to do. SO HOW DO YOU OVERCOME SATAN’S CONDEMNATION? (ENTER) Well you triumph over Satan by the blood of the Lamb. You simply claim the blood of Jesus and tell Satan to get knicked. Is Jesus blood enough to cover all your sins? (PAUSE) C’mon?! I can’t hear you. Is Jesus blood enough to cover all your sin and guilt? (I Still can’t hear you). Oh that’s right – we’re livestreaming.
But truly, this truth that Jesus blood is enough needs to cover your head and your heart. THE HELMET OF SALVATION and THE BREATSPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS is given to protect our head and heart from Satan’s accusations. But this means you really need to understand in your head and in your heart that salvation is entirely God’s gift to those who believe. You really need to get that it’s all Jesus and zero you – otherwise Satan is going to get you here every time. But once you really understand Penal Substitutionary Atonment and justification by faith alone – Satan’s attacks will be like water off a ducks back. You’ll just be like “whatever…”
- The second thing we know about Satan’s schemes is that he is a lier (Slide 9 – Jn.8:44). Now friends, the world is full of lies. Satan has perpetuated lies through other RELIGIONS. Satan has perpetuated lies through PHILOSOPHY and all the different “isms” of the world. Indeed, Satan has perpetuated lies through SEX, DRUGS, ROCK N ROLL, MOVIES, BOOKS and any form of social media he can get his hands upon. The book of Daniel tells us that when he is finished truth will be completely thrown to the ground. In other words, the lies will be so high and wide and deep that trying to work out what really is truth is going to get hard. Personally, I think the world feels a little bit like that right now. There is so much FAKE NEWS (that we don’t know what to believe). So Paul tells us the best counter to lies is putting on the belt of truth and taking up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
Knowing that we are in spiritual battle we need to test everything agianst God’s Word in the Bible. Now in some contexts that is hard – because the Bible doesn’t tell us explicitly tell us whether we should take a vaccine or not. It falls into the category of wisdom and there are all sorts of Bible passages that need to be brought together in that decision. In the last week I’ve even had intelligent Christians asking me if the vaccine might be the mark of the beast ushering in the last days. Personally, I don’t think that is a silly question.
But, when I evaluate Scripture, I don’t think so. For one A) there is no obvious antichrist on the horizon yet, and two B) we are not being forced into false worship. So, when I test things against God’s Word, no I don’t think the vaccine is the mark of the beast. But sadly, what is happening in Sydney NOW does ring some serious alarm bells from Revelation. First, Christians are not allowed to gather for worship. Second, people are being presured by the state to accept a vaccine that has been developed in a rush. Third, we are being threatened by the government with penalties for not doing what they say. For instance we may not be able to travel interstate or overseas without the vaccine. Its not quite the same as not being able to buy or sell, but its close. And fourth, those who are protesting in the streets of Sydney are villified by everyone.
Sadly, what is happening now in many parts of the world seems to be a type of what we see in Revelation. Only one day – the people protesting on the streets, refusing to accept the mark of the beast need to be Christians. BUT LET ME BE CLEAR: I do not think, that what is happening now is Revelation 13. So we need to be wise and keep our wits about us. That means in two week’s time I am booked in to get a shot of PFIZER and I am still respecting the laws of the land. But I am also very sympathetic 1) to those who are naturally cautious about the vaccines, 2) to those who have real ethical concerns about some of the vaccines and 3) those who are concerned about the rapid loss of freedoms that are coming through state mandates. In such circumstances we need to be very careful that we don’t we don’t let things (less than God’s truth) divide us and polarise us. Wisdom is not absolute truth. It is wisdom.
So friends, do you have God’s truth wrapped around you for such a time as this? Do you have the sword of the Spirit in your hand day by day OR is it gathering dust on your shelf? We need to overcome Satan’s lies with truth and we need to stand our ground in unity
- The third strategy of Satan is FEAR (Slide 10; Heb.2: Rom.8). Fear is one of Satan’s favorite schemes to get people to go into selfish, self-preserving modes of conduct that are the opposite of loving our neightbor. Satan also uses fear to to get us to doubt God’s Word. For instance, (he whispers) if you tithe your money, you’ll never own a home. Fear! Or if you only date Christians, you’ll never get married. Fear. The more Satan gets us to be afraid – the less likely we are to take the steps of faith. So as Satan hits us with fiery darts of fear – we need to hold up THE SHIELD OF FAITH. Faith is the counter to fear When we give into fear – our two natural repsonses are fight or flight. So instead of this we need to hold up the shield of faith. Now most of the time – holding up the shield of faith – is simply trusting what the Bible says. If God’s says “be generous and I’ll look after you” we need to choose faith in God’s Word, instead fear.
But there are times when I have to do things scary and I have no direct word in the Bible. Like, should I get a vaccine when I know they sometimes cause clots? Or should I hop on an aeroplane when I know they sometimes fall out of the sky. At these points there are no clear Bible verses and I simply have to be WISE and TRUST in God’s goodness. I know that God is good and generally speaking if I am not making blatantly stupid decisions, I know God will look after me. So again, I choose faith rather than give into fear. Whenever, I start to recognize that my choices and thinking is being driven by fear – I choose to stop. I then pray and I try to make my decisions based on faith in God’s goodness, rather than fear.
Again, this past week, I’ve had several people ask me whether I think this is the end of the world. Personally, I don’t think that is a silly question because the Bible tells us the world will come to an end at some point. But at this stage I can’t call it. The jury is still out. If it really was the end of the world – there’d be a few extra things that I’d expect to see – that I can’t yet see. So I’m not sure.
But either way, it doesn’t change anything. As Christians we are are called to be people who live by faith, not fear. AND RIGHT NOW many of you need to make that conscious choice. GOD I’M GOING TO CHOOSE TO LIVE BY FAITH, NOT FEAR. PLEASE HELP ME. Say it with me right now: (Slide 11). God I to choose to live by faith in you, not fear. Please help me. EVERY TIME you say a prayer .like that you are holding up the shield of faith. Christians, right now you need to hold up that shield of faith a lot.
My final point today is LUST. (Slide 12; 1Jn2:16-17). Well there are three things people who do not know God – lust for. The first is the lust of the flesh – for sex, food, alcohol and pleasant experiences. This is called HEDONISM. The second is the lust of the eyes – which is the crazy desire to have shiny rings and shiny cars and flash houses. This is called MATERIALISM. And the third lust is the pride of life – the deep desire to glorify ourselves before we die. The pride of life is about having a really big tombstone that says we were the smartest, or the most powerful, or the most religious, or the most woke person to ever live. We lust for significance.
Now these are the normal lusts of people who do not know God. Yet, Satan uses these to tempt us. If you look closely you’ll see Satan used these three things on Eve in the Garden of Eden and on Jesus in the wilderness. Satan knows that one of the best ways tostop us walking the walk is to get us chasing after the lusts of everyone else. Now when we are chasing after these things – the only person we are thinking about – is ourselves. What does my flesh, my eyes, my pride want?
But God has given us a great counter to selfishness and the lusts of this world. It is called the Great Commission. What the world needs, what your neighbors and friends need is to hear about Jesus Christ – while there is still time. One of the greatest counters to sinful, selfsihness is verse 15 which talks about our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Right now, there is a chance some of our family and friends might die. Or better yet, these may be the last days and Jesus may soon return. Come, Lord Jesus. Come. But given that is a real possibility – who should we be thinking about – ourselves or the needs of others to hear the gospel. Friends, I urge you right now to keep things in perspective. Locked up in your house -bored – Satan is probably encouraging you to idulge a little – in a bit more alcohol, or maybe some porn. I mean we’re in lock down – (so Satan whispers) don’t be too hard on yourself – everyone else is doing it. But the most important thing right now is not me or my safety or the lusts of this world. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING is still “TO GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS FOR JESUS.” Are your feet still fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel? Are you speaking Jesus into all the fear, confusion and angstof those on social media around you or are you just buying into the hype and paranoia of everyone else? If we are locked up – we still need to find ways to share the gospel.
Friends, as I finish, I want to say Christians actually have all the armour. If you are a genuine Christian – you were given everything you need at conversion. You just need to know what you have and keep moving forward, walking the walk and talking the talk despite spiritual attack and until Jesus returns.
Let me pray…