While imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.
Confined and awaiting trial, The Apostle writes this Encyclical letter-one to be read by several congregations.
Ephesians has been called "The Alps of the New Testament", "The Grand Canyon of Scripture", and "The Royal Capstone of the Epistles", not only because of it's Grand theme, but because of the majesty of Christ revealed here. In Chapter One, He is the Redeemer, the One in whom and by whom history will ultimately be consummated; He is the Resurrected Lord, having risen over Death and Hell, reigns as King, pouring His Life into His Body, The Church.
In Chapter Two, He is the Peace Maker who has reconciled Man to God. In Chapter Three, He is the Treasure in whom Life's unsearchable riches are found. In Chapter Four, He gives Gifts to the Church and is the Victor who has broken Hell's ability to keep Humankind captive. In Chapter Five, He is the model Husband, unselfishly giving Himself to enhance His Bride. In Chapter Six, in-which we are concerned with today, He is the Lord, Mighty in Battle, the Resource of Strength for His own as they arm themselves for Spiritual Warfare.
It is always important to prepare for war in the time of peace. Strategy is not learned on the Battle field, but, in Class rooms and on Field Maneuvers. Daily Prayer and Bible reading, Tuesday Night Bible Study, and Sunday Morning Worship is essential to our Strategy. Too many Church Goers are (AWOL) Absent WithOut Leave. We go when we feel like it. I call them Houdini Christians: Now you see me, Now you don't. But, when great crises arise in a nation's history, some man, whose whole life has been preparing him for that hour, starts to the Front and gets the job done. If a sailor puts off learning Navigation until the wind is howling and a reef lay ahead, his corpse would be cast upon the rocks. Jesus asked the question in Luke 14:31, "What king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?".
Senator Joseph McCarthy 1950-1955: led a campaign against Communist Subversion. He felt that the State
Department had been infiltrated by Communist.
Our Enemy is bankrupting our Society and destroying our well being. The Family has been attacked,
The Church has been attacked, Virtue and Morality is rapidly declining.
We are in a warfare, and here we are (Believers), squabbling over petty differences, fighting the Saints, and attacking the Church. We can't fight our Adversary for fighting each other. Behind all that meets the eye in our daily lives, there is another world that does NOT meet the eye. Paul discerned other forms hovering, guiding, marshaling, arranging, inspiring those things which meet our eyes. There are many social forces, many political forces, so many human minds and wills, so many human errors, human prejudices, human traditions, human passions, but, our real enemies are not human. Satan lies in ambush behind the many activities of man. We've got to be prepared to resist the wiles of the Devil by putting him to flight in the name of Jesus.
Our response to Satanic opposition is NOT panic or flight, but, firm resistance in Faith. I hear Paul saying in IICorinthians 10:3-5 "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ". Too many believers are retreating in the heat of battle, we must endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (II Timothy 2:3).
Our greatest danger lies in NOT feeling our danger, therefore we are not prepared to meet our danger. Belshazzar was sitting at his drunken feast while the Persians were marching on Babylon, and in the night he was killed because he was unaware of the danger and therefore unprepared. The evil day will come, heralded by NO storm signals and NO falling barometer. There will be days when it seems that the enemies' ladders are being raised on all sides of our fortress, and all the winds of adversity are let loose at once to rush in upon us. Satan hides his designs and falls upon us when we least expect it. Look at Job, No warning, but, sudden catastrophe. His intent is to deprive us of Heavenly blessings, obstruct our communion with God, and ultimately make us lose our Salvation. He studies our propensities (Natural Inclinations) and suits his temptations to them.
But, I want you to know today, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it". In the words of the old Saints, "God won't put any more on you than you can bear".
We've got to do as Paul tells us in this 6th chapter of Ephesians in order to stand in this evil day. I heard him say, "Finally my bretheren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the Breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of Faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the Helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Praying always with prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all Saints".
We have no armor of our own that will protect us in trying times. Truth or sincerity is our girdle, for I heard Isaiah say (Isa. 11:5) "For righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins". That which Christ was girded with, all Christians must be girded with. I heard the Psalmist say "Thou desireth truth, that is sincerity, in the inward parts" (Psalm 51:6). The girdle is not a weapon, but, it GIRDS on all other pieces of our armor. The truth of the Gospel should cleave to us as the girdle does to the loins. Without it, we can not win.
Righteousness must be our Breast-plate. It secures the vitals, shelters the heart.
The Righteousness of Christ imputed to us is our Breast-plate to fortify the heart against the attacks of Satan.
Our feet are to be shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace so that nothing will hinder our marching. The Hymn writer encourages us by saying, "Onward Christian Soldier, Marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before! Christ, the Royal Master, leads against the foe; Forward into battle see His Banner Go!"
Above all take the shield of Faith, for without faith it's impossible to please God. Faith is taking God at His Word and asking NO questions. I heard Him say "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him (Is. 59:19b)."
Salvation MUST be our helmet.
The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God is the only offensive weapon we are given. We are to fight with the Word of God. I heard the Hebrew writer say "The Word of God is quick, (meaning Alive), and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword". We are not in a Cold War, there is no time for Political posturing, no time for Psychological ploys, no time for Saber rattling, the Battle has been engaged and it's time to FIGHT. Jesus used the Sword if the Spirit to defeat Satan out in the Wilderness. "For when the tempter came to Him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command these stones be made bread. But Jesus said It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by ever word that preceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Then the Devil taketh Him up into the Holy City and sitteth Him on a pinnacle of the Temple, and said to Him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: For it is written, He shall give His Angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Again the Devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth Him all the Kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto Him, all these things will I give thee, if thou will fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shall thou serve". If you resist the Devil the WORD declares he has to flee.
If you put on the Whole Armor the Devil may huff and puff, but, he won't be able to blow your house in. I heard Isaiah say, "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in the Judgement thou shalt condemn. When you pass through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walketh through the fire, thou shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God .................".