March 06, 2023 Grace United Church Northampton

Two weapons to stand against Satan

Two weapons to stand against Satan

Ephesians 6:10-14

God wants you to flourish. But by denying God in the Person of Jesus Christ, many people go through life without a clear source of truth, and without knowing their intrinsic worth. Rejecting God’s love they live their lives without experiencing unconditional love and acceptance. 

Which they’d never associate with God but we need this from God to thrive. 

Life is hard. It’s plain to see sins affects in the world and everyone in it. We all do things we wish we didn’t. We lose sight of what matters most. We get bored with good things. Add to this our addictions, destructive tendencies, desires, emotions, stinking thinking. Sin affects us, our closest relationships.

It can really mess us up. Our mental health. Our emotional well being. 

So Paul in Ephesians grounds us in the truth of who God is, what Jesus has done for us, who He makes us to be, and all we have been given in Christ.

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

God told us throughout this letter that we’re loved. Eternally chosen. And we’re given eternal life. Forgiveness. Purpose. Destiny. 

As this letter concludes, Paul shares what he calls armor that God’s given to stand against a spiritual enemy that pushes cultural darkness. And if you’d have spent three plus years with Jesus, as His disciples did, you wouldn’t flinch at the mention of Satan and demons. You’d have seen it firsthand.

While his tactics are suited for the times, it’s basically the same strategy.

So Paul tells us how to stand firm, how to withstand Satan’s schemes. 

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  

He’s not saying pump yourself. Be strong. But find your strength in Jesus, look to Jesus and be satisfied. Know that He is the Lord your Savior, the Almighty. He is faithful, wise and powerful. His lovingkindness is everlasting.  

In a world that appeals to our flesh to forsake the best in Jesus for things that don’t last, nothing is more important than for you to know Jesus Christ and to love Him with all your heart, soul. 

When we’re there, we’re freer from having to do what our culture says to do, or our emotions when they get the best of us. We’re free from having to prove ourselves to feel valuable. We’re freer to love. Freer to forgive. 

From oppression to sin to slavery to addictions Satan doesn’t want you free. But he attacks the Christian where freedom flourishes. Your faith in Jesus. Therefore, be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ, find your joy and worth and identity in Christ. And RELY daily, he says, on “the strength of His might.”

When our son, Matthew, was very young he loved for me to try and catch him and and trap him. Once I caught him and held him, laughing, he’d call out to his mom for help. After enough times, he’d get tired, and instead of running he’d give up all self-reliance and just call on her strength to help him.

That’s what we need to do to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. No longer depend on your meager ability to control your life, your children, your marriage, or your reputation. Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. How? Verse 11. “By putting on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” 

Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  

One of Satan’s best lies is he doesn’t exist. Another is that you don’t need God. “You got this.” “You go, girl.” “Be strong.” “Boston Strong.” But Paul reminds us, this is a supernatural battle. Rulers. Principalities. This is big league. This is God's league. However strong you are, you need to be “Jesus strong.”

Paul reminds us, this is a supernatural battle. Rulers. Principalities. This is big league. It is God's league. However strong you are, be “Jesus strong.”

It is a spiritual battle with spiritual enemies, yet it takes place in our physical, sensory world. Not only on the global, political, cultural stage, but also in our personal relationships. Where we put so much hope. Satan seeks to destroy.

Do you remember what Paul just spoke about before spiritual warfare? He called on husbands and wives, parents and children, employers and employees to practice cross-cultural yet godly virtues in our relationships together.  

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

With this, Paul brings up the reality of spiritual warfare. Point being, Satan’s battlefield is the world, he rules the world’s systems. AND he attacks us in our homes, our personal relationships.

Ephesians 6:13 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. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth [lit., "having fastened your waist with truth"], and having put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 and having [covered] your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace; 16 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. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

We’ll just stick with verse 14 today. 

Ephesians 6:14 Stand firm therefore, [having fastened truth around your waist],  

Paul wrote while imprisoned for his faith in Jesus. He was well acquainted with Romans soldiers, in the streets and in prison. Unlike Mel Brook’s “Men in Tights,” Roman soldiers wore tunics, XL, loose-fitting shirts, requiring a belt to tuck it in. The belt also held their sword and fastened the breastplate tight for protection. Like a Roman soldier, Paul says, if you’re to stand firm against Satan’s lies, you need to fasten the truth or truthfulness about you. 

He refers to the Gospel in V15 and the Bible in V17, so he’s not referring directly to these but to the reality of absolute truth. And to truthfulness.

For the Christian, truth has an undisputed certainty and force. Jesus said God’s Word is truth. He called the Holy Spirit "the Spirit of truth." He said of Himself, "I am the truth." Indeed, standing in the truth is a sure defense against Satan’s lies.  

There’s no justice without truth. Truth provides real choices, real safety, real freedom. You can’t know God if you don’t accept what is true of Him.

Not surprisingly, another pop-lie is that there is no truth. No absolute truth. There’s personal truth—what’s true for you—but there is no absolute truth. So you cannot be sure of God’s Word. Nor of His promises, or your eternal life. 

Church, don’t abandon truth to the enemy.

The devil has successfully blinded like half the planet to the fact they are skillfully and purposefully made in God’s image, that they have incredible worth, and that God loves them so much He took their place on a cross and gave His life for them.

He has half the planet believing they evolved from primates. He has young people questioning their own skin, their gender, living in shame. He further damns them by preventing them from looking to God for truth, love, identity, purpose and worth.  

So, like Jesus when Satan lied to Him, we need to wrap ourselves in truth. Know it. Believe it. Live in it. And speak it. God has us here to speak truth in love; to speak truth to power, even as Satan speaks power to truth.

Christian, speak truth to power, even while Satan speaks power to truth.

When Paul says, “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth”, this same word, truth, can also be translated as truthfulness.

Truthfulness is solid armor against harmful lies. This is the opposite of hiding our sin, deeply held beliefs, feelings. Especially if Satan attacks us in our relationships, we defeat him by relating to each other honestly, openly, giving grace, protecting weakness.

The Greek word for Satan is diabolos, accuser. We see this in the world, lies, deception, accusation. BUT if we are open, honest, not hiding our struggles; if we trust Jesus for the truth of our identity, and we refuse to virtue signal, or hide behind some hypocritical self-righteousness, Satan has nothing to accuse us of. He may shame us but not with a crippling shame. 

This brings up a second piece of armor that protects our hearts,

Ephesians 6:14 Stand firm therefore, [having fastened truth around your waist], and having put on the breastplate [thoraka—thorax or Chest] of righteousness. 

A breastplate was made of chains, or thick leather, covering the soldier’s entire torso, from neck to thigh, protecting his heart and every vital organ. And it represents the righteousness of Christ that He’s imputed to every believer.  

When Satan goes for the heart, when his lies put you on defense, or calls your faith, your competence, your salvation into question, makes you feel small, foolish, ashamed, you may be tempted to justify yourself, prove yourself—or hate them—that makes us feel strong. But be strong in the Lord. Wrap yourself in truth. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and His righteousness.  

This is a strong defense. Its works with the belt of truth. We fear accusations, lies. They’re evil. But that’s Satan’s M.O. “You’re worthless. You ruin everything you touch. You’re weak. You’re wife has no respect for you. You’re a terrible parent. I know what you think about; I know what you would do if you could get away with it; dude, no one else thinks like that. I know your past. How can you think God accepts you, forgives you, or loves you. Who would?!

God doesn’t talk like that. Hate does. Satan does. God tells us the opposite.

2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we [whoever trusts Jesus] might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Even when God brings up your past, sure, He says,

Ephesians 2:1 You were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience… 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).

When Satan brings up the past, look to Jesus and believe the good news: Jesus’ clothes us with His righteousness, which gives us peace with God, His full acceptance, despite the fact we can be terrible human beings at times. 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 

Don’t believe the lies. Don’t feel condemned. That’s when we hurt ourselves, do stupid things. God specifically addresses this, you are not condemned.

Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 

We don’t have to argue that we are better than others. 

Sometimes Satan has us dead to rights. Yes, I did a terrible thing. You’re right, I’m guilty as charged. But my hope is not in me proving my worth. My hope is in Jesus Christ and His righteousness given to me as a gift of love.

1 Timothy 1:15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost , Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Next Steps...

So, be alert to the spiritual battle. See it in the world. See it your own world. 

Be strong in the Lord. Seek to know and obey Jesus. Rely on Him. 

Trust and seek truth. Absolute truth. Seek it, find it. There is truth in science, it correlates with a biblical view. There is truth in biology. Seek it. Don’t just be taught and say yes. If you question anything—God’s Word, Jesus—seek truth. If you doubt, seek truth. In every cultural issue. Truth conforms to reality and it always, always brings glory to God.

Truth is a strong defense in a world that lies every way.

Be open and honest. As you find your strength and identity in Christ, be honest about life, your weaknesses, fears, struggles. With Someone. This brings intimacy. Builds trust. Humility builds trust. Trusting Jesus, sharing your struggles, weaknesses, and finding strength in Christ—Satan cannot condemn/accuse you. Plus this helps, this strengthens others. 

Truthfulness is a strong defense in a world that lies every way.

Speak truth in love. Be a Christian that humbly, confidently speaks the truth in love to those in your circles. Don’t fix people, point them to Jesus. Don’t tell them to trust Jesus, remind them of the awesome things about God that stirs their faith. People do harmful things when they believe lies, when they build their life on lies. Remind such believers of God’s sacrificial love, His infinite power, His purity and goodness. How He works. What He calls for. 

Tell your unbelieving friends of God’s mercy, about Jesus’ redemptive forgiveness. Each one, reach one, right. Speak the truth of God’s righteousness and justice to come.

Wage war on behalf of those you love. Speak the truth in love and watch the lives of those around you change for the better.