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Posts Tagged ‘darkness’

It has been a while since the last post on our Panoply series taking us about 4 weekends to piece out the details of truths contained in Ephesians 6:11 –

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the enemy.”

 “Put on the whole armor of God…”

The panoply is a gracious blessing of God for all the believers.  In contrast the false gods of  Ephesus and any false god for that matter tends to make demands with empty promises, lies even, propagated through the false religions of this fallen world. Through the revelation of the Spirit of God, Paul writes about this armor that is indeed a part of the heavenly blessings we have in Christ preached to us through the Gospel (Ephesians 1:3, 3:7-12).

  • The Greek endusasthe (put on) gives us a picture of slipping into a piece of clothing like a tunic.  As the armor of a roman soldier is in view here, the Greek verb illustrates someone slipping into that ready-made armor with its individual pieces put together.  That is to indicate the God has fully provided for our defense. There is no searching for missing pieces but having the entire set all ready for our use.
  • And He commands us “put on” – not an option but a  command in view of a necessity, so that the victory that God has displayed through the resurrection and exaltation of Christ Jesus  also secures for  us the grace and privilege to walk in the experiential aspect of such a victory (see Ephesians 1:19-23; 5:8).
  • Ten panoplian the whole armor – not one, not two, neither only three parts of it but the entire armor. Missing one will provide the enemy a place of vulnerability in our defense and as Peter wrote that the enemy is like a lion that prowls looking for weaknesses (1 Peter 5:8 – this will be further developed in part 5 of this series).
  • A defense provided by God and cannot be conceived by human wisdom or philosophy, nor something that is conjured by man from occultic practices.  It is a God-given means of defending ourselves against the enemy of our souls.  No carnal means can defeat the enemy for any means of spiritual warfare invented by man is stained by sin.  Only the perfect grace of God through the Son by means of this panoply can overcome the enemy (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).

“…that you may be able to stand against…”

The Greek for ‘stand’ is stenai from the root word histemi which describes a continuing/persevering endurance, established on the faith (gospel) on which we truly stand.

  • We are to remain in that spiritual position in Christ; not that we can extricate ourselves out of it, but rather,  to persistently live according to the outworking of that grace of God for us. This is the good work that God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10), akin to the things that accompany our salvation as the writer to the Hebrews assures the believers  (Hebrews 6:9).
  • There is no fear even when the days are evil (Ephesians 5:14).  Fear is a mark of lack of assurance. Worshippers of false gods display fear of any retribution, being unsure of whether they have pleased their godss or not.  Confidence, on the other hand, girds the believer’s heart.  They are confident of God’s protective grace based on His immutable decrees in blessing the people whom He loved and predestinated in His Son, being sealed with the Holy Spirit, which forms the marvelous prologue of this epistle (Ephesians 1:3-14).
  • Our encounter with the enemy is characterized in two ways when the Greek word pros was translated into our English word ‘against’.  Firstly, we are to be against the enemy, not in fellowship with him.  The metaphor of light (righteousness) and darkness (unrighteousness) are spelled out in this epistle and we – who are children of the Light – are to expose darkness (Ephesians 5:11-13). Secondly, we are to fight our enemy; pros connotes a face-to-face  warfare and not retreat like a coward. The armor is sufficient and powerful through God.

“…the schemes of the enemy.”

Referring again to the Greek, the word scheme is methodias where we get the English word ‘method’. Being in the plural form, we glean from the epistle the devil’s tactics (yes, he is also an expert in crafting deceitful devices).  The Greek for crafty is an unusual word and I believe is used once and only here in  Ephesians 4:14 – it is kubeia, where we get the word ‘cube’.  This figuratively describes that the enemy’s means are not ill-conceived (alluded from the perfect geometry of a cube) and at the same time, truly deceitful. Someone astutely observed that like a die (cube used in gambling), the enemy will do everything to cheat us, just as he seduced and deceived our first human parents, and succeeded.  But thanks be to God, the second Adam – Jesus our Lord – has gained victory over every crafty temptation of Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11; see my related posts, click here and here).

We now briefly unwrap the devil’s schemes:

  • False doctrines (Ephesians 4:14) – – these are teachings that runs contrary to God’s work and doctrines handed down to us from the apostles through current elders in the church who were called to disciple the saints until they reach the unity of the faith and mature in their knowledge of the Son of God (v.13). These false doctrines were crafted to cause confusion and disunity, disobedience and unfruitfulness, when these insidious doctrines are welcomed in the church. The young believers  are particularly vulnerable to these seductive doctrines.
  • Disobedience (Ephesians 5:6) – sin resulting from empty words (false doctrines).  These do not produce the evidential righteousness that only the gospel can do.  Therefore, people who conform to these false doctrines will produce the fruit of sin. As R. C. Sproul notes in his book Chosen by God, orthodoxy (right doctrine) produces orthopraxy (right living). The opposite is equally true. The apostle Peter writes that those predestined by God in His Son are translated from darkness into His marvelous light – a life adorned with godliness. The devil’s scheme involves seducing men to toy with his false teachings, and then be trapped into it, sometimes without realizing it till the harm has been done. Discernment can adequately be exercised whenever there is a proper grounding of the believer upon the enscripturated truth. Hence the church (assembly of believers) is where God purposed His truth to be taught faithfully.
  • Influence of unbelievers (Ephesians 5:7, 11-17) resulting to stagnation and ineffectiveness – the Word of God forbids fellowship between Christians and the evil world. We are not to partake in evil works but to expose them. A life adorned by truth and godliness will be in stark contrast to the evil deeds of unbelievers and we are instructed to resists their ways.  Psalm 1 is an example where the Word distinguishes between the way of the wicked and the one who delights in the Lord.

This whole armor that God provided us embodies the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is our defensive and offensive weapon against Satan and the methods that he employ in his rebellion against the Almighty God. As believers of Jesus Christ we will constantly be at war, but this is a battle assured of victory by Him who died and rose again on the third day.

armorEphesians 6:13 forms a parenthetical statement with verse 11. Simply put, the means of standing firm against our spiritual enemies (verse 12) is by appropriating this armor on ourselves. As I mentioned above, the armor itself embodies the Gospel and in our future studies, we will see how the Gospel is indeed brought out in each of the armor’s pieces. Therefore my dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, let us keep the armor on all the time!

May God keep us all standing firm in the faith and in His protective care through Christ.

 

To view all parts of the Panoply Series, click here.

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And  even  if  our  gospel  is  veiled,  it  is  veiled only to  those  who  are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has  shone  in  our  hearts  to give the light of he knowledge of the glory of God in the face of  Jesus Christ. – 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

In almost all cases of evangelism that I have been involved with, the most common reactions I get from unbelievers were, either believing in Christ because of the good news of salvation, indifference, anger and persecution or outright rejection of the Person of Jesus Christ. Some would not admit to rejection, saying that they love the Lord but would prefer to stay on their current belief system (without realizing, of course, that they really do not love the Lord). 

These past few days I have a one-on-one evangelism with an officemate. About a year ago, the opportunity first arose for evangelism with him but he would prefer to stay in his adulterous relationship.  However lately, because of a cultic problem that some members of his family in the southern Philippines are involved in, he came to me in obvious distress over the situation and began to ask about certain Scriptures.  As always, the explanation I gave him dealt with the context of the section from which he ripped the verses off, and most assuredly pointing him to Jesus Christ to whom the Scriptures testify.  During a course of 3 days, I explained carefully, choosing the simplest words possible, reasoned with him from the bible and pleaded with him on his need to repent and turn to the Lord in faith according to truth before we can really address the demonic activity with which his family is embroiled in. I find it very necessary to explain to him his need for the Savior. I remember Tozer’s words that the bible is for the elect only (meaning, only the regenerated of heart will understand it).

I write this because for the first time, as far as I could remember, I have observed Scriptures and explanation flying over the top of someone’s head, so to speak.  He would ask, I would explain, and then he continues with the same issues as if nothing was heard. He would not reject it nor receive it, but  would just go on about what concerns him. The more I engaged him with the Gospel, the more he becomes “unhearing”; like nothing was really going through his ears and mind, at least in a cognitive way.  It would have been more comprehensible for me if he would outright reject it after having some amount of understanding.  It was just amazing (in a bad sort of way)!

The Bible explicitly teaches that none will understand unless God unfolds his Word. This is a monergistic work of God.  A part of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians quoted above, we read in verse 5 that it is God who “speaks” and “shines in the heart” the Gospel, and unless God will do that through the agency of the Holy Spirit as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, everyone will remain in the blindness of their own minds  which has resulted from man’s fatal concurrence to Satan’s blasphemous words at the garden of Eden, “did God really say…?” The devil has blinded the mind of this man that he could not at all comprehend the truth.  In the end, his non-repentance (but claimed he had “faith in the Lord”) proved that he is still unregenerated. May God shine the light of the Gospel of His Son in this man’s heart.

In conclusion, I am confident that I explained to him the whole Gospel while at the same time relying on God to grant him grace so that he may see and hear, and that he may turn from his wicked ways and be healed from spiritual blindness.  Yet, I felt grief for him for the total darkness of his soul and the fiery place away forever from the love of God that awaits him for his unbelief.  Hope is nonetheless alive for as long as there is breath in this man, there is no ceasing in looking towards the Lord for His mercies upon him.

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