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Posts Tagged ‘Ephesians’

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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Today’s reading is Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=Ephesians+6%3A10-20 )

A quick overview of this section reminds us of the following things: (1) that the Christian is involve in a warfare, (2) that the warfare is spiritual wherein the controlling powers of darkness are unseen influencing the unbelieving world, (3) that the current inhabitants of this world are categorized in two groups only: those who are living in darkness and those who are living in the light of God.

  • Ephesians 2:1-3 gives us a preview of the life before conversion to Christ. We are influenced by the prince (ruler) of darkness resulting to a life of continual disobedience to God, carrying out every lust of the body and mind.
  • In contrast (Ephesians 5:6-16), the new life that God created in the person who is in Christ is described as walking in the light of God (v.8) displaying fruit in keeping with goodness, righteousness and truth (v.9), always discerning what is pleasing to the Lord (v.10), and do not have any part in the unfruitful work of darkness (v.11).

The link between light and life can be established in Psalm 36 and read verse 9, “For in You is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”

  • Whenever God brings His truth to a person, only then will he realize his sin and his desperate need for God and His truth continually. You see, in Psalm 36:1-4, man apart from God is sinful in his heart, not fearful of God, and truly blind to the fact that he is a sinner who is wicked enough to think that evil itself is right (not rejecting evil, v.4).
  • Until God becomes the source of life, and shines His truth in our heart can we realize darkness resides within the very core of our being.  Paul writes in Romans 7:7 – if it were not for the Law, he would have not known that he is covetous!

And this God given life can only be received through Jesus Christ who said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). 

  • This declaration was prefaced by the narrative about the adulterous woman who was exposed by the Pharisees. She deserves to be stoned as required by the Law of Moses. But Jesus confronted all her accusers and exposed their sinful hearts because their original intention was to test Him, to find something to charge against Him (they were breaking the Law -“do not put the Lord your God to the test”!) They did not know that they are as sinful as the adulterous woman – they all deserve punishment.  Only when Jesus exposed them all (his silence to the charge against the woman proves that she is indeed guilty) did they begin to realize their condition – so it seems. His graciousness was revealed to all as well – – first, exposing the sin of the Pharisees was an act of grace (remember Romans 7:7 ?), and His forgiveness granted to the adulterer is also an act of His grace. You see, the light of God’s truth in Christ has its 2 effects: condemns the unrepentant (Pharisees) and draws the sinner unto repentance (the woman in a manner of contrast to the Pharisees).

Lastly, Ephesians 4:17 -20 tells us that the person living in the light of God’s truth progressively increases in his abandon of the old life as he learns on the forgiveness he receives in Jesus Christ. And more importantly, this new life is not man-made but a creative work of God (v.24) exhibiting true righteousness and holiness.

So you see my beloved brothers, there are two kinds of people in the world – those in the light and those in darkness; two kinds of rulers – God over the children of the light, Satan over the children of darkness, and two kinds of fruit – righteousness and truth for God’s people while disobedience and lust for the unregenerated. Two opposing kingdoms who will always be at war until all the enemies of Jesus Christ will be finally defeated in the Day of His return.  We are in a warfare against darkness and we need the full armor of God to protect us as the days become more evil.

Next: Part 2 – Last But Not The Least                https://emmaustrekker.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/panoply-series-part-2-last-but-not-the-least/

Previous: Panoply Series – Introduction (link below) https://emmaustrekker.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/panoply-series/

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One of Ephesus’ most famous structure of antiquity today is the Temple of Artemis (what remains of it) which is recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  From the account in the book of Acts (ch. 18:24 – 19:41; 20:17-36), the place was marked with the worship of the goddess Artemis, demonic possession, occult and the trade on paraphernalia on these matters. In fact these evil practice  were so engrained into the lives of the people that they would fiercely resist the entry of other teachings that would threaten to change their beliefs.  And I am referring to their opposition to the Gospel preached by the apostle Paul.  However, the word of the Lord Jesus Christ in Acts 1:8 is that the Gospel will spread to the ends of the earth, and and will radically transform the lives of those whom God will save; these indeed are certainties as worked out by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.

Knowing this brief background helps us understand why there was a need to teach on the full armor of God (panoplian tou Theos) in Ephesians 6:10-20 pericope. A short series entitled “PANOPLY” begins today. An outline herebelow will assist us in the course of our study:

  • Be strong in the Lord
  • Spiritual enemies
  • Inclusio of verses 11 and 13 – to stand
  • Full Armor of God
  • Prayer

It is interesting to note that the religious climate during Paul’s sojourn in Ephesus is really quite similar today:  the deification of man, deceptive signs and wonders, and man’s unquenchable thirst for the occult. Television alone is filled with programs that showcase these. Therefore, the teachings contained in the epistle to the Ephesians are all the more relevant to present day Christians who need to face these spiritual enemies daily, in the hopes that God will sharpen their discernment.

May God’s Spirit enlighten us and ground us in the Gospel of His only begotten Son, for the praise of His glorious grace. Amen.

Next:  Panoply Series – Part 1 – Two Kingdoms at War (link below): https://emmaustrekker.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/panoply-series-part-1/

 

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