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Posts Tagged ‘Panoply’

It has been a while since I last posted part 5 of our Panoply Series.  To review each section of the series, please go to the sidebar under Categories and choose Panoply Series to take you to the full list.  With thanksgiving to God, we proceed now with part 6 by reading Ephesians 6:13:

Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

Therefore, Take Up the Whole Armor of God

Panoply of God

 

 

Because of the spiritual schemes of the devil (v. 11) and the variety of spiritual enemies (v.12), there is no other recourse but to take the armor up. Paul’s use of the word “therefore”, which means ‘because of, exhorts us to no further action but to do that.  Furthermore, let us consider the following reasons:

 

  • We are not supposed to leave the armor, as a warrior, at any time, for the enemy is always looking for an opportune time or a time of spiritual vulnerability (weakness) on our part.
  • Remember that it is a gift of God; He made the armor, He made it available to us and we are to use it.
  • As this is a parenthetical sentence together with verse 11, we now know that this is the only means to defeat the enemy of our soul.

That You May Be Able To Withstand In the Evil Day

Let’s take the phrase ‘you may be able’ which when read in the Greek forms only one verb dunethe. This is another form of the Greek word dunamis which we have studied earlier.  It means power, particularly the power that only God can supply to us, and this He did through His Son (see verse 10). Paul described this power in Ephesians 1:19-21 –

and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power an dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but in the one to come.”

If you have already noticed, the power is so great and is made available to us so that we can withstand – fight against – the enemy who is the source of all spiritual wickedness in the evil day. You might ask, “When is the evil day?” Firstly, there will surely be evil days – days in which the devil and his army of spiritual wickedness will do every cunning and wicked device to entice the people of God into confusion, spiritual weakness, and disillusionment, and if possible, deceive the elect into trusting someone or something else apart from the Lord Jesus Christ.

These evil days can be short, long, or repetitive, and can be done by the evil one through the unbelieving world and sometimes, through confused Christians and ourselves when we are not careful in our handling of God’s written Scripture.

For sure, through the armor of God, we are able to withstand the enemy any day!

And Having Done All to Stand

The Greek reads kai hapanta katergazomenoi stenai. What is particularly interesting here is the word katergazomenoi which is a combination of two other Greek words. Let’s consider the following observations:

  • It gives us a picture of a synergistic work. The word synergy means two parties working together, in this case, God has given us the power through His Son, and we are to avail of this power through our use of the armor.
  • The word tells us to “work it out” – not produce something, but rather bring out what is already available to you.  To understand this, may I take you to another verse in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, in chapter 2 verses 12-13 (see below).  Surely Paul is not telling the Philippians to work for their salvation – to obey God’s various laws and commands to be saved – certainly not! For salvation is by grace through faith in Christ Jesus who is the message of God for our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 1:16-17).  The phrase to “work out” (katergazomai) is controlled by the phrase “for it is God who works in you”.  That is, God has already done something for us, we just need to bring it out as evidence in our life.  In fact, the fullness of grace is further understood as it is even God who gave us the power to bring the reality of His salvation in our daily lives that submit to Jesus Christ. Having this in mind, we are exhorted in our verse today to bring out that same power of God in Christ by availing the armor which God has already given us and display the reality of it in our thinking and actions.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”- Philippians 2:12-13

  • Next, the word menoi (literally means “remain”) tells us to consistently and persistently use the armor.  Therefore, the phrase “having done all” is a picture of a soldier to is at all times alert and ready to fight with his armor on. Also, he has the resolve to win at all cost against his enemy. His goal is victory. He is an overcomer.

I am reminded of a section of John’s first letter to the church he pastors where a false teaching about Jesus Christ has entered the church through unbelievers who were at one time in the church. The purpose of this false teaching is to confuse the believers and entice them to a differnt teaching than what they have received from the Lord through John.  But John dispelled this by refreshing them with the truth – in a sense, he used the armor to not only protect himself, but also has reminded others to do the same.  In this way, they were able to resist and reject the heresy and overcome it.  That was their goal – to remain in the truth concerning Jesus Christ.  Remember, that the primary goal of the enemy is to entice us to doubt God.  In the garden his modus operandi is summed up in one question, “Did God really say…?”

But the true sheep of the Lord listens to Him as the Holy Spirit reminds the each believer of the truth. Now, I would like to end this section of our panoply series with what John told the believers, and essentially to us as well:

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that does confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit if the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God, and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” – 1 John 4:2-4

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For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers, against the spiritual forces in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12

In part 4 of our series, we are commanded to put the whole armor of God to protect us against the different methods by which the devil would attempt to lure and deceive us, cause  trouble, and try to make us ineffective in our walk and testimony to our faith. In this section, the Scriptures unmask the enemy through the hierarchy of spiritual forces that seeks to defeat the people of the Lord.

“For we do not wrestle…”

Paul employs the analogy of Greek games, particularly wrestling.  In Ephesus, wrestling matches are regularly held in honor of their supreme idol, Artemis (or Diana). Perhaps Paul has witnessed many of these competitions during his three-year stay in Ephesus.  Try to imagine a wrestling match, and perhaps write down at least a few sentences to describe it.  Most of the time, we proceed to the main details like grabbing the opponent at different parts of his body, or the lifting, banging, suppressing, locking the opponent down to immobilize him so that he will be unable to compete any further, or perhaps throw the other out of the perimeter of the space provided for the match. However, the word wrestling in Greek is palo and not the word ekballo (which means to throw).  Palo is to ‘sway’ or ‘vibrate’ and it is hard to immediately visualize how this word will fit in a wrestling match.

wrestlingBut if one carefully watches the match, he will first of all see that the competitors do not immediately grab their opponent, but rather they spent some moments to move left and right in a circular fashion. In this way, each one can size up his enemy and look for vulnerable areas to grab.  This is, I believe, is the stance we need to take.  We do not recklessly charge but we study the enemy.  You see, the use of the phrase ‘schemes of the enemy” fits well into this explanation of wrestle.  Being informed of Satan’s ways puts us in a place of advantage.  Peter admonishes us to be clear headed and alert (1 Peter 5:8) so that we may not be caught unaware when the enemy makes his move, whatever his move. We get our information through the continual reading of the Scriptures  in a prayerful manner, not haphazardly as some would do thereby missing what God is indeed saying.  A systematic reading is also necessary in order prevent us from being selective.  As Paul did not withhold the entire counsel of God to the Ephesians (Acts 20:18-32), so must we not withhold it among ourselves.

“not….against flesh and blood…”

Although the enemy will use the world system, unregenerated people and even at times our own unsupressed as we choose to depend on ourselves rather on the Lord who promised us to show His faithfulness and a way out when we are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13), the true enemy is still not human – not flesh and blood.  So our battles necessitate the armor that comes from God to keep us firmly standing.

The verse continues to inform us about the enemies we have.  Here we are given a view of the opposing army.  Just as we take our command from Jesus our King, the commander-in chief if I may use the term, so does  a hierarchy of spiritual cohorts take their command from our enemy – Satan. We infer from the list of enemies provided to us.  In our part 4, we encountered the Greek word pros explaining to us a face-to-face encounter with the following:

  1. against rulers (Greek archas from where we get the English word arch-enemy)
  2. against authorities (Greek exousias which means those given authority to perform evil works)
  3. against cosmic powers (Greek kosmo kratos which implies those given a wider sphere of evil work in this sin-corrupted world system. The word kosmo although it implies a variety of meanings like the world, and the space above the earth, but in the sense of Paul’s theme of two groups of people – the children of righteousness in contrast to the children of disobedience – we can infer the issue of the lack or absence of godly morality can be the intended meaning, thus we can say that this third group of spiritual enemies are those that work freely in its use of the current world corrupted by sin.)
  4. against spiritual forces in the heavenly places (Greek pneumatikas tes ponerias. The idea of their supernatural origin and their wicked nature is definitely implied). 

I realize that there are many available writings, commentaries and some spurious explanations of who are these different forces. We must, however, hold on to the main point – the enemies are not human but are of a nature different from ours.  They are unseen, pernicious (wicked), and they do their work here on earth using various means directed against every believer of Jesus Christ, and ultimately against the Lord.  You see, the battle of good and evil has witnessed at the beginning of the Bible, in the garden of Eden when the serpent coersed our first human parents to doubt and blaspheme God.  The enemy seeks to convince us to doubt God and His Word.  So it is no surpise to know even today and until the last day, the enemy of our soul will seek to defy the very God who created him.

Regardless of whether they have ranks or not, the fact is they are our enemies and we engaged them face-no fearto-face without fear.  Although they will continue to do everything opposite the desires of God, the Bible also tells us the following truth that will help strengthen and encourage us in our fight against them and their evil ways:

  • The Lord Jesus is their Creator (Colossians 1:16). All things were created by Him.  All things in heaven and earth.  Nothing was made without Him (John 1:3).  There is no escaping the conclusion that all these spiritual enemies were created by Him. The created entities are limited in everything including their powers. Therefore it is a comfort to know that although we are to wrestle against them, the One who created all things is infinitely more powerful to protect us and preserve us to the end. Dualism, the teaching that says God and the devil are equally powerful is a heresy and a scheme of the enemy.
  • Jesus  has dominion over them (Ephesians 1:20-23). Our Lord is exalted above all creation and has  purposed that His Church be the beneficiary of all spiritual blessings. None of our enemies really has any freedom to do anything they want. Only the Lord Jesus who has dominion over them can permit them to do so. R. C. Sproul encourages Christians to understand that because God is in His very nature righteous, then even His permitting of the enemies activities is a righteous act of God.  That is not to say that evil is good but God allowing it will still, in the end, result for His glory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Consider Job 1:6-12 and 2 Corinthians 12:1-10.
  • Jesus defeated our enemies through His cross and resurrection (see John 12:27-32 and 1 Corinthians 15).

Finally, we hold on God’s revealed truth concerning the end of our enemy and the continuing grace we have in Christ:

The God of peace will soon crush Satan underneath your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” – Romans 16:20

In our next post on this series, we will be identifying each piece of the armor of God and how each armor is a reflection of the glorious Gospel of God concerning His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

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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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Ephesians 6:10 – ‘Be strong in the Lord…’ – “Endunamousthe en Kairos” in Greek. A sampling of the root verb endunamoo in the New Testament is listed below to give us an idea how it is used in the Scriptures:

  • Acts 9:22 – But Saul increase all the more in strength…
  • Phil 4:13 – I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.
  • 2 Tim 2:1 – You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus
  • 2 Tim 4:17 – But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the message…

When I was much younger in the faith, I thought this phrase “be strong in the Lord” necessitates that I muster the power up by doing certain ‘spiritual disciplines’ or speak aloud certain verses repetitively (yes, I was once an unknowing victim of the certain heretical practices in the first church I was planted until God mercifully opened my eyes to see and also tamed my tongue).  It was not until further study of Scriptures and guidance from godly men that I get to grips of what ‘be strong in the Lord’ meant.  It is an empowering that comes from the Lord.

To understand the phrase better, I would like to refer to D. A. Carson’s sermon on the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 3:15-21, emphasizing a petition to God to strengthen us with power through His Spirit in our inner being.  Without going deeper into the prayer itself at the moment, we observe here that the empowering comes from God.  Carson notes that the Holy Spirit is already indwelling in each believer from Ephesians 1.  However, our problem is that we do not simply understand what is now available to us.  Moving two chapters earlier, Paul petitioned for the saints;  let us read Ephesians 1:18ff

(v.18) Having the eyes of our hearts enlightened that you may know…(v.19) what is the immeasurable greatness of his power towards us who believe according to working of his great might (v.20) that He worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead…

…while the reason for the above requests are all based on the realities written in Ephesians 1:2-14. You will agree with me that this is truly a power-packed strengthening from God for us in Jesus Christ when we comprehend the implications on Christian living! The idea of what a dynamite is made of and can potentially do is an analogy we can apply. Incidentally, we derive the english word ‘dynamite’ from two related Greek words:  dunamis and endunamoo.  To summarize, the power comes from God and is made available to us through Jesus Christ mediated by the Holy Spirit. In prayer, therefore, it becomes necessary for us to ask for a progresssively increasing understanding of this spiritual blessing.

The first part of verse 10 (be strong in the Lord) also concerns the biblical teaching of the Triune God who revealed Himself to us.  Although I do not intend here present a long discourse on the Trinity, it is necessary, however,  to briefly mention here  that the one Lord (the “I AM”) revealed Himself to us the three distinct, yet inseparable Persons – God the Father, the Son-Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit. A brother asked me why ‘Persons’ and I gave him a simple reply: that we cannot use ‘God’ because to say ‘three Gods’ would really be terribly wrong, anti-biblical and blasphemous. Also, the term Persons implies interaction within the Triune God, and while being transcendent over His creation, the Lord also compassionately condescends towards sinful man through the Son – Jesus Christ. I recommend Dr. James White’s book entitled “The Forgotten Trinity” for an excellent exposition of the subject.

We continue with the second half of Ephesians 6:10 – ‘… and in the strength of His might.’  This part of the verse tells what kind of strength is available to us. The Greek reads ‘kai en to kratei tes ischus auton’.  The word ‘kratei’  was used for ‘strength’ but it also can mean dominion .  ‘Ischus’ is used for might which means ability.  Their respective meanings tie in well with the flow of thought in the Ephesian epistle itself.  The Lord’s dominion over His church and the His ability that He endows the church by the Holy Spirit is the source of our strength.  From here, we need to briefly piece out from the Ephesian letter what God has done to demonstrate His power. 

Carefully going through each of the verses in Ephesians 1:2-14, will assist us to gain information regarding the power of God available for those whom He has predestined to believe in His Son.  Three times, Paul gave the reason why God did so – for the praise His glory! Therefore this empowering from God is a blessing to us only through His Son and will result to the praise of His glory.

Notice also, the piece de resistance (the high point) of God’s display of power is the resurrection of Jesus Christ and that same power God exerted to raise His Son from the dead is the empowerment now available in us through the mediation of the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 1:20 states this fact.  How powerful can that be can?  It would definitely be more than what we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)!

For those who love sci-fi movies (that includes me), awesome power is displayed when a single laser beam would destroy an entire planet. A few years back, I watched a a non-Christian documentary on the ‘Big Bang Theory’ – the theory about the beginning of the universe from nothingness to the first instance light resulting from a cataclysmic explosion.  Well of course that is a theory and the accurate account is written in Genesis. However, my miniscule mind could only arrive at a comprehension of a limited amount of power, but God’s strength displayed in the resurrection of His Son is more than what I, or any of us, could imagine. 

By this, we view power not in the amount of energy generated or expended (humanly speaking) but in the uniqueness of the work of God; in that no one has ever authored nor accomplished such a feat. It would take no less that the eternal Son to incarnate, live a sinless life, offer His life by dying on the cross and rising up on the third day to accomplish the plan of God to gather for Himself a people that will be for the praise of His glory! Paul wrote to the Corinthians that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Cor. 2:1-10) – the Gospel of God in His Son, Jesus Christ. It would take His life to transform sinners to saints – now that’s truly powerful!

Paul prays that the believers may know “what the immeasurable greatness of His power towards us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but in the age to come and God put all things under Jesus’ feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fill all in all (Ephesians 1:19-23).

In Jesus Christ we are partakers of the same power and that indeed in Him are we strong, in His might are we able to face the enemy with assurance of victory.  May the Lord be gracious to grant us an increasing understanding of this truth day by day and through the Holy Spirit be made strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

 

 Soldiers of Christ, Arise

by  Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Soldiers of Christ, arise
And put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies
Thro' His eternal Son; 
Strong in the Lord of hosts
And in His mighty pow'r.
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts
Is more than conqueror. 
Stand, then, in His great might,
With all His strength endued;
But take, to arm you for the fight,
The panoply of God, 
That, having all things done
And all your conflicts past,
Ye may o'ercome through Christ alone
And stand entire at last.
 From strength to strength go on,
Wrestle and fight and pray;
Tread all the powers of darkness down
And win the well-fought day.

 

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

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Finally, my brethren… – Ephesians 6:10

“Last but not the least” is what I will say as this narrative on the full armor of God section begins. The word ‘finally’ in the Greek is tou loipou which means ‘as for the rest’ but it must not diminish the importance of the narrative.  It was not an afterthought nor was it something that Paul discussed in the last chapter because it was least important, but it is as important as every block of narrative in the Ephesian letter. Imagine a stack of books that are kept standing because of  a pair of bookends, Eph. 6:10-20 is one of these ‘bookends’ that supports the entire epistle because:

  • It frames the teaching of a new life beginning in Eph. 4:17 where Paul exhorts the believers to not live like Gentiles who live in darkness. Every facet of life must display the new life in Christ. And after this Paul reminds the believers again that the forces of darkness would wage war against them (Eph. 6:12).  It is interesting to note here that Paul does not refer to them as Gentiles anymore but keeps his consistent reference to them as saints belonging to the household of God (Eph. 2:19-20).
  • It complements the prayer began by Paul in Eph. 1:15 -23.  He begins praying for them and then he enjoins them to pray in the Spirit for the saints and for him. Prayer takes a front seat in the Christian’s life, presenting himself dependent on God in every way for everything, from the understanding of the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ received by faith and the fruit-bearing life resulting from it, from orthodoxy (manner of understanding) to orthopraxy (manner of life).
  • It brings out some of the spiritual gifts that God has blessed us in His Son in the heavenly places (Eph 1:3). Blessings that are freely given to us – the power and might of the Lord, the full armor of God, and Holy Spirit-led and empowered prayer – in order to stand against the spiritual forces of darkness in the heavenly realms that will wage war against us (Eph 6:12).

Despite Paul’s calling as an apostles coming directly from the Lord, he did not elevate himself over the Ephesian believers. He called them brethren.  The ESV did not write the word ‘brethren’  but the Greek New Testament writes adelphoi which means brethren. But adelphoi presents a deeply rooted brotherhood that is born of God in His beloved Son. Reading Eph 1:1-2 may seem to place Paul and the believers in separate levels, but as soon as verse 3 comes in, both he and the believers have been blessed by God jointly. He made sure to inform them that together, they will be engaged in the same spiritual war and he entreats them to remember that they have the same source of their power – the Lord. Jesus clearly speaks when He said to the apostles, ‘Apart from Me, you can do nothing’ (John 15:5) – yes, even in spiritual warfare.  As it is true for the apostles, so it is true for all believers – apart from our Lord Jesus, we all can do nothing!

Part 3 – Our Lord of Power and Might              https://emmaustrekker.wordpress.com/2009/07/24/panoply-series-part-3-our-lord-of-power-and-might/

Previous: Part 1 – Two Kingdoms at War   https://emmaustrekker.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/panoply-series-part-1/

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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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