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June 21, 2021 4:00 am
Satan is a very real enemy and though his defeat has been guaranteed. He is not giving up without a fight.
As followers of Christ. It's important for us to recognize that we are the target of the devil's attacks today on life. Alister Beck teaches us how we can withstand his evil scheme in today in Ephesians 6 what we are back again here were certain so we've parked here and I recognize that purposefully. Saul and I hope that the message is dawning. I hope it's dawning upon me. First of all I want this morning to just recognize that there are imperatives in this and two in particular. First of all, be strong, and then stand fast at Martin Lloyd Jones years ago and preaching on this passage to his congregation that made this acknowledgment, he said we tend to be always feeling our own pulses and talking about ourselves and our moods generally is true. So just forget yourself and your temporary troubles and deals. Forget them for the moment and fight in the Army. Forget them and fight is quite an education is the exultation of this passage that is will Paul is saying it's important that we remind ourselves of the obvious that he is writing he is writing from jail in about the middle of the first century. He's writing to real people who live in a real place at a real point in time.
Other people were living at that time in Ephesus were living in a Really Nice Pl., Ephesus in the first century was a significant city, a Jew and Gentile rub shoulders with one another in the everyday events of life. It was cosmopolitan.
It was wealthy.
It was in every sense luxurious. It was at the same time, though a very superstitious place and a place that was marked by all kinds of pagan and magical potions and notions, and this largely represented in the temple of Artemis or the Temple of Diana, and if you visited Ephesus you leucine evidences of this along with the large open-air arena, which had a capacity for some of somewhere between 20 and 50,000 so wasn't some little backwater place with a few strange individuals just kicking about. It was a significant spot and the temple is bedazzled people by its marble splendor as the sun shone on it and it also cast a large shadow over the city itself because everyone in the city was aware of these dark forces and many of the people were afraid of them. They were magical. They were demonic powers and when in certain cases, their lives were impacted by the gospel. There was a radical shift from that and that's why I read this morning from acts chapter 19 is just one little verse, but it says a lot doesn't look says in many of those who had been practicing these magical arts have brought their books.
Books that were significant books and sold for significant money and they lit up Ephesus with his great bonfire of beautiful picture of the changes that happened that had been brought from the domain of darkness transferred into the kingdom of his beloved son, well then what is that mean that mean that they now how we learn to live a tranquil kind of life that they would just be transported to the skies as the hymn writer puts it on flowery beds of these now if they never thought that was the case they found out quickly that that was not the case because far from them being moved from the realm of a battle, they were placed at the very center of the conflict zone and everyone who is transferred by grace from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light who everyone becomes a citizen of Christ's kingdom is caught up in a cosmic conflict of eternal significance. We know what it is to be involved in arguments and discussions and conflicts that will eventually Peter out most, but the that the battleground were considering here in Ephesians 6 is a battleground of eternal matters and these eternal matters are being worked out in everyday life. So for the believer inmate said to himself or herself. Why is it so hard to be married.
Why is it that our children do not turn out exactly the way we had planned. Why is it that work can be such a raging area of discord. Why is it so hard to be the church in a contemporary world such as are all this is not the entire answer but the answer is not complete without this element, namely that we are up against the schemes of the devil that we are up against the evil one himself. The evil one has been unable to prevent us from becoming the children of God. But given that is the case is now seeking to do everything in his power to prevent us from living as the children of God, that's important now is for that reason that we've tried to take time to make sure that we understand what we're up against. And last Sunday we recognize the fact that Satan is a real and a vicious enemy that he does not act alone that he trades in doubt and didn't division and the destruction.
In doing so he possesses supernatural power is not unlimited, but it is supernatural and it is ultimately under the control of the fact that Jesus came to destroy his works. First John chapter 3 in verse eight.
The reason the son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. So the powers of darkness are defeated, they are not yet finally destroyed the reason that Christ came was to destroy the works of the devil.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death is clearly not destroyed because people keep dying. The victory is absolutely assured like checkmate in a chess game.
Although the evil one and his minions still want to keep playing the game still want to DuPont again for and so on. Move the ropes and their castles around in there. And then there were bishops and so on doing all they want to do, but he cannot affect the outcome. That is the position of the believer and it's a wonderful thing. When that dawns on us. I'm very grateful for the fact that from my earliest years and I was given songs that reinforce this for me. I was thinking this week of being in a like a nine or 10-year-old boy singing of the Bible class on a Sunday afternoon on the victory side on the victory side. I wasn't sure what I was, but I like the song North falcon, don't me know. Fear can haunt me for with Christ within the fight will win on the victory side. I don't know what that is.
I bet I know what it is today and thank God that I had my own vacation Bible camp where my parents were crazy enough to think it be good for you to get in there.
Don't give up young parents now given that that is the fact it is imperative then that we heed the expectations that Paul provides in the first of these is straightforward. Be strong, be strong, verse 10, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might, is that this is routine for Paul remember when he writes to Timothy. He says being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might is reminding Timothy who is aware of his own weakness that the strength is found in the Lord in the same way as he writes of these Ephesians. He's not giving them a set of ethical list to try their best with, but he is reminding them that they have been placed in Christ and therefore at this is available to them.
This is something vastly different from a kind of pale reflection that you find when you read different books. For example, if I had if I had a class that I was teaching I might give them this quote and asked him if if this was in keeping with the Ephesians 610 is like this.
Believe in yourself. Have faith in your abilities without a humble and reasonable confidence in your own abilities and powers.
You cannot be successful or happy that Cicely Norman Vincent Peale. Okay, that is the power of positive thinking that passes for Christianity. In many places that you come in and is an encouragement for you to feel better about yourself that you engage with yourself to find your real self, and so on. Viewer found your real self.
How did you feel about that on that rainy Tuesday afternoon when you find your real self exactly if you ask amazingly powerful really is a crock is pleasant. What Paul is saying you see Paul is already laid the foundations. That's why he wrote at the beginning in chapter 1, and prayed for them and when he prayed for them. One of the reasons that he prayed was that the rise of their understanding might be enlightened, so that they might understand something of the immeasurable greatness of God's power is Ephesians 1 and verse 19 the immeasurable greatness of his power toward ours who are in Christ who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated in his right hand in the heavenly places. So in other words, he's writing now to the me saying earlier in my letter.
You remember I was praying for you that you would have an understanding of what is yours in Jesus. In other words, you would understand the indicative you will understand the what is in a solvent now in in relationship to what is true. If you, my dissertation is is simply this, make sure that you find your strength in God alone notes you take that and the you think of it in terms of what it means to apply the first of all, think of what it meant for these Ephesian believers to receive this exhortation. Now they are no longer part of the mainstream. If we create the two fictitious characters that were very good friends Benjamin and Levi and Benjamin and Levi will used to do everything together, not least of all, I read the magic books together used to go together to the temple of Artemis and now as they make their way down the familiar pathway to come to a crossroads and and Benjamin how he moves off to go into the temple and Levi. He does not go into the temple and Benjamin says what were you doing now while says Levi have become a follower of Jesus as well.
It's okay to be a follower of Jesus in a follower. The number of guards the number of things you can do then is Francis Amo how many how many come to your little thing others group as many as come to the temple. No and what you do in your little group. While we we we read the Old Testament Scriptures how we we have a service in and was seen ice incidents are very exciting to me. Certainly not excitingly what we do over here the temple of Artemis what you doing your friend since you I can imagine that it in the Levi would've said and how many of the significant citizens of Ephesus come to your little thing. How many of the intellectuals that comes your little thing that if you ever not like over here some of your involved in science many of you are a deal with us on a daily basis and your friends must say to you, but you're so jolly clever you telling me that you believe that stuff what is this this is a battleground. What are we to do strong. I'm not strong that's right Joshua, you're taking over for Moses, I will not leave you or forsake you.
Be strong and courageous because they be strong and courageous says I will never leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous.
Same thing is picked up in Hebrews 13. I will never leave you or forsake you that the writer could quote set so we can confidently say said the Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man can do to me. You see were strengthened in the strength of his might.
Strengthened in his grace. The grace that is made clear to us in the gospel knowing that God loves me, forgives me helps me comforts me enables me secures me and not on account of my merit, but all on account of his mercy strand in the grace of the Lord shall be strong and in a word or two.
Stand firm. This picture of standing is straightforward. Put on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand. Verse 11 that you may be able to withstand verse 13, that when you've done everything you be standing firm. Some of you will remember the book by the very very effective Chinese Christian watchman Nee came out in the 60s. I think I remember reading it was because it was his reflections on the book of Ephesians was called, sit, walk, stand in the first section on sit.
He was describing the believers position in Christ, raised with him to the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
In the second section under the heading walk he was tackling the ongoing experience of life in the world. Ephesians 4 walk then and not according to the way that you previously did and then stand is section on our attitude towards the enemy. How are we going to stand are we going to make sure that we can withstand these attacks. This is eternal in its significance.
The answer is by putting on the whole armor of God by taking up the armor of God, as he puts it in verse 13 is a how what's the balance year.
While the balance is always good in the Bible, resting in what is provided and yet doing what is required resting in the provision that is ours and then doing what I asked this Philippians is not work out your own salvation with fear and trembling is what we are to do for it is God who is at work in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure working out what he is working in while our time is gone. So let me conclude with just a couple of comments. First of all, it is important that we realize that Paul is writing in the plural here is writing in the plural. In other words, he is picturing a united army is written to them in chapter 4 that he doesn't want them to be like children anymore, tossed to and fro by the waves and the deceitful schemes of the evil one, but instead they are to put on the complete armor of God, the full armor of God, incidentally, is simply faith in the gospel and then show that to you and in our subsequent studies, but to put on the full armor of God is not to serve Tryon do things to ourselves or make things happen in order that we might be more acceptable and more effective know it is actually to take hold of that which is been given to us Satan. You see, what is it what is Satan want us to abandon it wants us to abandon righteousness. He wants us to abandon faith. He wants us to abandon the shoes of peace.
He wants us to abandon the belt of truth. He wants as to abandon the gospel think the great designs of his minions in churches throughout the whole Western world where countless people are sitting listening to a gospel that is no gospel at all their being told week after week after week.
You're a good person. You're a fine person all you really need to do is just get your act together and do a little better. God rewards nice people.
If they do their best and you are nice people and you can be sure that he will reward you. After all, it's Father's Day.
You're a great dad and the sun is shining and let's have a hot dog and let's get on with life.
Well, it's a wonderful message is never the trouble is, it isn't true because the average diet is same, but I'm harsh with my children when my to do now see the gospel is what the evil one challenges and it is the gospel. If you like with which we are to record ourselves is not asking as you seek that to take on a new battle against the enemy.
He's he saying to the readers of his letter you can stand safe and secure in the victory that is already been accomplished at the cross. If you if you think about it in these terms. Remember when David goes against Goliath and he'd chop his head off and the Philistine armies all go running for their lives and right behind David come all the soldiers of Israel shouting we wine we won we won services we mean we want. He won yet, but he won for us we share in his victory exactly what you mean we want Christ one now in Christ we share in his victory. Therefore, the exhortation to be strong or to stand firm is not an exhortation that induces despair in us doesn't make a sale, but is not possible to do this. The hymn writers always get it helpful for us on the stand. Then, in his great might, with all his strength in June and take to arm you for the fight. The panoply of God or the whole shooting match. These provided in Jesus or in the hymn that is left alone for the longest time, stand up, stand up for Jesus, you soldiers of the cross, stand up, stand up for Jesus stand in his strength alone.
The arm of flesh will fail you. You dare not trust your own food on the gospel armor.
Each piece put on with prayer.
Where duty calls or danger be never wanting there. We tend to be always feeling our own policies talking about ourselves and our moods. Forget yourself and your temporary troubles and ills for the moment fight in the Army DE hose to follow Hudson Taylor is the director of the China inland Mission said on one occasion, I would not appoint a man or woman to the mission field unless they had learned first to wrestle with the devil, because if they do not wrestle with the devil they will wrestle with each other and you show me are you a disunited church.
I'll show your church that is lost sight of the enemy.
You tell me that your biggest battle in your houses with your husband or your wife you're wrong. It's with your dad or your children wrong. So your bosses fault wrong.
You're fighting the wrong enemy and when we lose sight of the enemy which is part of the strategy of the devil to make a safe that is so much nonsense. I don't exist, says the devil, and tell you I'm real well your sensible people.
You can work this out listening to Alister Ragan and this is true life benefited from Alister's message today as you been listening so have tens of thousands of other people all around the world.
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Alister will focus on a foundational piece of our spiritual armor if you don't have a you won't be prepared for the battle. Find out what it is, the Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by truth where the Learning is for Living