Cross and Flame - Christ (cross) and the Holy Spirit (flame).

Rise up and stand firm

Rise up and Stand firm

Introduction

We assume Paul wrote this letter to the church at Ephesus but there is scholarship that has sought to prove otherwise.  It is not a letter written to correct some wrong that was done or to defend himself or his teaching.  It is a letter of encouragement on how to live in an alien world.  They have accepted Christ as the Messiah (the One who was to come) and life as they knew it had changed.

How does one live in a world of tyranny and turmoil, fear and hatred, chaos and calamity?  Paul reminds the people of who they are in Christ.  I have come to remind you once again who you are in Christ.  This is a dynamic life that we live as Christians and it is not as mundane and dull as one would think.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

Today, the church is called to rise up and be the church as ordained by God.  It is called to stand firm in its beliefs and not waver.  Earthly knowledge demands heavenly sanction.  This means if what you are doing, saying, or thinking, does not line up with the Word of God, stop it.  If not, we are bound to be left to our own devices.  And it is so.  We cannot deny the evil that continues to rise up among us all with the sole purpose of making a mockery of humanity before God.  We are God’s creation and the Christian’s adversary, called the devil, is moving to and fro looking for whom he may destroy.

We allow ourselves to get caught in the minutiae and bogged down by the earthly detail and miss the real source of the problem.  It is as though we are looking at the ripples on top of the lake and fail to see what is causing the ripples.  If we were to looking beneath the surface, our eyes would behold the real cause.

The trouble in this world has a cause and Christians have the skinny on the cause.  It is called SIN.  It is not of God or by God.  The only way it can be dealt with is within its realm and with divine weaponry.  When Jesus prayed that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, they were not just mere words.  Something resides in the heavenlies that has to be expressed in the earth to bring things into the correct order.  Christians have been given the Spirit of the One who rules both heaven and earth.  We have been given the power.  We are the heavenly force here on earth to be reckoned with.

11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

We are commanded to put on the whole armor of God.  – God’s armor is unique and is made to fit those who are called by His name.  Have you ever seen Iron Man?  His armor attaches itself to him when he is called into battle.  We are called to dress in our armor everyday through prayer.  Why?  We have a relentless enemy.  He does not let up just because you are tired or sick, down and out, hungry or homeless.  He is the enemy of God’s people.  He is the enemy of God.  It is up to us to remember that we are in a different kind of battle.  It is not one fought with our fists.

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Unfortunately, we are not fighting against humans as it is presented to us daily.  We are battling something deeper.  Something that has the ability to take hold of the human and press on us until it is unbearable and we are driven to primitive desires to just survive. We cave in to the pressure.  We cave in to the hatred.  We cave in the logic of our minds that are fed by the world’s affinities.  If we do not have Jesus, we have no caution light or warning sign.  We just barrel through life letting ourselves be governed by the tricks of the devil.  It doesn’t have to be as extreme as we have witnessed these last couple of years; we let little things that we know will harm us drive us because we don’t know how to stand up to them.

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

When the evil one attacks, you have been equipped with the armor that can protect you and protect you in battle.  This is not to say that we must live a life of paranoia, but it is to say that we must stay alert.  Stop courting death and playing like it’s alright.

Romans 5:20 says “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”.  Romans 7:6-7: But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

What does your armor look like?  What is supposed to be in place so that you can deal with the divine; the seen and unseen things that are occurring in the world around you?  How do you go into spiritual battle; definitely not waving your gun- open carry or not.  We have defensive and offensive weaponry.  We don’t have to run and hide.  If you notice how the armor is placed, your front is covered; your back is exposed.  Your back is not supposed to face your enemy; you are to face the enemy face to face.

14 Stand firm then, (Don’t take off running like Saul’s army did when they thought it had taken too long for the prophet of the Lord to show up.) with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

 But in your hearts revere (admire, worship, respect) Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16

16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  The shield covered the solder from head to toe.  Remember how the soldiers would kneel with the shield in front of them?

 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

This is not in reference to your salvation because this passage is for those who are already saved. If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are filled with His Spirit and thus filled with the power of the Spirit.  The only ones who can take up any piece of God’s armor, and the only ones who are involved in this supernatural struggle against Satan and his demon forces, are those who are already saved.

“The purpose of the helmet, of course, was to protect the head from injury, particularly from the dangerous broadsword commonly used in the warfare of that day. It was a large two–handed, double–edged sword that measured three to four feet in length.  It was often carried by cavalrymen, who would swing at the heads of enemy soldiers. The devil doesn’t play.  He comes to steal, kill and destroy.

The fact that the helmet is related to salvation indicates that Satan’s blows are directed at the believer’s security and assurance in Christ. The two dangerous edges of Satan’s spiritual broadsword are discouragement and doubt. Doubt is the opposite of faith and without faith it is impossible to please God. To discourage us he points to our failures, our sins, our unresolved problems, our poor health, or to any other things in our lives that make us feel unworthy of God’s love.”

It is necessary to know how to stand in the divine even here on earth.  Know the Word of God so that you have something to help you stand; something that is tangible. Know that when you are relying on God’s word and using it as a weapon against the enemy, you have the power.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Prayer changes things.  Prayer is an exercise of your faith in God.  Prayer is power to those who believe.  God wants you to pray.  He wants to you ask, seek, and knock.

Matthew 7:7 –Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

I Thessalonians 5:17 commands us to pray without ceasing.

When we get too tired or weary to pray, Romans 8:26 – In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

As the body of Christ, the church of the living God, we are called upon to rise up and stand firm.  We are called to enter the battle that is going on around us because we are victorious through Christ.  We are equipped for the battle.  There are those who must be saved.  Someone must give them voice.  Someone must stand in a place and declare that they are free from the bondage to sin and death.  Someone must be prepared to tell them about Jesus Christ.  How many more lives does the devil have to claim before the church steps into her rightful position as God’s mighty army on earth?  Rise up and stand firm.

Amen

 

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