BIG IDEA: What makes a great locker room speech? This passage of Ephesians is like a really great locker room speech as we go into battle the forces of evil in this world.
SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 6:10-20
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 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. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
The book of Ephesians relates God’s plan for creating a new society by his grace and for his glory. It is “…doctrine set to music. Just as [Paul] proclaimed God’s order to the post-Augustine Roman era which was marked by a process of social disintegration, so Ephesians is today the most contemporary book in the Bible, since it promises community in a world of disunity, reconciliation in the place of alienation and peace instead of war” (John Mackay, President Princeton Theological Seminary, 1948).
- Know your playing field: If you don’t know your playing field – the atmosphere in which you will be “playing” – you won’t be an effective player. Paul wants us to know that the forces we’re playing against are unusual. The enemy isn’t made of flesh and blood, but rather is a spiritual enemy. Our playing field is the spiritual realm. If you only take into account the physical realm, you will be at a disadvantage.
- Wrestling with the spiritual realm: Paul compares our fight with hand-to-hand combat. These forces are nearby. They aren’t abstract ideas you fight with your mind.
- Who is the opponent? Paul uses three terms to talk about the opponent: “the rulers,” “the authorities,” and “the cosmic powers.” These terms refer to the devil and his forces of evil. The devil does have power in this world. It’s his home court. He has some kind of authority here, some kind of rule, and with that comes a home-court advantage. It’s temporary, but they have residence in the present darkness of this world. The devil isn’t omnipresent or omnipotent. He isn’t God. But he is systematically working to destroy God’s plan.
- Know your team, your game-plan: In this metaphor, that’s the whole armor of God. Don’t go out without it. Don’t go out with only part of it. What good is only half of your armor? What good is it to play with only part of your team?
- The Armor:
- Belt of Truth: There are two parts to this belt that you have access to. The first part is the doctrinal truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those are truths that we have at our disposal. We fasten this truth to our waist because the devil’s number one means of attack is telling us lies about this very truth (just look at the encounter in the Garden of Eden). Secondly, we must be truth-telling people. We should be known for speaking truth with honesty and humility. Can people take you at your word?
- The Breastplate of Righteousness: The Breastplate protects the heart, which implies that this is a heart-matter. The good news of the gospel must be worn over our heat, and we must know that we receive a new heart from God because of Jesus’ sacrifice, which fills us with the righteousness of Christ. When we cling to this truth, we can move forward with God’s plan with confidence. We are not our sin. We are Christ’s righteousness. Also, we are meant to keep this breastplate clean and polished by living a righteous life. Don’t forget your team spirit. Play with the heartbeat of Jesus.
- Shoes of Readiness: We must always be ready to share the good news of Jesus Christ because it is the promise of peace. You can’t be ready for any situation if you don’t have the right shoes. You can’t move when asked to move if you don’t have peace as your footwear. If you’re light on your feet, you can meet opposition with ease.
- Shield of Faith: In every part of the game, you must keep your shield up. You must always lean and act and move through faith no matter the circumstance. It’s your faith that protects you from the flaming arrows of the enemy. What are the arrows? Lies (attacks to the head), deceit (attacks to the heart), temptation (attack to the hands). Not every one of these arrows, is a direct attack from the devil. We are fallen in our nature.
- Helmet of Salvation: We have a new identity in Christ. The Helmet is the hope and the assurance of victory. We are not waiting in suspense to see how things will turn out. We already know. The enemy cannot kill us, and we know this when we wear the Helmet of our Salvation. He can bruise our heel, but he can never crush our head. Victory is not in question. We’ve already won the trophy.
- The Sword of the Spirit: The Word of God, which is both offensive and defensive. The Bible is inspired by the Spirit of God. We are to use it to fight against the enemy and defend ourselves against the enemy. In these words, in speaking the words of the Bible, there is power. We should speak the Word of God out loud. Look at Luke 4. Even Jesus uses the spoken Word of God to defend himself from the enemy’s attack. It is, in a way, trash talk.
- Pray at all times: Praying is imperative to your ability to keep standing in this fight. You cannot stay upright if you don’t continue to pray. Prayer is how you remember your armor. Pray for all Christians, that they, too, might put on the Armor of God and withstand the attacks of the enemy. To be a good team, you need to be in constant communication with God.
- Keys to Victory
- Don’t psych yourself out: this is a winnable fight. In fact, it’s already won.
- Don’t underestimate your opponent: your opponent is real.
- Define the win: stand firm. Don’t quit or retreat. Stay the course because the victory is already won. We need to remember this, especially in Seattle.
- You need the whole armor: bring you’re a-game and wear your whole armor.
- It’s the name on the front of your jersey that matters the most: you’re not an individual player, you are part of God’s team. Don’t isolate yourself from the community of Christ because that’s where the devil attacks.
- The name on the back of the jersey does matter: play your strengths and win your individual battle. Your individual battles are just as important as the biggest of battles.
- Games are usually won and lost before they even start: what you do before the devil attacks is just as important as what you do in the battler. Your actions flow out of your preparation.
- The team with the best player always wins: we’ve got Jesus, and it is only by his power, that we have victory. Call on his name and the enemy will flee.
- Don’t believe the lies of the enemy: know that we truly are in a fight, but also know that the battle has already been won.
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