A TREATISE ON THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS
EDITOR :SHAWN STEVENS
The Book of Ephesians is truly one of the mountain tops of holy Scripture. In it, the Apostle Paul discusses the eternal purposes in Christ for the body of Christ, His Church. It teaches on God’s election, salvation by grace through faith, the unity of Christ’s body, walking in the light, marriage, family relationships and much more. Ephesians calls us to walk worthy of the calling that we have received, to put on the new man that was created in true righteousness and to be imitators of God.
I trust that you will be inspired as you journey through this book and as Jake Balzer takes us on a study of its precious truths.
Full Life Study Bible. Grand Rapids: Life Publishers, International. Zondervan, 1992. Pg 1842.
STUDY OF THE EPHESIAN EPISTLE
Several commentators consider the epistle of Ephesians the queen of the Pauline epistles. we have both a theological and a devotional nature in this epistle. The first three chapters are more theological and the last three chapters are more devotional.
Note : It is estimated that from the 155 verses in Ephesians, 75 verses are clearly, or rather clearly, paralleled in Colossians. Thus we can conclude that both epistles are written by Paul to different groups of believers.
It is estimated that Paul wrote the epistle to the Ephesians some seven years after spending two years ministering to them in Ephesus. He likely wrote this epistle about 62 A.D.
TEXT : EPHESIANS 1:1-14
TOPIC: GOD’S GREAT PLAN OF SALVATION
THERE ARE THREE BOOKS IN THE BIBLE THAT SPEAK ABOUT PRE-HISTORIC EVENTS
1.Genesis 1.1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
2. Gospel of John 1.1 relates “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
3.Ephesians speaks about God choosing those in Christ before the foundation of the world. (See 1.4)
PAUL SAYS IT WAS GOD WHO CALLED HIM TO BE AN APOSTLE. IT WAS NOT OF HIS OWN CHOOSING
In order to get some perspective of God’s great plan of salvation, let’s first of all look at it from God’s view point of salvation which is real and practical to us who need His salvation.
THERE ARE SOME SEVEN THINGS GOD DID IN ORDER TO MAKE THIS PLAN
l. God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. (See 1:4).
“in Christ” occurs 164 times in Paul’s epistles.
2. God placed us in position as His sons and daughters in accordance with His pleasure and will. (See 1:5).
3. God bestowed grace on us accepting us in the beloved. (See 1:6).
4. God redeemed us through the blood of His Son by paying the ransom for our sins, providing forgiveness. (See 1:7).
5. God imparted to us wisdom and insight to understand His purpose in Christ. (See 1:8,9).
6. God predestined and chose us in Jesus Christ according to His plan. (See 1:10-12).
7. God affirmed the deposit of his Holy Spirit in believers. (See 1:13,14).
NOW WHAT IS OUR PART IN PERSONALLY EXPERIENCING THIS GREAT SALVATION?
1. We must hear the good news. (See 1:13).
2. We must believe in and respond to Christ. (See 1:13).
3. We must become sealed with the Holy Spirit who is the first instalment of our inheritance. (See 1:13,14).
TEXT : EPHESIANS 1:15-23
TOPIC: PRAYER FOR SPIRITUAL AND EXPERIENTIAL GROWTH
Paul is very encouraged to hear that their faith in Jesus Christ has translated to their love for fellow believers of Jesus Christ. (See 1.15-16).
In the following verses Paul expresses that he is praying for them to experience the divine experiential dimension. (See 1.17).
– That they might receive from the Lord the ability to see things from the spiritual perspective or from the spiritual viewpoint. Paul wants for them that they might become an integrated person with a spiritual centre to become an integrated personality.
SOME HAVE THEIR PERSONALITY FOCUSED ON SELF-CENTEREDNESS, OR PLEASURE, OR VOCATION, OR THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS, OR SOME HAVE THEIR PERSONALITY FOCUSSED ON JESUS CHRIST.
We need the glorious Father to give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation, thereby enabling us to integrate our whole personality around Jesus Christ as our central focal point.
Remember when a follower of Jesus Christ chooses a central focal point that militates against his commitment to Jesus Christ he experiences major conflicts.
Having Jesus Christ in the centre means He is Lord of our lives and we seek to screen everything through His prompting and enabling. Our constant prayer should be: “Lord open my eyes to behold the wonders in Your Word that will guide me in all Your ways.”
2. THE FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST’S EXPERIENTIAL DIMENSION
Furthermore, we need the Holy Spirit to enlighten the eyes of our heart in order to experientially know the hope to which He has called us.
2.1 EXPERIENTIALLY KNOW THE HOPE TO WHICH JESUS HAS CALLED US BELIEVERS.
hope regarding your past – God has accepted us. We are His sons and daughters.
hope in the present – God will continue to empower us to live as His faithful sons and daughters.
hope in the future – God will continue the work out what He has begun and will bring us to the glorious return of Jesus Christ.
for we by faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (See 1 Peter 1:5).
2.2 EXPERIENTIAL KNOWLEDGE OF OUR GLORIOUS INHERITANCE.
– We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ. (See Romans 8:17).
– We will receive our due reward for what we have done.
-We will receive spiritually transformed sinless bodies.
2.3 EXPERIENTIAL KNOWLEDGE OF HIS EXCEEDING GREAT POWER AT WORK TOWARD US. (See 19-23)
– The great power that raised Christ from the dead (See vs 20).
– The great power that seated Christ at God’s right hand (See vs 20).
– The great power that appointed Christ to be the head over everything for the Church which is His
body (See vss 21-23).
TEXT : EPHESIANS 2:11-22
TOPIC: GOD IS BUILDING HIS CHURCH
From the Old Testament to the New testament we have what is called “ the progressive revelation,” that is, God progressively reveals more and more of His great plan of salvation as we move through the Old Testament into the New Testament.
Take note of how God progressively has revealed His great plan of salvation.
TO INDIVIDUALS – ADAM AND EVE AFTER THEY SINNED
This is the first promise of the Messiah who would come and defeat Satan and provide personal salvation for all mankind.
TO A FAMILY – NOAH AND HIS FAMILY BEFORE THE FLOOD.
Genesis 6:8 “ But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”
Genesis 9: 12-13 “And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
TO A NATION – ABRAHAM AND HIS DESCENDENTS
TO THE WHOLE WORLD
Genesis 12:3 “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
THROUGH JESUS CHRIST
1 Timothy 2:5“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”
Hebrews 1:1-2 “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;”
To summarize God’s intent in providing His great plan of salvation to all mankind who desperately needed it we could say it this way:
God had a twofold purpose for all mankind in providing salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.
1. To provide forgiveness of sins and restore all who repent and believe thus bringing them back into fellowship with Him.
2. To provide forgiveness and restoration to all who repent and believed in order to bring brothers and sisters in Christ into fellowship with each other.
In our scriptural passage these two dimensions are clearly taught. Let’s examine them to discover God’s overall plan from before creation.
IN OUR TEXT WE WILL SEE THAT GOD IS BUILDING HIS CHURCH IN TWO SPECIFIC YET RELATED WAYS.
1. God is building His Church (See 2:11-19).
by creating a “new man” from both the Gentiles and the Jews.
2. God is building His Church (See 2:20-22).
by joining together a living temple in which God lives by the Holy Spirit.
1. God is building His Church by creating a “new man” from both the Gentiles and the Jews. (See 2:11-19).
When God creates something He makes it totally new in a spiritual sense.
When we create something we make it out of something physical that all ready exists. For example, when we build a house we use materials that are already in existence.
When God creates a “new man” he adds a spiritual dimension which is total new to both the Gentiles and the Jews. Let’s examine our passage to see how God created a “new man” from both Gentiles and Jews.
WHAT DID GOD DO FOR THE GENTILES?
NATURAL SITUATION CONVERTED SITUATION
1. Separated from Christ (See 2:12) Brought near by the blood of Christ (See 2.13).
2. Excluded from citizenship of Israel (See 2:12) Fellow citizens with God’s people (See 2.19).
3. Foreigners to the covenants of promise Both have access to the Father (See 2:12). by one Spirit (See 2:18).
4. Without hope and without God in the Members of the household of God
world (See 2:12b). (See 2:19).
WHAT DID GOD DO FOR THE JEWS?
NATURAL SITUATION CONVERTED SITUATION
2. Dividing wall partition (See 2:14) God abolished the enmity in His flesh (See 2:15).
HOW DID GOD BRING THE GENTILES AND JEWS TOGETHER?
JESUS PREACHED PEACE TO BOTH GENTILES AND JEWS PROVIDED ACCESS TO GOD BY ONE SPIRIT. (See 2:17-18)
1. God did His part in making one man from both the Gentiles and Jews.
2. Jesus did His part in making one man from both the Gentiles and Jews.
3. The Holy Spirit did His part in making one man from both the Gentiles and the Jews.
4. But the challenge now lies with the followers of Christ. Both converted Gentiles and Jews need to do their part in becoming one man through the enabling of the Holy Spirit who knows both the mind of God and Jesus Christ.
What are you and I doing to bridge the gap between followers of Christ who find it difficult to become one with us in the Church of Jesus Christ?
We must continually keep in mind God’s purpose for His Church. Namely, He wants us, as followers of Jesus Christ, to follow His example in bringing together both Gentiles and Jews, creating a“new man” who now learns to live the empowered life by the Holy Spirit and learns how to love and respect each member of the body of Jesus Christ.
2. GOD IS BUILDING HIS CHURCH AS A LIVING HOUSEHOLD IN WHICH GOD LIVES BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. (See 2:20-22)
God by the Holy Spirit is joining His followers together, placing them where He wants them to function. This is where real body life begins and grows.
2.1 THE CHURCH IS BUILT ON THE FOUNDATION OF THE APOSTLES AND PROPHETS WITH JESUS CHRIST THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE. (See 2:20)
Jesus said to Peter, before he was an apostle; “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”(Matthew 16:18). ”From the passage in Ephesians, it appears that the Church is built on the foundation of apostles too.” (Shawn Stevens). The prophets probably were those in the first century who also became part of the Church foundation.
2.2 BUILT TOGETHER IN CHRIST TO BECOME A DWELLING IN WHICH GOD LIVES BY THE SPIRIT (See 2:22)
In Solomon’s day much time was spent in shaping and fitting the stones together. In fact, when the actual temple was built there was no sound of a hammer.
When God is building His Church He spends a lot of time shaping and molding the “lively stones” (see 1 Peter 2:5) that become His dwelling place. In order for God to effectively mold and shape us he needs our total commitment and trust in Him to know what is best in training us to love and respect each other.
GOD IS ACTIVELY WORKING WITH US WHO ARE BEING BUILT TOGETHER TO BECOME A DWELLING IN WHICH HE LIVES BY HIS SPIRIT.
TEXT : EPHESIANS 3:1-21
TOPIC : LEARNING HOW TO OVERCOME THE TENDENCIES OF DISCOURAGEMENT
Did you know that at one time a person was court martialed and sentenced to a year’s imprisonment for being a discourager?
Discouragement is one of the devil’s best tools.
We need to learn how to overcome the tendencies of discouragement.
Paul suggests two ways we can overcome the tendencies of discouragement.
1. by focusing on our relationship to Jesus Christ
2. by focusing on our resources in Jesus Christ
We can overcome the tendencies of discouragement.
1. BY FOCUSING ON OUR RELATIONSHIP TO JESUS CHRIST (See 3:1-13)
We can have similar circumstances and interpret them quite differently. Why? Because we look at them from different perspectives. Therefore, we come to different conclusions.
As we learn to focus on our relationship to Jesus Christ one of the first things we need to do is
1.1 AFFIRM THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST IN OUR LIVES
How do we do this?
Notice how Paul did it. He affirmed to himself, and to the Ephesians, that he was the prisoner of Jesus Christ for their sake. When actually he was chained to a Roman guard all the time while in prison.
When we interpret our circumstances we need to realize, as followers of Jesus Christ, that we will experience hardships for Christ’s sake. We no longer are our own boss, but have submitted ourselves to Jesus Christ and we respond to what He wants us to do.
1.2 AFFIRM THE TASK JESUS HAS GIVEN YOU TO DO (See 3:2-7)
God had entrusted to Paul the task of administering God’s grace for the Ephesians. That is, he was sharing the good news of salvation and saw many of them become converted.
What has the Lord entrusted to you to do for him? Do it heartily as unto the Lord.
1.3 AFFIRM THE RESULTS OF DOING GOD’S WILL (See 3:7-11)
Paul fully realized he had become a servant of Jesus Christ. Therefore, he experienced his power to be an effective messenger of the gospel both to the Gentiles and the rulers and authorities in heavenly realms.
When you and I share the good news with others the enemy will do his best to disrupt or distract us.
1.4 AFFIRM THE WAY WE CAN COME TO FREEDOM AND CONFIDENCE (See 3:12-13)
In Jesus Christ, we can have faith and freedom, with confidence, and can approach God our heavenly Father.
When, because of obedience to Jesus Christ, we experience difficulties, we need to remember the way to overcome discouragement is to draw upon our resources in Jesus Christ and God our Father. Moreover, we need to remind ourselves that He knows all about the trials and testings which we experience in serving Him. Therefore, keep interpreting your situations from God’s perspective and not from your own.
2. FOCUS ON YOUR RESOURCES IN JESUS CHRIST (See 3:14-21)
As we grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ we also need to grow in our awareness of our resources in Him.
THE INDWELLING HOLY SPIRIT CAN STRENGTHEN US WITH HIS POWER IN OUR INNER BEING (See 3:16)
This means the Holy Spirit joins with our inner being, thus empowers us so that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith.
What does that mean?
Christ wants to feel at home in our hearts, thereby enabling us to please Him and enjoy doing what He desires us to do instead of we doing our own thing and asking Him to bless it.
WE NEED TO BE ROOTED AND ESTABLISHED IN HIS LOVE (See 3:17-18)
Learning to grasp the different dimensions of His love, in all its compassion, revitalizes us in serving Him.
– the breadth or width of his love (See vs 18).
It is all-encompassing. Yes, it includes all mankind regardless of race, creed, colour, age, or profession.
– the length of his love (See vs 18).
It reaches throughout the whole human history on until Jesus Christ’s return.
– the height of his love (See vs 18).
His love reaches from Earth to heaven. The enemy cannot conqueror such love. It is far above all our circumstances.
– the depth of his love (See vs 18).
Jesus is able to save to the uttermost that come unto God by Him.
Hebrews 7.25 says:
Learning to grasp the fulness of His love will enable us to love one another as He loved us. Since God is for us, who can be against us?
It is a fact that each one of us faces discouragement sooner or later. We are tempted to become discouraged with our slow spiritual progress or our inability to live Spirit-controlled lives.
What we need to practice regularly is to focus our attention on our living and growing relationship with Jesus Christ who indwells us by the Holy Spirit. and focus on our bountiful resources we have in Christ Jesus who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above anything we can ask or think according to the power that is at work in us by the Holy Spirit.
TEXT : EPHESIANS 4:1-6
TOPIC : LET’S MAKE CHRISTIAN UNITY OUR AIM
WHAT IS CHRISTIAN UNITY?
Christian unity is an attitude which finds its source in the Holy Spirit. It is a spiritual bond between individuals who have received, by faith, Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Christian unity is not uniformity that is all same human efforts.
OUR TEXT SAYS “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” 4:3
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The Holy Spirit is the source of Christian unity, however, we must yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to make Christian unity our aim.
1. FOUR VIRTUES OF CHRISTIAN UNITY THROUGH THE ENABLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Our text suggests four Christian virtues through the enabling of the Holy Spirit that will enable us to focus on Christian unity.
1.1.HUMILITY (See 4:2)
Humility is not personal embarrassment in pubic. For example, when someone makes us feel very uncomfortable in public we tend to say “they embarrassed us.”
Humility is having an honest view of ourselves.
To face ones self honestly is one of the most difficult things to do.
The Apostle Paul grew in true humility. Notice how he describes himself.
In 1 Corinthians 15:9, he classified himself as the “… least of the apostles, …”.
In Ephesians 3:8, he describes himself as “… less than the least of all saints, …”.
In 1 Timothy 1:15, he describes himself as the chief of sinners.
We too need to face ourselves courageously in God’s presence and recognize our total dependency upon Him.
THE SECOND CHRISTIAN VIRTUE WHICH GIVES EXPRESSION TO CHRISTIAN UNITY IS :
1.2 MEEKNESS (SEE VS 2)
Meekness is not weakness or spinelessness. It is opposite to self-assertiveness or self- interests. Meekness is focused on being considerate, kind, and caring toward others. A gentle person respects others’ rights and is considerate toward those who differ in opinions with his own. It’s giving a soft answer to rough questions or accusations.
A gentle person is truly amazed that God, and others, can think of him as well as they do and treat him as well as they do.
Meekness is the opposite of being touchy or oversensitive about oneself.
Meekness is exercising self-control and having an honest view of yourself before God and others.
THE THIRD VIRTUE MENTIONED THAT GIVES EXPRESSION TO CHRISTIAN UNITY IS :
1.3 LONGSUFFERING OR PATIENCE
Patience is the ability to bear up under trying circumstances. A person who is patient endures insults without retaliation. It is the spirit that never admits or gives in to defeat and which is not defeated by any task.
Patience is like the saying “ when the going gets tough the tough keep going.” Patience is self-control under pressures of life. With the enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit we can learn to be patient in trying situations.
We sometimes wonder how we can learn to be more patient.
James 1:2-4 says “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
THE FOURTH VIRTUE IS CLOSELY RELATED TO PATIENCE :
1.4 FORBEARING ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE (SEE VS 2)
This does not mean we are to close our eyes to the failures and sins of others. But, rather, realize we too have failures and sins and appreciate when fellow Christians are considerate and understanding of our shortcomings.
To bear with one another in love means we do not gossip about their sins or shortcomings but, rather, seek to come alongside them in love and encouragement, helping them overcome their problems through the enabling of the Holy Spirit. We seek to refrain from forcing on them what we think they deserve as punishment for their wrong doing.
Galatians 6:1,2 tells us how we are to treat those who are caught in sinning: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
In summary then, practicing these four Christian virtues of humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with others in love through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, we will be better prepared to practice the sevenfold foundation of Christian unity.
2. THE FOUNDATION FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY. (See 4:4-6)
Paul seems to group the sevenfold foundation for Christian unity into two groups of threes. The first centres around the Holy Spirit. The second group of threes centres around the Lord Jesus. The last foundation centres around God the Father.
Let’s remind ourselves that the unity of the Christian Church is not based on a common race, culture, or linguistic background of its members. But, rather, the foundation of Christian unity finds expression in the Godhead and our relationship to that Godhead. Let’s examine the foundation of Christian unity more closely.
2.1 THE ACTIVITIES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (See vs 4)
ONE BODY, ONE SPIRIT AND ONE HOPE
It is through the Holy Spirit that the believers have become new creations in Jesus Christ, namely the Church. Both in Ephesians and Colossians, the “body” concept is used in relation to the believers functioning harmoniously together. That is, for the common good of building each other up in Christ, who is the head of the body. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who creates fellowship and genuine Christian unity. Our part, as fellow members of the body of Christ, is to function in harmony with the Holy Spirit who is the living source of Christian unity. Moreover, we are looking for that “… one hope of your calling;” (Ephesians 4:4) as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live lives that are pleasing to Jesus Christ.
Human organization of the believers tries to bring external agreement and harmony but does not really provide spiritual organic life shared through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
2.2 THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST (See vs 5)
ONE LORD, ONE FAITH AND ONE BAPTISM
Christian unity expresses itself through the same faith in the lordship of Jesus Christ. When the lordship of Jesus Christ is not central in our relationship to one another, disunity results.
Faith, here, does not mean one creed or one confession of faith as some denominations emphasize. But, rather, this faith expresses trust in the lordship of Jesus Christ through personal salvation and faith in the finished work of Christ.
Thus, there is one faith in the believers regardless of race, creed, colour, or ethnic background.
We were baptized into Christ at conversion. Thus, all believers have experienced one baptism into Christ by the Holy Spirit. Following conversion, many followers of Christ received water baptism symbolizing they being dead to sin and alive to God. Romans 6.11 says:
Christian unity finds its source in the Godhead and it is through the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer that makes it possible for us to practice Christian unity. This unity is not uniformity outwardly speaking, but inward spiritual unity which cuts across all barriers, race, creed,colour, denominations, etc. Therefore, it behoves us to practice Christian unity through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit by being humble, gentle, patient, and bearing with one another in love.
LET US, THEREFORE, MAKE CHRISTIAN UNITY OUR AIM.
TEXT : EPHESIANS 4:7-16
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
TOPIC : DIVERSITY IN GIFTS BUT UNITY IN GOALS
There are an increasing number of voices telling the Church of Jesus Christ what it should be doing.
Consequently, a goodly number of Churches are wrestling with what is their real purpose. in the final end. Where does the Church get its mandate as to what are its goals?
The Bible compares the Church to a body. Now where does our body get direction from as to its functions?
Ask the foot – Response: The function of the body is to be realist and stay on the ground level in order to get something done.
Ask the nose – Response: Really, it depends on whether or not it smells good and appetizing as to what you want to do.
Ask the eye – Response: What really counts is, is it pleasing to the eye? Does it look good? If so, do it.
Ask the hand – Response: Really the issue is, does it feel good? Can you handle it? That’s what counts.
Ask the head – Response: The key issue is, does it make sense and is it profitable to you? That is what counts in the end.
Why so many views? Each member sees it from their perspective. What is then the solution? Ask the governing head. The head governs the whole body and each member does what the head indicates to get the job done.
Now, the Bible clearly teaches that all believers are members of the body of Christ. Christ is therefore, the head of the body. He is the one who governs the body and encourages each member to function in their respective places in harmony and love.
Our passage specifically deals with the goals of the Church. That is, the goals of the body of Jesus Christ. But it also speaks about the gifts that Christ gives to the Church in order to achieve the goals.
According to our passage, it is clearly stated that the risen Christ gives different gifts to the Church and it is up to us to discern these differing gifts and their function in bringing unity to the Church.
CHRIST GIVES APOSTLES TO THE CHURCH (See vs 11)
CHRIST GIVES PROPHETS TO THE CHURCH (See vs 11)
CHRIST GIVES EVANGELISTS TO THE CHURCH (See vs 11)
All believers are commanded to be Jesus Christ’s witnesses. Evangelists, however, are especially gifted in effectively communicating to the unsaved people their need of salvation and seeing many respond.
Peter Wagner, who has done a lot of research in this area, concludes there are about 10% of the believers in any Church who have the gift of evangelism, whether person to person or for large groups.
CHRIST GIVES PASTORS AND TEACHERS TO THE CHURCH (See vs 11)
Pastors are responsible to shepherd the groups of believers in the Church. That is nurturing, leading and training them to become reproducing followers of Jesus Christ.
The leadership gifts are given to the Church to accomplish the goals Jesus Christ has assigned to the Church. The Church can refer to both local and universal, for Christ is the head of the whole Church.
In our passage, we have three specific goals for the local Church.
1. The goal is to prepare God’s people for works of service. (See 4:12).
These works of service, I believe, refers to seven days a week, both within the local Church and beyond.
In the Church there are different kinds of service, both formal and more informal.
However, during the week there are many opportunities for service. In our family, on our jobs, small groups, visitation, acts of kindness, etc. Each one of us needs to trust the Lord to enable him to serve where the Lord has placed him or where there is an opportunity for service.
There are four (or five, depending on whether or not you count pastors and teachers as one [Shawn Stevens]).
The Church leadership is responsible to equip and train the followers of Christ to be built up and grow in faith and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ so that they then can become reproducing followers of Jesus Christ in love and unity. Believers also need to learn how to respect each other and learn how to work together in harmony as they obey Jesus Christ in their ministries.
TEXT : EPHESIANS 4:17-32
TOPIC : PRACTICING THE SPIRIT CONTROLLED LIFE
DO YOU FIND IT HARD TO BELIEVE THAT THIS PASSAGE IN EPHESIANS 4:17-32 IS ADDRESSED TO CHRISTIANS?
LET’S CHECK OUT THE CONTEXT. (See 1:1-8, 13)
1.5 God destined them to be his children. (See vs 5).
1.6 God bestowed grace on them, accepting them in the beloved. (See vs 6).
1:7 God secured their redemption and the forgiveness of sins. (See vs 7).
1:8,9 God imparted wisdom and insight to them. (See vs 8).
1:14 God sealed them with the Holy Spirit. (See vs 13).
This is the discovery of many believers. They rejoice in having received forgiveness of their sins and Jesus as their Savior. But soon after their conversion they are shocked to discover there is a conflict between their flesh and the new life in Christ.
1. All believers are to practice the basic Christian principle of putting off and putting on. (See 4:17-24)
When we were young children our parents tried to teach us this principle again and again. How?
When you dirty your clothes take them off, get cleaned up, and put on clean clothes. Then remember not to get them dirty again.
AS FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST, WHAT ARE WE TO PUT OFF AND LEAVE OFF?
How do the unsaved Gentiles walk?
– They don’t have a spiritual understanding because they are separated from the life of God.
– Their hearts are hardened from ignoring God’s ways.
– They have lost all spiritual sensitivity.
– They have indulged in sensuality and in every kind of impurity, continually lusting for more.
– They were enslaved in sinful practices and could not free themselves form this imprisonment.
As followers of Jesus Christ we are taught to leave the old sinful way of living and, through the enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit, live a life that glorifies our Savior and Lord.
2. THE SPECIFIC PRINCIPLES OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH (See 4:23-32)
2.1 PUT OFF FALSEHOOD AND SPEAK THE TRUTH (See 4:25)
Any tendencies to falsehood, be it by pretending we are something we are not or speaking falsehood, need to be replaced by being integral and speaking truth which is evidence of the indwelling Holy Spirit empowering us to become more Christlike in our lifestyle and our speech.
2.2 WHEN ANGRY DON’T SIN (See 4:26-27)
How? Be angry at sin but not with the sinner.
Some examples are:
– Jonathan became very angry over Saul who planned to kill David.
(See 1 Samuel 20:33-34).
– Nehemiah became very angry when the innocent children were being harmed.
(See Nehemiah 5:6).
– Jesus became angry over the Jews who had made the temple a den of thieves.
(See Mark 11:15-17).
A woman once told evangelist Billy Sunday that she had a bad temper but it was always over in a minute. Billy Sunday responded, “So is a shotgun blast! But look at the damage it can do in just a split second.” (Billy Sunday, quoted in Godly Foundation, Man’s Wrath and God’s Righteousness” http://wwwprimitivebaptist.org)
Remember our anger does most of the damage when it blows out of our mouth.
When we get angry and harbour it we are actually giving the devil a foothold in our lives.
2.3 STOP STEALING AND WORK SO YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO GIVE TO THE NEEDY (See 4:28)
STEALING AS CHRISTIANS CAN TAKE MANY FORMS.
– We steal someone’s reputation.
– We steal someone’s time by wasting it.
– We steal someone’s possessions by not giving them back.
2.4 REFRAIN FROM UNWHOLESOME TALK AND SPEAK WHAT BUILDS OTHERS UP, THEREBY BENEFITING THE LISTENERS (See 4:29)
When we speak evil we grieve the Holy Spirit and often harm others. Speaking wholesome words, empowered by the Holy Spirit, will set an example for other believers to follow and also will build up our listeners spiritually.
Remember what we think is what we speak and what we speak is an indication of who we really are. What kind of indication do others have about you and me?
When we as followers of Christ indulge in carnal practices such as lying, stealing and unwholesome talk, we grieve the indwelling Holy Spirit and often are a stumbling block to others. (See 4:30-32).
2.5 REFRAIN FROM NEGATIVE ATTITUDES AND PRACTICE POSITIVE
ATTITUDES (See 4:31-32)
– bitterness – Often is the result of harbouring anger or resentment about something or someone.
– The Scriptures warn us about harbouring a root of bitterness which gives the devil a foothold in our Christian lives.
– rage – Cutting remarks, back bitting, and loosing our temper
– anger – Negative and harmful speech, even resorting to cursing someone.
– brawling and slander – Abusive words against God and people.
– every form of malice – Enjoy inflicting hurt or injury on others.
PRACTICE THE POSITIVE ATTITUDES (See 4:32)
– Be kind and compassionate to one another.
– Speak with love and understanding about each other and show consideration and empathy for one another.
God set the example of how to freely forgive us who offended and resisted him. Now we are to extend that same kind of forgiveness to one another.
Someone has said he who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.
Let’s continue to grow toward maturity, thereby honouring our Lord, and become meaningfully involved in ministering in compassion and love toward one another.
TEXT : EPHESIANS 5:1-21
TOPIC : THE BELIEVER’S LIFE-STYLE
LET’S EXAMINE THREE SPECIFIC EXPRESSIONS OF WHAT THE BELIEVER’S LIFE STYLE SHOULD BE.
1. LIVE A LIFE OF LOVE AS CHRIST LOVED US (See 5:2-7)
What does it mean to live a life of love?
The Bible says be imitators of God –
Christ so loved that He gave himself up for us voluntarily as a living sacrifice.
We are commanded to love our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and our neighbour as ourselves. (See Mark 12:29-31).
Jesus said; “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15).
We are to live a life of love by not practising sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity, or greed. These are not proper for God’s holy people.
We are to live a life of love by not indulging in obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking which are out of place.
We are to live a life of love by being thankful for all things.
We need to live honest and integral lives that please the Lord and not have intimate association with those who live godless lives.
2. LIVE A GODLY LIFE FOR YOU ARE LIGHT IN THE LORD (See 5:8-14)
Do the non-Christians who know us see that we live a life of goodness, righteousness and truth and have compassion for them? Moreover, do we continually seek to discern what the Lord wants us to do to bring glory to Him and a positive witness to the non-believers?
There are times where we find it hard to take a stand against ungodly actions and expose them by our lives and our speech.
3. LIVE IN THE FULNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (See 5:15-21)
3.1 Discerning the times we are living in
By exercising godly wisdom in whatever we do by making the most of every opportunity we have to fellowship with our Lord in His Word and prayer
By showing kindness and giving recognition to those who live well
By being a witness by life and word as the Lord gives opportunities
3.2 Discerning what the Lord wants us to do
By responding in obedience to the Lord’s revealed will
By discerning day by day how we should live according to the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit
3.3 Continually being filled with the Holy Spirit
Before we can be filled with the Holy Spirit we must make sure we have no unconfessed sins in our lives.
Moreover, we must have a real desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This means an on-going desire.
We must by faith receive the fulness of the Holy Spirit.
Some evidences of being filled with the Holy Spirit are:
1. Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
2. Singing and making music in our hearts to the Lord
3. Always giving thanks to God our Father for everything
4. Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ
TEXT : EPHESIANS 5:21-33
TOPIC : WIFE RESPECT YOUR HUSBAND AND HUSBAND LOVE YOUR WIFE
Someone has said, “Marriage is like a see-saw – it takes constant re-adjustment to
maintain long-term equilibrium.”
A story is told about two line-ups of men.
The first line was very long and above it hung a sign which read:
“For all men who have been dominated by their wives”
The other line was made up of one lone man. Above hung a sign that said:
“For all men who have never been dominated by their wives”
When asked, “What are you doing there? The man replied, “I don’t know. My wife told me to stand here.”
Sometimes we joke about the husband’s and wife’s responsibilities to each other.
But the fact remains. God has give us specific instructions as to how husbands and wives are to relate to each other. I trust as we examine this passage that we will benefit from its teaching and we will trust the Lord to enable us to do what he expects of us.
Notice the introductory statement which is often not connected with the rest of this passage.
“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:21)
In other words, we are to consider each other as brothers and sisters in Christ and, therefore, submit to each other for Christ’s sake.
What does the wordsubmit mean?
“Submit” means to voluntarily place oneself under the authority and leadership of another. In divinely ordained relationships, submission enables a unique Christian harmony, based on God’s good design.
The biblical teaching about the submission of wives to husbands begins in Genesis which declares that; “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27). The equality of men and women is the necessary foundation from which to begin the discussion of headship and submission in marriage. Adam’s headship and authority in marriage were established before the fall.
1 Corinthians 11:8 : “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.”
Second : In Genesis 2.24 the choice to leave and cleave is initiated by the man, thus giving him the responsibility to establish the home. (See Genesis 2:24).
Third : The woman is designated as the helper for the man.
Fourth : Adam’s authority is seen in that he named Eve. (See Genesis 2:23).
Since our passage addresses the wives first, I will do the same.
WIVES SUBMIT TO YOUR HUSBANDS AS TO THE LORD
HOW DO WE SUBMIT TO JESUS CHRIST?
Voluntarily and with respect. Likewise wives are to voluntarily and with respect submit to their husbands. It does not mean the husband can lord it over his wife. Neither does it mean the wife is inferior to the husband.
God has appointed the husband to provide leadership. That means he is responsible to God first and foremost as to how he provides loving leadership for his wife. Together they make decisions and seek to mutually follow through on them to the best of their ability.
It is most helpful when the wife shows respect and consideration to her husband in meaningful ways.
HUSBANDS LOVE YOUR WIVES AS CHRIST LOVE THE CHURCH
HOW DOES A HUSBAND LOVE HIS WIFE?
1. With a sacrificial love – as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her. The husband’s sacrificial love finds expressions:
– through showing appreciation for who his wife is. In other words, he does not try to change her to please himself
– through cooperating with her and being available where she needs assistance
– through showing her affection in meaningful ways
– through treating her as a unique individual who has feelings, and appreciates his unconditional love
2. With a caring love
– the husband is to love his wife as he loves himself
– he needs to consider her as a gift from God
– he needs to discover what she appreciates and show her thoughtfulness and tender loving care
3. Husband must leave his father and mother and focus first and foremost on his wife’s best interest and needs.
In summary, both need to trust the Lord to do their part in enriching their marriage. Wives respect your husbands and husbands love your wives.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”
Counsellors of all persuasions agree that nothing can drive a wedge between married couples faster than connecting love to performance. And especially, when husbands communicate to their wives, “Perform or else.” “Keep a perfect house, raise great kids, support my career, and provide meaningful intimacy and do it happily and I’ll love you,” says the husband who treats his wife like a business deal.
The Bible puts Christ in the place of the husband and the Church in the place of the wife and says husbands should love their wives like Christ loves the Church. And that means husbands are to love their wives unconditionally, no strings attached. God’s kind of love is unconditional and it is His complete love that makes us feel accepted and embraced by Him. With conditions comes failure, with failure comes separation and with separation comes loneliness. Wives who are lonely in their marriages today are most likely married to husbands who practice conditional love.
Husband, if you need a model for how to love your wife, study the way Jesus Christ loves you.
“Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church, consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rules.”
Jonathan Edwards, quoted in Jonathan Edwards on the Family and Grace.
TEXT : EPHESIANS 6:1-9
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
TOPIC : RELATIONSHIPS
DEVELOPING WHOLESOME RELATIONSHIPS IS AN ON-GOING CHALLENGE FOR ALL OF US.
1. PARENTS AND CHILDREN’S RELATIONSHIPS EPHESIANS 6:1-4
The question often asked by children is: “Why should we honour and obey our parents?”
It seems like a one-way street of benefits to the parents and not to the children.
The Bible gives us three good reasons:
1.1 We should honour and obey our parents because it pleases God.
God Himself initiated this planned relationship because it will greatly benefit both parents and their children. Why? Because it is a response of obedience. When we obey the Lord we receive directly related benefits from it. When children honour and obey their parents they are honouring and obeying the Lord and learning vital lessons for the rest of their lives.
1.2 We should honour and obey our parents because God will enrich our lives.
“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” (Exodus 20.12).
This is the first commandment with promise : “ … that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
The promise assures us of a long life with God’s blessings upon us. Yes, if we truly honour our parents God will shower His blessings upon us and we will have the assurance of Him being well pleased with us. Our lives will be enriched beyond our imagination. Moreover, we will have a positive legacy to hand down to our children who will greatly benefit from God’s blessing upon our family. Furthermore, we will not let the devil get a foothold in our families’ lives because God is protecting us when we honour and obey Him.
1.3 We should honour and obey our parents because we are following Jesus’ example as a young boy here on Earth. He truly honoured and obeyed his parents.
Even though Jesus’ parents didn’t always understand their son’s actions, Jesus still honoured and obeyed them.
Children, especially in their teens, sometimes have a hard time understanding their parents rules and regulations. Nevertheless, they need to give their parents the benefit of doubt and respect them.
PARENTS ALSO HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO THEIR CHILDREN.
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO PROVOKE YOUR CHILDREN?
1. Don’t over-power them by expecting more from them than they are able to perform. Keep in mind their age, abilities and their temperaments. Each child is different and often needs different treatments from the parents. Both parents need to be consistent in their expectations of each child.
2. Don’t annoy or harp on the child until he becomes totally discouraged or fights back.
3. But, rather, take the child and lead him in the way of the Lord, both by your example and by your teachings. Be aware of those “teachable moments” that help to build good relationships and opportunities for training.
2. EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES RELATIONSHIPS (See EPHESIANS 6:5-9)
Our text speaks about slaves and their earthly master’s relationships and responsibilities. The same instructions may be applied today for employees and employers. Let’s examine them.
2.1 EMPLOYEES RELATIONSHIP AND RESPONSIBILITIES TO THEIR EMPLOYER.
2.1.1 EMPLOYEES ARE TO RESPECT AND OBEY THEIR EMPLOYERS WITH SINCERITY OF HEART JUST AS THEY WOULD RESPECT AND OBEY CHRIST.
This kind of motivation is first centred in a growing relationship to Christ which then can be transferred to a respectful and faithful relationship to his employer.
We often are just concerned about our relationship to the employer and, thereby, fail to be empowered by Christ to do our work as unto Him.
Furthermore, our motivation should not only be to please our employer, which is important, but we need to do our work as fulfilling God’s will, thereby doing our work wholeheartedly just as though we were serving the Lord.
The bottom line is not only to get paid for our work from our employer but, also, looking forward to the reward from God in due time.
This will make a big difference, especially when we think our employer is not treating us fairly or paying us fairly. We will still be motivated to do our work well for Christ’s sake and for the reward He will give us in due time.
2.1.2 EMPLOYERS ARE TO TREAT THEIR EMPLOYEES WITH RESPECT AND THOUGHTFULNESS.
Employers are not to abuse or threaten their employees. They are to remember Jesus is their master just like He is the master of their employees. Moreover, the employers will be held accountable by Jesus who will in due time reward them either for good or evil, depending on how they treated their employees.
The bottom line for both employers and employees is that one day each one will stand before Jesus Christ to give an account of their relationship to each other here on Earth. Furthermore, they will each receive their reward for what they have done, be it good or evil.
GOD’S PRESCRIPTION FOR A HAPPY HOME
TEXT : EPHESIANS 6:1-4
Norman Wright describes four changes that have taken place in family life in
recent years. One is the move toward a nuclear family. This is the mother,
father and children. In the past, it was common for families to involve the
extended members as well. The second change is the selection of the mate
being left up to the individual. The mate at one time was selected for the
person. Third, the parents are now desiring fluid rather than fixed roles.
Finally, there has been a change in sexual morality, specifically the lack of
Without a doubt, the family structure for the most part has greatly departed
from what God intended and still intends. The rate of failure in families is
astounding. This leads us to enforce the belief that being a mother, father
and family is a full-time thing. If the family is to be successful, it takes hard
work like anything else.
Dr. Charles Shedd tells of one occasion when he was taking a plane to Los
Angeles. Beside him was a young man who was reading about teenagers
and the various scenes they are involved in, especially the drug scene. All of
a sudden, he exclaimed; ”Oh, God-I wonder why? I suppose nobody knows.
But if a father can make the difference, I sure want to make the difference.”
Here was a successful businessman concerned about the family. This is not
to say that the responsibility for holding a family together lies solely with the
father but rather it is a consolidated effort. An old African proverb says that
it takes a whole village to raise a child.
When God first created the family, there was no problem, and no problems
entered the picture until sin did. Since this time, various problems have
plagued the family, and it seems as if the problems increase in intensity as
the generations go by. There are several causes of these problems. Sin is
the first. It is our sinful nature that causes men to be chauvinistic and treat
women like servants. It is also sin that leads women to be feminists who
want to throw off God’s design for the family. It is sin that leads children to
chaff under the authority God has given to parents.
A second cause is the environment we live in. God has always intended that
his people be distinct and separate from the world system. However,
Christians are often drawn into the mold of the world rather than the other
Then there is the influence of the humanistic society we live in. It is the position that we must allow children the freedom to express themselves withoutrestraint because punishment and discipline hinder them from being able to do this.One of the goals of Marxist socialism is to free the children from the homeand make them wards of the state.
Such a bleak picture, and yet Paul gives to us in these verses words of
comfort. If we would heed the word of God, we would go a long way in
building families that would be pleasing in the sight of God.
I. CHILDREN ARE TO BE SUBMISSIVE
In contrast to humanistic philosophy that would tell children to liberate
themselves from parents and parents to liberate their children, is the
instruction of God that children are to obey their parents. Such a philosophy of humanismhas liberated children from traditional morals, values, punishment, parentaland adult authority, patriotism, sexual restraint and a host of other things,but the word of God says we are to raise our children in the nurture andadmonition of the Lord and that the children are to obey the parents.
Children and grandchildren are gifts from God, and we are to care for them
with faithfulness and gratitude.
Paul begins this passage by addressing the children. This does not refer tomerely young children but to all offspring, regardless of the age. The
instruction is simple: they are to obey their parents. Not only are they to
obey their parents but they are also to honour them. The obedience has to
do with action while the honour has to do with attitude. We understand that it
is possible to do the first without doing the second.
To obey is to listen with attentiveness. It is to respond in a positive mannerto what is heard. The obedience is not to stop when the child ` becomes ateenager or even after the child leaves the home. The obedience is to be foras long as the parent lives. This obedience should be in the Lord. Thechildren are to obey the parents for the Lord’s sake. Their obedience to theparents is to be a reflection of their obedience to the Lord.
The parents then stand in the gap between the children and the Lord. The
parent must understand that the child is a loan from God. They are stewards
of the child just as they are of their time, talents and gifts that also come
from God. Paul says; “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1). Perhaps theonly exception to this rule is when the parent might instruct the child to dosomething wrong.
The reason children are to obey the parents is because it is right. This
means that it is correct, just and righteous. There must be right acts of
obedience, but there must also be right attitudes that precede the right acts
of obedience. The right attitude is one of honouring the parents. Honouring
the father and mother in the family is the foundation for all human
relationships in society. Obedience and honour for the parents are what teach
children to have respect for other authority figures in society. Honouring one’s
parents includes providing for them when they are no longer able to provide
for themselves. This certainly includes financial support. To adequately
honour our parents, we must be personally involved in their lives.
When obedience and honour are not forthcoming, there are serious
consequences. In the United States each year, there are at least eight
million assaults made on parents by children. In recent years, we have been
confronted with children murdering their parents or having someone else to
do it. We think of Lyle and Erik Menendez. Some children are divorcing
themselves from their parents. This lack of obedience and honour in the
home carries over into society as children show no respect for authority
figures. We think now of the many teachers assaulted and killed by their
students. When we understand that all other relationships grow out of the
relationship we have with parents, we will understand how important this
relationship is. When we liberate the children, we will produce a society filled
with chaos and destruction. A child must grow intellectually, spiritually,
mentally and socially, and it is the responsibility of the parent to provide the
atmosphere where this type of growth can take place.
When the children obey and honour the parents, the result will be long life
and that things will go well with them. They will have a quality of life that
cannot be surpassed. Children must submit to the parents.
II. PARENTS ARE TO BE SUBMISSIVE
Fathers are not to provoke their children to anger. Sometimes “father” is used
in a restrictive sense but at other times it is used in a general sense. Here it
seems to be used in a general sense.Since the father was the dominant figure in the home, it would be morelikely for him to provoke the child.
To provoke carries the idea of a repeated ongoing pattern of treatment thatgradually builds up a deep-seated anger and resentment that boils over inoutward hostility. There are perhaps seven ways this can be done:
over-protection, favouritism, pushing achievement, discouragement, parents
failure to sacrifice for the children, failure to let them grow at a normal pace,
using love as a tool of reward or punishment and physical and verbal abuse.
This command of Paul’s was a new concept for his day. Mutual love was
almost unheard of in his time. In ancient Greece, parents were at liberty to
abandon children to cold, hunger, beasts and all with no threat of
punishment. A father had life and death power over his entire household. He
could cast them out, sell them or kill them. At birth, the father determined
the child’s fate. If the father picked the child up, it could stay in the home.
If the father walked away, the child was disposed of. The discarded healthy
infants were usually raised as slaves or prostitutes. Seneca, a renown
statesman of Paul’s day, wrote; “We slaughter a fierce ox; we strangle a
mad dog; we plunge a knife into a sick cow. Children born weak or deformed
we drown.” (Seneca, quoted in John MacArthur, New Testament Commentary – Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press, 1986. Pg 316).
Harvard University sociologists developed a test with a 90% accuracy readingto determine whether or not a five and six-year-old would be delinquent.They discovered the four factors necessary to prevent delinquency were: 1) a father’s discipline, firm, consistent and fair 2) companionship and supervision by a mother 3) the demonstration of parents’ affection for each other and for their children and 4) family time spent together with all participating in activities. (Unravelling Juvenile Delinquency. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1950, Pgs. 257-71).
Paul concludes by saying that parents are to bring up their children in the
discipline and instruction if the Lord. This refers to a systematic training that
includes correction for wrong doing. In involves punishment but also a
teaching element. The key is that it is to be done in the Lord.
The mother of John and Charles Wesley stated the following: “The parent
who studies to subdue [self-will] in his child works together with God in the
renewing and saving a soul. The parent who indulges it does the devil’s
work, makes religion impracticable, salvation unattainable, and does all that
in him lies to damn his child, soul and body forever.” (Susannah Wesley, quoted in The Journal of John Wesley. Chicago: Moody Press, n.d. Pg. 106).
The experiment is often related of how one can place a frog in a pan of cold
water on a stove. If the heat is slowly increased, it is imperceptible to the
frog. Even as the water begins to boil, he remains in the water and
eventually boils to death, all because he adjusts to the heat as it increases.
Rather than adjusting to the damaging changes that are taking place in the
family, we need to proclaim the submissiveness of parents to the children
and of the children to the parents.
TEXT : EPHESIANS 6:10-23
TOPIC : GOD’S PROVISION FOR OUR SPIRITUAL CONFLICTS
Where was Paul when he wrote this epistle? (See Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; 6:20).
A prisoner in chains for Christ’s sake.
Notice: In 1:3 believers are blessed in heavenly places blessed with all spiritual blessings.
In 6:11-20 believers are on Earth in our spiritual conflicts.
Let’s remember, however, that is God who blesses us in heavenly places and provides for us here on Earth with equipment for our spiritual conflicts.
As we consider God’s provision for our spiritual conflicts, let’s keep in mind the following outline:
1. THE ENABLING FOR OUR SPIRITUAL CONFLICTS
2. THE ENEMY IN OUR SPIRITUAL CONFLICTS
3. THE EQUIPMENT FOR OUR SPIRITUAL CONFLICTS
As soon as we commit ourselves to Jesus Christ, Who becomes our Saviour and Lord, we enter into a spiritual conflict with Satan. But we must remember “ …greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4). Yes, we can be more than a conquerer through Him who loved us.
1. THE ENABLING FOR OUR SPIRITUAL CONFLICTS (See 6:10)
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”
It is crucial to realize we are enabled through the indwelling Holy Spirit to overcome the evil one and all his attacks. “… Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4.6). We recognize the evil one, but we are not overcome by him because we draw on the strength of the Lord to be overcomers.
Satan is very cunning and deceptive. At times, he comes like an angel of light and at other times like a roaring lion. Therefore, we need to be continually on guard and sensitive to the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit.
2. THE ENEMY IN OUR SPIRITUAL CONFLICTS (See 6:11,12)
Satan is a real foe who has thousands of year of experience. He knows the weak areas in our lives and comes to attack us when we least expect it.
In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul says we are not ignorant of his devices. Many of us fall again and again spiritually into the snares of Satan because we fail to recognize his skillful ways of deceiving us.
We are encouraged to submit to God and to resist the devil and he will flee from us. Too often we think we can outwit the devil, but fail to realize that we must first submit to God and then, with His enabling, overcome the evil one.
One effective tool that Satan uses is to strike fear into our souls. The fear of man brings a snare but he who trusts in the Lord shall be safe. Fear of others’ reaction often keeps us from sharing Christ with them.
Furthermore, we need to recognize that there is a large force of Satan and his demons who have a strongholdin the heavenly realms. They are bent on defeating both individual followers of Christ and the Church. It truly is a spiritual warfare. Notice the key word is to wrestle not against fellow human beings but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms.
We can respond in one of two ways when we face our enemy. One way is to retreat and hide, pretending he is not there. Another way is to put on the whole armour of God and stand firmly against the enemy.
Let’s examine the equipment for our spiritual conflict.
3. THE EQUIPMENT FOR OUR SPIRITUAL CONFLICT (See 6:13-20)
The implication is that we cannot stand against the enemy of our soul in our own strength, even as followers of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we need to put on the whole armour of God to withstand the attacks of the devil.
Paul was in chains. He was constantly chained to a Roman guard. Therefore, he had a very close look at the Roman armour worn by the Roman guard.
3.1 THE BELT OF TRUTH
This is the first piece of armour we are to put on.
Ephesians 1:13 “ … the word of truth, … ” is the gospel of salvation, that is, the system of facts concerning man, sin, God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and salvation, etc.
Ephesians 4:15 “ … the truth in love, … ” is speaking the truth in love to each other.
Ephesians 4:21 “ … the truth is in Jesus:” that is, he is speaking of certain facts which we have come to know only because of our relationship with Jesus.
Ephesians 4:25 We are told to speak “ … truth … ” with our neighbour,that is, all our conversation is to be honest, upright, and sincere.
What does Paul mean by the concept of a belt of truth?
The belt was a very vital part of the guard’s armour. It helped him to keep the other parts of his armour firm and secure. Likewise, we, as Christians need to be truthful in our actions and speech so that we will be able to resist Satan and his attacks on our lives. He is the father of lies and is not truthful.
A man asked a music teacher, “What’s the good news today?” The teacher struck key “a” with a tuning fork and said, “Always the same now for 5000 years.”
BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IN ITS PLACE
This piece of armour protects the guard’s chest and stomach. It is like a bullet proof vest.
Spiritually speaking, the breast plate of righteousness is not our own ability for righteous living. Philippians 3:9 says “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”
Jesus, during his whole life on earth, lived a righteous life, thereby overcoming the enemy again and again. Likewise, we need to appropriate the righteousness of Christ to also overcome the darts of the enemy. The breastplate of righteousness is also a protection of our emotional life.
Paul encouraged Timothy to follow after righteousness. That means we are encouraged to make godly living our daily goal through the enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
3.3 YOUR FEET FITTED WITH THE READINESS THAT COMES FROM THE GOSPEL OF PEACE
Be ready to face the enemy at all times. The peace of mind and heart which Christ gives will enable us to be courageous and obedient to the Lord. (See Ephesians 6:15).
This gives us a sense of readiness for the battle through Christ who demonstrated readiness at all times while on Earth.
3.4 IN ADDITION TO ALL THIS TAKE THE SHIELD OF FAITH
The shield of faith enables us to be ready for Satan’sfiery darts of doubt, denial, and deceit. We must not be vulnerable to defeat but courageous in victory.
The shield covered the whole front part of the soldier. It was made of two pieces of wood glued together. One of the dangerous weapons in those days was the fiery dart. The tip of the dart was dipped in pitch and then, just before it was shot, it was set on fire, the idea being that the burning dart would set the people and things on fire when it hit. However, when the fiery dart hit the shield it sank into the wood and the fire went out.
Spiritually speaking, Satan has many fiery darts, or temptations, whereby he tries to defeat us. We can quench them by the shield of faith. We need faith in Jesus, and in His ability, to give us the strength to resist the temptations and obey Him.
Satan sends darts of doubt, fear, selfishness, discouragement, disappointment, etc. We can quench them through our living faith in Jesus. When exercising faith, we are saying, “Fully assured, I trust Him.”
Satan seeks to get us to take our eyes of Jesus and, with his fiery darts, he wants us to flinch and become defeated.
Three questions regarding the shield of faith are:
l. What is the shield of faith?
It is not some mystical experience.
It is not some sacrificial formula.
It is, however, what I believe about Jesus and my understanding of Him and His word, in which I have placed my faith.
2. Why do I need a shield of faith?
To extinguish the fiery darts of the enemy
– temptations to doubt, to lust, to worry, etc
– to trip me up and distract me from what Jesus wants me to do
– to cause us to take our eyes off of Jesus (See Hebrews 12:1,2).
– to try and get us to exchange God’s truth for his lies
We need to ask ourselves several questions:
l. What takes the place of Jesus in my life?
2. What are the priorities of Jesus in my life?
3. Is there sin in my life l’m trying to justify?
SIN – believing Satan’s lies over God’s Truth and acting on his lies.
FAITH is the shield we raise to extinguish the arrows of Satan.
3. How do I use the shield of faith to extinguish the flaming arrows of Satan?
It is a real battle for our minds.
We need to saturate our minds with God’s Word and not listen to Satan’s lies.
Through faith in Jesus Christ we need to take captive all evil thoughts and focus our thoughts on Him and His Word.
Note how Jesus responded to Satan’s fiery darts in Matthew 4:l-11.
Ask “Am I buying into Satan’s lies or God’s Truth?”
Notes from Pastor Chris Douglas, 7/23/00. Central Heights Church.
3.5 THE HELMET OF SALVATION
The helmet protects our head and mind. We need to keep our mind focused on Jesus so that Satan will not get a stronghold on our thought life. Many spiritual battles are either lost or won in our thought life. Satan seeks to cause us to dwell on past sins that have been forgiven,thereby seeking to defeat us. Sometimes he seeks to have us become proud, thereby causing us to sin. He wants us to stop focusing on Scripture and to resort to our own reasoning.
3.6 THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
Truly, the Word of God is our defence against sin and the attacks of Satan. Jesus repeatedly used the sword of the Spirit to defeat Satan’s temptations.
Sometime ago, I was witnessing to a fellow and, in response to his objections, I quoted Scripture. Out of frustration, he said, “Stop quoting Scripture and let’s start reasoning.” I said, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: …” (Isaiah 1.18). He responded, You are hopeless.”
3.7 PRAY IN THE SPIRIT ON ALL OCCASIONS : 6:18-20
NOTE: THE FOUR “ALLS” OF PRAYER
What are some types of prayer?
– confession of sin, profession of faith, adoration, thanksgiving, intercession, etc.
– “Oh Lord, bless all that awaits Your blessing.”
– THE WHEN AND WHERE OF PRAYER – At all times, in the Spirit.
In all your ways, acknowledge Him, in the sphere of the Spirit, any where. No specific location.
– the manor of prayer – being on the alert in all perseverance and supplication
– the indirect object of prayer – for all saints, that is, young or old
– that when we open our mouths, words may be given to us so that we will fearlessly make known the gospel of Jesus Christ, trusting the Holy Spirit to draw people to Jesus Christ
REMEMBER : to daily put on the whole armour of God by faith and exercise your faith in Christ daily.