Ephesians 6:10-14 Stand Upon The Word of God
Our text today is, Ephesians 6:10-14, Paul says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. 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. Stand therefore...”
Recently, I was asked by someone what our dress code is here at this church. I told them that most of our congregation chooses to dress casual. The fact is, we have no dress code to follow here at Community Church. People wear whatever is comfortable to them.
I believe that one could make the argument, however, that only those who are dressed in God’s armor will continue to come to church week after week. We are all in a war, and even as we sit here today, under the ministry of the Word of God, there is a battle that is raging for your heart, your mind and your soul.
Paul is coming to the end of this letter and he is emphasizing that Christians are to stand. To do this, they need to remember all they have learned in this letter and apply this grace to their lives. In doing so, they will be a people dressed for battle and equipped for war. They are not to finish this letter and set it aside to gather dust. They are not to finish this letter and then throw it away as if they are never going to need it again. They are to…
put it into practice
and proclaim it boldly in this world
When John Calvin preached a sermon on this text he spoke of how Paul’s words would have been a reprimand and a rebuke to some of the people in the church of Ephesus. Apparently, there were some in the church who needed to be reminded to put on the armor of God and to take a stand.
Calvin writes, “God works in such a way by us that he will not have us to be like logs of wood, but he will have us exercise our faith and be like men of war, to serve him in battle, so that the difficulties we encounter do not restrain us from keeping on our course, but that we resist all ambushes and assaults directed against us.”
Dr. David Thompson speaks of this text and says, “These Christians had been believers for many years. Paul knew that they needed to be challenged well into their Christian life that a believer lives in a battleground and not a playground. Paul reminds them that if they are not careful they can be spiritually and morally wounded.”
I would like to approach this letter as if Paul were directly addressing us today. I would like us to allow Paul to speak to us just as he did the Ephesians. By allowing Paul to remind us, reprove us and reprimand us concerning these things we will be prepared for the battle that we are facing.
Ecclesiastes 7:15 says, “It is far better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than the song of fools.” With this in mind, let us consider that Paul ends this letter with a wise rebuke; rather than, ending it with a song. Let’s consider four brief observations about this verse.
First, consider that it takes no courage at all to be entertained by the song of fools.
People often gather around such songs in this world and are entertained by the beautiful music and by words that lull our hearts and consciences to sleep.
Such a song does not challenge our heart to put away foolish things.
Such a song does not confront our evil thoughts or our wicked behaviors; rather, it encourages us to become more foolish and more unwise.
The song of a fool encourages us to forsake the Lord and to indulge in the ways that are an offense to His holiness.
Secondly, it does not take courage to sing this foolish song to the masses in this sinful world.
Those who sing such a song, do not challenge those who hear them.
This song does not call them to action against the things that dishonor God.
Those who sing such a song do not encounter hostility from the world because they are giving to the people what they want to hear.
No courage is required to speak according to the wisdom of men and to proclaim foolishness to the masses who want to hear it.
In fact, to do such a thing in this world can bring the person great popularity and prosperity.
Thirdly, It does take a great deal of courage to stand and be a person who will listen to the rebuke of the wise.
No one likes to be rebuked.
No one likes to stand patiently while they are being reproved and corrected.
Our natural inclination is to avoid such moments; but a person who listens to a rebuke is better off than those who turn away and refused to listen.
Paul has given us lot’s of instruction in this letter. Will we receive it?
Fourthly, it takes courage to be the man who will stand upon the Word of God and use it to reprove, rebuke, and to train in righteousness.
There are preachers today who are willing to be courageous and who will stand up in this culture and rebuke those who are living in sin.
There are faithful believers who will stand up and speak the Word of God clearly.
We live in a day when, in the church and in this world, there are so few who will receive the rebuke of the wise. When they hear the rebuke they quickly turn away and they run toward the man who will scratch their itching ears.
All to often, I have heard stories of pastors who were removed from their pulpits because the people in the church did not like to be reproved by their sermons. However, Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:17, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”
Professor John Broadus, gave a series of lectures about the great preachers in church history. Dr. Broadus said that one of the chief characteristics of the great preachers during the reformation was that there was a revival of controversial preaching. Everywhere the reformers preached controversy inevitably followed as they used the Word of God to confront false teachings that had become widely accepted. Controversy quickly erupted when their preaching challenged the false beliefs that had become entrenched in the hearts of the people. Dr. Broadus said, “Religious controversy is inevitable where living faith in definite truth is dwelling side by side with ruinous error and practical evils.” When this occurs you will see controversy and you will know that a spiritual battle rages. Every time we gather here at church, in our bible studies, and in our personal devotions we are meeting at ground zero where this spiritual battle rages. Are we prepared for this battle?
Are we coming to the Word and applying the gospel,
are we meditating upon, memorizing and applying the Word,
are we accepting the truth of God into our heart and living it out,
are we applying the righteousness of Christ to our lives and living it out in sanctification,
are we living by faith and extinguishing all of the enemies flaming arrows,
and are we renewing our mind and meditating upon the salvation that we have in Christ?
Paul knows that every believer needs to be courageous when they were receiving the Word of God and when they would go out into the world and proclaim it among men. Paul describes this in 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10,
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
We see this type of courage displayed, in the preaching and in the receiving of the Word, during the reformation. At that time you had both, courageous ministers and courageous people, who sought to stand upon the Word of God.
Dr. Steven Lawson wrote, “The preaching of the Reformers disrupted the status quo of the day. Critical issues were confronted. Sacred cows were butchered.” Dr. Lawson continues to write about Martin Luther and he described him in this way, “Luther was a fearless champion of truth in a day of monumental change...He appeared on the world scene as one made for the battle. When the conflict raged the hottest, Luther stood the strongest. In the fierce fray, he held his ground as an erupting volcano, spewing forth red-hot biblical truths on the surrounding landscape. Simply put, Luther was dauntless, seemingly impossible to subdue. When he spoke, it was to express strong beliefs anchored to the immutable truths of God’s Holy Word. He possessed an indomitable spirit that revealed itself in his fearless personality.”
Although Dr. Lawson does not directly address the armor of God in his description of Luther, it is not that difficult for us to see that Luther is wearing the armor of God as he wages this war. We see this so clearly in the moment when he stands alone before all of the political and ecclesiastical authorities and says,
“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise, here I stand, may God help me, Amen”
Luther was able to stand because he was wearing the armor of God. It is also true that those who sat under Luther’s preaching had also put on the armor of God. You would have to be a believer who had put on the full armor of God to sit under the preaching of a man who was described as an “erupting volcano, spewing forth red-hot biblical truths on the surrounding landscape.”. These believers took the Word of God, they applied it to their own lives as armor, and they stood strong in the day of adversity.
We live in a time when so many do not want to hear the Word of God. They do not want to sit under the Word of God that is describes as being ‘profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
It is hard for us to be taught, to be reproved, to receive correction and to submit to training. Recently, I discovered in my own life that I do not always like to be corrected. A while back I was talking with someone when, a person I did not know, corrected something I said. In that moment I did not want to receive their words. I bit my lip and after thinking about what they said I thanked them for their advice.
What are we to do when so many people would rather hear a foolish song than to sit under the preaching of God’s Word?
How are we to minister to so many who do not wish to be soldiers; but who would rather be singers?
The apostle Paul gives us two ways to respond to this when he writes to Timothy.
First, Paul commands Timothy to continue to preach the Word. He does not want Timothy to become discouraged so he tells him to be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. Paul warns that there is a time coming when people will not endure such sound teaching.
We read this in 2 Timothy 4:1-3, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,”
Secondly, Paul reminds Timothy that when you are trying to minister to those who don’t want to be reproved, it is best to lead by example. In other words, they may not listen to your message, but you will have their attention if you lead by example.
We are display to the world what it looks like for each of us who call upon the name of the LORD and to place ourselves under the teaching, reproof, correction and training of the Word of God.
The world is to see that we would rather be reproved by the LORD than to hear the song of fools.
They need to see the example of Christians who do not try to twist the Word of God or compromise its clarity; but who are willing to subject themselves to it and even to suffer as a result of it.
They need to see believers resist temptation and win in spiritual warfare by not allowing the devil to twist scriptures. They need to see us use the Word of God to prevail.
Paul says to Timothy, “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:10-13)
Paul has not only preached the Word to Timothy; but he has allowed Timothy to see his life as one that was submissive to it. Paul was a servant of Jesus Christ.
In fact, even as Paul writes this letter, he desires for the Ephesians to be able to examine his life. He says in Ephesians 5:21-22, “So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.”
As I draw to a close this morning I simply want to stress three things to you. First, even though we are coming to the end of this letter, we should return to it often and grow in our understanding of the things that we have begun to learn. We are to apply our faith to it, stand upon it and grow strong in these things. The things that we have learned will be a strong armor in the day of trouble.
Secondly, I have also tried to show you that the first spiritual battle, and the most common spiritual battle that we are engaged in, is when we sit in church, in our bible studies and in our personal devotions. We engage in this battle when we hear the Word of God. In that moment, we can either stand upon it or we can turn from it and walk away from the battle.
Thirdly, I have tried to show you that a great opportunity for evangelism is before us. The world does not like our message but we cannot stop proclaiming it. It is this message alone that the Holy Spirit can use to display His mighty power to save.
Fourthly, I have tried to show that when the world rejects our message we are to live by example. We show them what it looks like to submit our lives to the Word. We don’t twist it or change it. We set for them an example to see.