|Ephesians, Queen of the Epistles
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
We come now to our very final study of this tremendous epistle of Paul to the Ephesians, what many scholars call The Queen of the Epistles, the crowning climax of Pauls theology, the sublimest communication ever made to human beings and the most comprehensive statement of the Christian religion. This final study, Ephesians 6:10 to the end of the chapter, has to do with the whole armor of God, putting on the whole armor of God.
Now, keep in mind the context in which Paul wrote this letter. Ephesians was one of his prison letters. He was in prison, in a dungeon, because of the proclamation of the gospel to the Gentile world. Many of his followers, many of the believers in Ephesus and around Asia Minor, had lost courage and become very depressed because they felt that if God could not protect that great apostle, Paul, who was their pastor for approximately three years, what hope is there for them? And so Paul wrote Ephesians to strengthen their faith and to teach them and to show them how the Christian church should walk together in unity, in love, helping each other as they faced what he calls the evil day. Because Paul realizes that, before Christ comes to take us to heaven, the Christian church, as well as the world, will be plunged into a time of trouble that has never been experienced by any other generation previously.
Now, what is Pauls counsel? Pauls counsel is the only way we can stand the evil day that is ahead of us. And things today point in that direction. I believe we are very close to that evil day. The only way you and I can stand the crisis ahead of us is, dear reader, to put on the whole armor of God. Because, you see, apart from Christ, we are no match for the devil who is still the lord of this earth and the flesh which is dominated by the law of sin and death.
With this introduction, if you have your Bibles, dear reader, please turn to Ephesians 6 and we are going to look carefully at verses 10-20 which is putting on the whole armor of Christ. Of course, verses 21-24 are simply Pauls greeting. Since this is a letter, he sends his special, gracious greetings to those whom he knows and to the believers in Ephesus.
Look at Ephesians 6:10:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Please notice be strong in the Lord. This is my greatest concern for you, dear Christians. As I mentioned earlier, you and I are no match for the devil or for the flesh. It is only through the power of Jesus Christ that we can conquer the evil one and overcome the flesh. In other words, the Christian life must be a life of Not I, but Christ. Having made that statement in verse 10, Paul says, in verse 11:
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devils schemes.
Now, who is this devil? Well, the New Testament gives him many names. He is called the adversary, the enemy of Gods people. He is called the accuser of the brethren in Revelation 12:10-11. He is called the tempter in Matthew 4:3. He is called a liar in John 8:44. And how he tries to deceive the Christian. He is called the roaring lion who is seeking to devour Gods people in 1 Peter 5:8. And he is called the serpent, that sly, cunning serpent in Revelation 12:9. And friends, this devil is no match for you and for me. Paul reminds us, that in the Christian warfare, we are not wrestling against flesh and blood. Ephesians 6:12:
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.
This is where the battle is for the Christian. The real battle is not our physical, political warfare. Our real battle is our warfare with the enemy of souls, Satan, the devil. Let me put it this way, dear reader. When you and I became Christians, do you know we changed our citizenship? Christianity is not simply joining a church. Christianity is changing our citizenship from the kingdom of this world which we were born in to the kingdom of heaven which we have now joined and accepted. And when we become citizens of heaven, we have to say good-bye to this world. As Paul made it clear in Galatians 6:14:
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
In John 15:19, Jesus tells His disciples that:
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
You used to belong to the world, said Jesus, but I have chosen you out of this world.
That is why the key word in the New Testament for the word church is made up of two Greek words meaning a called people and out of. As Jesus reminded His disciples in John 15,
I have chosen [or called] you out of the world.
Christians do not belong to this world. They are citizens of heaven but they are still living in this world. And this world is still dominated by Satan. In 1 John 5:19, we are told by this great apostle John, that we Christians belong to God but the whole world, the rest of humanity, is still under the evil one.
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
In other words, a Christian is a citizen of heaven but living in enemy territory. You can be sure, dear reader, that because Satan has lost a citizen from his kingdom, when you become a Christian, he is determined to make your life hell, to destroy your faith in Christ. That is why, as we see the evil day approaching, we need to put the full armor of God on. Paul says in Ephesians 6:13:
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.
Let me make it very clear. The righteousness that saves us, that qualifies you and me for heaven, the righteousness that justifies us ungodly sinners, is always in Christ. And Christ is in heaven where no thief can enter and steal that righteousness from you. Satan cannot take that righteousness which is in Christ. Ah, but the faith that makes that righteousness yours, the believers faith that makes justification effective, is not in Christ; it is in the believer. We are still living in this world, in Satans territory and that Satan can touch. Jesus made this clear in Matthew 10 beginning in verse 16:
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.
He told the disciples that, because they were still living in enemy territory, the devil would do everything to destroy that faith. He would take them to councils; he would flog them; he would persecute them even within their own homes. Parents would turn against their children and vice versa and so on. And then He makes the statement in verse 22:
All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Our faith must endure unto the end. This is especially true as brought out in the book of Hebrews. Because, you see, the writer of Hebrews, writing to Jewish Christians, is warning them against the danger of reverting back to Judaism. And in Hebrews 10:35, the writer of Hebrews says:
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.Do not give up your confidence, that is, your confidence in Jesus Christ and salvation through Him; do not give this up because it has great recompense of reward.
Then, in Hebrews 10:38a, this is what the writer of Hebrews states:
But my righteous one [or the righteous or the just] will live by faith.
In other words, he who is just by faith shall live. You see, the only righteousness that qualifies you and me for heaven is the righteousness of Christ, which is made effective in our lives through faith. Hence, justification by faith alone is the only way you and I can go to heaven. And that is the great truth that the Reformers, beginning with Luther, restored after the Dark Ages about 400 years ago.
Now, lets go back to Hebrews 10:38:
But my righteous one will live by faith.
But, there is a but.
And [or but] if he shrinks back [if anyone turns his back to Christ], I will not be pleased with him.
You see, God is love. He cannot save us by compulsion. If we deliberately turn our backs to Christ, if we deliberately say to Christ, We dont want you and your salvation, then we are saying good-bye to heaven, too. Then God is not able to save us. But I like Hebrews 10:39:
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
And, friends, we can only believe unto the saving of the soul as long as we put on the whole armor of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, what is this whole armor? Actually, the whole armor of God is equated to the various aspects of the gospel message. Listen to what Paul says. Look at Ephesians 6:14:
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place....
Now, what Paul is doing here is he is taking a typical armor that was used by the Romans soldiers that the people in Pauls day were very familiar with, something that we are not familiar with, but what the people of Pauls day were very familiar with, and he is using that armor which was used by the Roman soldiers for protection in a war as a model, as a metaphor for the armor of the Christian. Now, one of the key things that were used by the soldiers of Rome was a brass plate to protect the vital organs. And Paul is using the breastplate to refer to the righteousness of Christ which is able to stand against the fiery darts of the devil.
Let me explain it this way. While we are citizens of heaven, while we have a change of mind, a Christians human nature has not changed one iota. We still possess sinful human natures that are potentially one hundred percent sinful as they were before our conversion. Therefore, the greatest enemy of the Christian is his own sinful human nature. The devil, using the flesh, using the sinful nature, knocks us down. He causes us to commit a sin. The reason we fall is because we have not yet learned fully to walk in the Spirit. Now, what does he do after he has knocked us down? He comes to us with this guilt conscience. He tells us that we are not good enough to be saved. He tells us that we are an absolute failure as Christians.
Now, the question is, What do you do as a Christian when he has knocked you down and accuses your conscience and riddles you with guilt? Do you lie down dead defeated or do you stand up and use the breastplate and say to the devil (1 Timothy 1:15):
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst.
Yes, I am the chief of sinners but Jesus Christ came to save sinners like me.
Friends, the only tool that we can use against the fiery darts of the devil, his accusing finger, is the righteousness of Christ. But Paul goes on in verse 15 of Ephesians 6:
...and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Romans soldiers had to protect their shins just like the football players had to protect their shins. They wore solid plates in front of their legs to protect their legs from being broken because, if a soldiers legs are broken, he is no use to the army. He is a defeated foe and the enemy will eventually get him. So Paul is saying, just like the Roman soldiers protect their thighs and calves and shins by metal plates, so we must protect our legs, our spiritual legs, with the gospel of peace. Once again, Paul is thinking of the gospel as the source of our strength.
When Jesus came to this world, do you remember what the angels sang? Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth. Why? Because the Redeemer had come to remove every barrier between a holy God and sinful man. And as Paul tells us in Romans 5:1:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ....
The gospel brings peace between a sinful human race and a holy God. Why? Because when Jesus died on the cross, when He paid the price for our sins, the curtain that separated a holy God from a sinful priest in the earthly sanctuary was torn apart from top to bottom and a way was made open into the very presence of God. That is why in Hebrews 10, verse 19 onwards, the writer of Hebrews tells us that we can approach God with a pure conscience, with full assurance, with our guilt and our conscience all sprinkled by the blood of Christ, washed away from guilt and this is the peace of the gospel. Hebrews 10:19-22:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Please notice, as I mentioned already, the righteousness that qualifies you for heaven, now and in the judgment, is the righteousness of Christ. It is a righteousness that is in Christ, never in the believer. Yes, what God does in the believer demonstrates to the world the power of the gospel in our lives but the righteousness that God produces in the believer does not contribute one iota towards the righteousness that qualifies for heaven. The righteousness that qualifies you and me for heaven, dear reader, is a gift. It is entirely what God produced and obtained in the holy history of our Lord Jesus Christ, His doing and His dying. But, as I mentioned, that righteousness becomes mine. It becomes yours by faith alone. And when the devil attacks you; when he knocks you down and tries to keep you down, please, remind him that your justification is by faith and your faith becomes a shield against the fiery darts of the devil.
Oh, what a wonderful gospel we have in Jesus Christ. And now, verse 17:
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Today, we protect our heads with helmets, just like the Roman soldiers did. They had their heads covered with a metal helmet. Today, we have fiber helmets when we ride a motorcycle or when the racing drivers race around the track. They wear helmets to protect their brains from damage. Friends, the vital organ, the brain, needs to be protected. Your spiritual mind needs to be protected by a helmet that not a metal helmet, dear reader, but by the helmet of salvation. Dont you ever allow the devil to discourage you, to bring depression upon you, to discourage you from your hope in Christ. Remind him constantly that your salvation is based on Jesus Christ. Our spiritual minds need to be protected, not by human inventions but by the salvation that is in Jesus Christ.
But all these modern instruments that Paul has mentioned are protective instruments: the shield, the armor, the helmet. Now, in the last part of verse 17, he talks about a positive tool. The Roman soldier did not only protect himself from his enemies by wearing an armor that protected him from head to foot that is what the gospel does to us but he also armed himself with the sword to fight away the enemy. And the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Tell me, how did Jesus deal with the temptations that Satan brought to Him in the wilderness and in various places? Please remember, the greatest weapon that Jesus used against the fiery darts of the devil, against the temptations of the devil, is It is written. And so must we; we must be rooted and grounded in the Word of God, dear reader. We must know what the Bible says about us and about our salvation in Christ so that we will be able to give an answer. If you are not grounded in the Word of God, you will not be able to resist the attack of the evil one. Jesus met every temptation in the wilderness by It is written. The Word of God is powerful. Why? Because the Word of God is Christ Himself for John tells us (John 1:1):
In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And he goes on then to end with (John 1:14a):
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
Dear reader, Christ is the Word of God and, as we read our Bibles, we must remember that the Bible is not simply human words, human ideas. The Bible is Gods revelation. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Let me remind you of the two men who were walking to Emmaus after the death of Christ. They were very discouraged. They had lost all hope because their Savior, their Messiah, had been crucified. Jesus met them on the road to Emmaus and He asked them, Whats the meaning of all this discouragement? And they said, Dont you know what has happened? We thought He was the One but now He is dead. My dear reader, if those two men had understood the Word of God, all the wonderful prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament, they would not have been discouraged. If they had only believed what Jesus had told them prior to His crucifixion; He warned them that He would die but He also told them that He would rise from the dead, but they were not grounded in the Word of God. Their faith was weak because the Word of God had not become part of them. And so Jesus had to remind them; He had to teach them, beginning with Moses, going right through the Scriptures, the Word of God, He showed them that how the Old Testament pointed to Him. We Christians have an added advantage. We have the New Testament which clearly describes to us the life and death of Christ which clearly is filled with the gospel message, which no longer is a promise but a reality in Jesus Christ.
My dear people, let us put on the sword of the Word; let us be rooted and grounded in the love of God and in the Word of God so that we will be able to meet the attacks of the devil with the sword of the Spirit. And now look at Ephesians 6:18-20:
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 saints.
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Paul is giving here some wonderful counsel. So far, in verses 10 to 17 in Ephesians 6, he is talking to the individual Christian Put on the whole armor of God but now in these verses, he is talking of how we Christians should help each other. In Romans chapter 15, Paul tells us that those who are spiritual should help those who are weak. We Christians are one body. We should help each other, especially as we see the day approaching, the day of trouble, the day of judgment. And in Ephesians 6:19 Paul is saying, Look, I am giving you this counsel but I need your prayers too. I am in prison; I am in chains; I have to stand up for Christ, for the gospel as I face my accusers. Please pray for me. We need to pray for each other; we need to hold each others hands, dear reader, because the church is one body; we need each other. As Paul clearly brings out in 1 Corinthians 12:26:
If one part [of the body of Christ] suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
When one Christian suffers, all Christians must suffer with that one Christian. When one rejoices, all should be rejoicing. There would be no schism in the church. We are one body; and we need to help each other. We need to pray for each other. And here Paul is telling the believers, Please pray that I may have boldness to defend the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ against my accusers.
What a wonderful epistle this is that we have just studied. May I conclude by this warning. The devil will do everything on his part to destroy your faith. And as I read the New Testament, I have discovered there are three ways the devil will try to destroy the believers faith.
Please be on your guard. Put on the whole armor of God as we face the crisis ahead of us. Do not let anyone rob you of your faith in Jesus Christ which has great recompense. The just shall live by faith. It is my prayer that your faith will endure unto the end. That is my prayer in Jesus name. Amen. God bless you.