Ephesians 6:15-16 “Shield of Faith”

In the discussion of the Armor of God, the Shield of Faith stands out as unique in the text.  "Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one."  (Ephesians 6:16)  Paul tells us exactly what we need to do with the shield of faith.  We are just told to "put on" all of the other pieces of armor.  But, the shield of faith is different.  It is assigned a specific task.  We must use it to quench Satan's fiery darts.  Our best defense against the temptation of the devil is our strong faith.  When Jesus was confronted directly by the temptations (fiery darts!) of Satan, He quoted Scripture.  The Word of God is a powerful defense against the wiles of the devil, but it only works if we believe it.  The Bible warns us about the horrifying consequences of sin, and promises us all of the wonderful blessings of living a godly life.  But do you believe it?  Satan can make sin look so tempting!  It is easy to conclude that a life of holiness would be dry and boring, and that a life of sin would be a lot more fun!  Our faith in God's Word is the only shield that we have against the powerful influence of temptation.  You resist temptation when you believe what God says about sin.  When your faith wavers, your shield is down, and you become vulnerable to the enemy's attacks.  So, the next time you face a dangerous temptation, take up your shield of faith.  Ask yourself, "Do I really believe God's Word?  Do I trust God completely?"  The fiery darts will bounce off of that shield of faith and fall harmlessly to the ground if you have genuine faith.

Ephesians 6:15-16 “Shoes of the Gospel”

The right shoes are absolutely essential.  And, I am not talking about color and style!  I'm sure those things are important, too.  But, I am talking more about function.  If you are running a race, you need special running shoes.  If you are playing football on a grass field during a rain, you need a different kind of shoe.  And, if you are a soldier going to war, you better have really good quality combat boots.  That is what Paul described in Ephesians 6:15 "and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace."  It is a great phrase.  The central word is gospel.  The Christian must be firmly grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  But, it is not just the gospel.  There are two other descriptive words that accent the word "gospel".  The first is "preparation."  Just as a soldier must be ready at all times, so a Christian must be prepared.  A Christian is one who has been saved by accepting the truth of the gospel, and is always ready to share that truth with others whenever God gives an opportunity.  The second word is "peace."  This word stands out in contrast to the context.  The context is talking about war!  Yet, the shoes of the gospel produce peace.  In Scripture, there are two different kinds of peace for the Christian.  First, there is the "peace with God."  When a sinner accepts Christ as Savior, he is at peace with God.  Romans 5:1, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."  Then, there is the "peace of God."  This is the inner calm and tranquility that the Christian possesses.  Philippians 4:7, "and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  The Christian is on the right side of the battle.  He is battling the enemy, but he is at peace with God.  And, even in the midst of the battlefield, he has the calm assurance of God's presence and God's power.  He knows that the battle has already been won!  That is exactly the kind of shoe that I want!

Ephesians 6:10-14 “The Belt of Truth”

 "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.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness."  (Ephesians 6:13-14)  This is one of Paul's prison epistles.  I imagine Paul writing these verses while he is closely observing the Roman soldier that is guarding him (probably chained to him!)  For some reason, when Paul lists the "armor of God," he starts with the belt.  That is rather counter-intuitive.  To us, a belt is kind of a non-essential after-thought.  These days, a belt is more decorative than anything else.  If it serves a purpose, it is just to hold the pants up!  But, a Roman soldier's belt was much more than that.  First of all, it tightened up all of the loose fabric from the tunic underneath.  A soldier could not afford to have loose ends flopping around during combat.  The belt was a sign of readiness and preparedness.  You might just wear a loose tunic while you were relaxing at home, but you would tighten up your belt when you were ready to get to work, embark on a journey, or fight a battle.  A soldier must be ready and committed.  Also, the belt became the foundation for so much more.  There was a leather strap that fastened to the belt.  The leather strap held the sword!  The soldier was completely useless and vulnerable without his sword, so his sword was tightly fastened by his hip at all times . . . with his belt!  The breastplate could also be fastened to the belt.  The armor that protected the most vital organs was dependent upon . . . the belt!  No wonder Paul mentioned the belt first.  And, for the Christian, it is the belt of truth.   Truth is foundational to everything else.  In fact, you can not be saved until you encounter the truth and believe it.  The content of truth is the gospel and the teaching of God's Word.  But, it is more than that.  The content of truth changes us.  We hear the truth, believe the truth, and live the truth.  In a phony world of deception and distortion, the Christian stands strong in the eternal truth.

Ephesians 6:5-9 “No Partiality With God”

Paul gave much needed words of encouragement to the Christians who were slaves, but he also spoke to the Christians who were masters.  "And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him."  (Ephesians 6:9)  God holds the masters accountable to the same eternal standards that are given to the slaves, "do the same things."  Negatively, he warns the masters not to abuse their authority by threatening their servants.  And, he reminded them that they are under the authority of their Heavenly Master who shows no partiality.  It is a much-needed reminder.  Perhaps a talented football player can get away with a lot more than a normal person.  Because of his awesome talent, people will lie for him and conceal his misconduct.  Maybe even the law itself will turn a blind eye toward his illegal activities.  But, God is not impressed.  His standard is eternal and universal, without partiality.  Perhaps a powerful politician can flex his political muscle in order to avoid the consequences of his sins (at least, if he is the right kind of politician!).  But, God is not moved by political clout.  In fact, if you are in a position of power and authority over other individuals, you are held to a higher standard.  God holds you accountable for your own actions, and for the way you treat those who are entrusted to your care.  So, you may be able to exercise enormous control over other people, but ultimately, God is your Judge.  And, He will not be intimidated by your power, bribed by your wealth, impressed by your abilities, or swayed by your charm.  There is no partiality with God.

Ephesians 6:5-9 “According to the Flesh”

God gave practical guidance to Christians who were slaves laboring under the Roman system, "Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ."  (Ephesians 6:5)  The phrase that stands out to me is  "according to the flesh."  It seems like this is an admission that the system was corrupt.  We live in a fallen and sinful world.  In God's perfect design, there would be no such thing as "bondservants" and "masters".  Human beings are created in the image and likeness of God and therefore have inherent dignity and worth.  We were designed and created to be free (like our Creator).  The thought of one human being owning another is an abomination.  And, yet, in the ancient Roman world, it was a reality.  It was a "fleshly," sinful, ugly, corrupt reality.  And so, the Apostle Paul urges Christians to make the best of the reality in which they lived.  Christian slaves were encouraged to serve their masters faithfully and cheerfully.  Surrounded by sinful corruption, they were to take the high road and do what is right.  Instead of focusing on the obvious oppression that was all around them, they were to look to the future.  "Knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord."  (Ephesians 6:8)  You can endure the temporary injustices of our fallen world knowing that God will eternally reward you for doing what is right.  So, you may not be particularly excited about working at McDonalds for minimum wage and being admonished by your 18-year-old boss.  But, as a Christian, you can work diligently, honestly, and sincerely, knowing that you are working for the Lord, not for the corrupt institutions of man.  You might watch your inferior co-workers get promoted past you because they cheat and lie and flatter the boss.  But, you are not working for earthly recognition, you are earning eternal rewards!  You should be faithful to your masters "according to the flesh," but your real allegiance is to your Heavenly Master.

Ephesian 6:1-4 “The Key to Longevity”

The Bible gives us the secret formula for a long life.  It does not involve the fountain of youth.  It does not require some sort of mystical ointment found only in the Amazon rain forest.  It is actually rather simple.  But, you must start early, while you are still young.  "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise:  that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."  (Ephesians 6:1-3)  That's right!  God promises a long life to those who obey their parents.  A healthy respect for God-ordained authority is the key to longevity.  In America, we kind of celebrate rebellion.  Our nation was born by an act of rebellion!  And, is certainly true that some authority is bad.  Some corrupt institutions need to be rebelled against.  Some oppressive regimes need to be challenged.  But, a rebellious heart is contrary to God's plan for His people.  God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  The rebel may be a temporary hero, but he will have a much shorter life-span than the one who learned obedience as a child.  Start early, obey your parents, and consistently submit to God and His ordained authority.  You will find that your life has a much better chance to be "well" and "long."  It is the eternal promise of God's Holy Word.

Ephesians 5:22-24 “Submission is not a Bad Word”

God's word is pretty clear about the family.  In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul speaks directly to wives and husbands.  God's Word for wives is relatively simple, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord."  (Ephesians 5:22)  Yet, today's women bristle at the word "submission."  Too many people think that submission is an outdated concept held over from the old patriarchal societies that was used to oppress and control women.  But submission is part of God's loving plan for the family.  God's Word is never outdated; it is always alive and powerful.  In fact, submission is an integral part of Christianity.  The previous verse calls every Christian to live a life of submission, "submitting to one another in the fear of God."  (Ephesians 5:21).  This is a manifestation of being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).  So, every Christian who is filled with the Spirit will be submissive.  In fact, it is a reflection of the nature of God.  There is submission within the Godhead!  Jesus Christ submitted to the will of His Heavenly Father.  We submit because Jesus submitted.  An attitude of submission is a reflection of our Savior.  So, every Christian is commanded to submit in some way.  And, specifically, wives are commanded to submit to their husbands.  Notice, that the command is not to women.   The Bible does not command women to submit to men.  The Bible commands a wife to submit to her own husband.  And, she is to submit as to the Lord.  That means if she is uncomfortable submitting to her husband, then she is uncomfortable submitting to the Lord.  If she rebels against her husband, she is rebelling against the Lord.  So, don't chafe under the term "submission."  Proudly embrace the term as a Christ-like virtue!

Ephesians 5:15-21 “Filled with the Spirit”

The Apostle Paul gives us two imperatives in Ephesians 5:18.  One of them is negative, and the other is positive.  "Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation" is a negative prohibition.  "Be filled with the Spirit" is a positive command.  They both have to do with control.  A person who is drunk loses control.  When someone is inebriated, we call it "under the influence."  Perhaps you have heard the old excuses, "It wasn't me, it was the wine talking!"  Sadly, our culture laughs at drunkenness.  From God's perspective, it is sin.  It is always wrong for a Christian to surrender control of his or her behavior to anything other than the Holy Spirit.  That is where "filling" comes in.  Being filled with the Holy Spirit is more than just the presence of the Spirit.  We all have the presence of the Spirit, but we are not all filled.  Filling includes the power of the Spirit.  Being filled with the Spirit is synonymous with being controlled by the Spirit.  And, it is not just a complete surrender of control.  Because, with the Spirit comes the Fruit of the Spirit.  And, one of the Fruit of the Spirit is self-control.  So, being controlled by the Spirit helps us to exercise greater self-control.  It is a passive imperative to be filled with the Spirit.  But, when the Spirit fills us, He compels us to actively produce the Fruit of the Spirit.  The Spirit controls us so thoroughly that we can control ourselves.

Ephesians 5:15-21 “Don’t Do Unwise Stuff”

don't do stupid stuff
Recently, there was some political controversy surrounding the foreign policy of the White House.  The president summarized the policy as "Don't do stupid stuff."  Then, of course, the policy was ridiculed as not being a legitimate organizing principle.  Actually, it is not a bad policy!  In fact, if the government could actually follow that principle, it would immediately solve a lot of problems!  And, in addition, it is a biblical principle.  In Ephesians 5, Paul spends some time warning believers not be behave unwisely.  "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is."  (Ephesians 5:15-17)   God does not want us to do unwise stuff.  Instead, He commands us to walk "circumspectly".  The word means "accurately" and "carefully."  According to Vine's Expository Dictionary, "The word expresses that accuracy which is the outcome of carefulness."  This careful accuracy is necessary because the days that we live in are evil.  We live in a world full of sinful land mines.  We have to be careful where we walk.  And, this careful accuracy is motivated by the fear of God:  "Submitting to one another in the fear of God." (Ephesians 5:21)  The fear of God is indeed the beginning of wisdom.  Those who do not fear God do not walk circumspectly.  They do unwise stuff.

Ephesians 5:8-14 “Walking in Light”

There's something special about light.  The word "light" appears in the first chapter of the Bible 13 times!  The psalmist says that God covers Himself with light as with a garment. (Psalm 104:2)  God's Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. (Psalm 119:105)  When Jesus came into the world, the apostle John wrote that "In Him was life and the life was the light of men."  (John 1:4)  Jesus said "I am the light of the world, He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  John 8:12.  Yet, Jesus also told His followers that "You are the light of the world . . . let your light so shine before men."  (Matthew 5:14-16)  In the closing scene of the book of Revelation, the New Jerusalem descends from heave.  "The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light."  (Revelation 21:23)  In that final glorious state, "There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever."  (Revelation 22:5).  From Genesis to Revelation, God reveals His light and urges us to walk in it.  In Ephesians 5, Paul details what it means to walk in the light.  He uses three words:  goodness, righteousness, and truth.  Light is symbolic.  Darkness and light represents a lot of things.  Darkness is evil, light is good.  Darkness is sin, light is righteousness.  Darkness is deceit, light is truth.  If you know Christ as your Savior, you can be thankful that you were saved from darkness.   Now, you can walk in the light!


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