The Book of EPHESIANS
James J. Barker
WE WRESTLE NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD
- Paul is now coming to the
close of his epistle, and we are coming to the close of our
- We are to be “strong in the
Lord” (6:10). The Christian life is
a battlefield, not a playground.
- Satan and his demonic hosts
(6:12) are committed to hinder and obstruct the work of God and to knock us out
of the battle.
- Therefore, we must be
“strong in the Lord” (6:10). We
must take our “stand” (6:13, 14).
- The more effective we are
for the Lord, the more we can expect to be attacked by the devil. A man once said to Evangelist John R.
Rice, “How come you are always preaching about the devil? I am a Christian and he never bothers
me.” Dr. Rice said: “If you’d start
living for God and winning souls, believe me – he’d start bothering you!”
- We must remember that in our
own strength we are no match for the devil. So we need to be “strong in the
Lord, and in the power of His might” (6:10).
- When the Israelites entered Canaan, they were confronted
with many enemies. The Promised Land truly was a land flowing with milk and
honey but the Israelites soon discovered that before they could possess the land
they first had to conquer it.
- And it is the same today. When a person receives Christ
he or she enters into a wonderful new life in Christ, but the devil and his
emissaries (who are far more devious and dangerous than the Canaanites, et al)
seek to hinder us and rob us of our blessings (cf. Num.
- This is why Ephesians 6:10-17 is in the
- The moment we begin to appropriate our
blessings in Christ, we discover right away that many of our family and friends
are not happy about our conversion.
In fact, oftentimes they are upset.
- After we are saved, we start seeing things
differently. The Bible says we are
born again. We begin to realize how
hostile Satan is toward genuine Christians. Soon we realize the Christian life is
indeed a battlefield, not a playground.
- To be “strong in the Lord, and in the power
of His might” (6:10) calls for an unceasing dependence upon God. We must learn not to depend upon our
own strength, our own abilities, our own ingenuity, our own wisdom, etc.
WE MUST KNOW OUR ENEMY
- We should never
underestimate “the wiles of the devil” (6:11). He has had 6,000 years experience
- The devil does not come to
us and say: “Hello, I am Satan and I am going to ruin you and your family,
destroy your church, and cause a lot of misery and heartache for as many people
as I can.”
- In the original Greek text, the word “wiles” is methodia – literally “methods” of the
devil. Satan’s methods are
- Paul does not elaborate on
“the wiles of the devil” but they would include deception, discouragement,
frustration, confusion, moral failure, doctrinal error, and pride.
- One of his tricks is
convincing people that they know more about the Bible than most people, even
more than the pastor. They get
haughty and proud. They try and
divide the church and so on.
- We need to follow the humble
example set by Paul and by our Lord (cf. Rom. 12:3; Phil. 2:1-8).
- Satan knows where we are
most vulnerable. He knows our
weakest point and he aims for it (cf. Eph. 4:27).
- Second Corinthians 2:11
says, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his
- We cannot afford to be
“ignorant of his devices.” Satan is dangerous. The Bible describes him as a serpent and
a dragon. Our Lord called him a
liar and a murderer.
- He is a master deceiver and
has blinded the majority of mankind.
He masquerades as an “angel of light” (II Cor. 11:14).
- Once we recognize the true
nature of the battle, we realize that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood…”
(6:12). Our real enemy is Satan and his demonic forces. These battalions of fallen angels, evil
spirits, and devils yield tremendous power and actively resist the work of
- We may not be able to see
them, but we see their work on every hand.
Demons cannot indwell believers (cf. I John 4:4), but they can hinder us,
they can oppress us, and they can harass us.
- One preacher put it this
way: “Why can we not halt the drug trade that is destroying countless lives and
damning souls? Why has sodomy
become acceptable? Why can we not
stamp out child abuse and the legalized slaughter of the unborn in abortion
clinics? The Bible makes the answer
clear: the human race is being manipulated by vast numbers of evil spirits who
have great power” (John Phillips, Exploring Ephesians.
- The terminology
used here in Ephesians 6:12 and elsewhere (cf. 1:21) suggests a vast
organization of devils with differing degrees of authority.
- Alexander Whyte was a preacher from
Scotland, well known for his books on Bible characters and characters from
- During WWI, Dr. Whyte wrote a booklet
entitled, Not Against Flesh and
Blood. In this booklet,
Alexander Whyte stressed that in that war we were not fighting Germany or the
Kaiser, or Turkey or the Sultan.
- No, he said, “We are fighting the demons which live in
these men, we are fighting the powers that are behind these men.”
- I think Dr. Whyte was right, and I think we can say the
same thing today regarding this war against the terrorists (cf. Dan.
WE MUST PUT ON OUR ARMOR
- Paul wrote this epistle from
a Roman prison. Undoubtedly he saw
many Roman soldiers and centurions and was familiar with their attire. Twice he exhorts us to put on “the whole
armor of God” (6:11, 13).
- Three times we are told to
“stand” (6:11, 13, 14). “On this I
take my stand. I can do no
other. God help me” (Martin
- Let us look now at the armor
(6:14). First, we need to have our
“loins girt about with truth.” I
heard that Truth and Error went swimming one day. Error got out of the water first and put
on Truth’s clothes. But when Truth
came out, he refused to put on Error’s clothes. That is why whenever you see Error
today, it is clothed with the truth.
But whenever you see Truth, it is always the naked
- Next, we are instructed to
wear the “breastplate of righteousness” (6:14; cf. Isa. 59:17), not our filthy
rags of self-righteousness (Isa. 64:6).
- These pieces of armor speak
of personal integrity and uprightness.
Someone has said, “Words are no defense against an accusation but a good
- If we are going to stand
right we need to have our “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of
peace” (6:15). Spurgeon said,
“Observe with delight their excellent foothold: we can tread with holy boldness
upon our high places with these shoes.” (Cf. Isa. 52:7; Rom.
- “Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee” – Frances Ridley Havergal.
- Next is “the shield of
faith” (6:16). The devil will continue to hurl his fiery darts, but “faith is
- Knowing that the Lord Jesus
Christ has already defeated Satan, and that the spiritual armor and weapons are
available to us, by faith we accept what God gives us and we go out to
meet our enemy (cf. Rom. 8:31).
- We already saw a reference
to “the helmet of salvation” (6:17) in Isaiah 59:17 (cf. I Thess. 5:8). The helmet protects the head. Satan usually attacks peoples’ minds
(cf. II Cor. 4:4; 10:4, 5).
- The “sword of the Spirit” is
the Word of God (cf. Heb. 4:12).
The Lord is our great example (Luke 4:1-13).
WE ARE TO PRAY ALWAYS
- Praying should always be “in
the Spirit” (6:18), i.e. directed by the Holy Spirit. Dead, formal prayers written beforehand
and recited with no real interest or enthusiasm, will not help us in our great
battle against the devil.
- We must be “watching
thereunto with all perseverance…” (6:18) – watching against drowsiness and
distractions. We cannot allow our
minds to wander. We must prevail in
prayer (cf. Luke 11:5-10).
- Remember Paul was writing
from prison. He did not ask that
they pray for his release, but that “utterance may be given…”
- Twice Paul asks them to pray
that he may preach the Gospel “boldly” (6:19, 20). You do not have to be a preacher to get
the Gospel out. Paul was in prison
but he kept on witnessing.
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