|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|Moving into the area of spiritual warfare, Dr. Barber begins by reviewing what we have learned so far in the book of Ephesians. He explains why, when one is involved in spiritual battles, it is important to know who we are and whose we are.|
We are about to see the book of Ephesians come to an end. In verse 10 Paul says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.” The word “finally” means that he is drawing everything to a close. In other words, everything that has been said he is now summing up as he closes the book of Ephesians. I want you to know that a lot has been said. The Apostle Paul is writing from prison. Remember he has been in prison for almost five years. He is a political hostage. The Jews want to get rid of him, and the Romans don’t know what to do with him. There is not a single charge that will hold up in any court. He was falsely accused way back in Jerusalem. Here he is several years later writing the book of Ephesians. Yet in 3:1 and 4:1, he calls himself not a prisoner of the Jews, not a prisoner of the Romans, but a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is writing to Ephesian believers. He wants them to understand what they have in Jesus Christ. Here is a man who has not lost the wonder of his salvation. He is trying to get it across to these Ephesian believers. He wants them to realize what they have in Christ and how to appropriate what they have in Jesus Christ.
Look back with me 3:16. There is no way to go to Ephesians 6:10 without first of all finding the context and the flow of everything that has been said. That word “finally” is wrapping it all up. What is the “all” that we are talking about. What has been said in Ephesians? Well, his prayer in 3:16 tells us everything: “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” The word “power” there means ability, ability to do what you could not do before Jesus came into your life.
The Holy Spirit now is in our lives. He lives in the inner man in order to strengthen us, to cause us to be able to do what we could not do without Him. The degree of the strengthening, he says, is according to the riches of His glory. Chapters 1, 2 and 3 sum that up. Chapter 1 talks about the riches of His glory. Verse 3 sums it all up: “We have been given every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus.” Then chapter 2 shows us the reasons of our salvation. We were dead in our trespasses and in our sins. We couldn’t save ourselves. It was God who came to save us, to pay a debt on the cross that He did not owe. In chapter 3 there is the revelation of our salvation. Now according to all that we have in Jesus Christ, He has made us saints; He has chosen us; He has sealed us. All the things that He has done, according to all of that, we are to be strengthened in the inner man with power by the Spirit of God.
Now verse 17 tells us how we are strengthened. It says we are to let Jesus dwell in our hearts by our faith. The word “dwell” does not mean to come in. It means He is already in and should be made to feel at home while He is there. “Do you mean all I’ve got to do is submit my life to Jesus and be willing to obey Him in every area of my life? I’ve got a problem today. What do I do?” Well, you go to the Word of God and say, “God, what do You want me to do?” Do what God tells you to do. The words faith and obedience are synonymous. By my faith I accommodate His presence. That means I am going to be strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of God.
Our hearts are like a house. There are different rooms—a room of our thoughts, a room of our attitudes, a room of our emotions and so on. In each of the areas where our problems fall as we come to God, as we come to His Word, we do what He tells us to do. As we are willing to obey Him, He strengthens us with the ability to do what He has assigned in our life.
Now this thread, being strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of God, runs all the way through the book of Ephesians. As a matter of fact, in chapter 4 the first thing you notice is how it changes the body life of the church. Just think of the potential if each and every person would be abandoned to Christ saying, “Lord, I want to do whatever you tell me to do. I just want to be filled with Your Spirit, controlled by Your Spirit.” Do you realize the impact we could have on our world? We would be seen differently in the way we behave. We would have humility and gentleness and patience and forbearance. We would be seen handling our differences, loving one another and seeing each other all the way through. We would be seen and identified by the way we believe. You wouldn’t have a doctrine here and a doctrine there and a doctrine over there. There are seven doctrines we would not depart from, verses 4 through 6 of chapter 4. We would be seen in the way that we are being built up into the body of Christ. You see a body is to bring visibility to an entity. A church would not be known for its programs, for its preacher, for anything else. It would be known for the Lord Jesus living in the people who make up that church. We would be built up. We would obtain the stature of the fulness of the measure of Christ. It is the design of God that we begin to be fulfilled when each and every person is strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of God.
It is like putting on a brand new garment. Chapter 4 and verse 22 says to take off the old. In verse 24 it says to put on the new. A garment is something people see. What is happening on the inside must be seen on the outside. Now this garment is a special garment. It is a way of life. It is Jesus being Jesus in me. “You mean to tell me that when I say ‘yes’ to Jesus, He takes over and begins to manifest who He is in my life?” That is exactly right. This garment, in verse 25, does not lie nor deceive. It always tells the truth and is affected by the truth. Verse 26 says it does not become angry at people but only at sin. In verse 28 it does not take nor deplete, but gives and replenishes. Verse 29 tells us it does not destroy relationships but builds them up. In verse 30 it does not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Verse 31, it is not bitter, it is not angry, it is not explosive with temper. It is not obnoxiously loud when provoked. It is not motivated by malice. Verse 32 says, however, it is kind, tender-hearted and forgiving.
Chapter 5 verses 1 and 2 say that this new garment, this new way of living, imitates God Himself. It walks in love. The word “imitate” there is the word “mime.” How many times have we said it? It doesn’t matter what you say, it is how you live. It does not in any way participate in immorality, according to verses 3-10 of chapter 5. It is light that radically effects the darkness.
In verse 15, it causes us to walk wisely in a dark, perverse generation. How do you walk wisely? Well, verse 16 it says to redeem the time, make wise decisions and understand that what you choose, you live by. In verse 17 we must understand what the will of the Lord is. Generically, that means to be submitted and strengthened in the inner man. Specifically that wisdom comes as I am willing to submit to it. In verse 18 we are being filled with the Spirit of God. Now that is in the present tense. In other words, the word “filled” means constantly being controlled by the Holy Spirit of God. It causes us to fulfill God’s design in the area that we live, in our homes.
In 5:22-6:4 wives are told to submit to their husbands, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, children are to obey their parents and fathers are not to provoke their children to anger. It even effects the work place. That is in verses 5 through 9 of chapter 6.
Now you say, “I’ve been following you. You have gone through the whole book. You left out a verse and I saw it. I am strengthened in the inner man and I put on the new garment. There is something that happens and you didn’t say it. I guarantee you that you forgot it.” What did I forget? “4:27. You said earlier that when you put on the garment, the garment does not give the devil an opportunity. Did you forget that?” No, I didn’t forget that. I left it out on purpose in order to bring it up last.
Folks, I want you to see something and I want you to hear it loud and clear. The greatest weapon we have in the spiritual war that we are cast into the moment we are saved is not what we say to the devil. It is how we live the Christ-life before him. My obedience, my surrender, my submission is my greatest weapon in defeating the one who is the prince of darkness that lives around me. We have seen this strengthening in the inner man, this brand new garment, all of this. Now Paul says: “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.” The whole book has been leading up to this.
We live in a world that is hostile. I do not need to worry about what I have to say to the devil. But when I bow and I say “yes” to Jesus and commit to doing what His Word has to say, at that very moment, I become a fortress against him. That is my weapon in the warfare I am forced into when I become a Christian. My weapon is my submission to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I want you to see something back in chapter 2. We used to be in his world. We lived in his world. If I could give you a picture this morning of the world totally being enveloped in darkness, that is kind of the way the world is right now. As a matter of fact, the devil has so infected the minds of lost people. They think in such a perverse way. We saw that back in chapter 4. They have depraved minds, depraved morality. They don’t have a clue about God. We must understand the hostile world that we live in and came out of. 2:1 says, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air.”
The devil has power in the lower heavens. He has access to the third heaven to accuse the brethren, but his power is in the lower heavens. He walks to and fro on the earth as we find in the book of Job. We do know that there is going to come a day when he is finally and ultimately kicked out of the lower heavens and cannot leave this earth. There he incarnates the Anti-christ and for three and a half years persecutes the woman, who is Israel. That will be in the latter days of this age. We know right now the prince of the power of the air is Satan himself.
Verse 2 continues, “of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” “Do you mean to tell me that I used to think that way? You mean to tell me that I used to think I was moral when I was probably immoral and didn’t know the difference? Do you mean to tell me that I used to do good and think it was righteous but didn’t realize that it was unrighteousness and filthy rags in God’s eyes? Do you mean to tell me that I used to live that way?” That is right. That is exactly right. Before Christ came into my life, I was under the domain, the right and the might of the ruler of this world, the prince of the power of the air, Satan himself.
Verse 3 says, “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” But thanks be unto God. If you will look over in Colossians 1:13, something happened when you got saved. Did that change the world? No, it didn’t change the world but it changed me in the midst of the world. That is what we have to see. Now I am in the world, but I am not of the world. We’ve got to realize this. In verse 13 of Colossians 1 it says, “For He [Jesus] delivered us [rescued us] from the domain of darkness [Domain is the word exousia, the authority, the right and the might of the darkness] and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”
Do you understand what we just read? Do you mean I live in a world that is hostile and surrounded by darkness? Do you mean I live in a world that is filled with deceit and lies and does not know the truth, yet I have been delivered from that? Do you mean I have been put into another kingdom? There is somebody else now that rules and reigns over me, I am His property, He purchased me? He bought me with a price by shedding His blood on the cross? Do you mean the devil does not have power over me anymore?
Yes! When will we wake up and understand that? We are saints. What does the word “saint” mean? It means that we are in a class all by ourselves, set apart. Wait a minute! Do you mean among human beings in this world, controlled by the darkness of the world, infested by his lies and deceit, we are in a class all by ourselves because we have been taken out of his domain and made light? Do you mean God has actually saved our minds? Do you mean God has given us the ability to think the right way? Do you mean God has turned us right side up when we were upside down? That is exactly right! Folks, if you don’t know this, warfare is going to be a struggle to you. You need to know who you are, whose you are, what has happened to you, and what Jesus Christ has done in your life.
Look over in I John 5:18-19: “We know that no one who is born of God sins.” That means “habitually lives in sin.” “We know that no one who is born of God [transformed, delivered, made into a new creature] sins [habitually]; but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one [Satan himself] does not touch him.” Do you know what “touch him” means? It means to touch him to do him harm. “Oh, wait a minute. Do you mean to tell me I am God’s property?” That is right. “Do you mean to tell me whatever the devil does in my life, He has to give him permission because he can’t touch me to do me harm. Is that right?” That is what it says.
Look at verse 19: “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” It is like the whole world is asleep and doesn’t have a clue that it is in the arms of the evil one. You see, every day, as a believer, you need to remember who you are, what God has done in your life, whose you are and be strengthened with might with the Holy Spirit of God. Then you are able to live in a world that is infested and infected by the devil. We are able to live in it but never be a part of it because we have the truth that we believe that radically transforms our life. We must daily understand the flow of Ephesians: Be filled with the Spirit, be strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of God. That is our classic weapon against the evil one.
I want you to see in verse 10 what Paul does. We have to focus, not on the darkness, but on the light and the power that we already have. When you flip on a light switch and one of your lights goes out you think, “Uh oh, I am losing power.” No, you are not losing power. It is probably just a bad connection. The power is usually always there. If you understood the power source, you could better understand why being connected to it is so important.
We were out in Las Vegas several years ago. We decided to take a tour of Hoover Dam. Standing on top of that dam, you could not begin to understand the power that it was generating. You could stand up on top for weeks and never understand what was going on until you went deep inside of the dam. When you begin to realize the source, then you begin to want to be connected to the force that comes from it.
The Apostle Paul says, “Hey, here we are at Hoover Dam. I want you to see Jesus. Iwant you to see His power. I want you to see who He is. Come on, let’s go deep.” He takes us deep into the recesses of chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Then when he is about to discuss warfare he says, “Now I want you to understand the source so that you can understand the force that He has in your life.”
In verse 10 I want you to see, first of all, the command. He uses three words. There are four words for power, authority or strength in the Greek language. Three of them are used in verse 10. It sums up everything we have already studied. Before Paul says, “Now put on the armor of Christ” he wants you to know what you have in Christ Jesus. What are the four words? Well, the one that is not used is exousia. That is the right and the might, the authority. But there are three words that are used.
First of all, he says, “Be strong.” The word that is used there is endunamoo. It is the word that means to be strengthened with ability. Dunamis, would fit into that class. It is the word which means to be given ability. Greek verbs ending in double o mean not just to be strengthened but let it be proven to be strong. In other words, in James 2 Abraham was said to be righteous by his act of obedience. The word ends in a double o. It doesn’t mean by works he was made righteous. It means by his act of obedience he was proven to be righteous. His righteousness was put on display by his obedience.
What Paul is saying here is, “Yes, be made strong, but be seen to be strong. Let others look at you and see you as strong. Put it on display, be proven to be strong, be proven to have ability.” The idea is not a one-time being strong. It is an increasing type of thing. Acts 9:22 says Paul became stronger and stronger spiritually in the ability to prove that Jesus was the Christ. It says that he increased in strength. The word used here in Ephesians 6:10 is the same word. He was a converted Jew who denied Christ and now he has been given strength to prove that Jesus was the Christ.
In Romans 4:20, Abraham and Sarah were told that they were going to have a child in their old age and Sarah laughed. Abraham didn’t know what he was going to do. It says in verse 20 that God gave them strength to perform. In other words, they had a child. If God says you are going to have a child then you are going to have a child. It took place as God said.
Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” It is not a one-time strengthening. That automatically kills some people’s idea of warfare. They think all they have to do is jump into it and it is a one-time thing. No, it is an increasing, it is an ever growing type of strength.
In I Timothy 1:12 Paul is thankful that Christ has strengthened Timothy so that he would effectively minister the gospel. In II Timothy 2:1 he says, “Be strong, Timothy, in the grace that is found in Christ Jesus.” In other words, the only way to have this kind of strength, this ability, is through the Lord Jesus Christ. II Timothy 4:17—Paul was strengthened when no one stood with him. He said everybody left me but God strengthened me. Hebrews 11:34, describing the heroes of the faith, says they were strengthened by God to make the stands that they made. What we are seeing here is that if you are going to be made strong, it is going to be seen and the greatest way for it to be seen is when you stand face to face with the devil and you are able to continue to stand after he has finished whatever he is bringing in your life.
So the first word means to be made able, but in such a way that it is demonstrated, proven out, shown forth and put on display.
The second word he uses, though, is just as powerful. He says, “in the strength of His might.” The word “strength” is the word kratos. Kratos is a little different from the other word. It is the word that refers to the outward manifestation of his power. It is that which determines His dominion.
Now look at what Paul is saying here. “Be made strong in the strength of the Lord.” In other words, you had better find out what He has done to find out if he is able to handle it. So you go back through Scripture and take a look at it. In Luke 1:50-55 Mary goes over to see Elizabeth. Elizabeth is pregnant with John the Baptist. Mary is pregnant with baby Jesus and she goes to Zacharias’ house. When she walks in the baby inside of Elizabeth leaps. The passage says that she is filled with the Spirit and she blesses Mary. Mary comes out and blesses God. Why? Because of His power to place a baby inside her womb, the eternal Son of God, with her having had no relationship with any man on this earth! What a God! You mean to tell me that is the one that we are dealing with here? Do you mean to tell me the one who caused the virgin birth, the one who caused it to be able to happen is the God who is going to strengthen me against the devil? That’s right. I want Him on my side, don’t you?
Secondly, in Acts 19:20 it talks about the word of God prevailing and becoming strong. It was increasing and prevailing. The word used there in the strengthening of it is this word right here. The Word of God says, “You preach the Word of God and God will take this Word and cause it to increase and cause it to prevail.” You don’t become like the world to reach the world. God uses His Word to increase and to prevail. This God is the one we are looking at.
In Colossians 1:11 it says that He strengthens me. The idea here is in the ability of two things, one to bear up under whatever circumstance comes my way. The other is to put up with whoever is in my way, whatever person I have to put up with. You mean to tell me that God is powerful? Yes, sir. He is the God who caused the virgin birth, the God who causes the Word to prevail, the God who gives me the ability to bear up under and to put up with whoever I have got to put up with.
In I Timothy 6:13-16 Paul has a word: “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion!” That is the one we are talking about right here. Wow! Is that the God who is going to strengthen me?
Hebrews 2:14 says God has the dominion, the might, to render the devil powerless! He has the might to shut him up and to shut him down. He is the one that we are to be strong in. In I Peter 4:11 He empowers ministry in our lives. In Jude 24 and 25, He is able to keep you and me from stumbling. In Revelation 1:6, He alone made us what we are in Him.
I want you to see Revelation 5:13. One day, folks, all the evil, unrighteousness, meanness of this world is going to be shut down, put away forever. I want you to see who is going to do it. Chapter 5 is the talking of the sealed book. John has been weeping. Somebody told him that there is no one worthy to open the sealed book. The sealed book contains the events of the end of the age. Finally an elder nudges John and says, “ Look over there.” He looks and sees the Lamb of God standing as if slain, the Lion of Judah, the root of David. He walks forward and takes that sealed book because He is the only one who is worthy to do what He is going to do. The whole host of heaven breaks out in praise.
Look at verse 13: “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’”
Do you mean to tell me the God who is going to throw Satan into a pit, the God who isgoing to end all unrighteousness, the God who is going to take the sealed book and bring it all to a conclusion is the God who lives in me and is going to strengthen me? Yes, yes and amen yes. Now quit running scared of the devil! Look who lives in you. Look at who you are. Look at whose you are. Look at who He is.
The last word is ischus. It means His preeminence. He doesn’t have to do anything if He doesn’t want to. It is just who He is.
Paul says, “You want to talk about warfare? Let’s talk about the victor. Let’s talk about the warrior. Let’s talk about the winner. He lives in you and your greatest weapon is when you are strengthened by Himself in the inner man by the Spirit of God.
Listen to what I am saying and put it in the light of Ephesians. He has built it for six chapters. Now he says “Finally.” If it was so important, why didn’t he put it in chapter 1? Because the important thing is not who our opposition is. The important thing is who our ally is and that is the Lord Jesus. Friend, do you want to defeat him? Then get filled with the Spirit of God. Get in the Word of God and obey Him.