Good morning church! It is great to be back with our church family, we love you guys, and were gone lone enough to miss you. I want to say thank you to the ladies that have been participating in praying for your husbands, and for each others husbands. Prayer is a such critical tool, a weapon actually... against our enemy who desires to kill, destroy, and steal, all that is good, all that God desires for you. So it is both a tool of warfare, and prayer brings us personally closer to God. Psalm 145:18
18 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.
So, for the men, rather than get you a book on praying for your wives, that you might not read…I didn’t want our wives and the mothers of our children to be ripped off, so I bought you a Cliff-notes version of praying the Scriptures for your wives and they are on the back table for you to keep inside you Bibles or attach to the outside of your refrigerator, whichever you personally might be reminded of it more.
Also on the back information table is your Growth Group homework. Please remember to grab one of those and complete it prior to attending your group as it will greatly assist in the depth of your conversation and participation during group. If you happen to forget to pick one up since we do announcements at the beginning of church rather than the end. Contact your group leader, not the pastor, and they will send you an electronic copy.
Now, lets pray.
Join me in Ephesians 6 and we will see how far we get.
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
This should be pretty familiar ground for most of us, Paul is taking us back to one of the 10 commandments, but because we’ve not been in this letter for a couple of weeks, I want to remind you that this is not just an arbitrary throw back. In chapter 5 Paul writes, Eph 5:18
18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,
Don’t be drunk with wine which is wasteful, purposeless living, but be filled with the Spirit. Then he gives us these examples of walking in the Spirit, or living out a Spirit filled life. That began with God’s blueprint for marriage found in the end of chapter 5, giving instructions to both husbands and wives.
Then here in chapter 6 he begins with parenting, again with instructions to both child and parent, specifically to the Dad’s, and some of this is repeated in his next letter to the Colossians. But it starts with an instruction to kids to obey Eph 6:1
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
obey your parents…and adds... in the Lord. Meaning as part of walking in the Spirit, being a Christian Child, as part of your obedience to God and leading by the Holy Spirit, children you are to obey your Mom and Dad, and then he just says, beyond an expression of your faith, it’s just the right thing to do. So parents, if children are to obey you, what do you need to do? Teach them to obey.
We don’t need to be taught to disobey…right? We’re born with a sinful nature, it is natural for us to be rebels, Mom’s and Dad’s it is our responsibility to teach our children to obey us. This proves to be a helpful pattern for them to begin in their lives as they grow and then have to obey other’s in authority over them, that they may disagree with, or not fully understand the reasons behind the instruction, we are the authority and the teacher in their young lives, that are charged with the responsibility of teaching them the importance of obedience. This also sets the foundation for them to obey God, even when they may not fully understand.
There does come a transition time when our kids grow up from having a place of authority in their lives to one of honor. In verse 2 Paul writes, Eph 6:2-3
2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
Even though we no longer have to obey, husbands and wives are to leave mother and father and cleave to their spouse, the principle of honoring our parents never goes away. Paul reminds us though that even though it is a command, something that we have to do as Christians, and should be confirmation of our walking in the Spirit, there is a promise, or a benefit that comes with our obedience to it.
He says that it may be well with us, and that we may live long on the earth. Now as part of our responsibility in this relationship as parents, Paul gives instructions here on the how to the Dads. Eph 6:4
4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Now if you grew up when I grew up, or in the generation before me, it seemed like the dad’s were responsible for duty and discipline and mom’s were the ones that babied you through your whiny little feelings. Correct? It’s almost like this verse was written later, or added in sometime after the 1970’s. Well that is not the case. I truly believe it is more of an indication, of pastor’s not teaching the full counsel of God in an expository way, verse by verse with explanation. Or as Pastor Chuck used to say simply teaching the Word of God, simply, and Christian men not reading the Bible on their own.
A proper understanding of this verse for a Christian Dad, walking in the Spirit, means as we are training up our kids in the Lord and teaching them how to obey, it’s not to be done harshly, its not to be done ignorantly or rudely, but in doing so, we must be constantly considering, evaluating, measuring the feelings and understanding of our children, so we don’t cross that line of exasperating them.
That means as we train and teach, we also encourage, as we correct we then redirect demonstrating and modeling the correct way to do things, otherwise in provoking them to wrath, we are reinforcing and encouraging the rebellious spirit they received from our seed, rather than showing them how to honor God and walk in the Spirit.
Paul now transitions to a different relationship, under this idea of being filled with the Spirit. And all of this instruction is given, because it is not natural for us, it is not the norm that we seen in others, but it is what our lives should look like as followers of Jesus Christ.
Before I begin the passage, our Bibles use the terms slaves and masters here. Often times that language is softened or explained away as indentured servants. You owe me money, so work for me at a certain wage to pay it off. Very similar to the situation that we have today. We owe other people money, for food, clothing, electricity, etc., so we work for a certain wage, so that we can pay our debts. Now there was certainly some of that and this slave/master relationship differed from region to region and circumstance to circumstance.
But I can’t say that there were not the stereotypical slave relationships at the time that this was written thousands of years ago, when we had it in our own country up until about a hundred and 50 or 60 years ago, and in some senses still do, no longer based on race, but sexuality. For our purposes,... because we are looking for application to our lives today,... we’ll consider these passages as most relating to workers and bosses. So as employees, as Christians in the workforce, apparently, we aren’t supposed to act like everyone else, work like everyone else, or look like everyone else especially when the boss isn’t around....verse 5
5 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ;
As to Christ, man that is a perspective changer! If my boss was Jesus would I be quicker to obey? Would I mock Him in the break-room, give him attitude, undermine His authority? No way! So as a Christian, who isn’t drunk with wine living a wasteful, purposeless life, but as a Christian seeking to be filled with the Spirit, and obeying the leading of the Spirit, when I go to work, I’m to obey the instructions of my boss with sincerity. I’m to do the best job that I can, and give a full day of work, like I agreed to when they hired me for the wages I agreed to work for....and not just when their looking, or watching on their security camera from their nice office....check it out verse 6
6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.
Notice, in case we missed it, Paul says it again, as to the Lord…Just like we were working for Jesus because as Christians we really are, and it is part of our testimony for Him. As human beings we are designed to work, we are made to work, but ...How we work when we are at work, tells everyone around you more about Jesus, than the bumper stickers you have on your car. Or your posts on social media.
Now, Both in the relationship of children to parents, and employees to bosses, Paul gives the command, or the instruction to obey them. When is obedience the most difficult? When it goes against our will…when we don’t want to, and when it offends our pride, what do you know....Paul says this is what walking after the Spirit, not our flesh looks like....
Verse 9 is for you bosses. Eph 6:9
9 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.
Their Master in Heaven is the same as yours and He doesn’t look at you as above them in anyway. This statement though of masters, or bosses do the same things to them…that means to deal with them in sincerity as to Christ, with goodwill doing service as to the Lord…what if that employee of yours was the Son of God, how would you treat them then?
It means you’re not just supposed to sit behind your desk demanding your bang for the buck threatening to fire them or to withhold pay or time off…it might mean discipling them into being a good worker, developing them as better workers. Have you guys ever seen that show, I don’t even know if it’s on anymore, Undercover Boss?
I really think that is the idea here. In that show the boss would disguise their appearance and go undercover as a brand new rookie employee. Maybe in a burger shop, or on a garbage truck. It might be a cleaning company, a hotel chain, the context doesn’t matter as much as the principle. It would give the boss the opportunity to enter into the workplace as a newbie and see what it was like to work for him or her and the people that represented them. What was the training like, what were the managers and working conditions really like?
What was interesting, is typically the boss would discover a really big jerk in management somewhere that had to be fired, and they would also discover a star employee, or at least someone with tremendous potential that they never knew existed. But in order to do these things they needed to know their people. To care for them, to serve them as they performed their duties for the company. So bosses walking in the Spirit are to do this as to the Lord.
In verse 10 Pastor Paul says finally, which means 15 more minutes....Eph 6:10
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
We can interpret this finally in the same way we might a “Therefore” when we are reading through the Scriptures, Finally, my brothers and sisters, in light of all that I written here about walking the walk as a Christian, here are the final steps to applying it in your lives and what that should look like. Be strong, not in your own wisdom or strength, but be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. His force, His strength. Verse 11 reads
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
There are a number of things I want you to see in this final section, it’s actually a passage of scripture that I love and have taught through many times, most often to men, and several times to law enforcement. It has the sense of a battle, of warfare, it speaks of armor, and taking a stand. Several times I’ve gone through and compared the offensive and defensive weapons and related them to the tools used in modern law enforcement, because in the context it was written that is what this was.
Paul is in prison for his faith, guarded by Roman soldiers as he writes this letter. As he watched them watching him he would have seen sword and shield, helmets, breastplates, the most advanced tools in modern warfare. And I would compare them to the tools available to us as Christians. Our Bibles, the double edged Sword, the truth of the Word, the power of prayer. Knowing when to use what tool in the continuum of force. The right tool for the job at hand, all that is important. But for us, in the place that we live, in the time that we live, I don’t know if I’ve read it differently, or because of the lateness of the hour, I’m seeing the application as different.
But please notice with me, that the verse is instructive. It is not an invitation to use Dad’s tool bag, or to shoot his 22. It is an instruction, a command for us Christians to put on the armor, not so we can avoid a conflict, we’re already in a conflict, not a conflict, we are at war, a spiritual war. 1 Peter 5:8 instructs us...
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Do you know what he want to devour? What he wants to steal, kill, and destroy? The things Paul writes about here, everything that matters to us. Our marriages, our kids, our parents, our jobs and livelihoods. So Paul tells us to armor up. This is where the title of our sermon comes from this morning, A call to arms.
If you look that expression up A Call to Arms, Oxford Languages online says
a call to arms a call to prepare for confrontation. "a call to arms to defend against a takeover"
“Call to arms.” Merriam-Webster.com Definition of call to arms 1: a summons to engage in active hostilities 2: a summons, invitation, or appeal to undertake a particular course of action
See it is a battle cry, and the first thing we need to understand is that we are already in the battle. If you are a Christian today, you are at war, and have a very real enemy that hates you. An enemy that not only wants to take the things that matter to you, he wants you. I spent most of my adult life working in law enforcement. I worked for cities, counties, states, and the federal government. That diversity afforded me the opportunity to meet some really evil people, some of those people did not love me, they hated, and I’m sure still do hate me.
If you hated me. I don’t just mean don’t like me. Or that I bug you, but you just can’t stand me and you want to hurt me deeply. You probably aren’t going to risk facing me. Or if you do, you may meet some significant resistance, and those wounds heal. So if you really want to hurt me, who are you going to go after? The ones that I love right. Maybe my wife, my kids. That is Satan’s plan A with the children of God. He was an angel that rebelled against God, tried to rise above God, and now wants to destroy His children.
Tell you that you are no good. That no one really loves you. That this, is all in your head, that God doesn’t really love you. Paul says, this is a call to arms, put on God’s gear, the full armor, because you are at war, and that is the only way you are going to stand. Because these weapons aren’t like anything man could make, and they’re nothing like those of the Devil, in 2 Cor 10:4
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,
They are weapons for victory.... Eph 6:12
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 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.
This knowledge is another important tool of warfare. First, he tells us here that these tools aren’t to avoid the battle, they are to equip us to stand in it. 2. Verse 12 tells us that we aren’t in a war against flesh and blood, but it is a spiritual war. Number 2 first we are already at war, if we don’t know that we are at war, then we’ve already lost the war! 3. This war that we are in again is not against flesh and blood, or just a bigger bully, this is a war, we can’t equip ourselves for because it is a spiritual war, we need the armor of God to be victorious. So we need to know our enemy.
For clarity, by that, I don’t mean... to spin off the rails into a big in depth study to get to know Satan better, but we had better be familiar with his warfare and his tactics. We know that he uses the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. But he uses those things to tempt us into sin that leads to death, he uses those things to deceive us into denying the truth, he uses those things to divide us as Christians and stir up contentions among us, and he uses those things to discourage us and lead us into condemnation. So when I say know your enemy, don’t pursue Satan, he hates you and wants to destroy you and hurt God by going after His kids. What I do mean is be aware that he is prowling and seeking to devour. So in that context, if we don’t know the tactics of our enemy, we are already defeated. Verse 14
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
In a world full of lies and deception, Paul tells us to buckle up with the truth, Jesus said if we abide in His Word, we shall know the truth and that truth will set us free. The idea of girding is holding everything together. God reveals Himself to us in the Bible. It’s God that needs to be the one holding us together. In the same way that we know the tactic of our enemy, even more so... we must know our King. Our King is not just who we represent in the battle, but its His armor that we wear. If we are going to be victorious in battle, we need to know our King and we need to know who we are fighting with.
Our application to this is knowing each other. It means doing life together, it means joining a Growth Group, it means showing up, not just when you feel like it, but when you don’t... because someone else might need you to lift them up. We need to put on the breastplate of righteousness, why? Because we have no righteousness of our own, this is the righteousness of God.
Notice in verse 15 we are to shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. When we are out there walking in the spirit, being led by the spirit, we are to seek peace with others, not war, and to do so, we must prepare ourselves to share the gospel, share the good news, that Jesus loves them. If you notice near the exits there are some reminders around here that when we walk out these door, we are entering the mission field. This prepares us to share the good news that life doesn’t have to been like it’s always been. There is freedom from the chains of sin, and there is peace in the good news of Jesus. Verse 16
16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—
Part of our equipping and studying the Word of God is learning to use the right tool at the right time, which piece of armor of our King we should deploy when. We gain that understanding from talking to the King, through prayer. Verse 18 says praying always with all prayer, the idea is prayer upon prayer…but notice that we aren’t to just be consumed with praying for ourselves....but with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. And the instruction is that as we walk in the Spirit, we will pray in the Spirit.
That means part of the warfare, part of the armor of God, is prayer, prayer for ourselves and intercessory prayer for each other. That can be wives praying for husbands, husbands using your cliff-notes on the back table to pray the Scriptures for your wives, gathering together in Growth groups, men’s studies, women’s studies, prayer meeting Sunday mornings before church…and throughout the day. Paul continues here, praying always for yourselves, for each other, oh, and also for me! Verse 19
19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Paul just addresses that as a tool of warfare we should pray for one another, and that prompts him to request prayer for himself. Remember, he’s writing from a jail cell. He could have asked for his freedom, some better food, warmer blankets, but no, he prays that utterance may be given to him. The opportunity to talk, that he may boldly, and clearly make known the good news of the gospel. Now he concludes with...
21 But that you also may know my affairs and how I am doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all things known to you; 22 whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our affairs, and that he may comfort your hearts. 23 Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
So in this closing chapter Paul continues the application that he laid out in chapter 5 of walking in the Spirit includes mutual submission to one another in marriage, in parenting, in employment, as unto Christ as those are the battle grounds our enemy will try to attack us in. And he is not an enemy of flesh and blood. See here is why I don’t teach in children’s ministry....
I’m all with the Jesus loves you,…that He died for you so you can be in Heaven forever with Him, and the angels and with Mommy and Daddy. Do you want to accept Jesus as your Savior so you get to go to Heaven? Yeah? And just as soon as they did, I’d turn the page to the new flannel graph. OK, see this guy here, he now hates your guts and he’s gunning for you. If you don’t think you are in a war of life and death, you’ve already lost!!! Buckle up soldier! Don’t worry, they don’t let me back there.
But for us…that is true.
If we don’t know we are at war, we have already lost.
These weapons of warfare aren’t for us to avoid the battle, they are for us to stand in it.
If we don’t know the tactics of our enemy, we are already defeated. Under that we had that he uses the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life to:
a. Tempt us into sin that leads to death.
b. Deceive us into denying the truth.
c. To divide us as Christians and stir up contentions among us.
d. To discourage us and lead us into condemnation.
We need to know our King and our fellow soldiers, those who we are fighting with.
Have a blessed week!