Read Ephesians 6:10-18
And so we come to the end of our study on Ephesians. Throughout the book of Ephesians Paul has encouraged and warned the new pagan converts on several issues. He has shown them the spiritual blessings they now have in Christ and the meaning of spiritual wisdom. He has explained to them why good works will not save them, and how Jesus' sacrifice unites humanity. He showed them how they should live in light of their salvation. He also explained to them the importance of Spiritual Gifts and what it means tosubmit to one another. So far, it would seem, everything Paul has shared in this letter is to help the Ephesians understand who they are now in Christ and what their lives should look like in light of that. But he has one final word of warning for them.
To put on the full armor of God.
And like a commander calling his soldiers to war, Paul uses a Roman soldier's armor as a tool to help them remember how important it is to always be on their guard, ready to do battle with the evil one.
With that in mind, the first thing Paul exhorts the Ephesians (and us) to do, is to "be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." What does that mean exactly? Being "strong in the Lord" is all about how much we trust Him and how much we will obey Him and resist the devil. Taking every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) to make it obedient to Christ. Without that basic trust and obedience we have no armor to put on! Being strong in the Lord means our faith and obedience to God reside solely in His power, His might, and the knowledge that He is God. He is our strength. He is our power. He is our Saviour. He is the one who is most trustworthy in all the universe, who deserves our allegiance - our obedience. So we are to be strong in Him. Rest and abide in Him. Trust Him!
So the first important step for the Ephesians and us is to remember who we have placed our trust in and why. The why, Paul explains, is so that we can "stand against the wiles of the devil." Keep in mind who Paul is talking to - Gentile converts from the idol capital of the ancient world. Where the dreaded Nicolaitans (Revelations 2:6) had snuck in and were preaching a false doctrine that promoted the belief that you could worship God and idols at the same time. Keeping the entire letter of Ephesians in context we see that once again Paul is emphasizing the struggle the Ephesians had to face in regards to their new faith in Christ - the lure of idol worship and the temptation to sin.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:12, KJV).
In the NIV the above verse takes on a completely different meaning and reads: "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." In the NIV the reader is lead to believe that our battle is with evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realms. This idea of doing battle with invisible evil forces is where we get the concept of Spiritual Warfare. A topic I will not touch here today as it needs its own book! But if we take the above verse in context with the rest of Ephesians and the Torah (Old Testament), it is my belief that the "high places" (Leviticus 26:30; Numbers 22:41; Numbers 33:52; Deuteronomy 12:2; 1 Kings 3:3) referred to here are more likely not in reference to anything in heaven, but are instead in reference to the places of idol worship that were scattered throughout Ephesus and around the ancient world. In fact, most temples sat in high places where they could be seen by the populace. The temple of Artemis (Diana) was one such place in Ephesus. It's structure was large enough and high enough that it could be seen from any vantage point in Ephesus. Even the temple of God in Jerusalem was built in this manner - on a high place for all to see. So in my opinion the verse above is not in reference to evil forces in heaven, but in reference to the wickedness that took place in the high places. This makes even more sense when we think of the temple in Jerusalem and the wicked acts of the Roman emperors who tried to install their own idols there, as Caligula did when he tried to install a statue of himself in the temple in 40 A.D.
"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" (Ephesians 6:13, NKJV).
The word "day" in Greek is hēmera and is a reference to time as opposed to a specific day. So it could be translated as "hour, time or season". Again, this makes sense when we look at the surrounding context. Paul is urging the Ephesians to be ready for those times when the adversary will deceive, tempt them to sin, or try to destroy their trust and faith in God.
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