Ephesians 6 v 11 — (2)
The letter of Paul to the Ephesians is a rich source of doctrine and application for the true Christian the child of God. The doctrine shapes our belief and the application shapes our practice.
How are we, the believing Church, those who are the true heirs of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, to realise our standing as citizens of the Kingdom of God here on earth?
It all depends on our attitude.
Four attitudes can be identified and placed together to remind us of God’s blessings towards us as Christians.
Attitude 1. We are seated with Christ.
Paul tells us where we are positionally – we may be physically here on earth struggling away in our Christian lives – but our true STANDING, in the sense of our status before God the Almighty Creator, is one of sharing His rule – sitting with Him. This is how he puts it -
Chapter 2 v 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Since His victory at Calvary the Lord Jesus Christ has gone to heaven to prepare the mansions in which we will sit. He sits on His throne and we will sit with Him. The fact of our future inheritance is stated as if we were already there now sitting in heaven –
with Christ Himself! So our attitude is one of confidence in the certainty of our future eternal reign with Christ. This should make us feel very confident of our king – seated with Christ.
Attitude 2. Kneeling in Prayer.
While still here on earth this is what we are to do. We may have the title deeds to our mansions but we also are subject to our King. Paul’s example is so helpful -
Chapter 3 v 14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
The strength that we need is to continue faithfully as Christians, persevering in life on earth until the Lord takes us home and separates the soul from the body. A prayerful attitude is needed here and is clearly taught in Ephesians. Kneeling to pray is not incompatible to standing to fight!
Attitude 3. Walking in Love.
Chapter 5 v 1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
We are on our way to glory – to be seated with Christ. We have direct access in prayer to the King of Kings – but the next attitude should be one of love one for another here in this world. If we cannot love here on earth how will we be ever able to love in heaven? Paul’s progressive teaching on attitudes brings us in the Practical section to walking – living – progressing in that highest of dimensions – love!
Attitude 4 Standing in Armour
11 Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
And this is where we resume our study this morning in this 11th verse. Standing is an attitude – a stance – a position. There is so much to think about in this word STAND and it will occupy us this morning.
Last week we considered the first part of Ephesians 6 verse 11 as it deals with
1. What we are to do in Christian Warfare –
put on the whole armour of God.
Put on the Gospel armour, each piece put on with prayer! We must put it on and keep it on for the rest of our lives. There is no leave or days off in the Christian life as far as wearing the armour is concerned.
However this morning we ask
2. How we are to do it? How are we to wage this warfare? The answer is to Stand –
that ye may be able to stand
Military commands have a lot to do with standing. The order “Attention” means to stand to attention with the feet together, the head and back up straight and the arms stiffly held at the side of the body. It demands a great amount of muscle energy and concentration to maintain that posture and it takes practice and training.
The order to “stand at ease” with legs apart, hands behind the back is less stressful; and the order “stand easy” is a further progression of a more relaxed way of standing – but it is NOT sit down or lie down! All three orders involve standing – and for a very good reason. Servicemen need to be ready! They need to be alert and prepared for action at a moment’s notice. These orders about standing emphasise that need – readiness!
The ability to stand is very important. It requires a special set of muscles, a good sense of balance, energy, and mental concentration.
But the word stand is used in so many ways that are instructive.
A bicycle STAND is a device that enables the bike to remain upright while unattended by the rider.
A Teapot STAND is a mat or heat absorbent material that will insulate a table top from the heat of the teapot – it enables the teapot to STAND on the table.
Leaving the tea or teabags in the water in the teapot also is to let the tea STAND for a while undisturbed.
A covered watching area at a football stadium is also called a STAND for people remain motionless while they watch the play on the field.
Overhead electric lighting has a lighting unit with bulb on the top of a lamp STAND.
A support for a book, a plate or a picture that enables it to be displayed upright is also called a STAND.
An exhibition of display boards covered with information is called a STAND and interested people come to stand to read and look at the exhibits.
All of these definitions, and we could have thought of many more, convey the thought of motionless usefulness! Nevertheless when we think of STAND in the sense of Ephesians 6 v 11 – stand here is not just to stand still – but also to stand firm. It means to stand up to the enemy – stand up to the devil. That “stand up” of course is a metaphor for facing up to opposition rather than retreating or crumpling or even kneeling in submission. It means to have a principle, to have a view about righteousness and to have a serious appreciation of standing in God’s strength. It has been said, “If you don’t stand for something, then you will fall for everything.” If we do not have beliefs, and in our case Christian beliefs rooted in the Bible, then we are liable to fall foul of every notion or new idea that comes our way. And when that happens then we are not in the position to resist the real enemy Satan.
In Ephesians 6 v 11 the section here on standing is linked to the first phrase that we studied last week – “Put on the whole armour of God – WHY? In order that you may be able to STAND. There is a purpose in wearing the armour – it equips us for standing up to the enemy.
The verb “to be able” here is DUNASTHAI which is linked to our old friend DUNAMIS – dynamite – or POWER. To have the power to do what we should is to be able. Where does the power to do anything, as human beings are concerned come from?
Power comes either from within, natural human power; or it is according to a state of mind – sometimes it is mind over matter, that dimension of human resourcefulness that discovers hidden strength in times of trial.
Then again power and ability can come from favourable circumstances – being in the right place at the right time.
Or power can be granted from a higher authority – such as a court of law that authorises one to act in a certain capacity. DUNASTHAI then means to be capable, strong and powerful.
My friends we have already discovered from verse 10 that we have no power of our own – we are weak and need another’s strength in order to live. The Lord Jesus Christ who imparts His mighty strength to us by His Holy Spirit strengthens us. Our ability is directly from the Lord. Paul states this in 2 Corinthians 3:5
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
Christians are people who have been made ABLE.
Able to do what? TO STAND. The Greek here is STAYNAI and means to make firm, fix or establish something, or even to keep something intact. It can mean to continue safe and sound, to stand unharmed, to stand ready and prepared and describes someone who does not waiver or hesitate.
Christians are people, who by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ have been made able to STAND. We have been equipped with that ability to stand up for the faith and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ – and to stand against the enemies – in particular the devil. Let us consider some more then what it means to STAND.
One of the characters in the Pilgrim’s Progress is Mr Standfast. Christiana came across him near to the end of her journey to the Celestial City while she was in the enchanted ground, near to Beulah Land. She and those with her heard someone praying, and then found Mr Standfast on his knees with his eyes turned towards heaven speaking earnestly to one that was above him. Bunyan said that they went softly until he had done – that means they crept by him so as not to disturb him. When he had finished he got up and began as fast as he could to run towards the celestial city. Mr Greatheart called after him, “Friend let us have your company seeing you are going to the same place as we are.” Mr Standfast stopped and when the others joined him Mr Honest recognised him. “His name is Mr Standfast and he is certainly a right good pilgrim.” They told him that they had seen him on his knees – he blushed with embarrassment alarmed that he had been seen. Mr Valiant for truth asked him why he had been on his knees – so Mr Standfast explained. He reminded them that they were on the enchanted ground. He had been reflecting on the dangers that he had faced on the road and had noticed 2 men asleep in an arbour – Heedless and Too-bold. He believed that they would lie there till they rotted! Then a good-looking woman approached him, who made an improper suggestion to him. He admitted to being weary but he resisted her despite her insistences. He then became angry but she didn’t seem to mind that. She continued to make him offers of things that would make him very happy forever. He asked her name and she said that she was Madam Bubble. After more and more offers Mr Standfast decided to take to his knees and prayed to Him who had said He would help. Just as the other pilgrims came up the woman went her way. The Mr Standfast remained on his knees to give thanks for his great deliverance – he believed that the woman intended to prevent him from going further on his journey.
Mr Honest identified the woman as a witch, a woman who had made the ground enchanted, so that anyone who laid down their heads to sleep there as good as laid their heads on an executioner’s block. He also said that anyone who became trapped by the sight of her beauty was counted enemies of God. And that she had diverted and trapped many a man from the Pilgrim’s life.
In the Pilgrim’s Progress Madam Bubble represents the world driven by Satan – the world of selfish pursuits, rudeness, gossip, cheating, pride and avarice. Mr Standfast was thankful that he had been delivered. Mr Greatheart remarked that it was this same woman who hade set Absalom against David his father; Jeroboam against his master and persuaded Judas Iscariot to sell his Lord. She comes to bring discord between parents and children, husbands and wives, neighbours and other neighbours and between a man and himself – between the flesh and the heart. Finally Mr Greatheart said, “Good Mr Standfast, you are as your name is, and when you have done all, you stand!”
Standing as a Christian is standing FAST – standing firm in the faith. The New Testament has at least 5 occurrences of the thought “STAND FAST.”
1. Stand fast in the Liberty.
Galatians 5 v 1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Before we were converted we were slaves. We were slaves to sin and restricted to following the evil desires of our sinful natures. But now Christ has made us free – let us stay free – standing fast in the liberty that the Lord Jesus Christ has obtained for us through His cross and resurrection.
2. Stand fast in the Faith.
1 Corinthians 16 v 13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
The faith once delivered to Christians in the Bible the Holy Word of God is to be believed, lived and honoured as God’s plan for our lives. The faith is a principle to be kept and it needs those who will stand firm and fast, not allowing any error to creep in, or slight deviation from pure doctrine to appear. There is a sense of devotion in this stand fast. And Paul makes the same point in 2 Corinthians 1 v 24
Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
Faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary enables us to stand – firm and secure!
3. Stand fast in the Lord.
Philippians 4 v 1 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
The tender way that the Apostle Paul puts this Standfast here reminds us of the way that the Lord Jesus Christ treated His disciples too – with tenderness and compassion – we stand fast as disciples, followers, learners of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because we are dearly beloved it follows that we will be loyal and faithful to the Lord Jesus. Because we are longed for and will see Him one day, we have every reason to stand fast in our faith in the Lord.
4. Stand fast in One Spirit.
Philippians 1 v 27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
Here is a natural progression of standing fast – we as believers, in the Church setting, stand fast in unity with each other. We all are encouraged to stand fast together and so to show to a disunited world just how united true believers can be – standing firmly together in unity. We will not have any public scandals or displays of disagreement. When someone comes to our church and seeks to sow discordant thoughts amongst the saints, then because we are holding fast together, and know what we hold to, and stand for, then such a person can be resisted by our standing fast! May we constantly know of this unity!
5. Stand fast in Grace.
Romans 5 v 1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Our standing in the Lord Jesus Christ is quite remarkable. We stand as sinners who were condemned to eternal punishment in hell, but now as those who have been justified by grace, those who have peace with God, and those who stand in grace. What a privilege – what a standing.
Is this your experience this morning my friend? Are you standing for important and vital principles of the Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He your saviour?
To stand fast is to ENDURE HARDNESS.
Paul told Timothy this –
2 Timothy 2 v 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
There are many aspects of life that involve hardness. Trials and disappointments bring hardness. Shattered dreams of progress in life and frustrated aims can contribute to hard times. The Lord does not promise to remove trials – He exhorts us to endure hardness – not just put up with things – but actually to turn them to the Lord’s advantage.
Standing fast is also to OPPOSE THE DEVIL.
No matter what he throws at us the Lord calls us to stand in opposition to the works of darkness. At the battle of Waterloo an officer rode up to the Duke of Wellington to ask for reinforcements for his section of the line. The only reply that he got was, “We have no more men – tell them to stand.” Twice more officers came from the same part of the battlefront to ask for help. Each time the Duke said, “Tell them to stand.” After the victory there they were, all of them, dead in their place. They were prepared to stand – and to die in their stand.
This past week I heard from a brother who works in Serbia preaching the Gospel in former Yugoslavia in every opportunity that he can. Sometimes he preaches from the back of a lorry carefully parked in front of a shop window – to minimise the stone throwing that is inevitable. He said that to preach in the open air is to be prepared to die doing it! We had no stones yesterday in the Open Air– but it could come! Are we prepared for that? Several members were able to stand for Christ yesterday – in corporate witness to their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Several others stood with us in prayer.
Stand fast – stand firm – endure hardness; oppose the devil and get the victory over him.
Standing firm is GETTING THE VICTORY.
How can we do this?
By lifting up a STANDARD. A Standard is a flag or banner carried into battle to rally the troops. Fighting together is so important and there has to be a way of keeping the men on the field of battle informed of where they are going. So standard bearers carried distinctive standards or flags. It was often the standard bearer who struck the first blow in battle. Success was more likely as long as the standard bearer STOOD bearing the flag.
God the Holy Spirit is our Standard bearer –
Isaiah 59:19 So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.
We follow this standard in the battle of life. This means keeping our spiritual eyes open. He will never fall – He has won already. Let us keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ –
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Do we know victory in our life? Are we wearing the armour? Do we know how to stand our ground as Christians?
Finally I ask you where YOU stand today? Who do you stand for? Are you standing for the Lord Jesus Christ? If you are not then you are not saved and you need Christ soon, before it is too late. He stands ready to judge all men and women and we need to be sure whether we stand WITH HIM as converted people, or against Him as unbelievers. This is what the Lord said –
Matthew 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
Be sure that you know this morning my friend where you stand with God. Be ready to repent and turn to Christ leaving your sins far behind you and standing with Him who gave His life on the cross for sinners.
May God bless his work of saving souls and then keeping them safe for all eternity!