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Ephesians 6 v 13

The Hymn that we have just sung (A safe stronghold our God is still) was written by a man who knew how to stand. Martin Luther composed this hymn on his way to the German town of Worms where he was commanded by the Emperor of Rome Charles Fifth to appear before him. Martin had publicly burned a Papal Bull, a document condemning him and his reforming protestant doctrines. He arrived in Worms on 16th April 1521 amidst dense crowds who had come to see this man, who had dared to defy the ultimate authority, the Pope.

At the entrance to the conference hall a famous army commander stood, and he said to him, “My poor monk you are on your way to make such a stand as I and many of my knights have never done in our toughest battles. If you are sure of the justice of your cause, then forward in the name of God, and be of good courage – God will not forsake you.”

Luther, in front of over 206 persons of rank, the Emperor, archbishops, bishops, dukes, abbots and others all loyal to the Pope and representing the then world powers, was asked two questions.

The first was if the books laid out on a table were his writings. The second was whether he was willing to retract the doctrines contained in the books of which the church disapproved. Luther was able to answer yes to the first question but asked time to consider his answer to the second. An adjournment was offered. After a night of prayer the hearing was resumed the following day.

Once again the question was asked, “Would Luther defend the books he had written or withdraw them?”

Martin Luther’s reply was bold and uncompromising. He said,

“Unless I am convinced by testimonies of the scriptures or by clear arguments that I am in error – for popes and councils have often erred and contradicted themselves – I cannot withdraw, for I am subject to the scriptures I have quoted; my conscience is captive to the word of God. It is unsafe and dangerous to do anything against one’s conscience. HERE I STAND; I CANNOT DO OTHERWISE. So help me God.”

Ephesians 6 v 13 returns to the thought of STANDING – standing in the battle against the enemy.

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we too are to take a stand against an enemy. We are to stand fast against the manipulation of human life and society by the range of enemies hostile to us, who are all the more dangerous because they are invisible.

We have spent several weeks thinking about this very important area of spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6 v 10 – 13 are basic truths about the Christian’s necessary spiritual preparation for battle as well as truths about the enemy. What are these truths?

1. Verse 10 tells us that God has almighty power that He exercises on behalf of His people – but that His people have a part to play – they must Be Strong!

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

2. The second truth is that we are to wear the armour provided –

11 Put on the whole armour of God,

3. Furthermore when the armour is worn then the Christian so clothed is able to Stand against the enemies –

that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

4. And arising from that promise is the truth that the devil and his hosts constitute a wily, crafty and cunning foe.

5. This enemy has an army at his disposal – they are listed in the text that we studied last Lord’s Day –

12 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.

6. Truth number 6 is this – that the battle is intense and personal against the devil and his minions. And so we need to be those like Martin Luther who can STAND.

This is the next part of Paul’s exhortation to us in Ephesians 6 –

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

The first word of the text is WHEREFORE and means ON ACCOUNT OF THIS. On account of the deadly enemies and the inevitability of the battles – then do this – take the armour. This is what Luther did – when he was facing all the combined forces of earth and hell he wore the armour – he had put each piece on with prayer. He took his stand! WHEREFORE links us back to the previous verse – verse 12 – Because of this – the THIS refers to the enemy and his power.

We can also notice that Paul appears to be repeating himself. Surely he has given quite a few words to this notion of STANDING – in verse 11 – we need to stand and we can only stand wearing the armour.

We can be encouraged this morning that Paul’s repetition is very helpful – because things stated over and over again are the best way for people to learn. Some of our students are facing exams at the moment. Revision is probably for them an unpleasant word. But revision, repetition of things learned is one of the best ways of making sure of remembering them. People are sent on refresher courses – not usually to tell them new things but to repeat the old ones – to ensure that they are well versed in vital information. I can remember multiplication sums in my head today because every Monday morning at 9.45 during the 1950’s my fellow Junior School pupils and I recited our tables over and over again until they were thoroughly familiar to us. Repetition – constructive repetition, is not a bad thing – but a good one. It is poles apart from what the Bible calls VAIN repetition – this is the chanting and reciting of religious themes and words repetitiously with no thought or reason except to create an altered state of consciousness and that is never something that a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ does.

The Apostle Paul has been described as a conscientious workman who drives one nail squarely home with repeated blows before he takes up the next. William Gurnall remarks that most of us are spiritually hardheaded. We need to have the truth hammered home with repeated blows! Let us therefore not mind the hammer of the word of God nor the repetitions that come in the scriptures.

On account of the enemies

take unto you the whole armour of God.

The verb translated take unto you will be used again in verse 16 when we will be told to TAKE the shield of faith. It is a strong verb that directs us to grasp firmly, grab hold and keep hold of something and this will give us some headings to guide us through the verse.

1. What are we to take hold of?

2. Why should we take hold of it?

3. When should we take hold of it?

4. What will be the result of taking hold?

Let us think about these one by one.

1. What are we to take hold of?

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God,

When the Apostle mentioned the armour before, he told us to put on the armour – now he tells us to take it up. What is the difference? Both expressions are imperative indicating that we must, and they are dogmatic – we must at all costs and there are no alternatives. There is no other armour known to anyone that is capable of resisting the attacks of satan like this armour – so take it up – take it to you – wear it – be clothed in it – be totally covered by it and shelter behind it and behind this armour alone. It is a very strong verb!

There is also a sense in this verb that means, “take it up again”. There is a possibility that we have neglected the armour and that the enemy has had certain victories over us – and we need to recover ourselves and put the armour back on again. Perhaps we have not lifted up the shield of faith, doubting the Lord and His providence – Paul says take it up again. Perhaps we have not wielded that sword of the Spirit, the word of God – we have tried to reason with someone about the Gospel using our own intellect and neglected to tell the person of the Word of God – Paul says take up the sword again and use it!

Each of the other four pieces of armour could well have been left to one side – so Paul says take it up again – ALL OF IT!

Does this ring a bell in our Christian experience my friends? Are there times when we feel so low and lacking in the grace of God that we even wonder if we have been born again at all? Yet Paul is not speaking to unbelievers at Ephesus, as we have noted so many times before in our thinking about those to whom the letter was originally written. He speaks to ordinary Christian believers – like us! When he says take up the armour he is not speaking about a conversion experience. This was already their experience. He is telling them to pull the armour closer to them – wear it more effectively – and repair any holes in it. Sometimes we have to know about these holes in our Spiritual defences and seek to plug them.

There are many examples in the Bible about those who let their spiritual defences down.

King David removed the breastplate of righteousness in the matter of Uriah – and received a battering from the devil that had consequences for the rest of his life.

Jonah was caught barefoot when God wanted to send him to Nineveh. The shoes of the preparation of the Gospel of peace were not strapped to his spiritual feet – so that he was not ready to go at the first call.

Even Abraham seemed to have some rusty spots on his armour when he had periods of unbelief in God – he did not wait for God’s plan and took Hagar his wife’s maid.

And we are just the same. Great Christians of every century have been tested and tried by the devil – some have had their armour bright – but Satan loves to seek out the chinks in our armour. Nevertheless the Lord Jesus Christ who has given us the armour can repair it when we pray and trust Him, and then present it to us to wear it again for His glory. Let us all take hold of our armour.

2. Why should we take hold of it?

That ye may be able to withstand

It sounds a little obvious but we need the armour to withstand the devil because he stands against us – so we have to withstand him.

It is recorded about King David in 1 Chronicles 21 v 1 that

Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

Here it is Satan withstanding David. Something had happened in David’s Kingdom that had angered the Lord. The Lord gave Satan permission to stir up David to do what he should not have done – count the men able to fight. The parallel passage in 2 Samuel 24 tells us that the Lord used Satan to move or stir David’s old nature against his own people.

My friends I bring this example from the Bible to you to illustrate how Satan is so capable of stirring any one of us up against ourselves or against each other. Of course the result was disastrous when it happened with David – for he was the King of Israel – and the effects of Satan’s oppression was far reaching – as you will find if you read on into 1 Chronicles 21 and its associated passage in 2 Samuel 24. 70,000 people of Israel died in the plague that followed.

But the main point is the use of the word stood – Satan stood against David – he withstood David in his better judgment.

Now we turn it around and notice that we are to WITHSTAND Satan himself – stand against him – resist him by standing! Stand and do not yield! It is a fact that has been proved by so many Christians down the years, that the devil has no power in your life – unless you yield to him! If the evil one has successfully attacked you – then it is certain that at some time you have yielded to his tempting words or suggestion. Because he is NOT PERMITTED to entice you without your permission!

How has this come about?

Calvary brought it about! The Lord Jesus Christ has already won the victory over Satan and his hosts – He has gloriously conquered him when He died on the cross. A promise of victory is now ours because we belong to the Lord. And the armour is our constant appropriation of that victory day by day. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us; we are “super invincible” through the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot be ULTIMATELY defeated in the battle for the soul; but we can lose the skirmishes while we are still in the body!

God has promised that we will never lose our eternal salvation – but He has not promised that while in the body all will be easy. It is very easy to lose our Christian ministry and witness if once we let our guard down and stop wearing the armour! Peter calls it the trial of our faith in 1 Peter 1 v 7

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

This is Christ’s intention for us – but it needs our cooperation – mortifying the deeds of the flesh and of the mind – withstanding the devil is not easy – but we have the armour. And it is the armour that ENABLES us to stand – without it we fall. With the armour on we are valiant – without it we are vulnerable. Wearing the armour we triumph – without the armour we trip and fall flat on our faces. This is how very important the armour is to each one of us.

What are we to take hold of? The armour.

Why should we take hold of it? To be able to stand.

3. When should we take hold of it?

In the evil day,

What does Paul mean “the evil day?”

Yesterday in the High Street during the Open Air Preaching I spoke to a homeless man. He said that he had some knowledge of Christian things but he wasn’t a Christian. He was saddened when he saw people coming past him who were throwing the tracts that we had given out on the floor. Then he told me that he had been in the High Street 12 hours earlier – at 11.30pm on Friday evening – and he said that in his words, “It was like Babylon, or Sodom and Gomorrah – wickedness is everywhere – and we must be in the last days.”

Are we in the last days? Is this what Paul meant by the evil day? There are two questions here. Yes we are in the last days – we have been in the last days since Calvary and they will not end until the Lord Jesus Christ gloriously comes again to end the world.

Did Paul mean the last days when he spoke of the evil day? The answer to this is to consider the personal nature rather than the universal nature of the passage. Paul is speaking to believers in Ephesus. He speaks personally – put your armour on – stand firm as Christ enables you. But he did not tell them to put on their armour WHEN THE LAST DAYS come meaning towards the time that Lord returns. Paul means NOW! The evil day is a term that describes the whole of your life from conversion to promotion – from being born again to being brought into the awesome presence of God the majesty on high! So in order for each one of us to persevere to the end of our earthly lives we must cover ourselves with the whole armour of God – all six pieces. You can put it like this – as a Christian who loves the Lord life is just one day of trouble and trial after another!

Now I do not mean to be pessimistic – but my Bible calls me to be realistic! Every day of every week, of every month of every year of our lives here on earth has its own proportion of evil. If you like we can think of it this way – every day spent in this evil world is one day less spent in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an evil day while here below – but it will be only a day! Compared to eternity a day is a short time. Our evil day is not long – a few steps and we will be through it – isn’t that wonderful?

But there is another sense, equally valid, in which we can think of the evil day. There are times in our lives that tend to be particularly fraught with suffering and trials.

William Gurnall suggests that “earth is a middle place – between heaven and hell – it partakes of both!”

King David knew of these experiences – he writes about it in the Psalms –

Psalm 49 v 5 Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?

All of us could testify to days of evil – they could be persecution days, illness days, and depression days, disappointment days. In these days, in the hour of battle, we need the armour more than ever. The lesson for us this morning is this – we do not ever know when these particularly evil days are coming – so it is all the more reason for us to have our armour on ALL THE TIME in order to be ready!

So then, the evil day means all our life, but especially when the Lord allows us to be pressed more than usual.

Oh my friends are we truly ready for this? Ready for what Matthew calls the time of tribulation in 13 v 21?

Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Ready for the time of temptation as Luke names it in Luke 8 v 13?

They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

The only way to be ready is to be armed – fully kitted out with God’s armour. Only Christians have the armour – are you a Christian my friend? Is Christ your saviour and sin-bearer? Has He delivered you from all your sins by His blood that He shed for sinners on the cross? You will have no armour to fight the devil if you do not have God in your soul!

4. What will be the result of taking hold?

And having done all, to stand.

The word stand can indicate to us a passive attitude. For instance a wall of a castle thick and reinforced STANDS against the battering rams and canon balls. It stands still and stands firm and is able to withstand a hammering from the enemy – but all it does is to stand.

The standing that Christ requires of us is not passive. It is not the picture of the Christian lounging around waiting for the next attack of the enemy to come – it is an active standing that is achieved by both defence and attack – we have to constantly take the battle to the enemy rushing at him on every occasion. Only when we make full use of the armour will we be able to stand our ground – having done all – having actively engaged the enemy – then to stand and not waver! The best method of defence is attack. Every Missionary journey of the Apostle Paul was an attack on Satan’s territory. Every time you go through your front door into the world outside, you are entering the enemy’s territory and need to be ready to fight. We are on a mission – to attack Satan’s stronghold and rescue the captives that are there – those who are God’s elect people but in their unbelief and ignorance are held captive by Satan. We will need armour to mount the mission. We will need to put it on and keep it on. We will not be able to relax for one minute for a counterattack will come! But we stand and move forward in Christ’s victory. We can remember at this point 1 John 3 v 8

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

The Lord Jesus Christ looked at the cross as a conflict with the devil – and He knew that He would be victorious. And since the cross Satan’s power has been broken. He is still active but Christ’s death and resurrection have effectively weakened him – praise Almighty God! The Lord was a perfect High Priest who engaged the enemy

was in all points tempted as we are – YET WITHOUT SIN. (Hebrews 4 v 15)

He is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners and made higher than the heavens. (Hebrews 7 v 26)

He did no sin. Satan entered into conflict with one who was not vulnerable like we are. And it was Satan who would be beaten – and he will eventually be destroyed.

In the meantime we need to stand! We need to be like Martin Luther – to do no other – but to stand.

But we need more to be like our saviour – obedient to the father; ready to die for Him; ready to give anything in order that God would be glorified. Are we up to this my friends?

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Isaac Watts puts it like this – Stand up my soul, shake off thy fears, And gird the gospel armour on: March to the gates of endless joy, Where thy great Captain Saviour’s gone. Hell and thy sins resist thy course, But hell and sin are vanquished foes; Thy Jesus nailed them to the cross, And sang the triumph when He rose. Then may my soul march boldly on, Press forward to the heavenly gate; There peace and joy eternal reign, And glittering robes for conquerors wait.

May we all know victory in standing for the truth and having done all to stand!

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