Ephesians 6:10-12 How do we get real Strength?

6:10  Finally (literally: for the rest, that is of this epistle), be yourselves continually empowered in the Lord and in the strength (or power) of His might (or ability, force),

Paul is heading toward the end of his epistle, and here he focuses on a vital aspect of spiritual living in this world. Our need for God’s strength.

What is the source of  ultimate strength?

This is an age of the individual and self-esteem. And an aspect or side-effect of that cultural emphasis that can affect us all is self-reliance and pride of accomplishment. Taken to extreme this is self-glorification that forgets to give God the credit He is due.

Accomplishments and progress are good.

On the one hand, there is nothing wrong with feeling good about accomplishments and progress. Just be on your guard that it does not lapse into ego when we yield to the ever-present temptation to think we are better than others.  Follow the Scripture: Galatians 6:4 “But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another” (NASB). In other words, if you feel a need to compare, compare how you’re doing now with how you were doing before. It’s wise not to compare yourself with other people.

But give God the credit for all that is good.

On the other hand, what’s essential is to actually live in the awareness that all our accomplishments and good qualities trace right back to the God who made us. He deserves the praise, the glory, the credit. It’s a key ingredient to thanksgiving and gratitude.

What is Paul’s inspired advice for walking in that strength. That’s next…

6:11  Put on (clothe yourselves with) the full armor of God so that you may be strengthened to stand against the schemes (methods, crafts, deceits) of the devil;

He says we should clothe ourselves with God’s armor. It has been pointed out by many that this armor is mainly defensive (with one exception–more on this later).

Why do we need armor?

Because we need it to shield us from the devil’s temptations, which are constant. If we seek to arm ourselves with our willpower alone, we will fail. Only God’s strength alone can assure our victory. And…

6:12  Because our struggle (fight, contest) is not against blood and flesh but against the rules, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spirits (or, spiritual beings) of evil in the heavenlies.

How do we do battle with the evil so evident in this world, with temptation, with evil forces including the devil: Prayer, action, and words. And those words can include faith declarations. On the latter, faith declarations, recall Jesus words: “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” (Mark 11:23, NASB). Jesus’s challenge in this verse could be loosely considered a prayer, but technically it’s more of a declaration, and it takes faith. We have authority in Jesus Christ as his followers.

Would that we had the faith to do great things for Him here and now.

Also, it’s vital to see in this verse that we are greatly mistaken when we blame others for our problems or see them as an evil to be conquered. Certainly there is a necessity for the punishment of crime, but that is a governmental function, not a Christian duty. The force behind all evil is the devil and his helpers. Those are the blame-worthy parties when it comes to our struggle against evil, both done by others and by ourselves. I will even go so far as to say that it is a mistake to try to punish ourselves for our sinful acts. Our duty is to confess those acts and let God take care of them and cleanse us (1 John 1:9).

We waste our time battling humans, not to mention the harm we can do.

The real culprit is the devil in the spiritual realm. Hating others is wrong, Anger is not encouraged in our Bible teaching. Anger is tricky, volatile, and can all-too-easily go too far. Better to take to heart the fact that the wrongs others do to us do indeed have their source in the spiritual realm.

Now a word of caution.

Actually this is from C. S. Lewis’s writing. He advises us be aware of evil spirits but not to be preoccupied with them, which can be emotionally unhealthy. But I strongly advise that you not yield to the temptation to be “politically correct” and let yourself be swayed by the current derision or contempt for the truth of the existence of demons and even Satan himself. To do so is to deny the truth about them contained in our Bible.

So how do we put on that armor, gain that strength of the Lord?

By faith, by believing we already have it, for one thing. Also by being filled with the Holy Spirit, by walking in fellowship with the Lord, making our lives shared lives, meaning ongoing, active friendship with God and with each other.

The verses coming up in the next post get into the specifics of what that armor consists of–good descriptions to focus on for living by faith.

Meanwhile,

Do you feel that you are walking in the power of God, in the strength of His might? 1 Corinthians 3:3 implies that we should be living not as mere human beings.

 

Ephesians Chapter 3:

Here’s a “paraphrased-content-summary” of Ephesians chapter 3.

Use it, if you like, to review the contents and teaching re this chapter quickly.

(3:1-) Because of this, I Paul the captive of Christ Jesus for you the Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of my stewardship of the grace of God  which has been given to me for you, that according to the revelation of the mystery made known to me –just as I wrote before in brief—you are currently able to recognize (by reading) my understanding which flows together within the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of me, as it is now revealed to the saints by His apostles and prophets in spirit…

 

 

(3:5) which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit.

3:6  That the Gentiles are now joint heirs and joint members [of the Body of Christ], and joint partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel,

 

 

(3:7) of which I was made a minister (or servant), according to the gift of God’s grace given to me according to the energizing work of His power.

 

 

 

3:8 To me, the least of all the saints, was given this grace to preach to the Gentiles the riches of Christ that cannot be searched out (fully explored),

 

 

3:9 and to bring to light what is the management of the mystery which for ages has been concealed in God who created all things; 3:10  in order that the multicolored wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places—

.

 

11 in accordance with the purpose of the ages which He accomplished in  Christ Jesus our Lord,

 

 

3: 12 in whom we have bold and confident courage and access through His faith.

 

3:13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, which is your glory.

 

 

3:14 Because of this grace I am currently bending my knees to the Father,

 

 

3:15 out of whom (as source) every family in heaven and on earth is being named,

 

 

 

(3:16) in order that He might, according to the riches of His glory, give you the gift of being strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man, (3:17)  so that Christ may thoroughly settle down within your hearts through faith; and that you–in love (His) having  been planted and given a lasting foundation there—

 

(3:18) in order that you may have strength enough to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

 (3:19) and as a consequence to know in your experience the love of Christ which transcends way beyond knowledge, in order that you may be filled up into having all the fullness of God.

(3:20) Now to the One who is constantly able to do all things super-abundantly beyond what we are asking or thinking, according to the power that is itself working within us,

(3:21)  to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus extending into all generations of the ages of the ages. Amen.

 

Ephesians Chapter 4: How to Grow to be like Jesus Christ

This continues my “paraphrased Summaries” based on indepth study of Ephesians.

4:1-3  I, Therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beg you to walk in a way that is worthy of the calling with which you have been called, that means with all humility and meekness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being eager to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

4:4-6  There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

4:7-10  But to each one of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,

“Having ascended into the heights,
  He led captivity  captive,
  He gave gifts to men.”

But the (quotation) “He ascended,” what does it mean if not that He also descended into the lower part of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended above all the heavens, in order that He might fill all things.

4:11-16  And He Himself gave the apostles, and the prophets, and the evangelists, and the shepherds and teachers, for strengthening, preparing fully  the saints (you and me) for the work of service for the building of the body of Christ; until we all grow and come into the unity of the faith, and of the full-knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect-complete-mature man, to the measure of the stature (as in a maturity of the same degree) which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 

But speaking the truth in love, we may  be growing into Him in everything who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted together through the supply of every joint, according to the working of each individual part, causing the growth of the body resulting the building of itself in love.

4:17-19  This, therefore, I say and solemnly affirm together in the Lord, that you  no longer walk just as the Gentiles are walking, in the futility  of their mind. After they became darkened in their mind’s understanding and also have been alienated, left out of the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, through the hardness of their hearts, which became callous, He (God) gave them over to wanton excess (indecency, shameless conduct) and they–again, having become callous–which resulted in their greadily working all kinds of uncleanliness.

4:20-24  But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus. You have been taught to put off  the old self which is determined by your former life-style, the one according to the lusts of deceitfulness. instead, be renewed by the spirit of your mind, and put on the your new self, that which has been created according to God’s life-style, that is in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

4:25-32   Therefore, having put off from you falsehood, you are each to speak truth with your neighbor, because we are members of one another. Allow yourself to become angry, and yet stop sinning. Do not let the sun go down on your irritation. and stop giving place to the devil.

The one who steals, steal no longer, but much more so work hard with his own hands what is good so that he might have something to give to one who has need. Stop letting every worthless, rotten word come out of your mouth, but instead speak some good words needed for edification in order that your words might give grace to those who hear you.

And stop grieving the Holy Spirit of God, within whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness and hot anger and wrath and yelling and putting others down —let them be removed from you, along with all wickedness, becoming yourselves kind to one another, soft-hearted , showing grace (forgiving) to each other, just as God in Christ also has given grace (forgiveness) to you.

 

 

 

Chapter 3 God’s Master Plan, Part 2

NOTE: reading my paraphrased summary below can give you an indepth knowledge of the content of this profound chapter of Ephesians.

Think about these things, ponder them, be blessed by them!

(Continuing here with God’s Master Plan:)

3:1-5  Because of this (which I have been writing to you), I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus–If indeed you had heard about the household-management of God’s grace which was given to me for your benefit. That is, I’m writing according to the revelation that was make known to me by the Lord, the mystery, which I have described to you before, and since you are reading them, you can again recognize my understanding of the mystery of Christ that fits together like pieces of a puzzle. This wisdom wasn’t known before to people, but now it has been make plain by his holy apostles and prophets functioning with the help of the Holy Spirit.

3:6-7   (And this is the mystery:) That the people of the nations, the Gentiles, are to be joint-heirs,  joined together in one body, joint-sharers in the promise of Christ Jesus through the Gospel–which I became a minister of, according o the gift of the grace of God given to me by the working of His power.

3:8-9  To me, the least of all saints was given this grace (gift of enablement) to preach to the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what has been hidden from the ages in God–all the things created…

3:10-11  In order that the rich multifaced wisdom of God–according to the purpose of the ages which He made within Christ Jesus our Lord–might be  made know to the rules and authorities in the heavenly realm…

3:12  In Whom (being in Jesus Christ) we have boldness and access (to God the Father) with confidence through His faith.

3:13  Therefore, I ask you not to be discouraged by my tribulations, which are for you, on your behalf–which is your glory (that is, it shows how much God cares for you that he allows me to go through such suffering on your behalf).

3:14-15  Because of this grace (this knowledge given to me by God freely so that I can minister it to you), I am continually bending my knees to the Father in prayer, Who is the father-source of every family named, whether now in  heaven or on earth…

3:16-18 [And this is my prayer for you…]  that He might give you, according to the measure of the riches of HIs glory, the gift of ongoing strengthening with (His) power poured by His  Spirit into your inner man, so that Christ may thoroughly  settle down comfortably without your hearts throuigh your ecercise of faith–and so that His love then established as a lasting foundation there–and in turn, so that you may be strong enough to understand with all the saints with is the breadth and length and height and depth [of God’s love and His wonderous plan for you and all believers]…

3:19 and as a result [of my answsered prayer for you] that you come to know in your experience the love of Christ which transcends, goes beyond all knowledge, in order that you may be filled up with all the fullness of God. [Awesome thought!]

3:20 Now to the One who is constandly able to do all things super-abundantly beyond what we are asking or even thinking, according to His power that is itself working within us–to Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations of the ages of the ages. Amen.

_____

Now that’s a strong prayer, made perfectly within the context of the mystery Paul has made plain above. How can we walk in light of all of that? In joy, and fellowship with God and His Son, and in service.

 

Chapter 2 Stuck in Sin then but Made God’s Temple now

Here’s a “paraphrased-content-summary” of Ephesians chapter 2.

Use it, if you like, to review the contents and teaching re this chapter quickly.

_____

(2:1-4)  And you were dead, living in your wrong doings, your sins, walking in them, obeying the standards of this world’s culture, that is the standards of the ruler of the authority of the air (the devil), the spirit who is now actively working in the sons born of disobedience (the unsaved). That means obeying the lusts of your flesh and its decisions and thoughts and intentions–being children of anger in your very nature, like all the rest.

(2:5-9)  But even in that terrible situation, living in a state of death, ongoing wrong deeds, God made us spiritually alive together with Christ–by grace you are now saved, an ongoing condition. And, not only that, but He raised us up together with Christ and made us sit down with Him in heaven, in order that he might display in all the ages, all the time to come, the transcending riches of His grace–the kindness and goodness He showered upon us because we are now in Christ Jesus: For by grace you are saved right now–an accomplished fact. And that was through faith–not for something you did or deserved: you’re not the source; God’s gift is. Again, the source of your salvation is not works, anything you can do. This is so that no one can brag.

(2:10-12)  For we are His creation; we were created with Jesus Christ with the intent that we do good works (our salvation is God’s “doing,” not ours). Good works were prepared beforehand so that we could do them and live in them. So constantly remember this: before you were Gentiles by birth and separated from Christ, and that means excluded from God’s people, foreigners when it came to God’s promises to His people, and that also means you were without hope, without God in this world.

(2:13-16)  But now, even though you were a long way off, God brought you near by seeing to it that you were placed within Christ Jesus, within His blood. For being in Him is what matters–He is our ongoing peace with God. God has broken down the wall that was between Jew and Gentile and has made us one. There is no need for hostility now. He set aside the ritual requirements of the Mosaic law so that He could create One New composite Man, who is very different. Thus He made peace.

So this means he reconciled Jew and Gentile in one mega-body through the cross of Jesus Christ, and that means killing that hostility.

(2:17-22)  So when Jesus came, He announced the good news of peace to you who were far off and peace to the ones nearby. Consequently, through Him we both, Jew and Gentile, have and are continuing to have access in the one Holy Spirit to God the Father. Therefore, you are no longer foreigners and sojourners. Rather you are fellow-members among the holy ones (saints) and part of God’s family. God’s household was built on the teaching foundation of the apostles and prophets, but Christ Jesus is Himself the key part of that foundation, the essential foundation. And in Him the whole “building” is currently being  put together and is growing into a holy temple in the Lord. This means too that you are His temple, the very dwelling of God–once again, in Him.

 

 

Ephesians: Eternal Life, Daily Life

How well do you know your salvation?

How well do you know the book of Ephesans?

Know Ephesians and you know plenty–and basically all you need to live the life God wants you to live in this world. Course that depends on how well you know Ephesians.

Toward that end, I have begun to write a summary of the content I have described in past weeks, starting below with Chapter 1. If you have be reading this blog and have found the ideas and advice helpful, the summaries to follow can help you remember those ideas and that advice, even apply them to your daily life.

I call these summaries paraphrased-content-summaries. They are not literal translations, but with them I seek to accurately reflect the content inherent in the verses of Ephesians.

_____

Chapter 1

To all faithful believers in Jesus Christ, saints:

May you continueally receive His grace and Peace. And may God be blessed, for He has given us all spiritual blessings in the heavens, the spirit world, that is in Christ.

More specifically, He called us and chose us in Him before the world was made and set us all on an unfailing journey–with a destination that includes our being holy, and that means there will be nothing wrong with us before Him. And He did this in love. It was for His good pleasure that he decreed beforehand that we would be adopted through Jesus Christ to be actual Children of God.

And all this has, does, and will bring praise to God for the awesome glory of His grace, which He has given us and is ours permanently within his Beloved Son. So we are experiencing redemption through Jesus’ blood and full pardon for all our wrongs–and that pardon is measured by the extent of God’s riches of grace.

And not only all that, but He has also filled us to overflowing, with more than enough wisdom and understanding because He made us know the mystery of His will, His purpose in Jesus Christ, because it pleased Him.

So what’s the result? It’s the management of the fullness of the times. In other words the culminatioj of His grand plan, to gather up all things within Christ, all things in the heavens and on the eath, within Him.

And that includes us too, who have been not only called but also marked beforehand, destined by the God the Father. He works all things by the decided purpose of His will. And the result is that we who have placed our hope in Christ, trusting in Him, believing in Him–once we heard the truth, salvation’s good news–we were sealed as God’s eternal property by the Holy Spirit–He is the seal!

And He is not only our seal, He is also the promise of our inheritance, the downpayment of our redemption, some of which we experience here and now. But that gift and experience also points forward to our totally complete salvation. When that happens we will give praise for His glory.

Knowing all that makes me, Paul, continually mention you in my prayers. And what do I pray? “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,” that is to know Jesus Christ deeply,

But also so that you all might know (in your heads and hearts) His overwhelming power that works in us–that same mighty power that He worked when He raised Christ from the dead and gave Him a seat on His right hand in the highest heaven–way above all rule, authority, power, dominion–and every name named in this age or the one that is coming.

God the Father put everything under Jesus’ feet, and gave Him to us, His church, as our Head. And we are in fact, in reality, His body, His fullness, who fills all.

_____

 

And for this we should constantly give thanks and praise God.

 

 

 

Ephesians 6:19-24 Paul’s ending prayer: peace and love with faith

 6:19  and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,

Paul, a giant of the faith, asks for prayer. We all need it. And his request is not for himself personally but that he may serve the Lord well.

 6:20  for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Boldness is a good quality for service. Speaking that way is appropriate and approved by God. How often do we shrink back and not speak out for the Lord?

And, how eloquent: Paul is in chains yet still an ambassador, and an effective one. God’s grace is not limited.

 6:21  But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you.

 6:22  I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts.

Paul doesn’t want his readers to be unnecessarily distressed about him and his circumstances, while at the same time remembering him in prayer.

6:23  Peace be to the brethren, and  love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Faith is the connection to God’s power to get things done.  Love ensures that what’s done is done rightly, that is done in love and therefore beneficial.

Faith is the connection. Hope is the motivator. Love is the goal.

Let the peace of Jesus Christ rule your heart. Be filled with the Spirit, praising, praying, ministering in the Spirit continually. And let the Holy Spirit guide you into all truth, so that you may be sanctified in that truth and come to know and understand His wisdom– that you know too how to pray rightly. And rejoice that He, the Spirit of Truth, will be with you for all time without end.

6:24  Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.

A fitting ending.

_____

Coming next, a summary of the entire Epistle to the Ephesians. 

 

Ephesians 6:15-18 Do your use your Armor?

What weapons do you and all of us have for fighting the good fight of the faith? And how do we use them?

6:15 and having bound under your feet the foundation of the good news of peace.

Preparation means knowing well the facts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that of peace with God through Christ’s sacrifice is a firm foundation during trials and dangers. How to use this? Know that you are saved by grace though faith; it’s a gift. We do not have to earn God’s favor to get His help. He is ever-ready to help us with our day-to-day battles. We cannot earn that help, no more than we can earn our salvation.

Trying to earn God’s help is not relying on His everlasting love for us, nor is it having faith in God; it is having faith in our qualities and works. And that doesn’t work.  Have faith in God (Mark 11:22).

6:16  in all (every circumstance) having taken up the shield of the faith with which you will be strong to extinguish all the darts of the evil one which have been set on fire,

Satan and all his helpers, demons, will throw at us anything they can, every moment of every day they can manage, and especially when we are seeking to do God’s.  For example, the constant temptations which, if we yield, can so easily sabotage our faith. Only a faith that has been tested and trained under fire and practiced in real-life situations can hold up against the devil’s assaults. Make faith a daily habit. Walk by it.

6:17A  And accept the helmet of salvation,

A helmet covers the head, which is where thought and imagination and perception covers.  It is the basic location of the mind, and through salvation we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:16). Again, this is potential we can experience and through which we can by faith be renewed in our minds.  And that means: do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).  It means walking in the Spirit by setting our minds on the Spirit not on the flesh (Romans 8:6).

In other words thinking, having a mental context in accordance with our salvation, with the will of God, with all holiness and goodness. Like this:  Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things (Phil. 4:8).

How and what we think is always decisive in any battle.

Let your salvation guard your mind and keep your attitude productive.

6:17B  and the sword of the Spirit, which is  the Spoken word of God.

All the armor is defensive, but the sword of the Spirit, God’s inspired Word, doubles as an offensive weapon too. Again, as I have commented before, we are in a very real war. Our victories are achieved through faith and in spiritual battle with unseen enemies, not with the humans around us we often see as the source of our troubles and frustrations.

And how do we battle best? By speaking God’s inspired Word in faith (that word in the original means spoken word).

Memorize His Word. Know it well, and not just the words, but the content well. That means indepth study, meditation–thinking it through thoroughly–until you experience the mind of Christ moment-by-moment.

6:18  Through all prayer and petition, praying at all times in the Spirit, and hence continually staying awake/alert with all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints,

Prayer is always essential.  Ezek. 22:30 “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me (to intercede) for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.” (NASB, the portion in parentheses was added.)

Prayer expresses our dependence on God.

It gives glory to God. It is one of the most important things we do–if not the most important. This is an eternal relationship that God wants to begin and maintain now.  Prayer is the privilege God’s grants us to serve Him in faith. He insists on it. We are a part of His grand plan for humanity down through the ages. Praying takes faith. Trying to do God’s will on our own, not so much. In doing good we always need God’s help.

Prayer also expresses our interdependence upon each other within the Body of Christ.

Do you have an active, ongoing awareness of these armor-essentials? Do you lay hold of them daily? It is the way of victory and also the way to please God.

Ephesians 6:10-14 God’s armor is better than yours

How do you win battles?  How do you as a Christian come out victorious day after day?

6:10  For the rest (or, finally) be yourselves constantly empowered in the Lord in the realized power of His might.

Not your strength nor mine. We find strength in Him, the only strength that will give us victory in the battles we have to fight in this life.

6:11 Put on, clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be empowered to stand against the crafty methods of the devil,

We need all of God’s armor to be able to stand firm. It is not our armor; it is God’s. Our armor will not work. The reason is simple, though profound…

 6:12  Because our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,  against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual beings of the evil in the heavenlies.

“Rulers” are powerful evil spirits; “authorities” wield spiritual authority in this present evil age: “world-rulers” manage warfare on a large scale, probably at least continent-wide. We are in a war, a very real war that began in the Garden of Eden, a war against humanity, both believer and unbelievers and continues actively, aggressively, and constantly to this day.

6:13  Because of this take up the full armor of God in order that you will be empowered to stand against (these evil forces) in the evil day.

Hence the reason, the need for God’s armor. These evil forces are powerful and cunning. They are Satan’s army of fallen angels, demonic forces. To a great extent we have God’s protection against them. If not, none of us believers would be alive on this earth right now.

But God expects service from us, and that service always means battle, both small and great–and constant. There are behaviors and attitudes that bring defeat in those battles and others that bring victory.

6:14  Stand, therefore, having girded yourself (literally: loins) for service with truth, and having clothed yourselves with the breastplate of the righteousness (that is the righteousness of Jesus Christ).

Paul begins to detail what is defensive armor of the believer. The goal for the believer is to live a life of victory over God’s enemies. As humans, whenever we do not act and speak and even think with faith in God, we are vulnerable. To stand–the root word in the original occurs three times in these verses–is to avoid being knocked down, being defeated in battle.

This armor Paul writes about is God’s armor. God’s truth, the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that truth is that we stand not by our own righteousness but by the righteousness of Jesus who does not fail. It is an invunerable righteousness.

This is the key to spiritual battle, and by spiritual battle I mean day to day living as a follower of Christ. We dare not depend on our own righteousness, our own merit, our own earning the favor of God, our own will power. The road to victory is an ongoing pathway of trusting in the righteousness of our Lord and His enabling power for doing God’s will. He is our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, our redemption (1 Corintians 1:30).

We best not go into spiritual battle depending on any righteousness we claim as our own. That is a guaranteed way not to stand.

But the righteousness of Christ we have by faith–that is our secure foundation, our defensive breastplate. Not just when we were converted and came to a saving faith in Jesus death and resurrection for our salvation. But a life of dependence of Him and all He is, all He is within us, and all He can be through us in service to God the Father.

Nevertheless, at the same time, it is good to experience that righteousness in our own behavior. We can also experience Christ’s righteousness in our daily walk. What we have by faith we can experience in our choices and acts. We can make it real to ourselves and to others. “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NASB)

It is God’s will that the essence of His Old Testament law be fulfilled by us “who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” Romans 8:4.

But, again, we must never depend on any righteousness of our own, real or imagined.

The righteousness of Jesus Christ is our safeguard, our dependable, unfailing guarantee of good standing with God (Philippians 3:9;  Romans 7:25-8:1).

” I can do all things through Him (Jesus Christ) who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Are you covered with God’s armor today? Do you depend on it or on your own devices and willpower?  In these verses we have read the secret of victory.

Rest in Him, trust in Him today, depend on Him today, and act with courage–today.

 

Ephesians 6:1-9 Obedience and Submission

To live a life pleasing to God, we must pay attention, each of us, to our conscience as well as God’s leading in our lives. But with those two principles firmly in mind, are you submissive to those in authority and fellow Christians?

6:1  Children, be obeying obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

6:2  Honor your father and mother,  which is the first commandment with a promise

6:3  so that it may be well with you and you will exist long on the earth.

6:4 And fathers, stop provoking your children to anger, but nourish them with training and counsel (or warnings) of the Lord.

6:5  Slaves, submit to those who are your masters according to the flesh with fear and trembling in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ,

 6:6  not according to eye-service, as a man-pleaser, but as slaves of Christ, continually doing the will of God from the soul,

To be an eye-pleaser, that is do what your boss wants when he is looking and to slack off when he is not looking is to play the hypocrite. It implies in essence that you don’t think God sees or that He cares.

6:7  with good service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

6:8 knowing that whatever good thing each one might do, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

This is a reassuring verse. In essence it declares that any good thing we do will be repaid to us by the Lord. That includes doing your job well, even though stricktly-speaking it might not be viewed as “Christian service.”

Actually, there is no division for the Christian between secular and “Christian.” It is all Christian, all spiritual, every part of life.

6:9  And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threats, knowing that both their Master (literally: Lord) and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

“No partiality” has to do with status, a person’s looks, (literally: face) or external circumstances. That word partiality is an interesting one; it is a combination of words tht mean “receive” and “face.”  In the Old Testament the idea in this compound Greek word was expressed in one translation by “God looketh not on the face.”  In other words, to “receive the face” means to be impressed by looks or externals, for example, more that a person’s character. Are you impressed with celebrity? God is not impressed by many of this things we tend to admire.

Summary: These verses are practical, covering day to day behavior, and straight-forward, that is require little elaboration.

But there are a few additional take-aways that can be seen within them.

God takes authority seriously.

We can see this in Hebrews 13:17: “Obey those who rule over you and be submissive…” And also in Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-22. And that includes Christian leaders, civil authorities, parents and bosses at work. God does not like rebellion. So if you become involved in a rebellion or are considering it, proceed with care. Be sure your motives are right before the Lord.

Some authorities, sometimes, are not to be obeyed.

This does not mean that you must give all authorities carte blanche, that is automatically do whatever they tell you even if it violates your conscience. An obvious example: those Nazis who obeyed their leaders and participated in the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust. Putting it mildly, I don’t think they pleased God in so doing. A few decades back those who obeyed the US President and participated in the Watergate incident were held accountable because they disobeyed the law.

So “obedience” and “submission” in these verses mean as a general rule. It does not include doing what you are convinced is wrong.

These words can also teach us that we are not a law unto ourselves, a little king or and queen who answers to no one. True, each of us as a believer in the Lord Jesus has authority. But that authority needs to be accompanied with humility, and that includes the submission that results in respect for others, no matter what their IQ or education or relative wealth accumulated or looks. Even an unbeliever is an image of the God who made him.

May we constantly be on the alert against the ever-present tendency to put our ego first and instead humbly listen to what others have to say.