God’s message to us through Ephesians: “Assurance and protection through our tumultuous times. The great themes of the letter can be summed up in three commands 1. “Sit”, 2 “Walk” 3. “Stand”.
Chapters 1-3 can be summarized in the command “Sit”
Be at rest and be still with Christ on high. Read Ephesians 2: 1-7. “But God, who is rich in mercy, … made us alive together with Christ (in Baptism), … and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places.”
Question – Do we see ourselves, when we have confessed our sins, at rest with Christ before our Father’s throne? Saint Paul says we are in such a spiritual position even now!
Chapters 4 – 5 can be summarized in the command, “Walk”.
Ephesians 4:1 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life (literally walk) worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” Lives are to be lived worthily in the spheres of the Church (4:11-16), with our neighbours (4:25-32), between husbands and wives (5:21-33), with our children (6:1-4) and in our workplaces (6:5-9).
Question – How do we fare in the light of these verses?
Chapter 6 can be summarized in the command “Stand”.
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm." -- Ephesians 6:10-13
Question – Has the evil day come to you yet in some form or another?
It came to Jesus in Gethsemane (Luke 22:53). It came to Peter in the High Priest’s courtyard (Luke 22:11 and 54-62). Days of evil have come to me at times. I would be surprised if they have not come to you if you are up there in years as I am. And days of evil will come, especially in these last days. The Book of Revelation speaks of the “hour of trial that is coming on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth” (Revelation 3:10).
“Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus." -- Revelation 12:17
Question – How can we be sure to stand on that day?
Wearing the Whole Armour of God
We will withstand through prayer and through putting on the whole armour of God (as I do first thing in the morning and last thing at night). Note that St. Paul while writing his letter to the Ephesians was chained day and night to a Roman soldier and observed the secret of their military prowess. To enter a covenant relationship with a friend it was customary to exchange armour, as David did with Jonathan in 1 Samuel 18:1-4. Having entered into a covenant relationship with Our Lord Jesus, there is also an exchange of armour. Lesson is that in spiritual battle we cannot win with merely human armour and weapons at our disposal (common sense, worldly wisdom, etc.). “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight” (Proverbs 3:5). Accept the armour given to us by God and then choose to wear it.
First, we must put on the belt of truth around our waist. The belt holds everything together. It is Christ’s truth which will only fit us if we are scrupulously honest to God in every area of our lives.
Secondly, we must put on the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate protects the “vital organs”, Christ’s righteousness, goodness alone will suffice; our own righteousness is, as Isaiah observed, “like a filthy cloth” (Isaiah 64:6).
Thirdly we must put on shoes, the Gospel of Peace, Christ’s peace assuring us of peace with God, with ourselves, with our family and friends, and with our enemies.
Fourthly, the Shield of Faith, that covered a Roman soldier’s whole body, is not so much our faith, which is often quite fragile, but Christ’s faith. His great faith, and His great faithfulness.
"and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." -- Galatians 2:20
Fifthly, the Helmet of Salvation. The helmet guards our thought life. Saint Paul expands this in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. When Saint Paul speaks of strongholds in the mind – while the devil puts old recurring thoughts like “God could never love me because of all my sins” or “I’ll never be any good” etc… we need to take all such thoughts captive to obey Christ.
Next comes the one necessary offensive weapon – the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. This is why we need to know the Bible, particularly the New Testament, intimately, so we can counter the devil’s words just as Jesus did in the wilderness when quoting passages of scripture (Matthew 4:1-10).
Finally, praying for the Spirit, calling on His aid at all times. By the power of the Spirit persevering, for all the Saints.
Hope, dear brothers and sisters, is the key to standing on the evil day. Every saint has availed himself and herself of these words. May we all, too, stand on that day.
Yours in Christ,