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Speaking with God in Spiritual Warfare (Ephesians 6:18-20)

Although we have already learned about the six pieces of spiritual armor which Paul mentions in Ephesians 6, there is still one vitally important element left. It is not exactly a piece of the armor, but it is nevertheless, still essential for victory on the field of battle. It is the ability we have to call in “air support” from heaven. It is prayer. Prayer is the messaging system between God and ourselves. In Ephesians 6:18-20, Paul writes about prayer. He writes about the importance of communicating with God and allowing God to communicate with us. As we look at this final element of the spiritual warfare, we will consider it as we have the six pieces of armor. We will look at how messaging worked for the Roman military, how it works for us as soldiers of Jesus Christ, and then finally,...

Taking Up the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17b)

In the book of Nehemiah we read about how the Israelites returned from captivity to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. They came with the blessing of King Artaxerxes, but not everyone was glad that Israel was returning to their land to rebuild Jerusalem and its walls. There were enemies in the land of Israel who sought to destroy and kill the Israelites, and keep them from returning to the land God had given to them. Nehemiah was aware of these enemies, and so as he assigned tasks and went about overseeing the rebuilding of the walls, he instructed the workers to strap a sword to their side so that if enemies appeared, they could defend themselves in battle (Neh 4:18). As we go about our own work as Christians, we too must keep a sword strapped to our side. Not a sword made from steel with wh...

Putting on the Helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:17a)

It has been said “You are what you eat.” A truer statement however is that “You are what you think.” Few people realize the significance of our thoughts. It is our thoughts that guide our lives, control our world, shape our future, and create our destinies. This does not happen in a magical way, or through the much-discussed and often-mocked “power of positive thinking” but rather through a single basic principle of human psychology. If you have ever been to a counselor, therapist, or psychologist, they will likely tell you at some point in your session that thoughts create emotions, and emotions lead to certain behaviors and actions. So our actions and behaviors are determined by how we think. Therefore, if we want to change our actions, we must begin by changing our thoughts. To change h...

Taking Up the Shield of Faith (Ephesians 6:16)

This study looks at the shield of faith in Ephesians 6:16, which is another part of the armor of God. As with all the other pieces of spiritual armor, we will first consider how the shield worked for the Roman soldier, then how the shield works for the Christian, and finally, how we can take up and use the shield of faith in our daily lives. The Shield for the Soldier The Greek word Paul uses for shield in Ephesians 6:16 is thureon, which is the generic word for shield, but there were two kinds of shields used by soldiers in Paul’s day. The first, called a parma shield, was smaller and round and could be used by moving the arm to defend a certain part of the body which was being threatened. It was about 3 feet in diameter, and was the lighter of the two shields. However, while this is gene...

Putting on the Sandals of the Gospel (Ephesians 6:15)

In Ephesians 6:15, Paul instructs Christians to “shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” This is another piece of the armor of God, even though Paul doesn’t specifically mention a piece of armor. Since he writes about having something on our feet, he is clearly referring to the sandals that Roman soldiers wore into battle. So Ephesians 6:15 is referring to the Sandals of the Gospel. And as we did with the belt of truth and breastplate of righteousness, we will consider the sandals in three ways. First, we will look at how the sandals were used by the Roman soldiers in battle. Second, we will consider how Christians are to use them in spiritual battle. Finally, we will learn how Christians can put on the sandals of the gospel as we fight alongside Jesus in spiritual war...

Putting on the Breastplate of Righteousness (Ephesians 6:14b)

As we continue to look at the spiritual armor God has given us for our spiritual battle, we look at the breastplate. Specifically in Ephesians 6:14, Paul calls it the breastplate of righteousness. And just as with the belt of truth, we will look at this second piece of the armor in three ways. First, how it was used on the soldier, second, how it is to be used for us as Christians in spiritual battle, and then finally, how we can put it on for battle. Let us begin with what the breastplate did for the soldier. The Breastplate for the Soldier As the name implies, the breastplate of the Roman soldier was worn on the chest or torso of the soldier. Although at times, they were made out of leather, the breastplates worn by soldiers in Paul’s day were typically made from iron. But the breastplat...

Good Questions About the Death of Jesus that Make no Sense

A reader sent an email today with these questions: If Jesus died in the place of others, why does everyone else also die? If the penalty for sin is hell forever, and if Jesus paid the penalty for all the sins of the world, why is Jesus not the only one in hell forever? Did God punish Jesus by making him die and go to hell, or did God reward Jesus by raising him up from death and lifting him up to heaven? If Jesus died on a Friday afternoon and rose from the dead by the next Sunday morning, was the penalty for all the sins of the world less than two days dead? If God punished Jesus for all the sins of others by making him die on a cross, why are Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate, and Caiaphas not all heroes and saints for fulfilling the will of God? If people should rejoice at the suffering an...

Putting on the Belt of Truth (Ephesians 6:14a)

It has been said that truth is stranger than fiction. This is definitively the case with the following true facts: Most animals don’t eat moss because it’s hard to digest and has little nutritional value. But reindeer fill up with lots of moss because it contains a special chemical which helps keep reindeer warm in the icy arctic temperatures. Moss, for the reindeer, acts like antifreeze in a car. A lightning bolt generates a temperature five times hotter than the sun. One cup of neutron star weighs about 480 million tons. If you lived in Virginia 300 years ago, you could have paid your taxes with tobacco. If you are scared of spiders, you will be happy to learn that you are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than by a spider. One thousand years ago, the Grand Vizier of Persia ha...

Who is Our Enemy in Spiritual Warfare? (Ephesians 6:12)

When Paul embarked on his third missionary journey, Ephesus was the first city he visited. He had briefly visited Ephesus during his second missionary journey and had started a church there (Acts 18:19-20), but he now wanted to return and spend plenty of time teaching and training the Christians in Ephesus what it meant to follow Jesus and be the church in their community. Acts 19:10 records that he spent about two years teaching them about Jesus. During this time, many miracles were performed, many people were healed, and many people were delivered from evil spirits (Acts 19:12). Near the end of Paul’s time in Ephesus, some itinerant Jewish teachers came to town and heard what Paul was doing, and so decided to start their own little deliverance ministry by casting out demons in the name o...

The Battle Plan (Ephesians 6:11,13)

Paul turns from the battle cry in Ephesians 6:10 to the battle plan in Ephesians 6:11, 13. We must not only prepare ourselves for battle by becoming strong, we must also protect ourselves in battle by having a plan. The battle plan has three parts. We must put on the armor of God, stand our ground, and watch out for traps laid by the devil. Let us consider each part of the plan. Put on Your Armor (Ephesians 6:11a, 13a) The first part of the battle plan is to put on the whole armor of God. Paul states this instruction twice in Ephesians 6:11, 13 when he writes, “Put on the whole armor of God” and “take up the whole armor of God.” When Paul wrote these words, he was in prison in Rome and was likely chained to a Roman soldier twenty-four hours a day. Being chained to an armed guard was one of...

The Battle Cry (Ephesians 6:10)

Living the Christian life is one of the hardest things you will ever attempt to do. Of course, this is only true if you really attempt to live as a Christian. Far too many Christians think that it is enough to slap a fish bumper sticker on their car, wear Christian t-shirts, and attend a weekly worship service at the church building on the corner. Truly living the Christian life does not consist of such things, and those who live the Christian life in such insignificant ways will face little resistance or trouble. But the Christian who truly steps out to follow Jesus into the dark and hellish places of earth will experience great difficulties, trials, and roadblocks in life. Such Christians will be called to love those they would rather hate, to forgive those who deserve nothing but death,...

Think you know what humility is? Think again. (An Interview with Dan Kent, author of Confident Humility)

I had the privilege of interviewing Dan Kent this week about his book, Confident Humility. I’ll be honest. When I first heard that he had written a book about humility, I thought “Booooring … we all know everything there is to know about humility.” But then I read the book. Mind. Blown. It turns out I have been thinking and teaching about humility entirely wrong. Dan Kent’s book opened my eyes to what truly humility is, how humility works, and how to attain humility in my life. If you want to understand what the Bible teaches about humility and how to become humble and live humbly in your life, listen to my interview with Dan Kent, and then go buy a copy of his book on Amazon. Let your view of humility get turned upside down! Podcast Links: Watch the Interview with Dan Kent here: [embedded...