Wednesday 18 August 2021

  Ephesus  6 v 10/20


Paul has been visiting Ephesus, and as he prepares to leave his people, he is aware of the struggle which they face.  In that time people firmly believed in devils and demons, and evil spirits which filled the air.  Paul realised the world offered not a playground but battle field in which there was strong opposition.  Because Christians cannot stand on their own against superhuman powers, they had to rely on the power of God.  Those men and women had a faith and a belief, and carried out the fight, now we Christians have to take over that fight.

When you become a Christian you effectively become like a soldier, there is warfare between what the world wants and what God has laid down, and we enter a battlefield. The Bible calls on us to stand firm and not yield.

When the Romans invaded a country they would burn their boats so there could be no means of retreat, hence the saying burning our boats. God is telling us He will give us all the power we need and the Bible calls on us to put on the whole armour of God, and fight not yield.

In today’s passage Paul is giving guidance and draws on the imagery taken from a Roman soldier’s uniform with a portrayal of Christian life as a warfare, using spiritual metaphors for

Paul looks at the uniform of a soldier, and describes the belt which holds the uniform together with the ability to hold a sword.;  a breastplate to defend his heart; sandals specially made with spikes in the soles, to enable to get a good foothold on the ground to dig his feet in,  and a helmet to protect his head. A shield protects him from the darts of the enemy, and he has a sword to go on the attack.

Applying them to the Christian, Paul is referring to the belt of truth which is the gospel, which holds our faith, and we must have a pure heart to live according to that truth, and then stand firm and not let our head be turned by false teaching. We have to fight harder than many generations before us, as strong attacks are coming from within the Church, which are causing more harm than from people outside the Church.

Applying the breastplate image, righteousness is a breastplate and when a man/woman is clothed in righteousness is impregnable. The way to fight accusations against Christians is to be seen as good.

Sandals were viewed as a sign of being able to move quickly. And Christians should always be ready to preach the gospel, and share with others who have not learned it.

A shield was a large one, oblong in shape and was needed to protect from fiery darts often tarred with pitch. Faith can deal with the darts of temptation, which means having a personal relationship with Christ.

The helmet represented Salvation, which not only saves us from sins of the past, but strength to face the future and resist sinning.

Every army needs to attack, and we should be promoting Christianity as vigorously, as other faiths push their faith, armed with the two edged sword of truth. Our faith is not someone has made up; it is based on the historical and divine Jesus Christ, who calls for people to turn back to God.

Never let us be ashamed to tell the story of a Saviour who gave His life on the Cross, so that all we unworthy people may have our sins forgiven because He died that we may be made righteous for heaven when our life on this earth is over.  Jesus Christ, by His death, enables us to be in God’s favour, and calls for people to turn back to God.

All who treasure the Christian faith, and the memory of those who gave their lives to preserve a Christian heritage, must work and pray for a spiritual revival of the Christian Church.

Paul has three things to say about what was a great weapon—prayer. This should be constant in all our living, and not just when a problem arises.  It should be intense and concentrated. And it must be unselfish.

Finally Paul asks for prayer for himself, and if ever anyone deserved prayer it was this great Apostle who gave all he had for the service of his God and Saviour.  He was not seeking to be comforted or for peace; he was seeking to be able to go on telling God’s love for all people in all the world We should remember no Christian leader can go on without his people praying for him.

We must be aware of the traitors of our faith within the Church who are calling on clergy to abandon bible teaching when it offends other people.  Such is being done by leaders of the Church;  we saw last week how the once great Methodist Church has ‘overwhelmingly’ approved to have two persons of the same sex to go through  a form of marriage in Churches. This is unequivocally contrary to Scripture, and if any clergyman/woman does not know or believe it, they should be the ones leaving the Church, and not the  faithful members who cannot accept such a deplorable decision.

The world has largely rejected Christianity, without having anything to put in its place to combat the evils of the world. All we hear today is about ‘human rights,’ yet in all walks of public life, even to the highest level of government; we have flagrant deceit, corruption, being economical with the truth and unrestricted immorality, the sort of behaviour which sends out the wrong message to the young and gullible.

Under the guise of equality, all manner of restrictions are being enacted to restrain freedom of speech and religious faith. People can be perfectly equal without being the same. Until recently we had a Prime Minister who by his intransigence made freedom of religious expression a legal offence, and so a greater penalty could be given than if convicted for burglary or physical assault.

Christian principles and values were the foundation of this nation’s base, as were many of the social institutions and the legal system of the country. Our nation’s future depends on the acceptance of the standards of the Bible.
Not all who condemn the moral slide are bigoted and narrow minded. Those who fought for their country, all those veterans knew what counted in life as they fought for a safer world.

We have a society which is encouraged to forsake a Christian consensus and live, not by Christian principles, but by substituting other principles. We are submerged in a world that is committed to falsehood, which is why we are called to proclaim the truth.

But there is a spiritual content in many lives. Indeed, almost all people have some spiritual longing; there are so many of these people who would be of enormous value to the Church and who in turn could add so much to their lives.

Within each one of us there is a need for things which money can’t buy, and desires which we cannot express. Whilst the majority may not be willing to accept it, we all need a spiritual life. We need God and the forgiveness, which He offers in Jesus Christ. Without this our souls are restless. The only obstacle is a lack of motivation.

Many people are like the two British soldiers who found themselveslost in the deserts of Iraq. They eventually came across an American Officer in his jeep. As they approached him they didn’t even bother to salute and simply blurted out ‘excuse me mate, can you tell us where we are?’ The General took umbrage at their casual attitude and sternly replied, ‘Do you know who I am?’ at which one of the soldiers turned to the other and said, ‘Now we are in real trouble, we don’t know where we are and he doesn’t know who he is!’

Neither do we know who we are and why we are here, so we just live for today and who cares about tomorrow. And that is how we will remain unless there is some communication from the outside, from the One who has made us. A godless self-centred life is a fruitless and empty one.

We need a daring programme of revival, which God is challenging us to make. We within the Church need to ensure our services are always meaningful and encouraging; more care is definitely needed in many services. Too often incidentals in ceremony, a concentration on uninspiring music, and a meaningless ramble for a sermon meant to take up ten minutes of the service, are turn-offs for people. Such casualness would not be carried out in secular business, so why when in the Lord’s business.

There is reluctance within some Churches to preach a vibrant Biblical message for fear of being criticised as being offensive to other faiths, or more insidiously the absurd ‘woke’ culture, which with feeble and false emotional nonsense is causing young minds to be encouraged to look for things which in reality do not exist.

Whilst Christianity has been the faith of this country for centuries, in recent times our Churches have retreated and allowed a secular agenda to exercise undue influence on both society and the Church. People, I believe, are longing for and wanting spiritual leadership. Our strength is limited only by our faith. Will that faith let us move mountains or stumble over mole hills?

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