Be Strong in the Lord and in the Power of His Might!
Dear Father in heaven—by Your grace and through the redemptive work of Your Son, You have saved my soul. Through Your Word You have enlightened my heart, and You nourish my spirit. As I worship in Your presence today, instruct me with Your truths and fill me with a desire to love and serve You every day. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
David wanted to build a house for the LORD, but Nathan informed David that the LORD would build a house for him—an eternal habitation in Jesus Christ! Our lesson reveals David’s prayerful response, in which he marvels at the LORD’s grace and goodness both to him and to His Old Testament people!
A nobleman from Capernaum once came to Jesus with the request that He come with him and heal his sick son. Jesus sent the man home assuring him that his son would not die but would live. Later the father learned that his son’s fever left the moment Jesus said that he would live. He and his household then knew and believed that Jesus was the Savior whom God had promised!
Text: Ephesians 6:10-18a
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against power, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.
In Christ Jesus, our Savior and Commander, dear fellow redeemed:
When a threat is outward and visible, we can take the precautions necessary to protect ourselves. If the sky is dark, the winds pick up, and sirens begin to blow, we head to the basement to protect ourselves from an approaching tornado. Some threats, however, are not outward or visible to our eyes, and yet we can also take steps to protect ourselves from them. We are approaching the flu season, and so we can get flu shots to ward off any problems later this winter.
Still other threats are very real, yet we may well not get too excited about them. Some time ago I received a survey in the mail about national security and terrorism. In response to a question regarding the possibility of further terrorist attacks here in America, I wrote that I felt it was likely that in the future such attacks would take place. In response to a question asking whether I thought it was likely such an attack would take place in southern Minnesota, I stated that such attacks were unlikely. It is rather hard to get too excited about terrorism when our greatest threats seem to be corn bores and soybean rust.
There is a threat, however, which while unseen is very real and present here and every-where. It is a genuine threat both to our present and future welfare. That threat is Satan. He is real—a fallen angel intent on severing you and me from God. To ignore such a threat would be foolish and dangerous. In view of this Paul urges us to BE STRONG IN THE LORD AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT! We can take comfort in the fact that we are not alone in meeting this threat. Our Savior is beside us and will supply the ability and strength necessary to overcome the threat of Satan. That is why Paul points us to the Lord and His power. May we heed his words and do three things: know your enemies, put on your armor, and use your weapons!
Know your enemies! Paul writes: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against power, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
One of the key elements of any successful strategy is to know what you are up against—to know your enemies! Because we cannot see Satan, and because Satan has been very successful in leading society in general to deny his very existence, it is relatively easy for us to forget about this greatest threat to our spiritual and physical, our temporal and eternal existence! For many, Satan is not real but rather a mere caricature—a prankster, a sports mascot. He does not seem and, therefore, is not portrayed as anything too dangerous. Yet let no one doubt that he is formidable. As a fallen arch-angel, he possesses great power. That power, which was created and given to him by God originally for good, he now uses in a perverted way to harm those whom he was originally supposed to protect—you and me. Paul warns against his “wiles”—his carefully considered and ruthlessly calculated plots to destroy us. It is not without reason that the apostle Peter describes Satan as “a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
Are you still not sure? Do you wonder whether the devil is really someone you have to be concerned about? If so, consider the results of his work, which are clearly visible! Consider the very real lies that are embraced by our society and pervert its ability to understand the truths of God. Consider the lie of macro-evolution—that suggests there is no Creator-God, but that all life forms developed from a common ancestor that simply appeared by chance in the primordial soup. Satan suggests through that lie that man is freed from any control by a repressive God, but in reality he simply becomes controlled by repressive men. Consider the lie that there is no absolute truth—that all truth is relative and personal. Satan suggests through that lie that there is no absolute right or wrong. Consequently, we are free to do what we wish, but such a freedom is in reality slavery to sin and ultimately leads to sorrow, to strife, and to death. The pain and suffering that we see in the world today is real and visible. It is the direct result of the sin inspired by Satan!
Dear friends, let us recognize that while terrorists are certainly dangerous, they are but flesh and blood and so very limited in what they ultimately can do. Satan has in his alliance powerful “rulers of darkness” and “spiritual hosts of wickedness” at his command. Let us recognize their existence and strive to understand their purpose and methods. They are powerful, but let us remember that they are not all-powerful as is our God. Therefore, BE STRONG IN THE LORD AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT! He will protect us and enable us to overcome Satan’s temptations. The beginning of a successful strategy against him is to know your enemies...
…and, secondly, to put on your armor! Even as our soldiers in Iraq wear various pieces of body armor today, so the soldiers of ancient times put on armor. As we approach our spiritual warfare Paul encourages us: “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation.”
The purpose of armor is to help a soldier withstand the assaults of the enemy and to remain standing at battle’s end. Paul speaks of the ancient soldier’s belt, breastplate, boots, shield, and helmet, but to these he ties the spiritual gear provided the solders of the cross by Christ, our commander. We are to wear the belt of “truth.” Do not fall for the lie, of which I spoke earlier—that there is no absolute truth! Rather, listen to your Savior, who assures you: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:31-32). Do you want to know the truth about the most important things in life? Are you seeking answers for the great questions regarding the meaning and purpose of life? Are you seeking forgiveness or searching for a source of strength to go on? This, God provides you in His truth.
We are to put on “the breastplate of righteousness.” Some suggest that Paul is here referring to the righteousness of a godly, Christian life. While such a righteousness is indeed important, I believe that Paul is here referring to that righteousness which is imputed to us by God—that perfect righteousness of Christ which we receive by God’s grace through faith. It alone can reassure and protect our hearts. For no matter how hard Satan assails us, when he accuses us of sin, we can always say in response, “Get away, Satan, for I stand in and am clothed with the righteousness of Jesus. My sins have been washed away, and you can accuse me no longer!”
We are to put on the “gospel of peace” boots. We take our stand on that precious announcement of God’s grace and mercy in Jesus. It bespeaks His love and proclaims His grace. It is embodied by the words of the simplest child’s hymn: “Jesus loves me, this I know,” and is the basis of the most challenging music our adult choir will be singing this year—Handel’s Messiah. In that gospel we hear of God’s acceptance and we are given God’s strength! We are no longer His enemies, but have been reconciled to Him and are destined to spend eternity with Him!
We are to hold up the shield of “faith.” We are saved, Paul tells us earlier in Ephesians, “by grace…through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (2:8-9). Faith is trust—trust not in ourselves, but in God who is the object of faith and who makes faith so very powerful. Does our faith ever waver? Yes, it can and at times does, but then we must turn to the giver of our faith, God, and the object of our faith, God, for He never wavers and will always be faithful.
We are to put on our helmet of “salvation.” Our salvation involves not only the work of Christ leading to that salvation and not only the fact that we have been brought to faith in this life and have been incorporated into the family of God, but it includes the glorious consummation of our faith—our going to heaven. This is the bottom line of our faith. This life is but a prelude to what is to come. Let us, therefore, BE STRONG IN THE LORD AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT! Put on your armor!
Finally, use your weapons! Having listed the armor we have been given and are to put on, Paul closes by referring to two weapons. He writes, “Take the…sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” God’s Word and prayer are our two weapons. Through the Word God speaks to us, while through prayer we speak to Him. God’s Word is to be used to “give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). God’s Word is to be used to “exhort and convict those who contradict” (Tit. 1:9). Jesus’ victorious response to Satan’s temptations was a strong, “It is written” (Mt. 4:4). Satan could not withstand the Word of God properly used and practiced by our Savior, and we are to use that same Word to defeat Satan today!
Perhaps in recent weeks you noticed the series of letters to the editor of Mankato’s Free Press written by a number of our members and others in support of Biblical creation. Numerous people have stopped me on the street and in different places to comment favorably on the defense of truth and the discussion those letters are causing within our community. There will be other times—perhaps in a college classroom, or in a discussion at work, or in a conversation with a neighbor that we will be able to use God’s Word to cut through the lies of Satan and so to shed the light of truth in a particular area or for a particular person.
Beyond this, as we apply God’s Word in our lives regarding our personal conduct, the way in which we deal with our husband or wife, the way we choose to raise our children, the personal involvement we have as volunteers in the community, or the way in which we conduct our business affairs, we are declaring to a lost world the way of God. Satan cannot and will not be able to resist the Word of God properly applied. Let us be ready to do so!
Let us also pray—regularly and fervently, recognizing that the Lord of the Universe is listening and has promised to answer in the very best of ways in order to bestow the very greatest of blessings upon His believing children! In Psalm 91 the LORD Himself declares: “He (referring to the child of God) shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him, with long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation” (vs. 15-16). My dear friends, BE STRONG IN THE LORD AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT! Amen.
Pastor Paul D. Nolting