Paul spends much of Ephesians telling us how to live in a way that is pleasing to God. In Ephesians 4, he calls us to unity and holiness, and to the understanding that even though we are all different and have different purposes, we are all part of one body under Christ. Ephesians 5 continues the theme of holiness and living as children of light. In the last verses of Ephesians 5 (Ephesians 5:22-33) and the first verses of Ephesians 6, (Ephesians 6:1-9) Paul gives us advice for our family relationships, and for our work relationships. He also tells us what our attitude towards our jobs should be, including if we are the employer and not just the employee. But Paul knows that it is not as easy as all that! Paul understands very clearly that we are in a constant spiritual battle. Since creation, God has provided us with a choice, to choose Him or the world, and He has been very gentlemanly about letting us make that choice.(Revelation 3:20) Satan, on the other hand, is working very hard at winning us over to his side, and he will use any means available. (II Corinthians 11:14, I Peter 5:8) We need to realize that our struggles on this earth are not with things, or circumstances or with each other. They are all part of a battle in the spiritual realm. (Ephesians 6:12)
The good news is that we don’t have to fight this battle alone. Hallelujah! We can rely on the strength of God’s power and His armour. (Ephesians 6:10-18) Just as a Roman soldier was clothed in a suit of armour, we can be clothed with God’s spiritual armour. If we put on the full armour of God we will be able to stand against our enemy’s schemes and attacks, and to be left standing when all is said and done. What does God’s armour consist of?
1. The Belt of Truth: A Roman soldier used a belt to hold his garments together and to attach his armour. It made it easier for him to be able to move without tripping over his tunic. Wearing the belt of truth represents not only knowing and believing God’s truth, but also living a truthful life, thus allowing us easier movement without tripping over our words. Knowing and practicing the truth will give us protection against the father of lies. (John 8:44)
2. The Breastplate of Righteousness: We were declared righteous when we accepted Christ’s sacrifice as the substitution for our sins, (Romans 4:5, Romans 10:10) but again, Paul is referring here to the practical, daily actions of believers. We need to act in a way that no one can make an accusation against us, a way that protects our hearts.
3. Preparation That Comes From the Good News of Peace: You can be ready for whatever comes your way if you place your trust in the all-powerful God of peace. The Greek word translated as preparation here indicates to be on a firm footing. It refers to the stability that you get from the gospel of peace that allows you to stand steadfast in the face of battle.
4. The Shield of Faith: Roman soldiers had large shields that would interlock together so that they could advance with a wall of protection before them. They were coated in leather that was soaked in water so that flaming arrows would be extinguished. Satan is certainly attacking us with fiery arrows, and it is our faith that will protect us from them. Since we cannot know when or how these fiery arrows will come, constant faith is absolutely essential.
5. The Helmet of Salvation: The helmet of salvation is a gift from God that protects our heads and our minds. God does not require our faith to be blind. We are encouraged to question and to understand. We need to protect our minds from Satan’s schemes, by growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. (II Peter 3:18)
6. The Sword of the Spirit: The sword used by Roman soldiers was double-edged so that it could cut in both directions and sharp enough to pierce armour. But the Word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword, and able to judge the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) It is by being very familiar with the Word of God that we will be able to discern what is right and defend ourselves from Satan’s attacks. Satan also knows the Word of God, and he uses it to his advantage–not fully and out of context. (Matthew 4:5-7) If we are to defend ourselves as Jesus did, we must know the Word of God as Jesus did.
Add to all of these prayer for all the saints. If we are praying for each other, we will be alert to the needs and struggles of our fellow warriors. This is not a battle that we can fight ourselves. Remember that Paul’s words here come at the end of a passage about unity, and being one body. Working together as one body, with God’s strength, we can win the battle in the spiritual realm.
I’m a planner, and I’m not very good at being spontaneous. It’s not that there isn’t room in my life for spontaneity because I’m too busy. That’s not the case. I have learned (actually the lesson was kind of forced upon me) to leave some margin in my life. I don’t schedule something for every minute. So why then can I not do something on the spur of the moment? It is just not in my nature. I like to have advance notice of things. I like to process them in my mind. I like to have a good idea of what is going to happen before it does.
I have learned over the years that I can plan too much, and my husband, I suspect, has made it his mission in life to make me be more spontaneous. We do not know what the future will bring. Anything could happen at any moment to change not only our plans, but our lives. Bible passages tell us not to worry about tomorrow, (Matthew 6:34) that we should not store up goods for our future to the neglect of God’s kingdom, (Luke 12:20:21) and that we do not know the day or the hour of Christ’s return. (Matthew 24:42) I don’t think that means that we should not do any planning though, and just let life happen as it wishes. There needs to be a balance.
In Ephesians 5:15, Paul is telling us to consider how we live and to choose the path that is wise. That takes some planning. A sailor does not decide to sail somewhere, and then get in his boat and let it drift. He could be lost at sea forever. He must decide on his course, set his sails and guide his boat to its destination. A builder must consider how he will complete the whole building before he begins the foundation. (Luke 14:28-30) As Laurence J. Peter has said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.”
Paul’s reason for his exhortation is that we are surrounded by evil, and we must do what we can, whenever we can, for God’s kingdom. (Ephesians 5:16). Yes, circumstances may alter our plans, or cause us a short detour, but if we have a plan, we can get back on track. This is why we must not be foolish, not just follow our feelings or our whims, but use our minds to understand God’s will. (Ephesians 5:17) If we are to use our time on this earth for God’s glory, we must make the most of our opportunities. We must choose wisely and then work to reach the goal.
Today's post was written by and shared with permission from Rusty Wright.
I didn't really like him at first. But once I got to know him, he impacted my life – and those of millions more – forever.
This suspicious-looking guy in his early thirties carried a briefcase and appeared at the campus Christian meetings I'd begun to attend.
Sometimes he wore a trench coat. Was he a secret agent? My young mind entertained fanciful theories. As a skeptic, I bristled at some of his answers to my spiritual questions. I had lots to learn.
In 1967, Bob Prall was the Campus Crusade for Christ director at Duke University. During that era of campus revolution, he and my Christian friends said God offered me personal spiritual revolution. They said I couldn't earn divine favor, but needed to be forgiven by God through faith in Christ. As the Bible indicates about believers:
"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
I trusted Christ, and eventually would devote my life to spreading that message. But I still had much to learn.
When a fraternity brother asked me some faith questions I couldn't answer, it bothered me deeply. Later, Bob answered them for me. "Always remember," he advised, "just because you don't know the answer, doesn't mean there is no answer."
For two years I followed him around, watching as he shared Christ with skeptics and listening to his speeches. Bob's loving, learned example and teaching helped me sink my spiritual roots deeply into God's truth, and provided a foundation for over four decades of interaction with unbelievers. Looking back, I'm sure it was the Lord's hand that put him in my life.
God has graciously sent me presenting Christ and biblical perspectives on six continents before university students and professors, on mainstream TV and radio talk shows, with executives, diplomats and professional athletes.
He's had me writing for secular newspapers, magazines, and the Internet about subjects like sex, death, current events, humor, and reasons for faith … seeking to help influence one billion people for Christ. Bob's impact is spreading far and wide. I'm now able to answer others' questions just as he answered mine. I shall always be grateful for his mentoring.
Ministry by Walking Around
"If Christianity is a psychological crutch, then Jesus Christ came because there was an epidemic of broken legs."
Focus on Jesus: "I don't have answers to every question. But if my conclusion about Jesus is wrong, I have a bigger problem. What do I do with the evidence for His resurrection, His deity and the prophecies He fulfilled? And what do I do with changed lives, including my own?"
You've heard of "management by walking around"? Bob practiced "ministry by walking around," telling stories, asking questions. Sound like anyone else you know of?
And he's still at it. Recently, over dinner in Houston, Bob filled me in on his latest projects and online resources. Reaching young people remains a key concern.
He's developed Word Dynamics, a unique outreach tool to help high school and university students improve their vocabulary and also consider Jesus' claims. This digital vocabulary builder can help students excel in school and prepare for the SAT and GRE exams. Youth groups, homeschoolers and teachers might find this educational software with a spiritual twist especially useful for study and outreach.
www.learn-it.info tells more about Bob's training and outreach resources. I hope he reaches lots of students. I'm sure glad he reached me.
So…might mentoring fit into your life? If you're young, should you seek a mentor? If you're older, should you ask God for someone to mentor? It can make an eternal difference.
Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.rustywright.com