Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Passage: Ephesians 6:10–6:17
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Ephesians 6:10-17
Date: September 2nd, 2018; Pentecost 15; Series B
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
- You are a horrible sinner! There is no way that God could ever forgive you for what you have done!
- Don’t you know that science has proven that there is no God? God didn’t create you - you are simply the result of random chance! There’s no meaning to anything!
- Don’t feel bad for neglecting God or his church – there’s always later. You have a lot on your plate right now, you better just focus on yourself.
- You lost your job and can’t pay the bills? You were diagnosed with a serious disease? You injured yourself and are in constant pain? Your relationships are a mess?
- Well, obviously God has forsaken you! You’re finally getting what you deserve!
- You sure are a good Christian! Look at you! You go to church every Sunday! You go to Bible study, and volunteer your time, and you give so generously.
- Aren’t you glad you aren’t one of those horrible sinners? God must be so pleased with you - you deserve a reward!
- These are just a few examples of the schemes of the devil.
- Evil forces work hard to separate us from God by using these, and many other, ploys.
- The devil wants nothing more than for you to think this way and act this way because he knows that, unchecked, it can lead you away from your Creator.
- My brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all engaged in a spiritual war.
- We heard St. Paul warn us in our Epistle lesson this morning, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
- Through lying, deceit, temptation, and sin - the spiritual forces of evil seek to ruin our lives and destroy our souls. Eternally.
- St. Peter warns us in his first letter, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion.” (1 Peter 5:8)
- We are up against a very powerful enemy that seeks to defeat and devour us.
- St. Paul knew this spiritual battle well, so he wrote, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might…” (Ephesians 6:10)
- Notice here that St. Paul doesn’t simply say “be strong”.
- Our own strength means nothing.
- Spiritually speaking, our own strength has as much chance against our spiritual enemy as we would have taking on a roaring lion with our fists. Not a chance!
- So St. Paul tells us not simply to “be strong”, but to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might…” God provides us with the power we need.
- His power was perfected in weakness as Christ died on the cross and rose victorious from the tomb.
- Christ’s death and resurrection is our strength.
- Left to our own power, left to our own skill, left to our own abilities – we are doomed. We are lost. We are defeated.
- It is only in the strength of the Lord that we can be strong.
- To be properly prepared for this battle, St. Paul tells us to “take up the whole armour of God…” (Ephesians 6:13).
- God provides us with the armour, the protection, that we need.
- Without it, you cannot withstand the powers that are aligned against you.
- Don’t even try it because you don’t stand a chance!
- “On earth is not his equal,” we sang earlier in Luther’s famous hymn.
- Our first piece of armour is truth, “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth…” (Ephesians 6:14).
- The spiritual forces of evil have sure worked hard lately to try and unarm us of truth.
- They have convinced many that there is no truth – that truth is relative. People say, “Well, that may be true for you, but it isn’t true for me.”
- But Jesus tells us plainly that there is such thing as truth when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
- The truth is the foundation of our faith and Jesus Christ is the truth incarnate - he is the first piece of armour that we are to fasten on.
- Next St. Paul tells us to put on the breastplate of righteousness. Not our righteousness, but Christ’s righteousness.
- The breastplate of Jesus’ righteousness is his gift to you in your Baptism.
- In your Baptism you have been clothed with Christ’s righteousness.
- Jesus lived a perfect life completely free from sin and he gives you his perfect life as a free gift.
- He took upon himself your sin, and the punishment your sin deserves, in his death - so that in him you might become the righteousness of God.
- With this breastplate of Christ’s righteousness you are completely protected from the accusations from the devil. You are not guilty. You are innocent.
- No charge can stick against you - “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
- Then, as shoes for our feet, St. Paul tells us that we are to put on the readiness given by the Gospel of peace.
- These shoes we put on give us grip, they plant us securely - in the Good News.
- And notice here that the Gospel, the Good News, is the message of peace.
- As soldiers of the cross we are not waging war, we’re waging peace.
- God is at peace with the world in the death of Jesus.
- The enemy is already defeated. The holy war was waged on Calvary, and won when Jesus died.
- And don’t forget your shield. You don’t want to get hit by one of the flaming darts of the evil one.
- The Roman shield was made of leather and could be soaked in water to extinguish the enemy’s flaming arrows.
- Your shield is the shield of the faith. When the devil accuses you or causes you to doubt, the faith repels his arrows.
- When you are caught in doubt, take up your shield, soaked in the water of your Baptism, and remember the promises that God made to you through those washing waters. You have the shield of faith!
- Finally, we are to take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God.
- Put on the helmet of salvation. You need the protection. The helmet of salvation guards your mind when your thoughts lead you astray.
- It protects you from the lies and deceptions that attempt to lead you from God and his Word.
- Again, the battle is not with blood and flesh but with the power and principalities, the evil spirits in the heavenly places.
- The weapon God puts into your hand is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
- The Word is all that we need to defend ourselves - the two-edged Word of the Law that convicts us and leads us to repentance and the sweet Gospel that comforts us and assures us of God’s forgiveness and salvation.
- To take up the sword of the Spirit involves being in the Word - reading it, marking it, learning it, inwardly digesting it.
- This is the whole armour that God provides you with - truth, righteousness, the good news of peace, the faith, salvation, the Word.
- You have everything you need to withstand the powers of darkness at your disposal.
- You have everything you need to be victorious in this battle for your soul. In fact, Christ has already won the battle for you.
“For God himself fights by our side with weapons of the Spirit.
Were they to take our house, Goods, honour, child, or spouse,
Though life be wrenched away, They cannot win the day.
The Kingdom’s ours forever!” (LSB #657). Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.