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Please turn in your Bibles this evening to Ephesians chapter 6 as we continue our study through the Word of God and we finish up this rich and practical letter that Paul wrote. We are currently in a section we call, walk in harmony that began back in Ephesians 5:19 and will continue through Ephesians 6:9.
As I have said, harmony is achieved in our relationships if we are willing to submit to one another or rank ourselves under others in the fear of God or out of respect of all that God has bestowed upon us. Thus, there can be harmony in the family life as a wife submits to her own husband as unto the Lord or it is her service rendered to the Lord. The husband is to love his wife sacrificially, unconditionally just as the Lord has done for us, and this is done as the husband submits to the Lord.
Now this evening we will finish up looking at the harmony within the family as we look at children and their relationship with their parents, how parents are to treat their children. And then we will finish up this section on walking in harmony by looking at relationships outside of the family life. So with that said, lets begin reading in Ephesians chapter 6, starting in verse 1 and see what the Lord has for us this evening.
As Paul continues to speak on the family life he now moves to children and how they are to obey and honor their parents because it is the right thing to do. The Greek word that Paul uses for children is TEKNON and he is not only referring to small children but to all children who are living under their parents roof! Paul lists four reasons why children are to obey and honor their parents in this section. He tells us because:
A. IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO
B. IT IS SCRIPTURAL
C. IT IS THE BEST THING FOR THEIR LIFE
D. IT WILL BRING FORTH A FULL LIFE FOR THEM
In Deuteronomy 21:18-21 we are told, If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city, This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard. Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.
Why capital punishment for something that seems so small? Because God knew that a rebellious, a disobedient child would grow up to be a rebellious, disobedient adult and they will have devastating consequences upon a family and a society! It is as one person said, When the bonds of family life break up, when respect for parents fails, the community becomes decadent and will not live long. (Foulkes). And please notice that Paul doesnt say, Parents, obey your children, it will make them happy and bring peace to the home. That is out of order in regards to how God established the family life and there will not be peace, there will not be harmony, but the family will be a mess!
Paul is probably speaking to parents, not just fathers here, and he gives to us what not to do and what to do in regards to raising our children. We are not to provoke our children to anger or allow our treatment of them to bring about anger, resentment and hostility in the child. Now dont get me wrong, when you discipline your child they may not be happy with you and that is an issue they need to deal with they need to obey and honor their parents for it is right!
Paul is speaking of favoring one child over another, comparing children, setting unrealistic goals or expectations for them, making them feel that they are in the way, and any kind of physical or verbal abuse is wrong and that is not what we are to do. One of the problems during Pauls day was that children had no rights at all. The Roman Law, the PATRIA POTESTAS, stated that a father had absolute power over his family. He could sell his children as slaves, make them work in the fields even in chains, can issue any kind of punishment towards them, they could even put the child to death.
If you think that is bad, it is even worse. Many of the Roman children were unwanted and so were commonly left in the Roman Forum. They would then become property of anyone who would pick them up. And dont think upright citizens of Rome picked them up. People who would sell them as slaves or to stock the brothels of Rome picked them up. Today we have the opposite problem where children have all the rights and the parents have none! It is still wrong, children need to obey and honor their parents and parents need to care for their children as they honor the Lord.
What we are told to do as parents is to train them up in the Lord. Paul uses the Greek word PAIDEIA (pahee-di-ah) and it speaks of the systematic training of children, which includes corrective discipline. Also, we are to admonish them in the Lord or NOUTHESIA (noo-thes-ee-ah) in the Greek, which deals with teaching. As parents we are to train and admonish them as the Lord would, with gentleness and firmness. We are to encourage our children as Paul says in Colossians 3:21, Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Now we are going to move from family relations to relationships outside of the family and keeping in mind that Paul is still dealing with walking in harmony!
Keep in mind that when Paul wrote this letter, according to some commentators, the Roman Empire had some 60 million slaves or ½ of its population were slaves! Notice Paul does not call for a revolt against slavery. What he does say is that if you are a Christian and you are a slave then you need to do your best because the reality is, you are serving the Lord. And please understand that most slaves were treated horribly, they were seen as tools and not even human!
Gaius, a Roman lawyer puts it this way as he says, We may note that it is universally accepted that the master possesses the power of life and death over the slave. Vedius Pollio took a slave, who had dropped and broke a crystal goblet, and threw him into his fish pond that was filled with savage lampreys or eels that killed him. In fact a slave was killed for the reason of someone never witnessing anyone killed before. It all boils down to what one Roman writer said, Whatever a master does to a slave, undeservedly, in anger, willingly, unwillingly, in forgetfulness, after careful thought, knowingly, unknowingly, is judgment, justice and law. That is who Paul is speaking to here, slaves that were not treated well at all!
Even with all that, the way they were being treated, Paul says slaves were to be obedient to their masters and it is in the present tense in the Greek which indicates uninterrupted obedience. They were to obey their masters no matter what, unless of course what they were told to do went totally against what God has said.
How does this relate to us today? We are to be obedient in all we do as we work for others. When our boss is around, when he is not around our work should not change because we are ultimately serving the Lord. We dont put a show on for our boss and when he is gone goof off! It is as Paul said in Colossians 3:23-24, And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. The word heartily means to put your life, mind, soul into the work, give it your all no matter how unfair you are being treated, no matter how your boss talks to you, you serve the Lord and He will take care of you!
Now as a Christian employer you are to work hard for your employees, treat them fairly, not be abusive to them because in the end, God will judge your behavior and without partiality, without concern for the wealth you have or your position! You see, a Christian employer is also serving the Lord. The Bible gives to us a beautiful picture of working together in harmony and what it is all about between an employer and employee and that is found in Ruth 2:4 where we are told, Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, The LORD be with you! And they answered him, The LORD bless you! How often have you heard that at your work place? Not at all probably and that is a shame!
As we close this section on walking in harmony please understand that only a person who is surrendered, submitted to the Holy Spirit will be able to manifest these characteristics. You cant do it on your own; they are not natural for us!
Now, in the last part of this letter, Ephesians 6:10-24, we come to our last section on walking and in this section the focus is walk in victory. And what a great way Paul concludes this letter. So lets see what the Lord has for us in regards to walking in victory!
Here is the key, our strength does not come from our power, our might, our ability but it is from the Lord, it is found in the Lord! And as Paul speaks of the armor of God keep in mind that he was chained to Roman soldiers and as he saw these men day in and day out the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to make a comparison of the Roman soldier versus the soldier of the Lord who was going to battle against the enemies of God, and thus, he penned these words for us.
Paul tells us to put on the whole armor of God not just part of it, not just what you want to put on, but all of it because the enemy is going to use all the resources that are at his disposal to fight against us. Too often Christians are like the Iraqi man who was captured during Desert Storm and he was found wearing a Cubs tee shirt, jeans, and sandals on his feet. He was an American that went to visit family in Iraq and then the war broke out and he was drafted but not given the equipment he needed to do battle. If we are not prepared, when the Devil comes with his schemings we will not able to stand against his onslaught! We need to stand firm against his attacks and the idea is to hold a critical position while under attack!
Notice that Paul does not tell us to go and look for this spiritual warfare, he just tells us it is a fact and if you are serving the Lord the enemy will come looking for you, not maybe, he will! We need to be ready!
You see, our battle is not against flesh and blood but it is a spiritual battle. Yes, it is played out through the flesh because Satan and his forces use man as he tools but it is truly a spiritual battle. In fact, Paul lists the rankings of these demonic forces, Satan being in charge, followed by principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, spiritual hosts of wickedness. The Scriptures dont elaborate much more on these and we really dont need to know more about them, what we need to know is our armor, how to protect ourselves, and that is what Paul is going to give to us.
Paul tells us that as Christians we are to withstand or ANTHISTEMI (anth-is-tay-mee) in the Greek and it speaks of taking a stand against a great opposition. How many battles have been lost because soldiers did not take the battle seriously. Custer thought, Its only a few Indians, not a big deal! and that was the last stand he took! The evil day is not a specific day but a period of time when the enemies of God will grow stronger and more evil and the conflict will be intense, as we are seeing today! Thus, Paul will give to us the armor we need to stand against any attacks of the enemy and, of course, our victory is in Christ!
The first three pieces of armor are permanent, they are never to be taken off. We are never to be without the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness or having our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. Paul uses the word having which is in the Greek aorist tense, which speaks of never being without them!
THE BELT WAIST GIRDED WITH TRUTH
Back in Pauls day the men wore long garments and they were fine for walking in leisure, but if you went on a long journey, if you were engaged in conflict, it would be hard to move. Thus, you would gird or draw up your garment and tuck it into your belt, that is how you girded your loins.
Thus, the belt of truth can be seen, of course, in Gods Word, for Gods Word is truth. Jesus said in John 17:17, Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. If you dont believe Gods Word is truth you will be tripped up by the Devil and his lies because you have not girded yourself with the truth!
Also, I see this speaking of integrity on our part, that we are to be truthful. The word gird was a common expression that was used to put ones self in readiness, prepared for anything that might come their way, any service that might be required. If we are living in truth the Devil cant trip us up. And keep in mind that the belt helps hold the other pieces of armor in place, so truth is the integrating force in the life of a victorious Christian. It is not something that you turn on and off, use when you want but truth should always flow from your life. John tells us, Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. III John 2-4. The belt of truth.
THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Again this piece of armor, the breastplate of righteousness is to be put on and never to be taken off. The breastplate covered the full torso of the soldier, from his neck to his waist. It protected the vital organs. This piece of armor was sleeveless and made of leather or heavy linen. To reinforce it and to provide protection, pieces of animal hooves were cut into slices and sewn into place as they were overlapped. Sometimes they used horns or pieces of metal and some were made of all metal that was molded and hammered to conform to the individuals body. Without this the soldier could receive a deadly blow.
Paul, in Philippians 3:9 tells us, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith. This is the righteousness that has been imputed to us or given to us by Christ. Thus, when the Father looks at us He sees us as righteous, as perfect. It is as Paul said in II Corinthians 5:21, For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
But, again, keep in mind that Paul is dealing with our Christian walk, and thus, we must stand in righteousness, do the right thing. He is speaking of practical righteousness of daily living. By living lives that are filled with unrighteousness, by having your Christian character flawed by immoral behavior, you are leaving a gaping hole in your breastplate.
Paul put it this way in Romans 6:11-14, Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments [weapons] of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. You see, the way we live can be a spiritual weapon against the enemy. John said, And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. I John 2:28-29. The breastplate of righteousness.
THE SANDALS OF PEACE
As a soldier the shoes or sandals you would wear can save your life. Thus, the Roman soldier would have his shoes or sandals impregnated with nails or bits of metal to get a firm grip, so he would not lose his footing. They would be able to stand against the enemy.
For us as Christians, Paul is saying that we are to literally wrap our feet with the Gospel of peace. The word that Paul uses for preparation is the Greek word HETOIMASIA (het-oy-mas-ee-ah) and it speaks of a prepared foundation. You see, the Gospel message gives us stability; surefootedness because it is built upon the Rock, Jesus Christ and that fact cant be shaken. No matter what the enemy throws at you, your footing is secure in Christ. The sandals of peace.
In this section we see the shield, the helmet, the sword and prayer. These pieces of armor are to be at our disposal at all times, ready to use and comfortable using them.
THE SHILED OF FAITH
This shield that Paul is speaking of here is the THUREOS, and for the Roman soldier it was another vital piece of his armor. This shield was about 4½ feet high and 2½ wide, with a slight curve to it. It was made of wood and covered with metal or heavy oiled leather.
As these soldiers moved toward the front lines they would interlock their shields forming a long wall of shields that could extend for a mile or more. As the enemy would fire their spears and flaming arrows, their shields would protect the Roman soldiers and they would continue to advance towards their enemy.
To give you an example of how strong these shields were, these Roman soldiers would at times go into a tortoise formation, that is 27 men, in 4 ranks. The first 6 would hold their shields vertically, side-by-side, interlocking them. The next 3 rows of 7 soldiers each covered the parameter and roof with their shields locked. Looking at it would give you the impression of a tortoise shell, and that is how strong it was.
The enemy could fire their flaming arrows all day but they would not penetrate the shield. In fact, they would run chariots over them as a test of strength. It was a terrifying formation for any enemy because of its effectiveness against penetration.
These shields were used to protect the soldiers from the fiery darts or the flaming missiles that the enemy would fire. These arrows would be wrapped in pieces of cloth and then soaked in pitch. Then, while in battle, just before the arrow was shot, the enemy would light the tip and launch it towards the enemy. Upon impact the pieces of burning material would spatter for several feet, causing anything flammable it touched to become ignited. Not only was the arrow dangerous but also these burning arrows could cause serious burns to the soldier. With these burns, besides being very painful, they could become infected and thus, remove the soldier from battle, even causing death.
With the shield made of metal or leather that had been soaked in water it would deflect these arrows away from the soldier or it would extinguish them, thus protecting the solder from any harm and enabling him to continue on in the fight.
Now, for the Christian, his shield is that of faith. John tells us in I John 5:4-5, For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? Our faith in Jesus will put out those fiery darts that Satan is launching at us. Without faith the enemy has us defenseless! Thus, take the shield of faith.
HELMET OF SALVATION
The Roman soldier wore a helmet that was basically made of thick leather that was covered with metal plates. Other types of helmets that were worn were made of heavy molded or beaten metal. Some also had cheek plates that helped to protect the face.
The obvious purpose of the helmet was to protect the head from being injured as the enemy swung the large double-edged, two handed broadsword called RHOMPHAIA in the Greek. Paul is telling us that our spiritual helmet is that of salvation. The helmet is used to protect the head or mind against the attacks of the enemy. Many times he gets us to doubt our salvation or the security we have in Christ. And yes, Scripture supports that fact of our security regarding our salvation as Jesus said in John 5:24, Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. And John tells us in I John 5:13, These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
Satan loves to swing that double-edged sword of doubt and discouragement, trying to get us to stumble and make us ineffective as Christians. He cant take us out of the Fathers hand, out of the hand of Jesus, but he can make us weak and insecure in our actions and ineffective in our walk. Put on the helmet of salvation so Satan will not be able to strike you with doubt and discouragement, stand strong in the Lord. I like the way John MacArthur put it as he said, The helmet of salvation is that great hope of final salvation that gives us confidence and assurance that our present struggle with Satan will not last forever and we will be victorious in the end. The helmet of salvation.
THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
Paul is not speaking of the broadsword here that was 3 to 4 feet long and double-edged. The sword that Paul is speaking of is the MACHAIRA, which had a length of six to 18 inches and was used in hand-to-hand combat. The sword was carried in a sheath which was attached to the soldiers belt, and thus, always ready for use.
For us as Christians, Paul tells us that the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit and it is powerful as Hebrews 4:12 tells us, For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. It cuts right to the heart of the matter if we would let it. It will also accomplish what God has sent it to do in our lives as Isaiah 55:11 tells us, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Now when Paul speaks of the sword of the Spirit being the Word of God, he is not using the Greek word LOGOS. This word means general statements or messages. Paul is not talking about general knowledge of the Scripture. Paul uses the Greek word RHEMA, which refers to individual words or statements. It is not a general knowledge but having a precise understanding of the Scripture. To be able to expound on the specific truths within the Scriptures. Are you comfortable using the Word of God? You should be, it is our first offensive weapon that we as Christians have. Dig into Gods Word, meditate upon it, get to know Him and His Word more! The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God!
Our second offensive weapon is prayer and I truly believe it is part of our spiritual armor. It is the heavy artillery that is launched against the enemy and then we go in to pick up the spoils of victory. Paul speaks of prayer or PROSEUCHE (pros-yoo-khay) in the Greek and it speaks of general requests. Then he speaks of supplication or DEESIS (deh-ay-sis) in the Greek and it speaks of specific requests. Praying always is an important part of our spiritual armor.
As Paul shares how prayer is important in our spiritual warfare that we are in and how we can pray for each other, he asks for prayer that he might speak clearly, (utterance) and boldly, probably before Caesar as he is going to defend himself and present the Gospel message. What a great prayer for all of us as we encounter all kinds of people in our lives.
Paul wanted the Ephesians to be comforted regarding his condition in prison and thus, he sends Tychicus with this letter and to give the Ephesians an update on his condition. Tychicus was an associate of Pauls and he is mentioned not only here in Ephesians, but in Acts 20:4, Colossians 4:7, II Timothy 4:12, and Titus 3:12.
Paul opened up this epistle or letter showing us the blessings we have in Christ in the heavenly places and now he closes with peace, love and grace that we have in Christ in our daily walk. Maybe you heard of the story of the sailor who was in a shipwreck and he was thrown upon a rock. The waves crashed as he clung onto that rock, danger all around him and then, as the tide went down, he was able to get to safety. A friend asked him, Jim, didnt you shake with fear when you were clinging to that rock? Yes, Jim said, but the rock didnt! Jesus Christ is our Rock and we need to place our feet firmly upon Him and we will not be moved. We need to cling to Him and we will not be shaken off. We must rest our whole weight upon Him and we will not be moved. Enjoy the blessings and prepare for the battle and rest in Him! You see, we have all the blessings of Christ in our lives, thus, let us walk accordingly in UNITY, PURITY, HARMONY and VICTORY!