May 25, 2014
by John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul instructs us to arm ourselves and each other in Christian community. As we learned last week when we studied the breastplate, the shoes, and the shield, the armor is both receiving (from God) and doing (ourselves with God).
We need to find where God has called us to stand and do battle for and with God against darkness. Is there spiritual warfare in ourselves, in our relationships, in our community, in our country, in our world? We need to get back into battle and not be sidelined.
This week we will look at the two final pieces of armor:
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).
I. The Helmet of Salvation
The helmet encourages us to hope in our salvation. As Christians, we have received our salvation from God. Here in Eph. 6:7 and also in Thessalonians 5:8, we are told to take up the “hope of salvation as a helmet”.
While we are here on earth, we experience hope for our salvation because God is active in the here and now, working through all our difficulties for His and ultimately our benefit.
Because the battle is spiritual with dark forces both from this world and from the “heavenly realms” (Eph.6:12), it is not always easy to know who the source is. Both Satan and God are at work in spiritual warfare. What Satan does for our spiritual undoing, God uses to build us up (perhaps happier, more mature, definitely more Christ-like).
It is the helmet that prevents the deathblow to the warrior. Through Christ we have the hope that there is not a deathblow, which gives us freedom to go into conflict with full confidence. We can “lean in” to the battle because we know we are already saved.
Our circumstances of life are not a deathblow. Because of our salvation, even death itself is not a deathblow. Instead it is gain, rest, falling asleep, release from service, Paradise. In the larger, long-term perspective, we have hope because with God, we win! We have eternity.
II. The Sword of the Spirit
The sword of the Spirit encourages us to speak God’s Word.
Receiving the Bible, especially the Gospel story, will protect us from spiritual attack. It will keep us from sin, and will change our lives. Having received the Gospel, we now have a basis for doing spiritual battle with the armor of God. Remember Jesus’ example of quoting Scripture during his 40 days of temptation with Satan.
In Ephesians 6:17, the sword of the spirit is described as the “word of God”. “Word” here is not “logos” but “rhema”, meaning the spoken Word of God.
We have to speak the Word of God, the Gospel. This speaking could take multiple forms: perhaps speaking aloud Scripture or our personal Gospel story, perhaps prayer with and for each other (Eph. 6:18).
As Paul presented the armor of God in Eph. 6:10-16, all commands were plural for all Christians (represented by Christians in Ephesus). We are not a community of individuals who arm one another to fight alone, but an army who must work together in genuine vulnerability with each other and our God, against the powers of darkness. Be a community that fights the battle together!