Scripture Reading: Genesis 3:1-7 Sermon Title: Stand Firm in Christ Sermon Text: Ephesians 6:10-12 Memory Verse: Ephesians 6:10-11
NOTE: “Scripture quotations are from the NASB." This manuscript is provided as a courtesy and is not intended for publication. The audio message will differ because the manuscript is not followed word for word. Thanks for understanding. This morning, we begin looking at the closing words of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. He writes, 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17)
Let’s make a few observations on this passage before we begin.
While speaking about this passage, we are not going to focus on the armor. If we spend too much time speaking about helmets, shields, and swords, we will easily forget why there is a battle. In other words, when watching a battle scene in a movie, what is most important is why people are fighting. We will first ask why there is a battle. The armor is secondary. The passage is not about the armor. The armor is important, and we will talk about it, but it is not the primary focus. We need to get past the armor and understand the battle.
This passage is at the end of a great letter. We often hear sermons on the armor of God without considering the context of the entire letter. It is an exciting passage and full of great truths. However, I believe we do ourselves a disservice to look at the passage independently of the rest of Ephesians. In studying the text, it is clearly a summary of Ephesians. Therefore, in speaking on this passage, we need to incorporate the truths already spoken of in this letter.
The passage is about standing firm. The Ephesian saints showed themselves to stray in their doctrine. They are deceived about the glories of salvation. They did not stand firm. God desires for His saints not to be swayed, but to stand their ground. Three times the Apostle commends the saints to stand firm.
Verse 11, put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm.
Verse 13, put on the armor of God to resist in the evil day, having done everything, to stand firm.
Verse 14, stand firm
We are to stand firm. Stand our ground. We are to be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might. Satan’s forces seek to move us from Christ. We are to resist the onslaught of the enemy and stand firm in the Lord.
Considering these observations, the main idea of the message is not “put on the armor of God.” The MAIN IDEA of the message is: Fight to stand firm in Christ.
The first point for standing firm is that we are to enjoy Christ.
Why do we exist?
Let’s take a moment and think deeply about the meaning and purpose of life. Do you ever ask yourself, “why am I created?” Or, to ask the question another way, what is my purpose in the universe? Why do I exist?
Perhaps you are thinking, are we going to become philosophical? Why ask these questions?
If we do not know why we are created and we live without knowing our purpose and place in the universe, we will forever be unhappy, disappointed, and falling short. But, if we do know our purpose and we do know why we are created, life will be very enjoyable. Knowing our purpose allows us to attain our greatest potential. We achieve success in our design.
Let’s take this to the extreme. Imagine a human who thinks they are a cow. If they think they are a cow and they try to live as a cow, they will have a very unfulfilled, disappointing life. They will never experience the joys of being a cow because they are not a cow. And, they will never experience the joys of being a human because they think they are a cow.
Humans seek joy
It is inescapable that each of us has a deep-seated motivation to partake in experiences which bring us enjoyment. Every day we make choices to do what brings us the most joy. We seek the most enjoyable food, music, friendships, comfort, amusement park rides, and leisure activities.
The reason we seek enjoyment is that we are creatures designed and created by God to find joy. Our purpose in creation is to enjoy great things. We are created to enjoy beautiful music, striking sunsets, magnificent animals, and incredible athletic feats which make us say, “Wow.”
Think about how we are made. On top of our body is our head. Our head has eyes, ears, a nose, and a mouth. These organs are gateways to our experience of joy.
With our eyes, we look upon art and beauty, the variety of creation, depth, dimension, multitudes of colors, shapes of every size and contour, and light of varying intensities. Our eyes feed our brain with a daily diet of visual feasts. Our ears bring us the pleasure of the birds in the spring, the exciting sound of a roaring lion, and the fun of the music in the carnival. We are enraptured with the harmonic sounds of an orchestra, the soloist singing a melody, and the rushing wind through trees.
We are created to enjoy smell. Smell is a powerful sense known to trigger memories. People spend money for good smells (perfumes, candles, aroma therapy). We walk into a room, and we often notice the smell first, without even attempting to engage our sense of smell. If an area smells unpleasant, we have an immediate reaction and have an overwhelming desire to leave.
We are created to enjoy tasting food. We overeat because food tastes so very good. We post pictures of great food on Facebook. We enjoy the ringing of mustard on a sandwich, melted chocolate on a strawberry, and the robustness of barbecued ribs. The mention of food causes our mouth to salivate in anticipation of the pleasure of eating. Tastes allow us a way to give a description of the world around us. Don’t be bitter. She is sweet. That joke is in poor taste.
Our skin enjoys the feeling of the warm sun and the coolness of a breeze. We enjoy the touch of silk and the scales of a reptile. Our sense of touch lets us know we are loved with the embrace of our spouse or the handshake of our friend.
We value enjoyment
Not only do we enjoy sensing things in the world, but we also place value judgment on everything we experience. We all have a value of what is good and what is bad. We are created and designed by God to enjoy what is good and hate what is bad. We enjoy walking into a room which is warm, smells like fresh cookies, lit by twenty candles and decorated with beautiful artwork and craftsmanship. We see the inviting soft leather chair beckoning, and we stay. We are wired to reject that which has a bad stench, is uncomfortable to our touch, obnoxiously loud and abrasive, and unappealing to our eyes.
We pay money to enjoy the thrills of an amusement park. We are willing to pay extra for food at a restaurant if it is made with a great recipe. We go on vacations to find enjoyment and pleasure and to escape the pain of the ordinary.
We stand on the rocky ocean shore, watching the mighty waves collide upon the rocks, tasting the salt, feeling the wind and the spray, hearing the thunderous waves crash, and we declare, “I feel alive!”
For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands. Ps. 92:4
In the process of seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting, our emotions are fulfilled. Our senses lead us to emotional fulfillment. The ultimate emotion is pure joy. We run to that which is joyful. The opposite of joy is sorrow and sadness. We do not enjoy experiences which bring us sorrow.
We express our emotional fulfillment with words associated with our heart. Two words are used most to express our experiences; love and hate.
The things we hate do not bring us joy. The things we love, bring us the most joy. Our heart is the measuring stick of our joy. The heart serves as the final evaluator of the pleasure we are experiencing. When we find a person joyful and pleasurable, our heart emotions concur with our evaluation. I love my wife; she brings me joy. I hate headaches; they bring me no joy.
It is no accident that God tells us that heaven is a place where there is no sorrow or tears but only joy and pleasure. God designed us to be creatures searching for joy. The Scripture repeatedly promises joy.
You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever (Ps. 16:11)
And the ransomed of the LORD will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion, with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. (Is. 35:10)
We worship what we love and enjoy the most
Worship is to value and treasure what we love. When someone is deeply in love, we have a saying, “she worships the ground he walks on.” In other words, she treasures the person so much; she is willing to dig up a piece of the ground where he stands and give that piece of land value.
Words to describe worship include treasure, value, cherish, adore, affection, and appreciate. Worship is the highest form of showing value.
The experiences, objects, and relationships which bring the most pleasure are the ones we love most, and as a result, they are the object of our worship. Affection and love are from the heart. Worship is from the heart.
Summary – We are created to worship
We are designed to seek joy and pleasure.
We are designed with senses, taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell, so we find joy in our surroundings.
We are designed to assign a value to our experiences.
We assign the value of love on one end of the spectrum and hate on the opposite end.
We worship what we love most.
Therefore, we are beings designed to worship. We are created for one sole purpose, and that is to worship. We are created to look, enjoy, love, and worship.
Therefore, Worship Christ
The Bible declares Jesus Christ is worthy of our worship.
The book of Ephesians is written to the church in Ephesus with the purpose of helping them see the value of Jesus Christ. He is worthy of worship.
The Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of heaven and earth, is worthy of our enjoyment. His person, character, and work are to be valued above all things. There is none more holy, more good, or purer than Christ. He is the source of all which is right. He is the giver and sustainer of life. Everything we need flows from His hand. He is the source of unfathomable riches.
It is His goodness we taste in fruit and smell in flowers. It is His truth we find the satisfaction of knowing. It is because He defeats our enemies we know our pain and suffering is taken away.
When we rightly understand Jesus Christ, we realize praising His glory is our joy. Our hearts are filled with thankfulness because we are recipients of His love. We find value in Christ because He paid the price of His blood to purchase our soul. Jesus is worthy to be valued above all else and praised because, in Him, we find complete enjoyment.
We may stand next to our Savior and know we are loved. He proves His love to us on the cross. We look upon His handiwork and marvel at His perfection. We stand amazed at the vastness of His authority and His power and might as He beckons the winds and waves when to move and when to stand still. He calls upon the stars and planets to spin in their orbits. He commands the fish to swim and the birds to fly. He proclaims His law, and we bow before His holiness. He brings forth the bread for our hunger and the water for our thirst. He is our companion who meets our every need.
We are to be like David who says, “You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.” (Ps. 16:2); “My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.” (Ps. 63:5); and “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” (Ps. 30:11-12)
We are created to enjoy Christ. He is of utmost value.
Why all this talk about joy in Christ? Hold that thought …
The Place to Stand Firm (v. 10)
This final section of the letter has a purpose which is to encourage and persuade us to stand firm in Christ. 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. (Eph. 6:10)
Union with Christ
The operative word of the sentence is the word “in”; be strong in the Lord. We have learned much about being in Christ from the letter to the church in Ephesus. At the beginning of Ephesians, we learn of all we receive from our being “in” Christ.
We receive from God every spiritual blessing in Christ, (Eph. 1:3)
God chooses us for adoption as children in Christ (Eph. 1:4, 5)
God gives us grace (Eph. 1:6)
We have redemption and the forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7)
We have obtained an inheritance, (Eph. 1:11
We are given hope (Eph. 1:12)
We are sealed with the Holy Spirit in Christ (Eph. 1:13)
Everything we receive comes about because of our being called into union with Christ. In Christ, we receive every good and perfect gift coming down to us from the Father of lights (Ja. 1:17).
Do not be moved from our union with Christ. Let nothing separate us from being in Him.
Strength of His might
We are to stand in union with Christ, and we are to stand in the strength of His might.
Paul tells the saints He is praying they will know the strength of God’s might (Eph. 1:19). In other words, Paul tells the saints, I am asking God for you to know and understand the strength of God’s might. After revealing his prayer, Paul reveals what is the strength of God’s might.
God is working all of what we receive in Christ, our inheritance, the blessings, our forgiveness, through the strength of His might (Eph. 1:19). It is the same strength of His might which God worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand (Eph. 1:20).
We are to stand in union with Christ, and we are to stand in the strength of God’s might.
When we are standing firm in the strength of His might, we are standing strong in the resurrection power. It is the strength of His might, God’s resurrection power, which makes us alive together with Christ, raised up with Him and seated with Him in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:5-6).
Ephesians is very clear in letting us know how the strength of God’s might works in us. We were not alive, but dead in our trespasses and sins. We were walking according to the course of this world. We were living in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath. The spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience is no longer working in us. The strength of God’s might seals us with the Holy Spirit. The strength of God’s might lifts us from being dead, makes us alive, raises us up, and seats us in the heavenly places in Christ. God’s resurrection power, the strength of His might, works in us. Stand in the strength of His might (Eph. 2:1-4).
There is so much we receive from being in Christ. His riches are unfathomable; we are unable to comprehend the depth of His riches.
Jesus provides living water for all who thirst and whoever drinks of His water will never thirst again (Jn. 4:14). Jesus is the bread of life; those who come to Him will not hunger (Jn. 6:35).
His riches bring us health. He is “the Balm of Gilead” (Jer. 8:22) and the Great Physician (Mt. 9:12; Lk. 4:23) who brings healing to the nations (Rev. 22:2). By His stripes, we are healed (Is. 53:5).
Jesus is the great Shepherd who watches over His flock (1 Peter 5:4). He lays down His life for His sheep.
His unfathomable riches keep us safe and secure. Jesus has authority over armies of angels. He rules and watches over His people because He is King of Kings and (Zech. 14:16) and Lord of Lords (1 Cor. 12:3; 2 Pet. 1:11). Jesus carries the government upon His shoulders. He defeats and conquers our enemies.
His unfathomable riches teach our minds. In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). Jesus is the truth (John 14:6).
Christ, because of His great love, and because of the riches of His mercy, offers forgiveness of sin. He is the Merciful and Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14; 2:17); the Minister of the Sanctuary (Heb. 8:2), and the great Deliverer (Rom. 11:26) who rescues us from the kingdom of darkness and deliver us to His kingdom of light.
Jesus paid the penalty for sin with His death on the cross because He is the Horn of salvation (Ps. 18:2; Lk. 1:69); the Savior of the world (Lk. 1:47; 2:11; 1 Jn. 4:14).
The place to stand firm is in Christ. We are to be strong in the Lord.
Jesus alone offers joy
When we are strong in the Lord, we are weak in everything else. We do not trust our good works. We do not trust Buddha or Mohammed to bring us joy. We do not trust in our education or our job to bring us joy. We do not look at the achievements of our children to bring us joy. We do not trust our finances or our belongings to give us joy.
When we stand strong in the Lord, everything else looks weak and unfulfilling. We sing songs like, “In Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
When we are strong in the Lord and the strength of His might, we trust in Christ’s righteousness to bring us into good favor with God. We look upon Jesus Christ and see Him as the way, the truth, and the life. Only Jesus can deliver on His promises.
Jesus promises us perfect joy.
These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. (Jn. 15:11)
Who else or what else in the universe promises fulness of joy and can deliver on that promise? Only Jesus is all-powerful, all-knowing, and completely able to fulfill.
Jesus proves He cares and loves for us. He proves it on the cross. When Jesus promises joy, He shows how serious He is about paying the price for our joy. There is no greater demonstration of sacrifice. Jesus paid the ultimate price. Do we know of anyone who comes close to paying the price for our joy than Christ? Be strong in the Lord.
Jesus proves He understands joy. Jesus taught about the human condition. He spoke about our deepest needs as one of us. He clothes Himself in human flesh and tells us, I know about hunger and thirst. I know about sorrow and sadness. I go and prepare a place for you, and you may know it will be great. I know what it takes for humans to be comfortable. Trust me. I will bring you to a place of eternal joy. Be strong in the Lord.
Jesus proves He can deliver joy by rising from the dead. Death robs every human of joy. There is no joy at the graveside. There is no joy at the hospital bed. There is no joy in death. Death is the complete opposite of fullness of joy. Jesus proves He can deliver joy because He conquers the grave. He dies, is buried, and rises again from the dead, so we may know His promise of eternal joy is real. Be strong in the Lord.
Jesus proves He loves us. Jesus proves He understands the joy of humanity. Jesus proves He is powerful and able to deliver joy by conquering death.
Be strong in the Lord.
Be strong in the Lord = be joyful in the Lord
Now is when we make the connection between the first point of enjoying Christ and standing firm in the Lord. We are strongest in the Lord when we are most joyful in the Lord.
Let’s illustrate this point by looking at our life and thinking about what we do when we are not joyful. Unhappy humans no longer find joy in their automobile, so they do not stand with the current automobile, but seek to find a replacement. We will say, “I can’t stand that car.” Unhappy humans at work will not stand at their current job but will leave their work and find another place of employment. “I can’t stand my job.” Unjoyful husbands and wives will leave their marriage to find joy. Unhappy Christians leave the church and may even stop following Christ.
Christians who are weak in the Lord have one foot in the world and one foot in the church. They are unable to decide where they find the most happiness. Because they are weak, in difficult times, they are unable to stand firm. They are the first to deny Christ. They are the first to run from battle.
We are weakest in the Lord when we are not joyful in the Lord.
God is not pleased when we find no joy in Him. Listen to what He said to the Israelites: 47“Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; 48therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you. (Deut. 28:47;48)
If you find no joy in your faith, but desire to have joy, please talk to me or talk to someone who you see has joy in Christ. In the eyes of God, when we do not find joy in Christ, we are in deep sin.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus, our example to follow, the author and perfecter of faith, endured the cross because He believed in the joy set before Him. Jesus endures the most difficult of the devil’s schemes because His eyes are on His joy. It is as if Jesus said, “Satan, you may scatter my friends, falsely accuse me, take away my status as Rabbi, give away my belongings, hang me naked to bring me shame, and make my body suffer horribly, but you will not take my joy.” He is our example to follow.
Jesus has faith in the joy set before Him. He believes. Do you believe? Do you have the joy set before you? Are you willing to endure all things because you know the joy is real?
The question is, do we believe the promise of Scripture? Do we believe the promises of God find their amen in Christ?
Are you strong in the Lord and the strength of His might? Is Jesus your joy?
Fight to stand firm in Christ. Fight because He alone offers eternal joy. MAIN IDEA: Fight to stand firm in Christ.
Introduction: Enjoy Christ
The Place to Stand Firm (v.10)