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Latin-American Reformed Seminary Ephesians

May 2018

Lecture 17
Ephesians 6: 10-17

Intro.

- The book of Ephesians


o Is a book of
 Identity formation.
- It is a book
o That is wholly focused
 On helping its readers
 Understand
o The full implications
 Of the Gospel
 That we have
come to
believe.
- What the Apostle Paul
o Was aiming at
 As he wrote this letter
 Is that his readers come away from this
book
o Understanding
 The total implications
of the Gospel
 For their lives,
o Understanding
 That every part of our
lives
 Is transformed
by the
relationship

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that we have
with God
through Christ.
- What Paul wants his readers to see
o Is that when we come to Christ
 We receive nothing less
 Than a new life.
- Right at the beginning
o Of this letter
 Paul set the scene
 For everything
o That he would go on to say in
this letter
o Using vivid language
 Confronting us with the truth
 That in our sin
o We are not just guilty of doing
 Bad things
o But we are bad:
 By nature, he said,
 Being children
of wrath
 Like the rest of
mankind.
 But when we come to God
 Through Christ
o Our position wholly changes
 And we become the
children of God
 Specifically, we become
the sons of God

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 The heirs of
God
 Co-heirs with
Christ,
o And instead of facing the wrath
of God
 Against our sins
 We receive
 The lavish
blessing of God
 We receive
 (1: 3)
 “every spiritual
blessing in the
heavenly
places.”
- If there is a good thing for God
o To give
 It is now
 Ours
o In Christ Jesus.

- But,
o Crucially
 What Paul wants to see
 Is that all this
o Is not because God
 Simply cleans us up a
bit,

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 It is because
o He reaches down into our sinful
grave
 And brings us up out of
it,
 And grants us
new life.
- What Paul wants us to see
o Is that when we become a Christian
 We receive nothing less
 Than regeneration
o We are re-generated,
 We are given a new life.
- Or, to put another way
o We are reborn.
 We are new creatures
 In Christ.
- And what that means
o Is that everything must change.
 Everything.
 Becoming a Christian is not about
becoming
o A slightly better person.
o Its not about becoming more
moral,
 Or upright.
o It’s not about associating
yourself
 With the right people.
 Or anything like
that.

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 Becoming a Christian
o Is nothing less
 Than becoming a new
person.
- You remember
o How Paul put it
 In Galatians 5: 24?
 “And those who belong to Christ Jesus
have crucified the flesh with its passions
and desires.”

- If you belong to Christ Jesus


o If you are a Christian
 Then you have crucified the flesh
 With its passions and desires –
o Those same passions and
desires
 That Paul had said in ch.
2 v. 3
 Were what controlled
us
 In our sin,
 We have put that old flesh
 To death,
o And we now have a new life
 In Christ.

- And what Paul has been explaining


o And applying throughout
 This letter
 Is that that has

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o Massive implications
 For how we understand
 Life.
- It has massive implications
o For how we understand our place in this world
 And how we relate to the culture
 In which we live.

- And so Paul
o Has gone from the grand
 Philosophical
 Underpinnings
o Of the Christian worldview
 In ch. 4
 Explaining that our
point of reference
 Is not our
senses or our
passions and
desires,
 But is the eternal
context in which we
now find ourselves.
o We understand this life
 To be a light and
momentary experience
 That pales in
comparison
 To the eternal
blessings that

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are ours in
Christ,
 And that frees us
o Then
 From the pressure of
culture.
o We are released
 From the tyranny
 Of the wisdom
of ages,
o And we are able
 To make different
choices,
 And to live by a
different
standard.
- Essentially
o What Paul is saying
 Is that our lives
 Are no longer dictated
o By our own wills –
 what seems right and
good to us,
o But instead they are driven
 By the will of God.
 We live in reference to
Him
 For His glory in
our lives.

- We saw this

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o In Psalm 57
 On Wednesday evening
 At the Prayer Meeting:
o For God to be exalted above the heavens
 (as David describes Him)
 Does not simply refer to Him
o Being all-powerful
 But also,
o Even primarily,
 To Him being
 All-important.

- When we are given new life in Christ


o Our eyes are lifted
 From ourselves
 And we behold the glory of God
o And we are compelled then
o To live in a way
 That gives Him that
honor
 That He is due.

- And Paul has applied this specifically:

o In ch. 2 and 3
 To complicated and emotional and historic
 Race-relations
o Showing how the Gospel
destroys
 Race/culture based
one-up-manship.

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o He has explained how


 This informs and shapes
 Christian fellowship:
o Establishing a fundamental and
deep-seated unity
 That is rooted in a
radical humility
 That is driven
by our
salvation.
o Understanding that regardless
of background or behavior
 Every one of us is a
debtor the mercy and
grace of God,
 Every one of us has the
testimony of
 “nothing in my
hand I bring,
simply to thy
cross I cling”
o Understanding that our shared
salvation
 Is the great equalizer
 Within the
church.

- And of course,
o As we have been seeing
 In the latter half of ch. 5 and he first half of ch. 6
 Paul has applied that

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o Even more pointedly


 To the three most
important relationships
in our lives:
 The
relationship of
husband and
wife
 The
relationship of
parent and
child
 And the
relationship of
the workplace,
o Showing us
 How these relationships
 Are freed from the constraints of
culture and tradition
o And are specifically
transformed
 By the relationship we
have with God
 In Christ.

I. What does it say?


- But now
o As we come to verse 10
 And as Paul begins
 To wrap up his letter,
o He really

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 Anticipates the objection


 That none of this
o Is quite as easy
 As he has made it
seem.

- And as Paul has brought


o The Gospel to bear
 On various aspects of life
 He has done it
o In a rather
 Black-and-white way.

- There has been little nuance


o In what he has been saying.

 Very clearly,
 Very concisely
o Paul has given us a series
 Of fairly clear-cut
 Principles
 That are to
inform and
direct our lives.

- And of course
o That is necessary
 For what he is intending to do.

- But the objection might come


o That none of this

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 Is quite as easy
 As it may at first seem.
- The relationship
o Between Jew and Gentile
 Was a historically hostile one
 That continued to bear
o Animosity in the culture
 That surrounded
 This first-
century church.
o The Jewish-background believers
 And the Gentile-background believers
 Would have both been brought up
o To think in a certain way
 About the other group.
 The racism
 Would have been pervasive
o For both groups,
 Almost just the air they breathed.
- And so
o For Paul
 To tell his readers
 That the dividing wall of hostility
o Between the two groups
 Is destroyed by the
Gospel,
o Is all fine and well
 But on the ground
 That was a hard truth
o To embrace and apply.

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- Likewise
o In the face
 Of a pretty defined
 Social stratification
o That would have been found in
Ephesus
 Or any Roman society
o The notion
 All believers stand on the same ground
 And have no right to lord it over anyone
o But instead are called to be
servants of all,
 Would have been a radical notion
o That would have been difficult
to put into practice,
o Especially
 As we saw last week
 When you have a congregation
o Like this one in Ephesus
 In which you have
slaves and masters
sitting in the same
pews.
- It is fine
o For Paul to tell slaves and masters
 That now in Christ
 They are not
o Essentially slave and master
 But are brothers in
Christ,
o But what did that look like?

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- Or,
oTo think more about the slave-master relationship:
 It is fine for Paul
 To tell the slaves to obey
o Their earthly masters with
 Fear and trembling (v.
5)
o A phrase that connotes a
nervousness
 That a loved-one might
be let down or
disappointed.
 It is fine for Paul to tell the slaves
 To honor their masters and work well
for them
o Regardless of how they are
treated
 Because they are
serving Christ
ultimately
 And not man.
- But what if you
o Are being beaten
 Within an inch of your life?
o What if
 Your Master is hostile to you,
 And makes your life
o Close to being a living hell?
 (remember these slaves
had no legal recourse
against their masters)

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- Or,
o It is fine for Paul to tell the Masters
 To honor their slaves,
 But what if the slave
o Is insubordinate?
o What if the slave
 Begins to use your
good-heartedness
against you,
 And take
advantage of
Paul’s
command
 To stop
threatening?
- Or,
o What about children and parents?
 We all know
 That there is a world of complexities
o That surround that relationship.
o There are bad parents
 That it is truly
 Hard to honor.
 Bad fathers
 Who terrorize their children,
 Bad mothers
 Who are completely disconnected
o From the lives of their children.
 Or,
 In a more every-day way
o We all know

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 As parents that we
mess this up
 All the time:
 We respond
poorly,
 We make
wrong
decisions,
 We struggle to
keep life
together.

- Or, what about our marriages?


o What Paul says about the relationship
 Of husband and wife
 Is not complicated.
 But it’s hard.
o It butts up against
 Our culture,
o It grates against our pride and
our sin.
 The picture Paul paints of marriage
 Is beautiful:
o This harmonious relationship
 In which the husband is
self-sacrificially
committed to seeking
the welfare and
advancement of his
wife,
 And the wife

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 Gladly seeking
to serve her
husband and
help him,
 A beautiful relationship
o In which these two halves
compliment
 And complete another.

- But you don’t have to be married long


o To know that
 What happens behind closed doors
 Is not always this beautiful.
o Pride/sin creeps in,
 And husband and wife
 Turn into
combatants.

- What Paul has said is clear,


o It makes sense.
 But when this congregation
 Rose from this worship service
o In which this letter would have
been read,
 When we rise from here
 And go out into
o Day-to-day life
 We know that
 This is hard!

- And so here,

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o With verse 10
 Paul turns
 To address these complications
o Head on.

- And he says to us
o These difficulties
 Are more than just
 The result of living
o In a fallen world.
o These difficulties
 Are more than just
 The result
o Of fighting against
 The corruption of sin
 In our lives.
- These difficulties are the result
o Of an intense spiritual battle
 That we are in.

- Did you hear


o How he described
 The context of our lives
 In verse 12?
o “For we do not wrestle against
flesh and blood, but against the
rulers, against the authorities,
against the cosmic powers over
this present darkness,

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 Against the spiritual


forces of evil in the
heavenly places.”

o Did you hear that?


 He is saying
 This struggle
o Is not just against our flesh,
o It’s not just against
 The culture.
 It’s not just
 An opposition
o Of worldviews and
philosophies.
- You, Christian,
o Are engaged in a war
 In which your enemy is the devil
 Who brings with him
o All of his diabolical
 forces.

- While the devil was dealt a death-blow


o At Calvary,
 He has not yet finally been destroyed,
 And he spends these last days
o Fighting against Christ
 And all those who are
allied with Him.

- Someone once compared it


o To the difference between

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 D-Day
 And VE Day.
o It was on D-Day
 That the Second World War
 Was won,
 But it wasn’t until VE Day
o A year later
 That the fighting was
over.
o Defeated as they were
 The Germans kept on fighting
 Seeking to do as much damage
o As they possibly could.
- And so it is
o With us.

 The devil has been decisively defeated.


 It was at the Cross
o That Jesus
 Dealt Him the
deathblow,
 Crushing his head
 As God had
promised in
Genesis 3: 15,
o But until Christ returns
 And binds that devil
 And throws him into the lake of fire
o Where he will be tormented
 Day and night
 Forever

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 As John tells us
 He will in Rev. 20.
 Until that day
 The devil wages war
o Against Christ and His people.
- That
o Is the conflict
 That we are engaged in
 Paul says.
o That is why
 These clear, simple instructions
 That Paul has just given us
o For how we are called to live
 In light of the Gospel,
 Will be so hard
 At times
o To implement.
- There is a devil,
o An enemy
 Who is fighting against us,
 And who wants us to throw up our
hands
o And say it is too hard
o It is too much for us.

- And so
o (v. 13)
 If we are to resist that devil
 Then we must
o Paul says

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 Clothe ourselves with


the Gospel.
 We must
o Take up the whole armor of
God.

- And in order
o To help us understand this
 Paul uses the image
 Of a Roman foot soldier,

- It is a familiar image to us:


o He begins by telling us
 To fasten on the belt of truth.
 The Roman soldier
o Would have had a leather belt
 That supported and
protected his lower
torso,
 As well as
gathering up
the fabric of his
tunic.
o It was an item of clothing that
both protected him
 And enabled him to
fight unencumbered.
 And so
o What Paul is saying

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 Is that the truth of the


Gospel works in the
same way.
o We will be bombarded by a
myriad of worldviews
 That will tempt us away
from this life of Gospel-
fidelity
 That Paul has
been explaining
and applying.
o Sometimes this will come as
outright assaults
 Telling us that our way
of living
 Is out of step
with the times
 Or on the
wrong side of
history,
o But sometimes the devil will
appear
 As an angel of light
 (2 Cor. 11: 4)
 And tempt us away
with half-truths
 That contain
just enough
truth to seem
plausible

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 But which, in
the end, draws
us away from
Christ.
 As a soldier of the Cross
 Bind up that belt of truth
o Paul says
o “Gird your loins”
 As some other
translations put it
o With the truth about
 Who God is
 Who you are
 And how you are
reconciled in Christ
 That is the
foundation of
everything Paul
has said here.
- Put on the breastplate of righteousness:
o Cover your vital organs
 By remembering the righteousness of Christ
 Imputed to you
o By faith.
 You will fail in all of this
 And in your failure
o The devil
 Will try to gain a
foothold
 Convincing you

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 That you are


not good
enough,
 Or that you are
not really a
Christian.
o But, Paul says,
 Cover your most vulnerable parts,
 By remembering
o The imputation of Christ’s
righteousness to you.
 That is your confidence
in this battle.

- Put on the shoes of the gospel of peace,


o Standing firm against the assaults of the devil
 With the grip
 Of the knowledge
o That in Christ you
 Who were once the
enemy of God
 Are now His
child
 And that no man
 And no devil
o Can take that away from you.
- Take up the shield of faith
o Trusting in God
 Believing the promises of the Gospel
 Beating the first two chapters of this
letter into your head again and again

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o So that when the


 Volleys of the
 Devil’s flaming
arrows come
against you,
 They will just
fizzle out.

- And your final ground of confidence


o Is in the your salvation
 That crowns you head:
 The confidence
o That God will finish what He has
begun
 And will bring you
home
 To enjoy the
fullness of His
lavish blessings.
- Clothe yourself
o With these things
 So that you can stand
 So that you can bear
 The battle
o And you can
 Live like this,
 Live a life
 That is
consistent with
the Gospel you
profess.

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- It will be hard
o But the Gospel covers you,
 The promises of Christ
 Defend you
o Against all the harm
 That the devil would
do.

- And finally
o Paul says
 Go on the offensive
 With the sword of the Spirit
o Which is the Word of God,
 Following the example
 Of our Savior
o Who wielded that weapon
 In His temptation in the
wilderness
 And throughout
His earthly
ministry.
o Fill yourself
 With the Bible.
 Soak yourself in Scripture
o As you would soak in a bath.
o Devour this book,
 So that when the assaults come
 You remember
o All that is yours in Christ,
 You remember

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o That God
 Is yours in Christ.

II. What does it mean?


- What Paul has given us
o Throughout this letter
 Has been plain,
 It has been simple, really.
o He has taken us by the hand
 And he has walked us
 Down a logical path,
o Beginning with the grand
doctrine of our salvation
 And dialing it in,
 Applying it to
the everyday
situation of our
lives.
- But here he comes
o And he says to us
 As clear
 As logical as this is,
o It will be hard.
o “still our ancient foe
 Doth seek to work us woe,
 His craft and power are great
o And armed with cruel hate”
o And so
 If you are to stand
 If you are to live

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o As you are called to live as a


Christian,
 You must cover yourself
with the Gospel.

Conc.

- Sinclair Ferguson
o “We are not engaged in ‘conflict management’ here.
 This is a personal contest to the death against
the one who has brought down a third of the
stars of heaven with a sweep of his tail (Rev 12:
4),
 and has wounded such children of God
as Adam, Noah, Moses, David, Peter,
and a vast multitude of others.”
- The only way
o That we can overcome him
 Is through an unreserved devotion
 To Christ our King,
o And a conscious, intentional
 Delight
 In all that He
has done for us.

- In Christ alone we stand.

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