Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Relating the Spirit-filled life to spiritual warfare

Ephesians 6:10-12 "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For 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."

In today's post we now turn our attention exclusively to Ephesians 6, with the goal this week to discover what putting on the full armor of God actually means. Such a command can sound so abstract until we consider the wider context of Ephesians 6:10-18. Today's focus will be on exploring the necessary condition for putting on the whole armor of God: being filled with the Holy Spirit. We will consider this thought under two main headings:

1. Putting on the whole armor of God means being Spirit-filled

2. The Spirit-filled life is pre-requisite to putting on the full-armor of God

Putting on the Whole Armor of God means being Spirit filled. 
Notice what Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10 "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might." Whenever you see that underlined word: "finally", the indication is that Paul is bring to a close a series of points. Notice....

1. Ephesians 4:1 "Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called."

The whole idea of "walking with God" is a huge point in this second part of Ephesians. Like connecting the dots throughout the remainder of Ephesians 4,5 and 6, we can trace the remaining chain of commands:

2. Ephesians 4:17 "So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind."

3. Ephesians 5:1-2  "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."

4. Ephesians 5:15,18 15 "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise." 18 "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit."

To walk with God requires the believer to be "filled" or "under the influence" of the Holy Spirit. The filling of the Holy is commanded not only here in Ephesians, but elsewhere in the scriptures and stated in differing ways. For example, Galatians 5:16 "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." Colossians 3:16 "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God." To have the scriptures memorized or to have spent time in them to the point of having them in me is practically equivalent to submitting oneself under the Spirit's influence. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 "Do not quench the Spirit." Thus when Paul commands believers to "put on the full armor of God", he is is effect commanding them to be "Spirit-filled people" on a regular basis.   

The Spirit-filled life is pre-requisite to putting on the full-armor of God
As is always the case in the Spirit-filled life: the issue is not about you getting more of the Spirit but rather Him getting more of you. Thus putting on the full armor of God means being filled with the Holy Spirit. As we have already witnessed in Paul's flow of argument through Ephesians 4,5,6; life requires the Spirit-filled life. Undoubtedly, whether in our churches, marriages, parenting or workplaces, relating and responding to people in a Christ-like manner can only occur when we have given ourselves daily to the Spirit's filling ministry. 

When I think of the "Spirit-filled" life, such a condition can be likened unto the "chain-mail" a soldier would had worn in the Roman army of the 1st century. According to the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, such "chain-mail" (called by the Roman Soldiers lorica) would had protected the heart and vital organs behind the rib cage. 

wikipedia picture

Putting on the Whole Armor of God must begin from the inside to the outside - from the heart and mind to to attitudes then actions. 

The filling of the Holy Spirit means we are guarding the organ of thought and passion for God - the heart. The heart (which again, is the seat of the emotions and in all reality, the causal center of human life itself) must be guarded at all costs. The heart in scripture is described as the well-spring of life (Proverbs 4:23); the source of either the overflow of evils in a man (Matt 15:19) or goodness (Matt 12:34-35). The passions in the heart follow after whatever the mind deems to be the best course of action, whether good or evil (see James 1:13-15). 

Certainly the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence is a must, being that this is after all "the whole armor of God". One must be a Christian to wear the spiritual armor. However, to ensure effectiveness in spiritual warfare and defending Kingdom ground in our marriages (Ephesians 5:22-33); child-rearing (Ephesians 6:1-4) and workplaces (Ephesians 6:5-9), we as Christians must daily be Spirit-filled. This is why Paul's command to put on the full armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18 comes at the tail end of a string of commands that are about making sure we are walking with God as Spirit-filled believers.

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