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Studies In Ephesians

Proclaiming the Unsearchable Riches of Christ (See 3:8)

Chapter 6:10-24


[Read Ephesians 6:10-24]

"Onward Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before . . . "

We don’t hear this song much anymore. Anything that carries the martial note of the “crusades” is politically incorrect, it seems–especially in the context of the war in Afghanistan.

In A. D. 1095 Pope Urban proclaimed the first of six crusades. These were military expeditions that sought to take control of the Holy Land from the Muslims.

Some five thousand lords, knights, priests, workers, and camp followers took the cross, apparently believing that Urban granted them plenary indulgence for their sins if they joined. With the Cross as their banner, they conducted a bloody campaign, which succeeded in capturing Jerusalem, holding it until 1187 when it was retaken by the Egyptian Arab warrior Saladin.

What a stain on the pages of religious history, now to become ammunition for terrorist propaganda!

A good time, surely, for Ephesians 6 to give the right understanding about the unique war that has the cross of Jesus going on before.

In The Armory

Visualize the Apostle, bound in chains, deeply concerned about his mission as an ambassador of the gospel (vv. 19-20). Would he stay bold in making known the message for which he had been imprisoned? Would he find the right words for a fearless proclamation of the Cross? He asks for prayer support in Ephesus.

Considering what he writes in 6:10-24, one can assume that Paul was meditating on the portraits of his Lord, the Messiah, in Isaiah [11:5, 52:7; 59:17] as he sat in chains. Perhaps he had been watching a changing of the guard–observing the muscular soldiers as they strapped on their famous armor and fearsome weaponry. In such a setting “words were given him” (v. 19) which would equip the saints for the kind of war for which every believer has been called to colors.

This Fight Is Fierce, The Warfare Long

First, we get a briefing about the enemy we engage. Quickly we understand that this foe is like no other.

“We do not wrestle against flesh and blood” (v. 12). No ordinary military campaign or crusade in this picture! “My kingdom is not of his world,” Jesus explained to Pilate. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight” (John 18:36).

In this war the most sophisticated weapons of destruction could do nothing. For we are up against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (v. 12). The commander in chief? “The devil” (v. 11). Has there ever been a more intimidating foe to face?

“Though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us . . . ” Do we tremble before these spiritual terrorists? A hymn grants, “With might of ours can naught be done, soon were our loss effected.” Let us never underestimate this enemy!

Able To Withstand

” . . . But for us fights the Valiant One.” That wonderful “but”! However wily the adversary is [v. 11], we are assured that we can stand against him, being strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (v. 10). Jesus Christ is our Commander in Chief, whom God Himself elected.

How Our Battle Is Fought

If we are nervous about facing such demonic forces in battle, let us take heart. Unlike military commanders who may sit safely in a bunker while their troops are put in harm’s way, our Jesus is always fighting for us as He did in the wilderness, where He frustrated the temptation attacks of Satan with the Word (It is written!) and won the day.

We are involved, of course, yet in a surprisingly passive way. We are to be armed with such benevolent equipment as truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer (vv. 13-20).

These do not sound like much fire power, but they guarantee that we shall be “able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (v. 13). All the fiery darts of the wicked one will be quenched. The army of Jesus is safe with the Cross of Jesus going on before.

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

–Pastor Rollin A. Reim