Peninsula Community Church
Ephesians – Be Strong, Get in The Game
May 3, 2015
Ephesians 6:10-12 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Tony Evans in his book, “Victory in Spiritual Battle” tells the story of a painting that hangs in the Louvre in Europe that is entitled “Checkmate.” If you looked at the painting, you would see two characters playing chess. On one side of the chessboard is one player who resembles the devil. He is seen sitting in confidence that he has won the game. On the other side of the board is a frightened, scared young man. Sweat covers his brow and on his cheek is one solitary tear. The game is obviously drawing to a close and the winner appears to have already been decided.
But one day, there was a chess champion who visited the art gallery. As he paused to look at the painting, he was captured by the two figures in the painting. He also began to study the game which was being played. The champion stood before the painting for some time before he asked the curator if he had a chess board. After the champion insisted on finding one, the curator finally emerged with one. The champion immediately began to duplicate the game on the board as it was in the painting. He then began to finish the game by making a move and then countering that move with the move the devil would have made in order to avoid checkmate. He then made another move and then another. Each move put the devil on the defensive. Eventually, the champion cried out with relief and joy… “I did it, I did it!” The champion in that moment turned to the painting and proclaimed, “Young man, your enemy miscalculated a very important move. I uncovered it, and as a result, you don’t have to lose! You win!”
Let me tell you something this morning, Paul has looked at the chess game called life. He has looked at all of the moves possible and he is proclaiming through the final words of Ephesians that we win and that we do not have to live a defeated life any more. There have been some calculated moves that have taken place to put the enemy on the defensive and to neutralize his power over us and with that we are victorious.
As we look at this Scripture, we must first understand that we have an enemy that is out to destroy us. He not only wishes to destroy us and but to also neutralize our effectiveness in the culture in which we live. The enemy will use our past experiences, the false teaching we have received, the personal wounds and hurts we have received to accomplish this. But, it does not have to be that way. The great news is that we have power over any and all of our enemies.
Paul understood this principle. It is for that reason Paul calls us to “be strong in the Lord and to be strong in the strength of his might.” The word used for strong is “endunamousthe” which means “to endue with power, to become able, or to have strength.” The literal interpretation of the passage is “Be empowered with God’s strength.” The root of endunamousthe is “dunamis,” from which we get the word dynamite. The idea presents by this word is that the power of the dynamite is inherent to the dynamite itself. This means the power is not revealed until the fuse is lit or it is exploded in some way. It has to be used for its power to be recognized.
By using this word, endunamousthe, Paul is saying that we have already been given an inherent power that resides in us and is ready to be used. That power must be exercised in order to be effective. We must use this power to overcome the darkness and the evil that is all around us. How is this possible? It goes back to the passages at the very beginning of the book of Ephesians where Paul details the benefits we have received as believers in Christ. He, Christ, has given us everything we need to overcome the obstacles of life and the forces exerted by the enemy against us. Through Christ we have been given spiritual blessings and have been equipped with spiritual weapons for battle. We have an enemy, but we also have great weapons in our arsenal to bring victory.
Secondly, we must understand this battle is a spiritual battle. This war is waged in the invisible, spiritual realm. Paul, for that reason, assures us that this battle is not against flesh and blood but against rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers in the heavens. While the battle is spiritual, the results of the battle are revealed in the physical realm. You cannot see the warfare, but you certainly experience it, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Therefore, the battle you face is not against your neighbor, your spouse, coworker, child, or even the weakness of your flesh. The battle is against the spiritual forces that fight against us. Be assured of this, the enemy will use people, emotions, experiences, circumstances, and thoughts to pick a fight.
Thirdly, we must be aware of the schemes the enemy uses. The battles that go on inside of us are must often motivated by the schemes of the enemy who desires to destroy us or at least neutralize us. Someone has correctly said, “if you are having a spiritual battle, then you are in a good place. That means God wants to use you and that the enemy is attempting to thwart the work you have been called to.”
If you know anything about sports, especially football, you will know that coaches and players spend hours pouring over films of the teams that they are about to play. They want to know their opponent and they want to know the plays their opponent will use against them. Paul gives us the assurance that we can be prepared for the enemy’s schemes. But we must recognize them.
The first scheme used by our opponent is lies. Remember, there is no truth in the devil. He is the father of a lie and his greatest asset is the untruths and half truths we begin to own. He knows if we own it, we will accept it as truth. What are some of the lies presented? He uses one single failure in our life to make us believe that we are a total failure. He gets us to believe that God’s silence is a sign that God does not love us any more. The enemy will convince us that we have sinned the great sin and there is no hope for us. He gets us to believe that forgiveness is for the other person and not us. He convinces us that the negative experiences we have are normal and there is no hope for change.
A second scheme used by the enemy is accusation. Accusation is just another step in the scheme of lying. You know how this works. We feel we are not not good enough! We feel are not pretty enough! No one likes me! Everyone hates me! I can’t change! I can’t control my anger! You are a loser! You are a bad father or mother! You are not worthy of God’s blessings. The accusations go on and on and are the echoes of a thousand perceived failures but it does have to be that way.
A third scheme used by the enemy is false hope or as I like to call it a counterfeit vision of the future. The enemy uses this one in subtle ways but it is very powerful. He might communicate to you that its ok if you sin because no one will ever know. If you ever make a decision with this thought in mind then I can tell you that it is a wrong decision that will negatively effect your future. He will lie to you that one affair will not hurt you. He will lie and give you false hope that Christianity is a farce and that you are missing out on the fun in your life. He will say its ok to live however you want to during the week but act holy and righteous on Sunday.
Remember when Jesus was on the mountain top after He spent 40 days in the wilderness. Satan came to Him to offer him the world if he would bow to satan. Jesus was being tempted to accept a counterfeit vision of the future (Matthew 4). But there are a couple of problems here. One, Jesus already owned the whole world. He created it. So satan was offering something he could not give. Secondly, if Jesus had succumbed to this temptation, He would have lost much more than what He would have gained by rejecting satan’s offer. Know this! Whatever the enemy is offering, he will not be able to pay up. Whatever you may gain in following the vision the enemy gives you, in the long run you will lose much more than you gain.
Let me bring this closer to home. This week we have seen the unbelievable pictures and video coming out of Baltimore. The distorted vision of the future for some agitators and rioters was misdirected. Homes were destroyed. Businesses that were the life blood of the community were looted and burned. A senior center that had been needed in the community was burned to the ground. A CVS that originally did not want to be in the community, but agreed to come after the community worked with the corporation, has now been burned and destroyed with the potential of the corporation pulling the store out of the community for good. The very thing many were fighting for was destroyed in a matter of minutes. So how is that vision working out? But there was another vision we saw as well. On Tuesday morning after the bulk of the riots were over, we saw members of the community with brooms and garbage pails in hand cleaning the streets, removing debris, and starting to rebuild hope. There’s is a hope for the future. But that is how the enemy works in our hearts. We fight the wrong battles and invest in the wrong future vision.
As we have noted, the the problem of giving into the enemy’s schemes is that we give up what we already possess and we lose much more than we gain. But there is a battle plan. Over the next few weeks we will review the game tapes and see how we should be ready for battle. Are you ready? Let’s go! The game has already been won. All we have to do is dress up and get in the game. We can yell checkmate for he is a defeated foe. Amen! PTL!
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom