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Category Archives: Studies in Ephesians

Ephesians 6: Spiritual Warfare Exposition

Occasion: Tuesday Bible Studies 28th January, 4th February 2014

Typical focus of those facing spiritual opposition:

  • Identify the source, assuming it is spiritual.
  • Remove the problem by some spiritual means.
  • Plead with God to remove the struggle.
  • Declare the blood of Jesus over the problem.
  • Claim victory in the name of Jesus.
  • Binding demons.
  • Fast and pray over your struggle.
  • Deliverance services and techniques
  • Letting go and letting God
  • Laying all on the alter
  • Walking an isle to receive a pastoral prayer

Biblical response to spiritual opposition:

  • All circumstances are under the sovereign control of God.
    • Some evils come from bad decisions.
    • Some evils come from discipline.
    • Some evils are outside our control.
    • Nothing that happens to a believer that is outside of God’s sovereign control.
    • Not always God’s will to protect us from certain evils
    • God always uses evil in believer to accomplish good.
  • You will rarely get the answer to why.
  • You are not entitled to the answer why.
  • Looking back is always clearer than looking around and forward.
  • Put on the whole armor of God: This is the means by which, the believer is able to stand against the wiles of the devil!

 Belt of Truth:

What is it? Kept the soldier’s robe from causing him to trip in battle, and falling down in battle is a sure way to get killed by the enemy.

  • Understand the truth
  • Apply the truth
  • Live truthfully.         

How does Satan attack us in this area?

  • He tempts us to dwell on what we cannot know.
  • He tempts us to be controlled by lies.
  • He tempts us to try superstitious methods.

How does this piece of armor meet the need?

  • The truth is reality and reveals and confronts lies.

 Breastplate of righteousness:

What is it? The breastplate protects our vital organs.  Without the breastplate, we are susceptible to death blows from the enemy.

  • Not imputed righteousness
  • Practical righteousness produced by the Spirit in the process of sanctification.

How does Satan attack us in this area?

  • He tempts us in areas where we are weak.
  • He tempts us to make excuses for areas where we let down our guard.
  • Satan exploits us when we fail by revealing it to others.
  • Satan exploits us when we fail by planting doubts, thoughts of failure, and hopelessness.

How does this piece of armor meet the need?

  • When we walk uprightly, we do not give place to the devil.

Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace:

What is it? When a soldier went into battle, he needed sure footing when they enemy attacked.  This is similar to a sound stance by a boxer or wrestler.

  • This is not talking about evangelism
  • This is our firm conviction that we are at peace with God.

How does Satan attack us in this area?

  • Satan plants thoughts in our heart that we are under God’s displeasure and anger.

How does this piece of armor meet the need?

  • The gospel reminds us that Christ is our peace with God, our righteousness, obedience, and our propitiation.  His death and shed blood provided a full atonement for our sins.  His fulfillment of the Law has provided a righteous legal verdict before God.  Saving work has given me full access to God and placed me in a position of His favor, by grace alone.

Above all take the shield of faith:

What is it? Shooting flaming darts was a common practice in ancient warfare.  To combat this problem, soldiers would dip their shields in water to quench these fiery darts.  Ironically, extinguishing flames would not only protect the soldier who was immediately in danger, but it would also protect their brothers in the battle.

  • We enter the new life by faith alone.
  • We walk in the new life by faith alone.
  • This faith in graciously given to us by God through the word of God.
  • This faith in strengthened and matured through the word of God.
  • This faith must be resting fully on the word of God.

How does Satan attack us in this area?

  • Satan works to keep us out of the word.
  • Satan works to plant doubts regarding the things we read and hear preached from the Scriptures.

How does this piece of armor meet the need?

  • Faith is the opposite of doubt, and faith removes doubt.

Take the helmet of salvation:

What is it? Obviously, the helmet protects the head.  The head is the house of the mind, and without a sound mind, we are susceptible to death blows from the enemy.  The mind can destroy a person whose body is otherwise very healthy.

  • The helmet protects the mind, and in this situation, it is focused on the thinking of the Christian.
  • The aspect of our salvation that he is emphasizing is the believer’s blessed hope, our future deliverance from this fallen world and entrance into God’s eternal Kingdom.

How does Satan attack us in this area?

  • He tempts us to feel we cannot stand.
  • He tempts us to think the battle will never end.
  • He tempts us to see what is happening today, rather than the glory that is yet to come.

How does this piece of armor meet the need?

  • It instructs our mind that the battle is not forever, we can stand by the enablement of our all-mighty God, and there is glory yet to come in the future.

Sword of the Spirit, the word of God:

What is it? Obviously, when you go into battle you need more than defensive pieces of armor.  You need something to go on the defensive, and the sword was the weapon of choice in the ancient world.

  • The Word of God is the only offensive weapon mentioned.
    • Scriptures
    • Preached word

How does Satan attack us in this area?

  • Satan works to keep us out of the word.
  • Satan works to plant doubts regarding the things we read and hear preached from the Scriptures.

How does this piece of armor meet the need?

  • The scriptures go on the offensive to combat lies, whether in the person, the home, or the church.

The Believer’s Overall Attitude:

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit: (Notice fasting is not mentioned in this passage, which might be a surprise to some.)

  • Prayer: This indicates an attitude of humble dependence upon God for victory in the battle.
    • Supplication: This indicates an interest in the battles that others are facing, not just your own battle.  This also indicates the corporate nature of spiritual warfare.  We were not designed to live the Christian life walking alone. We are to be a part of a spiritual body.
    • In the Spirit: This is not a reference to praying in tongues as some Charismatic would like to interpret it.  When we walk in the Spirit we are not walking in tongues.  It refers to prayer that is influenced by the Spirit in the following ways.
      • Motivated by the Spirit
      • Guided/influenced by the Spirit
      • Enabled by the Spirit.

Being watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints:

  • Be circumspect: Go about your day not fearfully, but rather with eyes open to the attacks that could await us.
  • Be persistent: Do not quit.  The battle is a tool God uses to strengthen us in our Christian experience and to mature us in His service.

Final thoughts:

  • The Christian must be circumspect.
  • The Christian must be prepared to persevere.
  • The Christian cannot accept fallible human traditions, superstitions, and ideas as substitutes or supplements to God’s equipping.
  •  The Christian must to be a scripture focused person:
    • Belt of truth: The scriptures are truth
    • Breastplate of righteousness: Right living is founded on God’s instruction in the Scriptures
    • Gospel of peace: The gospel is revealed in the scriptures
    • Shield of faith: Scripture is the object of our faith and the tool God uses to give us faith, strengthen us in the faith, and mature us in the faith.
    • Sword of the Spirit/word of God: The Word of God is the Scriptures.
  • The Christian must guard his mind with the following foundational truths
    • I am at peace with God.
    • The end of this conflict is eternal glory and God’s eternal Kingdom
  • The Christian must constantly express his inability apart from the gracious work of God, through prayer.
  • The Christian must be concerned about his brothers and sisters in their spiritual struggles.

 

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Ephesians 6 Spiritual Warfare Introductory Thoughts

Occasion:  Tuesday Bible Study 21st January 2014

Observation 1: While we cannot blame everything in our life on spiritual warfare, we need to recognize that there is a spiritual dimension to the battles we face on a daily basis.

  • Sickness
  • Persecution
  • Temptations
  • Prosperity
  • Poverty
  • Blasphemous thoughts
  • Doubts

Observation 2: Paul uses the analogy of warfare to describe the nature of the Christian life.

Observation 3: Many of the most common techniques described by pastors and confessions Christians when they are discussing spiritual warfare are not found in this text.

  • Binding demons
  • Casting out demons
  • Claiming the blood of Jesus
  • Rebuking Satan
  • Having a man of God pray over you or your things
  • Claiming various blessings or powers
  • Fasting and praying for a breakthrough
  • Deliverance services and techniques
  • Letting go and letting God
  • Laying all on the alter
  • Walking an isle to receive a pastoral prayer

Observation 4: The following items are the parts of the armor he mentions

  • Girding your waist with truth
  • Breastplate of righteousness
  • Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace
  • Shield of faith
  • Helmet of salvation
  • Sword of the Spirit, the word of God
  • Intercessory prayer
  • Vigilance

Observation 5: Do not look for substitutes or secret hidden keys that no Christian throughout the history of the church has ever understood.  Take up the armor that God has provided and prepare yourself for battle every day, because substitutes are powerless to sanctify us.

 
 

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How Should I Respond to a Correct Understanding of My Position in Christ?

How Should I Respond to a Correct Understanding of My Position in Christ?

I would like to conclude our study, reflecting on the purpose of the book of Ephesians.  Paul wrote this doctrinally rich book to remind us of the extent of God’s grace toward believers which is seen in the many blessings that we have in Christ both as individuals, and as a local church.  His teaching is not designed to simply stimulate our intellect, but rather to motivate us to walk in Christian love and unity as a spiritual body.  Christ taught that our Christian love both fulfills the law and demonstrates the genuineness of our faith; therefore, Paul demands righteous thinking, character, and actions as the application of these gospel related blessings in Christ.

So then, how should we think and act as an application of these gospel related truths?  First, we should be deeply humbled.  There is no place for pride in the life of a Christian.  Our only boast should be in the cross of Christ which calls us to face our total depravity and deep seated spiritual bankruptcy before God.  No man receives these blessings by his own merit or goodness.  I am not a Christian because I am smarter or wiser than my neighbor.  I am a Christian only because of His grace.

Secondly, these truths should make me deeply grateful.  The primary sin mentioned in Romans 1 that makes a man worthy of death is the sin of ingratitude.  It is impossible to understand these truths within their contexts, without being moved to deep seated gratitude.  If I am not thankful, I have not been gripped by the grace of God extended in the gospel.

Thirdly, these truths should cause my love for Christ to increase all the more.  God did not set His love on us because of our beauty, intellect, personality, or disposition.  He loved us in spite of ourselves, even when we were born in rebellion, and walking in spiritual blindness.  We did not earn God’s love. His love was given because He is love.  Romans 5:8, says that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Truly, we love Him, because He first loved us.  These blessings in Christ should cause us to love Him all the more.

Fourth, these truths should cause us to trust Him more.  1 John 4:18 says that “there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear:” Obviously life in a fallen world is not easy.  Jesus said, in John 15:18, 20 “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you…and “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”  The world hates genuine Christianity.  We also know, that God in His sovereignty even ordains seasons of suffering for His children’s growth and God’s glory, yet these truths set before us should remind us of the great love of God for His children.  Even in suffering or under seasons of persecution, we should rest in God’s love for us, His children, and we should be driven to obey him in all circumstances.

Lastly, these truths should cause us to deal with people in compassionate humility.  It is easy for Christians to look with disdain on the severally unbiblical things they hear and see around them, but should these things justify pride.  It is also common for Christians to belittle one another, especially when dealing with debatable matters of Christian practice.  It is easy to judge God’s servant in areas, where we are not called to do so.  As we have seen in Ephesians, we are all saved by grace, deserving nothing but God’s wrath, which should move us to walk humbly, in Christian love, as we interact with others.  By the way, as we will see in later studies, this is exactly what Paul will do in the second half of the book.  May God give us the grace to appropriate the following applications that flow from a correct understanding of our position in Christ!

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in Studies in Ephesians

 

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The Glory of My Position: Ephesians 2:11-22

The Glory of My Position: Ephesians 2:11-22

The final truths that Paul will mentions in this section on the believer’s blessings in Christ are related to their position in Christ.  My years of high school baseball come to mind.  My position as a high school player could have been accurately described in at least four different ways.  Each way indicated a different aspect of my position in that sport.  I was a Warrior, because that was the name of our team.  I was a starter, because I had won the starting position on the team.  I was a pitcher, because that was the position in which I specialized, and lastly I was a team captain as a senior.  All four positions accurately describe my position, and together they paint a good picture of my position as a high school player.

In verse 19, Paul mentions three different ways of describing a believer’s position in Christ.  Our position is obviously not limited to these three positions, but together, they give us a well rounded understanding of just how blessed we are in Christ.  First, he says that we are citizens of God’s Kingdom.  The more carefully I read the scriptures, the more I realize how much God emphasizes His Kingdom.  God’s rule as Sovereign of the universe and the administration of this rule is an amazing concept, though out of the scope of our immediate study. Every Jew as God’s chosen people expected to be a member of the Kingdom, by virtue of their pedigree, yet we know this is not true.  A man must be righteous before God in order to experience the blessings and privileges of the Kingdom, and who is righteous by virtue of his own action?  Romans 3:20 says that “There is none righteous, no not one.”  This was Christ’s point to Nicodemus in John 3.  “Unless you are born again,” you cannot experience or see the Kingdom of God.  This probably shocked Nicodemus, but it reminds us once again.  We are not members of the Kingdom by virtue of our righteousness, but rather by the imputed righteousness of Christ received by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone when we are converted.

Secondly, in verse 19, Paul describes believers as saints.  The word saint means holy one, and to me, this is the most interesting of the three descriptions used by Paul of believers.  If you read through Paul’s two epistles to the church of Corinth, arguably the most rebuked church in the New Testament, he refers to the members of that church and their sister churches as saints 11 times.  That should be shocking to us especially when we consider the problems in the church of Corinth.  They were a divided church, who separated themselves into factions elevating “big men” in the congregation.  They were called carnal and abused the grace gifts granted by the Sprit to the church for the edification of the body, for proud, self-edification.  They had disagreements about their relationship to the idolatry around them at Corinth, tolerated open immorality in the church, and made a mockery of the Lord’s Table.  So how could Paul call them saints, holy ones?  They were saints by virtue of their position in Christ, and not their performance.  When God called them saints, He was viewing the righteousness of Christ and not their own lack of righteousness.  Paul is not undercutting the absolute essential of the fruit of righteousness in all believers when he calls them saints.  He is not undercutting the presence of chastening in all backsliding saints.  He addresses all these things in other places, but what he is saying is that being a saint is not about an elevated position in the church or in church history.  Being a saint is about receiving the righteousness of Christ by virtue of substitution in the new birth.

Lastly, in verse 19, Paul says that we are members of the household of God.  Being a member of God’s household implies responsibilities to the keeper of the household.  It also implies the benefits of being a member of God’s household, but what I think is the most important truth related to being a member of God’s household is privileged intimacy with God.  God created us to glorify Himself through faithful labor in our delegated sphere of responsibility, under His authority, and rightly related to Him.  God desired for us to walk in fellowship with Him, and this is a major aspect of His purpose in our existence.  John 17:3 says that eternal life is a growing intimate knowledge of God.  God wants us to know Him, love, Him and walk with Him.  Think about what was lost in fall, and what was gained in the cross.  May God help us never to undermine or forget the beauty of Gospel: God’s grace extended through the cross!  The last thing we will consider is an application to these wonderful benefits in light of the Gospel.

 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Studies in Ephesians

 

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The Glory of the Indwelling Spirit: Ephesians 2:11-22

The Glory of the Indwelling Spirit: Ephesians 2:11-22

As we continue our study on the blessings that we have after our conversion in Christ, we now are reminded of the blessing of the Holy Spirit’s presence in believers.  In John 14:26, Christ promised to send “the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father would send in His name.”  He did as He promised He would, and on Pentecost, the Spirit came and permanently indwelt every genuine believer.  Paul’s point in Ephesians 2:18 however, was not to develop in depth the work and role of the Spirit, but rather to focus on one aspect of the Spirit’s relationship to believers.  Paul said, we “both have access by the same Spirit to the Father.” Yes the Spirit permanently indwells all believers, renovating their thinking through the word of God, changing their character into Christ-likeness through the word of God, and opening our eyes to the significance of Biblical truths, but Paul’s point is that both Jews and Gentiles have equal access to the Father because they have the same Spirit.  This was the significance of the progressive reception of the Spirit in Acts through the Apostles.  In Acts 2 the Jews received the Spirit; Acts 8 the Samaritans received the Spirit; and in Acts 10 and 19, Gentiles and some Old Testament saints received the Spirit.  This progressive reception of the Spirit through the reception of the gospel at conversion was meant to be a sign, especially to unbelieving Jews that Jesus of Nazareth whom they had rejected was indeed their Messiah, those that had received their Messiah were God’s people, and those who rejected this Messiah were under God’s judgment, according to 1 Corinthians 14:22.  Think about it, we all have equal access, because we all have the same Spirit.

Paul does not stop with equal access.  He goes further to say that we together are God’s temple or dwelling place.   Notice what he says in verses 21-22.  We are “framed together growing unto an holy temple in the Lord,” and that we are “built together for the dwelling place of God through the Spirit.”  I have heard a lot of teaching on the doctrine that the individual believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that is a sound Biblical doctrine.  In 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul asks“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that God dwells in you?”  His point is that God owns each one of us and resides in each one of us.  While this is true, this is not Paul’s point later in the book.  In 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul says “Do you not know that you as a singular body are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”  In this passage, Paul refers the singular body of the church made up of individuals as the temple of God.  He is saying that there is a special relationship that the Spirit has not only to the individual believer, but also to local assemblies.  Each assembly made up of individuals indwelt by the Spirit is the “temple” of God by means of the indwelling Spirit.  In an age when the health and necessity of the local church is often neglected, we need to get back to a firm conviction regarding the importance of the growth not only of the individual, but also of the body.  God has called us not to grow independent of one another, though each of us is personally accountable before God, but He has called us to grow together as a spiritual body.  This truth is one of the reasons that God not only demands personal holiness of individuals, but He also demands personal holiness of local churches.  The church is not made up of rich and poor, black and white, influential and obscure, Jew and Gentile, blue collar and white collar, clergy and laity.  The church is made up of sinners saved by grace and called to walk together in harmony fitted together as the temple of God.

 

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Studies in Ephesians

 

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The Glory of Jew and Gentile Joined in the Church: Ephesians 2:11-22

The Glory of Jew and Gentile Joined in the Church: Ephesians 2:11-22

 As we continue our study on the blessings that every believer has in Christ, we move to another interesting statement by Paul in verse 14.  Paul says that God “has made both one, and broken down the middle wall of partition that is between us.”  We cannot be absolutely sure what Paul is referencing when he mentioned a middle wall of partition, but some commentators believe he is referring to a wall located in the temple during the time of Christ that separated Jews and Gentiles in worship.  This wall actually warned Gentiles, that a decision to pass could lead to their death.  No matter how you understand that statement, there were major issues in the early church because Jews desired to maintain these inter-testamental practices of distinction.  Peter was rebuked by Paul for the way he treated Gentile believers in the church in Galatians 2:11.  He was withholding fellowship from his brothers.  In Acts 10, God used a vision before Peter to convince him not to view the Gentiles as unclean.  The Jerusalem counsel in Acts 11, was focused on the relationship of Gentiles to Jews in the church as well as their relationship to the law.  The Jewish uproar in the temple that nearly cost Paul his life in Acts 21, was instigated when the Jews believed that Paul took Gentiles in to unauthorized sections of the temple during the Jewish Feast.  Samaritan’s and Gentiles were viewed by Jews including the disciples as unclean, all throughout the gospels.  The strained relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the inter-testamental period as well as the early church in undeniable, yet what is God’s heart toward the nations both Jew and Gentile?

Think about Rahab a harlot in Jericho, and Ruth the Moabite.  What about God’s mercies toward the widow who sustained Elijah at Zarephath, in 1 Kings 17, or Nineveh’s repentance and God’s grace recorded in Jonah?  Does God love all men, both Jew and Gentile?  The answer is absolutely yes.  The Old Testament is full of examples of God’s grace on the Gentiles, and God’s desire for Gentile’s to be His people. Psalm 96 commands “all the earth to sing unto the LORD,” and God commands His people to “declare his glory among the heathen, and his wonders among all peoples.”  We are to say “among the heathen that the LORD reigns.”  These words, teach us that God has a heart for all people groups, even in the Old Testament.  We could look at many more examples, but one I read recently in Isaiah really grabbed my attention.  If you read the chapters leading up to Isaiah 19, God exposes the absolute wickedness and lawlessness of Israel and those nations whom God would use to chasten His people.  The details are so graphic, that if you read it carefully you feel that you have lost all sense of modesty.  Israel, Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon were ruthless, godless people, yet notice what God says He will do in the last days.

Isaiah 19:25 says that in that day, God will say, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.”  God is going to gather a people as His own before His throne from every kindred, tribe, and nation. Egypt, Assyria, and Israel will be His people in that day.  He has made both Jew and Gentile one.  This is the beauty of the mystery of the church!  This is God’s amazing grace.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Studies in Ephesians

 

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The Glory of Peace with God: Ephesians 2:11-22

The Glory of Peace with God: Ephesians 2:11-22

Not only have we been brought near to God through the work of Christ, but according to verse 14, we are now at peace with God.  When I read these words, the conversion testimony of the sixteenth century reformer Martin Luther comes to mind.  Luther was a man given to the study of the word.  The more he studied, and the more he recognized the holiness of God, the greater his sense of despair and even anger seized his soul.  Luther tried everything that he could do to make himself acceptable to God, but realized his striving was useless.  He saw himself as God’s enemy and without hope, till he read those precious words in Romans 1:17 “the just shall live by faith.”  Some might see Luther’s anxiety and anger as an overactive conscience, but in reality it was an awakened conscience.  Colossians 1:21-22 says that we were, “alienated and enemies in our minds by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled us through God through His death, to present us holy, unblameable, and unreproveable in his sight.”  Romans 5:10 says that when we were “enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”  And 2 Corinthians 5:18 says that “all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”  We needed to be reconciled, because we were at war, but now by God’s grace we have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Our sins are not just some unfortunate mistakes.  They make us God’s enemies, and leave us without hope apart form His grace.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Studies in Ephesians

 

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