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Be Strong and Stand

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(6/19) Happy Fatherís Day to all our Dadís. I hope that you feel honored by your family. I believe with all my heart that your role in your family is the key to strong healthy families and for our nation. For those of us who have lost our fathers this is also a day of remembrance and perhaps some sadness. My dad has been gone for two years now and Debís for 12 years, and we miss them tremendously. For those of you with less than honorable fatherís, I hope that you can find forgiveness and grace on this day as you remember. Go back to Ephesians 4:30-32 and ask your Father in heaven to give you the ability to forgive as He has forgiven you.

I hope you feel the blessing of honor on this day.

Letís pray!

Introduction- Every state in the union and 3 territories have gun permits and the right for concealed carry of firearms. Many states have open carry laws of unloaded long guns as rifles and shotguns and several states now have open carry laws of side arms such we see policemen carry, or as we have seen on the many western movies and TV shows of the 50-70s. Most boys that grew up in that era had his toy six shooters or riflemanís rifle. Many of us like Ralphie couldnít wait to get a BB gun. We used to have BB gun battles. I digress.

So, here is a question. Why do people want to carry guns? (Protection) Why do we need protection? (Wait for response)

Some of you have alarm systems on your homes. Many newer cars have them built into their locks. Some may even have gated homes or live in gated communities. Most everyone will lock their cars, and homes when they leave them or when they go to bed at night? Why? (Protection) We know that in todayís world, there are thieves, terrorists, and terrible people who want to take what is not theirs and/ or may want to harm you.

We are aware that the world we live in is not safe. School shootings, crime, and the senseless taking of life is everywhere. We are aware that danger is everywhere.

We take precautions, some because it is the law, and some because it is common sense, to wear seat belts and to place our children in car safety seats, because we want to protect them from danger.

As Paul begins to bring his letter to the church at Ephesus to a close, he includes a section to encourage the Church to stand strong and to not lose the ground they have gained in their walk with God. Letís stand Ephesians 6:10-13 together. 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

I. The Exhortation (v.10) "Be strong in the Lord and the Power of His might."

This is reminiscent of Mosesí words in his farewell book Deuteronomy. Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." 7 Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, "Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. 8 And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed." (Deut. 31:6-8) And then our Lord personally spoke this to Joshua in Joshua 1:5ff. (Turn there) "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Both statements from Moses and from God to Joshua, comes after Moses reviewed the grace of God in the Hebrewsí life. They were rescued from Egyptian bondage and given the Word of God with blessing as and benefits, as well as warnings for any disobedience. The law of Moses was not just law it contained Godís will for them to have a blessed life. They were spared and fed and taken care of for forty years because their parents didnít trust God and now they had the privilege of taking the inheritance God had promised.

Likewise, in Ephesians, Paul has just finished reviewing Godís grace and love for the church in Chapters 1-3, and then in the last 2 Ĺ chapters has instructed us how to live the resurrected, born again life. , here is a warning, along with this new life, comes a new conflict. From the moment of your salvation until you die, you have entered a war zone. It is not going to be easy. You will need to be strong. You will need strength that you donít possess on your own. The 3 amigos that once guided your life (Eph. 2:1-3), will now be your sworn enemy. They are the world, your own fleshly desires, and the Prince of the Power of the Air or the devil. We will come back to this in a moment.

Your strength must be in the Lord and the power of His might. The God who created everything from nothing and enabled Israel to conquer Canaan and raised Jesus from the dead lives in you. Pause and drink that in. Same God, same power lives in us. He is with us. He will never leave or forsake us. When we remember that; when we trust in that; and when we act on the word of God, we become conquerors. Like Paul we can say, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)

II. The Equipment God that has Provided for us. (v. 11a) Put on the whole

armor of God. In verses 14-17, Paul compares the resources that God has given us to live victoriously to a Romanís battle armor. We will look at this next week. But what our Lord wants us to know is that we need every piece of the armor to stand our ground and not go backwards. A soldier or policeman going into a possible dangerous situation wants his Kevlar helmet, his body armor or bulletproof vest, and his weapons. Like Batman, we had utility belts that held our ammo and other essentials. We also carried gas masks on our sides in case of chemical warfare. Likewise, no football player enters a game without all his padding and his helmet. The area of your life that you leave unprotected will be the area that your enemy will attack. Can anyone tell the story myth of Achilles? The legend goes that when he was born, his mother tried to make him immortal by dipping him in the river Styx, but she held him by the heel and thus his heel remained the one unprotected area on his body. Sometime during or after the battle of Troy, Achilles was shot in the heel with a poisoned arrow and died. The armor of God is Godís provision to secure your victory in the war you are now in with your enemy.

III. The Enemy of Your Soul (v. 11b-12) that you may be able to stand

against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." Letís park it here for a few moments. What do you see in these verses? I see 5 things.

A. There is a huge world of the unseen. It is a very real world. Though many of us pay little attention to it. Satan has probably never personally assaulted any of you. You are small potatoes. If we understand scripture correctly it appears that 1 in every 3 angels that God created followed Satan in a rebellion against their creator (Rev. 12:4). While some were confined in a bottomless pit, most were cast out to the earth and are now called demons. Verse 12 tells us that it is a well-organized army whose leader is the devil himself. They are his minions and their goal is to destroy you. Remember one man that Jesus found in a graveyard. So vicious and strong that chains could not hold him. The man was possessed by a legion of demons. A legion had between 5-6000 soldiers. I canít even imagine how so many could indwell one person. Demons are behind the darkness, the unholy and immoral ignorance of our world. What does the name devil mean? Slanderer! Satan means adversary.

B. Though we have problems with people, there is a force behind the evil of people. Whether it is the LGBT or other gay groups, or the abortion industry, or the terrorism of Islamic extremist, or the false teachings of cults and the occult, there is demonic energy and influence behind it all. Someone once said, and for the most part it is accurate, that people are not the enemy, people are victims of the enemy. The demonic world is behind the lies of feminism, animal rights, transgenderism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, drug and alcoholism, and atheism.

C. The word, wrestle, does not refer to arm wrestling or high school wrestling, but deadly hand to hand combat. Your enemy wants to destroy you. He wants to destroy your health, your peace, your testimony for Jesus, your family, your faith, your hope. Rev. 9:11 refers to Satan as the destroyer. And if you are not born again, he wants to destroy your soul. He wants you to be in hell forever.

D. Under His Sovereignty God is allowing the enemy to rule most of this world. Satan even told our Lord, that the world was his and he could give it to whoever he wanted to (Luke 4:6). Last year in a two-part sermon called The Man-Eater we spoke of why an all-powerful God would allow Satan to have this power over His creation? The short answer is that God is glorified. If you want to hear those again you can go to our website or GaryBuchman@blogcast.com

E. Our Lord Jesus wants you to be aware of the evil oneís presence every day whenever you pray. Thatís exactly what he said in Matthew 6:13. Every time you pray you should include this (Luke 11:2), deliver us from the evil one. Before Jesus went to the cross, He paused to pray for us and this is what he said, 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one (John 17:15). 22 of the 27 New Testament books and letters, warn us of Satanís presence and his strategies. Remember Peterís words from 1 Peter 5:8-9? Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

IV. The Evil Strategies of Satan (v. 11b) Paul once told the Corinthian church

in 2 Cor. 2:10-11, 10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. Paul and the early church may not have been but many of us are ignorant of his devices. Ephesians 6:11 says, "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Wiles, is schemes, or devices, or strategies. We should know these. We have gone over them before, but letís review. You should have these written in your Bible or notebook.

Briefly, letís remind ourselves of what the devil is doing:

A. The Deceiver (His target-your mind) Satan is a liar. Jesus said so in John 8:44; "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it." He wants to destroy the truth, and your faith and trust and obedience in and to the truth. The mind is where God communicates His will and His word and where we decide to trust and obey God so his desire is to destroy the truth about God and Godís integrity and person, and Godís will which was given for you to experience the best in this life. So, he fabricates his lies and doubts and half Ėtruths; just as he did in Eden with Adam and Eve. We did a series a few years ago on the 8 Great Lies that America has Embraced. He is a deceiver.

B. The Destroyer (His target-your body) again John 8:44. Now, let me say, not all sickness or afflictions are by any means Satanic. Do you understand this? But it is clear, from the Bible, that Satan wants to destroy your body. Jesus said in John 10:10, "That the thief wants to kill, steal, and destroy." Whether it is through careless behavior and lifestyle, accidents, someone elseís bad judgment or behavior, or abusing drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or even foods, he wants to destroy your body. Job is an example, as is the lady in the temple with the hump back, a captive of Satan for 18 years (Luke 13:10-16), and Ö. But he also wants to destroy your faith, your family, your future, and your effective testimony for Jesus. He wants to destroy unity in the body of Christ. Look at James 3:13-18; "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." I have said this many times over the years, "Good people can listen to the wrong voices." How will you know where you are getting your wisdom from? Look at the fruit. Satan will always tell you that you have a right to do what you want. With the results being ungodly.

C. The Dictator (His target Ė your will) He rules over the world that does not follow God and he wants to rule over those who do. Notice the following: John 12:21; "Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out."

14:30; "I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me."

Eph. 2:2; "2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience."

1 John 5:19. "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one."

His tactic or well-designed plan is to appeal to you the same way I try to appeal to whitetail buck; that is, to appeal to:

1. the desires of the flesh or body with doe perfume., or the taste or effects of alcohol, or food. the desires of your eyes or mind with a doe decoy. Could be a car, Satan will use a person that seems better than your spouse, or pornography, or newer better stuff than you have.

2. the desires of the spirit or pride Ė rattling horns or using calls that sound like other bucks in his territory. Bucks will often come looking to drive off the intruder and get an arrow or bullet as a reward. Satan appeals to your pride to destroy you.

His bait will always be the things of this world or the ways of this world, which is why John begs us in 1 John 2:15-17: Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the worldóthe lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of lifeóis not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." I am going to make a deep statement and I want you to get it. Godís plan is usually to take us through tough times, pain, suffering, and difficulties in order to develop us and then to give us glory. Listen to Romans 8:18; "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. "

8:28-30; "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified"

3. Satanís goal is to offer you the goal you want, and the glory you seek without difficulty, pain or suffering, and then to destroy you. (Repeat this and think about it) Thatís what he did with Adam and Eve and what he attempted to do with our Lord and what he wants to do to you.

D. The Denouncer Ė (His target is your heart). Revelation 12:10 says, "He accuses the brethren day and night. He never lets up (Job 1-2, Zech 3; Job and Joshua the High priest). Listen, I believe that he not only appears before God to accuse you, but he also will constantly accuse you to you. He will put it into your heart, that you are not saved. You could not be saved and a child of God and do what you did or are doing. And, God cannot use you. You are not worthy. You messed up to bad. God might forgive others, but not you. You are disqualified. You are a hopeless case. You might as well keep on sinning because you will never change, you canít. God is looking for good people and you do not qualify and never will.

E. The Demise of the Kingdom of God (Rev. 12). This is just too much for today. But Satanís ultimate goal is to destroy Israel, the Church, and to demolish the kingdom of God, and destroy creation. That is why the Church, the Bible and one small nation, a pencil point country in the world are at the center of attack in the world. No other religion, no other book, and no other people are so hated and attacked as the Church, Israel, and the Bible. He wants to destroy everything God created for His Glory and our Good.

Now there is a lot more, like discouragement, doubts, depression, dis-unity and more. If itís a D word, it may well be from the devil. But this is enough to see what Satanís schemes are. What he is bent on doing in this world. He wants to take back the ground you have gained in your growth and walk with Jesus.

V. The Encouragement to Stand (v. 13)

"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." The idea is not that we simply huddle up and defend the fort, but that we keep advancing and being able to fight the enemy as we encounter him daily. I want to remind you that when our Lord first spoke of building the church He used military terminology. "Öon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:18). The church, we are to be on the move gaining new ground as we go. Gates are a cities defense. Gates would be rammed or set a fire so that enemies could get inside and take over. Our Lord is saying that hell cannot stop our growth. But Satan will try. He will use governments, religions, persecution and more to stop us.

Paul says that with the Armor of God, you can withstand his assaults. James tells us that if we will resist him, he will flee from us. But you cannot stand in your strength, you must know your armor and know how to use it. Every day from now until God takes us home, you must protect yourself and expect to encounter the assault of your enemy. Begin by praying every day, for yourself and your family, "Deliver us from the evil one."

Letís Pray about it.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman