Our real struggle (Eph. 6:10-20)

Story about man possessed told by a professor at Indiana Wesleyan University

It was 2002 and I was a student at Indiana Wesleyan University. That was one of the four colleges I attended before graduating from Cedarville University. Anyways, I was in an Old Testament survey class and the topic of spiritual warfare came up. The professor was an adjunct professor which means that was not his full-time job. He served as a pastor for his full-time job. He shared a story about a personal encounter with spiritual warfare. One morning he received a phone call from a church member. She said pastor, can you come over something happened with my son last night. Her son was a young man of seventeen years old. The pastor started heading to her house, and also invited a church elder, who was a former pastor to join him. They arrived at her house and saw the women’s son and said, “what happened?” He said his mom was at work the previous night and he had some friends over and they tried to raise a demonic spirit. The pastor said, “What happened?” The boy said “nothing.” The boy continued. He shared that later in the evening he was in bed and woke up to see something black at the end of the bed and this black thing told him to rape his girlfriend, kill her and cut her up in pieces. The pastor asked, “What did you do?” The boy responded with, “Pulled the covers over my head.” The pastor and elder said we want to pray over you. The boy said okay. They then asked him to get on his knees. The boy’s voice changed to a deeper voice as he said, “Why do I have to get on my knees?” They said, “It is submission to Christ…” The boy refused to get on his knees but they said they would pray over him anyways. As soon as they mentioned Jesus’ name the boy dropped to his knees. The church elders met with, and prayed over, the boy the following Sunday. At some point the boy accepted Christ as Lord and Savior and following his conversion they burned all his satan worship stuff. The boy started into satan worship when he was about twelve years old.

Listen, there is a spiritual battle and when we get involved with the devil we do not realize what we are playing with. We get involved way over our head.

Today, I want us to read Ephesians 6:10-20, but we are mainly going to talk about verse 12.

Ephesians 6:10-20:

10 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. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and havingput on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

My theme: Our real battle is against the devil’s spiritual forces.

Application: Do not fight the battle on your own. Put on Christ, put on the armor of God.

Video clip from the Patriot——-

Did you hear what she said, “make your actions reflect your beliefs!” We must do the same.

We also are at war. It is a war that most people don’t realize is going on. Sadly, it is a war that most Christians don’t even realize is going on. Many Christians know there is a battle going on, yet we fight the wrong battle. We fight the wrong war. We might think it is political, so we think “If we could just vote in Christian people we could return our country to the proper moral nation we once were.” Or, we may think, “It is useless, there is a battle of culture against Christ and we are losing, but what can we do?” Thoughts like the one just listed show that we are fighting the wrong war. The passage we are going to look at affirms that there is a struggle, there is a battle, but our real struggle is spiritual.

In the next few minutes I will reference several verses that tell us where this struggle started and affirm the realities and the extent of this struggle. I have a one page handout which is in your bulletin which includes all of the verses I am referencing and more.

  1. Jesus said worship God in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). We pray but we don’t see any wires taking our prayer to God. Let’s me setup the passage.
    1. Paul says our real struggle is spiritual. But how do we get to Eph. 6:10-20?
    2. Paul has a major emphasis on the spiritual in the letter to the Ephesians, or really in all his letters. Five times in the letter to the Ephesians we see Paul reference the “Heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10 and 6:12)
    3. Remember the first half of the book of Ephesians was all about the Theology of Salvation. Paul wrote about this awesome truth of Jews and Gentiles having equal status to God, in Christ. Paul shared awesome truths.
    4. Remember in the second half of Ephesians Paul writes about the practical. Eph. 4:1-3: Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
    5. Paul calls us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Our calling is to salvation in Christ.
    6. Part of that Christian walk is unity as referenced above. Other parts are being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).
    7. However, there is a major battle in living the Christian life. We are called to put aside all these things referenced in Ephesians 4:17-32, things like: false hood (verse 25); do not let the sun go down on your anger (verse 26); do not give the devil a foothold (verse 27); do not steel (verse 28); let no unwholesome words come out of your mouth (verse 29); do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God (verse 30); bitterness (verse 31); wrath (verse 31); anger (verse 31); clamor (verse 31); slander (verse 31) and malice (verse 31). We are called to put on all these things in Ephesians 4:17-32: Truth (verse 25); Labor with your own hands (verse 28); Have something to share with those who have need (Verse 28); Speak words that are good (verse 29); Kindness (verse 32); Tender-hearted (verse 32) and Forgiving (verse 32).
    8. We are called to imitate God (Eph. 5:1). We are called to have a different way of marriage (Eph. 5:22-32) Children are to obey and honor their parents (Eph. 6:1-4) and slaves are to obey their masters and masters are to respect their slaves (Eph. 6:5-9).
    9. How do we live this life? In Christ, we live this life in Christ. We live this life by being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).
  2. Now, let’s talk about the spiritual battle.
    1. Let’s start with Eph. 6:12: 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 forcesof wickedness in the heavenly places. 
    2. Allow me to take a few minutes and give some background to this spiritual battle.
    3. In Revelation 12:3 the writer gives indication that at some point there was a cosmic struggle and satan, who was then an angel, rebelled and fell from Heaven with 1/3rd of the angels. Revelation is written looking backward in this case. We don’t know exactly when satan led this revolt, but Scripture makes it clear that he did lead the revolt. We know that satan rebelled sometime between Genesis 1 and Genesis 3. The 1/3rd of the demons could have followed him all at once or over time that by the end of time 1/3rd of the angels had rebelled and become demons. Isaiah chapter 14 and Ezek chapter 28 both give more indication about satan’s fall from Heaven. He was an anointed angel, but he had some pride and tried to take what was God’s.
    4. We must read this stuff as reality. We think of this stuff as fantasy but it real. The Bible makes it very clear that satan is real and the spiritual realm is real and this is the real struggle. Sometimes we view the Bible through the eyes of our Disney fantasy. Do not let your Disney fantasy cloud your judgment. This is real.
      1. As an aside, this can be a problem with our make believe with children. I was taught that Santa is real. Most kids are, but then they grow up to realize that Santa is fantasy. Many children could think the same about Jesus.
      2. They think I was taught Santa was real and he is not. I was taught Jesus is real; therefore, Jesus is not real.
  • Jesus is real and the spiritual warfare is real as well.
  1. The Bible speaks Truth about all of these subjects.
  1. So, satan fell from Heaven.
  2. But just because satan fell from heaven and took 1/3rd of the angels don’t get the idea that satan is simply an opposing force to God. Satan is no equal. In Luke 10:18 the disciples had been sent out to heal people, cast out demons, etc and when they came back they said, “Lord, the demons obey you!” To this Jesus responded, “I saw satan fall from Heaven like lightning.” God sent the devil down to earth as fast as lightning hits the ground. So, the Lord Jesus is clearly ruler and satan is no equal, yet there is a battle.
  3. In 1 Chronicles chapter 21 the text says that satan rose up and incited David to do something that was sinful. Satan incited David to take a census. This census was sinful because it made David have faith in his army instead of faith in God. Satan wants us to do things that make us doubt the power of the Lord.
    1. Satan will want you to have trust in your job rather than God.
    2. Satan will want you to have trust in your money rather than God.
  • Satan will want you to have trust in your many friends rather than God.
  1. Satan will want you to have trust in your power rather than God.
  1. In 2 Cor 4:4 satan is called “the god of this age.”
  2. The Bible even gives indication that this spiritual war affects the nations which implies that it affects the culture as well. In Daniel chapter 9 he prays to the Lord for an answer about something going on. But Daniel doesn’t get an answer. The answer comes in chapter 10 and in verse 14 the angels says that the response was delayed because the prince of the Persian kingdom delayed his response for 21 days and the angel speaking to Daniel had to get help from the prince angel Michael. The prince of the Persian Kingdom was not a mere man but a demon, a fallen angel.
  3. There is a spiritual war going on and we must recognize this battle.
  4. But many times we ignore the battle, are you recognizing this battle?
    1. When we leave church thinking about things rather than how great a Salvation we have satan is battling us. When we as Christians spend our time arguing about what color carpet to put in the sanctuary satan is attacking us. When we argue about many things in our churches satan is attacking.
    2. Listen, satan loves to get our churches off of the Gospel. Satan loves to distract us to trivial things. I have seen churches argue over bylaws, policies, and budgets. I have seen churches spend years and hours upon hours upon hours discussing the constitution. I dare say many people could have received Jesus as Lord and Savior during that time. I have seen churches spend over an hour discussing whether it was appropriate to wear a hat in the sanctuary. I know of churches that have argued about the temperature of the sanctuary.
    3. A united church, correction, a church united staying True to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:2, 9 and 20:4) can really do damage to the devil.
    4. When churches divide over worship style satan is attacking us. Our emphasis should be reaching the lost with the Gospel, growing in Christ, learning Scripture, worshipping the Lord, ministering to people’s physical and especially spiritual needs and having fellowship. But satan gets us distracted by those things with trivial matters.
    5. Satan does this in families as well. Swindoll tells a story. I was driving down Interstate 75 between Dayton and Cincinnati and I heard the following. He shared that he had a pastor friend who died. So, he was officiating the funeral. He was meeting with the family about the service. Suddenly, one of the daughters of the man who died reached across the table and hit her sister. These are adults! They are divided. Satan wants to divide a family. Oh, when he takes down a family he really hurts society. Satan is taking down America by hurting our families.
    6. Satan and his demons are attacking us.
    7. Our struggle is not with people it is spiritual, a spiritual war. I do not know how the wifi signal works, though I cannot see it, it works. I do not know how the cell phone signals work, though I cannot see it, they work. I do not know how the radio and television antennas work, though I cannot see them, they work. Likewise, I cannot see the spiritual world, but it is there. Many times we are arguing and, though we do not realize it, satan and his minions are in the background fueling the fire.
  • Let’s go back and look at Eph 6:12
    1. He says “our struggle…” struggle implies that there is a real physical battle.
    2. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood—meaning our struggle in not against humans, so what is our struggle with? Paul is going to tell us.
    3. Our struggle is with evil spiritual forces. Look in the verse at how Paul defines these:
      1. Rulers: we know from context that he is not talking about good rulers, for why would Christians battle with them. They are the fallen angels, the demons. And rulers imply there is a hierarchy within their ranks.
      2. Authorities: again, as with rulers, there are certain authorities within their ranks.
      3. Powers of the dark world: Paul doesn’t take these forces lightly, they have certain powers that we don’t have alone.
      4. In the heavenly realms: the heavenly realms means that these forces are in a different form of existence. A form of existence that we cannot see on our own.
    4. Now, what do we do?
      1. First, recognize there is a battle. I mentioned this earlier. I think this is a major problem in the US church. Satan is getting away with a lot because we are wrestling with flesh and blood.
      2. Second, be ready. The rest of this passage is about the armor of the Lord.
        1. The belt of truth: truth is Scripture
        2. The breastplate of righteousness
  • Shield of faith
  1. Helmet of salvation
  2. And the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God: this is the only offensive weapon.
  3. Pray
  1. Don’t fear. 1 John 4:4 says that Jesus who is in us is greater than the devil, who is in the world.
    1. Col 1:15-20 shows that Jesus is in charge of everything.
    2. Phil 2:9-11 shows that every knee will bow to Jesus
  • Rev 20 shows the future destruction of the devil. If satan is bothering you remind him of his future in hell.
  1. Understand that many times there is more than we can see.
  2. You may be dealing with something going on with a family member and things are not working out. We must recognizing there is more going on than we understand. Satan incited King David to take a census which was against God (1 Chronicles 21). Satan will incite you and people around you to do anything and in anyway to bring down Christians and bring down people. The devil is a lion seeking those he can devour (1 Peter 5:8).
  3. We must also not give the devil a foothold. (Eph 4:27). When we are continuing in sin, in hate, and other things we are giving the devil a foothold. When we dabble in spiritual things that are not of God we are giving the devil a foothold and sometimes even opening the door for him to come in.
  4. What do I mean by dabbling in spiritual forces that are not of God? I mean witchcraft; wicca, other religions and religious movements which includes the Eastern religions (talk of Karma); something that appears more innocent but is just as wrong is the many ghost shows that are on the television. These are shows where people are “ghost hunters.”
  5. Don’t toy with this stuff!!! Some of this stuff is fake, but there is a spiritual realm and satan wants to make us fear and distract us from following the Lord.


I moved the sermons around in order to preach this sermon at Halloween. I believe Christians dabble too much in the worship of death and the demonic. There is a graveyard in the front yard a few doors up from my house. I remember a pastor traveling with a missionary around Halloween and the missionary said, “Christians would never get into this in my country.” Christians are saved from the demonic.

So, are you fighting the right battle or the wrong battle? Too many Christians in the U.S. are totally ignorant, willingly ignorant of the spiritual realm.  It is imperative that we take the spiritual realm seriously.

Read Eph 6:10-20 and think about how you can put on the armor of the Lord this week.


Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)



Imitate God (Ephesians 5:1-21)

Imitate God (Ephesians 5:1-21)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, October 22, 2017


Way back when I was in college I took a class called “Introduction to Psychology.” This was an interesting class. Part of the class was about how people learn and develop who they are. As people develop they will copy and imitate others. Actually, even into adulthood people are always copying and imitating other people.

Fast forward several years between college and seminary. By that time I was in a counseling class and I learned that our brains literally do change based off of who we are around. So, we know that if a positive person is around a negative person eventually that positive person will likely become a negative person. The brain literally will change. So, when parents are concerned of the influences on their children, they are right to be concerned.

When I was a child I always imitated by dad. I used walk behind him with a lawnmower. He had the real mower and we really did follow him with our plastic mower pretending to cut the grass. I had a big wheel and would watch for him to get home from work and as he parked his car, I parked my big wheel.

Who do you imitate? Do you imitate God?

Ephesians 5:1-21:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 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.

But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says,

“Awake, sleeper,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”

15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

My theme and application today is: Christians are called to imitate God.

  1. Imitate God, we see this in verse 1.
    1. Verses 1-2 what we are supposed to do. Let’s read them: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 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.
    2. Now, don’t read that too fast. We are loved children.
    3. We are called to imitate God.
    4. Just as a child imitates his or her parents we imitate our Father in heaven.
    5. In 1 Cor 11:1 Paul writes Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
    6. One source helps with this: Be Imitators of God:
    7. No spiritual practice is as fundamental to our being formed into the Christ life than imitation. The whole of Jesus’ ministry with His disciples turned on this practice. When we pretend to be what we are not naturally, Jesus Christ mysteriously “injects” His kind of life into ours. And here is the most unthinkable of all—we can imitate God! (The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible. Foster, Richard, et al. Harper San Francisco. 2005. Page 2124.)
    8. I love that. Jesus “injects” His kind of life into ours.
  2. Get rid of the old, we see this idea in verses 3-12
    1. Dr . Constable shares: 5:3 The self-centered practices introduced here (“immorality”; lust) are the opposite of love. Self-indulgence is the opposite of self-sacrifice. There should be no hint of these perversions of love in the believer’s life, even in our speech (cf. Exod. 23:13; Deut. 12:30; Ps. 16:4). Sexual “immorality” was common among unsaved Gentiles, but it is totally inappropriate (“must not even be named”) for “saints.” “Impurity” is a broader term that includes all types of uncleanness (cf. 4:19). “Greed” is the lust (sinful desire) for more, and is essentially idolatry (v. 5). Here the greed in view is probably the coveting of someone else’s body for selfish gratification. “‘Immorality’ (RSV) and sexual perversion of almost every kind might be included under the [Greek] word porneia, translated fornication in AV; it involves all that works against the life-long union of one man and one woman within the sanctity of the marriage bond.”
    2. We must Avoid all immorality (5:3).
    3. We must Refrain from obscene language (5:4–5).
    4. We must not allow others to deceive us (5:6–7).
    5. We must Walk in the light (5:8–9, 11–14).
    6. But how do we get rid of that old? We find the answer in the next section
  • Be children of the light, look at verses 13-21
    1. Oswald Chambers helps in his devotion on Sept. 14th: Imagination v. inspiration

The simplicity that is in Christ. 2 Cor. 11:3.

Simplicity is the secret of seeing things clearly. A saint does not think clearly for a long while, but a saint ought to see clearly without any difficulty. You cannot think a spiritual muddle clear, you have to obey it clear. In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in spiritual matters you will think yourself into cotton wool. If there is something upon which God has put His pressure, obey in that matter, bring your imagination into captivity to the obedience of Christ with regard to it and everything will become as clear as daylight. The reasoning capacity comes afterwards, but we never see along that line, we see like children; when we try to be wise we see nothing (Matthew 11:25.).

The tiniest thing we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is quite sufficient to account for spiritual muddle, and all the thinking we like to spend on it will never make it clear. Spiritual muddle is only made plain by obedience. Immediately we obey, we discern. This is humiliating, because when we are muddled we know the reason is in the temper of our mind. When the natural power of vision is devoted to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the power of perceiving God’s will and the whole life is kept in simplicity. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).

  1. So the answer is the Holy Spirit.
  2. Look at the applications here:
    1. We must Seek Gods will and do it (5:10, 17).
    2. We must Use every opportunity for doing good (5:15–16).
    3. We must not get drunk on wine (5:18a)
    4. We must Be filled with the Spirit (5:18b).
      1. You know that it is a waste to be drunk with wine.
      2. It is not a waste to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
    5. We must Use music to encourage each other and to worship God (5:19).
    6. We must Be thankful for all things (5:20).
    7. We must Submit to one another (5:21).
  3. But I believe a key to doing this is the Holy Spirit.
  4. If we let the Spirit reign in our lives He can clean us up.
  5. But you also notice the end of this section? Submit.
  6. We all submit to each other.
  7. Again, how do we do this? We do this “in Christ.”
  8. Jesus is in you.
  9. The Spirit is in you.
  10. Spend time with Him in prayer.
  11. Spend time in the Word.
  12. Spend time with the church.
  13. Be a disciple.


You know about imitating. Now, I see my daughters imitate their mother. Now, I see Abigail imitate Mercedes. Mercedes will do something and Abigail will copy it. Mercedes will say something and Abigail will say the exact same thing.

Do we imitate Jesus?

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)


Put on Christ (Eph. 4:17-32)


Recently the Cleveland Browns released their cornerback, Jo Haden. They released their only good player. So, the Steelers, being the smart football team that they are, signed him. Wouldn’t it be funny if Haden kept wearing the Browns Jersey? He would never do that. When you are signed with a team you put on their jersey.

Raise your hand if you are a Christian.

Raise your hand if you are a follower of Jesus.

Look at the army of Christians we have here. Remember the children’s song, “The Lord’s Army”?

I may never march in the infantry,
Ride in the cavalry,
Shoot the artillery.
I may never fly o’er the enemy,
But I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes Sir!

I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!
I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!

I may never march in the infantry,
Ride in the cavalry,
Shoot the artillery.
I may never fly o’er the enemy,
But I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!

I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!
I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!

As we look at this longer passage Christian are told to live a godly lifestyle. We are told to “Put on” the new man. That is our calling.

When we are baptized we put on the new man:

Rena was 3 years old when she went to her first baptismal service. It was new for her and a bit mystifying. As events transpired, she looked up at her father with surprise in her eyes, “Daddy, he pushed that guy under the water? Why did he do that?” The father tried to quietly answer her question during the service; but his answer did not satisfy little Rena. So when they got home he attempted a fuller explanation. “Well people do bad things; and they are being baptized to let everyone know they are now going to be good. The water symbolizes Jesus’ washing people’s sins away. When they come out ‘clean,’ they are going to try to be ‘good.’” Rena thought about that for a moment and then asked the simple question, ‘Why didn’t Pastor Bob just spank him?

My theme today:

Christians are called to a Godly lifestyle

  1. In verses 17-19 we are told to Walk no longer as the Gentiles walk…
    1. Let’s read verses 17-19: 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, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
    2. Just a few words about each section of this passage.
    3. Gandhi said: “I like your Christ, I don’t like your Christians. Your Christians are not like your Christ.”
    4. Paul writes about this theme a lot and we can tell that by doing some cross reference. Maybe I will post that on my blog later, or you can look it up on your own, or we can talk about all the cross reference on Wednesday night.
    5. But, in Ephesians 2 Paul wrote about who we were and what Christ saved us from.
    6. You are saved. Wear the Christian jersey.
    7. As I was reviewing what I was going to share for this sermon it hit me to remind you of the Holy Spirit.
    8. As we talk about this section remember that we do not live the Christian life alone. Paul just taught about the spiritual gifts. We also have the body of Christ. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said we receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us and we will be witnesses. Remember a few things. The Holy Spirit is with you. You can read John chapter 14-17 about the Holy Spirit. But also remember the context of Acts 1:8 is witnessing. I believe we receive the most power from the Holy Spirit when we witness. I encourage you to read or listen to Francis Chan’s book, “Forgotten God.”
    9. Before we move on notice how Paul describes the Gentiles. This was a common way to describe gentiles. The Jews were more moral. One or my sources says: Premarital sex, homosexual intercourse and idolatry were typically Gentile sins from which nearly all Jews abstained. By contrast, pagans were raised this way; many Greek boys were ushered into “manhood” by an older man’s molestation.[1]
  2. In verses 20-24 Paul continues telling us to Lay aside the old self and put on the new.
  • 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness ofGod has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
    1. There is so much to be shared with this section, but I will only share a little bit. If you attend Wednesday night we can talk much more.
    2. You did not learn Christ that way. I think about that as that was not your exposure to Christ, or, more likely, as you learned that is not Christianity.
    3. Get rid of the old way of life. Get rid of the old jersey.
    4. Be renewed.
    5. I like the tag at the end of verse 24: and put on the new self, which in the likeness ofGod has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
    6. Put on the Christian jersey. Pursue holiness, righteousness and truth.
    7. Jesus transforms: Napolean shares about Jesus:

 Well then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for Him. . . . I think I understand something of human nature; and I tell you, all these were men, and I am a man; none else is like Him: Jesus Christ was more than a man. . . . I have inspired multitudes with such an enthusiastic devotion that they would have died for me . . . but to do this is was necessary that I should be visibly present with the electric influence of my looks, my words, of my voice. When I saw men and spoke to them, I lightened up the flame of self-devotion in their hearts. . . . Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man toward the unseen, that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space. Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years, Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy; He asks for that which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother. He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself. He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith His demand is granted. Wonderful! In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the empire of Christ. All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable, supernatural love toward Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers. Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This is it, which strikes me most; I have often thought of it. This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the Divinity of Jesus Christ. 

  1. In verses 25-32 we are exhorted to Lay aside the old and put on the new
    1. Let’s read the verses: Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of youwith his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
    2. Lay aside:
      1. false hood (verse 25)
      2. do not let the sun go down on your anger (verse 26)
  • do not give the devil a foothold (verse 27)
  1. do not steel (verse 28)
  2. let no unwholesome words come out of your mouth (verse 29)
  3. do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God (verse 30)
  • bitterness (verse 31)
  • wrath (verse 31)
  1. anger (verse 31)
  2. clamor (verse 31)
  3. slander (verse 31)
  • malice (verse 31)
  1. Put on:
    1. Truth (verse 25)
    2. Labor with your own hands (verse 28)
  • Have something to share with those who have need (Verse 28)
  1. Speak words that are good (verse 29)
  2. Kindness (verse 32)
  3. Tender-hearted (verse 32)
  • Forgiving (verse 32)
  1. Tag line: forgiving, “just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”
  2. àIt seems fitting to have this here
  3. àIt seems like Paul is saying when you mess up with that list just written about forgive each other


What if you wore a Christian uniform everywhere you went? What would that be like? When I was in high school I was in Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp (NJROTC). This was a military program. We learned the ways of the navy. We even wore uniforms once a week. Do you think we could act silly, rebellious, disrespectful wearing that uniform? NO WE COULD NOT. IF we did, when the former Navy officers who led the program found out he would make us run laps or do pushups.

If you are a Christian, you always, always, always wear that Jersey.

If you are able to stand, stand if you are a Christian.

Listen, this is your charge this week.

When you committed your life to Christ you became part of the Lord’s army. You are no longer wearing the world’s jersey. You are no longer wearing the devil’s jersey. You are no longer wearing the sin jersey. You are wearing the Jersey of Jesus Christ. You are on His team. Represent that jersey this week.

The old jersey included:

false hood (verse 25)

do not let the sun go down on your anger (verse 26)

do not give the devil a foothold (verse 27)

do not steel (verse 28)

let no unwholesome words come out of your mouth (verse 29)

do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God (verse 30)

bitterness (verse 31)

wrath (verse 31)

anger (verse 31)

clamor (verse 31)

slander (verse 31)

malice (verse 31)

The New Jersey includes:

Truth (verse 25)

Labor with your own hands (verse 28)

Have something to share with those who have need (Verse 28)

Speak words that are good (verse 29)

Kindness (verse 32)

Tender-hearted (verse 32)

Forgiving (verse 32)

Tag line: forgiving, “just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

You notice the tag line? Forgiving. Christian, you will mess up. I will mess up. I will misrepresent Jesus and I will need to apologize and ask for forgiveness when I do. Let’s own up to our mistakes and be humble.

Ruby Hamilton, a businesswoman in her fifties, was stunned at the loss of her husband of 32 years in a car accident. Her anger and disappointment went deeper than a more typical expression of grief though. She had become a follower of Christ in her late twenties, but her husband didn’t share her newfound interest in spiritual things. Nonetheless, she had set about praying for him feverishly and unceasingly that he would come to know the Lord. And one day when she was praying, she felt a wave of peace wash over her, and that still small voice assuring her that her husband would be okay. She eagerly awaited the day when her husband surrender his life to Jesus. And now this.
What do you do when faith doesn’t make sense? When God doesn’t seem to be answering or opening doors or being found? Ruby Hamilton stopped living for God.
Roger Simmons was hitchhiking his way home. He would never forget the date – May 7th. His heavy suitcase was making him tired and he was anxious to take off that army uniform once and for all. Flashing the thumb to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped.
The passenger door swung open. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. “Going home for keeps?”
“Sure am.”
“Well, you’re in luck if you’re going to Chicago.”
“Not quite that far – do you live in Chicago?”
“I have a business there, the driver said. My name is Hamilton.”
They chatted for a while, and then Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to share his faith with this fiftyish, apparently successful business man. But he kept putting it off, till he realized that he was now just 30 minutes from his home. It was now or never.
“Mr. Hamilton, I would like to talk to you about something very important.” Then he simply told Mr. Hamilton about the plan of salvation and ultimately asked him if he would like to receive Jesus as his savior and Lord.
The Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger expected that he was about to get thrown out of the car. Instead, the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger “This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.”
Five years went by. Roger married, had a couple of kids and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a trip to Chicago he found a small white business card that had been given to him by Hamilton five years previous. In Chicago, he looked up Hamilton enterprises. The receptionist told him that it was impossible to see Mr. Hamilton, but he could see Mrs. Hamilton. A little confused, he was ushered into a beautiful office where he found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties.
She extended her hand “You knew my husband?”
Roger told her about how Hamilton had picked him up while he was hitchhiking home after the war. “Can you tell me what day that was?”
“Sure it was May 7th, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army.”
“Anything special about that day,” she asked.
He hesitated, not knowing if he should mention how he shared the message of Jesus with her husband. “Mrs. Hamilton, I explained the gospel to your husband that day. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day.”
Explosive sobs shook her body. Finally getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, “I had prayed for my husband’s salvation for years. I believed God would save him.”
“Where is your husband, Ruby?”
“He’s dead. He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see, I thought God had not kept his promise. I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought God had not kept his word!”
(Considerable influence for this message came from John Piper’s “The Spring of Persistent Public Love”, DesiringGod.org. From a sermon by Bret Toman, Power to Live the Golden Rule, 1/3/2011)

I am now going to pray and then we will sing a song to our Lord and King. Please remain standing.


[1] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Eph 4:17–19.

Spiritual Gifts are given to upbuild the church 

Eph. 4:11-16My theme today: Spiritual gifts are given to build up the church.

My main application: Use your gifts for the maturity of the church.

Okay, so we are continuing in Ephesians and we are continuing in the practical section of Ephesians. This is practical but it is very deep. What can we do when we take our gifts and we unite as Christians?

Watch this:

Little House on the prairie “A Harvest of Friends.”

So, when we help each other out and work together we can accomplish much. That is why God gives us spiritual gifts. The Holy Spirit gives us gifts for the upbuilding of the church.

My theme today: Spiritual gifts are given to build up the church.

My main application: Use your gifts for the maturity of the church.

Let’s read Ephesians 4:11-16:

11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

I. Notice the gifts in verse 11:

a. Notice first that He gave these gifts. These gifts are exactly that, they are gifts from King Jesus. We talked about that a few weeks ago, the idea that Jesus conquered the devil and ascended to Heaven and gave us gifts.

b. So we have the gift of Apostleship (4:11a). Some would say this gift does not exist anymore and it is really hard to be definitive about that. We can talk more about that at the Wednesday night Bible study, but what is clear is that we no longer have Apostles such as Paul was. The time of the writing of Scripture is closed. Now, in the New Testament time period there were two types of Apostles. One type would be the disciples of Jesus. They were sent with an authority over the church. There were 13 of them, which included the twelve disciples, plus Paul and Matthias (Acts 1:26), but Judas hung himself (Matt. 27:3-10; Acts 1:18). Paul was apostle chosen later on (Acts 9; Gal. 1). The second type of Apostle listed in the New Testament would be such as Barnabas (Acts 14:14). Romans 16:7 mentions apostles in a more generic sense. These are people sent with the message.

c. Prophets (4:11b): (Gr. prophetes, one who speaks forth) provided edification, exhortation, and comfort to the church (1 Cor. 14:3). Some of them conveyed new authoritative revelation to the church (2:20; 3:5; Acts 11:28; 21:10-11). Much of this is the revelation that we have in our New Testament books. Most of the prophets, however, simply “spoke forth” truth that God had previously revealed (cf. Acts 13:1; 1 Cor. 11:5; 14:26-33).264 Prophets also led in worship of God, including leading in public prayer (cf. 1 Chron. 25:1; 1 Cor. 11:5). This aspect of prophesying was regarded as a less authoritative function in the church than teaching, since a teacher interpreted the written Word of God (cf. 1 Cor. 11:5; 1 Tim. 2:12).

d. Evangelists (4:11c): these are people who share the Gospel. Now, I also think these are people are specially gifted in declaring the Gospel and training the church to declare the Gospel.

e. Pastors and teachers (4:11d): It is interesting about Pastors and teachers. The Greek has a different word for “and” here than in the rest of the list. Just take my word for it and I can show you later if you wish. It seems that Paul was saying that Pastors and teachers go together. Or, that all pastors are teachers, though all teachers are not pastors.

f. This is NOT an exhaustive list. Spiritual gift lists appear in Rm 12:6-8; 1 Co 12:8-10, 28-30; and 1 Pt 4:10-11. Each list is representative, not exhaustive.

II. Notice His goal for believers (4:12–16)

a. The gifts are given for unity (verse 13). Do you see that? We keep seeing that word come up. Paul cared about unity. God cares about unity. Paul writes: “Until we all come to the unity of the faith…” We see unity in the other letters of the New Testament. In 1 Cor. 1:11-13: Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? Then in 1 Cor. 3 Paul comes back to this theme: 1 Cor. 3:5-9: For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. Then, Actually, Eph. 4:3-6 are about the idea of unity: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, etc.

b. The gifts are given for maturity (verse 13). Do you see that idea. We see this idea in 1 Cor. 3 as well. Paul writes in 1 Cor. 3:1-3 says: And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

c. Paul was likely frustrated with spiritual immaturity and we are called to grow up in the Lord. We are called to be mature.

d. The gifts are given for equipping the saints for building up the body of Christ (verse 12).

e. We are a body. In Romans 12 Paul compares the church to a human body. Get this, all these spiritual gifts come together to form one body. And get this, all these spiritual gifts are from the same Holy Spirit.

f. The gifts are given for the body of Christ (verse 16). I like what J. Vernon McGee said: “Many folks say, ‘Dr. McGee, we do not speak in tongues in the church. We do it for our private devotions.’ I can say to them categorically from the Word of God that they are wrong. Gifts are given to profit the church. No gift is to be used selfishly for personal profit. In fact, it is not a gift if it is being used that way. A gift is given to every member of the body to enable him to function for a very definite reason in his position in the body.”

g. The gifts are given for us to grow up every way (verse 15).

h. Notice also how verse 15 says we are to speak the truth “in love” growing up in every way. This phrase “in love” is a common phrase in Ephesians. “In love” is in verse 15 and 16 and all throughout this letter

i. 7 times “in love” is in Eph.

ii. Ephesians 1:4: just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love

iii. Ephesians 3:17: so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

iv. Ephesians 4:2: with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,

v. Ephesians 4:15: but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,

vi. Ephesians 4:16: from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

III. We are a church, let’s apply:

1. We must use our spiritual gifts to help with the unity of the church (verse 13).

2. We must use our spiritual gifts to help with the maturity of the church (verse 13).

3. We must use God’s gifts in us to equip the church (verse 12).

4. We must use God’s gifts in us to help that we, and the church, will not be like children tossed to and fro and deceived by the craftiness and deceitful scheming (verse 14).

5. We must preach and teach proper doctrine and use of the gifts.

6. We must understand that these gifts are exactly that, they are gifts. They are given by the grace of Christ (verse 11).

7. We must speak in love (verse 15).

8. We must let Jesus be the head (verse 15). Verse 15 shows that Jesus is in charge.


Do you know your spiritual gifts? I would love to help you discover them, but I cannot do that in this context. Contact me this week and I can send you a free website method of discovering your gifts. Another possibility is that I can give you something for close friends to help you discover your gifts.

But, are you being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s lead? Listen to this story from John Ortburg: 

I was leaving for work after a tense morning at home. I had snapped at the kids, I was feeling pushed for time, and I was preoccupied. As I was going out the door, my son Johnny asked whether I was coming to visit his class that day for the hour when parents were invited. I started to snap “no” and then felt a discernible tug. Something— Someone— invited me to think things over. I felt a stab of pain at my impatience that morning, at the needless hurt I had impetuously caused those I love. That pain, I believe, was part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. So I apologized as best I could and told Johnny I would be at his school.

When I arrived at Johnny’s class, I observed that all but two or three children had parents there. Johnny’s face lit up. For the next half-hour he sat in my lap as we joined in the activities. We were each to draw a picture— not a task I enjoy, being unable to draw a straight line. What made it worse is that the dad next to me drew like Michelangelo. He sketched a hearthside scene, incorporating perspective, shading, and chiaroscuro.

“Use some blue, Daddy,” his son said. “No,” said Michelangelo. “That would throw off my color scheme.” The teacher came by, looked at the man’s drawing, then called the other parents just to observe it. She pointed out mine as a kind of study in contrast. Now I felt another kind of guilt— the guilt of an inadequate artist. But that was the pain of creatureliness, not something that calls for repentance. I had to find another way to deal with my inadequacy. So I waited until the dad next to me wasn’t looking, then marked on his picture with a blue crayon. Then I had something to confess. I looked at Johnny’s picture: clouds, snow, one tree, and what looked like Barney the dinosaur with a human face. Underneath my son had a caption: “I’m thankful for God, my dad, and snow.” I felt pretty good about the sequence. When it was time for the parents to leave, Johnny grabbed me and said, “I just can’t let you go.” I left, but for a few moments I just stood in the doorway and looked at my son. It seemed like only a few years ago that I was a little boy in first grade. Now here he was. Now it was my son’s day. That is his little world— his little turkey up on the chalkboard, his little desk, his slender little fingers determinedly gripping the pencil, his learning how to make letters. And in what will seem like only another few days, he will be the one standing in the doorway and it will be his little boy sitting at the desk. “What if I hadn’t come?” I mused. “What if he had sat here all alone while other kids were surrounded by their parents? How long will I carry in my heart that little picture that says, ‘I’m thankful for God, my dad, and snow’?”

That little stab of pain that called me to think again, to decide differently, is spoken of in the church as the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. We can all experience that. It is the still small voice that nudges us and says, “You have spoken bitter words that have hurt someone. You need to go back and make things right.” “You cheated on your taxes. You need to make restitution.” (One financial expert who works with an evangelical clientele estimates that 50 percent of his clients cheat on their tax returns.) “You spoke deceit. You need to go back and tell the truth.”

This is hopeful pain, the sorrow of wounds that heal.