Emmanuel introduces the new serie about the Armor of God.
We are reading a passage from the letter to the Ephesians – written by the apostle Paul around 60 AD when he was in prison in Rome
addressed to the people in and around the Greek city of Ephesus located in what is now a day Turkey.
Ephesus was part of the Roman empire. As we will see Paul uses an image that would have been very familiar to these people, a soldier, to explain something about the Christian life.
Eph. 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.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 firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which Iam an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
There is a war going on – what is the war about – what kind of war is it?
Paul is talking about “the schemes of the devil”. The origin of the word “devil” simply means “opposer”, “adversary” or “obstructer”.
We as followers of Jesus believe life is more than just material or natural realm or reality. There is also a spiritual reality. Or better: reality is both spiritual and natural.
The Bible tells us God, the Creator of heaven and earth, is a Spirit. Unlike everything else He was not created, but He exists eternally.
God created all kinds of things and beings: trees, plants, animals, humans, and also angels.
Some of the angels rebelled against God and were thrown out of heaven, out of God’s presence. You may have heard of “fallen angels”…
The leader of these fallen angels is usually called “satan, devil, evil one”.
From the beginning of the Big Story of the Bible this satan is opposing and obstructing God trying to destroy God’s works.
Most of you are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve. God had put them in a perfect world where they could enjoy all the good things He had given them.
They lived in a perfect relationship with one another and most importantly, in a good relationship with God who created them.
And then satan comes along and destroys all this Perfectness.
Not by sending in a gang to fight with Adam and burn down Paradise, but with “a scheme”.
A clever, dishonest and deceitful plan.
God had given Adam and Eve the freedom to enjoy everything in the world He created, except for one tree.
“The day you eat from its fruit you will surely die”. Well, you know how the story ended… (point to back of IPAD)
They ignored what God had said with terrible consequences…
This is why I am telling you this story: because it tells us a lot about the war that is going on!
Satan did not come and say to Adam and Eve: “Here, have a bite from this apple!” Actually, he did the opposite!
Genesis 3:1 “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When we have close look at what satan is doing here, we’ll see that the real issue here at stake is not the “apple”, but the integrity and the honor of God!
First Satan twists the words of God. Very cleverly he uses a question, but the poison does its work in Eve’s mind.
Because then Eve starts to twist the words of God! God had only said “do not eat” to which Eve adds “but we’re also not allowed to touch it”. That’s not what God had said!
And all satan has to do is finish what he started: “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Again, very clever, satan does not directly call God a liar, but that is exactly what he is saying! Not only does he make God a liar, but he also makes God into a sneaky and greedy little bastard who says and does anything to prevent people from becoming like Him. “Yes, God gave you all these riches, but only so you would be too busy finding out His real secret”.
In politics this would be called a character assassinations: satan deliberately aims to destroy the integrity and the reputation of God.
The real war that was going on…
1. was not about the “apple”, but about the worship of God! Satan says very little about the “apple”, but lots about God!
Satan’s aim was to pull away Adam and Eve from trusting and obeying God, or in Christian language, from worshipping God.
Eph. 6:1 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
2. was not with swords or guns, but with words = ideas! The real battlefield is in our minds.
Ideas about what? This is very important: ideas about God!
Creation vs. evolution
Sometimes wrongly called the conflict between faith vs. science or believe vs. evidence.
The ultimate question is not HOW the earth came into existence, which processes, how long did it take? (It’s important, but not the most important matter)
The ultimate question is WHO made the earth – Who or What caused the process in the first place?
a. When we see a beautiful painting we want to know WHO made it. (Let’s say: Van Gogh). Even when we ask HOW it was made, we want to know HOW Van Gogh made it.
No one will think the painting “just happened to come to existence out of nowhere”! We recognize the skilled hand of a master, even without a signature!
Bible tells us that when we look around us the signature of God is everywhere
Rom. 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him
b. About DNA, our genetic code:
Now, I don’t know much about DNA, this is what atheist Richard Dawkins’ says in his book The Blind Watchmaker:
“Every single one of more than a trillion cells in the body contains about a thousand times as much precisely-coded digital information as my entire computer.
“Each nucleus /…/ contains a digitally coded database larger, in information content, than all 30 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica put together.
And this figure is for each cell, not all the cells of a body put together.”
Now, let me ask you, if you found only one book, would you think no one wrote it and it just happened to come into existence?
I don’t think so! What if you found a library? Even less so!
Evolution very cleverly replaced the Artist or the Author by an Accident (Big Bang)
You don’t have to worship an Accident, God, on the other hand…
If you can get rid of God, you don’t have to worship Him…
Listen to Richard Lewonski, geneticist and one of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists:
‘Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
You see? Ultimately it is not about evidence or science, but about keeping God outside the door!
c. abortion – euthanasia – pro choice
Holland was the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia, some 10 years ago.
In Holland euthanasia is still a very important subject. Even this morning I saw an article in the newspapers.
Before I’ll say anything, I want you to know that being against euthanasia does not mean christians are pro-horrible suffering!
Christians are pro – excellent pain-control! We are also pro – quality life with purpose, meaning and hope.
If you closely study all the debates around euthanasia you will see that the issue at stake is not whether people should suffer unbearable and live miserable lives or not.
The real issue is “who decides about life? or “who is in charge?” or “who is really god/God?”
One of the keywords in the whole debate is “choice”.
Three weeks ago a Dutch couple “stepped out of life dancing” as the newspaper put it.
Not because they were suffering, but because they did not want to move to a retirement house!
(The first thing that came to my mind was: why don’t you do something about the retirement house then?)
This is what the newspaper said:
They were standing on the doorsteps of the retirement house, but did not want to go inside: David (86) and Willemke (84) preferred to chose their own ending
The spokesperson of the society for euthanasia commented: “people are more and more used to be in control of their lives and they also want to be in control when it comes to their life’s end.”
The real issue was not pain or a future without hope, but self-determination: no one is telling me what to do, not even God!
The same things goes for abortion
Now, being against abortion does not equal being pro rape or pro “you asked for it”.
Christians are against abuse of women and good care of victims of violence of rape or any other sexual abuse.
Christians are also pro judgment of the persons who commit such crimes!
These are the main reasons in favor of abortion that I copied from a pro-abortion website:
- women have a moral right to decide what to do with their bodies
- the right to abortion is vital for gender equality
- the right to abortion is vital for individual women to achieve their full potential
- banning abortion puts women at risk by forcing them to use illegal abortionists
- the right to abortion should be part of a portfolio of pregnancy rights that enables women to make a truly free choice whether to end a pregnancy
- All of these reasons talk about women, none talk about the baby.
- Gender equality: women should have the equal opportunities to men e.g. career. Men are not hindered by pregnancy, and women should not be hindered either. What puzzles me: instead of creating conditions (legal, childcare, etc.) that make it possible for women to be fully woman, including having babies and enjoying motherhood, we actually force them to be like men who cannot get pregnant…
- Banning abortion puts women at risk by forcing them to use illegal abortionists? Why are women going to illegal abortionists? Not because they are forced to keep their baby, but often because someone else is forcing them to get rid of the baby: a husband, someone who does not want the rest of the world to know he had sex with the woman, the family who does not want to be put to shame, employers, universities, etc.
It is all about choice, self-achievement, self-development and self-determination. No one, not even God, is going to tell me what to do with my life!
3. Ideas are communicated by people, it’s them we see and talk to. They disagree with us, may even be angry with us. And in return, we might be angry with them!
But Paul wants us to know that we are not fighting against humans. It is not a religious war, but a spiritual war! The real battle is not against them, but against satan and his fellows!
But, notice what Paul is saying: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Christians are not called to fight other people or condemn them…
I am not talking about moral judgement on their actions (right/wrong), but condemning people means we take place on the judgment seat of God and do what only He can and is allowed to do…
4. Satan does not care what people worship, AS LONG AS THEY DON’T WORSHIP GOD!
If you read the Genesis-story carefully you will see that satan never says “trust in me”!
All attention is diverted to the “apple”: “trust in the apple, IT will make you like God, no, you won’t die from eating it”. And it works!
Genesis 3:6 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
Lots of things screaming for our attention, devotion, passion, time, etc…
Iphone, career, cars, women, food, sports, events,
Even good, “christian” activities can become an idol that replaces God.
Satan does not care as long as you don’t worship God!
next time we’re going to look at all the different armor parts, but the application for today is: BE PREPARED!
Take up your armor and expect to be in a fight!
Don’t be like a sitting duck!