Chapter 6, Lesson #2

Ephesians 6:16-17 – In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

Faith is like a sort of universal defense.  Our enemy will try to launch fiery darts of unbelief, worry, unforgiveness, bitterness and hopelessness, etc.  All of these lies can be stopped or blocked with faith. 

For example, you may hear a report from work that says your job is going to be eliminated.  Don’t be surprised if Satan immediately launches a “fiery dart” at you by putting thoughts in your mind.  He may whisper something similar to this:

“I know I am going to be let go and I will never find another job at my age”

“If I lose this job, I will lose my house”

“If I lose my job, I won’t be able to afford medical insurance”

“If I lose this job, I will need to declare bankruptcy”.

If we were to listen to those thoughts, it would induce a sense of panic, worry and fear into our lives.  We would be tempted to think that God either cannot or will not take care of us.  Our peace would be gone; so would our trust in God.

But it does not have to be that way.  When the enemy whispers those thoughts in our ear, we can fend him off with the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.   

For example, when those thoughts come to you, you should immediately banish them from your mind.  You can’t necessarily keep them from popping up in your mind, but you do have the power to shut them out without dwelling on them.  Instead, fill your mind with the God’s truth.  Remind yourself of past times when God met your needs.  Remind yourself that the God you serve owns the universe and he loves you!  Remind yourself that he has promised never to forsake you.  Remind yourself that he has promised to meet your needs according to his riches in glory!  Remind yourself that God miraculously fed millions of people every day for over 40 years with manna.  Surely, he can take care of you in your situation!  

The truth is that even if you DO lose your job, God is still going to walk with you and take care of you!

Philippians 4:19 – And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

As you dwell on these truths, your faith will kick in and you will not fall prey to the enemy.  Instead of fear and worry and panic, you will have peace and assurance that God is leading your steps.  That is how the shield of faith works.  Faith is believing what God says rather than what the circumstances look like. If you resist the devil, he has to leave you alone!

James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

The shield of faith works best in conjunction with the sword of the Spirit, or the word of God.  When the enemy attacks, fight back with the word.  This is exactly what Jesus did when he was tempted by the devil.  If you look at the temptation of Christ in Luke 4, you find that Jesus spoke the word of God in response to every temptation Satan threw at him.  Eventually, Satan gave up and left.  We can do the same thing.

I believe there are two keys to using the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit.

One, you have to get control of your mind and emotions.  You can kick Satan out of your thoughts and dwell on Christ, but it takes discipline.  Replace those thoughts with thoughts of God’s power and love for you.  Praise and praise songs can be a very effective way of reminding yourself how great and power God truly is!  Regardless of how you do it, I would advise you to start stretching your mental muscles today, so you will be ready when the battle comes.

Secondly, you must know and be familiar with the word.  If you never read the Bible, how will you use it when the day of testing comes?  Again, look at Jesus.  When Satan came to tempt him, he didn’t get out a scroll to look up a scripture.  He had them already hidden in his heart, and they came to him as he needed them.  You must do the same.  Prepare now for the day of battle and you will be successful!

Ephesians 6:18- …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.

The first thing to notice is that prayer should be happening at all stages of life.  If you are young, you should pray.  If you are middle aged, you should pray.  If you are old, you should be pray.  If you are lying about your age, you should definitely be praying! 

Prayer should be happening no matter what circumstance you find yourself in.  Whether in adversity, prosperity, temptation, joy, under trial, or having a ‘mountain top’ experience, we need to be praying. 

Our prayers themselves are different and unique.  The prayer we pray for a stranger at Walmart is different from the deep interceding we do in our private prayer closet.  The prayers you pray with your spouse will be different from the group prayers that are prayed at church.  Sometimes our prayer may just be a simple cry for help, or it maybe it takes the form of silently waiting to hear from God.  While there are different kinds of prayer, the key is that in all circumstances, we should pray.

This raises an important question – What should we pray?

Well first of all, we know we should pray in accordance with the Word of God.  It is good and right to pray for people to be healed of sickness, because the Bible says Jesus has paid the price for our healing; it’s God’s will that we are healthy.  Obviously, we want to avoid prayer that is in direct opposition to God’s word.  For example, we should not pray that we don’t get caught cheating on our taxes! 

Sometimes, it is clear what we should pray for, but other times it is not.  For instance, what is the best way to pray for an unsaved loved one that you don’t see very often?  In this case, we may not know the circumstances well enough to pray for the right thing.  Even if we know the circumstances, we may misinterpret what God is doing.  If our loved one is going through a difficulty, we may pray for her to be delivered, when in fact, the trial is the very thing God is using to draw her to himself. 

Thankfully, according to Ephesians 6:18, the Holy Spirit will assist the believer in prayer.  This is confirmed in Romans 8:26-27:

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words….the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Practically speaking, you can begin by praying with your understanding.  Then, wait on the Holy Spirit to guide you in your prayer.  He is more than willing to lead you in the right direction.

Also, for those who have a spiritual prayer language from the Holy Spirit, you can also use this to pray.  In this instance, the Holy Spirit himself is praying through you, so you can be sure that you are praying the exact will of God.

 Ephesians 6:19-20  …and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

If the apostle Paul felt that he needed prayer support from his church, how much more do we need it as well?  We should be able to ask our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to aid us in our ministries by prayer.  We should be able to boldly ask them to pray for us when we are sick or facing trials and difficulties.  One of the blessings of being part of a church body is the support, love, and prayer we can receive from each other.  If you are not involved in a church, I would encourage you to find one and become an active participant.   

Ephesians 6:21-24 –  So that you may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything.  I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.  Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

Can we read between the lines in Paul’s final words to the Ephesians?  Paul is sending a messenger with this letter to “tell you everything”.  It is his intention that the church at Ephesus may “know how we are” and that it may “encourage your hearts”.  

But what exactly was Paul’s situation?  He was in prison, being accused of a crime he did not commit.  He is not telling the Ephesians that everything is great.  He is not telling them that the Christian life is easy or trouble free.  Rather, he is showing them that in all his tribulations, God is present with him.  In all his trials, God comforts and sustains him.  In all the unfairness of his situation, God is still in control and he will bring about his purposes for the church.  Wow!  This is a lesson we can all learn from!

This letter is also a great reminder that this world is not the end.  There is another eternal, spiritual world that will one day be our home.  I hope this study of Ephesians has stirred up your mind to a greater understanding of the spiritual blessings we have in Christ.  I also hope it has encouraged you to become an active member of the body of Christ! 

May the Lord bless you!

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