LINK: Ephesians 6
Here Paul continues his instructions on walking rightly. We ended chapter five in the middle of his discussion on how that looks in the family setting. Yesterday we saw how husbands and wives are to treat one another. Today we start with children and parents.
Children are to obey and honor their parents, and fathers are to teach their children of the Lord and not exasperate them. My children like to quote the exasperation part to their father (teasingly). :-)
Then Paul continues the "walking" instructions as it applies to slaves and masters. We can apply this today in our employer-employee relationship. Once again, the one in charge is not to lord his position over those under his authority, neither is he to abuse those under his authority. Those under authority must serve as they would serve the Lord.
Paul concludes his letter by urging his readers to be strong in the Lord, using His strength. And although we live out our faith by our walk in this world, Paul reminds us that our real battles are in the spiritual realm. He also reminds us that we have been fully armed by God to fight these battles if we'll only use what He has given us. Paul uses an illustration of the Roman soldier's armor with the following pieces.
(1) Girdle of Truth - Our primary defense is knowing the truth of God. The girdle held the armor together. Likewise, the truth holds our defense together.
(2) Breastplate of Righteousness - A soldiers breastplate covered his body from the neck to the waist in the front and back. We are covered in the righteousness of Christ. Satan has no grounds on which to accuse us, because our forgiveness provides us with the righteousness of Christ.
(3) Shoes of the Gospel of Peace - A Roman soldier wasn't prepared to fight without his sandals on. His sandals had spikes in the soles to give him better footing, much like our sports players today wear cleats. They allow quick movement without slipping. We should be prepared to share the gospel of peace wherever we go, in a sure-footed way.
(4) Shield of Faith - This isn't referring to saving faith, but to the faith of daily living. We must trust in the power of God and that He will keep His promises. The soldier's shield must be held in place to be effective. Likewise, we must hold our faith, never putting it down. With our shield, we will stop Satan's fiery missiles from harming us. (That doesn't mean he'll quit throwing them.) Satan's missiles (darts) are such things as lies, evil thoughts, hateful thoughts, doubts, desire for sin, blasphemous thoughts. If we allow those to take hold in our minds and hearts, they will become flames of sin.
(5) Helmet of Salvation - The helmet protects the head. We must protect our minds and never let Satan have control over them. Satan played with Eve's mind (Genesis 3), and that resulted in Adam and Eve's sin. It is imperative that we study God's word and always be learning the truth.
(6) Sword of the Spirit - AKA The Word of God - The Roman soldier had a short sword for hand-to-hand combat. God's Word is like that sword because it is sharp and is able to pierce a man. The physical sword pierces the physical man, while the word of God pierces his heart. When we allow God to use His word in our lives, He can affect real change in our hearts through it. God's word was what Jesus used to combat Satan's temptations, and we should do likewise.
Paul's final instruction is to pray. Pray always. Pray in the Spirit. Be alert when you pray (know what to pray for). Persevere in prayer (don't stop). Pray for other believers. Pray for the spread of the gospel.
There are many things to reflect on in this chapter, and the reflections lead to many applications.
If you are a parent of children still at home, remember that it is the father's (and mother's) responsibility to teach children about the Lord and His ways. Don't leave that job to Sunday school teachers or a Christian school. Are you teaching your children to obey you, and likewise to obey God? Are you teaching them to honor you, and likewise to honor God? Do you discipline them and instruct them in such a way that they can understand who God is and the salvation He offers them?
If you are employed, do you do your work as if you were doing it for Jesus Himself? If you are an employer, how do you treat your employees? Remember that you must answer to the same Master they do. Do not wield your authority like a weapon.
Everyone - Reflect on the pieces of armor and look for ways to make application to your own life.
Lord, help us learn to walk as You have instructed us in this book. Help us to live the holy and blameless lives You call us to live, that we may bring praise and glory to You. In the name of Jesus, amen.