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Sabbath School Lessons on Ephesians
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 12: Christian Warfare *
Introduction: In law school, students are taught to identify the
issues in a dispute. You cannot resolve a problem correctly if you
cannot determine what is in dispute. The title of this lesson
includes the word "warfare." Clearly, that describes a dispute. The
question for us to resolve this week is "What is at issue in this
warfare?" This begins with figuring out who is the enemy and who is
our friend. Let's plunge right into our study of warfare in
- Read Ephesians 6:10. Who is our friend in this battle?
- When the Bible tells us to be "strong in the Lord"
what are we being told to do? (We are not to be
"self-made men (women)" in our Christian walk.
Instead, we are to work "in" God. We are to partner
with God. Being strong in the Lord is to have strong
faith in His love and care for us.)
- Next, Paul tells us to be strong in God's "mighty
power." What is Paul teaching us beyond having faith
in God? (God's power, not our power, is the key to
victory in this battle.)
- What power does God offer to us? (Read 1
Corinthians 1:18. Grace is part of God's power
to us. Read 1 Corinthians 2:4-5. The Holy Spirit
is God's power.)
- When Paul tells us to be strong in the Lord and the
Lord's power, what does this suggest about our
opponent in this war? (That our opponent is very
- What does it suggest about our power? (Read Mark
14:38. On our own, we are not strong enough to
stand against our opponent.)
- What does it suggest about our God? (Read
Ephesians 1:19-22. God has all power. He is more
powerful than any other "rule authority, power
- Read Ephesians 6:11. What is the goal of our battle? What
is our tactical objective? (To stand against the Devil's
- How difficult does that sound? (The Bible does not
tell us to go conquer some heavily defended hill. It
just tells us to "stand.")
- What do you think it means to "stand?"
- What does the use of the word "schemes," when
describing Satan, suggest? (He does not play by any
rules. He does not play fair. He intends to fool
- Who is on the attack? Who is the aggressor in this
fight? Who is trying to take more territory? (Over
the years I have read a number of books describing
the American Civil War. For most of my life I have
lived in the American South and I like to tease my
family (which lives in the north)about the "War of
Northern Aggression." There is a lot of truth in
that title. To win, all the South had to was just
stand. It did not need to invade the North. The same
is true here. Satan is attacking, not us. To win, God
asks us to "stand." The battle will come to you. You
need not try to find it.)
- Notice that we are called to wear "the full armor of God."
What does that suggest about the nature of our fight?
(This also suggests a defensive posture. Next week, when
we study in some detail the nature of our armor, we will
learn that it is mostly defensive in nature.)
- How would you describe, as a practical matter, the
difference between attacking Satan and simply holding
your own spiritual ground?
- The Enemy
- Read Ephesians 6:12. Who is not the enemy? (Other people.)
- If other people are not our enemy, and if we are in a
defensive battle, should we call sinners who are
outside the church names?
- What about sinners inside the church?
- In my litigation I have represented homosexuals and
non-Christians. I recall one homosexual whose (non-Christian) religious beliefs I was defending, saying
to me "Bruce, you must agree with my religious
beliefs since you are defending me." I responded that
I did not agree with his beliefs (religious or
sexual) at all. His mother was a Baptist. I told him
I "agreed with Mom." Do you think it is appropriate,
according to Paul, for me to defend the religious
freedom of non-Christians and homosexuals? (Non-Christians, homosexuals, sinners of all stripes are
not the enemy. The enemy is Satan and the principles
of his kingdom. The reason I was defending a gay non-Christian was because I was fighting to defend a
"kingdom principle" - religious freedom for everyone.
Freedom to choose or reject God is a principle of
God's kingdom. See Genesis 3.)
- If "other people" are not the enemy, who is? Let's go
through each group mentioned by Paul:
- Who are "the authorities?"
- Who are "the powers of this dark world?"
- Who are the "spiritual forces of evil in the
- Are all three of these groups listed above
descriptions of demons? Or, are some of them humans?
- Read John 12:31 and John 14:30. Who is referred
to here? (Satan)
- Read 1 John 5:19. Who is referred to here?
- Read Romans 8:38-39. How many demon helpers does
Satan have? (Read Revelation 12:4,7-9. John
suggests that fully a third of the angels chose
to follow Satan and were cast down to earth.)
- My reaction to looking at this list of groups in
Ephesians 6:12 is that some represent positions of
authority held by humans. However, most of the
commentaries that I read suggest that only Satan and
his angels are represented by these three groups.
Would it be reasonable for Satan to organize his
angels so that some were "rulers," others
"authorities" and still others just "forces?"
- Remember that Paul starts out saying "our struggle is
not against flesh and blood." Is there any way to
think Paul is describing human authority in Ephesians
6:12 and still believe we are not in a battle with
other humans? (Perhaps we could oppose the power for
evil of a human position, for example a judge, but
not oppose the individual person. We fight an abuse
of the power of the human authority, but not make it
personal against the human who holds that authority.)
- War Tactics
- If humans are not our enemies, only demons are the enemy,
what does this suggest about how we should treat sinners?
- How should we try to convert sinners?
- Remember our prior discussion about our war being
"defensive" in nature. How is this consistent with the
idea of converting sinners? (I see it like pulling people
out of a burning house. A fireman has a defensive role.
He is not building new homes, he is simply trying to
preserve existing homes. Even when a fireman faces a fire
he cannot extinguish, he still tries to pull people and
animals out of the blaze.)
- How much of your Christian walk is involved in being
concerned about the sins of others?
- Is this consistent with the idea of being called to
"stand" against Satan and his angels? (I think the
call to "stand" mostly has to do with me, not others.
We need to be more concerned with our own spiritual
progress. Looking over at the spiritual progress of
others is not our primary concern.)
- Read Ephesians 6:19-20. How did Paul understand his
defensive battle against Satan? (He shared it with others.
Being in a defensive battle includes sharing our beliefs
- Friend, how is the war going for you? Are you clear that
humans are not the enemy? The only enemy is Satan and his
organized fallen angels. Are you clear that you are not
able to fight on your own? You need to be in partnership
with God. Do you understand that your primary goal is to
simply stand in the Kingdom of God?
- Next week: The Christian Armor.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.