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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 Ephesians!

  1. Friend

    1. Read Ephesians 6:10. Who is our friend in this battle? (God.)

      1. 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.)

      2. 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.)

        1. 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.)

      3. 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 powerful.)

        1. What does it suggest about our power? (Read Mark 14:38. On our own, we are not strong enough to stand against our opponent.)

        2. 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 and dominion.")

    2. Read Ephesians 6:11. What is the goal of our battle? What is our tactical objective? (To stand against the Devil's schemes.)

      1. How difficult does that sound? (The Bible does not tell us to go conquer some heavily defended hill. It just tells us to "stand.")

      2. What do you think it means to "stand?"

      3. 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 you.)

      4. 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.)

    3. 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.)

      1. How would you describe, as a practical matter, the difference between attacking Satan and simply holding your own spiritual ground?

  2. The Enemy

    1. Read Ephesians 6:12. Who is not the enemy? (Other people.)

      1. 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?

        1. What about sinners inside the church?

      2. 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.)

      3. If "other people" are not the enemy, who is? Let's go through each group mentioned by Paul:

        1. Who are "the authorities?"

        2. Who are "the powers of this dark world?"

        3. Who are the "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms?"

      4. Are all three of these groups listed above descriptions of demons? Or, are some of them humans?

        1. Read John 12:31 and John 14:30. Who is referred to here? (Satan)

        2. Read 1 John 5:19. Who is referred to here? (Satan)

        3. 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.)

      5. 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?"

      6. 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.)

  3. War Tactics

    1. If humans are not our enemies, only demons are the enemy, what does this suggest about how we should treat sinners?

      1. How should we try to convert sinners?

    2. 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.)

    3. How much of your Christian walk is involved in being concerned about the sins of others?

      1. 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.)
    4. 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 with others.)

    5. 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?

  4. 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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