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PREPARATION FOR THE EVIL DAY

 

PREPARATION FOR THE EVIL DAY

 

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Ephesians 6:10-13

 

INTRODUCTION

 

            We live in perilous times, and evil days. Wars and rumors of war rage from Lybia across the Middle East to Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. A new terror group identified alternately as ISIS or ISIL is threatening to take over large parts of Iraq and Syria. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and even Iran are calling these ungodly radical murderers “the most dangerous group in the world”. Russia continues to threaten to invade Ukraine. Thousands of undocumented illegal aliens continue to pour across the southern border of the United States. Those charged with the constitutional duty of “providing for the common defense” are not! And now the President of the United States has stated regarding ISIS\ISIL “we have no strategy”! No Strategy?

            We do live in perilous times and these are evil days. God’s word tells us that perilous times are coming and there will be a time called the evil day which will approach. This ISIS / ISIL  is a rag tag bunch of ungodly thugs and bullies who have stolen money, arms, and equipment; they threaten, demand, lie and kill people indiscriminately. The British, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Lebanon are all saying we must engage and destroy these ungodly people. Alas, our President says “we don’t have a strategy”! Can you imagine what would have been the outcome if the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, had said we don’t have a policy? On the afternoon of May 13, 1940, Churchill summoned all his ministers to Admiralty House and told them, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” A few hours later in the House of Commons he declared: 

 

            “You ask, what is our policy? I will say:  it is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.

            You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word:  victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival. Let that be realized; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal.

            But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, ‘Come then, let us go forward with our united strength.” [1]

            On June 4, 1940 Churchill again declared:  “Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.

            We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

            And even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old.” [2]

 

            God has a plan for his people. The evil day is approaching. In the sixth chapter of Paul’s great epistle to the church of Ephesus the Lord’s Word sets forth his plan for his people. Here we see in verses 10-13 God’s call to battle for his people. The Lord God shows us how to prepare for the daily battle and the coming “evil day”. God’s answer is twofold. First, “be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might”. We need strengthening from the Lord! Otherwise, we are no match for the devil, the principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age, and the spiritual wickedness in high places. Therefore, we need to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. We need a good exercise program. This involves prayer, memorizing and meditating on God’s Word and the realization that, “apart from Christ I can do nothing” but “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  Second, we need to put on the whole armor of God. Notice that we are told not merely to put on the helmet and take the shield and the sword, but we are to put on “the whole armor of God”.  He details the whole armor of God in verses 14-20, but we will leave that for another time. In beginning to get a handle on how to stand in the evil day, and how to prepare for the daily battle, consider what has been set forth in the first five chapters of Paul’s letter to the church of Ephesus.

I.                    THE RECAP

            In the first three chapters of Paul’s letter to the church of Ephesus, he is letting them know who they are, what they are, and how they have become what they are. In the first chapter, God’s Word tells them that they are what they are because of God’s sovereign will and purpose in blessing [us] with all spiritual blessings before the foundation of the world.

            Toward the end of the first chapter, Paul’s prayer is “that the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would grant us wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; that the eyes of our understanding being enlightened, we would know the hope of His calling; that we would know the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints; and the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who would believe would be evident to us.”

            In the second chapter of Ephesians, we see that we are what we are because of God’s grace alone in giving us saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not because of what we have done, but because of God’s sovereign will and what Jesus has done for us.

            We also see in the second chapter and into the third chapter that God has taken Jew and Gentile,” those who are nigh, and those who are far off,” and made them both one “by the precious blood of Jesus. ” This is all part of God’s great plan in eternity through the saving work of Jesus Christ who has brought Jews in and Gentiles in, and we are together in this body, this new man which is called “the Church.” In the second half of the third chapter, we see some almost incredible things where the Lord God says that these “new men” might be filled with all the fullness of God. Then, as if to answer the obvious question of “can he really do that?”,  Paul sets forth in God’s Word that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” What a promise.  In the fourth chapter, God’s people are called to walk (live out) “worthy of the vocation wherewith we have been called.” We are not to continue to “walk as other Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind.” (4:17) In essence, the Lord God is saying to his people, now that you know what you are and how I have brought you to become what you are I want you to live the kind of life that pleases me (the Lord God). In effect, God is saying I have caused you to be born again and you are no longer like those other Gentiles who continue to live in sin and in enmity to God. Don’t keep on doing that! The Holy Spirit of God dwells in you. He does not dwell in those who are not born again.  i.e. have not been made into “new men” or, are not Christians.

            In chapter five, we are told to be “followers” of God as dear children. We are to be a “sweet smelling savor” unto the Lord. We are to “walk in love even also as Christ has loved us.” Additionally, we are to “walk as children of light.” While we were sometimes darkness in the past, now we are children of light, therefore, we are called to walk in that way. Don’t think that you can “walk as you want to walk”, for, “If you live after the flesh you shall die” (Rom 8:13) meaning go to Hell. We are to live and walk after “the spirit and thus fulfill the righteousness of the law.” 

            In the concluding verses of chapter five and the first nine verses of chapter six, we are admonished to “be not drunk with wine where in is excess, but be filled with the spirit.” We are to be “subject one to another, wives subject to their husbands, children subject to their parents, and servants subject to their masters.” Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Fathers are not to “provoke their children to wrath,” and masters are to remember that they too have a “master also who is in Heaven, and neither is there respect of persons with Him”.  And then God’s Word tells us that there is one other matter to consider. You have a great adversary and you will be faced with mighty opposition every day.

II.                  The Call to Battle

            In the thirteenth verse of the sixth chapter, we see this beginning of the stirring call to battle. First, “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Second,” put on, (or take unto you,) the whole armor of God.” The reason is immediately given as to why we need to take such preparation. First we see “that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil”.

 

            One may ask why should I put on the whole armor of God? Why should I be careful to be strong in the Lord and the power of his might? “Now that I’m saved I can do what I want to do.” This is incorrect and very dangerous! The correct answer is immediately given “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high (or heavenly) places” that is why you need all of the whole armor of God. If you go out half-dressed you are a fool. The ultimate goal is “that you may be able to stand in the evil day”! First, you pick up here that there are evil days! If we do not realize that there are evil days we are most likely, if not certain, to be defeated. The reason, of course, is that in order to stand “in the evil day” you’ve got to make preparation. You cannot just stroll along thinking happy thoughts and thinking that you will live happily ever after. You must (1)” be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might,” (2) “take unto you the whole armor of God.”

            Just as in Iraq and Syria where people are falling right and left, everywhere, you must have a policy, a strategy and a plan. You must make preparation. Jesus Christ is the only way anyone can stand. We are engaged in a great battle. There is a war going on within us. Paul speaks of this war in Romans and in Galatians. Not only is the war going on within us, but the war is also occurring around us. We have this great adversary, this great opposition, and we are very susceptible to being deceived, or even to deceiving ourselves. There are even people in positions in the church who will tell you to do such things as “let go and let God”. “You don’t have to do anything, just let God do it”.

            Nevertheless, here we see this general exhortation which is a great call to battle. I must realize who I am and what I am in the Lord Jesus Christ. “Apart from Christ I can do nothing.”“ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” If I think that I do not have to walk in a manner that is worthy of my calling, I am sure to fall. Walking worthy of your calling means living “as becomes the Gospel of Christ.” “but fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetness,  let it not be once named among you as  becometh  saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetess man, who is an idolator, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words for because of these things, comes the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.”  (Ephesians 5:3-6)

            Salvation is all of the Lord. “By Grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God.” Sanctification, however, involves “putting off the old man and putting on the new man.” It involves being strong in the Lord and in the power of his might and putting on the whole armor of God.  [3]What we realize is that believers, even though they are true Christians, have something of the old nature in them. There is an enemy within, there is a lurking power that is always ready to take control of our flesh, and, as Paul says in writing to the Romans, to “Let Christ reign in our mortal body”. Here he also reveals that there is an enemy that is outside of us that is the devil and his forces.

III.                The Ongoing Battle

            Doctor D. Martyn Lloyd- Jones, in his great work on the commentary and exposition of Ephesians said “the great trouble with the world today and with the church unfortunately, is that they know so little about the devil and the principalities and powers. Much teaching concerning holiness and sanctification never even mentions the devil and these powers at all. The problem is regarded solely as something confined to ourselves. Hence the total inadequacy of many proposed solutions.” [These final verses in the sixth chapter of Ephesians] “is of vital importance in connection with the whole problem of the biblical doctrine of sanctification and holiness.” [4]

            Dr. Lloyd-Jones continued “The Christian life, in the first place, is a warfare, it is a struggle. [The Words] “We wrestle” (show us that) the whole section is designed to impress this fact upon us. There is no grosser or greater misrepresentation of the Christian message than that which depicts it as offering us a life of ease with no battle and no struggle at all. There are types of holiness teaching that teach just that. Their slogan is, ‘it is quite easy’.  They say the trouble is that so many Christian people remain ignorant of this fact, and therefore go on fighting and struggling. That is the essential characteristic of the teaching of the cults. That is why they are always popular. quite easy! A life of ease!  You cannot fit that in to this epistle with its “we wrestle!”  Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand.” The first thing we have to realize is that the Christian life is a warfare, that we are strangers in an alien land, that we are in the enemy’s territory.

            Dr. Lloyd- Jones continued saying “Secondly, this is a warfare that you and I have to wage. ‘be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.’ You have to be strong. ‘Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand, and having done all, to stand’. ‘Stand therefore – you! It is not only a warfare, it is a warfare that you and I have to wage’… “I have to fight!” Another way in which that teaching is put sometimes is: ‘let go and let God.’ “let go” they say “you have been holding onto it, you have been trying…let go, let God. It is alright, you will have victory.”… “He makes me more than conqueror; but it is my battle and I have to wage it. (Emphasis added) These are fundamental principles in connection with the doctrine of sanctification.  I believe that much of the decline in the Christian church today is due to the fact that, that other teaching has had such a vogue.”[5]

            We must look at the fact that this is a call to get prepared for battle that you may stand in the evil day. This is not “let go and let God.” This is a military barracks! As Frank M. Barker Jr., the former senior pastor at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, once said, “We are not running a nursery we are running an army.” This “call to battle” speaks of preparation. It speaks of diligent, hard work, training, and a strategy to defeat the enemy that you may be able to stand in the evil day. This has the ring of a rousing, stimulating trumpet call. It is a martial atmosphere. “BE STRONG IN THE LORD, AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT. PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD.” You have to do it. There is nothing wishy- washy about it. You have to do it, and you must keep on doing it. Put on the whole armor of God. Put on each piece and pray. This is a mighty conflict, but I can be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

            “You ask what is our policy (what is our strategy)… it is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all of our might and with all the strength that God can give us, to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalog of human crime. That is our policy.” Churchill was speaking of Adolf Hitler and the German Tyranny, but we face a much greater enemy. How is your strength? Are you being strong in the Lord and in the power of his might? How is your armor? Are you putting on the whole armor of God every day? Or is your attitude one of “let go and let God.”

            Resolve today to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Resolve today to put on the whole armor of God, “for we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and against the rulers of the darkness of this age and against spiritual wickedness in high places, wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all, to stand”.

            After the British and the Americans defeated the Germans in North Africa at the Battle of El Alamein and began their preparation to push on to Sicily, Churchill spoke at the Mansion House in London on November 10,   1940, and said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps, the end of the beginning”. Resolve for you and for your family to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Resolve to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Resolve to study His Word and be diligent to “show yourself approved unto God a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth.” Memorize his Holy Word “for it is more to be desired than gold.” Meditate on his Holy Word and you will be “like a tree planted beside rivers of water and you will bring forth your fruit in due season and your leaf also shall not wither.” Resolve to have on the whole armor of God. Resolve to add to your faith virtue and to virtue knowledge and to knowledge self-control and to self-control patience and to patience godliness and to godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness love. Resolve to “make your calling and election sure”. Take these preparations and know for certain “this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

            CONCLUSION

            Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Sheppard of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ to whom be glory forever and every Amen.

 

Your Friend and Brother in Christ

Bill Gray (Daniel)

 

[1] Churchill: a Life; Martin Gilbert p 646

 

[2] Churchill:  a life,  p 656

[3] In the 4th Chapter verse 30, we are told to “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God”.

[4] I will have more to say about “Not grieving the Holy Spirit of God” next month, God willing.

[5] An exposition of Ephesians 6:10-13 pages 20 and 21