The Apostle Paul drives home keys for spiritual strength and prosperity in Ephesians 6:10-18. Here we read about the panoply of God – the Christian armor. Paul begins with a charge in Ephesians 6:10: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in Lord and in power of His might.” The seed truth: God not only wants you to be a Christian; God wants you to be a STRONG Christian. Why? Because strong Christians lead to a strong church, a strong church is a growing church, a growing church means souls are being saved and God is glorified. But what exactly is a strong Christian? In this article we will examine six signs of spiritual strength.
Years ago a man bought a new radio, brought it home, placed it on the fridge, plugged it in and turned it to WSM-Nashville – the home of the Grand Ol’ Opry. He then stunned his family as he began pulling all the knobs off! You see, he had already tuned in to all he ever wanted to hear, so he limited his radio reception to one station. I trust that we’re not that set in our ways, but we’re willing to examine our lives in the light of God’s Word and are anxious to learn more and prepared to make changes where needed.
So, are you a Christian? If so, how strong are you? This sermons objective is 1) to help you understand what it means to be strong spiritually and 2) to motivate you to resolve to become strong in the Lord.
Acquiring more knowledge is the first step in acquiring spiritual strength. Some facts you must know to be strong. In Ephesians 6:11-12, the Spirit says we MUST recognize our enemy! “Put on whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” The Devil is real and after your soul!
Paul continues the emphasis on knowledge in Ephesians 6:14 and 17: “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth…And take …the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” We MUST know the truth. Spiritual truth originates not with man, but with Scripture. This fact is further emphasized in John 8:31-32, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth…” Hence, the apostle’s plea in 1 Peter 2:2, “as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby.” Knowledge is essential to spiritual strength.
In addition, the Christian needs to know certain behavior betrays spiritual infirmity. Hear the apostle Paul in I Timothy 3:15, “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” So are you on a regular, regimented, daily Bible reading plan? Are you diligent in studying God’s word? Do you do so with your family? Are you regular in church attendance?
Acquiring knowledge alone does not make one spiritually strong. The Holy Spirit makes it clear that the strong Christian will communicate knowledge–communicate truth. Ephesians 6:15, 19-20, “having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace…and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, that…I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Paul does not direct this to preachers, but to Christians in general. Soldiers in the Lord’s army share the good news with others. The gospel saves no one until it is known! Jesus summarizes our marching orders in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded…”
Not just any communication will do. We must communicate effectively to effect change in others. Wisdom demands more than showing, “I’m right; you’re wrong!” The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:24-26, “The servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” There’s no greater blow to the devil than stealing a lost soul from the kingdom of darkness. Let’s make that priority one!
Think about it! What is more crucial to spiritual strength than cultivating and increasing faith? According to 1 John 5:4, “Faith is the victory”. Our focal passage emphasizes the same truth in Ephesians 6:16, “Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” Paul adds in Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Strong Christians do not allow physical eyesight to determine their spiritual outlook. God’s people, we find in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “walk by faith, not by sight.” As one gospel song puts it, “God’s got bigger things goin’ on than what these little bitty eyes can see.” Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Matthew 17:20, “And, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” If we’re going to be strong, we must take God at His word! You and your loved ones will have health crises, financial crises, domestic crises, occupational crises. Your faith will sustain you.
What does Paul mean in Ephesians 6:14 by “putting on the breastplate of righteousness?” How does this relate to spiritual strength? What behaviors does this include?” Some translations render “alms” as “righteousnesses” in Matthew 6:1-2. Jesus says in Matthew 6:3-4, “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” Under the umbrella of “righteousness,” serving through generosity is a sign of spiritual strength.
Jesus presents the widow giving her last two mites in Luke 21. He tells of the Good Samaritan who gave of his heart, time and money. Barnabas impresses us in Acts 4:37 when he, “having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at apostles’ feet.” But perhaps the most striking indication of how highly Jesus values generosity is found in His preview to the judgment in Matthew 25:34-36. A deciding factor for eternity is generosity. ”Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in (gave me lodging); I was naked and you clothed Me (gave me clothes); I was sick and you visited Me (gave of your time); I was in prison and you came to Me (gave me your attention).’ “ We are never more like God than when we give of ourselves. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…” This is genuine spiritual strength.
We all know John 3:16, but do you know the other John 3:16 – 1 John 3:16? “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” A willingness to sacrifice is another form of righteousness that shows spiritual strength. Think about it! Divorce is impossible when both husband and wife live sacrificial lives. Hear Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” That won’t fit with “this is my life, this is my body and I’ll do as I wish! We need look no further than Abraham’s willingness to offer His only son to see what God’s looking for in the “breastplate of righteousness.”
Article by: Brett Hickey