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Christ and Creation

Unit 3: The Fruits of New Life


(Lessons 10-14)

NEW ARMOR FOR BATILE

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INTRODUCTION DEVOTIONAL READING:
A. DRESSING FOR BATTLE LUKE 11:14-23
One of the most popular spectator sports of the twenty-first century is BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE:
American-style football. Although it is somewhat obscure outside the United EPHESIANS 6:10-18
States and Canada, this is one of the highest revenue-generating sports on the PRINTED TEXT:
planet. High school football teams have rabid fans. The fans of football teams EPHESIANS 6:10-18
of major universities are no less passionate. The "identity" of a large city can
be tied to its professional football franchise.
At its core, football is a type of mock warfare. Points are scored by pushing
the battle line into the opponent's end zone. Brutal, hand-to-hand combat LESSON AIMS
occurs in the trenches, the line of scrimmage. The key player, the quarterback, After participating in this
is often referred to as the field general who directs his troops. Players with ex­ lesson, each student will be
perience are veterans. A long pass is called a bomb. able to:
As the game of football has developed, there have been many improve­ 1. List the elements of the
ments in equipment. A fully dressed football player wears many items to armor of God.
protect himself from the physical pounding of the game. All players wear 2. Explain the need for
helmets with face masks. Each player wears a custom mouth guard to protect each piece of "annor" in
his teeth. Very prominent are the pads that allow players to use their shoul­ more literal terminology.
ders like battering rams. Some players wear flak jackets to protect their ribs. 3. Identify one element of
Football pants are equipped with hip pads, thigh pads, and knee pads to the annor of God that he or
guard those body parts. Some players even use shoes with steel toes to pro­ she needs to don and make a
tect their feet. plan to do so.
While there are many injuries in football, this system of body armor is
amazingly effective, given the speed of the game and the intensity of the hits.
We can imagine how quickly a person wearing only a soccer player's gear
would be injured on the full-contact football field.
When we look at a depiction of a Roman soldier of Paul's day, the soldier
may appear to us to have used strange equipment. But he was armed and ar­
mored using the finest equipment available at the time. If his armor kept him
from becoming a casualty, he could fight the ne.xt battle too.
The apostle Paul never served in the Roman army. But he had seen Roman
soldiers up close on more than one occasion. Paul knew that there was a far
more consequential war being waged outside the realm of earthly armies.
Paul understood and taught that all believers would be called upon to engage
in warfare against spiritual powers that would seek to destroy their faith. KEY VERSE
Their commander was not sending them into battle unannored, though. God Put on the full armor of
has provided spiritual armor for each believer God, so that when the day of
evil comes, you may be able
B. LESSON BACKGROUND to stand your ground, and
In writing Ephesians, Paul revealed a special concern for spiritual reali­ afteryou have done ev­
ties. He was acutely aware that there is a spiritual realm, unseen to us, where erything, to stand.
important things take place that affect us. Paul referred to this place as the ·-Ephesians 6: 13

..

MAY 31, ].J)J)_9 _ 3~i4 _ _ NEW ARMQREOR BAJTLE

LESSON 14 NOTES "heavenly realms." This realm is the source of our spiritual blessings (Ephe­
sians 1:3). Yet this realm is also the habitation of "rulers and authorities,"
meaning the evil spiritual forces that seek to enslave humanity (Ephesians
3: 10). The New Testament teaches that all spiritual powers eventually will be
brought to submission (l Corinthians 15:24; Philippians 2:10; 1 Peter 3:22),
but that time has not yet come (Hebrews 2:8).
There are two extremes to be avoided when considering the nature of the
spiritual realm or the spirit world. Animism, on the one hand, is the belief
that almost everything in nature has a spirit associated with it. There is a
river god, a tree god, a monkey god, a mountain god, a storm god, etc. In this
worldview, life is a matter of tiptoeing through the spheres of these little gods,
pleasing and appeasing each as necessary.
On the other end of the spectrum, secular materialism is based on the idea
that there are no spiritual realities at all. In this worldview, gods and angels
are no different from elves and leprechauns. At the end of the day, if there is
no tooth fairy, then there are no gods, either. There are no hidden spiritual
powers, good or bad, and humans are called to make their way boldly in a
godless world.
DAILY BIBLE READINGS Paul taught neither the chaotic and fearful world of the animists nor the

Monday, May 25-Truth lonely and even scarier world of the materialists. He personally had experi­

(Psalm 25: 1-5) enced the spiritual world in dramatic, convincing ways (see 2 Corinthians

Tuesday, May 26-Righ­ 12: 1-4). Yet he understood that this realm was not a playground for compet­
teousness (Proverbs 11: 1-1 0) ing deities of varying powers. Paul knew that there is one God. The spiritual
Wednesday, May 27­ world is delineated between those forces aligned with God and those forces
The Good News of Peace : in rebellion against God.
(Isaiah 52: 7-12) We do not understand why the all-powerful God continues to allow these
evil spiritual forces to exist (nor did Paul). However, for as long as the spiri­
Thursday, May 28­
tual realm is populated with these rebellious powers, they will seek to bring
Faith (Hebrews 10:35-11:3)
men and woman under their thrall as co-rebels against God.
Friday, May 29­
Salvation (Isaiah 12: 1-6) This, then, is cosmic warfare of the most deadly type. Paul knew that
. Christians must constantly be on guard against spiritual attacks, for their
Saturday, May 3D-The
Word of God (Psalm 119: hearts and minds are the battleground. Paul also knew that God had not left
105-112) believers \-vithout defenses. Such is the focus of this week's lesson.
Sunday, May 31­ 1. THE PERIL OF BELIEVERS (EPHESIANS 6:10-13)
The Full Annor of God
(Ephesians 6: 10-18) A. SPIRITUAL RESOURCES (v. 10)
10. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Paul begins the final section of the letter by urging his readers to be
strong. This has the sense of empowerment, of the unleashing of latent
, strength.
The source of this strength is nothing physical, however. It is not a mat­
ter of weight training or nutritional supplements. It does not come from an
injection of steroids. Instead, spiritual strength comes from our relationship
with God, from being in the Lord.
Paul uses an unusual phrase to describe God's strength: his mighty power.
This is similar to a common Bible description of God as the Almighty. There
are no holes in God's power. He is strong everywhere.
A repeated mistake for most Christians is to fall into the trap of trusting
in their own inner strength in times of trial. If we spurn the spiritual as­
sistance and power of God, we will become casualties in life's battles. As
LESSO ,N,,~1,--4,-----_ _ 365__ MAY 31, 2009
Paul explains it elsewhere, when we understand our weakness and rely on
God, then we are truly strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).

B. SPIRITUAL WRESTLING CW. 11, 12)


11. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the
devil's schemes.
Paul admonishes us to dress ourselves in the protective annor provided by
God. The emphasis is on using all the gear, for none of it is optional. Paul's
purpose for this is clear: to allow us to withstand the devil's attacks. One
commentator noted that the most dangerous thing about Satan is his incon­
sistency. Satan will attack any weakness when least expected. (Ironically, we
may say that he is very consistent in this regard!) His craftiness and trickery
are a constant threat. We can neither predict nor anticipate these assaults,
and thus we must be fully protected and on guard in order to resist him.
12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the mIers,
against the authorities, against the powers ofthis dark world and against the
spiritual forces ofevil in the heavenly realms.
The nature of our spiritual stmggle against evil is presented as a cosmic
wrestling match. The object of a wrestling competition in the athletic games
of the ancient world is to toss one's opponent to the ground and hold him WHAT Do You THINK?
down. Satan seeks to trip us up and to keep us from recovering. When we realize that
We sometimes are prone to think that the fight for righteousness, good­ the tme c0Y!fiict is with evil
ness, and holiness is a test of human wills and different philosophies. It is sphitual forces, how will this
true that our fallen world produces some unimaginably evil and depraved change our dealings with
human beings. But Paul knows that this is but an outcome produced by the nonbelievers? How well are
spiritual warfare that is constantly being waged. you doing in this regard?
Men and women (flesh and blood) are not our ultimate enemies. They are [Use Matthew 5:44 and
the fallen children of God. Our true adversaries are the powers of this darh Romans 12:14, 17, 20, 21 to
world and spiritualforces ofevil in the heavenly realms. This is not a cryptic ref­ set the tone foryour answer:]
erence to world governments or conspiracy theories. It is a description of very
real evil spiritual beings who are in league with Satan.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE
Various doctrinal points of view divide today's Christians. One such divide
concerns Christian pacifists and what might be called Christian militarists.
Some \vith a pacifist bent believe we need to get rid of the war imagery when
we talk about the faith. For example, the words of Sabine Baring-Gould's 1864
hymn are deeply troubling to some: "Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as
to war ... forward into battle ... like a mighty anny moves the church of God,"
etc. After all, isn'tJesus the Prince of Peace? Didn't he command us to "tum
the other cheek"? Then how can we use the imagery of warfare when praising
him?
Other Christians see ail of life as a continuous, "every incident" cosmic and!
or physical battle against the forces of evil. Armies from supposedly Christian
nations went on religious "crusades" in centuries past. Not many propose a
return to that line of thinking. Yet some Christians see demons behind each and
every incident that seems to be even the slightest bit troubling.
To the fonner group we may ask, have you ever read Ephesians 6? To the latter
group we can say that implements of war are not the only images Scripture uses
to describe the Christian life. With study and prayer we can find between these
two perspectives the biblical view of the nature of our struggles. -c. R. B.
MAY3~L_211D9 ~ ._~. 36(i . _ __-,N-,-EW ARMOR FOR BATTLE

How TO SAY IT C.
SPIRITUAL VICTORY (v. 13)
animism. a-nuh-mi-zum 13. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day ofevil comes,
(a as in mat). you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to
apocalyptic. uh-pock-uh-LIP­ stand.
tih. The day ofevil that Paul foresees is not necessarily a time of apocalyptic
Corinthians. Ko-RlN-thee­ distress for all humanity. It is, rather, the day that each believer faces, the day
unz (th as in thin). when faith itself is sorely tested. It is the day when our trials wear us down,
Ephesians. Ee-FEE-zhunz. and we are tempted to forsake our Savior for the life of sin and despair. This
epistle. ee-PIS-ul. day may be repeated many times in our lives.
Isaiah. Eye-ZAY-uh. Paul's image here is of a soldier who is still standing when the battle is
Legionnaires. Lee-juh­ done. If the fight is over and we are standing, then we are not casualties. We
NAIRS. have not been thrown down and dominated in the spiritual wrestling match.
medieval. mee-DEE-vul. As Paul says elsewhere, we are victors in the battle, "more than conquerors"
Philippians. Fih-LIP-ee-unz. (Romans 8:37).
Thessalonians. THESS-uh­ This survival will not be from our own resources, but from the protective
LO-nee-unz (th as in
full armor provided by God for our safety. God does not save us one day only
thin). to lose us later. He wants us to be safe, even on the most evil of days.

II. THE PROTECTION OF BELIEVERS (EPHESIANS 6:14-18)


A. BATTLE DRESS (w. 14-17)
14a. Stand fimt then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
. The waist area is lightly armored for the Roman soldier so that he can
: maintain his maneuverability. Depictions of Roman soldiers show that they
favor a shon, skin-like contraption made of broad strips of leather hanging
from a heavy leather belt. Underneath could be a brightly colored cloth gar­
ment extending to the knees. Paul uses the image of a belt to describe the
protective function of truth for the believer. The belt is tightened to the ready
WHAT Do You THINK? position when the battle is about to begin.
Why do you think Paul Undermining or twisting the truth is one of Satan's favorite strategies
(example: Matthew 4: 1-11). Yet truth can be an impenetrable defense. If
picks truth to list first as a
piece of the amlOr ofGod? we always tell the truth, we will not be caught in a tangle of our own lies.
[Explore John 4:24; 8:32, Lies-whether ones we tell or false philosophies we accept-bog us down.
44; and 14:6 as you frame 1iuth keeps us mobile and active because relying on God's truth means that
your answer. ] the devil won't be able to draw us into his quagmire of deceit.
14b. ... with the breastplate ofrighteousness in place,
The Roman breastplate is made of leather covered with bronze. It is "mus­
cled" to make the warrior look strong and fearsome. This armor protects only
the front of the soldier, for he is expected to face the battle. There is no pro­
tection for the back, no armor for the one who turns and runs.
Protection of the torso is critical, for this pan of the body houses many
vital organs. If a spear or arrow is not deflected by the breastplate, death can
follow quickly
Righteous behavior is a protection from attacks on one's personal integrity.
. When a believer falls publicly, the entire church is damaged and its witness
is compromised. This is why Paul calls for leaders who are "blameless" (Titus
1:6,7) and have a "good reputation" in the community (l Timothy 3:7).
Ultimately, our righteousness is brought about through the atoning sacrifice
of Christ. But our daily manifestation of this through right living is a protec­
tion against being ensnared in hidden sins and hypocrisy (compare Isaiah
I 59:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:8).

LESSON 14~ _ 367 MAY 31,2009


15.... and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel PRAYER
ofpeace. God, our shield and pro­
The Roman soldier's footwear is a half-sandal, half-boot apparatus with tector, You are our rock, our
thick leather soles. It is not designed to protect the upper foot from sword strong tower, our mighty
slashes or arrows. Rather, its purpose is to guard the foot from rugged terrain fortress. You are our annory.
so that the soldier can march and advance into battle without worrying about It is you who have provided
injury resulting from stepping on a sharp rock or a splintered piece of wood. · all the equipment we need to
Paul presents an image here of the gospel preacher who acts in order to . prevail.
I
proclaim the gospel ofpeace. The emphasis on peace would seem inconsistent May we be wary of Satan
with Paul's warrior analogy, but peace between]ews and Gentiles has been and his schemes. But help
a major point of this epistle (see Ephesians 2: 14). The gospel of peace is the us keep that wariness from
proclamation that the war between God and humanity is over; the two are becomingfear. We gain this
now reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). In Romans, Paul uses this same victory when we focus on
image to emphasize the "beautiful feet" of the gospel preacher, the one who you and the power ofyour
announces peace (Romans 10:15, quoting Isaiah 52:7). strength. We pray these
16. In addition to all this, take up the shield offaith, with which you can extin­ things through the mighty
guish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. name ofJesus. Amen.
The shield is the most important defensive implement in the Roman
soldier's armor. Legionnaires use a rectangular shield that resembles a half
cylinder. This curved surface causes arrows and spears to hit a glancing blow
because of the angle. These shields are made of wood, with various types of
leather and metal trim.
The shields used by the foot soldiers of the legion are large, four feet in
height. This allows a squadron of soldiers to take a formation in which the
shields are placed together on all sides and above, making a movable fortifica­
tion structure that protects advancing troops from arrows, spears, or other
missiles. This formation is known as the tortoise and is a key tactic that leads
to the success of the Roman legions in battle.
The Old Testament often pictures God as a shield for the faithful (exam:­
ple: Genesis 15: 1; Psalm 28:7; Proverbs 30:5). Thus Paul's analogy of a shield
offaith is an apt one. When Satan is waging an all-out assault upon us, we
may have no resources left except our faith. We can absorb tremendous hits
if we believe that God loves us, that Christ died for us, and that our future in
Heaven is secure. Satan's greatest tool is doubt. Our most effective defense is
faith.
17a. Take the helmet ofsalvation
The Roman soldier's helmet serves as both a protective device and an iden­
tifier. It is designed to protect the head and neck, particularly from blows that
come from hand-to-hand combat. Most helmets have a head-covering bowl,
an extended neck guard, side flashings to protect the cheeks and ears, and
(sometimes) a metal face mask. Helmets also may hold a large, colorful crest
on the top, undoubtedly the most eye-catching part of the soldier's dress.
The helmet is not normally worn by the soldier unless battle is pending.
No prudent Roman soldier neglects to don his helmet as he prepares for
warfare, for a blow to the unprotected head is likely to be fatal. Likewise, our
salvation is that which protects us from the threat of eternal death. Salvation Visual for Lesson 14.
is God's gracious gift, and we are foolish to neglect it (see Hebrews 2:3). Point to this visual as you
17b. ... and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. ask, "What was a time when
The final part of Paul's "full armor" is the only offensive weapon in the list: the helmet ofsalvation helped
the sword of the Spirit (compare Hebrews 4: 12). When do we stage a coun- you the most?
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WHAT Do You THINK? terattack against the devil? We do so whenever we proclaim the Word ofGod,
i

What does good swords­ . when we communicate the truths of the Bible. We bring light to the dark­
manship look like in a spiri­ ness, and our active resistance to Satan causes him to flee Games 4:7).
tual sense? How do Matthew The spiritual battle is not a matter of holding our position. It is our assault
4:1-11 and 2 Timothy 2:15
on the strongholds of Satan (see 2 Corinthians 10:4). To make this assault re­
help us answer this question? quires an offensive weapon.

WHAT DOESN'T CHANGE


A soldier's defensive body armor has not always been a top priority in war­
time. Its use has waxed and waned over the centuries. In the Roman army, body
armor was important. Such armor became even more important by medieval
times, when chain mail and suits of armor were common. However, these were
so heavy and cumbersome that they eventually were dispensed with (compare
1 Samuel 17:38, 39). The advent of gunpowder hastened their demise. Soldiers
in the American Revolution and the American Civil War had virtually no body
armor.
The twentieth century saw an interest in flak jackets develop. In the twenty-first
century, this has evolved into advanced personal armor. Interceptor body armor
became standard issue during the Iraq War. A newer type, called Dragon Skin®,
takes its cue from medieval chain mail. At about 18 pounds, the weight problem
has been solved.
Yet one thing has never changed throughout the history of warfare: the need
for an offensive weapon. If a soldier has all the best defensive armor available,
but no offensive weapon, we may rightly ask, "What good is that soldier?"
-C R. B.

WHAT Do You THINK? B. BATTLE COMMUNICATION (v. 18)


Practically speaking, how 18. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds ofprayers and re­
do we go about praying "jor quests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on prayingfor all
all the saints"? the saints.
Spiritual warfare is not waged in the streets or on the high seas. Rather,
it is fought in the hearts and minds of men and women. This is why prayer
is so important in this context. We will win the battle through prayer. This
includes both prayers for ourselves and our prayers Jor all the saints. By saints,
Paul means our fellow believers, our Christian brothers and sisters in battle.
We will win these battles if we pray with perseverance, with the dogged per­
sistence that will not accept defeat.

CONCLUSION
In real warfare, soldiers have long recognized the value of protective body
armor. Although this can be expensive, military strategists know that shield­
ing a soldier from the enemy's attack allows that soldier to fight another day.
WHAT Do You THINK? No army has ever had an inexhaustible supply of troops, so wise command­
ers always have sought to protect the ones they had.
Which aspect oj the armor
The truth is that many churches are littered with spiritual casualties. This
oj God are you most lacking
problem is traceable to a failure to put on the full armor of God. We have let
right now? How will you cor­
, the cares of our materialistic world grow strong and choke us (Mark 4: 19).
rect this problem ?
We have not equipped ourselves with the many spiritual resources that God
I

has provided for our protection.


I

The first step to spiritual victory is to recognize the dangerous reality of the
battle: Satan is real, and he wants to destroy us. The second step is to unite
I
LESSON 14 }62 _ MAY 31,2009

with other believers in resistance to Satan's methods and tricks. An army THOUGHT TO REMEMBER
must fight as a team. ''An army of one" is a contradiction in terms. God provides all the spiri­
The third step is to attack our adversary with the truths of the gospel, with tual annor we need.
the love of the fellowship, with our prayers for the saints. May we be vigilant
and bold in this battle!

Discovery Learning

The following is an alternative lesson plan emphasizing learning activities.

Classes desiring such student involvement will find these suggestions helpful. At the

back of this book are reproducible student pages to further enhance activity learning.

INTO THE LESSON squad copies of the reproducible activity "Battle­


Display or pass around pictures of modem battle fields Abound!" on page 384.)
gear as used by the individual soldier. (This means Charlie Squad: Identify the battle dress or spiri­
pictures of helmets, etc., not pictures of tanks and tual gear available to believers for this battle. Make
airplanes. Such pictures are easy to find on the In­ a stick drawing of the battle armor mentioned in
ternet.) Use the pictures to start a discussion about our printed text. Then label each piece with the
the specific purpose of each item. metaphorical application to spiritual gear available
rransition to Bible study by saying, "Good to the Christian. Be ready to explain the signifi­
equipment is important for any battle, whether it cance of each piece of offensive and defensive gear
is fighting enemy soldiers, fighting crime, or fight­ for spiritual warfare. Do not include verse 18 in
ing fires. Good equipment is also important for your discussion.
Christians as we battle the evil one. Unfortunately, Delta Squad: Your task is to identify the gear
Christians often do not give their gear the attention for battle communication and the importance of
or care that a good soldier should. Let's explore our such to Christians (v. 18). Answer these questions:
gear and its use." 1. What gear is available for the Christian's battle
communication? 2. With whom must we com­
INTO THE WORD municate ... and what must we communicate?
Explain that Paul's illustration of our battle gear 3. How well do Christians communicate with the
comes from his knowledge of the Roman soldier's commander? 4. What suggestions would you give
gear. After reading today's printed text, assign the to Christian warriors about battle communication?
following tasks to study squads. (Call them squads Be ready to read the questions and your conclu­
to keep with the nature of the lesson.) Give each sions to the class.
squad a poster board and a marker. After each squad reports its findings and conclu­
Alpha Squad: Identify who the Christian's enemy sions, tell the class that it is exam time. Hand out a
is and isn't. Read the printed text, then list the drawing of a Roman soldier in battle gear and ask
terminology that describes the enemy. Be ready to each person to try to label from memory each piece
explain the significance of each descriptive phrase of equipment with the appropriate metaphorical
or word. application to Christian armor.
Bravo Squad: Identify expressions of Satan's
work today. One of the other squads is doing a INTO LIFE
study of the text to identify the enemy, but you will Ask class members to examine their personal
identify current works of Satan. How is he attacking spiritual battles. Say, "What are you wrestling with in
us through our values, thought processes, technol­ your spiritual life? biblical literacy? communication
ogy, etc.? Remember, if we are to win the battle, we with your commander? disconnection from the rest
need to identify the enemy's strategies. List your of your team? temptations? faithfulness or desertion?
thoughts on the poster board. (Option: Give this perfectionism? failure to accept responsibilities?"