06 September 2012

Homily upon Ephesians 6:10-20 for IC Chapel

It is a battle and you are under assault. But you totally misunderstand if you think it is about your will power. Heavens! Your will power never will get you very far in this struggle. For you do not wrestle against blood or flesh. Not even, really, your own. You wrestle instead against spiritual forces of wickedness, and they assault you by attacking your faith. They go for the spiritual jugular.

Think for a moment of Abraham when he is told to sacrifice his son. Can you hear the demonic conversation running through his head? “He told you WHAT? Abraham, Abraham. You are being a fool to believe such a thing. Or if it is true that He really did say to do that, well, it shows what an ogre He is, doesn’t it? He doesn’t love you, you see. There’s the proof. He’s vicious. Cruel. Hateful. Might as well give up on Him; He’s clearly given up on you.”

Familiar, aren't they? These fiery darts, aflame with the hatred and distrust of hell itself. You know them. They’ve been hurled into you a time or two.

Stand therefore. Abraham stood. He stood up and did what God had said even when it made not the least sense to him. He took in hand the shield of faith and with it he extinguished the flaming missiles of the Evil One. He received what God gave and by the miracle of God Himself remained trusting that somehow, someway God would keep His promise. You remember what he told the servants, don't you? "You wait here. The boy and I will go over there and worship and we will come again to you."  Or what he said to Isaac when he asked: “Daddy, we have the fire and the wood... Where is the Lamb for the burnt offering?” and in faith Abraham replied:  “God will provide Himself a lamb for the offering, my only Son.”

Abraham battled despair by taking hold of the promise of God and hurling it at the lies of the devil. He took the Word of God in hand and used it as his defense. He had no other.

You, too, you take it up with prayer. Just like the Apostle urged you. You grab tight to His promises and you hold them for they are both your sword and they are your mighty shield. Faith lives from them.

You see, you are soldiers of the Crucified and Risen One. He has laid on you His righteousness. It is a breastplate impenetrable - when it has been laid over you nothing else can reach your heart, for it is Your Savior’s flawless “yes” to the will of His Father, “yes” from birth to grave and from grave to resurrection. It is a “yes” He spoke in the flesh for YOU. A perfect human righteousness, laid on you, given to you as your very own,  to guard your heart. It bears His ensign, the bloody cross. It marks you as His own.

You do not need to fear, people loved by God. As I always told my congregation: “Don’t worry, it will only get worse.” It’s true, of course. He takes away one thing after another, until He even takes away our breath. But He leaves us His promises. And we find out that having them, we have enough and more than enough. They will not fail us. They will see us through.

Yes, you can stand strong. His cross has forever shown the devil’s lie to be that. He is not against you. He joins you in suffering so that suffering might not be the end of you. You triumph then. Not in your own power, but in His. Not in your strength, but in the Lord. You can seize with joy the promises He has wrapped around you and hurl them into the teeth of Satan when he bids you despair and die. Why you can even dance into death itself, and say: “You have not won! You have lost! I belong to Him who is YOUR death, O death! I belong to Him who is the Forgiveness of all sin. You cannot hold me. You will not hold me. You have lost me because you could not hold Him and I am His.”

That’s how you battle. That’s how you stand firm. That’s how you fight the good fight with all your might because Christ is your strength and Christ your right! Lay hold on life and it shall be your joy and crown eternally.


Mighty Lord, it is only by Your gift that we can withstand the assaults of our demonic foes and remain faithful to You. Rouse us for the battle and help us see how very much is at stake that we may never give up the fight, but finding our strength in Your mercy and grace alone may finally prevail to Your glory; we ask this in Your name, O Risen and Victorious Lord, for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

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