First Lesson: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8:
1Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.
6Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” 7What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?
Psalm 119c on Page 111 in Christian Worship
Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your Word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23:
1The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and 2saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were “unclean,” that is, unwashed. 3(The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)
5So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?”
6He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ 8You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”
14Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.'”
21For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.'”
Second Lesson/Sermon Text: Ephesians 6:10-17:
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The last two weeks that we just went through are one of those rare times in history where it is easy to see that we are living through an historic time. Twenty years ago this month, we also recognized that when we witnessed the events of September 11, 2001. Maybe future generations won’t recognize the date August 31, 2021 the way it remembers that date, they certainly will still be talking about what happened that day. It would be interesting to look ahead to the future and see what generations to come will think of the end of the war in Afghanistan. Right now, though, we are reeling as a nation. It has put us all in a mind to think about war in a way we haven’t thought about it for quite some time. Because of that, it is appropriate for us to look, this week, at the concept of spiritual warfare.
In Your Spiritual Warfare…
I. Know your enemy
II. Know your defensive weapons
III. Know your offensive weapon
I. Know your enemy
- Paul is coming to the conclusion to his epistle to the Ephesians, reminder letter
- He wants to leave them with a great encouragement before he closes this letter
- He first reminds them of who they are dealing with as they face the challenges
- He tells them that this is a strong, crafty enemy who tries to con us into unbelief
- This is Satan who has supernatural power to team up with our own sinful nature
- Peter describes him: Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
- With such a powerful enemy, we need powerful tools to deal with battling him
- Know your defensive weapons
- The belt is a wide piece of clothing that covered the abdomen and hip area on one
- He compares this to truth. Points to the importance of knowing Bible’s contents
- Jesus said about his disciples: Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
- The breastplate protected the chest and abdomen from a sword attack on them
- He equates this with the righteousness that the Bible gives us in Jesus, protection
- Seen in Revelation: They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
- Then he moved to the feet. They would wear heavy leather boots with nail studs
- He says this is the gospel of peace. Even when under attack, we can stand firm
- Hebrews 11:1 states: faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
- He then points to the shield which was soaked to deflect even flaming arrows
- This he equates with faith that can withstand even the active assaults of Satan
- Martin Luther has a great quote about what we can say to Satan when he accuses
- He then pictures the helmet made of heavy brass that protected the head from all
- This is like the knowledge that salvation is ours forever, gives us a goal to reach
- Jesus said: I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
III. Know your offensive weapon
- The last piece of equipment Paul mentions is a double edged sword of the soldier
- This is the one piece that is used for offense – attacking the enemy and winning
- This he compares to the Word of God which gives us the defensive weapons
- It also is what we use to defeat Satan and win others for Christ in this world
- For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. Amen.