Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication.
This Sunday concludes our journey through the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians. To recap a bit about the letter, it is widely believed that St. Paul wrote this letter in his final years while under house arrest in Rome, between 60 and 62 AD.
There were many copies made of this letter while it was circulated to other churches, and today there are copies and fragments of copies that have been collected and studied in order to construct the most reliable version of each of the books of the entire Bible.
Copying the texts was labor intensive, since it was all done by hand, and sometimes the copyists made subtle mistakes, especially if the original was being read aloud and copied by many scribes at once.
In some copies of this letter, there is no reference to the Ephesians, which meant it was probably read by churches all over the landscape of early Churches.
So just like in the early Christian world, these letters are read over and over in all churches who use a standard lectionary, using them to teach us all how to live as Christ would have us.
We have covered the first 5 chapters learning about how St. Paul viewed the church as One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. The Church has a vital role in the plan of salvation, and is not just a building you visit on Sunday morning.
We are the church, the body of Christ, which is his bride, made pure and perfect for him by the washing away of our sins by the shed Blood of Christ the Lamb.
It was vital then for Christian to meet regularly, as we know from the description in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2;
“They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles…. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” And what were they being saved from? To be certain, we are being saved from everlasting death.
I think that part of the message has been scrubbed away little by little over the generations. Certainly, for many of us, the attraction of the love of God the Father toward us is what calls us here to worship him.
We come together in Unity, as One church, to worship in fellowship, just as St. Luke wrote in that description of the early church. The need for fellowship has not gone away, but for the generations who are now used to online fellowship, or social media, as it is called, has diffused the need for personal fellowship.
I mean, why get up for church on Sunday morning to fellowship with your family of believers when you can get all your social needs met on your phone? Many of our young people are more comfortable spilling all of their feelings into the world of Snapchat and Twitter than with their own parents.
And God forbid they tell their priest of their emotional needs anymore. He’s just the guy in the black suit they see on Sunday.
In my mind, I have been thinking about all of the reasons that showing up for a Sunday service with fellow believers has fallen out of favor. The need for fellowship is one, but I think there is a lot more to it.
As I said before, the Love of the Lord calls many of us here to worship him, but for others, they have lost the vision of what is to come in the hereafter.
“And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved,” St. Luke wrote. Saved from what? Eternal death. That’s right, hell still exists despite all attempts of the devil to convince us otherwise. Some have said they don’t believe the devil exists. The problem is the the devil knows we exist!
“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil,” wrote St. Paul.
St. Paul believed in the devil. Do we? Is it because it is the 21st century, and St. Paul is hopelessly out of date? What would Screwtape have to say about it?
Certainly, we who have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior have no fear of the devil, as Jesus defeated him at his resurrection. My prayer for you, “Keep you in Eternal Life.”
But the devil still has the power to tempt us to sin and fall away from following Jesus. St. Paul reminds us of this in his teaching about the Whole Armor of God being necessary to stand against the wiles of the devil.
“For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
The Whole Armor of God is there for all of us, because we all know we are being tempted by the devil all the time.
The shield of faith will quench the flaming darts of the devil, the Evil One. Put it on every day and protect yourself from the one who wants to pull you away from your relationship with God through his Church.
Lastly, pray at all times in the Spirit, because it is the Spirit of Christ within you who guides your prayers. Pray for the saints, that is all of your fellow believers that we all may persevere in our walk with Christ. If you don’t know what to say, the Spirit will intercede for you.
This is the promise of Eternal Life.
And pray for those who speak the truth of the Gospel to a world that is lost, who no longer believes in the devil, and who are taking the easy wide path to eternal death.
Jesus tells us it is urgent that everyone hear the Gospel that can save them from that eternal death.
These are the words of Eternal Life.
Do they hear that in the wonderful world of social media, or do they only get criticism from those who love to tear others down?
Certainly not, and they will only hear it in fellowship with other believers, going to Churches all over the world, and by putting on the Whole Armor of God every day.
The Armor will protect you, if you put it on. So put it on every day! Amen.