Sabbath School Lesson for September 9-15, 2023

Overview of Lesson 12, The Call to Stand

Memory Text: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10, 11 ESV

What to expect:

  • Sunday: Battle Speech–believers are to take their stand in the church’s war against evil
  • Monday: Finding Strength in Christ–God will strengthen us for this spiritual combat
  • Tuesday: The Great Controversy in Paul’s Letters–we’re in a cosmic, spiritual conflict against evil powers, with God’s victory sure
  • Wednesday: Standing on the Ancient Battlefield–we are told how to stand our ground firmly, side by side with fellow believers
  • Thursday: Wrestling Against Evil Powers–we need God’s armor/protection for this close, hand-to-hand combat with spiritual powers

Using military language and imagery, Paul concluded his letter to the Ephesians with bold, precise instructions for fighting the spiritual battles ahead of them. We see clearly why unity is needed for these spiritual struggles. Being united with each other and with God was important for their success.

God supplies us with the best possible armor to defend ourselves and defeat Satan, the enemy of God. The equipment of warfare we are offered includes His truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation.

Only God’s presence will assure victory in the end. We must never lose hope that God will triumph in this cosmic conflict, despite our often inadequate preparation and effort. All three persons of the Godhead are involved in supplying us with what is needed. We must prayerfully follow His battle orders and take our stand firmly on the Lord’s side.

Sunday: Battle Speech

Paul uses military terms to represent the kind of spiritual warfare we are engaged in. It is an urgent matter, as all war is, and nothing should be left undone to secure God’s ultimate victory against Satan. It all depends on having God’s presence and power in our lives. He alone fights our battles. With Him, we will undoubtedly have victory in the end over the principalities and powers that temporarily rule over us.

The outline of Paul’s battle cry in Ephesians 6:10-20 consists of these actions. We must be…

  • active in the church’s mission (Ephesians 6:10)
  • attentive to the unseen forces that are against us (Ephesians 6:11, 12)
  • aware of the divine provisions God offers us (Ephesians 6:13-17)
  • alert to the need for unity and collaboration among God’s people (Ephesians 6:18-20)

Bible Verses:

Ephesians 6:10-20

  • How does one balance speaking boldly for the gospel of peace, and yet, maintain a firm stance of battle readiness needed to defeat Satan?
  • Why is prayer so important in this warfare?

Monday: Finding Strength in Christ

Paul’s final battle cry is for believers to be strong in the Lord. He then passionately describes how victory is possible. Being united in the mission of spreading the gospel, we must steadfastly rely on God’s power and protection from the opposing forces of Satan.

All three persons of the Godhead are available to secure our victory:

  1. The risen and exalted Lord Jesus Christ is, of course, prominent as our source of strength. Paul emphasizes Christ’s role (using similar expressions of “in the Lord”) consistently throughout his letter in Ephesians 2:21; 4:1, 17; 5:8; 6:1, 21.
  2. Paul twice calls our protection “the armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11, 13). So, the Father is involved in the provisions we take with us into this spiritual battle.
  3. And finally, the Spirit is a key figure in our strength. Besides “the sword of the Spirit”, which is the holy word of God (Ephesians 6:17), we are to pray fervently in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18).

Bible Verses:

Ephesians 6:10

  • How does the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ empower you, as you struggle with life’s difficult moments?

Ephesians 6: 11, 13

  • How does God equip us to fight our spiritual battles?

Ephesians 6:17, 18

  • What is the Spirit’s role in this struggle with Satan?

Tuesday: The Great Controversy in Paul’s Letters

Paul has every reason to call the cosmic conflict, instigated by Satan, a war. It involves good and evil forces that strive for our loyalty. Only one of these forces will win out in the end, and we must choose which side we are on.

Using military language, as Paul frequently does, reminds us of the seriousness of the situation. It affects, not just our earth, but the whole universe. Putting on Jesus Christ, as a soldier puts on protective armor and equipment to defend himself, we become beacons of light to others seeking a way out of this horrific, spiritual struggle.

The most extended use of this battle cry is found in Ephesians 6:10-20. This passage helps us understand the gospel story in a way as no other. Following Paul’s counsel to put on the whole armor of God is the only means of survival in our unpredictable, chaotic world.

Bible Verses:

Romans 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:8, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

  • Why do you think Paul uses military imagery to describe our struggle for salvation?
  • What can we do to ensure God’s victory in the end?

Wednesday: Standing on the Ancient Battlefield

The word “stand”, or “withstand” is mentioned three times in Paul’s final battle cry. Standing your ground was very important in the actions of a soldier. First, they marched to the field of battle, then they stood firmly in place close to their fellows in arms, and lastly, they would wrestle in hand-to-hand combat to push the enemy back.

Perhaps Paul stressed the need to stand because it most clearly identified their need to stay close to each other in unity. He expresses it this way in Philippians 1:27, “…standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” ESV.

When they were standing there, waiting for the battle to begin, soldiers were given opportunity to recall who they were fighting with and for. It was a time to bolster their courage, being emboldened by those standing beside them.

It was Paul’s wish for that same sense of unity to be a key tool in their survival. They must press together and fight to the end for God’s righteous cause.

Bible Verses:

Ephesians 6:11, 13, 14

  • Why was standing together so important for their success in their spiritual battles?

Philippians 1:27

  • Why does Paul stress unity so often in his letters to believers in the churches around the Roman Empire?
  • What can be done to increase unity in the church where you attend?

Thursday: Wrestling Against Evil Powers

Wrestling was considered a means of battle preparation for ancient armies. It increased their strength and abilities, besides giving them a taste of what their hand-to-hand combat would feel like on the battlefield.

Paul mentioned wrestling in Ephesians 6:12 and then reminded them who their enemy was, as they prepared for the coming battles. He didn’t downplay the powers they would be up against. Calling them “spiritual hosts of wickedness in high places” doesn’t sound like the kind of powerful enemy any of us would like to face.

Providing this realistic portrait of the enemy, however, usually turned out to be a better strategy than underestimating the forces they would be up against. Paul offset this fearful description of the enemy with the following verses that outlined the armor they would be given. Their success would be ensured, because God would be with them, providing them with every tool needed for the best outcome possible.

God’s truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation, obtained by their constant prayers for the Holy Spirit, would be the kind of armor that would guarantee their victory in the end.

Bible Verses:

Ephesians 6:10, 12

  • Whose power are we to trust in? And why?
  • When are believers given chances to “wrestle” with God, in preparation for the final battle just become Christ returns back to this earth?

Ephesians 6:13-18

  • What kind of armor are we given to fight Satan?
  • Why is each piece of armor needed, and how do we obtain them?

Friday: Final Thoughts

Most of us can recall feeling oppressed by “spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places”. The “armor of God” can prove quite helpful in those moments when we feel overwhelmed, either by our own negative thoughts and actions, or those of the world around us.

There are, however, ways to counteract those unwelcome moments and escape the worst outcomes of the devil’s crafting schemes to bring us down. By meditating on God’s truth, righteousness, love, and peace, we can, by faith and prayer, become fortified to withstand the attacks of Satan.

Unity of God’s people is essential in withstanding the enemy’s wily deceptions. We must “stand fast in one spirit. with one mind”, as Paul told the church in Philippians 1:27. Though different in many ways (God made each of us different), we can be united with each other in areas that matter most to God. Standing together, united with God, is a winning strategy in this great controversy that encompasses the whole universe.

Next Week: Waging Peace

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