Christian Communion and Conduct
Introduction: Last week we studied all the armor that God has created for us except for the "Sword of the Spirit." This week we finish up both our armor study and our study of the book of Ephesians. I'm sorry we are coming to the end of this great series. One last time let's jump into our study of Ephesians!
- Sword of the Spirit
- Read Ephesians 6:17. Is a sword an offensive or defensive weapon? (Offensive. We now come to the one clearly offensive weapon in God's arsenal for us.)
- Paul makes several logical links we need to explore. Why would Paul refer to the Bible ("the word of God")as a "sword?" (Read Hebrews 4:12. The Bible cuts through our nonsense. It cuts through our stubborn pride. It cuts through our excuses. It lays bare our sins.)
- If the Bible cuts through our defenses, is it really an "offensive" weapon? (When I think about "offensive" weapons, I think about beating up unbelievers with the truth. Do you like to make "killer" arguments about how unbelievers are wrong and the Bible is right? As much fun as that might be, I have the feeling that Paul advises us to turn the "Sword of the Spirit" on ourselves. Let it convict you and me of our short-comings and excuses.")
- Why is the Bible linked to the "Spirit" as in "the sword of the Spirit?" (Read 2 Peter 1:21. It was the Holy Spirit who inspired the writers of the Bible. It is the Holy Spirit who speaks to our conscience.)
- Read Ephesians 6:12. Recall that our battle is against "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Being reminded of that, tell me about how you would use your ( Ephesians 6:17) "sword of the Spirit?" (Putting together these two ideas reinforces the conclusion that our sword is to be used in this spiritual war against demons. Recall that the demons attack us with temptation. Thus, our sword is used to fight against temptation. It is not (at least not principally) a weapon to be used against other people.)
- How often do you practice with your sword? How often do you study or read the Bible? How often do you ask the Holy Spirit to open up your understanding of the Bible or help you to resist temptation?
- Read Ephesians 6:18. How effective is prayer without having your armor in place? (The New Bible Commentary says, "Prayer warriors with no real grasp [of the gospel] may be spirited, but no more useful on the field than a soldier without weapons.")
- In what situations should we pray? (Paul tells us to pray "on all occasions.")
- Paul suggests that there are "all kinds of prayers." What kinds of prayers are there? (Read 1 Timothy 2:1. We find reference to prayers that ask God to intercede in life, prayers that ask God for something, prayers that thank God and prayers that are simply communion with God.)
- Why would Paul suggest that we make "all kinds" of prayers and requests? (Have you considered your prayers? Perhaps you are in a rut and are only requesting things from God. We need to be sure that our prayers praise God and thank God and just spend time together with Him so that we can recognize when God responds.)
- When Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:18 to "pray in the Spirit," what is he telling us to do? How is this done? (Read Romans 8:26-27. If you find that you are having trouble praying, you should turn to the Holy Spirit for help. Romans teaches us that the Holy Spirit aids our prayers - both in helping us to know what to pray and interceding in behalf of our prayers.)
- When Romans 8:26 tells us that the Holy Spirit "intercedes" for us in our prayers, does this mean that Jesus has a helper in His intercession for us? (The Bible Exposition Commentary draws a wonderful picture of what the Holy Spirit is doing to intercede in our prayers. Remember that in the sanctuary service the priest daily burned incense? (See Luke 1:8-10 and Revelation 8:3-4.) This incense represented the prayers of the people going to heaven. "The fire on the altar is a picture of the Holy Spirit, for it is He who takes our prayers and "ignites" them in the will of God.")
- Ephesians 6:18 also counsels us to "be alert." It introduces this counsel with the phrase "with this in mind." What should we have in mind that encourages us to be alert? (Paul has described the spiritual battle in which we are soldiers. Being alert would seem to be obvious advice in battle.)
- How about you? Are you "alert" in your prayers?
- Read Mark 14:37-38. Is this an accurate representation of your prayers at times?
- Last, Ephesians 6:18 tells us to "always keep on praying" for all of the saints. When can we stop praying? (When we all get to heaven!)
- Read Ephesians 6:19-20. Can you imagine Paul being fearful in sharing the gospel?
- Does this make you feel better to know that even the great Paul experienced anxiety in sharing the gospel?
- What is the difference in his situation and yours? (Paul could be killed - and tradition has it that he was - because of his witness.)
- Read Ephesians 6:23-24. After this description of war and the counsel to prepare for war, what does Paul wish for us in closing? (Peace.)
- How is that possible? (Faith in our armor and our Armorer. Paul tells us Jesus and the Father love us.)
- Friend, do you have on your spiritual armor? Is your sword in hand? Are you in contact with our General through prayer? These are the things that make a difference for eternity.
- Next week: Begins a new quarter and a study on "Families."