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I’m your host AMBrewster, and today we are going to dive into Ephesians chapter 6 to understand God’s plan for our family’s flourishing.
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And once you have printed that out for everyone in your family and read Ephesians 6:10-24, we will be ready to begin.
I love that the words “strong” and “strength” and “firm” and “might” show up 6 times in the first 5 verses of Ephesians 6.
That is what God wants for us. He wants us to be spiritually strong. He wants us to stand firm. He doesn’t want us to die, and He doesn’t want you to merely survive. God wants you and your family to thrive spiritually!
He wants you to flourish. To flourish is to prosper, to achieve success, and to thrive, and given everything we’ve learned in this short letter, that makes all the sense in the world.
We have been redeemed from death to life. But we don’t just have any life, we have new life in Christ. We are the recipients of unimaginable and unspeakable spiritual blessings. We have access to the very throne room of God, His truth, and His power. He’s given us everything we need for life and godliness, He’s provided physical relationships designed to unify us and mature us, and all we need to do is give God the trust, worship, submission, love, and obedience He deserves.
Of course we will flourish when we are unified in Him!
But it’s extremely important for us to define this idea correctly. So, let’s start today with . . .
1. The Definition of Flourishing
One of the most popular passages in the whole Bible is Jeremiah 29:11. It’s frequently cited as being a favorite verse or a life verse. It reads, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’"
And this is a wonderful verse with a beautiful promise.
The issue is that two things about this verse are often misunderstood.
The first misunderstanding is that this particular promise was given to a very specific group of people. This promise was made to the Children of Israel who were exiled in Babylon.
Now, that’s not to say that God hasn’t made similar promises to His church in other passages, but it shouldn’t be ignored that this promise wasn’t given to New Testament believers any more than the promises in verse 14 of the same passage, “‘I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’”
The second misunderstanding is what it means for God to cause His New Testament church to flourish. Is it a promise of health and wealth, popularity and prosperity?
No, that can’t be true because not only would that contradict Jesus’ words, but it would also contradict the lived experience of all of the first century believers including the apostles. Of the thirteen apostles (including Paul and Matthias who replace Judas Iscariot), only one is believed to have died of natural causes. The others were martyred for their faith.
Well, that doesn’t exactly sound like the Western idea of success, thriving, and prospering, now does it!
Well, as we’ve already seen in the book of Ephesians, the promised blessings God bestows on His saints are spiritual blessings — wisdom, peace, holiness, and victory over temptation just to name a few.
And Ephesians 6 is going to name some more amazingly wonderful blessings.
So, here’s what I want to do today. I want to overview the blessings quickly, and then I want to explain these blessings using a new metaphor.
2. The Context of Flourishing
Based off everything we just said, it shouldn’t surprise us that all of the blessings God is about to describe happen within the context of spiritual warfare.
Whether it’s physical or spiritual, warfare is painful and scary and lethal. While some Christians think that the Christian life is one giant party, we find all throughout the Bible that God says our time on this earth is more like a battle than anything else.
And we see the warfare terminology used repeatedly in this passage — the most notable of which are the Armor of God and the spiritual battle He describes.
That, my friends, is the context within which God wants your family to flourish.
And, listen, this makes the promise even more amazing.
If I promised that the happiness you’ll experience while at the best theme part in the world would be due to my magical incantation, you would think I were ridiculous. People don’t need a magic spell to have fun at a theme part. But if I promised you that my magical spell would cause you to have a wonderful time as you battled cancer . . . that may seem a lot more like magic if it were to come true.
God is promising that when you are unified to and in Him, not only will you flourish in the happy times in ways that unbelievers cannot begin to understand, but you will also be able to flourish in the hard times. Now that is an amazing promise.
Now, let’s look at . . .
3. The Promise of Flourishing
From verses 10 through 24 God promises empowerment, protection, spiritual victory, truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the word of God, communication with God, the Holy Spirit, perseverance, boldness, understanding, peace, incorruptible love, and grace. And many of those blessings are mentioned more than once in this passage.
But now I want to transition our focus to what we call the Full Armor of God.
The Lord chose this metaphor, this word picture, for very important reasons. First, as we’ve already seen, it makes perfect sense in light of the fact that our life on this earth is a daily spiritual war.
But second, it also make sense because no soldier only ever put on just one piece of armor. If it were available to them, they used it all because they had better chances of survival.
Now, in today’s transcript and episode notes which you can find linked in the description of this episode, you will find a number of other Bible references which support the claim I’m making here.
God doesn’t want us picking and choosing truth, righteousness, peace, salvation, the Word of God — whichever we feel like, because true Christians will only ever have a couple of the Fruit of the Spirit in their lives.
True believers need to grow in all of the Fruit of the Spirit, and they need to interact with every piece of the Armor of God.
And it’s at this place in the notes where you’ll find a number of other Bible passages that command us to exercise these disciplines in our lives.
But now — based off what I just said — I want to present a new metaphor for your family’s consideration.
Let’s look at . . .
4. The Only Way Your Family is Ever Going to Truly Flourish
A. Know Your Enemy.
Let me start with Ephesians 6:12, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood.”
This whole series has been about how your family can achieve true, lasting unity. And so it shouldn’t surprise any of you to realize that when you treat each other like enemies, you’ll never experience unity.
You’ll never trust each other, you’ll never want to be around each other if everyone in your family is your enemy.
That’s one of the reasons God, in His wisdom, tells us that our enemy is not flesh and blood. Your dad, your child, your brother, your wife, your sister, your husband, your parents are not your enemy.
So, who is?
The passage goes on to explain that spiritual forces — Satan and his demons, the World system, and your Flesh — are your real enemy.
II Corinthians 10:3-5 describes the enemy this way, “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
This passage shows us that any thinking that contradicts God is the enemy. It’s not the person who did the thinking, it’s the actual lies themselves.
We should never attack anyone in our family. They aren’t the enemy. We need to focus our attacks on the lies in our family that raise themselves up against the knowledge of God.
People often talk about taking a knife to a gunfight. Well, in this context, too many of us are taking physical weapons to a spiritual fight. When we have issues at home with our parents, kids, and spouses it makes sense to attack the person.
We can’t see the spiritual. All we know is that we have a child screaming in our face, threatening to break something, threatening to kill himself, telling us they don’t believe in God, or they’re questioning their God-given sexuality. Or maybe we have a spouse who’s just revealed that they no longer love us, or maybe it’s just the continual grind of a parent who is always cranky, critical, and condescending.
Our family members are right in front of us. Not only that, but parents do have the physical strength to pick up their child from the middle of the poop-smeared mess and set him in the bathtub.
Teens also realize they can be loud enough and verbose enough to shout down their parents.
And we often believe the only tool we have to combat our dismissive spouse is physical distancing, arguments, or even violence.
But in those moments we can know one thing for certain . . . we are just as much the problem as our family member is. Sure, they may be doing and saying wicked things — I don’t want to discount that — but the way you’re handling it is just as sinful.
Listen carefully to this — it’s not a sin to use physical weapons in physical warfare, but using physical weapons in spiritual warfare is always a sin. If you took your child to a doctor so he could remove a cancerous tumor, and he rolled in a tool chest filled with tools that a mechanic uses or a painter uses . . . there is something seriously wrong with that guy. Get yourself and your kid out of his office as quickly as possible.
In the exact same way, if you are a family member who’s trying to address spiritual issues with physical tools, you’re a hazard to your family. Satan has officially succeeded in manipulating the World and tempting your sinful Flesh into believing that physical weapons are the answer to your spiritual problems.
If you get nothing else today, get this . . . your family members aren’t your enemy. They are your friends, your allies, your family. You need to be working together to defeat the real enemy, not fighting amongst yourselves.
B. Fight Your Spiritual War with The Spiritual Weapon
Now, you’ve all read Ephesians 6, and most of you were very familiar with this passage before you read it today. That’s great! But I want to make sure our minds are engaged, so I’m going to progress through the list a little out of order, and I’m going to modify the analogy ever so slightly.
Let’s work our way through Ephesians 6:10-19 a little out of order in a way that will help us see the connection between the various elements in that list. I’m also going to — instead of looking at them as individual spiritual weapons — describe them as a single weapon.
I’m not doing this because God didn’t explain it well; I’m doing this just to help us really rethink a familiar passage.
So, picture with me — if you will — a military armory. Inside this armory resides a singular weapon that is guaranteed to destroy your spiritual enemy every time.
However, in order to get your hands on this weapon, there are a few prerequisites.
1. In order to access the Spiritual Weapon, you must be in God’s Army — you must be saved.
Verse 17 refers to the Helmet of Salvation. Let’s consider salvation to be our entrance into God’s spiritual army.
And, let me tell you, everyone in your family is in a spiritual army. God’s army is just far better than Satan’s. Satan will lie to you, and tell you that you’re in control of your own army, but you’re really enslaved to him. And there’s the fact that Satan is going to lose. Everyone in your family is fighting for a spiritual army, but this series has hopefully shown us that we all need to be unified in God’s army.
So, salvation is required to be able to access the spiritual weapon. We’ve talked a lot about that over the past few weeks.
Now, imagine that a soldier wants to remove the weapon from the armory. You can easily guess — or perhaps you know from experience — that they would have to request the armament and go through the appropriate channels for removing it from the cache.
2. In order to access the spiritual weapon, a Soldier of Christ must request it — you must pray.
I don’t know about you, but I know about me, and I know about the many people I’ve counseled in my ministry, and it amazes me how easy it is for our prayer life to completely die when we’re in the midst of family disunity.
Every single person who’s come to me for counsel because they’re making bad choices and experiencing the consequences of those bad choices, either doesn’t understand prayer or isn’t bathing in it the way they should. It’s just another of their bad choices.
We may beg God for help when life get’s tough . . . but God commands that we pray without ceasing.
Prayer is the solider coming before the Divine General and requesting access to the necessary spiritual armament.
In John 11:22, when speaking to Jesus, Martha rightly acknowledge that “whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” But that goes for all of us!
In John 16:23, Jesus said, “If you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.” Of course, Jesus is not talking about a prayer where you simply tack “in Jesus’ name” onto the end. The ancient concept of a name encompassed the person’s character. The idea of “asking in my name” was to ask God only for those things that would fall in line with His divine character. It’s not baptizing our desires in Jesus’ name; it’s only requesting those things that God already knows we need.
James 1:5 gives another example of this: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Think about this realistically. At nearly every moment of every day Satan, the World, and the Flesh are tempting you and your family to sin against God. At nearly every moment of the day you need access to The Spiritual Weapon we’re about to describe if you hope for you or your family to overcome the spiritual attack.
But do you regularly pray for access to this weapon? Are you praying now for your children’s or your parent’s access to this weapon?
I meant to mention it earlier that Ephesians 6:18-20 is often not included in the list of spiritual armor, but I believe with all my heart that it should be. Listen to the list again: let me abbreviate it: “having girded, having put on, having shod, in addition taking up, and take . . . with all prayer and petition.”
“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
Paul knew what it was like to daily be fighting the spiritual war. He uses allusions to wars and soldiers more than anyone else. He was even physically buffeted by demonic forces. He knew he needed prayer.
So, the soldier of Christ asks for access to The Spiritual Weapon, and — of course — he’s granted access, but where does he find this weapon? Where is the spiritual armory in which the spiritual weapon resides?
3. The spiritual weapon comes from God’s armory — you must search the Scriptures.
Can I just sum it up simply this way: there’s no amount of “following your heart,” listening for Jesus to “talk to you,” seeking gurus and experts, getting secular counseling, watching TV, reading self-help books, or letting go and letting God that will help you have victory in Spiritual Warfare.
God has given us everything we need for life and godliness where? II Peter 1:3 tells us through the knowledge of Christ. And where do we find that knowledge? Only and ever in the Bible.
You will never — I repeat — never gain access to The Spiritual Weapon you and your family need outside of God’s revealed Word — the Bible.
This is why we dedicated an entire season (back in Season 7) to the importance and absolute necessity of God’s Word being the core, foundation, and superstructure of your household.
The less time you spend in God’s Word, the less time you’ll gain access to the weapon you need to overcome Satan, the World, and the Flesh.
This is exactly how Jesus Christ — the incarnate God-man — fought Satan’s temptations for 40 days. He quoted the Scriptures right at Satan, and there was nothing Satan could do.
Okay, we can look at salvation, prayer, and the Bible as three unique spiritual weapons, or we can think of them as necessary steps to using The Spiritual Weapon. Either way, it doesn’t matter.
I think, though, when we’re done here, you’re going to see that each of these pieces of spiritual armor are necessary to all the other parts. Without one, you may not have any of the others.
So, we and our family members are — hopefully — born again saints. We’re part of the spiritual army. We’ve beseeched the General in prayer for The Weapon we need to overcome Satan, the World, and the Flesh — our real enemies — and God has given us full access to know, understand, and believe His Word — the Bible.
But when we open the Word of God, what will we find? We’re going to find The One Weapon has four unique parts.
4. The Spiritual Weapon is loaded with Truth.
What else would we expect to find in the Bible? Psalm 119:160 reads, “The sum of Your word is truth.”
There is no Truth that is not God’s Truth. Jesus is the Truth. There is God’s Truth, and everything else is the Lie.
We learned this in our free James video Bible study available to the TLP Family at TruthLoveParent.com. We learned this in our discussion of “The Communication House” and “The Merest Christianity.” All spiritual success will be grounded in Truth, and all spiritual destruction will be tangled in the Lie.
Ephesians 6 refers to the “Belt of Truth.” The belt allowed the soldier to move unencumbered by the flowing garb of Middle Eastern clothing. It also provided a place to carry the Sword of the Spirit which is the Bible, the collection of God’s Truth to man.
Now, what does this mean practically for your family unity? It means that the only way you and your family will ever hope to overcome Satan, the World, and the Flesh is to know, understand, believe, and live in Truth. If it’s True, we do it and say it and feel it and think it. If it’s not, we don’t.
Consider Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true . . . dwell on these things.” It’s the first thing on the list because it informs absolutely everything else. Nothing that is honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, or worthy of praise will be a lie. It all must conform to God’s perfect, unchanging Truth.
Therefore, if you’re truly firing The Spiritual Weapon at your spiritual attacker, it will always agree with God’s Word. If you’re passing your children the ammunition they’re going to need to fire at their spiritual attacker, you must hand them Truth. Lies will jam The Weapon and blow up in our faces. After that, the enemy will rush in and leave our family in shambles.
So, our spiritual weapon is loaded with Truth and . . .
5. The Spiritual Weapon is made out of righteousness.
Truth cannot pass through anything other than righteousness. If Truth passes through unrighteousness, it will either destroy it or redeem it. It will either undo it, or it will cause it to become righteous.
In short, our family’s flourishing will never include sin, unrighteousness, transgression, wicked, evil, iniquity, white lies, unkindness, impatience, sinful hatred, sinful anger, heresy, drunkenness, impurity, dissension, enmity, quarreling, and the countless other works of the Flesh the Bible enumerates.
When you impatiently lash out at your children or parents or spouse, you’re using physical weapons to attack a physical person that you’ve decided is your enemy. And spiritual destruction will follow.
When you misapply God’s word — when you give more credence and support to man’s Failure Philosophies — when you manipulate and give silent treatment and punish instead of discipline . . . you’re using carnal weapons to fight physical enemies. You’re playing right into Satan’s plans. He’s using you to attack your family, all the while the real spiritual enemies are running free in your home.
This Spiritual Weapon — which is guaranteed to overcome sin — cannot be sin. It must be righteousness. It’s never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.
I think this should be self-evident, but I can’t tell you how many times in counseling family members try to justify their sin as if God is pleased by it — or that their sin is necessary — to have victory in this life.
But The Spiritual Weapon which is guaranteed to cause our family to flourish is encased in righteousness, and it fires Truth . . . but how is aimed?
When we see the spiritual warfare waging in our families, we must aim our righteousness and Truth through the lens of the Gospel.
6. The spiritual weapon is sighted through the Gospel.
I love the picture in Ephesians of the Gospel being footwear. It’s what carries the soldier through everything.
All Truth points to man’s need for God in salvation. All righteousness is impossible apart from being a born again follower of Christ. Therefore, the Gospel is what helps us see the world the right way. When we look through the Gospel, our family members will never look like enemies. When we look through the Gospel, Satan and the World and the Flesh will clearly be seen for the lying, destructive foes they are.
When we see life through the Gospel, it will be clear what Truth and righteousness are needed to flourish in our family.
But in order to see in this way, we must realize the Gospel is not merely our introduction to a relationship with God, it is our relationship with God. The Good News is that we can enter a relationship with God through justification, mature in that relationship through sanctification, and one day be perfected in that relationship through glorification.
That is salvation. That is the Gospel.
Yes, part of salvation is a one-time, past event, but all believers live in the present outworking of that salvation, and they all look forward to their eternal salvation.
Your family’s struggle with spiritual powers in high places is only going to be answered through the Gospel.
So, in review, you must be a born again follower of Christ who approaches the throne of God, beseeching Him for The Weapon you need to flourish in your family. Of course, God will always turn you to His Word for the equipping you need. And that equipping is always going to be Truth, righteousness, the Gospel, and . . .
7. This spiritual weapon is fired with faith.
What does it take to pull the trigger on this Righteous-Truth-Gospel weapon? What does it take to flourish in your family?
I find it interesting that in Ephesians 6 Paul rattles off this list of spiritual armor, but he dedicates more time explaining the shield of faith.
He says, “in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
Hebrews 11:6 teaches that “without faith it is impossible to please [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
You family member will be powerless to lift the weapon, sight it in, and fire it without faith. You all must believe that God’s plan for your parenting, God’s plan for your marriage, God's plan for family is the absolute best.
Remember James 1:5-8? “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” Instability does not sound like flourishing to me.
If you do not trust that God’s Weapon is the only way you and your family can overcome Satan, the World, and the Flesh, you will look anywhere and everywhere but to God’s Word.
This is why so many professing Christians run to the medical and psychological fields for help with things the Bible clearly says are sins. We’ve believed Satan’s propaganda machine that therapy is better than Bible or that you need Bible and therapy. But any time we add something to God’s Word, we’re falling into the heresy that God’s not enough — there are all these other things we need to do.
If someone in your family is actually sick, and they’re struggling with symptoms that are physical, by all means, please see a doctor. In fact, any good Biblical counselor is going to recognize that being in good health is a huge help in relieving spiritual stressors. But medical doctors and secular counselors absolutely — listen carefully — they absolutely cannot cure spiritual issues. They can’t address sin to the glory of God. They will not gain you victory in the spiritual battle in which your family is currently fighting. They can’t help you flourish!
We all need The Spiritual Weapon of God. We need to be born-again followers of Christ. We need to have a vibrant conversation with God through prayer and Bible reading. We need to see life through the lens of the Gospel. We need to know the Truth, understand the Truth, and believe the Truth — which will result in us living righteously by faith.
Then, and only then, will we overcome our spiritual enemies and flourish in our family unity!
Thank you for your patience today. I pray that you and your family will take time to answer the questions at the end of the LifeWork and discuss it as a family. You can do that as soon as we’re done here, or you can do it later. But definitely do it.
The answers to those questions will reveal the reasons your family isn’t flourishing like it could.
Now, again, please don’t stop sharing this series with your pastor, church family, friends, and any other Christians who want to flourish in their families.
And remember that I and the other TLP Counselors are ready to help your family with your unique struggles. Just write to us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or call (828) 423-0894.
And then I hope you’ll join us next time as we once again open God’s Word to discover how to best worship God with our family.
To that end, we’ll be wrapping up these biblical family counseling sessions with a concluding recap of all that we have learned, and you will be given an opportunity for your family to commit to lasting change.
I’ll see you then!
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