Week of June 13

Loose Bricks Equal a Weakened Church

Read: Song of Solomon 1-4; Ephesians 6
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
Ephesians 6:10, ESV


The secret to your success lies in the unity of the church. Now, this opening sentence may seem to be outmoded in our contemporary age where individualism is preeminently prized; however, the passage we examine today is anchored by imperative verbs that are all stated in the plural. There was no such thing then as a lone warrior in full armor, nor is there to be something similar today. I find it powerfully significant that Corrie ten Boom, the Nazi prison camp survivor, once said, “Be united with other Christians. A wall with loose bricks is not good. The bricks must be cemented together.” Let’s be reminded today how unity brings victory in spiritual warfare.

Let's See What the Bible Says

The Apostle concludes his section on practical ethics with an excellent word of counsel on how it began (cf. 5:1 and “imitate God”), when he urges us to be “strong in the Lord” (6:10). He literally tells the Ephesians “for the rest,” or that which remains for them to do. He instructs them to strengthen themselves or to let themselves be strengthened in Christ himself (NAC; cf. Philippians 4:13; ESV). The verse holds some important meaning for our lives today.

First, Christians have been guaranteed a victory but not without a battle. Whether it be daily moral living (5:1-20), church fellowship (5:21), marriage (5:22-33), parent-child interaction (6:1-4), or even servant-master relationships (6:5-9), the Christian life holds struggles. This fight begs an important question for us: How may we fight on so many battle fronts with our meager human resources?

Secondly, we may accomplish the victory in the strength that the Lord provides. All the resources that we need are drawn from the Lord and the abundant power that he possesses. The apostle has brought together in this place three of the four Greek synonyms for power (NAC; see Ephesians 1:9; cf. 3:16-21; ESV). He wants us to recognize that this is the same power that raised Jesus from the grave (1:20) and made us alive in Christ when we were dead in our trespasses and sins (2:1; ESV). Therefore, victorious living is ours. Of course, triumphant living requires something of us.

Thirdly, Christians must be equipped with the armor that God provides for protection (6:11). Our armor is modeled after that which the Lord Himself wears (Isaiah 11:5; 59:17; NAC). We are to be equipped from head to toe in both offensive and defensive armor. The world is filled with evil, so we should expect that we will be attacked by the various spiritual forces of evil that are opposed to God’s will. So, we must be equipped and ready (6:12). Paul encourages strategic readiness on our part.

Fourthly, there is something of both a defensive and offensive strategy involved in “stand up against” (6:11). We are to withstand or oppose the enemy (Handbook). Paul uses a military word that means to hold onto a position. The point is to know that the devil and his minions will not fight fairly. Paul warns that he will use “tricks” or “schemes” or “plans” to carry out his assaults. This tactic should not surprise us. In the letter to the Ephesians, the attacks may well have been aimed at their church unity (3:14-22; 4:1-16, 27; NAC).

We know from Christ’s temptation that the tempter will appeal to the lower appetites (e.g., hunger or thirst), seek to get us to test God’s ability to protect us (e.g., living dangerously), and even appeal to our God-given gifts and talents to get us to turn our worship away from the God who gave them to us (e.g., “make me famous” instead of “glorify God’s name”; cf. Matthew 4:1-11)! We may arm ourselves by following the Scriptural instructions that Paul has given and by relying upon the Spirit’s enabling (cf. HCBC). Let’s apply the passage to our lives.

Let's Deepen Our Walk

The United States Army in recent years aimed for more combat-ready troops when it introduced a new fitness test. For years the fitness test was comprised of sit-ups, pushups, and a two-mile run. The new test includes dead lifts, power throws, and other exercises to make soldiers fit and ready for combat. What prompted the change? Nearly half of the Army’s commanders had reported that new troops coming into their units “could not meet the physical demands of combat” (ArmyTimes, 2019). Here is a crucial element to the test: It “matches specific exercises to tasks that soldiers in combat must do.” The aim is to change the culture of fitness in the United States Army.

Here is a thought for our own spiritual combat readiness. We very likely have a spiritual fighting force in the church today that is not combat ready. The “loose bricks” as mentioned in the introduction include our deep differences over the very areas of church life that Paul addressed: church fellowship, marriage, parenting, and even social relationships. We go well beyond the “loose bricks” that Corrie ten Boom referenced in her analogy because we have been using them to stone one another. The sad truth is that we cannot stand against the devil because we are standing on each other. John Walvoord provides us with a first step toward wholeness: “The only way it is possible to have one mind is to have the mind of God derived from the unity of the Spirit of God, a unity which comes only when believers find the will of God and give themselves unselfishly and unstintingly to its fulfillment.”

Let's Think and Discuss

1. What may be keeping you from abiding in unity with others in your church? Look again at Paul’s warning about the devil’s scheming. In what ways may you become better prepared for spiritual warfare?

2. For families: Paul assures us in this passage that one of the responsibilities of Christ-followers is to fight against evil. Encourage your children to build their own armor out of cardboard, glue, odds and ends, shapes and paint, and lots of creative imagination. Let them look up pictures of historical armor online or in encyclopedias and help them to draw out their designs and then bring them to life. Encourage your children to identify the kinds of evil they will withstand, and fight together to vanquish their foes! As we mature in Christ, we understand what this warfare looks like, and how we can stand with other Christians in unity, clothed in God’s armor, and accomplish victory in the strength He provides.

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock