Ephesians 6:12

Sermon preached on March 14, 2010 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

What does it mean when someone is described as evil? What is evil like? I recently heard about a man who in 1970 killed two mothers in their homes. It happened in rural Ontario and the murders took place about two weeks apart. In both cases, there was a young child with the mother. One was an 18 month old and the other was an 8 year old boy. The killer murdered the mothers, but left the children unharmed. Some found it especially surprising that he left the 8 year unharmed because the young boy got a good look at him. Twenty-five years later, when they finally caught the murderer, a policeman asked him why he didn't kill the children. He replied,

"What kind of person kills children?"

The policeman replied,

"What kind of person kills mothers?"

I thought that was a good comeback. That murderer was evil.

But he was certainly not as bad as he could have been. He was not total evil. He would kill mothers, but he wouldn't kill children.

There are quite a few people like that. They're evil, but they're not 'all evil'. I've heard policemen who have questioned murderers remark afterwards that some of the were quite nice, even charming. In being like that, many of them weren't being deceptive or anything—they admitted what they had done. But they also showed a side of them that was somewhat 'normal'. Many murderers are like that and have people who support and love them.

On the other hand I've heard of policemen who have witnessed horrific crimes of unmentionable horror, and, when they catch the killer, they have an entirely different reaction. This killer is not charming. When they talk to him they feel a cold chill go down their spine. Afterwards they will say something like,

"I have finally witnessed pure evil."

All they saw was evil in that person. There was no good side to that person. Rather the person was filled with hatred and cruelty. The policemen saw that this person actually enjoyed inflicting harm and fear on his victim. It doesn't happen too often, but some homicide detectives will tell you that occasionally they run across someone who is absolutely chilling—because all they see in him is evil. They don't see any good in him at all.

Christians, that's what some of your enemies are like. One of the things that should encourage you Christians to use the means of grace, to put on the whole armor of God is the fact that

the enemies that you face are 'evil'.

In verse 12 Paul tells you that your struggle is against,

'the spiritual forces of evil…’

The fallen angels—the demons—that are arrayed against you are evil. John Eadie writes, (Ephesians, p. 461)

"Their nature is evil, their commission is evil, their work is evil. Evil and evil only are they, alike in essence and operation."

John Stott says of these evil forces that are against us, (God's New Society, p. 264)

"they have no moral principles, no code of honor, no higher feelings."

The Greek word that is used here means a, (BDAG 851)

"state or condition of a lack of moral or social values, wickedness, baseness, maliciousness, sinfulness"

Louis Berkhof refers to the fallen angels as those, (Systematic Theology, p. 148)

"who delight in opposing God and antagonizing His work."

Wayne Grudem writes, (Systematic Theology, p. 415)

"Demons oppose and try to destroy every work of God."

Berkhof continues, (p. 149)

"Like the good angels, the fallen angels, too, are possessed of superhuman power, but their use of it contrasts sadly with that of the good angels. While the latter perennially praise God, fight His battles, and serve Him faithfully, they as powers of darkness are bent on cursing God, battling against Him and His Anointed, and destroying His work. They are in constant revolt against God, seek to blind and mislead even the elect, and encourage sinners in their evil."

Berkhof seems to imply that there is no good at all in them. They are not like the killer who killed those mothers yet spared their children. They are pure evil. They are not like fallen men, who, by God's grace, retain in them the image of God and some semblance of good. The forces that are against you are exceedingly evil. They are pure evil.

We know that Adam and Eve were made in the image of God. Even though the image was defaced by the fall into sin, remnants of it remain. Even though man fell into sin, it seems clear from passages like Genesis 9:6,

("Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed;
for in the image of God has God made man,")

that man is still retains the image of God to some extent. Perhaps, because God intended to save some humans, He did not allow fallen human beings to be as bad as they could be. We Calvinists believe in the doctrine of total depravity. But that does not mean that we believe that men are as bad as they can be. Rather that doctrine teaches that we are fallen in our whole being—that our minds, our wills, our emotions, our bodies—have all been affected by the fall into sin. But we are not as bad as we could be. Of course I'm speaking relatively, we're all sinners and in a certain sense none of us is good. (Psalm 53:3) Yet in another sense, many of your neighbors are what society would call, 'good people'. God, through what theologians call His common grace, gives good gifts even to those who are not Christians. Many of them have a good sense of justice, of right and wrong. Their consciences are fairly good and they are good citizens, good members of society. There is quite a bit of good in them.

But is the same true of the angels that fell? Is there any good left in them? Is there any remnant of the image of God in them? Does God extend to them any grace so that they are not as bad as they could be?

Those are interesting questions. We are never told in the Bible that the angels were made in the image of God. They were certainly like God in many ways—in holiness, righteousness, etc.. But it is possible that they were not made in God's image in the way that man was. It could be that there was constituent difference between man and angels in that man was created in the image of God and angels were not. So it is quite possible that when the angels rebelled against God and fell into sin that they did not have the image of God in them that prevented them from becoming as bad as they could be, from a moral standpoint. God does indeed restrain them, and keep them from doing certain things that they want to do, but it seems that that force is external to them. Nor do we see God's grace in them, like we see common grace extended to fallen human beings. (At least from any Scriptural passage that I know of.)

What are the demons like?

They're seem to be pure evil. They are totally opposed to God, to His rule, to His will, to His plan to save mankind.

Consider the demon we read about in Mark 9:17–26. He had taken over a boy and robbed him of his speech. The demon attacked the boy so that he could not hear or speak. The demon wanted the boy to be cut off from other humans, to be isolated, to not to be able to have normal interaction with them. The boy's father described what the demon did to the boy. He said,

"Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground.
He foams at the mouth,
gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid.
I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit,
but they could not."

The demon was tormenting the boy and had no intention of leaving him, even when Jesus' disciples tried to drive it out. It was like he was trying to subject the boy to something of the experience that it will be like in hell—that of torment, isolation and misery.

Furthermore, when they brought the boy to Jesus and the spirit saw Jesus,

"it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion.
He fell to the ground and rolled around,
foaming at the mouth."

The demon was struggling with everything in him against Jesus. It's like he wanted to kill the boy before Jesus could cast him out.

Jesus asked the boy's father how long he had been like that. The father replied,

"From childhood. It has often thrown him
into fire or water to kill him."

The spirit wanted to kill destroy the boy, to kill his body and have his soul be cast into hell. The demon was filled with rage toward the boy. Luke's gospel tells us that the boy's father told Jesus that the demon scarcely ever left him. (Luke 9:39) The demon didn't have one bit of mercy for the boy.

Then Jesus rebuked the spirit and said to him,

"You deaf and mute spirit. I command you,
come out of him and never enter him again."

Notice how Jesus commanded the demon not to enter the boy again. It's implied here that the demon was so evil that if Jesus' hadn't commanded him not to return into the boy that he would have done so, to continue to torment him.

When Jesus gave him that command,

"The spirit shrieked,
convulsed him violently and came out.
The boy looked so much like a corpse
that many said, 'He's dead."

The demon's last act seems to have been another effort to kill the boy. That demon seems to have been pure evil.

You see, the demon was not only trying to destroy the boy, but he opposed Jesus and His efforts to help the boy.

He didn't want Jesus to help the boy. And that's the way it is with demons. They oppose God and His efforts to save us. That's how hateful they are.

Consider what Satan did when he learned of God's plan to save human beings. In Revelation 12:3–4 we read,

"Then another sign appeared in heaven:
an enormous red dragon
with seven heads and ten horns
and seven crowns on his heads.
His tail swept a third of the stars
out of the sky and flung them to the earth.
The dragon stood in front of the woman
who was about to give birth,
so that he might devour her child
the moment it was born."

Satan wanted to destroy Jesus. He was the dragon that stood in front of the woman. We see part of his efforts in Matthew 2:16–18.

"When Herod realized that he had been
outwitted by the Magi, he was furious,
and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem
and its vicinity who were two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
Then what was said through
the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
'A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.'"

Light had come into the world in the person of Jesus Christ—and the powers of darkness hated Him with everything that was in them.

Christians, take this to heart and draw near to Jesus. Put on the whole armor of God.

A host of evil forces are against you. They hate you and are seeking to do everything in their power to destroy you. Remember what Jesus said to Peter, (Luke 22:31–32)

"Simon, Simon,
Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.
But I have prayed for you, Simon,
that your faith may not fail."

Satan wanted to destroy Peter's faith. The picture is of separating the wheat from the chaff. Satan wanted to shake Peter so much so that he would be proved to be rubbish, and that his faith would fail and he would be cast into hell. That's clear from Jesus second sentence, "But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail."

It's interesting that the word, 'you', in the phrase, 'asked to sift you' is plural in number. It didn't just apply to Peter, but Satan had targeted all of Jesus' disciples, that their faith would fail.

How foolish it would be to give the devil a foothold in your life. Christians, draw near to Jesus. Use the means of grace.

Secondly, this shows you how much you should love and adore Jesus.

How you should love Jesus. What a contrast between Jesus and the devil and the demons. They want to destroy us. They hate human beings. Who was the one that tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden? It was Satan. He knew that they were in paradise, pure and innocent, walking with God in the cool of the day. How blessed they were! Yet when Satan saw that he hated them and set out to destroy them. He tempted Eve so that she sinned.

When Jesus came to save us—Satan tried to kill Him. When Jesus was about to start His public ministry he went to Jesus to tempt Him. Every temptation was designed to get Him to fail in His great mission to save us.

In contrast to the hatred that the devil and his demons have against us—what love we see in Jesus. Jesus saw us in our misery, in our danger and He came to save us. What love! As we read in 2 Corinthians 8:9,

"For you know the grace
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though he was rich,
yet for your sakes he became poor,
so that you through his poverty
might become rich."

He came to this earth. He took our nature upon Himself. He suffered so many things. It was all because of His love for you. He laid down His life so that the penalty for your sin might be paid. He Himself took your punishment. Christians, love Him, appreciate Him, praise Him.

For those of you who are not Christians, what you should see from this is

how wonderful Jesus is!

He loves sinners. He came to save sinners. There is no One like Him! You need to go to Him. He's the only One who can save you.

What enemies are against you! Their great effort is to keep you from the only One who can save you. As we read in 2 Corinthians 4:4,

"The god of this age
has blinded the minds of unbelievers,
so that they cannot see
the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,
who is the image of God."

Recognize the enemies that are against you and what they are trying to do. You are hearing the Word, the Word that can save you. Don't let Satan snatch it away from you. In Mark 4:15 in the Parable of the Sower, Jesus told about the seed that fell on the path. He said,

"Some people are like seed along the path,
where the word is sown.
As soon as they hear it,
Satan comes and takes away the word
that was sown in them."

Ask Jesus to open your heart. Ask Him to save you. The spiritual beings that are arrayed against you are evil and they hate you. They want to destroy you. They don't want you to see the glory of Jesus and to find salvation in Him. As we read in 1 Peter 5:8,

"Your enemy the devil prowls around
like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour."

Can you imagine having someone stalking you, seeking to destroy you?

If it was a mere human being it would be a frightful thing. In such a case the police and the justice system won't be able to help you very much. Late last month a schoolteacher was stalked and killed in Tacoma, Washington. On Friday, February 26, Jennifer Paulson arrived at her elementary school to find an unwelcome acquaintance waiting for her. She had an anti-harassment order against him since 2008. He was not supposed to contact Paulson or come within 1000 feet of the school where she worked. But just the week before he had followed her when she left school. She reported it to the police and her stalker was arrested and spent the weekend in jail. He was released on a Tuesday after posting $10,000 bail. On Friday he shot and killed Paulson.

The poor woman. The system didn't help her. It didn't save her. She perished.

Those of you who are not Christians, you have evil, powerful demons against you. They're stalking you and they are attempting to put you in hell. The only one that can save you is Jesus. Go to Him now.