Choose one or two of the following ice breaker questions:
• How has the Lord helped you this week to stand firm?
• What spiritual armor did you use to stand firm?
• Did you help another believer stand firm this week?
• Share what spiritual armor you used to help your fellow believer.
If your small group members struggle to come up with examples, encourage them by reminding them that their attendance at small group is one way that they are standing firm and helping others to stand firm! Our example of obedience to God encourages our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Pick your Spiritual Armor
Using Ephesians 6:13-18, give the group a few minutes to discuss the spiritual armor:
• Belt – Truth
• Breastplate – Righteousness
• Shoes – Gospel of Peace
• Shield – Faith
• Helmet – Salvation
• Sword – Word of God
Read out the following list of common situations, struggles, and temptations one by one. Group members must choose which piece of spiritual armor they believe would be most useful in each given situation.
• A close family member just passed away.
• Someone has done something to hurt your feelings.
• Someone is gossiping about you.
• The desire for money, power, or fame tempts you to do things you know are not good.
• You and a good friend are not talking to each other anymore.
• You are afraid to witness to co-workers.
• You are having doubts about your faith.
• You are trying to decide your life career.
• You don’t feel like God is listening to your prayers.
• You are tempted to envy your neighbor.
• You find a person’s wallet on the ground.
• You see someone begging on the street for food.
• Your friend says Jesus never claimed to be God.
• Your boss seems to be treating you as if you are stupid.
• Your worship life is stale.
1. Read Ephesians 6:10-12. A. Who or what are these rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and spiritual forces? B. What are some subtle ways Satan or demons attempt to attack or distract you?
(Intent: A. Paul chose to define our opposition by different types. We are reminded that it is not the people that we can see, rather the unseen enemy that we are really in a battle against. If we miss this critical point, we will be fighting on the wrong front and against the deceived rather than a demonic hierarchy of deceivers. Rulers—arche Strong’s G756—are those first in rank. See Dan. 10:13, which speaks of a national overseer. Authorities—exousia, Strong’s G1849— are those who have been given authority in some manner, primarily through human sin. In Matt. 10:1, the same Greek word shows that we have superior authority in Christ. Cosmic powers refer to the whole realm of Satan and his demons, Strong’s G4152. Spiritual forces are precisely what the word implies—they are spirit but evil. The Greek root word is pneuma, meaning spirit. These are referred to in Eph. 2:2. B. Paul is reminding us that if we follow the world and its way, we will be deceived into believing that our enemy is human. Demonic forces tempt us to focus on human agency, the faults of others, and everything that our five senses can perceive. This is not so if we are in Christ. We have faith, trust, and hope for deliverance in the unseen realm of the Spirit. This is why prayer is so important.)
2. What are we told to be strong in, and why might this be?
(Intent: The Lord and His strength. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians urges believers to follow the Spirit rather than our human, fleshly, and often worldly tendencies.)
3. Take a look at vv. 13-17. Describe a time when you used one of the listed types of armor to repel a demonic attack.
(Intent: Constable comments on the “sword,” which is often misunderstood. The sword is the spoken Word of God applied specifically, see Mt. 4:4. The word is rhema in Greek; see Strong’s G4487. Constable quotes Ironside, “The Bible is not the sword of the Spirit; it is the armory.”)
4. Did you notice that there are three pieces of God’s armor that we should already be prepared with? What are they, and why is this so?
(Intent: They are truth, righteousness, and the gospel of peace. In more literal translations like ESV and NASB, vv. 14-15 show the action was done in the past: “having fastened” and “having put on.” Possible reasons may include: These three are foundational, and we are always to be prepared. First, with truth, 1 Pet. 3:15, our righteousness is from the Lord and is closely tied with faith. See Gen. 15:6. We should be ready to walk as Jesus walked preaching His peace, Eph. 2:13-17.)
5. In vv. 18-20, Paul immediately follows this list of armor with encouragement to pray. Why?
(Intent: Our battle is in the realm of the spirit; we fight using the same weaponry as did Christ and His disciples, the primary of which is prayer.)
6. Read vv. 21-24. Paul sent Tychicus to the Ephesians to tell them how he was doing and to encourage them. Who is someone you can approach this week to connect with for mutual encouragement?
Have you been focused on the wrong enemy this week, or month, or year? Make a commitment this week to pray daily for those you may be in opposition to. Pray for those that you struggle with or who oppose or abuse you, Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:28.
As a group, or with a prayer partner in your group, lift your battles up to the Lord—knowing that it is He who fights them and goes before us. Confess any known sin that may be contributing to your struggles, and pray for one another that you may be healed, James 5:16.