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Mar 26, 2023

Slam Dance

Slam Dance

Passage: Ephesians 6:10-20

Speaker: Patrick Lafferty

Series: Song & Dance - The Gospel Melody that Moves in Ephesians

Keywords: love, discipline, children, grace, obedience, instruction, parents, honor

Jesus didn’t (and never) minced words: “in this world you will have trouble.” To follow Him is to enroll in a path of anything but least resistance. But part of persisting in the life he’s invited us into is knowing the nature and origin of what opposes us. Our own hearts and even one another in the Body of Christ provide no shortage of struggles. But to limit our sense of the opposition to them alone is to deny something fundamental and to render us ill-suited for persevering. We know Jesus to be wise and loving, but we also must know Him as a warrior–a warrior with adversaries stronger than merely immoral human adversaries.

Readings & Scripture

PREPARATION: Psalm 91:1-2, 9-13
LEADER: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

PEOPLE: I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

LEADER: Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

ALL: For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

CENTRAL TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-20
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

ALL: We know that often we are what’s most wrong with the world. But we also fear there are forces beyond our knowledge, beyond our control, which love to do violence to what is Yours, Lord. And we confess how we give either too little thought, or too much, to what most opposes you. Forgive us either for our indifference, which leads us to become unknowing participants in its progress–or for our faithlessness which fails to remember Your Strong Hand, already working on behalf of all that is Yours.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON 1 John 5:1, 4, 18
LEADER: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. . . .For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. . . . We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

ALL: Thanks be to God.

BENEDICTION: Romans 16:20
LEADER: The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
ALL: And also with you!


  • Joshua 1:7
  • 1 Samuel 30:6
  • Isaiah 11:4-5
  • Luke 11:21-22
  • John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11 / Ephesians 2:2
  • 1 Corinthians 16:13
  • 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
  • Ephesians 1:19-20; 3:16
  • Colossians 1:13
  • Colossians 2:15


  1. In walking by faith in Christ, what, if any, kind of opposition have you faced? Feel free to mention several kinds or sources. Describe the experience. How have you responded (honest answers only)?
  2. Even before we consider the possibility of dark forces opposing us, what’s already difficult about walking by faith in the gospel of grace?
  3. Best case you can make for “evil” being more than just what we find horrible? Reasons why people might be resistant to thinking it is anything more than that?
  4. Have you ever had an experience that you might consider an encounter with the forces Paul refers to here? 
  5. Make it a group effort to cite all the things we hear Jesus say in the gospels about the reality of an unseen opposition to the will of God. If his words were all the evidence we had about such a reality, what could we conclude?
  6. Why is belief that our struggle is not (mainly) against flesh and blood not an excuse to avoid responsibility for our disordered affections and manifold sins? 
    1. Now a different question: why are the historical examples of prematurely ascribing spiritual forces to what could be more easily explained by physical issues or cultural developments no reason to dismiss the reality of actual, personal evil?
  7. We ended the service suggesting a posture of assurance, defiance, and vigilance–this in light of the fact, the nature, and the formidableness of spiritual opposition. What other possibilities for assuming that posture might you suggest?
  8. How is what has already been accomplished by Jesus against the Accuser meant to shape our thoughts and responses to the works the Accuser still commits?



  • The New Testament imagery places us on a field of battle. . . .the gospel is a message of deliverance from the grip of evil and Death. Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ
  • I was struck by the manifest shallowness in the doer [ie Eichmann] which made it impossible to trace the uncontestable evil of his deeds to any deeper level of roots or motives. The deeds were monstrous, but the doer – at least the very effective one now on trial – was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous. Hannah Arendt
  • Can one have ultimate judgment against terror without the terror of judgment? Miroslav Volf
  • From each of the classes except the youngest they elect ten centurions according to merit, and then they elect a second ten. All these are called centurions. . . .They wish the centurions not so much to be venturesome and daredevil as to be natural leaders, of a steady and sedate spirit. They do not desire them so much to be men who will initiate attacks and open the battle, but men who will hold their ground when worsted and hard-pressed and be ready to die at their posts. Polybius, Histories
  • Evil rarely looks evil until it accomplishes its goal; it gains entrance by appearing attractive, desirable, and perfectly legitimate. It is a baited and camouflaged trap. Kyle Snodgrass
  • Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. . . .I know someone will ask me, ‘Do you really mean, at this time of day, to re-introduce our old friend the devil—hoofs and horns and all?’ Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is ‘Yes, I do.’ I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, ‘Don’t worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you’ll like it when you do is another question.’  C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity  
  • The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’ C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity 
  • I renounce thee, Satan, and all thy works, and all thy pomp, and all thy service. - from a baptismal vow, cited by Cyril of Jerusalem, made by new believers in the 3rd century as they face West, symbolic of darkness
  • I resist the devil, and often it is with a fart that I chase him away. Martin Luther