THE WHOLE ARMOUR OF GOD
Ephesians 6 verses 10-18
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from [a desire to share] the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in [or ‘by the power of’] the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
The letter to the Ephesians was sent to all the people in a number of churches throughout Eastern Turkey, including Ephesus
- To married people
- To single people
- To children and parents
- To servants and bosses
IT APPLIES TO EVERYONE
THE FINAL CHAPTER USES ARMOUR as a spiritual model
THE ROMANS were the strongest army in the world and had conquered the whole region…so soldiers were commonly seen around.
They had to dress properly, for two reasons:
- They would be in trouble if they did not
- They were in danger if there were a battle (e.g. no helmet!)
And Paul said that being a Christian was rather like a soldier in a battle…not with soldiers but a fight against evil in the world
So Paul said GET YOURSELF READY now by ‘being strong in the Lord and in His mighty power’
- For who knows when the evil day will come?
- When you will be faced with a situation you never thought possible and you don’t know which way to turn
Paul refers to six pieces of armour…
1. BELT OF TRUTH
- Not a silly little belt
- The old name was a girdle
- It protected the soft and delicate parts!
- We need the girdle of truth because lies and deceit so easily slip into our lives
- They always hit us at our weakest point
I can think of occasions when, either because I didn’t want to embarrass the other person or be embarrassed myself, I have given a not quite truthful response. Afterwards I have thought Why? (I didn’t have my girdle on!)
Satan always seeks opportunity to trip us up…but the girdle protects us
AND JESUS SAID: I am the Truth… He is our belt of truth
- Not “a” truth but “the” truth
- Paul started with the belt of truth because without knowing the truth we will not know what is false
In detecting forged notes…the spotters don’t study forgeries… they spend their time studying the real thing
- We must have our spiritual antennae tuned to detect falseness…in what people say and claim… including preachers!
2. BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
- The breastplate protects the heart
- If we get stabbed through the heart, we die
A lady was attacked by a dog. A man had to get two kitchen knives “to stab the dog through the heart” and save the lady’s life
But we can be ‘stabbed in the heart’ in another way
- The heart is where we feel emotions
- If we are unhappy we say “I’ve got a sad heart”
- If we are happy we say “My heart is bursting with joy”
- Sometimes life can be tough and we need the breastplate of righteousness because righteousness means “being right with God”
- So even if life is hard, we have the breastplate of righteousness …so we can say “I’m okay with God” and He will see me through
And even when life is going smoothly we need the breastplate because it is so easy to forget God when all is well…and we become easy prey for the devil’s schemes
In Proverbs 4: 23, 24 we read… Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
AND JESUS SAID: This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Romans 3: 22)
3. FEET FITTED WITH THE READINESS THAT COMES FROM THE GOSPEL OF PEACE
- We once had a real fire alarm at work…not a practice
- We all had to leave the building as quickly and calmly as possible
- I’m glad I had my shoes on at the time
And we need to be at peace with God to find true contentment:
HORATIO SPAFFORD heard about the death of his four daughters at sea. He subsequently wrote the lovely hymn: ‘When peace like a river attends my way’
Ours is a Gospel of peace… but not of passivity
- Peace does not mean ‘pushover’ or ‘pathetic’ or ‘powerless’
- It means having full confidence in our God who promises never to leave us and to fight for us
PEACE OF MIND HELPS US TO BE EFFECTIVE…
- If we are tense, anxious and full of doubt, we spend too much time worrying about our own welfare
- And we may miss the opportunity to tell people the Good News about Jesus Christ
In the Olympic Games or World Cup, the athletes have to be on their toes and wear the right shoes to ensure they are quick off the mark
- SO WE ALSO NEED TO BE READY if asked to speak about God or bring peace to a troubled situation
Jesus said: Those who follow me will not walk in darkness but in the light…
And Peter wrote: Be ready to give an account to anyone who wants to know about your faith
LET’S NOT BE ANXIOUS about witnessing…concentrate on giving a testimony (your story) and the witnessing will look after itself!
4. SHIELD OF FAITH
The Romans were brilliant at using their huge shields to ward off the enemy’s attack…they had to trust their shields to protect them from stones, boiling oil and arrows
We need to trust God to save us when we are under attack…
- Attack from people who make fun…who say that Christianity is for inadequate people [which it is, for we are all inadequate to deal with sin]
- Who try to cast doubt about the truth of the Bible
We put up our shield of faith and say NO… Jesus is my Saviour, the Bible is true and I will trust His word, not yours!
The words of a modern song say this: “When the enemy presses in hard, do not fear; the battle belongs to the Lord”
How sad that when the tough times come we can behave as if we do not have any faith!
We can do no better than quote Paul’s words in Romans 10:6-13
But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
5. HELMET OF SALVATION
If you are a doing anything risky, you need to wear a helmet: cycling, rock-climbing, on a building site… even preaching!
Salvation is through faith in what Jesus Christ has done for us…and what He continues to do for us by the Holy Spirit
- The world wants to reason everything out
- They say: “Unless I see, I won’t believe!”
- Keep God out of it…we want control!
- God says: “Trust me first then I’ll prove I exist…let me take control!”
Some people have made up their minds they will not believe, even if they see someone come back to life!
- We need the helmet of salvation because we have to protect out minds from attack
- Note that we PROTECT our minds…not close them down!
There is such a strong and regular assault on our minds today:
- Television advertising
- Sex and violence in films and video games
- Political spin and indoctrination
- Newspaper headlines!
- Political correctness
- New Age philosophy (‘a little bit of this and that!)
But God promises that we can arm ourselves with the helmet of salvation…
- The Holy Spirit enters our minds to give us reassurance and wisdom
- We stand upon the solid rock
Without the helmet, the rest of the armour is pretty useless
But with the helmet of salvation, we can face whatever the enemy throws at us in the strength and might of the One who promised that He will live within us and give us the victory
6. SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
Sometimes the best form of defence is attack!
- We are not helpless victims
- We know the way, we have the truth and we have seen the light
- We are not snivelling wimps cowering in the corner of a church building hoping that we can hide from nasty people outside
NO…we have the BIBLE as our sword (of the Spirit)
- We need first to know what it says!
- Perhaps some of us need to read the Bible more regularly
- Or more carefully
- Without it we are open to attack from people who try to convince us that right is wrong and wrong is right
But we can use the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, to speak the truth and fight false teaching
WE MAY BE DISAPPOINTED WITH OUR WITNESS FOR CHRIST
- Perhaps we have failed to keep our swords sharp
- They lie rusting inside sheaths of worn-out traditions, unwillingness to change and timidity
When the disciples waited on God they were ALL filled with the Spirit and lives were turned upside down
- Isn’t that what we want to see in our churches and neighbourhoods?
- If so, it may mean that we have to accept some changes …unsettling ones, perhaps!
There is a story of a man who bought a farm in an unlikely location. People said he was mad because the previous owner went bankrupt…but when the new owner drilled for water he struck oil. The previous owner had been sitting on a fortune but spent his life in poverty and disappointment…
How sad if, when we meet the Lord, he says:
“Well done, good and faithful servant… but why did you spend more time arguing that parts of my word were ‘not relevant today’ than believing them and putting them into practice?”
FINALLY…we need the WHOLE armour…even one missing piece will leave us exposed to attack and vulnerable as we take our stand against the evil one…