Putting on the Full Armor of God, Part 2

Title: Putting on the Full Armor of God, Part 2

Text: Ephesians 6:13-15

Date: November 16th, 2009

 

Last week I began a series on what it means to “put on the full armor of God” as described in Ephesians 6:10-18. I only covered three or four verses last week because I didn’t want to rush through this important set of instructions written by the Apostle Paul to Christians about being ready for spiritual opposition in life. We are taught to be equipped for evil, demonic, spiritual attack by the enemy of our soul – the devil and his demons. A lot of people today laugh at the idea that there really are demons – evil spiritual creatures dedicated to our destruction and death. People make fun of Christians who take these things seriously, but I have to ask the scoffers and skeptics of evil just how they explain things like the recent shootings at Fort Hood, Texas? We are just learning about this individual’s background, and although he is a Muslim, although he was against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, although he wanted out of the military, still these factors don’t explain why he killed 13 people and injured over 30 more. Here was a highly educated, trained professional psychiatrist who didn’t appear mentally disturbed or even particularly depressed or violent in any way, suddenly with premeditation gunning down his fellow soldiers and U.S citizens on America soil. What accounts for such evil? I believe only the presence of demonic influence that took inner anger past rage into violence and murder. But most of the time, the devil and demons don’t receive this much control and influence in a person’s life; usually they operate on a lesser level, but still, we must be ready for attack at any level. That’s why God gives us the instructions of Ephesians 6:13-15, “Therefore put on the full armor 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 the gospel of peace.” This is obviously a military description; used for battle. The problem today is that most Christians don’t have a will to fight or battle over anything, even to defend their own Christian faith. For example, in the United States, we’ve had such a peaceful and prosperous life here that we’ve grown used to it; we assume that the Christian life is basically a recreational activity – after all, isn’t the main activity on the weekend, on Sunday? We seem to look to the Christian life as “fun” instead of seeing it in terms of a life and death struggle between the forces God or good versus the forces of evil, sin and the devil. With that mindset, no wonder most Christians aren’t prepared to deal with or face evil when it attacks them. Why are there so many Christian divorces? Why are so many Christian families breaking up? Why are so many Christians falling into temptation and sin? Why are so many Christians living a defeated life? The answer is, they aren’t prepared to fight the good fight of faith, and when the enemy attacks them they are incapable of defending themselves. They simply don’t know how to fight or they refuse to fight. This must change. Let’s look at God’s instructions on fighting our spiritual battles. Let’s get ourselves equipped for our spiritual struggle in life.

 

First, We are to stand on God’s truth. Ephesians 6:14, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.” Truth is what we are called to stand on; we are to take our stand or stand on the solid ground of truth. Truth is the foundation for everything the Christian believes and lives. There is a God; that is true. Jesus is the Savior; that is true. We are to walk by faith in this life; that is true. The Bible is true and we are to stand on it; we are to stand on the Word of God. And so on. Now the world in which we live has already given up on the notion of absolute truth, especially in the area of spiritual truth and ethical morality. The so-called post-modern world is awash in moral relativism and questions all truth claims and even questions the whole notion of truth itself. Today, it’s all about different perspectives; everyone has his or her own personal perspective on everything; nobody’s view is the total truth because there isn’t truth in the absolute sense. This is post-modernism. That’s why young people today are so confused about life and their place in the world, because they have been taught by the educational system and also through popular culture that there is no ultimate truth. But as Christians we stand firm on truth because the Bible is the only thing in this world we can rely on to speak honestly about everything. The Bible exposes our sins and labels us all as sinners. The Bible communicates that unless we repent of our sins and turn out hearts to God through Jesus Christ that we’ll face Judgment Day, be condemned guilty and punished in eternal damnation. The Bible speaks the truth even if it’s hard to hear. But it also tells us that through a relationship with Jesus Christ we can experience eternity with God in heaven where all the best things we’ve ever dreamed of will come true. The problem is, all of these promises must be taken by faith because we can’t verify them in this life, and when we die it will be too late to decide one way or another, so they must be believed and lived in this life in order to experience the good in the life to come. That’s why many people dismiss them as irrelevant, because they can’t see or prove them 100% in this life. But as Christians we realize that there are some truths in life that can be proven in this life and other truths that must be taken by faith now. We must stand on these truths in order to survive the spiritual attacks of the enemy. For example, the Bible says that there is a devil and demons, so we must belief it by faith. If we don’t, we’ll be defenseless to explain why bad things happen to us in life, even though everything bad isn’t from the devil; some bad things are from evil. We must be prepared when evil strikes so that we know what to do, how to react and defend ourselves. Are you ready to do battle with evil? Do you know the promises of God concerning spiritual warfare? Are you ready to take your stand against evil by standing on God’s Word? The whole point of Paul’s instruction to put on “the belt of truth” is to encourage us to stand on God’s Word. Are you prepared to stand on the truth? Do you know which truths to stand on?

 

Second, we are to put on righteousness. Ephesians 6:14, “Stand firm then, . . . with the breastplate of righteousness in place.” In order to defeat the devil and demons when we are under spiritual attack we need to be righteous. First of all, we need to have on the righteousness of Christ, or in other words, we need Christ’s righteousness covering us. This is the righteousness we obtain through faith by Christ’s death on the cross on our behalf. We aren’t holy and righteous on our own, because we are hapless sinners, but through the great exchange that took place on the cross – our sins were transferred to Christ and Christ’s righteousness was transferred to us – we are made righteousness in God the Father’s eyes. That’s the first instance of righteousness this passage is speaking about. If the devil comes attacking us and accusing us of being disobedient, unfaithful, unworthy of God and salvation in heaven, we don’t have to disagree with him, in fact, we can agree and say, “Yes Satan, I’m not righteous, holy or worthy in and of myself, but Christ is my righteousness and in that I stand before God the Father forgiven and saved.” A lot of attacks that come from the evil one come in the form of discouragement, depression and accusation. Satan attacks us on our weak places, but we must be prepared enough not to try to justify ourselves by ourselves. Rather, we must point to Jesus Christ who is our righteousness; we are all that we are because of Christ. Then, there is a second sense in which we are to put on righteousness in addition to the righteousness we obtain from Christ’s death on the cross. We are to put on personal holiness to the best of our ability. Now this righteousness will not be perfect or complete. We don’t base our salvation on this kind of righteousness, but we do try to live holy lives through the power of God’s Spirit. If we neglect to try to live holy lives we will open ourselves up to the devil’s attack, because he’s looking for sin in which to attack us on. For example, if a husband or wife is cheating on their spouse, Satan will use that sin to attack them. If a Christian is being dishonest or lying, Satan will use this sin to attack them or cause them inner turmoil. He will take a naturally guilty conscience and multiply depression and discouragement and frustration; he may even tempt a person to suicide or violence. So it’s important that we as Christians strive to live in the will of God and follow the path of personal holiness. We aren’t saved by our own personal righteousness, but it’s part of the Christian life – it’s the fruit of salvation and it will come naturally when we are sincerely pursuing God’s will. Do you have on the breastplate of righteousness? Have you obtained the righteousness of Christ through personal conversion? Are you now pursuing personal holiness in life after salvation? These are the two important ways of putting on the righteousness.

 

Third, we are to run with the gospel. Ephesians 6:15, “And with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” One of the most important things a soldier can do is get himself prepared mentally for battle. I remember a scene in the movie Gladiator where the hero was speaking to the Roman troops before they entered into battle. He reminded them that if they are fighting and suddenly find themselves in a pleasant place, fields of green, and peaceful surroundings, that they have died and gone to heaven! In other words, a soldier has to be prepared and confident that even if he personally doesn’t survive the fight, he’ll be ok. That gives him the confidence to march forwards, fight and even die if need be for the cause. Well, for the Christian, we can be confident going into battle whenever we fight the enemy because we know and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ; this gives us peace and confidence in life – or death. Romans 5:1-2 is a great parallel passage that teaches this same truth, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”  “The readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” – what gospel of peace? It’s the peace with God we have through salvation in Christ. It’s the peace of God we have through faith. Now the really sad thing is people who are without Christ, who are not saved, they still have to battle the devil and demons, they still face spiritual attack, but they don’t have the peace and confidence that the gospel brings because they don’t believe it. They battle spiritual evil in this life, then they die and spiritually perish in hell forever. There’s no hope in that. But we know that even if the battle turns against us, if for some reason we aren’t victorious, the very worse that can happen to us is we go on to be with God in heaven forever in perfect happiness. Part of preparing for battle is preparing to die – if it comes to that. Some people refuse to fight because they are afraid of death. Many Christians aren’t prepared mentally and spiritually to die, so they are afraid to fight the good fight of faith; instead, they play it safe on the sidelines by never speaking up and out for Christ, Christianity, the Bible or church. They never bear witness to their faith to anybody because they are too afraid. They need to remember that the Greek word for “witness” is marturion – we get the English word “martyr” from it. A Christian witness must be willing to give his or her life to testify to the truth of God – if it comes to that. And the only way we can enter the battle with such confidence is knowing that our soul is secure with God in heaven when we die, our sins are forgiven through the blood of Jesus, and we have peace with God through faith in all this. Are you confident in the gospel today? Does it give you the peace and confidence to be bold in your faith? It should. If it doesn’t, go back over, review the gospel and get the peace and confidence that is yours through faith. Then, you’ll be ready to deal with evil when you encounter it in this fallen world.

 

We don’t have time to finish the entire passage today, so we’ll take another Sunday to cover the rest. But from what we’ve already covered it’s easy to see how important it is to follow the instructions we are given here. What happens if we don’t follow these instructions? What happens if we neglect them? Well, we won’t be mentally prepared to do battle whenever we are under spiritual attack. We won’t have the peace and confidence to enter into battle, so we’ll probably get pushed and kicked around by evil, or we’ll run away and be intimidated by demonic powers. Do you really want to run from everything all your life? Isn’t that cowardly? Isn’t avoiding trouble by never standing up for truth, never bearing witness to faith, isn’t that the wrong way to go in life? Sure it is. But if we aren’t confident in the gospel, we’ll always run from conflict. Also, If we don’t know how to stand in Christ’s righteousness, we’ll be accused and intimidated by Satan over sin and judgment, we’ll become depressed and discouraged because we’ll be self-condemned. The truth is we are sinners and we do sin, we don’t deserve forgiveness and we do deserve judgment and the condemnation of hell. But, since we don’t rely on our own righteousness but instead we rely on Christ’s righteousness, we can refute the devil’s attacks against our mind by simply taking our stand with Christ by faith. A lot of the attacks of the devil and demons come at our mind, in the realm of idea and emotions. How will we ever resist the devil’s lies and temptations? By knowing where our righteousness – or right standing with God – comes from. It comes not from ourselves but from Christ. It’s not what we’ve done; it’s what Christ has done that counts. So we don’t have to suffer mental intimidation. Finally, if we don’t know how to stand on God’s truth, God’s Word, we’ll be tossed back and forth by every wind of doctrine, as the New Testament puts it. Or we’ll suffer the fate of the double-minded man described in James 1:6-7, “Because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is double-minded, unstable in all he does.” This underscores the importance of reading and studying the Bible all of our lives. We must first know the truth, and that comes through learning it by reading and studying. Then, we must apply and live out the truth in our lives, and that comes within the context of a faithful church community where we are both encouraged and held accountable to the truth. That’s why we need to be a part of the local church, in order to give and receive help in spiritual warfare. We need the help of others sometimes; they need our help at other times. Together we can win the victory.

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One Response to “Putting on the Full Armor of God, Part 2”

  1. J K Duckhorn Says:

    Pastor Short,
    Spiritual Warfare, yes indeed, it does exist, especially in today’s troubled word. You mentioned reading the word and prayer as 2 vital components that believers’ fighting these battles need to engage in. I am going through the battle of my life right now. I read the word a lot, but maybe I am not praying enough. I am not quite sure. But also, I have trouble knowing when I should move on something, when I should just rest and let God work, or what else is there? Any feedback would be appreciated.
    Also, I read your blog on the boy scouts and the persecution from gay activists. You are very brave for writing this. I know, from being a student at a state funded university that there is a price to pay for speaking against this issue/topic. There is a price to pay even if someone just has information on someone that he/she is not a gay activist. I once showed the same love and compassion to a young male student (as I do to any other human being)I worked with and had a class with at the university. As it turned out, the student mentioned would rather have engaged in a battle, accusing me of being “homophobic” (doesn’t that mean afraid of homosexuality?) Well, I am not afraid of homosexuality and I have shown the same Christian love and compassion to all students regardless of personal choices and beliefs. Jesus died for all mankind, but wants what is best for us as human beings, part of His Creation; this is what Christians are getting at here, at least I hope so.

    Any feedback appreciated. Thanks, Joan

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