Last week I spoke about the battle we are a currently in, and I explained that the real enemy was not government, of vaccination or lockdowns or even the media.., it is, and always has been satan himself. He is the real enemy.
Ephesians 6:12-13 (ESV)
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. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
THE REAL ENEMY
So today I want to remind you that we face a cunning and crafty enemy. We face a dirty and underhanded enemy, who will stop at nothing to destroy us and mankind in general. COVID is just his latest battlefield.
The Bible speaks of the devil more than 100 times. Not once is he portrayed as a short, horned dude in red spandex with a pitchfork. Not once does he enter into fiddling contests down in Georgia.
So we need to recognise Satan’s fingerprints are all over this, stop attacking one another over what are, in eternity, non important issues, and instead keep our eyes on Jesus. Let’s be balanced, and obedient to God.
I urge you to have opinions on the current situation, but to speak the truth with love, not anger, and not venom. We need unity in what we do agree on rather than disunity on things that distract us from Christ. That’s why Jesus said,
John 13:34-35 (ESV)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Not clever arguments, not conspiracy theories, not anger and wit and sarcasm or vaccinations, only love will win the day. Remember your true enemy. We cannot fight spiritual battles against a spiritual enemy with carnal weapons…
2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (ESV Strong’s)
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
So how do we as believers stand amid the government, media and social media onslaught that is COVID 19. How can we withstand the fear? It’s time to suit up!
IT’S TIME TO SUIT UP IN ARMOUR!
Ephesians 6:13 (ESV Strong’s)
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.
Before you get angry and lash out at someone, identify the true enemy, then put on the right armour. Put it all on, not bits and pieces, the entire armour of God. Why? Because every part of this armour plays a role in protecting you.
1. BELT OF TRUTH
Ephesians 6:14 (ESV Strong’s)
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth,
A soldier’s belt wasn’t a fashion accessory to hold their pants up. It was an important piece of the armour, had various other pieces fastened to it, most noticeably the sword. This is God’s answer to Batman’s utility belt, and it’s the belt of truth, meaning truth is the foundational element of protection for the Christian soldier.
John 17:17 (ESV Strong’s) (Jesus said)
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
God’s Word is complete truth and it never changes. The world’s version of truth changes all the time, but the piece of our armour upon which our defence hangs is the Word of God, the word of truth.
If nothing else, the corona virus has shown that mankind doesn’t have all the answers. Whether it’s been toilet paper, hand sanitiser, masks, social distancing, being locked down or being locked up for not being locked down, clearly our society, worldwide, has struggled to contain this situation.
Now more than ever we need the truth! Information is being blasted at us by the media, with more than 80 % of every news bulletin being COVID related. Propaganda and control of perception sees opinions being controlled and taken down from social media. On the flip side, anybody with a phone camera, a YouTube channel and an agenda can spread their conspiracy theories, true or false, far and wide. I continue to be stunned by the messages I get saying, “You have to watch this.”
No I don’t! This Bible, that’s what I have to watch! While we have been vehemently arguing over vaccines and masks, truth us being manipulated by our government. Laws regarding full term abortion, euthanasia, police powers and civil liberties, have been and are currently being snuck through parliament.
The truth of Scripture needs to be the basis of the way we live, raise our kids, do business, vote, and connect with our communities, because it is God’s truth! Unlike the media, and the law, this doesn’t change. Wear the belt of truth uncompromisingly, but wear it with love towards those who disagree, even those who hate and attack us…
Fir too long Christians have had truth, and inflexibly stood for truth, but showed no love. The belt of truth needs to be based on God’s unfathomable love, which doesn’t mean we agree with the government and media, but we love other and obey our leaders until they contradict God’s Word!
Ephesians 4:15 (ESV Strong’s)
Speaking the truth in love,
2. BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Ephesians 6:14 (ESV Strong’s)
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
We must live righteous lives, even online. To be a Christian and walk and talk and act and post in a way unworthy of the calling is to march into battle with chinks in your armour.
Godly character and a right relationship with God are necessary in protecting our heart and allowing us to fight the true enemy effectively for purity and justice. We must guard our heart and be righteous,
Proverbs 4:23 (ESV Strong’s)
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
I know Anger is a natural response to injustice, and most of us are angry about what we see going on around us. Today it seems everyone is angry about something!
Recognise that Your anger, for or against, right or wrong, righteous or unrighteous, is being fed by media and the algorithms of social media, giving you more of what you want. And what I am seeing on social media and talking to people is that many, even Christians, even pastors, are so angry for their point of view, they are becoming addicted to anger. Some people are always crusading about something or other! Anger is the devils cocaine… let me ask you, Are you buying?
Honestly, I have seen Christians and even pastors on social media behaving so unrighteously. If you win an argument and lose a soul, the devil wins and you’re a looser! Loose your temper and you loose. I urge you, form godly and informed opinions, but do not love those opinions more than you love people.
Today people tolerate bad ideas, but they are intolerant towards people. We, as God’s righteous people, need to tolerate people, even the ones we don’t like or agree with, but be intolerant to bad ideas. That means we love people no matter what, tolerating them and how they behave, but we are intolerant to bad ideas, and reject them. Wear the breastplate of righteousness with love, grace and dignity!
3. SHOES OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE
If you live a righteous life, this righteousness brings you peace. And when you experience true inner peace, you can’t wait to share this peace with others who are stressed by life and fearful of everything.
Ephesians 6:15 (ESV Strong’s)
and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
The Roman soldier’s footwear was not fashion, neither was it prestige like some sneakers are today. They were what enabled him to travel further and faster than his enemies, through any terrain he may encounter.
In the same way, the peace of the gospel is what equips us to travel over rough roads as we carry this same gospel to others. These strong sandals were called CALIGAE, and they had heavy soles with hobnails in them to provide traction for the wearer. These nail studs ensured that the soldier could not easily be pushed backwards in battle.
The gospel of peace is like that, it’s strong and allows us to stand for the truth, without compromise and without being pushed back against our will!
Isaiah 32:17 (ESV)
And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
In a world waging war over COVID, with people fighting and hating, we can live at peace, with each other, with God and even with people who don’t agree with our position!
Philippians 4:7 (ESV)
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
If you have God’s peace within you, your heart and mind can be guarded. You can live and speak up for Christ, and have no fear! You can wisely hold your tongue when others don’t. You can have peace when others have only anger and fear!
Psalms 91:5-6 (ESV)
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
So, when you deal with others who are full of fear, love them, have compassion for them, and let the peace of God shine into their lives. Don’t match them fear for fear and stress for stress!
4. SHIELD OF FAITH
Ephesians 6:16 (ESV Strong’s)
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
There s a lot of dart slinging going on right now, and the faith of some believers, even whole churches, is being tested. But not this little black duck, and not this church. We need to surge forward and take ground in this time of testing.
With all the miracles we have seen, you might think that I have lots of faith. I don’t, I have only a small amount. But a mustard seed of faith in an infinite and powerful God can move mountains! We all, at this time, need to take up the shield of faith!
The shield of faith protects believers from all troubles and fears. Remember, the devil is a defeated foe, and the only power he has is what you give him.
1 John 5:4 (ESV Strong’s)
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
The Roman shield was covered in leather and usually soaked with water to extinguish flame-tipped arrows or darts. These arrows were launched from a distance, and without water, the shield could be set on fire. In the same way, fear, lust, pride, anger, contempt, or any number of flaming darts can hit their mark and set our minds and hearts ablaze with wicked and destructive thoughts.
The shield of Faith counteracts that! Whether it’s fears of COVID, or moral decline, or lockdowns, lost businesses or death. Whether we face family conflict, people we love hurting us, or if we have money problems, or if we live in fear over finances. Whatever battle we face, the shield of faith can protect us from all the enemy’s fiery darts. Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. There was no one there!
HOW DO YOU TAKE UP THE SHIELD OF FAITH?
How do you get take up the shield of faith? Faith is not some mental exercise you have to stir up and convince yourself of.
Romans 10:17 (ESV Strong’s)
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Faith is generally not something you get zapped with. It’s something you grow into. And the closer you get to God, the deeper your faith becomes. And then He shows you small miracles, then bigger, then bigger, because God knows how to build you faith over time. So, bottom line is… pick up the shield by getting closer to God.
Faith is not trying to convince yourself that a miracle will happen. It’s not ignoring the facts and believing fairy stories. Real faith is being so close to God you trust Him no matter what happens. And true faith is unwavering. Consider Abraham…
Romans 4:19-21 (ESV Strong’s)
He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
Abraham knew he was infertile at 100 years of age. He didn’t ignore facts, he didn’t hope against hope, he didn’t try and convince himself about a fairy story. No, he looked the facts straight in the eye and said, “I recognise that you are facts and you are big. But my God is bigger than you!”
So how do you pick up the shield of faith? Simple.. Get to Know Him more! Faith is simply knowing God so well that you trust Him totally… that’s real faith!
YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE IN ARMOUR!
Now here is where is gets exciting. You don’t have to stand alone. In this church, even you online folk, we want to stand with you in faith. Sink your roots down…
Jude 1:20 (ESV)
But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,
We need to build one another up more, encouraging one another, and we need to pray in the Holy Spirit more than ever before.
The Roman army never sent their soldiers into the field alone. The real strength of their battle plan was that they joined their shields together as a unit.
Roman soldiers joined their shields together to form an impenetrable barrier to enemy attack, called the tortoise. They linked their shields front and back, left and right and even over the top. The strength of their one shield was amplified when it was joined to other shields. The strength of our shields of faith is when we join them together.
So if you want to take up the shield of faith, to protect yourself from the darts of the enemy, get close to God, but don’t try and do it alone! Join with us, in person or online, stand with us, connect with others and join your shields of faith.
5. HELMET OF SALVATION
Ephesians 6:17 (ESV Strong’s)
and take the helmet of salvation,
Like a helmet covering our head, our salvation protects us from being dealt a deathblow. Those who are in Christ cannot ultimately be defeated by Satan. If you know Jesus, if you have asked Him into your heart as Lord and Saviour, then you are saved, you have eternal life and this protects you… You are saved!
Romans 8:38-39 (ESV Strong’s)
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The helmet protects your mind, giving ya assurance of our salvation, and we need this protection today given the fear mongering out there, given that 80% of all news reports, and 80% of anything anyone talks about is COVID 19. Protect your mind, and be absolutely certain and sure about your salvation!
6. SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
Ephesians 6:17 (ESV Strong’s)
and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
We have looked at our defences, but this is the one offensive weapon in the armour of a God? Just as every Roman soldier would be equipped with a gladius (that’s Latin for sword), every believer is equipped with the Word of God, to be used both for offence and defence.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV Strong’s)
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
To wield the sword of the Spirit is to use Scripture to defend against attacks on truth and to “destroy strongholds” of false beliefs, and strongholds we build ourselves of adamant opinions. We must use Scripture against any opinion, ideology, or worldview which would place itself in contention with the Word of God.
Of course, in any movie you’ve ever watched that involves any kind of sword fight (or light sabre battle) you’ll notice that they are constantly deflecting blows from the enemy—as often as they are attacking with their own sword. And so it is with the Sword of the Spirit. We use it to defend ourselves against error and attacks on the truth of God by knowing and wielding Scripture, but as Jesus showed us in Matthew 4, we answer the enemy’s accusations using Scripture too. (It is written)
Hebrews 4:12 (ESV Strong’s)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
We cannot wield this offensive weapon unless we know it well. So join us, do the Bible Reading plan. Read God’s Word, study it, learn it, memorise it. It’s your sword, and it is powerful to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.
SUIT UP IN THE ARMOUR OF GOD
At this pivotal moment in history, with the devastation of what COVID and attempts to deal with COVID have (and are still) bringing us, with the division across our society of pro vax, anti vax, pro mask, anti mask, we need to focus on what’s important.
Honestly, the battle is about so much more than COVID! Our nation is in fear, and this is our moment, if we would stop crusading for one side or another, stop looking at the circumstances, stop listening to the media and social media, and place our eyes back on Jesus.
Ephesians 6:11 (ESV Strong’s)
Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and let the things of COVID grow strangely dim!
Today we are equipped to stand and then to take ground. So what about you? Will you stand with me to join our faith shields and fight the good fight together?
Colossians 2:15(ESV Strong’s)
He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
And we need to pray. Suit up and pray…
Ephesians 6:17-18 (ESV)
and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
You can pray, and sometimes it feels like you are just going through the motions. But when you pray in the Spirit, using His power, using His directions, using His language and His Anointing, your prayers can move heaven and earth!
Are you battle weary, sick of the CNN Blitzkrieg COVID propaganda? Do you feel alone, being picked off by the enemy? If you feel the pressures of life, it’s time we took a stand… let’s do it together. The world says, shut up and pay, but I’m calling you to suit up and pray!
HOW IS COVID AFFECTING YOU? HOW DOES IT AFFECT PEOPLE YOU KNOW?
HOW CAN YOU OUT ON THE ARMOUR OF GOD EVERY DAY?
WILL YOU COMMIT TO STANDING AND FIGHTING FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS IN OUR NATION? HOW CAN YOU PUT ON THE ARMOUR OF GOD TODAY?