The armour of God is next, because over the last several weeks we have been doing a series looking at the various battlefields we face as believers in the 21st century. We have examined battles in society, the mind, the family and the battle for money, but no discussion of the battles we face would be complete without looking at the daily, personal battle we fight, for high we need the armour of God.
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.
We can not withstand the enemy’s attacks if we are not suited up and properly prepared, and we will not take ground for the Kingdom of God if we fail to use the armour of God and the weapons God provides for us.
THE TRUE ENEMY
We must remember that our true enemy is not people, governments, family members, debt or mental stress. The true enemy is seen in Ephesians 6…
Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV Strong's)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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.
We need to be strong and to stand in His strength, because our enemy the devil and his troops are fighting hard. But we can and I believe will win! We need to recognise, protect ourselves from and take ground from our true enemy the devil. He is real, he is nasty but he also is a defeated foe!
The Bible speaks of the devil more than 100 times. Not once is he a short, red, goat-like dude with a pitchfork. Not once does he enter into fiddling contests down in Georgia.
CS Lewis said it well: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
Scripture makes it clear that Satan is real and is always working against God and His kingdom. He might ultimately be a defeated foe, but he’s still kicking up mischief, controlling and manipulating people to achieve his evil ends. That's why we need the armour of God.
1 John 5:19 (ESV Strong's)
We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
There is a real spiritual war being waged against God, and every believer finds themselves in this spiritual battle. It’s in our homes and families, it’s in our finances, it’s in our society and it’s also in our heads. When we understand that we are in a battle, our first thought should be “How can I keep from becoming a casualty on this spiritual battlefield?”
So yes, Christian. Satan is real and he is still very active. But why do we still need armour of God if Satan was defeated on the cross?
Just as an army that has been dealt a decisive blow can still inflict casualties and destruction on individual soldiers, Christians can become also casualties on the spiritual battlefield. Though we may not lose our salvation—nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord—we can nevertheless be gravely wounded in our spiritual life, as our defeated foe pursues a scorched earth policy.
Warfare and spiritual battles are not reserved for the super-spiritual among us. Every one of us who bear the name of Christ are soldiers in His cause, and we require the armour of God so we can be protected from the battle that rages around us.
IT’S TIME TO SUIT UP IN THE ARMOUR OF GOD!
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.
We are instructed to take up the whole armour of God, not bits and pieces, the entire armour of God. Why? Because we need all the armour and weapons in the various battles we face. When Paul wrote this, he was imprisoned, so he likely based his illustration on the Roman soldiers who guarded him. So let’s work our way through Ephesians 6 and see how each piece of the armour of God relates to these battle fronts.
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. It’s the belt of truth, and truth is the foundational element of protection for the Christian soldier. Jesus prayed,
John 17:17 (ESV Strong's)
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
God’s Word is complete truth and it never changes, so the piece of the armour of God upon which our defence hangs is the Word of God. Society’s morals change every 2 minutes, and the world accuses us of being bigoted, draconian and out of touch, but we’re not… We build our defence on Biblical truth that has stood for generations, and we stand on the Word of God, regardless of how culture changes and media react.
Scripture should be the basis of the way we live, raise our kids, do business, vote, and connect with our communities. We must not compromise truth, now more than ever, but we must also commit to loving those whom we disagree with, even those who hate and attack us…
Ephesians 4:15 (ESV Strong's)
Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
Listen, for too long Christians have had truth, and inflexibly stood for truth, but not showed love. The belt of truth needs to be based on God’s unfathomable love, which doesn’t mean we agree with gays or transgenders or abortionists or sex workers or politicians or media commentators, but that we love them unconditionally, all the while holding onto truth.
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. To be a Christian and walk in a way unworthy of the calling to which we have been called is to march into battle with chinks in your armour of God.
Godly character and a right relationship with God are necessary in protecting our heart and allowing us to fight 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.
Philippians 3:9 (ESV Strong's)
not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
We are made righteous through faith in Christ, but we still have to protect our heart. We must be living right, living with integrity, we cannot and must not compromise in this present time of darkness. If I claim to be a Christian but live a life of moral compromise, not only do I lack integrity and one day my sins will find me out, but in life’s battles I’m exposed and open to satanic attack.
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 you know who are stressed by life.
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. It is 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!
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;
When Paul wrote these verses, the average height of a man was just over 5 feet, so the large shield he refers to offered a great deal of protection. Similarly, the shield of faith in the armour of God protects believers from many troubles.
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, lust, pride, anger, contempt, or any number of sinful reactions can hit their mark and set our minds and hearts ablaze with wicked thoughts and desires.
But faith counteracts that in the armour of God! In the 21st century, we fight on many battlefields. Whether we are concerned about moral decline in our society, or face fears, pain or anguish in our minds. Whether we face family conflict, people we love hurting us, or if we have money problems, and we live in fear over finances. Whatever battle we face, the shield of faith can protect us from all the enemy’s fiery darts.
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.
HOW TO TAKE UP THE SHIELD OF FAITH
How do you get 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 not trying to convince yourself that a miracle will happen. It’s not ignoring the facts and believing fairy stories. Real faith, the shield of faith that protects you from attack 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 are big. But my God is bigger than you!”
So how do you pick up the shield of faith? By knowing a Him. Do the reading plan, pray, and come to church. When you do this, you get to know Jesus Christ, and begin to trust Him. Faith is not something you have to drum up… godly faith occurs naturally when you know Jesus intimately. Know Christ, and the more you know Him the more you realise that He will never leave you, and never forsake you. Faith is simply knowing God so well that you trust Him totally… that’s real faith, the shield in the armour of God!
Now here is where is gets exciting. You don’t have to stand alone. You must not face this dangerous enemy by yourself. This is why I am begging you to come to church, because when we are under attack, especially if sin is involved, we isolate ourselves. But that’s the enemy’s strategy, it’s not the battle strategy of God!
YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE!
Romans 1:12 (ESV Strong's)
that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.
The Roman army never sent their soldiers into the field alone. The real strength of their battle plan was when 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 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 and join with others here who can stand with you in faith! If you don’t have a church you like, come here for a time, just join your faith with ours and be protected.
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.
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, and we need this protection today given the attacks on believers by social media, the media, and every area of our 21st century lives!
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 what 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.
A sword is a weapon used both for offence and defence in the armour of God. So is Scripture.
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. 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 sort 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.
In Matthew 4, Jesus responds to every accusation and attack from Satan by saying, “It is written,” and so should we. The world tells us that the Bible is old school, bigoted and out of date, but
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 in the armour of God, and it is powerful to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.
SUIT UP IN THE ARMOUR OF GOD
We have discovered that as believers we are in the midst of spiritual battles. But God doesn’t leave us exposed to enemy attacks! We thank God that we are well-equipped to stand in the evil day. No matter what may happen, our eternity is secure and Christ’s ultimate victory is certain.
To those here who have been greatly wounded in the battle, and that’s many of you here today, —take heart! You may be wounded, you may have suffered attacks from Satan, from worldly people or even from fellow Christian’s, but you are not defeated.
The Christian life is not a vow to never lose a battle, but it is a commitment to always fight. To take up the armour of God, stand and fight and join our faith together to grow strong and become a real threat to the enemy.
I for one want to be a massive threat to Satan in our area. We need to get our defence right, but then we must be ready to attack and take ground for the Kingdom of God!
To those here who are weary, under a constant barrage of fiery darts—take courage. We need not rely on our own strength, but on the strength of Christ, and the faith of others around you. He is never fatigued and never grows weary, and we are keen to stand with you and fight shoulder to shoulder.
To those who are distressed at the state of our nation and our world—take comfort. We know that although darkness creeps in from every side, God has equipped us to stand firm in the evil day and against the schemes of the devil. You may think the church has suffered a few setback recently, but in a God a setback is just a set up for a come back!
Today, let’s commit to stop running. Stop ducking an weaving and stop barely standing in the battles we face in life. It’s time to start fighting and start taking ground. I am prepared today to commit my life to serving Jesus, my home, my family, my finances, my mind, my dreams, my future.
We’ve talked about the battlefields we face as believers, our society’s moral breakdown, our minds, our families and our finances. 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.
Ephesians 6:11 (ESV Strong's)
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Are you battle weary? 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.