The Armour of God- Part 2

We studied our enemy last week, and so this week we are going to look at the first 3 parts of the armour of God.

Now remember, we are fighting the ruler of the Kingdom of the air, (Ephesians 2:2), so we are engaged in a spiritual battle.  We need to stand and hold our ground firstly, then ultimately attack, but standing firm and holding ground is our first priority.

Ephesians 6:13

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.

I actually love how the Message Bible translates this passage…

Ephesians 6:11- 13

So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.

So, when facing the enemy, we know He will attack in many areas, and we highlighted 3 last week, society, the church and importantly, your mind. This last one is where we will concentrate our defence.

The Bible never instructs you to flirt with the devil. It does not tell you to collaborate with him. But it does tell you to resist him…

James 4:7

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

If you struggle with a sin, run like crazy! If you struggle with sex, don’t visit porn sites. If you struggle with gossip, don’t talk to certain people. If you struggle with anger, find a way to defuse yourself before you explode! If you struggle with substance abuse

This is why we don’t like seeing Christians dating Non believers. Aside from the Biblical commandment to not be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14), it just makes sense. You might think you will win them to Christ, but 9 times out of 10 they will win you away from Christ. Don’t flirt with it, it’s a tough gig and it is just not worth it most often.

Flip Wilson was an African American comedian in the 1970s, and he had one famous skit about a black lady who bought a dress and, when her husband asked her why she bought it, she said it was not her fault because, “The devil made me do it!”

That is not resisting, right?

And collaborating, well we know about that from the war. Collaborators were those who, when the Nazis invaded, decided to work with them rather than join the resistance. After the war, the men were shot and the women had their heads shaved and were ostracised from the community for the rest of their life.

You don’t want to flirt with the devil, or collaborate, you need to resist.

PUT ON THE FULL ARMOUR Of GOD

Armour of god spiritual warfareIf you are going to resist, put in the full armour of God

The Greek word for “full armour” is panoplia, which refers to the complete armour of a heavily armed infantry soldier. It is not light, it is sometimes a little uncomfortable, but it is the maximum protection for a soldier.

With this you can not only stand, you can withstand. So you can stand your ground, and you can withstand the onslaughts of the enemy and his troops… the underlying meaning of withstanding is resisting.

So let’s start to look at the various pieces of armour God gives you.

1. THE BELT OF TRUTH

The first piece of armor mentioned is this belt of truth.

IN Ephesians 6:13, it says Stand firm, there’s that word again, with the belt of truth. In older translations it says, gird your loins, which is very poetic, but it actually means tighten your belt.

Now the Greek word for truth is halētheia, which refers to the state of the heart answering to God’s truth; or the agreement of our convictions with God’s revelation.

Certainly we must be faithful in holding the truth of God’s word, but it is also necessary for the truth to hold us. We must apply God’s truth to our daily lives. As we test everything by the truth, we find strength and protection in the combat.

So the belt is not our truth, it is God’s truth, and because it is a belt or a girdle, it surrounds the central point of your body. In fact, the loins was described by ancients as the seat of power. So “To smite through the loins” is to strike a fatal blow. “To lay affliction upon the loins” is to afflict heavily.

And the belt or girdle holds everything together, it is the common bond of the whole of your body armour.

You see, truth gives unity to and surrounds all the different virtues, and it also gives determination and consistency to your character. All the virtues are exercised within the sphere of truth.

Compromise truth, and you compromise everything!

Now my wife pointed out to me that at some point everybody lies. Who has ever ticked a box on the internet labeled “I have read and agreed to the terms and conditions” without actually reading them? I would argue that I have skimmed them, but there you go! However, outside of that, we need to be totally honest.

Now we all know that when your belt slips, it can be very embarrassing. Try running, jumping or fighting with your pants around your ankles because your belt has slipped! Not exactly efficient, in fact it could be dangerous and cause your demise, right?

I scuba dived a few weeks ago, and tightened my weight belt before descending.  The pressure caused my 7ml wetsuit to contract, and my belt was slipping. I had to stop swimming and continually haul it up, otherwise I could lose it and float too fast to the surface.  To be honest, it distracted me and ruined my first dive.

So what does this mean for you?  It means you need to truthful and honest, and frankly some of you aren’t doing that. You need to be careful at being honest 100% of the time, and not bend or warp the truth to suit your own ends.

I know Christian businessmen who lie and are not honest. I know Christian mums who lie to their kids. I even know pastors who lie and twist the truth so they can get their own way. No matter who you are, no matter what the excuse or circumstances, it is not right!

So, are you absolutely honest in everything you do, or do you bend the truth when it suits?

In my life and business, I am a stickler for honesty. I will not permit my staff to lie either, so if someone calls and I don’t want to talk to them, they are instructed to say, “Darin can’t talk right now,” they cannot say, “Darin is not here.”

Even with the kids, how do you speak to them? If they ask for something in a shop, do you say ,”We can’t afford that?”  What about with friends? What about at church? Do you say the occasional “white lie” to get your own way.

“White lie”, now there’s a fallacy… All lies are black in God’s eyes!

Integrity is a bit like pregnancy… You cannot be half pregnant, or 90% pregnant! You either are pregnant or you are not. Same with integrity. If you are honest 98% of the time, then you are dishonest. You can’t have 98% integrity!

And remember, the belt is what your sword hangs on, so if you want to be powerfully used by God, you can’t be a liar!

And if you want to stand against and be protected from the devil, the first thing you need to do is to covenant with God to be truthful… 100% honest. With yourself, and with others!  This is the first piece of the Armour of God.

And this leads to the next piece of armour…

2. BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

The breastplate is the Greek word thorax, which we use of the central part of an insect body, which looks a little bit like the original breastplate piece of armour.

It was a form of protection from the neck to the bottom of the ribs, and consisted of 2 pieces, a front and a corresponding back section.  Each section could be solid, or chain mail, often with pieces of horn or other hard material sown in for protection.

It’s a bit like an ancient Kevlar vest.

The breastplate protects the vital organs of a soldier, and it needs to be serviceable but also comfortable. It guards your heart, stomach and other organs.

The Greek word for righteousness is dikaiosune is “the character or quality of being right or just”;  It is used to denote an attribute of God, e.g., Rom. 3:5, the context of which shows that “the righteousness of God” means essentially His right nature, which is the same as His faithfulness, or truthfulness, that which is consistent with His own nature and promises.

Essentially, righteousness is doing right, not by our standards but by God’s.

So what this element of the armour tells us is that doing right protects our heart.

Jeremiah tells us that the natural heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked…

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is deceitful above all things

and beyond cure.

Who can understand it?

 

Proverbs tells us to guard our hearts…

Proverbs 4:23

Above all else, guard your heart,

for everything you do flows from it.

We are instructed to “put on” this armor, which implies that we do not automatically wear it all the time, which means that sometimes, our hearts are vulnerable, especially if we flirt or collaborate instead of resist.

Putting on the armor of God requires a decision on our part. To put on the breastplate of righteousness, we must first have the belt of truth firmly in place, because one is fastened onto the other.

You see, without truth, our righteousness will be based upon our own attempts to impress God by trying to be right. This leads to legalism or self-condemnation (Romans 8:1), so trying to be good enough is never going to protect you properly… It has to be His righteousness!

We must choose to acknowledge that, apart from Him, we can do nothing (He is the vine, we are the branches, devoid of life if not connected to Him…John 15:5).

If we truly have accepted Christ into our lives, we can see ourselves as being “in Christ” and that, regardless of our failures, His righteousness has been credited to our account. It’s His righteousness, not ours!

So it is almost like Jesus looks at our righteousness, which is like filthy rags, and says, “Oh, that will never protect you, you’d better put mine on!”

We “put it on” by seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness above everything else (Matthew 6:33). That shows you how much God values righteousness and integrity. Yet so many of us compromise our righteousness and integrity for things, for stuff, yet if we seek first His righteousness, we get the stuff we need anyway!

When God reveals an area of change to us, we obey and allow Him to work in us. At the point where we say “no” to God, we open a little crack in the armor where Satan’s arrows can get through (Ephesians 6:16).

As we wear Christ’s breastplate of righteousness, we begin to develop a purity of heart that translates into actions. Wearing this breastplate creates a lifestyle of putting into practice what we believe in our hearts. As our lives become conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), our choices become more righteous, and these godly choices also protect us from further temptation and deception (Proverbs 8:20; Psalm 23:3).

Why not be like the prophet Daniel?

Daniel 6:4

At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

Daniel’s steadfastness, strength of character and faith grew out of his habits of holiness. He consistently did the right thing, and the more he did right the harder it became for him to do wrong.

So righteousness becomes a habit if we put on the breastplate daily. Studies show that of we maintain a behaviour for 30 days straight it become a life changing habit. It becomes our norm, so whether it is having a quiet time, praying or flossing, making something valuable into a habit takes 30 days but is life changing.

So if you put this piece of the armour on daily, you will, over time, see you actions change to be more Christ-like, and less you-like! And your heart will be protected.

And remember, this piece of armour is protecting your heart!

Remember Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Do you want peace? Then be righteous, because a righteous man has no fears of being found out. This week I met someone who had tried to dig up dirt on me. Was I ashamed to see them? Not at all! Why? Because I knew in my heart I had acted righteously with regards them. I had peace. My heart was guarded.

So righteousness is the way to guard your heart and mind, and the more you put it on, the more your ways will become truly righteous, because you will conforms to His will,

3. SANDALS OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE

Ephesians 6:15

and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

What Paul is referring to here is the caligal, or Roman military boots. These were one of the most important parts of the Roman soldier’s equipment. They were designed for marches over every kind of tough terrain, and it has even been said that the attention given to soldiers’ boots was the secret of Roman conquests across the then known world.

The gospel of peace is the message that Jesus gave to those who trust in Him (John 14:27; Romans 10:15).

And it is not just the Gospel message, because when you come to Christ you also receive the assurance from God that you are His child and nothing can snatch you out of His hands (John 10:29; 1 John 5:13).

The word readiness implies constant vigilance. A victorious soldier had to be always ready and prepared for battle. He had to have studied his enemy’s strategy, be confident in his own strategy, and have his feet firmly planted so that he could hold his ground when the attacks came.

You see, a Roman soldier’s battle shoes were studded with nails or spikes to help him keep his balance in combat. He knew that, if he lost his footing and went down, it wouldn’t matter how good the rest of his armour was; the enemy had him, and he would be doomed.

When we are ready with the gospel of peace, we live with the understanding that we are continually under attack from Satan. Second Timothy 4:2 says to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”

So the gospel itself is to be the firm footing of the believer, and his walk needs to be worthy of it and therefore a testimony in regard to the gospel.

These shoes are defensive helping us to stand our ground, and also offensive as we attack by sharing the good news with others…

Isaiah 52:7

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

So let me finish this message by asking you, how’s your belt, how’s your breastplate and how’s your shoes?

Do you struggle to live the life of integrity you long to live? Are you fearful to share your faith with others?

Take a few moments right now to examine your heart carefully,

Jeremiah 20:12

Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous

and probe the heart and mind,

Let Him probe your heart and mind right now. If you long to have truth and integrity as the foundation of your life, and if you feel unrighteous but long to be more righteous and Christ-like, respond to His Spirit and ask Him to fill you with integrity, truth, righteousness and the gospel.  Then you have pu on the first three pars of the Armour of God!

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