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The Armour of God

Ephesians: Raised with Christ  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Soldiers in the streets

Ever been somewhere where there are soldiers in the streets?
Getting off the plane in Cambodia, there was the military, with their AK47s just hanging about keeping things secure.
Likewise we went to a temple on the border with Thailand and there was not only soldiers everywhere, but so were their outposts.
Now, before I joined the military I’d barely seen a rifle, let alone have much familiarity with the basic equipment of a soldier in the Army. Of course for many of us that is probably the same. We have limited exposure to these kinds of things.
But for the 1st century citizen of the Roman Empire, a roman soldier armed and ready, just as I saw multiple times in Cambodia, was a common sight. Everyone would’ve been familiar with their get up. And so that’s why Paul uses the soldiers kit to illustrate how the Christian must be prepared for their battle.

Recap

Raised with Christ to live a resurrection life
Death to life through Jesus Christ - spiritual zombies
One new community of faith in the church - no longer Jew or Gentile
Given that...
Live it out
Seek unity, and live pure holy lives.
Make sure your closest relationships are marked by love and submission. (Last 2 weeks).
There’s been a lot to take in in Ephesians!
And I wonder if you’ve ever thought, gosh this is hard.

Living as a Christian is hard!

It’s hard to lay down my own desires for others. It’s hard to find yourself in church with people you wouldn’t normally associate with and have to be unified. It’s hard when people behave in inappropriate or ungodly ways not to keep on loving them even though all you might want to do is punch them.

Spiritual War

Ultimately it’s hard because as Christians, as people who’ve moved form death to live into God’s new community, we’re now at war with the devil and his henchmen.
Ephesians 6:10 TNIV
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Ephesians 6:11 TNIV
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Ephesians 6:12 TNIV
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.
If we’re going to succeed in living as Christians we need to know our enemy. You can’t win a war if you don’t have a healthy respect for your opposition. If you aren’t fully aware of the battles you face in living as a Christian then you won’t heed Paul’s warning and encouragement here at the end of Ephesians to be fully prepared for war. And those who don’t prepare or who are ill equipped are quickly defeated.
A thorough knowledge of the enemy and a healthy respect for his prowess are a necessary preliminary. to victory in war. Similarly, if we underestimate our spiritual enemy, we shall see no need for God’s armour, we shall go out to the battle unarmed, with no weapons but our own puny strength, and we shall be quickly and ignominiously defeated.
A thorough knowledge of the enemy and a healthy respect for his prowess are a necessary preliminary. to victory in war. Similarly, if we underestimate our spiritual enemy, we shall see no need for God’s armour, we shall go out to the battle unarmed, with no weapons but our own puny strength, and we shall be quickly and ignominiously defeated.
Now Paul only really spends one verse (v12) outlining who the enemy is.
E
Ephesians 6:12 TNIV
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.
Stott, J. R. W. (1979). God’s new society: the message of Ephesians (p. 263). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
This is because the Ephesian Christians were only too familiar with him.
Take this story from Paul’s time there in
Acts 19:13–17 TNIV
Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.
Acts 19:13-
For whatever reason that is not our reality. So we need to take a moment and remember who it is we’re fighting against.
(DON’T READ VERSES)
Ephesians 6:11 TNIV
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Ephesians 6:12 TNIV
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.
And in v12 as I just read and in v11, we see we’re fighting against a Cunning, Powerful, Evil enemy.
Perhaps the devil’s greatest scheme for western Christians is making us think he’s not really all that bad.
Martin Lloyd-Jones: ‘I am certain that one of the main causes of the ill state of the Church today is the fact that the devil is being forgotten. All is attributed to us; we have all become so psychological in our attitude and thinking. We are ignorant of this great objective fact, the being, the existence of the devil, the adversary, the accuser, and his “fiery darts”.’
The Message of Ephesians 1. The Enemy We Face (Verses 10–12)

The ‘wiles of the devil’ take many forms, but he is at his wiliest when he succeeds in persuading people that he does not exist. To deny his reality is to expose ourselves the more to his subtlety. Dr Lloyd-Jones expresses his conviction on this matter in the following terms: ‘I am certain that one of the main causes of the ill state of the Church today is the fact that the devil is being forgotten. All is attributed to us; we have all become so psychological in our attitude and thinking. We are ignorant of this great objective fact, the being, the existence of the devil, the adversary, the accuser, and his “fiery darts”.’

The devil is real and he is powerful and you should be afraid. You can’t beat an enemy like that on your own dressed in your Sunday best with only your will power.
You need to rely on God and seek his defence.
You need as Paul says in v10-11 to be strong in the lord by putting on the armour of God.
You need to rely on God and seek his defence.

Armour of God

Ephesians 6:10 TNIV
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Ephesians 6:11 TNIV
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
We can’t fight the battle on our own. We need God’s strength and power and his protection. And Paul uses this picture of the 1st century Roman soldier to illustrate his point beautifully.
Let’s take each piece of armour and consider them:
Belt - Truth
Breastplate - Rigteousness
Ephesians 6:14 TNIV
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
Not only
We need to be constantly reminded of God’s truth when the devil comes against us and attacks us with lies. The Devil says: “You are a hopeless sinner, God hasn’t really saved you, why don’t you stop resisting and just give in, that’d be more like the real you anyway.” And when we have armed ourselves with truth we say, “No. As for me I was dead in my transgressions and sins in which i used to live, but because of God’s great love for me, God has made me alive in Christ Jesus and seated me with him in the heavenly realms.” ().
But it’s not only the truth of God’s word it’s also being a person of truth.
If we’re going to stand strong against the devil and live as the united people of God we need to be always seeking to be truthful.
I said it earlier as we reflected on the book of Ephesians, but it bears mentioning again because it has been a struggle for us as we’ve gone through changes together as a church. But half truths or out and out lies have no place in our lives as Christians, that’s like unbuckling your belt, and for the Roman soldier who did that, everything else fell apart.
Breastplate - Righteousness
Ephesians 6:14 TNIV
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
Again, we have the spiritual reality that as Christians we have a righteousness that comes from God. And we need this to protect against Satan.
The Christian needs to be living out this righteousness in their character and conduct. The more we resist bad behaviour and practice good or righteous behaviour, the harder it is for satan to tempt us.
Boots - readiness from the gospel of peace
Ephesians 6:15 TNIV
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
We need the good news of what God has done for us to be our foundation. To keep us firmly planted on the ground, just as the soldiers shoes were designed in such a way as helped him to maintain his footing in battle. And we need to be ready to tell others about the gospel. That is sometimes the best defence is offence. And the gospel is our best weapon against the devil. By sharing with others about God and seeing people come to know Jesus, we take ground from the devil.
The Message of Ephesians 3. The Armour of God (Verses 13–20)

the devil fears and hates the gospel, because it is God’s power to rescue people from his tyranny, both us who have received it and those with whom we share it

When was the last time you not only kept yourself firmly planted on the ground with the gospel, but sought to go on the offensive and shared your faith with someone? For surely this is one of the greatest defence mechanisms? Who can you share with this week?
Shield - faith
Ephesians 6:16 TNIV
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Eph 6:17
Just as the Roman soldier had this shield to protect himself from flaming arrows, we need faith to protect us from the devils darts.
His accusations that we are not good enough and God isn’t gracious enough.
His stirring up of doubt, resentment, rebellion, lust or fear in us.
When we find ourselves with those thoughts, it is our faith that helps us hold onto God and seeks his power to rescue us from temptation and fear.
Waves Camp - drunk people at the beach got in their way. They came back that night to steal from the campsite and generally make life a little interesting. They were reving their engine and yelling at us. And one of the older leaders thought it would be a good idea to try and chase them away. So we did that but lost them. Then they came back and yelled some more. It was terrifying. And we had all worked each other up into quite a state, and I remember praying and asking God for help and almost instantly I knew we’d be ok. I knew nothing bad was going to happen. Fear melted away. Faith had allowed me to enter into God’s protection. It was my shield of faith!
Helmet - salvation
Ephesians 6:17 TNIV
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Nothing can change the truth that we have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ. As we go into battle with Satan it is our salvation that ultimately allows us to stand tall and fight on.
Eph 6:
The Message of Ephesians 3. The Armour of God (Verses 13–20)

Charles Hodge wrote: ‘that which adorns and protects the Christian, which enables him to hold up his head with confidence and joy, is the fact that he is saved

We are saved and we will experience the fullness of our salvation in the end. Not even death can take that away.
Cricket, a little scared of the ball as a batsman. Then I one day I decided to wear a helmet out to bat. Instead of just leg pads and a thigh guard. It made a big difference. Suddenly I had confidence to face up. I would step back and across rather than back and away to defend my wicket. I even managed to have a crack at a pull shot where once I might have just ducked out of the way.
Our salvation gives us the confidence to enter the battle and to fight well.
Sword - spirit, word of God.
Ephesians 6:17 TNIV
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The bible is the sword of the Spirit. God’s word has power to pierce the souls of any person. God gives us the sword of the spirit, the word of God for our defence as well as our attack. God’s word encourages us in the midst of battle (defends us) and compels us to take more ground as we go out in evangelism as I already spoke about with the shoes.
I once heard a pastor say his church had seen great evangelistic growth by simply encouraging each person in the church to read the bible with someone else, especially someone who wasn’t a Christian.
And he told story after story of people who would go up to their neighbour or friend and say, “Hi there, I’m looking for someone to read the bible with and I wonder if that’s something you might be interested in”. And people said yes and lives were transformed.
Sadly, some Christians, some Anglicans, think that the best way to stop the Christian faith from losing ground is to take a sword to the bible and cut out the bits we think our friends won’t like. So we cut out the bit about human sexuality, or the bit about miracles, or the bit about a virgin birth. But of course to do so is to lay down the very power of God. For God’s word as we have it is powerful. It has changed my life, it has changed your life, it will change others lives. Let’s trust God’s word.
And let’s pray

Prayer Warriors

Ephesians 6:18–19 TNIV
And pray in 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 Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,
Ephesians 6:18–20 TNIV
And pray in 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 Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Eph 6:
Paul’s final instruction for the Christian in battle, is to pray.
What should we pray for?
Anything! But especially for our fellow believers and for the fearless spread of the gospel.
Will you join me in praying for that?
Perhaps over the last month as we’ve been working our way through Ephesians you’ve been thinking, wow how wonderful it sounds to be in this beautiful unified community of God’s people. To live in a home where everyone loves each other and lives sacrificially for one another. Isn’t it wonderful that God gives us the gift of life in peace, amongst our loved ones at home and in the beautiful fellowship of God’s people.
The Message of Ephesians 12. Principalities and Powers (6:10–20)

The abrupt transition from the ‘peaceful homes and healthful days’ of the previous paragraphs to the hideous malice of devilish plots in this section causes us a painful shock, but an essential one. We all wish we could spend our lives in undisturbed tranquillity, among our loved-ones at home and in the fellowship of God’s people. But the way of the escapist has been effectively blocked. Christians have to face the prospect of conflict with God’s enemy and theirs

Let’s be a people of rest in the mighty power of God. Who rely on his strength, wield his word and pray constantly in the Spirit. And as we do that lets rejoice as we see the devil shrink back before the mighty hand of God.
For we have been raised with Christ, to live a resurrection life.
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