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The Armor of God

Ephesians: Trust God & His Provision  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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1) The Belt of Truth (Ephesians 6:14a) , 2) The Breastplate of Righteousness (Ephesians 6:14b), and 3) Feet prepared with the Gospel (Ephesians 6:15) These are metaphors for the spiritual resources given to those in Christ.

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Ephesians 6:14-15. "The Armor of God". Safe Haven Community Church. Sunday November 8th, 2020. Ephesians 6:14-15 [14] Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, [15] and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. (ESV). The retailer "Whole Foods" raised great hostility this week when they banned their employees from what they called "augmenting" their uniform in any way by adding anything to it, including a poppy. As November is a time where we remember those who have fought and died in order to secure our freedom in this country, to ban employees from wearing a poppy did not go over well. Yes, a uniform is important for work, but to neglect to wear important items can have significant consequences. In discussing the uniform that a Christian should always have on, the Apostle Paul continues the discussion of Spiritual Warfare in Ephesians 6:14-15 about three crucial pieces of the Christian's Armor, that one must put on in order to be prepared for battle. The Christian life is no refined engagement.... Christianity is warfare, and because of this it is necessary for the Christian soldier to wear armor adequate to resist the spiritual (and sometimes physical) onslaughts of Satan (Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: an expositional commentary (pp. 243-244). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.) Satan works by trying to get people to doubt God (1 John 1:9) and make life difficult so we forsake obedience. He tries to bring doctrinal confusion (Eph. 4:14) and opposes godly service. (1 Cor. 16:9). Satan attacks believers by persuading them to trust their own resources (1 Chron. 21:1-8). All in all, he attempts to lead them into hypocrisy or embrace worldliness (Rom. 12:2). Although we should be aware of these devices of Satan, our defense against them is not simply our knowledge of them but rather God's provision to meet them. "Therefore, take up the full armor of God," Paul says, "that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm" (Eph. 6:13). Partial armor is not enough. We cannot know exactly when, where, or how the enemy will attack. We therefore need to have on all of God's armor all the time. When the believer has on God's full armor, it is not necessary to fully know or specifically understand the devil's schemes. In fact, many times the Christian soldier will not even be aware of a danger from which God's armor is at that moment protecting them. In Ephesians the point is not merely protection of God's people during satanic attack but the achievement of truth, righteousness and justice as well as of the peace brought by the gospel. We should not be so preoccupied with our personal spiritual struggles, obsessed with the possibility of satanic attack, that we neglect larger fields of conflict involving God's righteousness in this world (Liefeld, W. L. (1997). Ephesians (Vol. 10, Eph 6:13). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.). In Ephesians 6:14-17 Paul tells us of the seven pieces of armor with which God supplies His children to withstand the onslaughts of Satan and his hosts. No one needs to remind a soldier going into battle: 'Don't forget your rifle!' And yet, so often in our lives, when it comes to spiritual combat, we have a built in tendency to forget. We forget our armour, we forget our weapons, we even forget the reason why we are fighting the good fight. It must be a strange sight for the Lord looking down from his throne in heaven and seeing so many of us carelessly walking on to the battle field each day.... Whether we realise it or not, therein lies the danger. Now, in a valiant attempt to ditch that crazy attitude, Paul tells it like it really is, he spells it out. I want us to look at each item of equipment in precisely the same order that a Roman soldier would have put it on prior to going on duty. (Gordon, S. (2003). The Genius of Grace: The Message of Ephesians (pp. 400-401). Belfast, Northern Ireland; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Publications.) Today, we will look at the first three pieces of armor, specifically: 1) The Belt of Truth (Ephesians 6:14a) , 2) The Breastplate of Righteousness (Ephesians 6:14b), and 3) Feet prepared with the Gospel (Ephesians 6:15) These are metaphors for the spiritual resources given to those in Christ. Believers are equipped for battle with: 1) The Belt of Truth (Ephesians 6:14a) Ephesians 6:14a [14] Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, (and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,) (ESV) Now before setting out to do battle with as formidable a foe as the devil and all his host, one may well ask the question: "Do I really want to fight him at all? Am I sincere about this spiritual warfare?" Hence, Paul says: Stand therefore (Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Exposition of Ephesians (Vol. 7, p. 276). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.). The goal of an army is to get its opponents to break and run-preferably without a fight. So, a soldier who does not "stand," who does not retain (their) place in formation as (an) army attacks, puts the battle in doubt. Likewise, anyone who does not stand on defense gives an opportunity to the opposition to overrun (their) unit by (their) creating a gap in the line. Consequently standing, in the sense of remaining in the battle, is crucial (Talbert, C. H. (2007). Ephesians and Colossians (p. 161). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.) We can stand because of what we have. The having here... (representing the Greek aorist tense), shows how the first three pieces of armor are permanent, and the believer is never to be without them. The discussion of the different parts of the believer's armor which now follows is illustrative of the writer's main point about the total equipment provided by God, shows what it means to have accomplished everything necessary for battle, and explains how it is that one stands (Lincoln, A. T. (1990). Ephesians (Vol. 42, p. 447). Dallas: Word, Incorporated ) The Roman soldier always wore a tunic, an outer garment that served as his primary clothing. It was usually made of a large, square piece of material with holes cut out for the head and arms. Ordinarily it draped loosely over most of the soldier's body. Since the greatest part of ancient combat was hand-to-hand, a loose tunic was a potential hindrance and even a danger. Before a battle it was therefore carefully cinched up and tucked into the heavy leather belt. The belt that fastened it all securely together and demonstrates the believer's readiness for war is truth. Alētheia (truth) basically refers to the content of that which is true. The content of God's truth is absolutely essential for the believer in their battle against the schemes of Satan. Without knowledge of biblical teaching, the believer is, as the apostle has already pointed out, subject to being "carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming" (Eph. 4:14). These false schemes of Satan can be successfully encountered only with the truth of the Word of God. The word for truth here (alētheia) can also refer to the attitude of truthfulness. To be fastened/girded ... with truth therefore shows an attitude of readiness and of genuine commitment. It is the mark of the sincere believer who forsakes hypocrisy and sham. Every hindrance that might hold back their work for the Lord is gathered and tucked into their belt of truth so that it will be out the way. When the enemy, the father of lies (John 8:44), attacks with his lies, half-truths, and distortions, we believers can stand on the truth we believe. Jesus prayed for his followers: "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17) (Barton, B. B., & Comfort, P. W. (1996). Ephesians (p. 132). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers). Please turn to 2 Timothy 2 Just as the serious runner takes off every unnecessary piece of clothing before the race (Heb. 12:1), the serious soldier tucks in every loose piece of clothing before the battle. How much more important is the Christian's preparedness as one faces the forces of Satan. To 'tighten one's belt' can mean not only to accept a time of austerity during a food shortage but also to prepare oneself for action, which the ancients would have called 'girding the loins'. By the same token, a slackened belt meant 'off duty'. Christians, however, must face each day with a fastened belt, ready to fight the battle when needed. We are never off duty! ( Gordon, S. (2003). The Genius of Grace: The Message of Ephesians (p. 402). Belfast, Northern Ireland; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Publications.) Paul explained this to Timothy: 2 Timothy 2:1-7 [2:1]You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, [2]and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. [3] Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. [4] No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. [5] An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. [6] It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. [7] Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (ESV) * It is sad that so many Christians are content to let the "tunics" of their daily cares and concerns flap in the breeze around them-continually interfering with their faithfulness to the Lord and giving the devil every opportunity to entangle and defeat them with their own immature habits and interests. To "having fastened the belt of truth" primarily has to do with the self-discipline of total commitment. The idea of fastening clothing securely around one's waist signifies preparation for vigorous activity (Luke 12:35, 37; 17:8), in this case, readiness for battle. (God the Father) girds Himself with might (Ps. 65:6) and binds up the Psalmist with strength for battle (Ps. 18:32, 39). The apostle's language clearly alludes to the LXX of Isaiah 11, which declares of the Messiah: 'With righteousness shall he be girded around his waist, and with truth bound around his sides' (vv. 4-5). Within its Old Testament context, the rule of God's Anointed One in the divine kingdom will be characterized by righteousness and truth. The armour which the Messiah wears in battle is now provided for His people as they engage in spiritual warfare (O'Brien, P. T. (1999). The letter to the Ephesians (p. 473). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.). * It is the committed Christian, just as it is the committed soldier and the committed athlete, who is prepared. Winning in war and in sports is often said to be the direct result of desire that leads to careful preparation and maximum effort. It is the army or the team who wants most to win who is most likely to do so-even against great odds. If athletes so dedicate and discipline themselves in order to possibly win a race and receive "a perishable wreath" from the world, how much more should believers in Jesus Christ dedicate and discipline themselves to absolutely win in their struggle against Satan and receive an "imperishable" wreath from God (1 Cor. 9:25). To fasten on the belt of truth is being renewed in the mind, in order to "prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (Rom. 12:2). To be content with mediocrity, lethargy, indifference, and half-heartedness is to fail to be armored with the belt of God's truth and to leave oneself exposed to Satan's schemes. Hymn: The "Belt of Truth", also held the sword-unless we practice the truth, we cannot use the word of truth. John S B Monsell's (1811-75) hymn focuses on the dedication required: "Fight the good fight with all thy might; Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right. Lay hold on life, and it shall be Thy joy and crown eternally. Run the straight race through God's good grace, Lift up thine eyes, and seek His face; Life with its way before thee lies, Christ is the path, and Christ the prize. Cast care aside, lean on thy Guide; His boundless mercy will provide; Trust, and thy trusting soul shall prove Christ is its life, and Christ its love. (Gordon, S. (2003). The Genius of Grace: The Message of Ephesians (p. 402). Belfast, Northern Ireland; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Publications.) Believers are equipped for battle with: 2) The Breastplate of Righteousness (Ephesians 6:14b) Ephesians 6:14b [14] (Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth,) and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, (ESV) Here we are called to consider: "Am I living the kind of life that enables me to engage in this conflict?" Have I put on "the breastplate of righteousness"? No Roman soldier would go into battle without his breastplate, a tough, sleeveless piece of armor that covered his full torso. It was often made of leather or heavy linen, onto which were sewn overlapping slices of animal hooves or horns or pieces of metal. Some were made of large pieces of metal molded or hammered to conform to the body. The purpose of that piece of armor is obvious-to protect the heart, lungs, intestines, and other vital organs. In ancient Jewish thinking, the heart represented the mind and the will and the bowels were considered the seat of emotions and feelings. The mind and the emotions are the two areas where Satan most fiercely attacks believers. He creates a world system, a sinful environment by which he tempts us to think wrong thoughts and to feel wrong emotions. He wants to cloud our minds with false doctrine, false principles, and false information in order to mislead and confuse us. He also wants to confuse our emotions and thereby pervert our affections, morals, loyalties, goals, and commitments. He desires to snatch the Word of God from our minds and replace it with his own perverse ideas. He seeks to undermine pure living and replace it with immorality, greed, envy, hate, and every other vice. He wants us to laugh at sin rather than mourn over it, and to rationalize it rather than confess it and bring it to the Lord for forgiveness. He seduces us to become so used to sin in us and around us that it no longer bothers our conscience. The answer to these problems draw back to the purpose of the breastplate itself. For the Roman soldier, the breastplate was 'a piece of armor covering the chest to protect it against blows and arrows'. Paul's language here is drawn from Isaiah 59:17 (cf. Wisdom 5:18; at Isa. 11:5, righteousness is the Messiah's girdle), where (God the Father) puts on 'the breastplate of righteousness' as He comes to deliver His people and to punish the nation's enemies. According to Ephesians 6 believers need to be armed with God's own righteousness if they are to be protected against the blows and arrows of their spiritual enemies (O'Brien, P. T. (1999). The letter to the Ephesians (p. 474). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.) Please turn to 2 Corinthians 10 The protection against those attacks of Satan is the breastplate of righteousness. Righteousness is to be taken and wrapped around our whole being, as it were, just as ancient soldiers covered themselves with breastplates of armor. "The breastplate of righteousness" is God's own righteousness freely given to those who truly believe in Jesus Christ. It is not something which we generate on our own. Isaiah 64:6 says, "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." Filthy rags form a futile breastplate. Paul says in Romans 3:10-12, "As it is written: 'There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.'" The breastplate of righteousness is received and put on through faith as God gives us his righteousness. He clothes us through his Son, Jesus Christ - "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21). It is what theologians call imputed righteousness (Hughes, R. K. (1990). Ephesians: the mystery of the body of Christ (p. 227). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.) Paul explains this clothing in righteousness to the Corinthians: 2 Corinthians 10:1-7 [10:1]I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ--I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!-- [2]I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. [3] For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. [4] For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. [5] We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, [6] being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. [7] Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ's, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ's, so also are we. (ESV) * Paul describes not waging a fleshly battle but a spiritual one. The weapons of warfare are not physical but spiritual, such as prayer, the Word of God, faith, and the power of the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit, Paul tears down the strongholds of wrong thinking and behavior (Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2235). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.). Illustration: When all is said and done, to put on the breastplate of righteousness is to live in a daily, moment by moment obedience to our heavenly Father. If we do not put it on, apart from losing the battle, it will also cost us our joy. And it will lead to a life of barren fruitlessness for we are unproductive when we are living in disobedience to the Lord. And it will bring a loss of reward for we will have nothing to give to him when we meet at the Bema, the judgment seat of Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10). Sadly, it will also bring reproach on the glory of God. We can tie up some of the loose ends by looking at it like this: if cultivating truth is the best way to overthrow the devil's deceits, then cultivating righteousness is the wisest way to resist his temptations. This is what Count Zinzendorf had in mind when he wrote his great hymn: "Jesus, thy blood and righteousness My beauty are, my glorious dress; 'Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, With joy shall I lift up my head. Bold shall I stand in thy great day; For who aught to my charge shall lay? Fully absolved through these I am, From sin and fear, from guilt and shame (Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: an expositional commentary (p. 246). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.). Finally, Believers are equipped for battle with: 3) Feet prepared with the Gospel (Ephesians 6:15) Ephesians 6:15 [15]and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. (ESV) Finally, we must ask: "Am I prepared to fight?". In other words, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace? (Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Exposition of Ephesians (Vol. 7, p. 277). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.) A soldier's shoes are more important even than an athlete's, because his very life could depend on them. As he marches on rough, hot roads, climbs over jagged rocks, tramples over thorns, and wades through stream beds of jagged stones, his feet need much protection. In addition to being made tough and durable to protect his feet, the Roman soldier's shoes, or boots, were usually impregnated with bits of metal or nails to give him greater traction as he climbed a slippery cliff and greater stability as he fought. A soldier whose feet are blistered, cut, or swollen cannot fight well and often is not even be able to stand up-a perilous situation in battle. He cannot very well handle his sword or shield and cannot advance rapidly or even retreat. A Christian's spiritual footwear is equally important in warfare against the schemes of the devil. If one has carefully fastened on the belt of truth and put on the breastplate of righteousness, but does not properly as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace, a believer is destined to stumble, fall, and suffer many defeats. Those who must at all costs stand their ground need to have a secure footing; in the spiritual conflict, this is supplied by the gospel, appropriated and proclaimed (Bruce, F. F. (1984). The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (p. 408). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.). * Feet and shoes, of course, are just a metaphor for gospel preparedness. Ultimately, preparation for sharing "the gospel of peace" involves our hearts and minds. Is my mind ready to share the good news of Jesus with those around me-as ready as a soldier's feet are prepared for battle? Do I know the gospel well enough to explain it clearly to others? Furthermore, is my heart prepared to do so? Do I love Christ and the gospel? Do I love (lost) souls? These are the preparations we must make in order to be ready to carry "the gospel of peace" across enemy lines. Returning to Paul's metaphor, we must always have our "feet" ready for the gospel march. (Strassner, K. (2014). Opening up Ephesians (pp. 144-145). Leominster: Day One) Please turn to Romans 5 The readiness (Hetoimasia) described here in Ephesians 6:15 represents preparation. In Titus 3:1 Paul uses the term to exhort believers "to be ready for every good deed". A good pair of boots allows the soldier to be ready to march, climb, fight, or do whatever else is necessary. Christ demands the same readiness of His people. This comes through the gospel of peace which refers to the good news that believers are at peace with God. The unsaved person is helpless, ungodly, sinful, and an enemy of God. The gospel of peace is the marvelous truth that in Christ we are now at peace with God and are one with Him. Therefore, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace, we stand in the confidence of God's love for us, His union with us, and His commitment to fight for us. To put on these shoes could be understood as believing the promises of God in the gospel and counting on them to be true for you. Faith in these promises yields peace in the Christian's life.( Anders, M. (1999). Galatians-Colossians (Vol. 8, p. 191). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) Paul explained this marvelous reality to the Romans: Romans 5:1-5 [5:1] Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. [2] Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. [3]More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, [4]and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, [5]and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (ESV) Paul calls our offensive weapon "the gospel of peace," which at first glance seems incongruous in a section on warfare. But Isaiah 52:7 states that the divine messenger "proclaims peace," and three times in Ephesians 2:14-18 Paul points out that the breaking down of the wall of hostility brings peace and enables God's people to find unity as Christ's new creation. Christ himself declared it memorably in John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world gives." Christ's peace is both a peace with God and a peace between fractious human beings. Satan brings conflict and division, so to proclaim and bring peace constitutes a distinctive victory over the powers of evil. When a soldier is convinced that he cannot lose and goes into battle at peace with himself and his fellow soldiers, he is much less vulnerable than he might otherwise be (Osborne, G. R. (2017). Ephesians: Verse by Verse (p. 231). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.). Illustration: When armies went to battle, those who remained at home waited anxiously to hear of the outcome, because often their destiny was tied to the success or failure of the armies. But they didn't have telecommunication systems that could rush news instantly from the battlefront back to the local community. So, messages were carried by runners... As each city posted lookouts to watch the approaching runners, it became almost a science whereby the lookout could determine whether the messenger was bringing good news or bad news, just by his feet. If the messenger was bringing good news of victory, his feet would be flying and he would be kicking up a lot of dust. There would be an exuberance and an enthusiasm in his gait, as he approached the walls of the city. Hence the phrase, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!' Paul is saying that there is nothing more beautiful to see than a messenger who is bringing good news, and that is what the word 'gospel' means. It is the good news of the peace that we have with God, having been reconciled to the Father by the work of Jesus. The gospel becomes that which protects our feet, covers our feet and makes us mobile in the battle against cosmic evil (Sproul, R. C. (1994). The Purpose of God: Ephesians (p. 150). Scotland: Christian Focus Publications.). (Format Note: Outline & some base commentary from MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 345-357). Chicago: Moody Press.) Closing Hymn - John Bije Onward Christian Soldiers (3v) 091 Benediction May Heaven's richest blessing come down on everyone who goes out, following the good and beautiful Shepherd himself, to find the lost sheep and to love and care for them. For 'beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.' In Christ we Pray. AMEN. (Gleaned from David Calhoun's chapel talk. Cf. Isa 52:7; Rom. 10:15) 7
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