Faithlife Sermons

Why Are We Wearing Armour If We're Not In A War? part 2

Sermon  •  Submitted
1 rating
· 5 views
Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Series: Why Are We Wearing Armour If We’re Not In A War –part 2

Passage: Ephesians 6:10-20

Message 2- Ephesians 6:14-20

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 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 saints.

19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Recap

Do we really consider that we are in danger as believers, that this is not peacetime for Christ followers? The war that we are in is spiritual in nature.

Awareness that we are involved in a cosmic battle which is supernatural, personal, and futile if fought with natural weapons is the beginning of conquering wisdom. We must be convinced of these things if we are to succeed. We must go beyond evangelical lip service to a deep-souled conviction which bursts our simplistic religious shackles. –Hughes pg. 214

Exegesis:

What the best dressed Christian wears

Paul’s mind is full of unseen war, and as he reaches for metaphors to describe further realities necessary for the battle, a Roman soldier unwittingly sits for his portrait (very possibly the one to whom Paul was chained). That soldier’s armor became the vehicle for teaching us what is necessary to win the invisible war.

Though a Roman soldier wore other essentials for war, such as protective greaves on his shins (like a baseball catcher), Paul focuses on six indispensable items: his belt, breastplate, sandals, shield, helmet, and sword, to which Paul adds a seventh non-clothing item, prayer, thus emphasizing the completeness of such an outfit for spiritual battle. –Hughes pg. 223

1. A belt (starting from the middle)

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

Traditionally it has been noted that when a soldier tightened his belt he was ready for combat, because in the process of tightening he drew up his tunic and cinched it so it could not impede him as he charged into battle. It also firmly fixed his sword in place. (Note: Carson argues for the leather apron that goes on before everything else)

Either way, Paul says that truth performs a crucial function in spiritual warfare. Truth holds the spiritual armor in place or is the first thing we put on in preparation for everything else. To what truth is he referring?

Objective Truth

Some commentators, especially ancient ones, think this is the eternal, Biblical truth revealed in the Scriptures. This is certainly true.

Jesus proclaimed to those in the bonds of false teaching,

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32; cf. John 8:43–45).

Later he said,

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Paul refers in 4:21 to

“the truth that is in Jesus” (cf. 5:9).

There is objective, spiritual truth in Jesus and his Scriptures: truth about God, ourselves, history, and the future. Without it we do not have a chance in the spiritual battles which come our way.

Without cinching ourselves tightly with the truth of Scripture, the other weapons of our warfare will clatter in disarray. Those who have stood firm as great warriors for Christ have been men and women of the Word and so were filled with the eternal truth of Scripture. -Hughes

Living Truth

But having agreed on the importance of objective truth, it is important to see that Paul has been emphasizing “living the truth” in this letter.

5:8-9,

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)

Notice that he mentions two things that are to be put on as armour in Chapter 6.

Paul’s point is that truthful character, (not ignoring knowledge of the truth), enables one to stand firm in the fight.

Knowing truth is not enough. We must live it.

To rephrase Pilate’s question for our day- Where is truth?

Charles Colson in his book Who Speaks For God?, uses the term “moral AIDS”. He writes that, “The inability to make moral distinctions is the AIDS of the intellectuals: an acquired immune deficiency syndrome … moral blindness of this caliber requires practice. It has to be learned.”

Such widespread moral blindness is having an affect on believers too.

Those who would claim to know the truth are sometimes being caught with their belts down.

In a conversation here last week I spoke with a person who investigates claims for Worker’s Compensation. He shared how the worse situation is one where the person defrauding the government is a professing Christian. He spoke of going into a home of a Christian and knowing the person was guilty and giving the person every chance to change their story and come clean and they continued to lie.

What do you say?

Knowing the truth and telling the truth are essential elements of our armour.

Paul wrote: “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (4:25)

One of the benefits of being truthful is a good conscience. Someone has quipped that if you tell the truth you don’t have to have a good memory.

1 Timothy 1

18 Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.

When you are filled with God’s truth and living it, you will have a good conscience, and having that you can face anything.

How’s the spiritual battle going? If you are having trouble, it may be that you need to tighten your belt — to regird yourself with truth.

We can’t say we know the truth until it has taken hold of our lives and changed us from the inside out.

2. A Breastplate

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

-Breastplate (as we often picture it) or mail?

-is the emphasis on Imputed righteousness or righteous living?

“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.

Carson,

Truth and righteousness are often taken as references to the gospel and to its offer of righteousness-by-faith. But the terms here (as in Is. 11:5; 59:17) denote quality of character, and they stand alongside ‘holiness’ at 4:24–25 and ‘goodness’ at 5:8–9. Paul is saying that the church’s basic equipment in the spiritual battle is integrity and righteous living, and they are effective because these qualities bear the stamp of Jesus and the new creation he brings (see on 4:17–24).[1]

3. Proper Footwear

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

These boots served for marching, especially in battle. Their function was like today’s cleated football shoe. They gave the foot traction and prevented sliding.

Much ancient battle was hand-to-hand and foot-to-foot, like on the line of scrimmage, so these boots gave the Roman soldier an advantage over ill-equipped foes. The “readiness” of our text pictures us being ready with our caliga firmly planted on solid ground. Thus established, the enemy is not going to be able to push us back. Rather, we are set to advance.

The spiritual lesson here is clear. It is “the gospel of peace” — the peace that comes to us in and through the gospel and makes us immovable in battle.

The Scriptures present two aspects of this peace.

First, it is peace with God.

Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Life apart from Christ has no deep peace, and all people are aware of this vacuum to some degree.

Second, in addition to having peace with God, there comes the peace of God. In the upper room on the final night of his earthly life Jesus told his disciples, and indeed all who follow him, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:27). He gives us His personal peace. It was the peace he knew as he lay fast asleep in the boat amidst a storming sea (Matthew 8:23–27). It is the peace which so unnerved the fearful Pilate as he interrogated Christ (John 19:5–12). It is from above, and thus rises above the difficulties around it.

The word behind this is shalom: “completeness, soundness, welfare.” The great German Old Testament scholar Gerhard Von Rad, in an oft-quoted essay, says it means “well-being.” Thus we can paraphrase Jesus’ words as, “Peace and well-being I leave to you; my peace and my well-being I give to you.” Paul refers to this in Philippians 4:7 when he says that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” His peace and well-being literally garrisons (as with a platoon of soldiers) the lives of faithful believers. His peace super-surpasses all understanding.

Those who first have peace with God, and then the corollary peace of God girding their feet are powerful soldiers in the spiritual battle. No matter what the enemy throws at them, no matter what move the enemy makes, they hold their ground.

If we are Christians, we have peace with God because of the work of Christ. But the tragic irony is that many of us do not have the peace of God because we have pushed it away through rebellion and neglect. And as a result we are ever falling in battle. When the going gets rough we panic. Sometimes we even bolt. Our fellow warriors find us a burden rather than a blessing.

If this is so, we need to reopen the lines of communication and ask for his peace. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7). Then you will stand in the battle! -Hughes

4. A Shield

16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

The shield indicated here, in distinction to the small round shield worn on the forearm in battle, was a large shield about four feet high and two and a half feet wide, very much like a door (from which the word is actually derived).

The Roman scutum or shield was made of two layers of laminated wood, covered first with linen and then with hide, and then bound top and bottom with iron, with an iron ornament decorating the front of it. A man could put his entire body behind it as it absorbed the javelins and arrows of the enemy. In the case of flaming arrows, very often the arrow would snuff out as it buried itself in the thickness of the shield. During battles these great shields would often bristle with smoking arrows like roasted porcupines.

The fiery darts Paul has in mind would include anything from direct occult attack to devilish persecution, but above all the steady rain of temptations to fear, bitterness, anger, and division that could break up the unity of the church. These darts are to be countered with faith. Faith in this letter is the radical openness to God that allows Christ’s full indwelling, and brings a deeper grasp of his unfathomable love (3:17). Take up the shield of faith thus suggests a deliberate and positive holding on to the God revealed in the gospel; firm and resolute dependence on the Lord which quenches the fiery attempts of the enemy to harm and to spread panic. -Carson

5. The Helmet

17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

To put on the helmet of salvation (cf. Is. 59:17), in the context of this letter, is to assure our hearts of our union with Christ—that we are already seated with him and so secure in him (cf. 2:4–8)

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

We hold the strong ground; we are only called to ‘stand’.

6. The Sword

17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The final piece of armour mentioned is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. [This too appears to be an allusion to Is. 11:4, where the powerful word of the Messiah effects judgment.]

Here, then, the church is given a weapon not merely of defence, but one to strike back against the powers that attack. To strike back with truth when we are personally tempted to evil; to strike back with truth when the church is attacked by false teaching; to strike back with truth when the powers seek to pervade the world around us with alien philosophies and ethical teaching; and finally to strike vigorous blows for freedom with the fearless proclamation of Christian truth such as Paul encourages in vs 19–20. But one thing above all must be remembered about this ‘weapon of offence’: the word of wrath of Is. 11:4 has become the gospel of peace, and uniting love, in Christ. And we are fighting the spiritual powers not human enemies (12). Our use of the sword of the Spirit has to reflect this, else it will become a weapon of darkness, enmity and division instead.

[2]

Conclusion:

Want to stand firm? Ask yourself:

Am I a person of integrity?

Am I living a righteous life?

When things are tough do I get going to God, in prayer, trusting Him for the outcome?

When fired upon do I find protection from the shield of faith? Am I totally 100% dependant on the God who saved me?

To enjoy such benefits you must be sure that you possess salvation. Am I saved by God’s grace?

And don’t forget that we are not helpless- we have the sword of the Spirit. Let the Spirit and the Word work His sovereign will in your life and in the world. The battle is the Lord’s!

So... Am I battling in my own strength or in His mighty power?


----

[1]Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of: The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4th ed.) (Eph 6:10). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

cf. compare

[2]Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of: The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4th ed.) (Eph 6:10). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

Related Media
Related Sermons