The armour of God

Armor with sword

Sermon – The Armour of God

This sermon is based on apostle Paul’s text as found in Ep 6.10-18.  Paul talks about the armour that the sincere christian is called to wear in his battle against the evil forces of this world.  Get ready to learn a great deal on how to become a powerful force in Jesus by wearing the armour of God.

Intro:

We are in the year 63 AD.

The Roman empire is in power and extends its tentacles ever further, ever conquering new territories and submitting new populations not yet under the Pax Romana.  In Rome, being detained there, is a man whose reputation will increase, to the point of equaling, if it may be, even that of the empire in whose hands he is a prisoner.

Churches will be dedicated to his name.  Copies of letters written by his hand or under his dictation will reach us even after millennia.  He was one of the pioneers of Christendom.  His name is Paul.

We are in the year 63 after Jesus Christ and Paul, from his place of detention in Rome, will write what will perhaps be one of the last letter he will leave for the benefit of the Church: The letter, called to the Ephesians.

Why such a letter?

Why did he write it?

What does it contain?

What does Paul want to leave after him, that he feels is so important to those believers and communities who will continue to carry the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Advices. Exhortations. Even a call. That’s what Paul wants to leave.

So Paul will write about:

– The hope that is in Jesus.

– Salvation which is possible by the grace of God manifested in Christ.

– He will stress again that Jews and non-Jews are united in Jesus, both forming a single spiritual body.

– He will exhort the believers to allow Christ, his Spirit to abound in them, to have their hearts filled with the love of God.

– He will exhort all to be active in the building up of the body of Christ, i.e.: of the Church.

– Exhorting us to build the Church in love, respect and peace.

– He will exhort everyone to put to God’s service the gifts and talents that God has given to each.

– He will invite everyone to be imitators of God, to live in love and to sacrifice themselves as Christ has given himself for the benefit of others.

– He will remind each believer that in the past they were sons and daughters of darkness but that thanks to God, to Christ, to the Spirit, to the truth that comes from God, they are now citizens of light.

– He will remind spouses not to abuse each other.

– He will remind children to have respect for their parents and obey them.

– He will remind parents not to irritate their children but to raise them in Christ.

– He will remind employees to respect their superiors and employers to treat their employees with respect.

Then Paul will end his letter with what will be the great call, the great exhortation that he wishes to leave the believers with:  “Be strong in the Lord…  put on the whole armor of God… pray always in the Spirit”

A discussion on the text:

I would like to look at this last and important exhortation. There is something grandiose for us if we want to open our eyes and take a closer look at this text.

Eph 6:10 “Brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might”

This text is interesting because Paul uses 3 synonyms for the word power as we find them in this translation (New King James).  The first word is most interesting: be strong.

In fact, Paul uses a verb, an imperative, which in Greek says “endunamousté”. It probably doesn’t help you much and it’s normal!  But there is a beautiful thing hidden in this word, in this verb, in this imperative. For we find there the Greek word “dunamis”.  This word, in english, will give us nouns such as “dynamo” and also “Dynamite”

What Paul says to the believers, what he tells me, what he tells you is : “Be dynamite in the Lord!”  Notice that he does not say that the Lord is going to be dynamite in you. He says YOU are to be dynamite in the Lord!

But how?  How can I be dynamite, I who is such a weak creature?  The rest of the sentence tells us: in the power of his might”

Be dynamite in the Lord, and in the power of his might”

The three greek words found here are Dunamis, Kratos, Iskuos – they cary the idea of power, force, might, or capability.  It is in the might of the power of God that I, weak as I am, can be dynamite.  Two important thoughts come to mind here:

1- Is the believer always aware that he/she can be such a power?

2- (Eph. 1:20) The sacrifice of Christ, his victory on the cross, my faith in him – are the sources of my dynamite power.

Eph 6:11 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles (maneuvers, the schemings) of the devil”

The text says: “Wear the “ panoply ”of God i.e.: the complete armor of God” The greek word “panoplia” means the complete panoply.  The panoplia will be efficient if it is complete, If I wear only part of it, it’s useless!

Then the text goes on saying: “Wear it, so that you may be able to…”

So there’s a reason why I’m invited to put on the whole armor, the panoplia.  This reason is linked with the “dynamite” power that I am called to be.  Paul will say that it is to “stand against, to resist, to hold fast” and he will use a verb derived from the word dynamite to speak of this call to resist: “dunasthai”.  I am called to put on the armor of God to be dynamite, to exercise dynamite power – to resist “powerfully”.

But resist to what?  … the maneuvers, the wiles, the schemings of the devil”  Here Paul uses the word “methods, schemings” of the devil to speak of the action against which I am to resist.

Put on the whole armor of God to resist the methods/schemings of the devil.”

What are his methods Mr. the devil?  What is its mode of operation “par excellence”?  It is deceit, cunning, lying, manipulation, dissimulation, temptation. Every kind of falsehood.

Eph 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

We are at the heart of a great battle, whether we like it or not.  A battle that is here in our world but which originates in the world of beings who are not made of flesh and blood. This is the Great Controversy. If you have not read that book from Ellen G. White, I strongly encourage you to do so. (Read it online here)

These beings have strength, they have a certain power.  But the good news is that they do not have the dynamite power!  The apostle Paul makes use of a different word in his text to speak of the power of the evil spirits: we are dynamite in the Lord but they, the evil spirits, have only strength/force (greek : kratos).  They, the evil angels, do not have the ability to be more powerful than someone who is dynamite in the Lord! They can attack you but they cannot overcome you if you are wholly, totally in Jesus-Christ!  

When the disciples went two by two to evangelize and heal people in the towns and villages while Jesus waited for their return, they said that even the demons were subject to them!  There is dynamite in the Lord and in the power of his might!  But… we must put on the whole armor of God.

Eph 6:13 “Therefore take the “panoply” of God, that ye may be able to resist by showing the power of dynamite in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

Question: What evil day?

Is not the evil day the day when the evil one comes to attack you?  Is not the evil day the one in which he aims at you, where he exerts his strength against you?  When he sends you:

– doubt

– despair

– some strong temptation

– adversity in your ministry

– time unwisely spent for entertainment with whatever the evil one offers you to do

– people who, by their words, cause you harm or pain

– a desire not to be in communion with your brothers and sisters

– a desire to end it all…

Question: Having done all, yes but what?

Put on the different parts of God’s armor.  What for? To resist, to stand firm, not to leave to Satan any advantage over you, for you are not ignorant of his cunning designs. (2Co 2.11).  Standing victorious after having resisted the schemings of Satan for he wants you to leave God, leave the faith, leave the truth, leave your savior, leave Jesus.

Eph 6:14 “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness”

The breastplate of righteousness is what protects the vital organs, including the heart.  Our heart, the seat of our emotions, our love for God and for our neighbor are what the evil one aims at.  How would Satan love to make us insensitive and independent.  How would he love to make us bitter and quarrelsome.  How would he love to kindle a fire in us that would devour us, a fire of hatred and violence.

Then there is the belt of truth.  It is the belt that keeps all the armor in place.  The breastplate of righteousness can not remain in its place without the belt of truth.  Truth guarantees righteousness.  Without the truth, any attempt to fight against the stratagems, the methods, the schemings of the devil will be in vain.

We can not be dynamite in the Lord if we do not put on the belt of the armor : God’s truth. Answering Satan with a loud and mighty “No Satan, for in God’s Word It is written…”!

Eph 6:15 “and having shod your feet with the “sandals”, the zeal of the gospel of peace”

It is not the zeal for peace.  It is a zeal for the gospel – the good news of God who makes peace with humanity, who forgives their sins to all humans.  It is the peace made between God and man by the sacrifice of Jesus.

How many Christians stand up as valiant soldiers and go to war to defend their ideology, their beliefs, their very personal vision of things?  And it is often against the Church itself that they do so.  It is not this zeal that Paul calls us to show. But a zeal for the spreading out of the gospel of God making peace with humankind: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son…” (Jn 3.16)

Please note, and this is paramount for any christian : part of the armor to resist Satan is to be personally engaged in spreading the Gospel! You cannot be dynamite in Christ if you refuse to get personally involved in spreading the Gospel of God, in giving your personal testimony to people around you.

And that is understandable because to be in Christ means that you are with Him on the battlefield. One cannot be in Christ and not be with Christ on the battlefield, spreading the Gospel and saving perishing souls, because this is where Christ is himself.  So take courage, don’t be afraid, for in Christ you are Dynamite – don’t be afraid of what men can do to you.

Eph 6:16 “above all take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one”

Above all. Why?  A shield to stop and quench the fiery darts or arrows thrown at us by the devil. How does it work?  Well, they are arrows, flaming arrows. So they burn!  Why is it that faith can serve us as a stoping gate, a shield against these arrows? It is because the shield in question is large enough to hide myself completely behind it!  Faith is a refuge, a safe place.

The assurance that God exists, that he is with me every day, that he loves me, that he wants only good for me, that he protects me.  The conviction also that the Evil One does not want me any good, and that he may be strong but never mightier than my God and Savior.  The certainty that because I am in the Lord I am strong, made dynamite by the blood of Jesus and by his victory on the cross.  That is why faith is for me a refuge that can stop all the devil’s attempts and all the destructive fiery arrows he wants to throw at me.  

This same faith, this same shield, when we use it in the community, can protect us all in our march, our zealous march for the Gospel and the battle against the Evil One.  When one of us feels weaker, he can come in the center of the group and another takes his place on the outskirts, holding the shield of faith, helping to quench the attacks of the devil against the group.

There is power and protection within the group.  Do not stay alone exposing yourself to the attacks of the Evil One. Remain within the group, being part of it.  Do not leave your assembly. By your active presence in the group, you are building up the body of Christ.

Eph 6:17 “Take also the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God”

The helmet of salvation. Why a helmet?  What do we find under the helmet?  We find a head.  The head is where we have the eyes, the ears, the center of thought, logic and learning, and it is also through the mind, through our spirit, that God communicates with us by his Spirit.

In order to be in true communion with God, one must have experienced salvation.  To understand the Word of God, to accept it, to hear it, to live it, we must be connected with the Spirit of God.  The helmet of salvation protects the center of our spiritual communion.

Then there is the sword of the spirit, the Word of God.  Why does Paul speak of the sword as the Word of God?  With what did Jesus defend himself, when tempted by the devil in the desert?  Jesus did it by a loud and clear: “ It is written… ”

Is it important for a believer to know the Word of God?  Is it important to know God’s promises to us?  Is it important to be knowledgeable about the important teachings that can shed light on the methods/schemings of Satan?  Yes, it is of paramount importance.

You know, a sword is not a long-range missile that can cross the sky and fall on a distant continent.  A sword is not a cannon shell that can be fired at a target several kilometers away.  A sword is not a rifle bullet that can reach a person without him even seeing or hearing the shot.  A sword is a weapon that can only be used in close combat.  A sword is used only when the being in front of us can be clearly identified as an adversary.  It is therefore essential to be able to unmask the devil and his schemings to be able to use the Word to answer against his lies.

Notice that our enemy is not a human being.  It is not against flesh and blood, against a believer, that we are called to use the Word as a weapon.  Neither against a believer nor an unbeliever.  At no time should the Word serve as a weapon against a human being.  It is against the cunning lies of Satan that the Word of God comes as a help for us.

So here we have the whole armor of God of which Paul speaks.  Let us understand that it is not our armor, it is God’s panoplia:

– Is salvation coming from you? Therefore it’s not your helmet.

– Is the Word from you? Therefore it’s not your sword.

– Is zeal for the gospel coming from you or is it the Spirit of the Lord that puts it in your heart? Therefore these are not your shoes.

– Is righteousness coming from you? Therefore it’s not your breastplate.

– Does the truth come from you? Therefore it’s not your belt.

It all comes from God. And he makes it available to us. So let us not refuse to wear it, the whole of it.  Have you noticed also that of all the parts of the armor, there are only two items that have an offensive function?  What are these two items?

Of course there is the sword.  The other piece of equipment that is used as an offensive item are the shoes, the sandals.  It would never come to our mind to use our sandals to stop the fiery blows of the enemy!  But the sandals are the very items which help us to march against the enemy.  It is these sandals which are our zeal for bringing the good news of salvation and thus saving souls from the enemy to bring them to Jesus.  Our sandals are a weapon in our battle against the Evil One.

The armor of God. It is indispensable. It is useful to us:

– When Satan presents for truth what in reality is falsehood;

– When Satan wants us to doubt the love of God for us;

– When Satan wants us to fall in temptation;

– When Satan wants to bar the way while we are zealously active for Christ;

– When Satan wants to use us to harm our brothers and sisters;

– When Satan wants to submerge us with work, distractions, troubles of all kinds;

– When Satan wants to play with our health and our emotions to weaken us.

But the armor does not do everything.  In order to be dynamite in the Lord, we must also pray: Eph 6:18 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…”.  It is on this note that the apostle Paul finishes his letter to the believers of whom we are.

Conclusion:

We are in the year 2017 AD.

The empire of the Evil One always extends more and more in this world. Peace and security are his watchwords. Yet war and strife is what we see.  The letter to the Ephesians becomes the letter to “Miramichi”  Paul’s final call is for us today.

An inspired author once wrote this: “I call the Church to wake up.  We must put on all the armor of God.  We have an everyday struggle, for our work is similar to that of John the Baptist – announcing the return of Jesus.  Do not wait until you can see what comes ahead of us before you move forward.  The work at this end of time needs people who are solid, firm and who will not let themselves be dominated by doubt, discouragement, by the Evil One, but will put themselves under the protection of God, for the battle rages.  God wants and can unite his divine nature to our human nature and lead us to the final victory.

Being a Christian is not a fun adventure.  The adversary is constantly at work.  Do not look at yourself but at Christ. Where there is power.  Do not look at our apparent weakness – strength is in Christ.  At all times, in every thing, in every circumstance, you must rely on Christ by faith.

So I say : let’s put on the whole armor of God.  Let us pray in all circumstances.  Let’s put on our sandals and walk against the enemy – saving souls from the depths of darkness.  Let us not have any fear, for we are dynamite in Christ.

Amen.

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