Sunday Sermon: ‘Spiritual Warfare – Be Prepared!’

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(audio version)

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

We are studying about fighting spiritual warfare. Sometimes people believe that when they become a Christian, all of their problems are over. The truth is – that’s when many of your problems begin. The moment we become a child of God, we become an enemy to Satan. Yet that does not mean that we have to live a defeated life.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

I. The Christian Soldier

A. The Christian Solider

The Bible uses many metaphors to describe a Christian. We are called: sheep; salt and light; branches; athletes and farmers. We are also called – soldiers.

B. Paul and the Christian Soldier

Of the many metaphors used to describe Christians, Paul seemed to favor most the athlete and the soldier. Notice how Paul used them in describing himself.

2 Tim 4:7  ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith’

Paul also used them to encourage young Timothy –

1 Tim 6:12 ‘Fight the good fight of faith …’

The word ‘fight’ means to agonize. It was often used of athletes and soldiers who were straining and giving their best in order to win!

2 Timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

1. Paul’s own spiritual battle

It’s always helpful to try to determine the author’s mindset whenever you read a portion of scripture. In other words, what was the primary thought on their mind? I believe that Paul reveals this beginning in vs. 18

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

What was the primary thought in Paul’s mind? In what way was Paul fearful that Satan might attack him and get an advantage? It seems to me that Paul was fearful that somehow the devil might put fear in Paul’s heart and thus cause him to not be bold for Christ. Paul was fearful that Satan might tempt him to be silent.

Satan cannot take away our salvation, but he can cause us to become ineffective as a believer. Of the many ways he can attack us, he can:

a) Scare us with his threats

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

b) Steal from us our Christian joy

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…

c) Silence us in our Christian effectiveness

Ephesians 6:19 Pray for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Yet as a good soldier, the apostle Paul was never in retreat; he was always striving for victory! Therefore he wrote –

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Take up the whole armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of Satan and thus not be silent.

2. Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus

My approach to the believer’s spiritual armor may be a bit different than what many of you are  used to. Yet I know that I’m not totally alone in this way of thinking. Many years ago a man by the name of George Duffield, Jr., wrote a hymn entitled – ‘Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus.’ Consider one of the verses –

Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus
(George Duffield, Jr. 1858)

Stand up, stand up for Jesus!
Stand in His strength alone,
The arm of flesh will fail you,
ye dare not trust your own;
Put on the gospel armor,
each piece put on with prayer,
Where calls the voice of duty,
be never wanting there..

I like that phrase – ‘the Gospel Armor.’ I believe that’s what Paul is referring to here. Paul wanted to be bold for the Lord and he wanted those reading his letter to be so as well.

II. ‘The Gospel Armor’

We do not have a lot of time today to devote to each piece of this armor. Perhaps at a later point we will come back to this portion of scripture and study each piece individually. Today I want to share with you how I believe each piece of this Gospel Armor can equip us to be a solider for the Lord.

Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

A. Belt of Truth

Paul built this spiritual armor around the various elements worn by a Roman solider. Interestingly enough, the first article Paul mentions is a  Belt of Truth

Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth,

As the Roman solider began to put on his armor, one of the first things he did was to strap a leather built around his waist. What was the purpose of this belt? Because this belt was narrow and made of leather, it had very little protective value; therefore I believe that it was as much a part of his offensive strategy as defensive.

Most Bible teachers agree that this belt served at least three purposes:

1.Perhaps for Strength

The loin or midsection is the seat of someone’s power. If you hurt your back, chances are they are going to talk with you about strengthening your midsection. A weightlifter puts a wide leather belt around his waist to help support his midsection and increase his strength. Those who have to lift heavy objects often strap a wide belt around their waist for strength. The belt around the soldier’s waist may have given him some sense of strength and confidence.

2.Perhaps for Security

From what I have read, the soldier’s belt help to hold many of the other pieces of armament in place. Some suggest that the breastplate was attached to it in order to secure it in its proper place. Isn’t it amazing that truth helps hold righteousness in its proper place.

3. Perhaps for Steadfastness

A common custom during those days was for a soldier, or a common ordinary worker, to tuck their long-flowing garment up in their belt whenever they were doing hard work or trying to move quickly. Yet the Roman soldier’s tunic was no more than mid-thigh length, it is doubtful that he used the belt for this purpose. Why then did he wear a belt?

From what I can gather, the belt was something that belonged to each individual solider and could vary somewhat in appearance. It was probably more for decorative purposes than defensive. In a sense, when the soldier strapped on this belt, he was making a statement that he was ready for battle. It was a statement revealing his attitude.

Four times in this passage Paul tells us to stand. Stand against the attacks of Satan. Peter and James speak of resisting the devil, which is an intensified version of this same word.

Paul tells the believer –

Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth…

Scripture teaches us that Satan is a liar and he deals in falsehoods and deception. Therefore Paul tells us to strengthen and secure ourselves with truth.

The Bible teaches us that God is truth, therefore everything He says and does is truth. Jesus said, – ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’  (Jn 14:6) Our Lord also said, ‘And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ (Jn 8:32) When Satan attacked Jesus, he attacked him with lies and half-truths. Jesus resisted him – TRUTH   “It is written…”

B. Breastplate of Righteousness

Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

The Roman breastplate was fashioned out of hard leather, bronze or iron. It had a corresponding part that also covered the back. It was held in place with the belt.

Paul tells us that the Christian breastplate is the breastplate of righteousness. What is righteousness? Righteousness is a condition that is acceptable to God. How can someone who is sinful be made right with God? Consider what we read in 2 Corinthians –

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Our righteousness is Christ’s righteousness. Jesus took our sins on Himself when He died on the cross and He gives back to us His righteousness. Here’s a great passage from the book of Isaiah –

Isaiah 59:16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. 17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.

Christ did for us what we could never do for ourselves. When Jesus cried out from the cross – ‘It is finished’, He meant that the victory has been won! Warren Wiersbe writes in his commentary – “We do not fight for victory—we fight from victory!”

Yet we know that Satan still wants to defeat us. How can Satan defeat someone who is on the side of the Victor? Satan does so through a three step process:

1. Sin

2. Shame

3. Silence

Last week I listed a number of sins many of us are guilty of. If we know the Lord as our Savior, those sins (past, present and future) are all under the blood; yet if Satan can cause us as Christians to commit those sins again, he can defeat us through our own guilt. He can shackle us in our shame. Or another way of viewing it is that he can cause us to commit what Bill Faye calls in his study, ‘Share Jesus Without Fear’ –  the SIN OF SILENCE.

Therefore we must have something that can set us free. Consider what we read from the book of 1 John –

1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The only breastplate of righteousness that we can put on is the breastplate of Christ’s righteousness and we can only wear that breastplate confidently when we know that we are striving to walk with the Lord.

C. Gospel Shoes

Ephesians 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

One of the great advancements of the Roman army was the shoes the soldiers wore. The Jewish historian, Josephus, described them as – ‘shoes thickly studded with sharp nails.’ Many believe that the military success of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar was due primarily to their armies – ‘being well shod.’

What are the believer’s shoes? They are the ‘preparation of the gospel of peace.’ What does that mean?

Many consider this statement is the hardest to understand in this passage, yet it is the key to the rest of the passage. As George Duffield wrote –

Put on the gospel armor,
each piece put on with prayer,
Where calls the voice of duty,
be never wanting there..

Put on the gospel armor and be ready to go wherever the Lord sends you. In other words, don’t let the devil defeat you and cause you to commit the sin of silence. Determine each day in your heart that you will share the gospel whenever and wherever the Lord gives you the opportunity. Like the Roman solider who put on his feet, shoes that would carry him victoriously into battle; put on your feet the readiness to take the gospel to a lost and dying world.

D. Shield of Faith

Ephesians 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

The Roman soldier often carried a special shield that would protect him from head to foot. Many would cover this shield with leather. Just before a battle, the solider would soak his shield in water so that when the enemy shot flaming arrows at him, any arrows that hit the shield would be quenched by the special shield.

As believers, our shield is faith. We can be sure that Satan will shoot every arrow of distraction and discouragement that he can against us. And unless we are properly protected, many of these deadly arrows will hit their target and cause great trouble. John tells us –

1 John 5:4 … this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

What is faith? Faith is more than ‘I hope so’ or ‘I wish.’ Faith is I know. The root meaning of the word faith is ‘persuade’ and refers to a confidence that is so strong that it causes someone to act in a certain way.

The shield of faith is a confidence in God that is so strong that it gives us courage. Or to put it in Paul’s words – ‘Be strong in the Lord by holding up the shield of faith.’

Many years ago I was going through a great difficult time in my life and I became very discouraged. Then one day I read a verse of scripture that changed my life –

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

That day I realized that in order for me to please God, I had to faith in God that He would reward me, if I continued to diligently seek Him. I can’t tell you how many times that thought has caused me to go on.

E. Helmet of Salvation

Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation

In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Paul describes the helmet of salvation as the ‘hope of salvation’  What is the hope of salvation?

Some believe that the hope of salvation is the hope or wish that in the end, they will be saved. ‘I hope I am saved.’ But think for a moment; what kind of spiritual protection is that? What kind of protection is such uncertainty against an enemy that loves to attack us with fear and doubt? How is that like a helmet?

1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15  And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

John is talking about a confidence that gives us assurance of our salvation and that will hear and answer our prayers. That kind of hope and confidence is great protection against our lying enemy.

F. Sword of the Spirit

Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Lastly Paul speaks of the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. In many places in the Bible, the Word of God is described as a sharp sword.

The Roman solider had two kinds of swords. One was a long sword and the other was a short dagger. Whereas the long sword might be used in an open battle field, the short dagger was hung on the leather belt around his waist and was used in close, hand to hand combat.

The sword Paul speaks of here is the short dagger and it emphasizes the need of victorious believers knowing and thus being able to use their Bible. This is further emphasized by the fact that Paul uses the word ‘Rhema’ to refer to the Word of God. Rhema is described as a specific saying of God that has special application in a specific situation. In other words, in order to stand against the devil, we have to know our Bible.


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