Sunday Sermon – ‘The Victorious Christian Life’ – Righteousness – Growing in Christ Series

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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.

I. THE SPIRITUAL ATTACK UPON US

As believers we are under constant spiritual attack. There is not a day goes by our enemy is not looking for a way to invade your life and to gain a foothold.  Who is our enemy and how does he attack us?

A. Our Enemy is Satan

The name ‘Satan’ actually means someone who is an adversary or someone who opposes. We learn from Isaiah 14 that Satan was once an archangel who was created to bring God glory. But somewhere along the way this archangel named Lucifer decided that he no longer wanted to give glory; he now wanted to receive glory, and therefore he led an angelic rebellion against God. Therefore, from that first moment of his rebellion until that day when he is finally cast into a lake of fire, Satan is, has, and will be in opposition to God and all that God desires. Unfortunately we’re right in the middle of this. We learn from the life of Job, Simon Peter, David and many others found in the Bible that Satan attacks God’s people with the intent to overthrow God’s purpose. What is God’s purpose? God’s purpose is to redeem us through His Son and thus bring glory to Himself. If you are a part of God’s redeemed, you are in the direct line of fire from the enemy. How does Satan attack God’s redeemed?

B. How Satan Attacks Us

1. Satan cannot take away our salvation

Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2. Yet, Satan will oppose us in our salvation

In the great Christian classic, Pilgrim’s Progress, Satan’s attack upon the believer is described in this way. Pilgrim, as you know, is the main character who symbolizes the believer as he is making his journey towards the Celestial City. During one point of this journey it says –

“Now before he had gone far, he entered a very narrow passage … and as he went, he saw two lions in the way… The lions were chained but he saw not the chains. Then he was afraid, and thought to go back, for he thought that nothing but death was before him. But the Porter at the lodge… cried unto him said, “Is thy strength so small? Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for a trial of faith… and for discovery of those who have none. Keep in the midst of the road, and no hurt shall come unto thee.”        

The lions were chained, yet Pilgrim did not see the chains. He saw only the fierceness of their appearance and the sound of their roar and it frightened him. Yet the Porter reassured him that the lions could not hurt him as long as he kept in the midst of the road. Concerning Satan the Bible says –

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about , seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith…

Many of us have experienced Satan’s roar and it can be very intimidating. Yet the Bible says that we can resist him ‘in the faith.’ If we stay in the middle of our faith, Satan can roar but he cannot harm us.

II. THE SPIRITUAL ARMOR PROVIDED FOR US

Ephesians 6:13 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.

Through the power of God, we can resist and stand against Satan’s attacks. Paul refers to this power as our ‘Spiritual Armor.’  What is this armor?

 A. The Belt of Truth

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

We learned last time about the importance of the Belt of Truth. Jesus said that Satan is a liar. He is a deceiver who works through lies and half-truths. Therefore it is imperative that we continually reinforce our lives with God’s truth. Where do we find God’s truth? Jesus said – “Thy Word is truth.” (Jn 17:17) The power to resist Satan’s lies and schemes comes from actively studying and applying God’s Word.

B. The Breastplate of Righteousness

14 Stand therefore … and having on the breastplate of righteousness

Satan cannot take away our salvation. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Yet though Satan is not able to take away our salvation, he does have a scheme that can rob us of the joy of our salvation and render us ineffective as a believer. What is his scheme?

Many of us have at least one area in our lives where we seem to sin repeatedly. The book of Hebrews describes it as the ‘sin which so easily besets us.’ (Heb 12:1)  Though we often tell ourselves that we will never do this or be this way again, somehow Satan always finds a way to draw us back in. Then, after we have sinned, we hear a voice that says – “Look at you. I can’t believe you did that again. You are so unworthy to be called a Christian. How can you possibly pray to God? What’s the use of even trying? You might as well just give up.” Can anyone relate to that scenario? I know that I can. What is happening to us?

1. Good Guilt vs. Bad Guilt  

a. Guilt From Our Conscience

Do we really have a conscience? That Bible speaks often of our conscience. What is our conscience? Our conscience is the part of our inner man, or soul that is able to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. According to scripture, both the saved and unsaved have a conscience that has been given to them by their Creator. It is the duty of the conscience to cause us to feel guilt over sin. What’s really bad is when our conscience no longer convicts us. Paul describes it as a conscience that has been ‘seared with a hot iron’, or in other words – a conscience that has become cold and calloused.

2. Excessive Guilt From the Devil 

God gave us a conscience for the purpose of convicting us of our sin and revealing to us the need of a Savior. The devil attacks our conscience, not to bring us to Christ, but to drive us from Christ.

The Bible tells us that Satan is the ‘accuser of the brethren.’ (Rev 12:10) Satan loves to slander and accuse God’s saints. He loves to attack us. We should note that the name ‘Devil’ means someone who slanders and accuses. Scripture teaches us that Satan slanders us even when we are completely innocent. How much more must he delight in attacking the Christian who has sinned.

How can we resist such attacks? What defense do we have when Satan continues to condemn us for our sins?

14 Stand therefore … and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

In order to resist Satan’s attacks we must be protected by what scripture calls the ‘breastplate of righteousness.’

2. The Breastplate of Righteousness

a) The Breastplate of the Roman Soldier

As Paul was writing this, he had in mind the armor of a Roman soldier. A major part of that armor was a protective vest that covered the soldier’s body from his neck down to his waist. It goes without saying why this part of his armor was so important. The breastplate protected the soldier’s most vital body parts and organs.

b) The Breastplate of the Christian Soldier 

14 Stand therefore … and having on the breastplate of righteousness

What is the Breastplate of Righteousness? It is our confidence that we are right with God. ‘Righteousness’ refers to a condition that is right or acceptable with God. Such confidence is not self-confidence that is based upon self-righteousness, but Christ-confidence that is based upon Christ’s righteousness. 

C. How Do We Put On the Breastplate of Righteousness?

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

 1. By Claiming Christ’s Righteousness 

 a. How can a person become right with God?

i. Through His Own Good Works?  

Some believe that we can become righteous through our good works. Yet the Bible says in Isaiah 64:6  ‘…all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…’ Man’s righteousness is in the sight of God as a filthy rag because even the best of man’s efforts are still contaminated with sin. The Bible says – ‘There is none righteous, no, not one.’ (Rom 3:10) There is no one who is righteous in the way that God defines righteous. There is no one who is completely sinless and absolutely perfect in the sight of God. If you are trying to earn your way to heaven, I can tell you right now that you’re not going to make it. The Bible says that the human heart is ‘desperately wicked’ (Jer 17:9) and therefore it is incapable of becoming righteous on its own.

Think of the leverage Satan has against someone who is trusting in their own goodness. Every time they sin, Satan tells them that it is all over.

ii. Through the Grace of God                

The word ‘grace’ refers to God’s favor that is undeserved. Righteousness is not something that we can achieve or maintain on our own. It is ours only because of the grace of God. We read from the Bible–

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. NKJV

When Jesus died on the cross, He bore the punishment we deserve for our sins. When we by faith receive Him as our Savior, He imparts to us His righteousness. Isaiah the prophet wrote –

Isaiah 61:10 – ‘…he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness…

How can claiming Christ’s righteousness defeat the devil? The Apostle Paul wrote – “…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

Note that Paul’s confidence was not in himself, but in the One in whom he had believed in and to whom he had committed the security of his salvation. Who is that One? Consider the words of Jude –

Jude 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, [be] glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever . Amen.

One of the primary ways Satan seeks to attack us as a believers is to cause us to doubt your salvation. “Am I really saved? Have I done enough? Am I worthy?” Here’s what you need to be prepared to tell him the next time he brings up the subject – “The truth is, I’m not worthy. I’m not good enough. I am a child of God, not because I am worthy in an of myself, but because Christ died for my sins.”

2. By the Cleansing of Christ’s Righteousness 

On the night Christ was betrayed and arrested, the Bible says that He took a towel and a basin of water and began to wash His disciples’ feet. When He came to Peter, Peter tried to stop Him. Yet Jesus told Peter that unless he allowed the Lord to wash his feet, he could have no fellowship with the Savior. “Not my feet only!” Peter then responded. “But my whole body!” Then Jesus said something very important. “The one who has been bathed all over, doesn’t need another bath. He only needs to have his hands and feet washed.” What did Jesus mean? He used two different words in describing our spiritual cleansing. The first word describes a complete bath which symbolizes our salvation. The second word describes a washing of the hands and feet which symbolizes our daily cleansing necessarily for fellowship with God. (see John 13:10)

This same spiritual truth is taught in 1 John 1.

1 John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 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.

This passage does not teach that we must obtain spiritual perfection in order to have fellowship with God. Nor does this passage teach that we can live carelessly and expect to have fellowship with God. What this passage does teach us is that continuous fellowship with God comes through a continuous spiritual cleansing.

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

You’re going to sin. Vs. 8 tells us that we are only deceiving ourselves when we say that we have no sin. What do we do with our sin? Vs. 9 tells us that we must confess it God. The verb ‘confess’ is in the Active Voice, Present Tense. What does that mean? It means that ‘we – the ones who sin’ must continuously confess our sin as we sin.

Satan doesn’t want us to do that. He wants to hold us prisoner with our sin. He wants to burden us down with such shame and guilt that we are tempted to give up. Many times when we sin he tells us that there is no use in asking for forgiveness again. “You’ve already asked for forgiveness a thousand times before. What makes you think that God is going to keep forgiving you?” Yet John tells us that if we will confess our sins:

a. God Will Be Faithful to Forgive

b. We Will Cleansed From All Unrighteousness

3. By the Cultivating of Christ’s Righteousness 

Romans 6:13 (NASB) “… do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

We will not experience victory if carelessly sin. The Bible calls these ‘presumptuous sins.’ Concerning such sinning David wrote – “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.” (Ps 19:13)

In contrast, consider how Psalm 119 begins

Psalm 119:1 How happy are those whose way is blameless, who live according to the law of the Lord! 2 Happy are those who keep His decrees and seek Him with all their heart. CSB

Do you want to experience joy and victory in your spiritual walk? Then clean up your act. Don’t allow yourself to carelessly sin. Seek the Lord’s help every step of the way.

CONCLUSION

Like a lot of you, I would like to lose a few pounds. If I could just lose ten pounds I would feel so much better. Ten pounds! That’s not a whole lot. It should be simple to do. Yet I struggle with losing even ten pounds. Why do I struggle so much? Much of it has to do with my diet. I love to eat. I love the taste of food. In addition, much of it is a ‘head thing.’ For some reason I think that eating that junk food will make me feel better. It’s like going on a min-vacation.

Then reality hits. I go to put something on and suddenly I realize that cookies eaten in secret do count!

The same is true spiritually. The devil deceives us into believing that feasting on some sin doesn’t matter. But it does matter. Each and every time we give in to one of his schemes, we have to deal with the baggage. ‘I can’t believe you ate that! You are such a failure!’

It’s true physically and spiritually – WE ARE WHAT WE EAT. Maybe it’s time for a lot of us to check our diets.

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