I was preaching from the famous passage about the amour of God on Sunday. The reason Paul teaches about armour is because he wants us to be protected against Satan's weapons. Ephesians assumes that Satan is real, that he hates God and that he hates and schemes against us. The reason he does so is that the purpose of our lives is to magnify God's grace and make God famous. That attracts Satan's malevolent hatred more than anything else in the world
The worst thing I can imagine is to think I am going on a picnic when in fact I heading to a battlefield. To one you take sandwiches, to the other you take bullet proof vests and and arsenal of heavy weaponry. Lots of Christians think that signing up with Jesus and joining his church is going on a picnic, not getting shipped to the frontline of the great spiritual battlefield. They could not be more wrong.
Paul says (Eph 6:13) Put on spiritual Kevlar in order to stand on this battlefield. You won’t stand without it any more than a soldier in Afghanistan will survive without body armour. The kind of armour we have to put on really tells us about the kind of weapons that will get ranged against us:
- V14 says put on the belt of truth. One of the main weapons that is going to get used against us is lies. The Bible calls the devil the father of lies. He is going to lie to you about God. He is going to lie about how you shouldn’t be so caught up in this Christian thing and that life would be so much better if you weren’t quite so passionate about it. He is going to lie about you to others. He will besmirch your reputation when he can or turn you into a figure of fun
- It also says put on the breastplate of righteousness. The devil is going to challenge God’s grace in your life. He is going to tell you that you are a sinner and that God doesn’t really accept you. Not when you’ve done the same things over and over again. He loves it if he can make you feel guilty all the time so that you will get into a ceaseless round of conscience-religion, trying to make yourself good enough for God. The Bible says that God declares Christians perfectly righteous. The devil comes at weak moments and says “don’t you believe a bit of it”
- V15 says to put on shoes that make you ready to tell the gospel of peace with God. The devil is going to try to make you apathetic. He is going to try to take up all your discretionary time and make you fat and lethargic, so you won’t do it. He is going to make 1000 other things seem more important and attractive. He is going to feed you a diet of junk food and try to turn you into a blancmange Christian
- V16 says take up the shield of faith so you can distinguish his fiery arrows. "Great" I hear you cry! "In addition to everything else there are fiery arrows." Satan is like a sniper, he wants to shoot us from a position of invulnerability. He is going to look for your weak spots and try to hurt you there
- V17 says take the helmet of salvation. Satan is going to cast doubt on your salvation and lie about it. He will tell you it’s a fairy tale.
- V17 again: take the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. The devil is going to tell you that the Bible is a hard read, or full of nice blessed thoughts, or any one of a hundred other strategies to get you to leave your Bible closed because he knows that it is the ultimate strengthening weapon. We have a spiritual WMD that wipes the floor with Satan’s arsenal. He would much rather he can persuade us to keep it in its silo.
Let me sum up. Satan attacks the truth with lies, challenges Jesus righteousness that you stand in, wants to put unreadiness in your way to prevent you going with the gospel of peace, wants to undermine your salvation and destroy your trust in God’s word.
What are we going to do? This whole extended picture of armour says this: reckon on salvation. Deliberately bring to your mind every day this week who you are in Jesus, what the truth about God is, how overwhelmingly great his grace is. And then act on it. Act on it by getting the Bible out and trusting God’s promises to you. Act on it by being ready to share the good news. In v18 Paul adds “act on it by being alert and praying in the Spirit. That means praying with active faith into these things, knowing that the Holy Spirit is motivating, empowering and taking those prayers straight to God’s throne. Take all your requests about how to stand to the Great Commander.”
I want you to realise who stands behind opposition and apathy. It’s the one who hates God. We have seen the weapons at his disposal. Our defence is better than his attack, our weapons are better than his weapons, our victory is certain but only if we fight. I come across churches all over the country who don’t think we are in a fight for the gospel and haven’t yet decided that they are going to fight in such a way as they are going to win.