One of the things I have appreciated about living here in Angleton is the cooperation between the local police and the pastors of the town. We have regular lunches with the police and first responders and talk about various issues going on here. It’s just healthy for our community. One thing I was glad to see at a recent meeting, was that the chief said that some of the officers had just received some new body armor — and he had one of the officers stand up and show us that he had it on.
It’s good to see that our police have that armor. They need it. They put their lives on the line for us every day — and we need to be praying God’s protection for them — as well as provide whatever physical armor we can for protection.
The Bible also says that every Christian has a kind of “armor” available to us — not the kind of amor you can “see,” like that police officer had on — but a “spiritual armor” that we need even more than physical armor, to fight the spiritual battles we face every day. Let’s look at what Ephesians 6 tells us about Our Spiritual Armor.
I. The Need For Your Spiritual Armor
He says in :11, “Put on the full armor of God, SO THAT” — whenever you see “so that,” that’s a “purpose clause”; He’s telling you the REASON for it — “SO THAT you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” God says the reason you need to put on your spiritual armor is that you have an enemy who is fighting against you.
Verse12 then elaborates on that: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. THEREFORE take up the full armor of God …”. He says THIS is why you need to take up the armor of God: because you are fighting an unseen spiritual enemy who is coming against you every day, and you are foolish if you do not arm yourself against him.
Last week I mentioned the author Ernest Hemingway, the “macho man” of the mid-1900’s, who gloried in his ruggedness and physical ability but who despaired and ended his life when his body began to deteriorate. In one of Hemingway’s books he writes about fishing with a pair of Cubans. One of them was showing the other a trick about how to catch a fish in the sea. The second man said, Oh, it’s a trick! “Everything is a trick. Life is a difficult trick to learn.” The first man said: “No, señor, life is a combat.”
That statement struck me when I read it. “Life is a combat.” That realization is something, I fear, that many of us are missing. We don’t think of life as COMBAT. We think life should be like coasting on a lazy river down a slow, gentle stream, and we get shocked and all bent out of shape whenever it’s not. We think, “Why has this happened?” What disturbed my “lazy river”? But we have to understand: life is not a lazy river! “Life is a combat.” The Bible says there are real, spiritual forces in this world, led by the devil, and his demons, who are out to oppose you, who want to see that you go to hell, and failing at that, want to make you as defeated and miserable and as useless to God and His kingdom as they can make you. And they will lie, and deceive, and do whatever they can to achieve their evil ends and hinder you.
But the problem is, most of us don’t think that way about life. We just wanna “coast down the lazy river.” Well, that would be nice. But unfortunately that is not reality. Life is NOT a “lazy river.” “Life is a combat.” And if we don’t realize we’re in a combat, we won’t prepare for it; and we won’t fight the battles — and if you don’t prepare for it, and don’t fight — and in many cases if you don’t even realize you even HAVE a spiritual enemy, you are going to LOSE that battle!
We’re foolish if we live like that. The Bible is very clear. It teaches us that there is a real devil, and there are real demons and other spiritual forces who are opposing us. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Our lives as Christians are lived in daily combat against these real, unseen, spiritual forces. That’s why we NEED the spiritual armor!
So what IS the spiritual armor? We could take a week or more on each piece of it, but let’s just do a quick overview:
II. The Composition of Your Spiritual Armor
“Having girded your loins with truth”
This phrase, “girded your loins” is not familiar to most of us today, but it was a common expression in Bible times. They typically wore long, flowing robes in the Middle East — as many there still do today — so if you wanted to run or do something active, before you set out you’d take the ends of your robe and “tuck them in” to your belt, to keep you from tripping over them. That’s “girding up your loins.” It meant you were getting ready for something. They’d say: “gird up your loins and let’s go!”
So it’s significant that God says here: “Having girded your loins with truth.” In other words, get yourself ready with the truth. The devil’s warfare is to lie to us. He’s deceived the whole world with his lies; so you need to be ready to do battle with him, by knowing what the truth is. So God says: “gird up your loins;” “get yourself ready” with the truth of His word.
— We ourselves need to be ready with the truth.
— We need to make sure our students are ready with the truth.
— Even our youngest children these days have to be ready with the truth.
One of our grandchildren has already had several such experiences, even as a younger elementary student. She had been a fan of JoJo Siwa, who then “came out” as a lesbian, and our grand daughter and some other kids at school were talking about it. She said it wasn’t right for girls to like other girls in that way, but the others were saying it was ok. Evidently things got pretty heated, and the teacher had to step in, and she didn’t necessarily take a side, but she did say, well it is legal these days.
That same grand daughter brought home a picture book this year from the public school library that was about families. The book talked about “what families look like” — and they had two mom and two dad families. This is what our KIDS are up against! How do you combat that? You combat lies with the truth. We’ve got to make sure that our kids, our youth, and that we ourselves are prepared with God’s truth!
— The world will tell us the lie that you can choose your gender. We need to be ready with God’s truth that in the beginning “He made them male and female” as Genesis says. GOD chooses our gender, not us!
— The world will feed us the lie that it’s “my body, my choice” to end a baby’s life or not. God’s word gives us the truth: “You knit me together in my mother’s womb; I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
— The world says if you want the truth, then “Just follow your heart;” but in Jeremiah 17:9 God says NO, the truth is: “the heart is deceitful above all things.” The truth is, you can’t trust your own heart; you’ll lie to yourself — and some of us are really good at it! We need to put our trust in something greater and more objective than our own heart: we need to trust the truth of God’s word.
But the thing is, you won’t just “automatically” be girded with the truth of God’s word. You’ve got to read it — which is why we’re emphasizing that this year; you’ve got to study it; and memorize it; and apply it to yourself and to the issues of our society. You’ve got to purposefully “gird” yourself and your family with God’s truth. That takes ACTION; it takes PREPARING. Make sure both you and your family are “girded” with the truth of God’s word.
“Having put on the breastplate of righteousness”
The “breastplate” is the piece of armor that covers your chest, and so many vital organs. But the Christian’s “breastplate,” God says, is “righteousness.” “Righteousness” is being “right” with God. See, the devil will attack us and say, “You’re not righteous: look at what you said; what you did; what you thought; what you left undone. You’re not righteous!” And that’s true (in part!) The devil knows how to use half-truths. The truth is, we HAVE all sinned, and none of us in ourselves are “right” with God.
BUT that’s not the end of the story for the Christian. This is why Jesus died on the cross. II Corinthians 5:21 says “He who knew no sin, became sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Do you see that? When we are saved, it says we become “the righteousness of GOD” in Jesus Christ. God takes our sinful, inadequate righteousness, that Isaiah says is like “filthy rags,” and He gives us Christ’s perfect righteousness. So when the enemy tries to condemn us, we can say “yes, you’re right; I’m NOT righteous on my own; BUT I have been given the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ,” just as His word says! Fight the spiritual battle against Satan with the breastplate of the righteousness God gave you in Jesus when you were saved!
C. The gospel
“Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace”
Basically this means, be ready to share the gospel. Be prepared to share the gospel when you have the opportunity. You never know when you will meet someone, and have a chance to share. So you need to be prepared.
Now why would this be part of our spiritual armor? Because people need the gospel. Satan’s whole battle plan is to try to get the people that God so loved, who He made to know Him, to stay lost, and go to hell with him forever. He wants to drag as many others there with him as he can. So a whole lot of spiritual warfare is about either sharing the gospel, or keeping people away from the gospel. So an important part of our “spiritual armor” is to be ready to share the gospel.
So what is the Gospel? We’ve talked about this before. I Cor. 15:1-3 tells us that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” That’s the gospel in a nutshell. You can share the gospel with someone in 4 simple steps:
1. God has a PLAN: for us to be with Him in heaven forever
2. Man has a NEED: our sins separate us from God
3. God made PROVISION for our need: Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins.
4. Man must RESPOND to God’s provision: repent of our sins, and trust Jesus as your Lord & Savior.
Every one of us should learn these 4 points, and be able to share them briefly with someone, in just a few moments, at any time. There should be a tract in your chair this morning; it was written by Billy Graham: “Steps To Peace With God.” If you look at it, the 4 points of this tract are very similar to the 4 points of the gospel I shared a moment ago:
Point 1: Understand God’s purpose: for us to have eternal life
Point 2: The Problem: our sin and separation from God
Point 3: God’s “Bridge”: Jesus dying on the cross
Point 4: Embrace the truth: respond to what Jesus did.
And then at the end it has a prayer a person can pray to be saved.
Take this tract with you. Read it over. Learn those 4 points, practice them, so you can share them with someone when you have the opportunity. And carry it with you; maybe God will give you a chance to share it with someone. Or maybe YOU need to pray that prayer and ask Jesus to save YOU! Or go over it with a child, grandchild, or friend.
It will take some time to be prepared to do this, but it’s important that you do. “Shod your feet” with the preparation of the gospel. Someone’s eternity may depend upon whether you are prepared to share the gospel.
D. The shield of faith
A shield is used to fight off “all the flaming missiles of the evil one” :16 says. Satan is always “hurling missiles” at us. Now, he’s not shooting physical “arrows” at us; his “arrows” are spiritual: thoughts; feelings. We’re seeing examples of this as we read the Screwtape Letters: God’s working in a man’s life as he’s reading and the demon tells him, “Isn’t it about time you had some lunch?”
The enemy is always shooting these kinds of “arrows” at us:
— “Everybody’s doing it; you’re going to miss out”
— “You’re just being old-fashioned. Nobody believes that any more.”
— “Just give in and quit that ministry; you’re not doing any good!”
Those are the kinds of “arrows” he shoots at us.
So how do we fight those “fiery missiles”? BY FAITH. Our shield is “faith,” Ephesians 6 says. When Satan shoots these “arrows” at us, believe what God’s word says instead. Faith in God’s word is our “shield.”
So again, first of all we have to KNOW what God says (this implies we have to read it/study it/memorize it/apply it)
And then we need to USE it in specific life situations:
— Satan fires the arrow: “You aren’t doing any good; just quit!” You fight that “arrow” with the shield of faith in God’s word: NO, HE says in Galatians “in due time I will reap if you do not lose heart”
— Satan fires the arrow: “You’re getting old and declining;” but you hold up the shield of faith in God’s word: NO! Psalm 95 says the righteous man “will still yield fruit in old age;”
— Satan fires the arrow: “You’re all alone and nobody cares!” Hold up the shield of faith: Psalm 23 says: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want; … FOR HE IS WITH ME!”
The enemy is always shooting these discouraging “arrows” at us; don’t give in to them. Hold up the shield of faith. It’s one of the most important pieces of spiritual armor you have.
E. The helmet of salvation
The helmet, of course, is perhaps THE most important piece of armor; you’ve got to guard your head. And what does he say is the “helmet” in our spiritual armor? It’s the helmet of “salvation.” Make sure you are saved. It is the most important piece of armor you have. You need to know that you’re covered with “the helmet of salvation.”
A few weeks ago I shared about Charles Wesley, who went from England to Georgia on a mission trip in the 1700s. But he didn’t even know for sure if he was saved. Another missionary asked him, and he didn’t know. Well, some difficulties arose in the mission, and Wesley eventually retreated back to England. He couldn’t stand in the spiritual warfare that was going on there — and one of the reasons was that he didn’t even know for sure that he was saved. He didn’t have “the helmet of salvation.”
DO YOU? Do you know for sure that you have “the helmet of salvation”? Do you know for sure that you are saved? Do you know for certain that if you were to die today, you would go to heaven? Don’t say “I HOPE so.” That’s what Charles Wesley said! He said “I hope so”! He didn’t know. God says I want you to KNOW: I John 5:13 says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.” God wants you to KNOW. And you CAN know it. Make sure that YOU have gone through those 4 steps we talked about a minute ago. Make sure it’s not just something you know in your mind, but that it’s something that’s in your HEART. Make sure of it TODAY. Don’t go another day trying to fight the spiritual battles of your life without the most important piece of spiritual armor: the helmet of salvation!
F. The sword of the Spirit: the word of God
And then he says, take up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” God’s word is our “sword.” It’s the weapon we have to fight the devil with.
It’s really been all through these pieces of “armor”:
— His word is the truth we prepare ourselves with
— His word is the gospel
— His word is what our faith is in, that quenches Satan’s fiery darts
— His word is the basis of our salvation.
— Now he says here that His word is our “sword” to fight the devil with.
That’s what Jesus did, if you look at Matthew 4. The Bible says that every time Jesus was tempted by the devil, every time He responded to him, He began it with the same three words: “It. Is. Written.”
— “it is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”
— “It is written, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
— “It is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.”
— “It is written … It is written … It is written …”. Jesus always drew out “the sword of the Spirit, the word of God,” when He was tempted. And He is the great example for us. Every time you’re tempted, in any way, draw out God’s word like a sword, and use it.
That’s why we’ve got to read it every day; that’s why we have to study it; that’s why we need to memorize it (because you can’t carry a Bible with you every second, in every place we might ever be tempted) and that’s why we have to APPLY it to our life situations. We’ve got to become “skilled swordsmen” in the word of God. It’s the weapon God gave us, to fight our spiritual battles with. And as we’ve seen, it’s part of every one of the other pieces of armor God’s given us.
III. USING Your Spiritual Armor
:18-19 close this section, talking about how we fight our spiritual battles, with the armor of God: “with all prayer and petition, PRAY at all times in the Spirit. And with this in view, be on the alert, with all perseverance, and petition for all the saints. And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.
What’s this section about? PRAYER. He says PRAY. Girded with all the armor God’s given you, your salvation, His word, faith, preparation — PRAY! That’s how you fight your spiritual battles: in prayer.
II Corinthians 10:3-4 says “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh; the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses …”. God says our weapon, the way we fight our battles, is PRAYER.
— Worldly empires fight with armies
— Political empires fight with propaganda and schemes
— Your personal enemies fight with gossip and slander
— But GOD’s people fight our battles with PRAYER.
Prayer is where God’s victories are won. That’s why Jesus was always going off to pray. That’s why He prayed all night. MY way of thinking is: “If I prayed all night, I’d be too tired to win the victory tomorrow.” Jesus’ way of thinking is: “I MUST pray all night to win the victory tomorrow!”
We need to realize that our victories are won in prayer — and our losses come when we fail to pray.
How are you going to take your kids back from the devil?
How are you going to see your spouse saved?
How are you going to beat the discouraging darts of Satan?
How will we see victories in our church or in our ministry?
It’s prayer. Not pleading. Not arguments. Not scheming or manipulating. Not “worldly power plays.” Prayer is where our victories will be won — or lost. May God help us all to realize just how true this is.
Now I know that our reading in Jeremiah this week talked about how much better God’s word is, than our dreams. And I hope you can see that this message this morning is based on the word of God; it’s not my own invention. But I do want to share a dream I had some time ago, not as the foundation of this message, but just to illustrate this point of it. Back in 2015, I had the creepiest dream. It was Friday, my day off, so after I got up and had my worship time, I went ahead and fell back asleep in my recliner. And I had a dream, that two people had killed someone in the house, and I called 911, but they wouldn’t believe me. I ran out into the community to tell people what had happened, but no one would listen to me. They were all scoffing at me, and no one would believe that there was a problem. It finally dawned on me in this dream, that one was going to do anything about this horrific crime; they were just going to get away with it!
So I started walking, perplexed and grieved, back towards my home, and as I did, I passed a woman who was wrapped up in some kind of exotic Asian robe. She was sitting in the middle of the public square, and she was chanting spells and praying in words I couldn’t understand. As I got closer to her, she looked up at me as I was about to pass by, and she smiled with an evil grin, and said: “I am praying more than you are!”
To me the message was clear: those who are evil, who are working for the enemy, are often more committed to the spiritual battle than we as God’s people are. Those who love evil may be spending more time spreading evil over our cities and our country and our friends and our children and our grandchildren than we are spending on praying God’s power over their lives. Are we willing to invest hours in prayer, because we really believe that is where the spiritual battles will be won or lost?
Now, I know that was just a dream. And as I’ve said before, we can’t “put all our eggs in the basket” of a dream — dreams can be very subjective. But I do believe that dream lines up with the word of God. His word is warning us today: “Life is a combat.” You and your family are in a spiritual battle every day. And it is time for many of us to “wake up,” spiritually, and start fighting the battle that is going on all around us. Make sure that you put your spiritual armor on every day, and fight the battles God has given you, in prayer, in prayer, in prayer.
— some of us need to ask God to help us get serious about putting on the armor
— maybe God’s spoken to you about something specific: equipping your kids, etc.
— maybe it’s that you just need to change your attitude: life is NOT a “lazy river,” life is a “combat,” and you need to prepare and act accordingly
— Maybe God’s saying to you: it’s time to “up” your prayers!
— perhaps there’s someone you need pray for their salvation; pray for an opportunity to share this tract, or share the gospel with someone
— or maybe YOU need to ask Jesus to YOUR Lord & Savior today. If so, do that right now!