Spiritual Warfare 3
SPIRITUAL WARFARE: PART 2: ARMOR: PART 2
In the first message, we looked at Ephesians as an orientation about the Christian life as to why spiritual warfare is essential.
We discussed three areas that provide a background for our topic: a) the city of Ephesians and its involvement in worshipping false gods; b) that Christ is exalted and we are able to have conquest over the enemy; c) the character, or nature of spiritual warfare.
In the last message, we saw that God gives us weapons in which we may obtain victory over our enemy and live a victorious Christian life.
Those weapons we looked at were:
1.) Belt of Truth: Christians need to have candor, sincerity, truthfulness.
2.) Breastplate of righteousness: Righteousness will produce spiritual fruit and draw us close to God.
3.) The Shoes Of the Preparation of the Gospel: A Christian's life must be properly protected and equipped.
Furthermore, we must speak the good news that speaks peace to a sinful heart, for the Lord Jesus made peace by the blood of His Cross.
We are to be mobile and to share this peace - Gospel with others.
Today, I want to look further at our passage in Ephesians and our offensive weapons.
Let's look at the at: the shield of faith; the helmet of salvation; and the sword of the Spirit.
Read Ephesians 6:16-17: "In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The 4th Weapon: The Shield of Faith
In the Greek of the New Testament, there are two different words for “shield.”
One is a small, circular shield, shaped more or less like a large, round flat wicker basket.
The other one (thureon) is a long rectangular shield and is taken from the word for a door because it is shaped somewhat like a door.
Usually, it was four by two and one half feet, sometimes curved on the inner side.
This is the kind of shield Paul speaks of when he says “the shield of faith.”
A properly trained Roman soldier could use that shield so that no part of his body could be reached by the missiles of the enemy.
It protected him completely.
This shield which the Christian soldier uses is faith, a present faith in the Lord Jesus for victory over sin and the hosts of the devil.
It is a faith to share the Gospel message with others.
When we go out against Satan, if we begin to cause him any trouble, you can be sure he will counterattack.
These are his flaming arrows, or "fiery darts."
The fiery darts refer to arrows tipped with tow, pitch, or such material, set on fire before they were fired.
Satan, who is not content to perish in his own destruction, but seeks to drag everyone else down with him to the utter ruin that will be his in the future eternity.
The fiery arrows represent the temptations with which he assails the saints.
Satan counter-attacks in many ways: our minds, our hearts, our bodies, or our finances … so we need to have a shield that covers us.
He will attack any area he can reach.
If he cannot attack us, he may attack those closest to us.
If you are a married man, the first thing that Satan may attack is your wife.
That is one way he can get back at you, so beware!
Therefore, you must have a shield big enough to protect everything for which God has made you responsible, including yourself, your family, and everything God has committed to you.
Illustration: Lung Can: Dream to worship Satan -- Didn't put on the shield of faith
Faith is mentioned twice in this list of the armor.
The breastplate is faith and love and the shield is the shield of faith.
Each use of “faith” must be understood slightly differently.
The breastplate is faith for our own personal righteousness, but the shield is faith for protection and provision for ourselves and all whom God has committed to us.
It is that which covers everything.
Illustration: Namli = Anamai didn't want us in village: threatened Christians & missionaries (damaged truck). God protected us & many of the people came to the Lord.
The 5th Item of Equipment: The Helmet of Salvation
When we look on conflicts on our lives, we are reminded of the words of Paul in Romans 8:37: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."
What does it mean to be more than conquerors?
It means we not only win the battle but actually come out of it with more than we had when we went into it.
In dealing with the breastplate, we saw that the breastplate protects the heart.
Now that we are looking at the helmet, we can see that it protects the head and that the head represents the mind.
In effect, we are talking about a helmet which protects our minds.
We saw previously that the battlefield on which this entire spiritual war is being fought is the mind of humanity.
Because the mind is the battlefield, it is obvious that we need to be particularly careful to protect our own minds.
Illustration: In the natural, a person wounded in the head can no longer make effective use of the rest of his equipment.
He may be a very brave and efficient soldier and have excellent equipment, but when he is wounded in the head, it becomes very difficult for him to make effective use of his ability and his equipment.
In the spiritual, this is true of many Christian workers.
Some Christian workers are dedicated, qualified men and women of God, with great ability and a real calling.
Many times, however, they allowed themselves to be wounded in the head.
By this I mean that they allowed themselves to become prey to depression or to mistrust other Christian workers.
This problem in their minds prevented them from being the kind of effective workers, missionaries, and servants of God that they could have been.
Being wounded in the head, they could not use the rest of their equipment.
Other Christians may have a tremendous personal struggle with depression for many years.
It may be like a dark gray cloud or mist that settled down over the person, shutting the person in, shut them off, and making it difficult for them to communicate with others.
It gives a person sense of hopelessness and, one might get the impression, “Others can, but you can’t. You’ll never make it. You’re going to have to give up."
The person may pray, fasted, read the Bible, etc.
Isaiah 61:3 can be helpful in a time of depression: "and provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor."
Perhaps you may feel that you have a "spirit of despair" or "heaviness."
Offer a simple prayer of faith, and trust that God will supernaturally delivered you for depression, or despair.
This doesn't always happen, but often we need to trust God and cast our burdens on Him, and He will deliver us.
When God delivers us, we need some special protection for our minds.
It is important to see that the protection for the mind is hope (salvation), but the protection for the heart is faith.
We often get these mixed up.
Biblical faith is in the heart: “With the heart, man believes unto righteousness” (Rom. 10:10).
Biblical faith is the breastplate that protects the heart.
But the protection of the mind is hope.
We need to see the connection between faith and hope.
It is stated clearly in Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
Faith is the underlying basic reality on which hope is built.
When we have valid faith, then we have valid hope.
When we do not have valid faith, we may not have valid hope either.
Hope may be mere wishful thinking.
But when we have a real foundation of faith, we can build a valid hope which is the protection of our mind.
What is hope (according to Scripture)?
Hope is a quiet, steady expectation of good based on the promises of God’s Word.
Hope is an optimistic attitude that always chooses to see the best and will not give way to depression, doubt, and self-pity.
That is the protection of the mind.
There is one sufficient basis for hope in the Word of God in Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
If we really know that everything that happens in our lives is being worked together by God for our good, then there never is a reason for pessimism.
Every situation is always a reason for optimism.
The hope of salvation -- a healthy optimism is the helmet.
While we keep it on, our minds are protected against all Satan’s subtle attacks of doubt, discouragement, self-pity, mistrust, and so on.
A number of passages in the New Testament all dealing with hope.
Let me share just a few of them. Romans 8:24a reads: "For in this hope we are saved."
What does that mean?
No hope, no salvation.
Hope is an essential part of our salvation experience.
Contrast the condition of the unsaved in Ephesians 2:12: "Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world."
Being without Christ, without hope, and without God is the condition of the lost.
It should never be the condition of the Christian.
If we have Christ, then we have hope and we have God.
Colossians 1:2 states: "To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father."
The real mystery, the secret of the gospel, is “Christ in you.”
If Christ is in you, you have hope.
If you do not have hope, it is just as if Christ is not in you.
You are not a lost soul, but I mean that you are not living in the experience of salvation.
Hope in your mind is an essential part of your salvation experience.
In Hebrews 6:17-20; there are two beautiful pictures of hope: "Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
The first picture of hope is an altar.
Under the Old Covenant, the altar was a place of protection from the avengers of blood.
When you fled to the altar, you were safe.
The write of Hebrews says that when all the pressure are against us, flee to the altar, catch hold of the horns of the altar and let nothing pull you away.
The altar is hope.
Second, hope is like an anchor that reaches our of time into eternity, into the very presence of God.
In this world, we are like a little vessel of the sea, everything around us is temporary impermanent, unreliable, changeable.
This is a big teaching in Buddhism: impermanence -- nothing is changing, all is in a state of flux.
There is nothing to give us security and stability.
If we are to have security and stability we need an anchor that reaches out of time into eternity and fastens in the Jesus Christ.
He alone is a firm foundation, and can give us hope in an impermanent world.
When we have hope, we are anchored.
Finally, in Hebrews 10:23, we read: "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."
Keep on hoping.
Do not give up hope, be an optimist -- think positively.
It is the protection of your mind.
6.) The 6th Weapon is: The Sword of the Spirit
There is one thing that distinguishes the sword from the other five items that we have examined.
The sword is the first item that is not purely defensive.
Without it, we have no way to drive off the devil.
If we put on all the other items of equipment, we may be able to prevent the devil from actually wounding us, but we cannot drive him from our presence.
The only thing in that list that can do that is the sword, which is called “the Word of God.”
The Bible compares God’s Word to a sword because God’s Word pierces and penetrates.
Hebrews 4:12 declares: "The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
God’s Word penetrates to every area of human personality.
It penetrates to the marrow, the very innermost part of the physical being.
It also penetrates and divides between soul and spirit, the innermost area of human personality.
It is sharper than any double-edged sword.
In Revelation 1:16, where John had a vision of Jesus in His glory as the Lord of the church, one of the things that he saw was a sword coming out of the mouth of Jesus.
"In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance."
That sharp double-edged sword is the Word of God coming out of the mouth of Jesus.
Since it is indicated in Scripture that Jesus Himself uses the sword of the Word of God, we would do well to study just how Jesus used it in His earthly life.
The clearest picture of this is found in Matthew 4:1-11, which describes the temptation of Jesus by Satan in the wilderness.
Every time Jesus encountered Satan personally, the only weapon He used against him was the sword of the Spirit, or the Word of God.
"1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell them stone. to become breed.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on breed alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”’ 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the tent.”’ 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and nerve him only.”’ 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him" (Matthew 4:1-11).
Some interesting notes about that passage.
First, neither Jesus nor Satan even questioned the authority of Scripture.
Isn’t that remarkable?
In particular, Jesus quoted each time from the book of Deuteronomy, the one book that has been’ singled out for attack by modern theologians and critics.
Personally, I believe Jesus and Satan were wiser than the modern theologians.
They both knew the authority of those words.
Second, the basis of every temptation against Jesus was a temptation to doubt.
Every time Satan began with the word “if,” he called something into doubt.
Third, as I have already indicated, Jesus did not vary His method of dealing with Satan, but always used the same weapon of the Word of God against him. “It is written.., “
It is significant that the devil can quote Scripture, but he misapplies it.
He quoted from Psalm 91, but Jesus quoted again from Deuteronomy.
The devil tried to use Scripture against the Son of God.
If he did it against Jesus, he might do it against you or me.
We must know Scripture thoroughly and we must know how to apply Scripture if we are going to be able to handle the devil.
We must be careful of people who misapply Scripture and try to tempt us to do the wrong thing.
Jesus did not answer the devil with theology or religious affiliation.
He did not tell which synagogue He attended or which rabbi had taught Him.
He always went straight to the Scripture. “It is written.., it is written... it is written...”
After the third thrust of that sharp double-edged sword, Satan backed off, he had had enough.
You and I are given the privilege of using the same weapon.
In Ephesians 6:17, where Paul speaks about the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, the Greek word he uses for “word” is rhema, which always primarily means a spoken word.
It is significant that the sword of the Spirit is not the Bible on the bookshelf or on the nightstand.
That does not scare the devil.
But when you take the Scripture in your mouth and quote it directly, then it becomes the sword of the Spirit.
Notice also the significance of the phrase, “the sword of the Spirit.”
This indicates cooperation between the believer and the Holy Spirit.
We must take the sword.
The Holy Spirit will not do that for us.
But when we take the sword in faith, then the Holy Spirit gives us the power and the wisdom to use it.
We are seeing that spiritual warfare is not only defensive; it also takes the offensive.
Paul is calling the soldiers of Christ to advance on enemy territory by proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
While it is used as a part of a believer’s resistance, it is also a weapon of aggression.
The Word of God and the work of the Spirit are the means by which the people of God step out in defiance of Satan and rob his domain.
They are the means by which God draws people to himself, transforming their lives and bringing them into relationship with himself.
Thus, according to Paul, the primary aggressive action the Christian is called to take in the world is to spread the gospel—the good news of salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ.
The gospel represents “God’s power to rescue people from [the devil’s] tyranny.”
The whole course of Paul’s ministry is a model of this aggressive proclamation.
The church should follow Paul’s lead.
Luke seemed to understand this point and wrote his account of Paul’s missionary outreach in a way that would inspire zeal and courage among the believers who read it.
At the same time, Luke did not minimize the amount of conflict Paul faced in his proclamational mission.
Luke interpreted much of this conflict, as described in chapter one, as powerful demonic opposition.
Yet the Christian who depends on God’s power, as Paul did, will overcome enemy hostilities, and the gospel will continue to advance, with more and more people being saved out of the dominion of darkness.
The Unprotected Area
We have now covered the six items of protective armor and equipment.
They are the 1) belt of truth, 2) the breastplate of salvation, 3) the shoes of the preparation of the gospel, 4) the shield of faith, 5) the helmet of salvation, 6) and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
If we put on and use this entire protective equipment which God has provided, we are totally protected from the crown of our head to the soles of our feet, except for one area.
The one area for which there is no protection is our back.
I believe this is very significant and has a twofold application.
First, never turn your back on the devil because if you do you are giving him an opportunity to wound you in an unprotected area.
In other words, never give up.
Never turn around and say, “I’ve had enough.
I can’t stand this. I can’t take anymore.”
That is turning your unprotected back to the devil and you can be sure he will avail himself of the opportunity to wound you.
Second, we are not always able to protect our own back.
Roman foot soldiers fought in close ranks (the Greek word for such a close rank was a phalanx).
They were trained to fight this way and to never break rank.
Every soldier knew the soldier on his right and on his left so that if he was being hard-pressed and could not protect his own back, there would be another soldier to do it for him.
I believe the same is true with us, as Christians.
We cannot go out as isolated individuals and take on the devil’s kingdom.
We must come under discipline, find our place in the body (which is the army of Christ), and know who stands on our right and who stands on our left.
We must be able to trust our fellow soldiers.
Then, when we are under pressure, we ought to know who will be there to protect our back when we cannot protect it.
Sadly, the real tragedy of our Christian experience is that the very person who protects your back sometimes wounds you.
How often we, as Christians, are wounded in the back by our fellow Christian?
That is something which never ought to happen.
Let us make up our minds to stand together, protect one another’s back, and not wound one another.
In this message, we have looked at 3 weapons in our spiritual armor:
1.) Shield of Faith:
We have seen that Satan is the source of unbelief and doubt.
“Has God indeed said?” is his favorite question (Gen. 3:1).
Faith is what overcomes every foe (1 John 5:4).
As believers use the shield of faith, the fiery darts of unbelief and doubt are kept away.
2.) Helmet of Salvation
The believer whose mind is fixed on Christ’s imminent coming will not fall into Satan’s traps.
The blessed hope must be like a helmet to protect the mind.
3.) Sword of the Spirit
These pieces of armor are for the believer’s protection; the sword of the Spirit (and prayer) are weapons for attacking Satan’s strongholds and defeating him.
The Christian must fight spiritual enemies with spiritual weapons (2 Cor. 10:4), and the Word of God is the only sword we need.
God’s sword has life and power (Heb. 4:12) and never grows dull.
Christians conquer as they understand God’s Word, memorize it, and obey it.
Tomorrow, we will look at our energy given to us for the battle, and that is prayer.
I invite you to conquer the evil in your life -- the hopeless destruction.
It isn't done in your own power, but through the resurrection power of Jesus Christ: Lord & Savior.
I invite you to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord & Savior.
It doesn't matter what your past is.
Jesus loves you & will forgive you.
He died for you on the cross, and defeated the enemy, by raising again the third day.
He can change your heart & give you new life in Him.
Won't you come to Him now?