Putting on the full Armor of God
Amen and Amen
Open your Bibles with me to the book of Ephesians, and when you get there let me know by saying amen. Ephesians chapter 6.
The duties of the Shepherd are to feed the flock, to watch over the flock and to protect the flock, this sometimes means going into battle, fighting the enemy.
In the book of 1st Peter chapter 5 Peter tells the elders about shepherding God’s flock, this is what he says:
“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: (He is speaking if that day that one day every knee bow and tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord)
2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you, not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock”.
Let me tell you something about this text, this is the classic place where humanity fails.
Peter said three things, listen to this, Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly.
The job of a shepherd cannot be done under compulsion and I think that people need to be reminded of that. The Shepherd is a calling from God to the person that is willing.
Leaders of the church are not suppose to look at the phone and wonder if they should pick it up or not, they shouldn’t have the question, ohhh what do they want now, what problem do they have now? That is under compulsion.
There must be willing to love, listen, help and lead all of God’s people. Now Sometimes Church, Sometimes that doesn’t come in the form of what others want to hear, but leading is not giving people what they want all the time when they want it.
Second we are to shepherd Gods flock eagerly;
Do you know what eager means?
It means you are very excited and interested in shepherding God’s flock: it is feeling of a strong and impatient desire for God and His and his people.
It is marked by an enthusiastic or an impatient desire. It is a desire that cannot be blown out like a flame on candle. It is a desire to see others healed, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
So leaders are supposed to be eager to lead the church.
Then third we are to be examples of the flock. Not just when the robes are put on. Not just when we are in front of the crowd. Not just while we are in the ministry, not just while we are around the flock, but in every aspect of our life.
I thought about that and how the elders of the church are in need of the armor of God, just as much or maybe even more as anyone else is in the church.
You know I believe this was the down fall of the complete religious system in the days when Jesus walked the earth. The priest who were selected by God to fulfill the duties given by God, who in-turn became these Pharisee’s who then began to read into what God wanted for the people and began demanding that the people follow their rules and authorities vs doing what God wanted. Once a year the priest would enter the Holy of Holies, there is the place where God dwelled, so once a year they would go and offer a blood sacrifice to God for the sins of the people. And When that fell all apart God had to send His Son Jesus to be the once and for all Blood sacrifice to get the job done. We couldn’t handle it and so therefore we can see by example that every man, every woman, every person whether a pastor, elder, deacon, ministry leader, church member, or Sunday Church goers needs to have the Armor of God. We need to have protection.
And so many of us walk around with this attitude with I am a Christian and I am going to heaven and I don’t need the protection, but that is why people fall away from the church, it how the enemy devours people, just as the enemy devoured the religious leaders and the religious system of the day in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
This brings us to our Big Idea today;
The Big Idea is we all need the protection of the Armor of God.
The need for us to put on the armor of God is not segregated to race, it is not segregated to male or female, it is segregated to the Elder or the flock. The Devil doesn’t care what color you are, what background you are from, what culture you are in, he doesn’t care if you live in the county or the city. What he cares about is the very same thing that Jesus cares about…
Did you know that?
Nobody ever tells you that.
But the fact is the devil cares about the very same thing that Jesus does.
I have had this revelation that devil wants the same thing that Jesus died on the cross for.
Do you know what that is?
The devil cares about the same piece of real estate in us as the King of Kings does, as the Savior of the World does.
That folks is our hearts.
Did you know that, if he can damage our hearts against the Lord and make us denounce Jesus is Lord he has won. And he does it in so many ways. People stop going to church because someone made them mad, they stop going to bible studies, or refuse to go to bible studies, he uses TV, bad words, the potty mouth, there is a song called Slow Fade by casting crowns the lyrics say be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little feet where you go, it’s a slow fade when you give yourself away.
That is what happened to the religious leaders, the Pharisee, they denounced God standing before them.
The bible says
“if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified”
The Devil wants your heart.
We need that protection, remember last week I Said that only 2 of the pieces of armor are for offense and the rest are used for defense. Can you see why?
Lets read from Ephesians Chapter 6, beginning with verse 10.
10” Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Remember we said we are fighting a spiritual fight, and the Apostle Paul recognizes this and tells the church in Ephesis, to be strong in the Lord, Why… Because if we are weak in our faith we become easy targets, without daily preparation for those battles that are going to happen, without Christ, the devil is out strolling around looking for one to devour.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. By what Paul is saying is by nature if we only put on pieces of the armor of God we will not be able to withstand the schemes of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh (I just had a conversation with someone who told me that he was wrestling with his flesh in this desire that he has, but we see that is not true) 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (listen to me, The Armor of God gives us strength to withstand the day and to stand firm in our faith of Jesus Christ)14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”
Listen to me, we cannot win the battle if we are not prepared for the fight.
Here is a picture of a typical Roman Soldier. We know that Paul was in Prison when he wrote these words in Ephesians and it is obvious that he was using the visual of the soldiers for the people to understand. Paul may have been chained to or had Soldiers standing guard outside of his prison cell as he wrote about putting on the full Amor of God.
Last week we began investigating what the Armor is that Paul tells us about with the the belt of truth.
The NIV version of the Bible tells us: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist”.
It just doesn’t say that we are to have the belt of truth in our arsenal. We are to use it as part of our Armor. You would never see a Roman Soldier without his belt, it was essential in battle. Just as with the Roman soldier, the Belt of Truth buckled around our waist is essential. We said A Christian who is ready to do battle must fix in place his commitment to know, believe and live the truth.
Jesus is the truth, in John 14:6 He said “I am the truth and the life, No one comes to the Father except through me”
Jesus embodies the truth and we have the truth within us when He dwells in us, when God the Holy Spirit is in us. When Christ lives within us nothing including the “powers” of darkness can separate us from His Love. Secondly, We can’t consistently win spiritual battles if we don’t know God’s Word.
By knowing God’s Word helps us live out truthful lives, wearing the “belt of truth” means living out a life of honesty and integrity.
We cannot win the battle if we are not prepared for the fight.
The Second piece of armor is The Breastplate
Look at verse 14 again Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.
The breastplate of a Roman soldier covers his upper body, it is a coat of armor made of bronze, or iron or chain mail covering front and the back to protect the heart and other vital organs. It offers protection against the enemy’s darts and spears. Which are trying to attack our hearts.
Remember I said that the enemy wants our hearts.
Paul used it figuratively referring to righteousness, faith and Love, the breast plate of righteousness helps protect our hearts from the enemies attack.
This is a two-fold application because first Jesus is our righteousness
2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”.
On one hand we are protected because God has given us His righteousness. This righteousness is a gift from God based on what Christ did for us on the cross.
Paul describes it this way in Philippians 3:8-9
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith”
The enemy wants our hearts and the breastplate protects our righteousness.
Second, we must live out a righteous life. what I mean is that the work of God must be evidenced by our daily righteousness living. Did you hear me say “daily living”? We don’t earn favor or points by our good works, but our good works do show that God is working on our lives.
Listen to what James the brother of Jesus says in James 2:14-18,, he says
14What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good] is that? 17So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
These verses can be misleading if you don’t grasp the entirety of the verses. Verse 17 is where most people stop 17So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Which people can assume that works can save you , but it is not until you reach the end of verse 18 James says “I will show you my faith by my works” another words it is because of my faith, what I believe in, what I live for, what I love is why I do these things.
James main point here is that the only evidence of true faith is through your works, the things that you do.
To put it simply, the person who is wearing the breastplate of righteousness will do what is right by God’s standards.
By Daily putting on the breastplate of Righteousness means;
Confessing your wrongs and accepting God’s forgiveness
Turning away from your wrong
Turning to good
Living a life worthy of your calling that you have received from God
Thanking God everyday for the righteousness He has given you.
The breastplate of righteousness: we are protected because God has given us His righteousness and second, we must live out through a righteous life.
Next we must have the right shoes!
Taking a look back at our main verses in Ephesians chapter 6 verse 14- 15
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.
And, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
Have you ever had a pair of shoes that just did not fit right? maybe they were to big, they would slip cause blisters, and it is hard to keep them on, if they were to small they will make you feet hurt when walking in them, crunching up your toes, or maybe they just weren’t wide enough and your whole foot when you walk seems to hurt. And isn’t true that when your feet seem to hurt it affects your whole body?
When Paul described the Armor that we wear for spiritual battles he also recognizes that importance of proper shoes. Some scholars debate the meaning of this piece of Armor but, the importance is found in standing firm in the peace of God remains clear.
When we face battles it is clear that standing firm requires the right foot wear.
I like bowling I have been on bowling leagues. Have you ever tried to bowl in your regular shoes? It is not impossible, but you won’t slide, as a matter of fact if you don’t have the specially made bowling shoes you won’t slide during your approach to throw the ball, you will fall flat on your face.
The question is: are your feet fitted with the right shoes to stand firm in?
The Roman soldier usually wore strong boots with heavy soles for protection and studded nails for traction. Particularly because the soldier fought in hand to hand combat, his footing had to be sure. A soldier who lost his footing would be vulnerable to the enemy. A belt and breastplate would not help much if the soldier slipped and fell to the ground.
Our text tell us more than once to stand
Verse 11 says, take your stand
Verse 13 says, to stand your ground
Verse 14 says, to stand firm
We are to stand to hold the position. Paul was telling the believers to prepare for battle and then hold your ground, don’t let the enemy take one inch of the territory in your life.
A firm footing is what is required to stand your ground.
Look at verse 15 again, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
It may seem out of place with this reference of the gospel of peace, after all our text is a call to war. So how does the gospel of peace fit into the battle strategy?
The Gospel itself is the story of Peace. As unbelievers, we were spiritually dead in our sins, Ephesians chapter 2 verse 1-2 tell us that And you were dead in the trespasses and sins) in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following) the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—
I don’t know about you but I had no hope! I had no piece! But God by His grace I was saved through faith. Jesus becomes our peace and reconciled us to God the Father through His death. Reconciliation is the bringing together of two parties that are in dispute with each other. Jesus is the one who brings together God and man with salvation as the result of the union.
For non-believers whose minds have been blinded, Jesus offers that reconciliation. The truth of His reconciliation is the incredible good news.
Secondly, peace does not always indicate the absence of external conflict.
David the shepherd faced a very real enemy in Goliath; you all know the story right? But David had confidence in his God to overcome the giant.
The external conflict was real, but so was David’s inner peace. “the Lord who delivered me from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this philistine (1 Sam 17:37)..
Paul speaks of the gospel peace even as he calls us to war.
Third God gives us peace in the midst of the battle.
Jesus promised his disciple that He would give them peace, but he also told them that His peace was not like the peace that the world gives. (John 14:27).It is not a treaty or a cease fire. In Fact He offered them peace, He encouraged them not to be troubled and afraid, and he knew that they would face battles, but He also knew they could experience inner peace even when spiritual warfare is going on all around them.
Somehow God grants us peace that the world cannot understand.
Fourth we should be fitted with our Gospel shoes on and be ready to share our peace.
The image of readiness in this passage refers to or implies to preparedness, to be ready to do something or to take action as we stand our ground. We should be ready at any moment to share the good news of Christ. Including these times when we are in a spiritual battle.
Think about for a moment what better witness could you find than a person who has trusted the Lord and who proclaims the good news of Christ even when in a spiritual conflict?
It sure is easier to follow God when everything is going right isn’t it? When all is well with our life we can proclaim His good news to everyone,,, “God is Good all the time”: right? But people who trust God in the middle of spiritual battles often offer powerful testimonies of God’s love.
Listen to me::: A heart at peace with God both stands firm and moves forward, trusting God and proclaiming Him.
God expects us to be obedient at all times, being obedient weakens the devils influence; I did not say takes away, but weakens his influence on us. The worst choice we can make is to be disobedient to God when we are under a spiritual attack.
The Gospel Shoes:
The Gospel itself is the story of Peace
peace does not always indicate the absence of external conflict.
God gives us peace in the midst of the battle
We should be fitted with our Gospel shoes on to stand firm and be ready to share our peace.