Armored People of God
APoG (Armored People of God)
TEXT: Ephesians 6: 10-20
Move 1: Introduction
We are at war. You didn’t need me to tell you that. You hear it almost everyday from the President, or the news media, or from some social, political, or military leader. And there is much talk these days about developing new types of military hardware.
We have heard about new armored vehicles, tanks, half tracks, and armored personnel vehicles. And isn’t it interesting that the most popular new personal and family form of transportation is the Hummer–a larger, more agile, and more powerful form of the Jeep? It has even been suggested that we develop a new, smaller atomic bomb to destroy deep underground bunkers. Small atomic weapons? What kind of madness is that?
It may be that we are putting our confidence in the wrong kind of armor. The writer of the letter to the Ephesians writes of the most advanced and protective kind of armor–the armor God himself provides believers. Listen with me for the Word of God in Ephesians 6: 10-20:
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak." (Ephesians 6:10-20, NRSV)
Prayer for Enlightenment
Move 2: The Wrong Kind of Armor
Every craftsman knows that every tool has its function and the work goes better when you use the right tool for the right job. I wonder if we are using the right tool in our war against terrorism. For ages humanity has waged war, and every successive war has birthed new, more powerful weapons. But the Bible warns against putting our faith in the hardware of war.
For example Psalm 20 is a prayer for victory over the writer’s enemies. But verses 6-8 say this: "Now I know that the Lord will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand. Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses, but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God. They will collapse and fall, but we shall rise and stand upright." Victory does not come by way of chariots and horses, ancient hardware of war. Victory comes from heaven, from God’s right hand.
Moreover, Psalm 33 verse 17 warns us, "The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save.
If we are going to win the war on terrorism faster, stronger chariots, and more powerful bombs are not the answer. But there is an armor that can help and protect us.
Move 3: The Armor We Need
The warrior dress of the Roman soldiers was well known to the people of Ephesus in modern day Turkey. Romans with shield, and swords, and helmets patrolled their streets and occupied garrisons in their city on the edge of the Roman empire. So the writer of the letter to the Ephesians used the familiar battle gear of the Roman army as a metaphor for the battle gear supplied by God to the faithful.
The Ephesians were called to dress in the armor God provides the faithful. The faithful must put on the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. We must walk in the shoes of the gospel of peace and carry the shield of faith. Our helmet is the salvation we receive in Christ. But the greatest implement of spiritual warfare is the sword of God Spirit–the Word of God.
Move 4: The Real War
The way of the world is to trust in bigger and better machines of war and implements of destruction, bombs so big that our potential enemies will be afraid to cross any line in the sand we choose to draw. But the real war that has raged throughout the ages is not a war between one person and another or between one king and another. It’s not even a war between one religion and another.
The real war that all humanity is waging is against powers that do not follow the rules of armed combat, and have no troop movements we can track. According to the writer of Ephesians, the war we are fighting is, “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” And only the armor provided by God can protect us from our enemy.
Move 5: Become the Armored People of God
We are engaged in a war against the establishment of the peace and justice and wholeness of God’s kingdom in our midst. And the only armor that will protect us and give us power over the enemy is the power of God in Christ, the power of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the Spirit of God found in His Word. Let’s become APG, the Armored People of God.