The Armor Of God

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How to apply and live growing in the strength of the armor of God.

The Armor Of God Ephesians 6:10-18 Ephesians was written by the apostle Paul through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and Ephesians 6 could rightly be called Paul's Self-Defense course because nobody is temptation-proof. No matter your age or how long you've been a professing Christian, temptation is still a battle. Even mature Christians can have weaknesses in their spiritual armor that makes them vulnerable to enemy attacks. Our pride can provide a large enough opening for one of Satan's fiery arrows to wound us. But so can a quick temper, love of money, hurtful speech, or even impatience. Temptation can come from anywhere, but your spiritual battle plan has identified what temptation is. Temptation is any desire to think, say, or do something that's contrary to God's will. In other words, a temptation to sin. It may attack as a weak impulse or a powerful urge, but however temptation comes, it's always something that goes against what God's desire is for you. The ancient Greeks told a story of a warrior named Achilles. His mother was warned that he would die of a wound, so she dipped him as a baby into a river that was supposed to make him invincible. When she dipped Achilles, she held him by one heel which the protective waters didn't cover, and it was from that heel that he received his fatal wound later in life. Each of us must ask: What is my Achilles heel? You need to know your vulnerability, where there's a weak spot or an opening in your spiritual armor that could cause a spiritual wound. I've been around long enough to begin to understand how our greatest weakness may just be our failure to ask for God's strength, and believe it. Charles Wesley once said, "Leave no unguarded place, No weakness of the soul; Take every virtue, every grace, And fortify the whole." "Leave no unguarded place" because when you do, it becomes your Achilles heel. The Armor Of God is intended to "fortify the whole" so you'll be continually at the ready, night and day, to "fight the good fight" (1 Timothy 6:12). Humanity's true struggle "is not against flesh and blood," but against evil spiritual forces. The battle every Christian faces is rooted in the devil's schemes and his efforts to mislead us. Satan is just fine with you thinking he's like that cartoon character wearing a red suit, horns, and carrying a pitchfork. But while the world neglects Satan, Satan has not neglected you. Just like how a football team will watch game tapes of other football teams, the demonic realm watch's humanities game tapes. They know your history, your weak spots, and your sin habits. Their goal is to block you from experiencing God's will for your life. And guess what, this isn't their first time. They've watched people for thousands of years, and they're good at what they do. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 teaches us, "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." Spiritual warfare uses divine power to destroy strongholds, and a stronghold is anything, any sin, any temptation, that keeps you from God's will. When it comes to spiritual warfare, believers are to "put on the armor of God" and to "Stand firm." When Paul said, "Stand firm," he used a military word that meant to "stand watch." Be on guard because "when the day of evil comes" and you're facing a full attack, "Standing firm" means standing where victory has already been achieved under the protective cover of God's armor in Jesus Christ. What we call spiritual warfare is the conflict in the spiritual realm that directly affects the physical realm. The problems you face here are rooted there. Human strength and earthly weapons don't stand a chance in a spiritual battle. You must fight the spiritual with the spiritual. Through the cross and the resurrection of Jesus, victory is already won, and the only power the devil has is the power you give him. And because of the nature of spiritual warfare, God has offered you to dress for success by fully equipping you for battle with tailor-made Armor Of God. There are 6 pieces of armor, and those 6 pieces are divided into 2 categories, with 3 in each category. The first 3 you have with you all the time, but the last 3 Christians are called to "take up." The word "take" that Paul used is a Greek military word meaning "final preparations before battle." It's the difference between leaving a place in your armor unguarded or "fortifying the whole," as Wesley said. "Fortifying the whole" by wearing The Armor Of God begins by having the "belt of truth buckled around your waist." Truth is the objective standard by which everything is measured. The "belt of truth" holds all your armor together. Wearing the belt of truth is to live an authentic life before God. Sometimes lies sound like the truth. In John 8:32, Jesus calls Satan the "Father of Lies," which is why you must begin with the truth so you're ready for battle. You must have a personal commitment to biblical truth by living an upright, transparent life of integrity because Satan can't operate in an environment of integrity. The second piece of armor is the "breastplate of righteousness." Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." The "breastplate of righteousness" covers your heart and other vital organs. The heart is the core of who you are. It's your seat of emotions, your true self, and your self-worth. Wearing the "breastplate of righteousness" protects you from Satan's lies, from temptations that attack your spiritual and emotional well-being. Now, it must be remembered that the "breastplate of righteousness" isn't our own righteousness because human weapons and armor can't fight in a spiritual battle. Romans 3:10 reminds us that "There is no one righteous, not even one," meaning that God imputed Christ's perfect righteousness to us. Imputed means "to attribute something to someone." 2 Corinthians 5:21 describes the word imputed by saying, "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." Followers of Christ have been given Christ's righteousness which provides divine security. Third, soldiers of Christ are to wear the "shoes of the Gospel." The "shoes" Paul is referring to are the sandals Roman soldiers used to wear in battle. Much like today's sports shoes, Roman sandals had built-in cleats to provide better stability on the battlefield. 1 John 2:6 says, "Whoever says he abides in Jesus ought to walk in the same way in which Jesus walked." Satan will try to place obstacles in our path, but wearing the "shoes of the Gospel" keeps us walking forward, following the Lord, and obeying His Word. The "shoes of the Gospel" motivate us to keep marching and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Fourth, Christian soldiers are to "Take up the shield of faith" so we can "extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." Roman shields were covered in leather and soaked in water so any flaming arrows the enemy launched would be extinguished. Satan attacks with doubts, and temptations can burn with desire, but the "shield of faith" is God's divine fire extinguisher by putting out that burning desire. You may feel the blow while holding the "shield of faith," but the shield turns aside the blow. But you may be wondering, what is faith? What is this faith I can "take up?" Faith is acting like God's Word is truth. It's being obedient to God. Satan's attacks can look like insults, setbacks, and temptations, but whatever the devil fires at you, you can overcome by believing God's Word and acting on it. Romans 12:3 cautions us "not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you." Don't be fooled into thinking you can dodge every arrow by yourself, but "take up" the "shield of faith" that "God has distributed to each of you." Fifth, every soldier of Christ must wear the "helmet of salvation." Having a sure knowledge of salvation results in not being moved by Satan's lies. Isaiah 26:3 says, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." The "helmet of salvation" protects your mind and guides your thinking. If you don't clearly understand the Gospel - that it's God's power "for salvation" (Romans 1:16), you won't operate as someone forgiven and delivered from the power and penalty of sin. Wearing the "helmet of salvation" is not operating on human wisdom but thinking God's thoughts enabled by the Holy Spirit and bound by the "belt of truth." The last piece of armor is the "sword of the Spirit." The "sword of the Spirit" is the Word of God, effective by the Spirit, and sharp enough to cut right through Satan's lies. Hebrews 4:12 reminds us that God's Word is "sharper than any double-edged sword" because it "penetrates the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." The "sword of the Spirit" is the only offensive weapon in The Armor Of God; everything else is defensive. The word Paul used for "sword" doesn't describe a long sword but actually a shorter sword intended for hand-to-hand combat. When Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, with every attack Jesus responded by saying, "It is written" (Matthew 4:1-11), and defeated the devil every time. But I want you to take caution and remember that Satan knows God's Word too, but he tries to twist Scripture into saying something other than what it says. Satan knows your Achilles heel. That's why you must "leave no unguarded place" and put on the "whole armor of God," all held together by the "belt of truth." God's Word, the "sword of the Spirit," both protects believers and destroys the enemy. Now, even though prayer isn't a part of The Armor Of God, it's the divine way of putting on our spiritual armor. The spiritual armor God provides for us is rooted in prayer. You are to put on the armor with prayer and draw upon its spiritual resources through continued communication with God. If you ask me to pray for you, and I'm not complete in Christ, my prayer loses it's strength. But if I'm complete in Christ, prayer brings victory. Prayer is only effective when there is completeness - "take up the whole armor of God." So make prayer your life and your life a prayer! How do you wear God's armor? Romans 13:14 says, "Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh." Any "unguarded place," as Wesley noted, is a temptation to "gratify the desires of the flesh," but clothing yourself in Jesus Christ is putting on The Armor Of God. Repent of your sin and ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life, and the Savior will bring with Him your spiritual armor. It was said of Napoleon Bonaparte that as he attempted to conquer all the kingdoms of the known world, he spread out a map on a table, pointed to a certain place, and said to his lieutenants, "Sirs, if it weren't for that one red spot, I would have conquered the world." That spot he pointed to was the British Isles, the very nation that met Napoleon at Waterloo in Belgium and defeated him. There is no doubt that when Satan talks with his evil demons about conquering the world, he says the same thing about the red hilltop of Calvary where Christ's blood was spilled: "If it weren't for that one red spot, I would have conquered the world." It's that red spot that makes all the difference in our spiritual battles. Brothers and sisters, you don't have to live in fear of Satan. You only need to enter into the spiritual battle knowing the truth that the war is already won because, as Romans 8:37 says, "We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Folks, "put on the full armor of God," because when we clothe ourselves in Jesus Christ, we're protected by the only person Satan never defeated! AMEN 2
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