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The Whole Armor of God (Pt 1)(Ephesians 6:13-15)

February 9, 2014 Speaker: Bryce Morgan Series: This Means War

Topic: Ephesians Passage: Ephesians 6:13–6:15

This Means War

The Whole Armor of God (Part 1)
Ephesians 6:13-15
(One Truth: Walk in Truth)
February 9th, 2014

 

I. Great “What If” Battles of History

Welcome to “Great 'What If' Battles of History”, the show that takes different armies from different periods of history and pits them against one another in our virtual battlefield to find out who were the greatest warriors of all time!

On tonight's episode we have an epic showdown that is sure to be a “crowd-pleaser”. In one corner we have the armies of Genghis Khan, who ruled the great Mongol Empire from 1206 AD to 1227 AD; an empire which became the largest contiguous empire in the history of the world. In the other corner, we have…all of the military forces of the United States that took part in Operation Desert Storm, which was carried out in January and February of 1991. So grab your popcorn and get ready for a battle of the ages!

Okay, now if this show were a real show, how long do you think that episode would last? Sure Genghis Khan had about 300,000 men, and horses, and shields, and swords, and bows and arrows. But how long do you think his forces would last against howitzers, machine guns, grenades, tanks, cruise missiles, attack helicopters, bombers, etc. (you get the idea)? The Mongol hordes would simply not be equipped to fight that kind of battle.

Did you know you're in the same predicament? Last time, we look together at Ephesians 6 and learned about the unseen battle that is raging all around us, every single day. As God showed us through Paul, this battle is a spiritual battle in which you and I are under attack from, verse 12...the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. And who is leading this army of darkness? These forces are carrying out, verses 11, “the schemes of the devil”.

But like the Mongol hordes, on our own, we are simply not equipped to fight the kind of battle that Paul describes here. And this is precisely why Paul teaches his readers, as well as us today, about what he calls “the armor of God”. Let's continue our study this morning by looking together at verses 13-15 of Ephesians 6.

 

II. The Passage: “Stand Therefore” (6:13-15)

So as we dig into these verses, I think the first thing we can do is separate verse 13 from verses 14 and 15. I believe verse 13 reminds us of the PURPOSE of this “armor of God”, while in verses 14 and 15, Paul begins to describe the PARTS of this armor. So look with me at verse 13...

 

A. The Purpose of the Armor (6:13)

Paul's writes, because we are engaged in a spiritual conflict with spiritual forces of evil...

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.

Notice there is one goal, one purpose for taking up the armor of God, BUT, that purpose is expressed in two ways: Paul talks about “withstanding” AND “standing”. Just like this English translation, the Greek words that Paul used also share the same root word, “stand”. So what's the difference between these two words?

Well, Paul wants his readers to “take up the whole armor of God”, so that they can “withstand”, or we could also say, resist “in the evil day”. Now, what's interesting about this word is that it is the same word used in two other key verses that talk about how we are to respond to the attacks of the devil. Look at these:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. [9] Resist him, firm in your faith... (I Peter 5:8-9)

What does Paul mean when he says withstand or resist “in the evil day”? I think 5:15, 16 can help us. Look back at those verses. Paul writes, Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, [16] making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. I think we could say that “the evil day” is that moment when we are tempted by the world's influence to walk unwisely, to live foolishly, to squander our time by choosing evil over good. Therefore, Paul is calling his readers to resist in those moments of temptation.

But he doesn't leave it at that. He wants them not only to withSTAND in those moments of temptation, but he wants them to STAND firm at all times. But this isn't new. Paul is simply reemphasizing what we already saw in 6:11...Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

So notice this: the purpose of taking up and putting on the whole armor of God is NOT to go on the attack. It is not to advance and take ground from demonic forces. The purpose is simply to STAND FIRM; to defend the ground that has already been won for us by Jesus Christ. The cross of Jesus was a frontal assault and a complete victory against the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”.

And so, in the three of the clearest verses in the Bible that describe our response to the devil, God tells us to simply “resist”. But to do that, we need “the whole armor of God”. Are you ready to discover what this armor is and how we can put it on?

 

B. The Parts of the Armor (6:14, 15)

Well, having looked at the PURPOSE of the armor in verse 13, let's consider some of the PARTS of the armor as Paul describes them in verses 14 and 15. Here's what we read...
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.

Now there are in fact six parts of this armor, but this week, we will begin by looking at the first three. And as we just saw in those verses, those first three parts are the belt, the breastplate, and the sandals.

As a side note, you may know that Ephesians 6 is not the only place where Paul uses the imagery of armor. In I Thessalonians 5, Paul talks about putting on “the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” In Romans 13, Paul talked about putting on “the armor of light” as we cast off “the works of darkness”. Ultimately, Paul’s is probably inspired by several passages in Isaiah where it says of God, “He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head” (Isaiah 52:17) Similarly, it is said of the Messiah in Isaiah 11 that Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness (or in the Greek OT, “truth”) the belt of his loins. (11:5).

But again, let's take the first three parts Paul describes, one at a time, and see if we can understand what he’s saying about the “armor of God”.

 

1. The Belt of Truth: The Perspective God has Presented to You (v. 14a)

Now even though the first piece of the armor is referred to with the word “belt”, that word is not in the original Greek. What Paul literally says is “having girded up your loins with truth”.

The ESV translates this family of words in a couple places as “dress yourself”, but the old expression “gird your loins” still conveys the imagery of this practice. In the ancient Near East, if you were wearing a long robe or tunic, you would need to pull up and secure the slack of that robe if you were going to work or maybe run. So this is an expression that communicates the sense of preparing yourself or get ready to go.

So Paul is saying, “Stand your ground therefore, having secured your loose hanging garments around your hips with truth”, that is “having prepared yourself for action with truth”. Now this is a good point to make the point that if we were to go back and carefully read this entire letter, we would realize that what Paul is doing here with the armor of God is simply reemphaszing, at the end of the letter, in chapter 6, everything he’s already communicated to them in the first five chapters.

For example, when Paul speaks about this belt of truth, he is once again, encouraging them to remember the perspective God has presented to you.

In chapter 4, Paul talked about the importance of spiritual maturity…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. [15] Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ (Ephesians 4:14-15)

He goes on in chapter 4, verse 18, to remind them about those without Christ who are…
darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. But Paul reminds his readers at the end of verse 20…But that is not the way you learned Christ!—[21] assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, [22] to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, [23] and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds… [sounds like Romans 12:2!]

Look at verse 25 as well…Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

If you and I are to put on the whole armor of God, the first step is to remember the perspective that God has presented to us; to remember the truth about who He is, about who we are, about the purpose of life, about the importance of faith, about the glories of His presence, about the poison of sin, about the goodness of his commandments, about the love of His Son, about the waywardness of the world, about the power of His Spirit, about the privilege of prayer, about the unity of His people, about the wonders of His grace, and about the reality of the unseen battle.

This is how we ready ourselves for the fight. But where should this perspective lead us?

 

2. The Breastplate of Righteousness: The Practice God Has Prescribed for You (v. 14b)

It leads us to second piece of armor, the breastplate of righteousness that Paul mentions at the end of verse 14. What is this breastplate? Well, if you remember the perspective God has presented to you in His word, which is the “truth”, then you also need to remember the practice that God has prescribed for you.

If go back to 4:22, we see that Paul already talked to them about this when he wrote…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, [23] and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, [24] and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

This same word for righteousness shows up in chapter 5, where Paul spends a lot of ink talking about the kind of life God has called us to live in light of the truth. Look at verse 8 and 9…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light [9] (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true)(Ephesians 5:8-9)

The words we use, how we satisfy our appetites, how we spend our time, how we spend our money, how we treat other people, how we treat our spouse and/or our family, the commitments we make, the promises we break, what we give, what we grab…all of it, all of it matters to God. What does this righteousness look like? What will we look like when we put on this breastplate? Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 5:1, 2…

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. [2] And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

And then He goes on to really spell that out through the rest of the chapter, and right on in to the beginning of chapter 6.


3. The Sandals of the Gospel: The Position in which God Has Placed You (v. 15)

But there’s one more piece, one more part of this armor to look at this week. Look again at verse 15…and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

That’s an interesting way to put it, isn’t it? But what does Paul mean? Well, some believe that since this has to do with shoes, it must have something to do with us going out with the gospel. But I think the context here is pointing us to the fact that Paul is saying, remember the position in which God has placed you.

I think Paul’s emphasis is on standing in the gospel, rather than going with the gospel [which is certainly something Paul is concerned about according to vs. 19, 20]. Remember Paul reminded them about the gospel at the very beginning of this letter: In him [Jesus] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit… (Ephesians 1:13)

But if we go to a couple other letters from Paul, we have clearer parallels to this picture of standing firm in the gospel. I Corinthians 15:1…Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand…

But listen to the connections between Ephesians 6 and Romans 5:1, 2…Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. [2] Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Shoes manufacturers are always trying to selling you their latest walking shoe or running shoe by highlighting the kind of support you will have when you wear their product. Well, God, through Paul, is reminding us this morning to remember the incomparable spiritual support that His shoes, that His sandals will give you. Remember what Christ did? Ephesians 2:17… And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.

Peace with God, now and forever. Peace with one another, as members of one body with one head. This is the good news that Paul describes in such lush detail in chapter 1 of this letter…

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, [4] even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love [5] he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, [6] to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. [7] In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, [8] which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight

 

III. Waking Up, Preparing for Battle

Perspective. Practice. Position. These are the parts of the armor God has given to us.
These are the elements that God has given to equip in order that we might stand. In fact, Paul uses this same pattern in several other places as well. Listen to I Corinthians 6: 15-20

[Here’s the perspective] Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! [16] Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” [17] But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. [Here’s the practice][18] Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. [19] Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? [Here’s the position] You are not your own, [20] for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

We see this same pattern in the writings of another Apostle as well…

[Here’s the perspective] Therefore, preparing your minds for action [lit. girding up the loins of your mind], and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. [Here’s the practice] [14] As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, [15] but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, [16] since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” [17] And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, [Here’s the position] [18] knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, [19] but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (I Peter 1:13-19)

Brothers and sisters, every morning you wake up, instead of thinking first about getting dressed with the clothes in your closet, we need to get dressed with the armor that God himself has given to us…the perspective He has presented…the practice He has prescribed…the position in which He has placed us. Remember these things. Meditate on these things. Live out these things.

The “schemes of the devil” that Paul talked about in verse 10 are designed to attack these very things. To tempt you with the lies of the world. To tempt you to be only hearers of the word and not doers of the word. To tempt you to forget the grace of God in Jesus and the power of the gospel. As we finish this morning, let me allow the 16th century French pastor John Calvin to encourage you in these same truths. Listen to what he writes…

“We must, then, bend our every effort to this goal: that we should not let ourselves be overwhelmed by carelessness or faintheartedness, but on the contrary, with courage rekindled stand our ground in combat. Since this military service ends only at death, let us urge ourselves to perseverance. Indeed, conscious of our weakness and ignorance, let us especially call upon God's help, relying upon him alone in whatever we attempt, since it is he alone who can supply us with counsel and strength, courage and armor.” (John Calvin, Institutes, 1.14.13)

On your own, you are NOT equipped to find this kind of battle. By through Christ, by grace, through faith, God has given us everything we need to stand firm.