Ephesians 6 v 11 — (1)
Please read 2 Corinthians chapter 10
The True believer described in Chapters 1 to 3 of the Letter to the Ephesians, who lives the Spirit filled and controlled life of Chapter 4 v 1 to 6 v 9, can expect to be in a spiritual War. Verses 10 and following describe this conflict.
Paul warns us about the war and then goes on to describe how we go about to win the war.
The Lord God provides His saints with sufficient armour to fight with and thwart the enemy.
Verses 10 – 13 are basic truths about the Christian’s necessary spiritual preparation as well as truths about the enemy.
Verse 14 – 17, as we shall see in a few weeks, specifies the 6 most necessary pieces of armour with which God equips His children to resist and overcome Satan’s assaults.
The requirements for a soldier are not merely willingness to go to battle and have courage. He must be trained and proficient in the use of weapons; aware and knowledgeable of the ways that the enemy operates; he must know how to defend himself and his fellows and must know the methods of attack in order to assault the enemy’s position. Training for war is a desperate need for any soldier who is going to be involved in battle.
Furthermore having been to Military training exercises, or to Sandhurst will not help unless the soldier actually becomes armed and engages in conflict.
In thinking about Ephesians 6 v 10 we recall that we need strength to live as Christians; we have no strength of our own but the Lord Jesus Christ has the strength that we need in order to live for Him.
We are all Christian soldiers and we can rejoice that we have a Commander in Chief, called in the scripture “The Captain of our salvation” in Hebrews 2 v 10. He is the Lord Jesus Christ who has conquered death, hell, Satan and our sins through His death on the cross.
Because we are not strong and we need God’s strength we must now pay close attention to the next imperative that Paul brings to us in verse 11 –
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
We are going to spend a little while in this verse because there is so much to take in if we are to be effective warriors in the Christian Conflict. Verse 11 points us in the direction of three areas –
1. What we are to do in Christian Warfare –
put on the whole armour of God.
2. How we are to do it – Stand –
that ye may be able to stand
3. Why we are to put the armour on and stand – because of the Enemy – it is
against the wiles of the devil.
Our purpose this morning is to concentrate on
1. What we are to do in Christian Warfare –
put on the whole armour of God.
If you have ever gone to visit a stately home somewhere have you looked at a suit of armour and wondered however anyone could move around let alone fight wearing it? You can go to exhibitions and museums and see all sorts of interesting devices to protect the human body in battle – different styles of helmet, chain mail, knee plates, elbow plates, breastplates and all of those things. However you were JUST LOOKING. However much you admired or were interested in those suits of armour, while they were displayed in the corners of the rooms they would do you no good at all if you were attacked. You could write a doctoral thesis on the different kinds of armour spending years studying each piece and evaluating them – BUT – all of that would be useless to you if someone approached you wielding a sword or a ball and chain!
The point is this – armour is not just to look at. Armour is not just for trying on to see how we look; armour is for wearing. Now of course the metal armour in the museum is old-fashioned, dated and not much use these days. But the Christian armour that is described in Ephesians 6 is for wearing – and is to be PUT ON.
Why did the Apostle Paul use this very interesting imagery to illustrate the truths of Christian warfare? Perhaps it was that he was chained to a Roman soldier while he wrote this letter. He had a constant reminder of military matters. His companions were tribunes, centurions and soldiers of lower rank for many years. He was familiar with the items of armour used by these men that was designed to protect the soldier’s body from the enemy’s weapons.
The armour that the Christian is called to wear is protection for the soul. We live here on earth in Satan’s kingdom – he is the prince of this world, the prince of the power of the air. The Lord God who has saved us for Himself, to be His children, has also called us to be His soldiers and we are not left alone to fight without any protection.
This armour must be PUT ON. The Greek word translated PUT ON means to “sink into clothing; be clothed, to clothe oneself.”
The word is used literally and metaphorically. Amongst its literal uses we can notice Matthew 6 v 25
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
It was used to describe the awful treatment of the Lord Jesus Christ before His trial and condemnation – Matthew 27:31
And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
When the prodigal son came home in rags we read what happened – Luke 15:22
But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
But here in Ephesians 6 PUT ON is used metaphorically as it is so many times in scripture. Other occasions include these –
Romans 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
1 Corinthians 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
1 Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
We can see the way that we are to wear these things – the armour of light; The Lord Jesus Christ Himself; we are to wear as clothing incorruption and immortality – this of course is for the future when we leave this bodies behind; and we are to wear the clothing of the NEW HUMAN BEING – the converted man or woman, as soon as he or she is converted, has a new outfit – immediately – a new nature – a renewed disposition and all that that means. Putting on these things when we are born again of course includes putting OFF certain things too – we discard the clothing of the old nature – Paul explains this in Ephesians 4:22
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
and Colossians 3:8
But now ye also put off all these – anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.
Paul’s lesson to us is plain – since we have armour it must be worn – it is not enough to know the principle, we have to be in practice. Wm Gurnall says,
“It is one thing to have armour in the house, and another to have it buckled on; to have grace in the principle, and grace in the act.”
The armour is made to be worn. May we all know how to wear the armour? The armour is to stay on us – on our souls – there is a PERMANENT sense in the verb – PUT ON – put on and keep it on!
If we were in any doubt of the need of the Spiritual armour let us once again remind ourselves of what we are up against in Christian warfare.
1. The External Conflict – which is with the WORLD.
John 16 v 33 In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
We find ourselves in a difficult situation with regards to conflict with the world for it is the very world that we seek to reach with the truth of the Gospel. The Armour that we need for this conflict is the Armour of RIGHTEOUSNESS. As we live lives that are holy and godly, as we follow the perfect example of our saviour the Lord Jesus Christ – as we seek to manifest the fruit of the spirit – we are wearing the armour of righteousness – His righteousness – it is the only defence against the world and its enticements. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6 v 7
By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
2. The INTERNAL Conflict – which is with the FLESH.
Galatians 5 v 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
How are we to fight on this front? What help do we have against the enemy within, this fifth column? Godly Bishop Ryle used to pray,
“Lord preserve me from this evil man, myself.”
He and millions of other saints down the ages have come to realise this powerful internal struggle internally. We read earlier from 2 Corinthians 10 where Paul says in verse 3
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
What we need is another aspect of the armour – mentioned in Romans 13 v 12
The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
Works of darkness are those things that we did when we were enslaved by the prince of darkness – Satan – the opposite is light – we wear armour of brightness and light, the very opposite of Satan’s uniform!
3. The INFERNAL conflict – which is with the DEVIL.
We are to
resist the devil that he might flee from us (James 4 v 7).
We are never ever to submit to him, to give in to him. Resistance is to be our watchword with this enemy. And it is this aspect of the conflict that is the emphasis in our text this morning.
The next word in this first phrase is
PANOPLY – or THE WHOLE ARMOUR. It is a wonderful Greek word that is a combination of two words – a word for ALL and a word that means WEAPON, instrument, armour or anything that is used as a weapon either offensive or defensive.
W.E. Vine notes that among the Greeks the PANOPLIA was the complete equipment used by heavily armed infantry.
The word for weapon is used literally in John 18 v 3
Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.
The Lord Jesus Christ used this word in Luke 11 v 21
When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.
Perhaps now we can understand the wording of the poetry in the Hymn “Soldiers of Christ arise and put your armour on.” Verse 2 has these words –
“Stand, then, in His great might, With all His strength endued; And take, to arm you for the fight The PANOPLY of God.”
I had never understood this word Panoply until the Greek word for WHOLE ARMOUR appeared in the Greek New Testament. This indicates to us that the armour supplied by the Lord God for us to wear is absolutely sufficient; utterly adequate, and leaves no unguarded part of the soul. Everything is catered for – every eventuality – if we are attacked in the soul’s head – we have a helmet to guard it. If the enemy aims for our soul’s heart, there is a breastplate to cover it and defend it. If we are attacked in the spiritual feet that could cause us to stumble and fall – there are shoes for their protection. Are there any chinks in our armour where the joints allow for movement? – are there apertures where a well aimed fiery arrow could find its mark in the soul? There is a shield that we can use to ward off those darts. There was an incident in the Old Testament that warns us of the possibility of apertures like this – King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah went out to battle together against the Syrians. Ahab went in disguise to avoid being hurt. But the Lord God had the situation in hand – 1 Kings 2 v 34 records
And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded.
He wore his armour, but the arrow struck in a vulnerable spot and the King had no shield. But not only does our soul have the protective armour – the soul also has an offensive weapon – the sword by which we can inflict deadly wounds on our enemy the devil.
Marvellous armour from an all-providing God!
And this is the third element of our text this morning. The armour is called the ARMOUR OF GOD.
It is God’s armour. He prepares it and He gives it to all of is beloved children – Christians.
This is because God in Christ is concerned for His people. He has not whisked us away to heaven’s glory as soon as we were converted. He has left us here on earth for His divine purposes – to serve Him; to be His witnesses, to be involved in the gathering in of others of His sheep. Notice three things about God and His people
1. God is FOR His people.
In Romans 8 God, through Paul, says this
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
How wonderful that God is on our side! Sometimes we can feel downhearted and even alone thinking that nobody cares or is concerned about our situation. We face opposition from those around us in this hostile world – but God is FOR us – and when He is for us then who are they that can do anything against us? Indeed He is against any that are against us – we are precious in His sight. God is for us.
2. God is WITH His people.
In Genesis 28 we have another great encouragement that was given to Jacob, but can be for us too –
15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
The faithful Lord God kept Jacob having promised to do so at Bethel. We have the advantage of the rest of the history of Jacob’s life to look back on in the scriptures – and we can see how faithful God was to keep his servant – He was with Jacob wherever he went – from Bethel to Egypt where he died full of years. The Lord issues the same promise to us, I am with Thee – I will keep thee safe all through your life – and you will arrive to be with me forever. God is with us.
3. God is IN His people.
The reason that we are to live separated lives without involvement with idolatry and other sinful practices is the plain speech in 2 Corinthians 6 v 16
and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
The Living God possesses our souls and He occupies them by His Holy Spirit. He is in us!
The whole armour of God is what we need to defend ourselves and to fight the enemy.
But we must now ask 2 important questions.
How do we get this armour? And how can we put it on?
Where is armour kept? – In an armoury. So for any of us to obtain armour in order to engage in the combat of life we have to go to the armoury. It has to be issued to us and the One who will issue it is the Captain of salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot get the armour from anywhere else. This is a Biblical thought. In Jeremiah 50 there is the account of how God decreed the destruction of Babylon.
23 How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations! 24 I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware: thou art found, and also caught, because thou hast striven against the LORD. 25 The LORD hath opened his armoury, and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation: for this is the work of the Lord GOD of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans.
There is mention of an armoury that the Lord has opened. In that case they were weapons of indignation – God’s means of defeating the wickedness of men in Babylon.
God has commissioned us to go against sin and Satan – therefore He supplies us with arms with which to fight.
Getting the armour is coming to personal faith in the Captain the Lord Jesus Christ. Any army has to have faith in its Commander. On Friday an army in a South American country dismissed its president because they had lost confidence in him. This will never happen to us on account of our Captain – because He is absolutely trustworthy and righteous – there is no fault with Him. He is a skilful warrior Himself – He has overcome many enemies and knows what war is about.
Are you trusting in Him today my friend? Do you have a set of armour clothing your soul that you have put on when you believed? Or are you exposed and defenceless because you are not a Christian? Do not for one minute think that you will be left alone by the enemy just because you have not yet put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ – the devil will do all that he can to influence you and use you for his purposes. He is a formidable foe. But you have no defence UNLESS you are simply trusting in the Lord. Perhaps you do not want to be in the Battle of the soul. Well be warned my friend – the devil is doomed and all those who belong to him. His day is coming – he will be banished into outer darkness for the rest of eternity. Yet you could be safe – there is a mighty deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ who is ready to save all who earnestly and genuinely are ready to repent and leave their sins behind them, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ – that he is the One who can save and deliver and who is ready to forgive and pardon all of your sins.
Believing friend – are you wearing your armour? There is no day off in the spiritual battle. Twenty years ago the paras yomped across the Falkland Islands to port Stanley and were in their combat dress for a fortnight without changing! They had to be ready for anything – ready for battle – ready to face the enemy – they could not afford to relax for one minute. Neither can we. We need to put the armour on and keep the armour on!
Put on the whole armour of God – we will be learning about the various parts of the armour in future weeks. Next week we will begin to learn how to put on the armour and to stand in it!
May God help us to be diligent in the use of this means of grace and may we all be valiant soldiers in the Lord’s army!