Ephesians 6 v 13 – 17
Please read Jeremiah 23
The Christian’s armour is not to be hung on a stand in a cupboard, but is to be worn at all times. There is no retreat, no leave of absence and no days off from the Spiritual warfare to which we are called as Christians. A well-meaning Christian Officer once said to me as we were preparing to go on a family holiday, “Have some time off from religion while you are away.” An unbelieving member of my family said to me when I was a young Christian, only saved a couple of years, “Your trouble is that you take the Bible too seriously – have a year off from reading it and live a little.”
But my friends neither of these pieces of advice are good for the believer who is serious about the Spiritual battle, to which we all are called. The passage in Ephesians 6 has called each of us to STAND – not to lie down, or even sit – but to stand firm and constant against the spiritual enemies of the soul. And as we have been considering for several weeks we are to wear the Armour that God has provided through His Holy Spirit. This morning we are going to review this Armour by way of identifying the protective armour that Satan, Christ’s enemy, has issued to all of his followers. Just as the Lord’s people have provision, so do the majority of the world’s population who at this moment, although they do not know it, are enlisted in Satan’s service.
We need to be aware of this situation so that we do not become complacent about the dangerous situation the world is in. The Apostle John said in 1 John 5 v 19
And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
And this wickedness has its origin in the powers of darkness that have unregenerate human beings in their grip.
The prophet Isaiah predicted that this would characterise the fallen world of men –
Isaiah 60 v 2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
Another prophet warned the people of God who should have known better, that the same darkness affecting the heathen would come on them -
Jeremiah 13 v 16 Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.
At the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ the situation was recorded by Matthew again quoting prophecy (Isaiah 9 v 2) –
Matthew 4 v 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
And John records in his gospel –
John 1 v 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
John 3 v 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Why did people love darkness and evil deeds rather than light?
Because of the presence of, and domination of mankind, by spiritual powers – unseen but awesome in their influence –
Ephesians 6 v 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
But the Lord Jesus Christ came to conquer the powers of darkness. He announced His intention several times –
John 8 v 12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
John 12 v 35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
John 12 v 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
Christians therefore are those who are called to walk in the light. In order to do that they are changed from the inside – regenerated supernaturally by the grace of Almighty God – then their souls are kept safe by the supernatural spiritual armour described by Paul in Ephesians 6 vs. 13 – 17.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Satan is a master of counterfeit. A counterfeit is a forgery or copy of anything pretending to be genuine. The trouble with Satan’s counterfeits is that they look so real and genuine, but in reality are the very opposite of what they should be.
A copied Rolex Watch looks genuine, probably works, impresses others and brings pleasure to the owner and wealth to the supplier.
Satan’s copy of the Christian Armour looks genuine, seeks to impress others, brings a kind of satisfaction and peace to the wearer; and its Supplier - the enemy of souls - is more than pleased when millions wear it.
But it is counterfeit! It does not provide the wearer with protection from Satan’s enemy, the Almighty righteous Lord Jesus Christ who has the power to cast the soul into hell, counterfeit armour and all!
With this in mind let us think of each piece of Christ’s armour and Satan’s counterfeit.
1. The Christian has a belt of truth – Satan issues a belt of error.
The Christian’s belt of truth is a subjective experience of truth in the heart. The truth has an effect in our lives – the effect of godliness, holiness, integrity and honesty.
But Satan dresses his soldiers in lies and error: in deception, in personal opinions sincerely held but sincerely wrong when measured in the light of God’s trust the scriptures. In this way he keeps a whole population in his grip from the highest leaders in the land downwards.
My friends we need to beware of what we hear these days. The teachers and the preachers that we listen to must be those who handle the Word of God truthfully. We must test their doctrines by the Word of God. The books and magazines that we read must be authored by those who are sound in the Truth of the Faith once delivered unto the saints. Satan loves nothing better than well meaning preachers and authors proclaiming erroneous teachings with all of their hearts. They persuade people to seek this or that experience – but they are teaching error – their loins are girt about with lies. We read from Jeremiah earlier. In that passage in Jeremiah 23 we noticed how God’s man Jeremiah denounce the false shepherds, the corrupt pastors. They were profane and wicked – verse 11; led the people astray into worshipping other Gods including Baal v 13; they were guilty of adultery and lies; they strengthened the hands of criminals; they discouraged repentance and encouraged sexual perversions v 14; they spoke their own prophecies not God’s word v 16; they made false predictions v 17 – the list could go on.
But my dear brothers and sisters, do we not see these very things in our society today? There are those in leadership of church and state who are described in Jeremiah 23. On the OUTSIDE they appear to be wearing a BELT OF TRUTH - as one of them was described this week, “A brilliant theologian.” But on the inside they are exposed as men who know nothing of God’s standards and righteous laws – the same brilliant theologian ordains homosexual priests and favours ecumenical dialogue with Rome.
Wearing the belt of Truth, issued by our Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ enables us not only to counter the personal attacks of the evil one, but also to discern the difference between truth and error. Do you have this belt of truth, or are you wearing something else?
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.
2. The Christian has a Breastplate of Righteousness – Satan issues a breastplate of a hard heart.
When the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ wears the breastplate of Righteousness he is right with God and reflects the truth of Daniel 9 v 14
for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth:
God expresses His righteousness in the condemnation of all sin and we have that righteousness as a gift from Him after we have believed by faith in His son the Lord Jesus Christ. The saviour is the author of righteousness who maintains His righteousness consistently and absolutely. We are not naturally righteous but we are made righteous – Christ gives us His imputed righteousness, transforming our depravity into holiness, our cowardice into courage and our weakness into strength. Therefore as we resist Satan we are protected by Christ’s perfect righteousness – it preserves our hearts!
Satan provides a breastplate that is made of iron – in fact it reflects the state of the wearers heart – which is also as hard as iron with little true spiritual feeling. The fallen sinful heart may sense the mercy of God coming to win it – Satan’s hard breastplate ensures that God’s overtures of mercy bounce off and gets nowhere near the sinner’s heart. But satan’s breastplate does even more than this – for the Holy Spirit not only sends offers of mercy, forgiveness and pardon, but also threatenings of judgement to come and the awful prospects of everlasting punishment in hell.
But Satan’s breastplate of iron protects the heart from being frightened by these things. Sinners can hear God speaking – through preaching, through natural disasters that God allows and by world circumstances that cause men and women to fear. But Satan is wise to these things and has issued an effective deterrent – the hard heart breastplate.
My friends millions have this satanic equipment. You can prove it by simply talking to the next person you meet about God’s wrath, judgement and hell and urging them to flee to Christ. Why don’t they do so as you plead with them? It is because they are defended by the hard breastplate – supplied by their master.
3. The Christian has Shoes of the Gospel of peace – Satan issues shoes of the bad news of everlasting hell.
The shoes or sandals of the gospel are provided for the Christian soul to ensure that the Christian walk is the walk of Peace – peace with God that is. This does not mean that the Christian life is without its problems that can lead to unrest, inner turmoil, sorrow and grief – these could be described as lack of peace. Despite all of these things the Christian has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and the blood of His cross. God has undertaken to keep the feet of His saints by setting them on a firm foundation, a rock – Christ Himself; cleansing them by the Word of God; preparing them for conflict and marching towards the enemy and experiencing victory in Christ’s Name.
Satan’s shoes that he issues are those that love to lead people in the ways of sin and darkness. He tries it on with believers luring the unprepared or careless Christian into his diabolical ways. If he can get their ears to listen to his marching orders then believers will find themselves going to places where they should not, darkening the doors that should be avoided. Satan leads his own captives into all kinds of sins and pleasures - he guides their feet and they go like sheep – following each other along the broad way that leads to destruction. These counterfeit shoes are shoes that attract their wearers to the latest, the most fashionable, the most exciting thing going on. Satan would call them shoes of Good news – but they are definitely the sandals of sin, of bad news and of eventual disaster in hell. The scripture describes such in Romans 3 v 10
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Once again Satan has fooled most people into thinking that life is a ball and is to be enjoyed in HIS way. He has convinced them that there is no authority to answer to at the end of life – he has persuaded them that they are products of evolution therefore there is no creator to respect or obey. This is the way of the world.
What shoes are you wearing this morning my friend? Gospel shoes that give real peace? Or Satan’s shoes that will lead you wherever you want – until you tumble into hell?
4. The Christian has a Shield of Faith – Satan issues a Shield of Unbelief.
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Faith is a gift from the Lord God. It is the exercise of this God-given faith that is pictured in the holding up of the shield. The Lord Jesus Christ is our shield – His Holy Spirit within us, and our faith in His work, is a mighty shield of defence to each one of us. We can echo David’s words in Psalms 56 v 11
In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.
Whatever man throws at us – we have a shield. Satan influences and corrupts men so that they are his means of attacking believers in the Lord Jesus Christ – but with the shield we do not need to be afraid.
Satan issues a shield of unbelief to his followers. This shield is a QUESTIONING shield.
Modern education positively encourages the questioning process. Some of this is good and stimulates knowledge by discovery. But there are other aspects that are decidedly unhelpful – such as the questioning of authority, the questioning of wisdom and more dangerously, the questioning of God’s infallible Word the scriptures.
Satan encourages people to question the truth. He says that there is no truth but what you the individual perceive the truth to be. He would rather have his followers believing lies than the truth revealed in God’s word. So he has devices that lead to questions. He fosters discontent in the human heart, causing that heart to question God and His infinite wisdom and providence. He even has the nerve to question God his creator – he said to Eve –
“Hath God said?”
Satan knew exactly what God had said – but he encouraged Eve and Adam to question God – it dates back to Eden. He also gets people to ask the question “Will God judge?”
The result of all this is when people hear of God’s goodness – they question it and will not believe it! They hold up the shield of unbelief, the shield of questioning God, which eventually leads them to disbelieve everything about God and therefore they reject His word. Many attempts by the Lord’s people in missionary and evangelistic labours have been thwarted by the shield of unbelief.
People who refuse to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus for salvation, hold up this shield to ward off the arrows of conviction and the arrows of the call of the Gospel to repent and believe. It may be that you are doing this right now. You have come to church, but you do not want to know about how to be right with God – that would be too much to ask. You blame God for something that has happened to you – you question Him, challenge Him; you demand answers from Him about why He let this or that occur in your life. But it is your shield of unbelief. Oh how many there are in society today who shield themselves from the truth as it is in the Lord Jesus Christ!
5. The Christian has a Helmet of Salvation – Satan issues a Helmet of Futility.
The Christian’s helmet is protection against the blows to the head that come in the form of attacks to the believer’s hope. Satan seeks to destroy the believer’s ASSURANCE of salvation and to do that he uses these two weapons of DOUBT and DISCOURAGEMENT. When the Bible uses the word hope there is a glorious certainty in it. Here we have the certainty of salvation. It is true that the devil can seriously damage our feelings about our salvation with his fiery darts of doubt. But if we are truly born again, if we are genuinely converted then our salvation is eternally protected and we need never fear losing it! We must be aware of the fact that Satan wants to curse us with doubts – he wants to discourage us with uncertainties – to accuse us of infidelity and failure and suggest that we have disqualified ourselves to wear the helmet! But every believer can be strong by believing God’s promises of eternal salvation that are all there in the scripture – this is wearing the Gospel Helmet.
For the unbeliever Satan provides the helmet of futility – of vain hope. A vain hope is a hope that believes strongly that a person can live whatever life he chooses but will come out of life very well at the end – in short people who wear Satan’s helmet of futility live just as they please, with no reference to God or His laws, and expect to have the peace of heaven when they die. This helmet prevents such a person from being affected in any way by God’s love for sinners. It protects a man or woman from the gracious overtures of grace and love sent by God through the Christian Gospel. God promises to forgive sins - the helmet of vain hope enables the wearer to say, “I don’t need that – I’ll take my chance.” Oh what danger you are in this morning if you are wearing Satan’s helmet of futility, believing that you will be alright at the end of life – without believing in God’s only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for sinners and has promised to save all who come earnestly to Him repenting of their sins!
6. The Christian has the Sword of the Spirit – Satan issues a sword of an evil tongue.
Last week we thought about the Christian’s offensive weapon – the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. It was apparent that this sword indicates a special utterance from God’s word that is exactly fitted to repel the tempter’s attack on any particular occasion. Words are spoken. The word of God has come form God Himself, it proceeds from His mouth, it is God breathed. Jesus said it –
Matthew 4 v 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
As we speak God’s word it comes like a sword as from the Godhead Himself.
And Satan’s counterfeit has 2 presentations.
1. Either he takes the word of the living God and adulterates it, misquoting it as he did during the temptations of Jesus; or he questions it, as he did in front of Adam and Eve; or he seeks to alter it as he has tried to do with the manuscripts of God’s word, resulting in the chaos of ‘Modern Versionism’ that plagues the church today. In each of these cases they are lying words from the evil one twisting scripture to his own ends.
2. Secondly Satan likes to speak through his servants wielding his sword – the sword of an evil tongue. How easily the devil and his servants can speak evil of God with their tongues! The psalmist found himself complaining to God lamenting his situation amongst unbelievers – in Psalm 57 v 4
My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.
And Psalm 64 v 1
Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy. 2 Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity: 3 Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words:
In the epistle of James we read this – James 3 v 6
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
The devil’s sword is his word of wickedness and rebellion. He speaks evil of God’s Person, of God’s people and of God’s purposes. And he uses the unbelievers of this world to spread his message of rebellion against the Lord Jesus Christ.
We can hear him speaking with a variety of voices – and we are shocked at his insolence.
Do we now see the devil for who he is? The enemy of God. The enemy of Christians. The counterfeiter of God’s provision for the believer.
Therefore my dear brother and sister –
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (v 11)
Let us not be ignorant of his capability – but ever be wearing the Belt of absolute truth at all times; the breastplate of righteousness – Christ’s righteousness; be ready to march with the gospel; be ever holding up the shield of faith warding off those fiery darts; be helmeted with glorious hopeful thoughts of salvation to come and ever be wielding that sword of the Spirit the word of God. We have no other authority. But we need to be alert for the counterfeits. We need to be watching out for deceivers. But always be assured of this one thing. The true people of God will never be fully deceived – remember the words of the Lord Jesus Christ –
Matthew 24 v 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
I love that phrase ‘if it were possible,’ in that text! The truth is – it is not possible for us to be deceived – IF WE ARE WEARING THE ARMOUR AT ALL TIMES! The sadness is that some believers think they can manage without the armour – and they are vulnerable to all kinds of fads and deceptions put about by false teachers. But the believer who is diligent about the protection of the soul has the armour and the means to use it for protection. And as we shall see next week, the proper use of the Armour is with prayer –
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
May the Lord God help all His people to
Put on the Gospel armour, Each piece put on with prayer, Where duty calls or danger, Be never wanting there!