Dressed, Ready and Faithful

Bible Book: Ephesians  6 : 10-20
Subject: Spiritual Battle; Armor of God; Christian Living
Introduction

Paul was very familiar with the Roman soldier and the uniform that he wore to protect himself for any enemy. Paul saw this armor in a symbolic way. He viewed the armor from the perspective of a Christian seeking to protect himself from the devil and all his devices and attacks. He gave us a picture of a Christian who is armed and ready to stand faithfully for the Lord in this world. Actually, Paul was using each piece of armor to display the various characteristics which we must maintain in order to stand strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

There is the story of a soldier on the battle field who had his rifle shot out of his hand. He went to his company commander (CC) and said, "I don't have a rifle, what am I to do?" The CC said, "Go to the rear and see if you can get another rifle." The young soldier went off toward the rear of the front lines but ran into enemy fire. He ran to his right and then to the left, but everywhere he ran there were enemy soldiers firing their weapons. Finally, he went back to the front. His CC saw him and said, "I thought I told you to go to the rear." The young soldier replied, "I ran in every direction I could lieutenant! There ain't no rear to run to!"

In the spiritual war, we as Christians are all in the battle. It is all around us. There is no where to run, except to Jesus, so we are to stand clad in the armor of God in order to please our Commander.

I. Integrity

The first piece of armor is the belt of truth. The waist was the place where all the other pieces of armor were supported. Paul saw this as the central piece of armor for the Christian who is facing the principalities and powers in high places each day. We are to live on the truth of God’s Word. We are to keep ourselves from error and untruth at all times. You can be sure that Satan is perfectly willing to erode the truth from our lives just one small lie at a time. If he can do that, he can loosen the belt of truth and all the other armor becomes useless.

A. There is Secular Error

We see error when compared to scripture in newspapers, media, movies, education, novels, music, government, courts and everywhere we live, work and play. Psalm 51 states that God expects truth in the inward man. We must not let the world dictate what we believe. The Truth is Christ and His truth in is the Word of God. We must guard our hearts with the truth of God’s Word. We must act honestly and with integrity. We can do that if we are adorned securely with the “belt of truth.”

B. There is Spiritual Error

Recently I have read a number of books that distract from Christ, the Kingdom of God and the Word of God. These books are written by false prophets who deny the veracity of the Scripture. They deny the deity of Jesus. Sadly, they use concepts that are false and often repeat fabrications they have read from other so-called experts without testing them. We must be careful to avoid “spiritual” error. The “belt of truth” must be worn when we are considering every part of scripture and reading any books that purport to teach us what the scripture "really" means.

During the early days of the Senate Watergate hearings concerning President Richard Nixon, Chairman Sam Ervin received a phone call from a minister in Kentucky. The clergyman claimed that God told him to give the committee the real facts in the alleged cover-up. The senator said he couldn't allow it, but would be glad to have the Lord come and tell them Himself. Mr. Ervin added that if the preacher did come, somebody might call his testimony only hearsay. Discerning spiritual truth was thereby inadvertently brought into the political picture. We must have a personal word from God and practice to be be faithfully wearing the belt of truth.

II. Purity

The breastplate of the Roman soldier was worn over the chest and heart. It protected all the vital organs of the body. We are to operate in purity - righteousness - and that requires that we wear the breastplate of God's purity over our hearts and minds.

A rather unusual sight in Cairo, Egypt intrigued author Bradford Abernathy, who told about it in his book “450 Stories From Life.” While visiting in an Egyptian home, he saw a servant give a pitcher of water and a rug to a boy who lived there. The lad washed his hands, his feet, his face, his neck, his ears, and his arms. He went through the entire ritual three times. Only then did he kneel upon the rug, bow his head to the floor, and begin to pray. Even though this was a Muslim practice, the young boy who was so careful to cleanse himself before prayer was a Christian lad. Bradford saw the need for us as Christians to take purity more seriously. Granted, washing the outside of the body does not make one clean. We need to be concerned that our heart is covered with the breastplate of righteousness.

David cried out, “Lord, you wash me and I shall be white as snow.” As Christians we need to daily take inventory of our cleanliness before God, otherwise the enemy will tarnish us one small sin at a time!

III. Mercy

The shoes are next in order. An army moves upon its feet. Armies have won and lost battles on the basis of the quality of the shoes. This speaks of the ability to move quickly. The shoes of the soldier in those days had hobnails protruding from them which enabled the soldier to grip the ground as he walked.

But what does the readiness of the gospel of peace mean? My own sense is that this is speaking of our readiness to offer the mercy of God to people - people both inside and outside the kingdom. We must be quick to help fallen comrade’s recovery from sin and error. For the lost, we must be quick to tell them of Jesus! A soldier had to be quick on his feet. You know the old saying, “There are only two kinds of soldiers, the quick and the dead.” Indeed, the devil will do his best to kill our spirit of mercy.

A pastor went into a supermarket to pick up his wife. As he waited near the checkout lanes, he overheard a clerk telling a young mother that she couldn't use her food stamps to buy the socks her daughter had selected. He saw disappointment on the child's face, so he impulsively stepped over, handed her a few dollars, and quickly walked away. He didn't dare look at the mother because he was afraid he might have embarrassed her. He was wearing shoes clad with the Gospel of peace.

Now, listen closely! We are living in a time when many Christians are angry. They look at the world and its behavior and they are incensed that moral depravity is licensed by governments, courts and society. Read 1 Timothy 2:8 and note that Paul told Timothy that it was his desire that men might lift up holy hands and pray for everyone - without wrath or fear! We are not to be angry but to have compassion. After all, the moral man next door and the prostitute next door go to the same place if they die without Jesus. We are not here to create a more moral society - we are here to lead people to Jesus who will cleanse them and put them on the right path. Too many Christians today see their task as straightening everybody out in this world. You can't straighten anybody out. Without Jesus you would still be on a crooked path. Remember that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to bring salvation to those who believe and receive Him. The world Jesus came into was wicked, evil and brutal. Jesus wasn't mad! He wept over the people who were scattered like sheep without a shepherd.

We must be quick on our feet to act in mercy - spreading the gospel of peace. The devil will get you to be bitter, selfish and slow to forgive others. Stand strong in the Lord, act in mercy and spring in to action at a moment’s notice!!!

IV. Security

A long, oblong shield was carried by the Roman soldier. A soldier could squat down behind the large shield and the spears or arrows could not get to his body. The Christian is to hide in faith, trusting God completely. Fiery darts were often fired at the soldier, but he could shield himself behind his oblong shield. God has given us a shield to cover ourselves.

We must have faith to trust God in the most difficult moments. Satan is always firing darts at us. He also seeks to make us blame the Lord when things don’t go the way we want them to. We must trust God through it all and in it all. We must cling to Romans 8:28. We are to remember that our Lord is a refuge in a time of trouble - a strong tower and we can run into IT!

In Psalm 5:11 the Bible encourages us to take refuge in Him and be glad. We are to rejoice, even in times of trouble, and thereby stop the fiery darts of Satan. We must remember that Psalm 34:8 declares that our Lord is good and we are blessed when we take our refuge in Him.

The shield of faith places us in a position of security and trust.

V. Certainty

The helmet of salvation is next in order. The helmet covered the head, the brain of the soldier. The head, the control center of life, must be covered completely. We need assurance of our salvation so that we are not trapped in the paralysis of analysis! Certainty produces protection for our minds!

Look at Isaiah 26:3. God will keep us in perfect peace if our mind is fixed on the Lord. In Philippians 4:8 we are told to think on proper things. You will notice that the text calls for us to remain positive and trusting in our minds. We must have certainty that God is who He says He is and will do all He said He would do! (Hebrews 11:6)

VI. Proficiency

Now Paul brings us to the apex of his teaching on this subject. He introduces two issues in one context. The context is the Spirit of God. Remember that we are taught in this very same book of the Bible that we are to be filled with the Spirit. There are two things we must do in the power of the Spirit. One is to use the Word of God and the other is to pray.

One is Prayerful and the other is Careful.

One points Upward and the other points Outward.

We are to pray in the Spirit. Keep life in your prayer life! Also, we are to use God’s Word in our approach to the world. We are to ever be growing in these two areas of our lives. We must become proficient in our faithfulness to pray and careful in using the Word of God.

Some people call this age we are living in today, the post-Christian age in America. I like what John MacArthur said. He said that we are living in the sub-Christian era in America. His point was that many people still claim Christ but they do not care one whit about living like it! Proper pray and a spirit-filled life will cause us to walk with Jesus in this day, no matter how anti-Christian it becomes.

Conclusion

Every Christian is a Soldier of the Lord. You are to live like a warrior. We are not in a physical conflict - we are not in a fight with people. We are in a spiritual conflict, in a struggle with evil, spiritual and wicked powers that are in conflict against the Lord and His people. Look at 2 Timothy 2:3. A good soldier does not get entangled with the things of this life but serves faithfully the one who called him. We are called by the Lord, enlisted by the Lord, armed by the Lord, assisted by the Lord, ordered by the Lord and comforted by the Lord. Note that the text in 2 Timothy tells us that we will have struggles. Sadly, many believers expect the Christian life to be a bed of roses. We are told directly and plainly that our lives in Christ call for a willingness to suffer and endure. All who live godly will suffer!

Let me close by pointing out that we are to “please” the One who called us. We must put on the armor of God and stand faithfully for one purpose – to please Him. He will not fail us. He is a faithful Captain of our Salvation. Let us make a new commitment to serve Him clad in the full armor of God! Spurgeon once said that a decision to trust Christ is not a cause for congratulations but a call to preparation since you have entered the service of Christ the King.

Remember we are not home here in this world. Our home is with the Lord. We are passing through this world as a soldier of Christ. We are not sitting in a military barracks at church; rather we are getting instructions for our struggle against the enemy. We must be armed and ready for the fiery darts that will come our way. Come to Him now. Kneel before Him. Gain strength from Him. Be dressed in His armor!

Always remember that He promised never to leave nor forsake us. “The soldier's first article of faith is summed up nowhere more eloquently than in an 1865 letter from William Tecumseh Sherman to U.S. Grant: "I knew wherever I was that you thought of me, and if I got in a tight place you would come-if alive." This is the unwritten, unspoken but unbreakable contract of the battlefield: You will leave no one, dead or alive, in the hands of the enemy.” (U.S. News and World Report, July 29, 1991, p. 5.) He will be with us – let us stand for Him!

So, let us as one people commit our lives today to our Commander - Jesus Christ! If by chance, you are serving the enemy, there is a place for you under the command of the One who will win in the end. Repent of your sins and come to Him today. Believe that He died for you and rose to give you eternal life. During WWII there was a poster that hung in places all over America. It was picture of Uncle Sam wearing red, white and blue. He was pointing straight of the picture and the viewer. It read, "Uncle Sam Wants YOU!" Let me tell that Jesus came to save you. We can say today, "Jesus wants YOU!" Come to Him now.