This sermon is number 29 in a series of 36
Ephesians - Part 29: The Holy War Part 2
"The Christian Warrior's Armour - Part 1"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2001 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Now let me welcome you to our Bible Reading tonight here in the Iron Hall. It's great to see you all with us, especially if you're a visitor - perhaps this is your first time, we're glad to see you tonight, and we trust that the Lord blesses you through the preaching of His own inspired truth. Thank you for coming, and may the Lord bless you.
We're turning to chapter 6, again, of Ephesians, chapter 6 of Ephesians. We're entering our second study in this sub-series: 'The Holy War', looking at the armour of God and this spiritual battle that we have all been called to fight in through our salvation. We're reading tonight from chapter 6, and we'll begin reading at verse 10, where we studied last week from verse 10 to 12.
We begin at verse 10: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. 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. 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. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness".
Our subject this evening is 'The Christian Warrior's Armour'. Last Monday night the subject was 'The Christian Warrior's Brief', and we looked at what God tells us we must do before we even begin to fight that battle. And we see, in verse 10 and 11 especially, what we need to do - first of all we need to be strong in God's power for this fight, it's not a fight that we can fight in our own strength. Verse 11 also told us that we must put on the armour of God in order to stand against the wiles of the Devil. We spent much time last Monday night looking at this old foe, the arch enemy of God and God's people, Satan himself. We looked at how every believer is called into that battle with him, and let me just say that I have realised that battle all the more in the week that has gone by - since I've begun to study in this study. For Satan does not like his cover being uncovered, he doesn't like it one bit!
The consensus that we came to last week is that the word of God teaches that this world in which we live, the world into which we have been born, the world which we often call our home, is the Devil's realm. It is the place where the Devil holds sway. Indeed, we looked at the text, 2 Corinthians chapter 4 and verse 4, which reads: 'The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them'. To summarise it, it's saying: 'This world is his, he is the god of this planet'!
If you cast your mind back to the first few chapters of the book of Matthew, in chapter 3 you find there the temptation of the Lord Jesus Christ - and you remember, during one of the temptations of the Lord, Satan took the Lord Jesus to a high pinnacle and showed Him the whole of the kingdoms of the world. It was in Satan's remit to offer to the Lord Jesus all of those kingdoms, if He would just bow down and worship him. Have you ever thought about how Satan had the power to do that? How Satan could give to the Word of God, who created all things - without Him nothing exists, and all things, Colossians tells us, were created for Him - how the adversary, the Devil, could offer to the Lord Jesus Christ all of the kingdoms of this world? Of course, the answer is simple: he could offer them because they were his. They still are his.
The question could be asked: how did he get them? For the answer to that question you would need to go into the beginning, into the book that is the book of beginnings, the book of Genesis - right into the garden of Eden, between that perfect fellowship of God and man. You would have to witness that great holiness and sanctity that there was in the beginning, you would have to then see the serpent coming into the garden, you would have to see Eve being tempted - and there, in that snapshot of history, you would see the handing over of the worlds reins over to Lucifer himself. It was Adam, our forefather, who handed the deeds of this world over to the Devil when he sinned. Death came upon all men by that one man's sin - and because of his original sin there in the beginning, this world has been handed over to Satan himself.
You don't have to really know that in order to see the Devil in our world today. I think this proves more than anything that the Devil has blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them and they believe. They cannot see what is going on in our world! They cannot see the falsehood of relativism that is ingrained in the minds of so many folk, even on the street, who have never had an education - they just believe: 'My way is God's way, and I'll get there in the end. I'll follow my path and God will shine His love on me'. 'All roads lead to God, it doesn't matter what religion you are. As long as you're moral, sincere, and believe in some kind of a deity' - and even if you don't, you believe in yourself as a deity - 'it doesn't matter' - there is this hotch-potch of a smog of relativism, that 'We'll all get there in the end'. If you can't see that in the philosophical world, you look to the moral world, and you see ingrained in the cultures of this whole planet great debauchery and depravity of all kinds that we couldn't even mention here from the pulpit tonight. Great licentiousness, licence on every hand, everything goes in the religious world and also in the moral world.
Kent Hughes puts it like this: 'This world is approving of things even dogs in the full sway of their animal instincts would never do'. All it takes is for you to turn to the first chapter of the book of Romans, and read the account of the world as it was in Paul's day. It gives a detailed reflection, indeed, of how it was in Noah's day, and how it is today, and how the Lord Jesus Christ says it will be in the coming of the Son of Man - which is on a day that is not too far off, I believe. This is the Devil's world! We hear sung: 'This is my Father's world' - no, it is the Devil's world. We must come to this conclusion - and this is important - that the Devil is unredeemable, there are no redeemable features within him, there is no virtue. He is a dark void as a creature and will always be so, and he is trying to bring this planet to hell, he is trying to drag our loved ones, our friends, our relatives, our workmates, down to hell with all his schemes, with all his lies, with all his plans. That has been his plan for all time, and will never cease to be so!
Indeed, his plans are specified in verse 11 that we looked at last week - and let's look at it, we didn't get time to look at this specifically. We're told to put on the whole armour of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. The Greek word for 'wiles' there in verse 11 is the Greek word 'methodias' (sp?). It is the word that we derive our English word 'method' from. So if you look at this verse, what it's saying is that we adorn the armour of God that we may be able to stand against the methods of the Devil himself - speaking of his cunning, crafty ways, his artistic strategies whereby to drag the world down to hell. He has a method to his madness, it is not simply wild, chaotic evil that is let loose - this being, this principality, this old fallen angel has a plan for this world and it is damnation!
If you think of this for a moment, the old Devil has been perfecting this for years. If you read through history you will find that he has sat on church councils, he has introduced heresy into the church of Jesus Christ. In our land he presently sits on the boards of universities, and he - in our world, contemporary as it may be - is at the forefront of technological and scientific discovery of all kinds. This Devil is an expert, he is an accomplished philosopher, theologian, and psychologist. And unless we realise tonight - as the soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ - who our enemy is, we will be soldiers with our eyes closed, and we won't even see our own grave! We won't be able to see how the Devil is trying to draw us in with all the baits he can, until we are bound by him - yes, even as Christians - under his sway and control.
Now think of this for moment: imagine if you studied mathematics for 100 years. I studied it for 7 or 8 years, and I still can hardly add 2 and 2 together! Imagine studying it for 100 years! Imagine having the privilege of reading thousands of years of theories, looking at Einstein and Newton and all the theories of gravity and physics - and if you were given that time, probably all of us or any of us at least, could become experts in almost anything! Satan, if you think of it, has had thousands upon thousands of years to study humanity, to study human disciplines, and in the end to subvert the race through them. Satan is an expert at his art, he is an expert at deceit, he is an expert murderer, and liar, and thief - and he is the expert accuser of the church and believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. It's his job, and if I can say it tonight - it galls me to say it - but he's good at it!
One of the most sinister roles he has is masquerading as the agent of God, for that was his role in eternity past before the fall. He was that great cherub above all creations, in the garden of God there he was in all his splendour and glory - he's used to being an angel of light, and so much today he appears in that way. If you turn with me to 2 Corinthians for a moment, chapter 11, we see that. 2 Corinthians chapter 11 and verse 13, Paul is talking about false prophets and he says: 'For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works'. You can name them off - we wouldn't even have time to name them all tonight - the cults, the Roman Catholic system, Islam, Buddhism that we have all witnessed in the media in recent days, the New Age movement, apostate Protestantism, lukewarm evangelicalism, ecumenism of every kind. You look around, in the religious world at least, and you see Satan there as the angel of light bringing thousands to hell with him!
I believe that he has made inroads into evangelicalism, and even into fundamentalism. Indeed I believe that one of the plans of the Devil for [God's] servants, and indeed all Christians today - especially in Ulster at the minute - is to discourage them, to depress them, to make them become disillusioned as God's sovereign servants in His will. They actually get into a scenario where they believe that God has forgotten them, God has forsaken them, God's promises are not 'Yea and Amen', God is no longer good to them in His providence and in His care. But, like Martin Luther the Protestant reformer, who on one occasion doubted the goodness of God toward him and said this: 'For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell', how many of us are brought close to there by the Devil himself? Maybe you know what I'm talking about tonight, and we see it especially in our land among God's servants. Pastors, missionaries, evangelists - because of the day of small things, because of false doctrine, because of opposition the Devil has begun to get them! He is working inroads into the church of Jesus Christ to drag us down into the dirt, to discourage us, to disillusion us - and even, at times, he imitates the people of God and the power of God to do it. His evil methods, and schemes, and wiles are beyond our comprehension at times, for he is without conscience and without principle at all! No wonder Luther wrote in his great hymn, 'A Mighty Fortress':
'For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe.
His craft and power are great,
And armed with cruel hate...
On earth is not his equal!'
We have an enemy, and he is an awful enemy! He is a fearful enemy, and there is none his like upon the earth - but hallelujah! That's not the case in heaven! Turn with me to Colossians, we have to look at these verses again - we looked at them last week, but we can't let the Devil have any of the glory tonight. Colossians 1, and remember that Colossians is almost a mirror epistle of this book of Ephesians, you find the same themes right throughout it - Colossians 1:16. Remember it's the Lord Jesus it is speaking of: 'For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him'. Chapter 2, verse 10: 'And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power', verse 14, '[He blotted] out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it' - hallelujah! He has defeated him, haha!, the Devil is defeated!
Just like Aaron's snake swallowed up the snakes of Pharaoh's wizards, God's Snake still swallows up the Devil - isn't that wonderful? To know that all of the Devil's poor imitations are trodden down by the God Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, by the Saviour of the world - He is the Saviour, He has sealed their doom - and we are strong in the Lord! We are not strong enough to face him ourselves, but praise God tonight, He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world.
As we think of that, and begin on that footing, let's look at verse 13 of our passage tonight [chapter] 6. Remember that Paul is under house arrest, and it's probable that he's chained to a Roman soldier, and he can survey this scene before him - he's looking at him from head to toe in all the armour of the Roman soldier. And Paul, as we read him, we find that he's always very quick to see spiritual lessons in the natural realm, and making illustrations out of them. Paul, here in this passage, focuses on six essential items. First of all you find a belt, then a breastplate, sandals, shield, helmet and sword - and then he adds a non-clothing part, which is the part of prayer. But that reminds us of what we learnt last week, that we wrestle not against flesh and blood - this is not a physical battle or a political battle, this is a heavenly, spiritual battle.
As Paul presents his charge to wear these seven items of the armour of God, Paul reiterates what he said in verse 10. Look at it, he tells us: 'Stand - be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might', verse 11, 'Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil'. Verse 10 is 'be strong', verse 11 is 'stand', and then verse 13 again he says: '[Put on] the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand' - and then at the very end - 'having done all, to stand'. It's a command, but just don't see a command, see a promise within it - Paul is saying, he is promising us that if we will really put on the whole armour of God we will stand, and we will be victorious. But note: it is the whole armour of God. Look at it: 'Put on the whole', the full, 'armour of God' - that's what's needed, do you know why? Because Satan is surveying your person, and he is looking for a chink, he is looking for an unguarded part of your spirit just to throw one of his fiery darts into - but if you're wearing the whole armour of God he'll not be able to get in. He's looking for an unguarded area where he'll make a beachhead.
That's what we find in chapter 4 and verse 27, look at it: 'Neither give place to the devil' - in other words, don't give a foothold to the Devil, don't give him any ground. In this 21st century in which we live in, we're inundated with foes, aren't we? We're inundated with enemies of every kind and on every side, we can't even imagine at times, perhaps like last week we aren't aware of it - but the fact remains that today is a day of awful sin, and sin is abounding on every hand. And when the fight reaches its fiercest it's very hard to stand, isn't it? It's hard to stand. But what Paul is saying in verse 13 is this: 'Stand in the armour of God, and when you've done everything else, stand'. He's saying: 'You see in the smoke of the battle? When you're standing resisting the enemy, and the smoke of the battle dies down, and the sound of battle cannot be heard any more, you are seen standing! Left there!'.
The armour of God is described in Romans as an armour of light, it's described in 2 Corinthians 5 as the armour of righteousness - and that armour of light and armour of righteousness is the armour that we are to have. Paul says this, note verse 13: 'Take the armour of God' - take it! It doesn't say 'make it' - take it! It is there for you, all has to be done is for you to lift up the armour of God and wear it! God has given you it, it's not your armour, it's the armour of God! We saw last week that the reason we are victorious - not can be, but we are victorious - in the Lord Jesus Christ, is because we are fighting in the victory. We are not to go forward, but we are to stand in the victory we are already in. We're not to let the Devil push us off. He wants to make us retreat, but our duty is not to go forward - we can't go forward any more - we are victorious! The Lord Jesus has defeated him in every area, and potentially in every area of our life - so we are to stand.
Is that not what the Lord told Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20 and 15? 'King Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's'! Stand your ground, that's what Paul said, don't be moved. Stand firm and when you have done all, having accomplished literally all things, stand! Withstand his assaults. And think: if we distrust our cause, if we don't rely on our Captain, the Devil will gain ground. If we don't follow the Captain of our salvation, if we neglect our spiritual armour, we give him an advantage. We are to ignore the cries and the wails of battle, we are to ignore the anguish and the bloody scenes that we see before us of ones who have fallen before us in the awful tragic warfare. We're not to be shattered or discouraged by some of the casualties that fall in the wayside, but we are to stand, stand, stand - and when we have done all, and the smoke of battle dies down, we're to remain standing!
The reason for that is because of the evil day. Look at verse 13 and you get those two words 'evil day' - and I believe Paul is speaking of the time when the enemy comes in like a flood. You know what I'm talking about: the time when you're overwhelmed by evil, overwhelmed by things that go against every sinew that is in your body - a Satanic opposition that seems to occur in waves at times. Sometimes it advances, sometimes it recedes - it is the day, the evil day, which is the special day of Satan's assaults! In Luke chapter 4 we find it in the temptation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we find there the onslaught of all the powers of darkness that could not make our Lord sin because He couldn't sin - and never you forget that! He couldn't sin, no possibility of Him falling, otherwise God would topple off His throne and fall into hell - never. But at the end of that wonderful discourse, in chapter 4:13 of Luke's gospel, it says this: 'And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him'.
In Isaiah 59 and verse 19 - and I have claimed this promise in the week that has gone by, in the very face of the Devil himself - we read this, now listen soul tonight in hardship, in distress, facing the onslaughts of the Devil himself: 'When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him'. What a verse! If that was the only verse you had wouldn't it be tremendous? The Lord is there! And Paul, looking at this Roman soldier - I don't know whether he's ever seen a battalion of Roman soldiers, but what they used to do was: when they were attacked they formed a human square or rectangle with their armour over their heads, their shields. There would be men right around all the sides, facing all the different directions, ready to fight the onslaught of the enemy - and if one soldier fell another took their place and rose up against the enemy. Their greatest duty, you see at that moment, all huddled together in a square with the enemy all around them - do you know what their greatest duty was? Not to go forward, because they couldn't go forward or they would separate, but their duty was to stand - and when they had done all, to remain standing! And above all, more often than not, they won because they simply stood and refused under any circumstances to retreat.
That's what Paul wants us to do. You might say: 'How can we face such an enemy?'. Do you know how we do it? By adorning the real armour of God Almighty. Think about this: what size are you? On the anvils of God's heaven there has been hammered out an armour for you, an armour with your name on it. But, my friend tonight, this is the whole point of this epistle, isn't it? You have the doctrine, but what about the practice? The armour is there, and Paul says: 'Take it up! Lift it and put it on and wear it!'.
So, what's the first item that he instructs us to wear? The first item on your sheet is the belt of truth. Verse 14, look at it: 'Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth' - having your loins girt about with truth. Now that's the first step, indeed that's the first step of preparing for battle. This was a belt that was put around the soldier's waist. If you see a picture of a Roman soldier, you'll find out that underneath that belt there was a long skirt, like a kilt. That belt held up the kilt, and the prelude to battle was simply this: when the soldier saw the enemy coming, he would lift up and roll up the skirt, and tuck it into the belt, so that he could run or he could fight. He didn't want to trip up over the skirt, and that was the preparation, the prelude to battle. So, whenever you saw a Roman soldier tightening his belt, he was ready!
I used to play rugby, and just before the whistle went you were all on an edge. You've seen it: one foot to another foot, then you would tighten your laces and pull up your socks, then you would tighten your belt, you would fiddle around with your gum shield, make sure everything was ready - why? You were preparing, and when the Roman soldier was preparing for battle he would tighten his belt. And if the enemy was about to get him, he would roll up that skirt and tuck it in - and this was more than a sport, this was a life or death matter. My friend, this is spiritual battle! It's more than airy-fairy, pie-in-the-sky, this is real! This is every day meat and bread of a Christian - at least it ought to be. And when you think that Satan is a liar, the liar from the beginning, the liar in the garden, and the liar every day in your Christian life, you better believe that you need the belt of truth! Truth defeats the Devil. This is how, Paul is telling us, to prepare to meet our enemy: to gird everything with truth. The girdle held everything together for the Roman soldier, and the girdle of truth holds everything, all the other parts of the armour, together for the child of God. It allows us to fight, it gives us the freedom to face the enemy.
There's an interesting story in the Old Testament in Exodus chapter 12, and there's one verse I want to refer to. Verse 11 in Exodus 12, we find the Passover, and the children of Israel are just about to be delivered out of Egypt by God - and you know where they would go: to the Red Sea - but before that they had to celebrate the Passover. Have you ever noticed the way they were told to celebrate the Passover? They were to eat that slain, burnt, lamb with their loins girt up and with shoes on their feet. Isn't that a beautiful picture? It's a wonderful picture of exactly what Paul is talking about here. The victory of the slain Lamb that we stand in, as we stand in it we must be girt about with truth, we must have our loins girt about and shoes on our feet ready to face the foe - standing in the victory wherewith Christ the Lord has made us free.
If you think about it, also the belt held the sword up. The sword was in its sheath in the belt. Think about this, Christian: there's no point in you using the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, if your life is not bound up with the truth of God. That's what's killing the church today: men and women that know the word of God, but their life is not bound with God's truth! It's not just necessary for us to hold the truth of God, but it's necessary that we be held by the truth of God - it must hold us, it must bind us, support us! It holds the rest of our spiritual warfare and armour together. It must be applied to our daily life, the truth of God - day-by-day, when we sit, when we rise up, when we lie down, when we talk to one another and to our children - the word of God, the truth of God, everything must be tested by it!
It's what we find strength from, it's what we will find protection in combat against the enemy with. Pilate stood and asked the question: 'What is truth?'. Looking into the face of the Son of God! 'What is truth?' - truth is the Word of God. We worship the Word of God - not this book - but the Word that was with God, and is God. But we have His written word here, and that is the truth of God that we're to bind ourselves round about with: the Scriptures. As the Lord said: 'Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free', 'Sanctify them', He prayed to His Father for the church, 'through Thy truth' - 'Thy word is truth'! Ephesians 4 and verse 21, if you to look at it quickly, we read there of the truth of God in its exact, specific realm. Ephesians 4:21: 'If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus'. Imagine old Pilate asking the question: 'What is truth?', and there He was standing before him!
If truth doesn't bind us, do you know what will happen? The rest of our armour will fall to pieces, and the spiritual victory that we have in Christ...we will give ground to the Devil. All the other armour that we have will become useless, and untruth will get in. It's amazing when you study church history and you find out that God's great warriors of history overcame by the truth. Martin Luther, the father of the reformation, do you know what was said of him? History books tell me this, hard to believe: he memorised virtually the whole of the word of God - now it was in Latin mind you, but I wouldn't care whether I learnt it in Latin or not if I could learn it! Wesley, who was used to bring a revolution of God instead of a political revolution like France, he came up against the ecclesiastical system of the Church of England by preaching the gospel in the open-air. That great man Wesley, it was said of him that he memorised the whole of the Greek New Testament! God's overcomers had bibline blood, the word of God, they had the girdle, the belt of truth - and these warriors in victory had the truth in their heart, but they had the truth in their life. They had an honest, truth-trafficking lifestyle.
That's what Paul points out to us: that knowledge of truth, combined with a truthful character, holds together our armour for the fight. It's priceless - in a world like today's world how could it be anything but priceless to have truth. When the god of this world, the liar of the age, is sowing all his deceit round about, and we live in a morally exhausted planet where words have begun to be meaningless and have lost all meaning - they're manipulated now to mean whatever perverts and obscure men want them to mean. For the politician taxes has become 'Revenue Assessment Enhancement'. Perversion is now said to be 'gay'. Murder of unborn children is 'freedom of choice'. Marxism in the church is called 'Liberation Theology'. Sin, and repentance, and the blood, and justification, reconciliation, regeneration, means absolutely nothing! Grace is irrelevant! Preaching falls on deaf ears! This world rushes to a spiritual holocaust! Think of it: Bill Clinton tells a bare-faced lie for all of America to see, and he gets away with it. He remains unimpeached - in fact he's held up as a great President because of the economic revolution that he's brought to that country. Think of what is broadcast on our television today, it's now accepted as literally objective truth - when you watch the news do you ever even think of questioning what you hear? You don't! You just lap it all up, and we believe almost everything we hear from the television - and this is Satan's strategy!
The sad thing is that this culture of untruth has begun to infiltrate into the church of Jesus Christ - and this is my fear, and this is my whole point of these messages in the weeks that lie ahead. In chapter 1 we can be a believer, we can be positionally sitting in heavenly places with Christ, but practically speaking we are controlled by fears, by anxieties, by temptations and habits, by the Devil himself! That is possible for a child of God - if it wasn't why would God give us armour? Why would God tell us to put armour on? But think of this, positively, the effect that a clear conscience has when facing the Devil. Imagine coming face-to-face with our great accuser with the truth! As Paul said to Timothy: 'Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck' - the way not to make shipwreck is to take the belt of truth, to tighten our belts, and to live by our belts, and let truth hold everything in our lives up.
Now, that's the first step of battle. My question to you tonight is this: have you taken that first step? Secondly we have the breastplate of righteousness. That breastplate comes from up here right to down here, and it is said to cover all the vital parts of the body. It was meant to protect from the arrows and the swords of the enemy. In this context, the spiritual breastplate protects from the fiery darts of the Devil, the wiles of the Devil. Do you know that Satan, probably everyday, and his hordes are aiming fiery darts at your heart, at your vitals? Just as the worldly enemy always shoots toward the chest, so Satan does that - and that is why God gives us, praise His name, an impregnable covering for the soul of the Christian.
We said with regard to the belt of truth that Satan was the liar from the beginning, and we find with regard to the breastplate of righteousness that, to the child of God, Satan is the accuser - indeed, that's what 'Satan' means in Devil. He throws things at the Christian day-by-day, the accuser of the brethren, and every believer comes across him - filling their minds and their heart with guilt for the things that they have done. The problem occurs when believers try to take their own righteousness and make it a breastplate - that's when believers get into trouble. They try to be better, they try their best to live a Christian life, they try their best to walk in the truth that we've been talking about. But do you know what Isaiah says in 64:6? 'We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags' - imagine what a breastplate of filthy rags would do for you in a battle! Wouldn't do much, sure it wouldn't? Our righteousness is not what Paul is talking about. Romans says: 'There is none righteous, no not one...all have sinned...there is none that doeth good...all have fallen short of the glory of God' - but, praise God, the message of Romans is: there is a righteousness from God!
When we go into the book of Isaiah again, we find the Lord Jesus Christ in His pre-incarnate state, and we read of Him walking in battle, for He put on righteousness as a breastplate and a helmet of salvation upon His head, and He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. Imagine this: the Lord Jesus Christ doesn't ask you to wear any second-rate clothes, but He gives you the armour that He wore Himself. Oh, how can we not be victorious? How can we not stand in the evil day? Paul describes in Philippians 3, if we had time we could look at it, verses 7 to 9 - how he had that breastplate of righteousness. Let's have a quick look at it, Philippians chapter 3 and verse 7 to 9: 'But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ', and he's just been going through all the qualifications he had in the flesh, religiously speaking and morally speaking. Those were gain to him, but he counted them loss to Christ - they're useless! 'Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith'.
That's the righteousness we need, and I want you to notice tonight that that is by grace through faith - that's how you get everything in the Christian life. By grace, God has given it. Through faith, that's the mechanism whereby you are given it. Faith! And, my friend, if you want to put the armour of God on tonight, if you want to gird yourself with that belt of truth, if you want to wear the breastplate of righteousness, and in the weeks that lie ahead put on every other part of the armour of God - you're going to have to have faith! Paul said to the Thessalonians: 'Putting on the breastplate of faith and love' - you must have faith toward God to put it on, and you must have love toward men to put it on. It is a righteousness that affects you toward God - God cleansing you - and a righteousness that affects others around you, because His Spirit is working in you an in-wrought righteousness of God in your life!
Someone has said: 'When a man is clothed in practical righteousness he is impregnable. Words are no defence against accusation, but a good life is'. Like Paul, what did he say? 'I work and labour to have a conscience void of offence toward God and men'! You see if you have a conscience void of offence toward God and men, you can look the Devil straight in the eye and he can't do a thing about it. Isn't that wonderful? The great accuser of the brethren - can I ask you tonight: do you have this? Oh, we're all trying it on our own steam, aren't we? But do we have God's breastplate of righteousness? Would we not be better tonight discarding our filthy rags, and by faith bending over and lifting up God's righteous breastplate that will become a deadly weapon in the hands of the Almighty?
In ancient times before a squire was knighted, do you know what he would do? He would spend a night in vigil in the Castle Chapel, and he would spread out his whole armour before him, and he would lie prostrate and offer up his soul to Almighty God. That's what we need to do. Our duty is to put on the whole armour of God and stand our ground. Stand our ground - what is that ground, as we close? Revelation 12:11, listen, the martyr's of our God say this: 'They overcame him' - the great accuser - 'by' - and that word 'by' means this: 'on the ground of' - 'the blood of the Lamb, and by', on the ground of, 'the word of their testimony' - the word of what that blood does, the word of what that blood means - 'and they loved not their lives unto the death'!
There's an old rabbinical tradition that says this: that Satan the accuser had to shut his mouth on the day of atonement. What a thought! For our day of atonement started that day at Calvary, and if we're in Him it hasn't stopped yet and it's never going to. You may hear your accuser this evening, and every day of your life, but the word of God for your heart - and as we go into this spiritual battle together is this: we can stand, and when he has thrown everything against us, we can do all and still stand - why? Because if God is for us - if He is for us - who can stand against us? What a wonderful Saviour He is, isn't He?
As we bow our heads, and we have known the Lord's voice tonight, why not set aside those old rags? Why not be done with untruth, and half-truth, and spiritual compromise? Put on God's belt and God's breastplate, and stand in the victory of the Lord. We are overcomers tonight, not trying to be, we are - but we've got to, by faith, enter into that armour. Our Father, we thank Thee tonight that we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. We thank Thee that He is a nail in a sure place, and though the winds may blow, and the rocks may quake, and the waves may roar, our house is built on the rock Christ Jesus and will stand firm. Lord, may we have that deep spiritual realisation tonight, and may You impart grace to us to believe Thee - that Lord, You have won, and that we are standing on the victory side and none can be against us, for God is for us. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the twenty ninth tape in his Ephesians series, titled "The Holy War Part 2: The Christian Warrior's Armour" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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