This sermon is number 31 in a series of 36
Ephesians - Part 31: The Holy War Part 4
"The Christian Warrior's Armour - Part 3"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2001 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Now let me welcome you to our Monday evening Bible Reading here in the Iron Hall. It's great to see you all with us, making an effort in the bad weather to come around the word of God, to hear what God has to say to us. Especially if you're visiting, we welcome you and trust that the Lord speaks to you through His eternal word.
We're turning again to Ephesians and chapter 6 once more, this is our thirty-first study and it is our fourth study in The Christian Warrior's Armour - looking at the armour of God that has been given to every believer who is in Christ. So let's turn again to Ephesians 6, Ephesians chapter 6 - and I would advise you (there is some notepaper on the back of this little sheet, and if you have a pen with you, or if you can borrow a pen very quickly) I would advise you to take down the truths that you will hear tonight. They're not well-known in the sense that - well, I'll explain as I go through, perhaps, why they're not well-known - there are reasons for this. But everything I have to say - let me say at the outset of our meeting - is from the word of God, you will not find anything I'm saying tonight that is not found within our text.
So as we come, let's come again and read about the whole armour of God so that we get the flow of the weeks that have gone behind. We are now on the last two parts of the physical armour of God - we've dealt with four already. Verse 10 of chapter 6: "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; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" - and this is our verse tonight - "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak".
We've been going through the book of Ephesians now for 31 weeks, [this is] our thirty-first study, and our fourth study in a sub-series on the armour of God. I have entitled this sub-series: 'The Holy War'. Many are not aware that John Bunyan, who wrote Pilgrim's Progress, also wrote another great book that was an allegory of the Christian life and, indeed, the Christian battle - and he entitled it: 'The Holy War'. If you're not aware of that, you most definitely are not aware of the full title of that book - that's a shortened version of it. The full title is this - now listen carefully: 'The Holy War Made by King Shaddai upon Diabolus For the Regaining of the Metropolis of the World; or The Losing and Taking Again of the Town of Mansoul'. Now let's go over that again, listen: 'The Holy War' - that we've been talking about in this week - 'Made by King Shaddai'. Now who is King Shaddai? El-Shaddai, God! This war made by our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords - '...upon Diabolus' - which is Latin for devil - 'For the Regaining of the Metropolis' - the city - 'of the World; or The Losing and Taking Again of the Town of Mansoul'.
You see the picture that Bunyan was trying to paint. He was bringing to us what we've been learning in weeks gone by, of this great spiritual battle that all those who are Christians have entered into in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have learnt, and we will learn again this evening, that this is no picnic - that this battle is a bloody, gruesome, horrible sight. It is hand-to-hand warfare, face-to-face as we stand glaring against the enemy of our souls, it's a breathless wrestling to the horrible cries and deadly moans of a great spiritual war. That is why we need the armour of God. It is not enough to be saved and to enter into this battle by ourselves, we must be fitted out and kitted with an armour - not of ourselves, but an armour that God has given to us so that we might win the battle that we are entering into as believers.
That is why, in the weeks that have gone by, we have learnt about buckling in the belt of truth around our loins, that all of the armour must be held up by God's truth. That in turn should flow out within our lives, in the truthfulness of God in the way we walk, and the manner in which we live. Secondly, we saw that we are to adorn the breastplate of God's righteousness in our Lord Jesus Christ. That is an imputed righteousness - in other words a righteousness that He has given to us. We saw that God gave to Christ our sin on the cross, for Him to suffer for - and in turn, because of that imputation of our sin to Him, He can now, when we have faith in Him, impute His righteousness, the righteousness of God, to us. So, we are to adorn by faith the breastplate of God's righteousness, and we also saw that there's a twin part to that, that that is to be seen in our walk of righteousness, day by day as we testify that the life of God is within us.
Thirdly, we were to fasten tightly the shoes of the gospel of peace, those sandals upon our feet. We are to stand firm, and let those studs on the sole of those shoes dig deep into the victory ground that we have in our Lord Jesus Christ. We're not to retreat, we're not to run away, we're not even to go forward, but we're to stand on the victory ground that we have in our Lord Jesus Christ. At that point of standing we're to take up the shield of faith, whereby we can quench the fiery darts of the devil. We saw the many wiles and methods that the devil has to try and shoot down the soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ. But we also saw that this great shield of faith, which is not our faith, but the shield is God - and it is a shield of faith because we are to put our dependence in the character and in the word of God. If we hold up the word of God as our shield, it will never fail to protect us.
So, tonight we're looking at the last two parts of the physical armour. There is the helmet of salvation, and we are to unsheathe the sword of the Spirit. Now let's look at the first little statement at the beginning of our verse 17: 'And take the helmet of salvation'. 'And take the helmet of salvation' - now that Greek phrase is a different phrase than you find in verse 13 and verse 16. Look at verse 13: 'Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God' - verse 16: 'Above all, taking the shield of faith'. Verse 17: 'take the helmet' - that's a different Greek word. This word means to receive, it means to accept, it means that this thing is offered into your very hands, and you're just to accept it. Now, the other words for 'take' meant that this whole armour is laid out before you, and all you have to do is bend down and take it for yourself. But this is speaking of this piece of armour, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, actually being handed into your hands by someone else.
Now this is actually the way it would have been. Remember Paul is in prison and he's been chained to a Roman soldier and he can look at this Roman armour, as the soldier is wearing it - and that is exactly what happened. You see, they put on all the armour that we have been studying in the weeks gone by, and if you can imagine it: when their arm is in the shield of faith, well they can't really pick anything off the ground, they can't bend down because they're laden with their armour. What happens is an armour-bearer gives them their helmet, which they probably put on before the shield of faith, and then when they've everything on, finally the armour-bearer hands him his sword. There is this sense that these two things, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, are not something that we lift up, but something that is given to us by the armour-bearer - and of course the armour-bearer is the Lord, for this is the armour of God, isn't it?
The book of Jonah testifies many things to us, but one of the greatest things it tells us is this: salvation is of the Lord. I believe, in this sense, this phrase 'take the helmet of salvation' is speaking of the giftedness of salvation. It is not something that we can lift up in a moral sense within our life, it's not something we can achieve through our birth, or through our character make-up, or the way we live, or the religious persuasion that we are, but it is a gift from God that we must receive, we must accept it from God. Now that's very important to note, not only about salvation, that if you're not saved you need to realise it is a gift of God which is eternal life, and you must receive it by faith - that's it! We saw last night, He is the door: 'By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved'. There's nothing required of you, but to enter through the door: the Lord Jesus Christ.
But as we go to these next two pieces of armour, I believe this giftedness that we find in it being given to us as a gift, handed by the armour-bearer - the Lord Jesus Christ - there is this sense that we are not going into the battle in our own confidence. We're not standing in our own strength, we have not adorned our self in this armour, but it is God's armour - and we go not alone against the foe:
'Strong in Thy strength,
Safe in Thy keeping tender'.
Isn't that right? I want to lay as the foundation, before we go any further - for I will say a lot of things tonight that empower us as believers - we must always remember, and we hear it so often in prayer: 'Without Thee, Lord Jesus, we can do nothing'. But sometimes we labour that too much, because we can do all things through Christ - never forget that! He has lavished upon us every single thing that we need, and we are not simply poor, redundant sinners now, we are rich! We are heirs, with Christ Jesus, of the grace of God. We must also remember though, that it is in His strength: 'Wherefore', verse 10, 'be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might'. Remember the book of Jude, chapter 1 verse 9: 'Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee'. So, before we go any further, we're not getting any fancy ideas that we are great spiritual warriors without God on our own - no! But we are standing in the strength of the Lord, and if we stand in His strength the rest of what we're going to study tonight is ours!
So, let's look first all at our first piece of armour tonight: the helmet of salvation - 'Take the helmet of salvation'. Now the helmet, literally, of that Roman soldier that Paul was looking at, was made of bronze and it had leather attachments whereby he fastened it onto his head. It had a band to protect his forehead, and it had plates that come down like sideburns to protect his cheeks. It also extended down the back of his neck, so that no one could come round the back and crack him on the neck with anything. So you can see that this helmet is protecting the whole of the head, and about all that can be seen are the eyes and the nose and the mouth, so that he can communicate, and so that he can see. A very heavy piece of armour it was, so heavy that they had to line the inside of it with felt, or with a sponge of some kind, so that it was comfortable. The history books tell us that the only weapons that could probably penetrate a helmet like this, was a hammer or an axe.
Now why is it that we need such a strong instrument of armour upon our heads? Well, it's quite obvious in the physical, military sense, that the head of the soldier is among one of the most important parts to be defended - isn't that right? Even when we get on a motorbike, we put a helmet on, because so many important faculties that many of us have - maybe not all of us! - but many of us have, are found within our head. They need to be defended! The deadliest wounds that the enemy can inflict were on the head. They head was the part that commanded the whole body, and if the enemy wanted to wipe out that soldier he would aim for the head. Cut an arm off, and he could still resist a wee bit. Cut another limb off, perhaps he could still go on resisting - but if you cut his head off there's nothing much he can do about it, is there? He can't fight on in that battle. If he loses his head, he's in trouble!
Now what is the sense of the spiritual truth that Paul is wanting to convey to us this evening? Well first all, we must be fundamental with this. The helmet is salvation - let's not miss that - it is salvation, and salvation is simply the deliverance of you from sin by God. In Isaiah 59 we saw that this was the armour of God - it's actually God's armour! It's the armour that God wears, and God is giving us that armour, verse 17 he says: 'For he put on', God, 'righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak'. So, this is the helmet of God's salvation. Now, this is important, it's not just our heads being protected by a message, but it is our head being protected by God! For God is our salvation, not a message, God is our salvation, the message of the Gospel is that God is our salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. So we must see that, that this is the helmet of God's salvation. Our deliverance is offered in a person, the person of God Himself incarnate in our Lord Jesus Christ. It is His presence, it is His promise that covers the head.
If you imagine this: as the soldier faces the fight, imagine the effectiveness of facing the fight knowing that God is on your side. No matter how hot the battle gets, you can never be daunted if God is on your side. If God is for you, the word of God says nothing can be against you - why? Why can you not be daunted if you're wearing the helmet of salvation? Can I repeat it: because the ultimate victory has been secured! It is victory ground, it is victory armour, and this helmet of our salvation: it preserves us from surrender and retreat! If God be for us, who can stand against us?
So, it is the helmet of salvation - but secondly there is the sense that it is knowledge and assurance of salvation. You see, it's important for us to understand, and especially if you're not saved, that salvation is not an emotion. It is not without emotion, but it is not in essence an emotion. It is a rational knowledge, whereby you rationalise that you must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to have your sins forgiven and to be saved. We dare not, in our circles, minimise the intellectual sense of the Gospel. You must think to believe. Therefore this helmet of salvation is protecting that thinking process, whereby you realised you were a sinner, you realised Christ died for you, you realised you needed to repent, and you believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and you were born-again.
Now, let me say this: if there's any doubt in your head that you're saved - let me repeat that - if there is any doubt in your head that you are saved, you can never fight this battle. You have to have the helmet of assurance and knowledge of your salvation - and let me say to you tonight: if you've never ever accepted that, if you reach your arms out by faith, God will give you that helmet of salvation tonight! You can be assured that it is well with your soul. So, there is that knowledge and that assurance. Now believers, if you think about this for just a moment, what is the first thing that people begin to do when they're in a spiritual conflict? I'm not talking about mediocre temptation, I'm talking about a real spiritual war - sometimes we doubt our salvation, don't we? If you're honest, at least, you'll maybe say that. We think to ourselves: 'See that thought that just came into my head? Could a Christian think a thought like that?' - and then the devil perhaps comes along and says: 'No, a Christian couldn't think a thought like that, that must mean you're not a Christian! You've been kidding yourself! You're kidding your wife, you're kidding your family - you see what you're thinking, the things that you are starting to feel, and those temptatious desires that come upon you in a moment? You can't be saved!'.
Now, let me say this: Satan may disrupt your daily victory, but he can do nothing to disrupt your position and your identity in the Lord Jesus - and never you forget that! No matter what he says, no matter what he does, he cannot change the fact that Christ has died, and you have died with Him; and Christ has risen, and you have risen with Him - and if you have put your trust and faith in Him, He is able to save to the uttermost all who come onto God by Him! Just as well He's a Saviour like that, otherwise we'd all be in trouble. But if he can get you to believe for one moment that you're not strong in Christ, to believe for one moment that you're not on victory ground, he has got you over a barrel! This is very important for us to note everything that is being said tonight - but if you have this helmet of salvation, in the sense of a knowledge and an assurance that it is well with your soul - you are persuaded and know that He is able to keep what you've committed unto Him against that day - you have the hope, the sure certain hope, of eternal life.
Now there's a few conclusions that emanate from that. The first is this: you'll not accept false doctrine. If you have a knowledge of what salvation is in the word of God, you'll not accept anything that is apart from that, any false teaching that tells you have to work for you salvation, or the cross was good but it wasn't enough and you have to do a wee bit more, or you have to belong to this church, or you have to wear these clothes. If you believe and imbibe that, you haven't got this assurance on your head, you haven't really got to grips rationally and intellectually with what this great gospel of God's grace is. If you have this helmet on, you'll never despair. You will never despair - never! You will never ever panic about the state of your soul, because this helmet of salvation lifts up the believer's head. Psalm 3:3: 'But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head'. Luke 21:28 says, speaking of the end times that we are probably in today: 'And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up', don't despair, 'and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh'. It's hope, not despair, not pessimism that we hear so much of today - but it is an assurance and knowledge that God is our salvation!
Now, what we tend to do is: we relegate salvation to the past, don't we? 'My salvation happened on the 3rd of November 1984, that's when I had salvation' - now, that's not biblical. Now yes, when you're saved, if you're truly saved and there is evidence of that salvation in your life, you are saved for eternity, you'll never be lost! But salvation in a sense is a process - the book of Ephesians, we've learnt in weeks gone by, teaches that you were saved, you are being saved, and in a later date you will be saved, for the redemption of the body still has to take place when we all go to heaven and we are like Him, because we see Him as He is. So there is a process here, and we need to be careful that we don't relegate this to the past in some way. Now here, I believe, is not a relegation to the past, but it means a strength now! A strength for the fight at this very moment to deal with Satan, to deal with the world, and to deal with the sins that attack us day by day - God is giving us a salvation that is able to cope now! It is able to overcome now and in the future!
Now I believe this is the third thing. First of all it was: helmet is salvation. Secondly, it's a knowledge and an assurance of our salvation. But thirdly it is a sure hope of the consummation in the future - the consummation of our salvation! What the devil would love us to believe is that 'You're never going to get to the end! You're never going to be able to see this Christian thing through! You're falling at every hurdle, you haven't even got through the first stage of the race, you're nowhere near the prize!' - but if you could just, by faith, take this helmet of salvation, you would realise that there is a hope! A hope in a biblical sense doesn't mean an airy-fairy, 'I hope it'll happen' - it is a sure faith upon the word of God that it will happen! In 1 Thessalonians 5 verse 8 this is exactly what you get, listen: 'But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation'.
What is the hope of salvation? Is your head cast down? Is it? Do you feel: 'I don't deserve to be here tonight. If you knew what I did today, if you knew the things that I'm going through, and the temptations that I'm grappling with...'? Listen: there is a hope that one day God will come through, God will consummate it. Philippians 1:6: 'Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ'. So many Christians, Satan trods them down, Satan accuses them, Satan whispers in their ear: 'You're useless, you'll never make anything of this Christian life. Who ever told you to be Christian, did they not know what you were like? Did they not know you'd be a failure?'. But when you have this helmet of salvation upon your head:
'When Satan tempts me to despair,
Upward I look and see Him there,
Who made an end of all my sin'.
That's what it's all about. The point behind this helmet is that a good helmet is a confidence builder. Now, how's your confidence tonight in the Lord Jesus? You need the helmet. In 1988 there was a heavyweight championship fight between Mike Tyson and Michael Simms, and there were two things that were said about that fight. The first was the calm demeanour of Tyson before the fight - that's not strange, sure it's not! When you look at his muscles, the massive muscles that he had, and still has - those muscles gave him lethal confidence. It made him calm before the fight, that's the first thing. The second thing about the fight is his punching power, that Simms was down after 91 seconds. Two things notable: his confidence in his muscular power, and secondly the quickness of the defeat. Now that's a very fleshly example, but it is true, isn't it? If you're confident in God, you will be confident of a quick victory.
The shield of faith that we studied last week was a confidence, wasn't it? A dependence on God - but it was more of a general confidence, generally speaking, in all of God's promises and God's word. But this confidence that I'm talking about in the helmet of salvation is a bold, joyful, consciousness of what you have in Christ. It's that knowledge of what you have in God going down to your heart, and thrilling you to enthuse you and to go through your veins to strengthen you to stand. Now, let's expand this: what is the mind? That's where the helmet is, on the head where the mind is found. Well, the head is the seat of the mind, isn't it? The seat of our thought, and our reasons, and our intellect - and that is where Satan wants to attack. He wants to attack the mind. Satan's objective is to shift us off the victory ground that we have in Christ. He wants to convince us that we are not on it, he wants to undermine God's word that tells us we're on it, and he wants to rob us of the joy of knowing we're on it.
Now how many of us here tonight has he done that for? How many of us have heads that look down, and Satan has pushed us off our victory ground that is our own? He plants a certain thought in your mind, and it stays there. You get involved in a certain sin, and you can't get untangled from it, and Satan convinces you that you're done for - that's the end. That's why Peter says in 1 Peter 1:13: 'Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ'. 2 Corinthians 10:5 Paul says: 'Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ'. There is a battle for the mind, a battle! Christian, you are in that battle, and if the devil gets into your mind he'll take off your head!
It's a fact, isn't it, that the spiritual battle will either be won in the mind, or lost in the mind? Sin doesn't start in your hands, or in your feet, or in your eyes, it starts in your head. It starts when you conceive of a thought, or conceive of an action, and that conceiving stems in an action, and is brought forth in fruit of a deed that is done and a transgression that is committed. That's the way that Eve was defeated in the garden in Genesis 3, and Paul uses it as an example of our temptation in 2 Corinthians 11:3, he says: 'But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ'. Now, what we do is we live thinking that our salvation depends on our success or our failure - we don't really believe that, we subscribe to eternal security, but in our hearts we feel that: 'You know, am I really saved, or am I really going to get to heaven the way I'm living?'. Now let me say this: that is not an excuse for you to be living in sin, and if you're living in sin you need to shake yourself and get out of it now. But when the devil tells you things that are not true, and accuses you of lies - things that don't even remotely resemble the truth - and we believe it, Satan gains a victory! When he tells us that we have to gain the victory, he's gaining, for we've got it - and the helmet of salvation works when we realise that, no matter what the world, no matter what the flesh or the devil do to us, nothing can alter our standing in God! You are a child of God, and nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord! Nothing!
Now this is important, and I want you to note this because I want to be as practical as possible in the realm of this that we're talking about - in the mind. There are channels through which the devil pumps all his rubbish through. There are ways in which the devil communicates thoughts - and at times, as believers, we're shaken by the thoughts that come into our minds. They're so disconcerting, the images that appear upon the walls of our thoughts, and they appal us at times. You know what I'm talking about, the filth that suddenly, out of nowhere, just floods into your head. Now, the problem comes when those thoughts are permitted for one moment to remain in your mind, and the next step from remaining is for them to fester, and the next step after that is that it threatens the health of your soul. It's as if there's a television screen in your head, in the mind of every believer, and when the devil switches it on the most detestable pictures that you can imagine appear. Now if you begin, for one moment, to entertain such a sight you will lose your grip on reality! And let me tell you this: you'll lose your grip on the victory that you have in Christ - and that is exactly what the devil wants you to do, believer! He's not that concerned whether you sin or whether you don't sin, he just wants to get you off your ground!
If you continue to watch, you continue to think about those evil thoughts, the battle is over and you become a slave to your carnal nature. Let me say: it's not always the devil's fault, it's not always his fault. Sometimes it's not the television in our head, it's the television in our living room that's the problem. Pictures being flooded into our minds - and let's ask the question: if I fill my mind with garbage and end up that I have no victory in Christ, what do we expect? As Ivor Powell said: 'When the mind' - this is the alternative - 'when the mind of the believer is filled with thoughts of God's amazing grace, and the soul is tuned to God's broadcasting station, it becomes increasingly difficult for any pirate station to silence God's broadcast from heaven'. That's why Paul says: 'Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, pure, lovely, good report - if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things'. Now just before we go on to our next piece of armour: is there anyone here tonight, including me, that needs to pray: 'Lord, restore unto me the joy of my salvation'? You'll not lose your salvation, but if he can take away your joy, he'll be happy.
Secondly there's the sword of the Spirit. Verse 17, second half: 'Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God'. Now the Roman soldier that Paul was looking at, the sword that he had was a little short, two-edged, 'cut and thrust' sword that was wielded by the heavily armoured legionary. It wasn't the big broad sword that you sometimes see drawn, it was a short sword. It was a short sword made for the heat of the battle. Now this sword that Paul is talking about, he says it is the word of God - it's been made by the Spirit of God. It has been wrought and edged by the Holy Spirit - it is like Goliath's sword, there is none like it! He - the Holy Spirit - whose sword it is, inspired it, and you find that in 2 Peter 1 and verse 21: 'For the prophecy', the words that we have been reading tonight, 'came not in old time by the will of man' - it wasn't some boy like Peter or Paul said: 'I think I'll write a letter to the Ephesians today' - 'but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost'. This is the word of God!
Now the method of our defence is the sword of the Spirit. But it's not just a method of defence like the other parts of the armour, it's also a method of attack. The history books tell us that Cromwell's Ironside soldiers fought with a sword in one hand and a Bible in the other hand - now we don't go to that extreme, because we wrestle not against flesh and blood. But in a sense that is what our battle is to be, with the sword of the Spirit, with the word of God - and we will never win the battle, we will never defend our souls, without the word of God, the sword of the Spirit. Peter tried to defend the Lord, remember, with the sword in the garden - but he found out later, on the day of Pentecost, that the sword of the Spirit does a better job than the metal sword does, isn't that right? The sword of the Spirit - the physical sword pierces the body, but the Spirit's sword pierces the heart. The physical sword wears with use, and wears down and goes blunt - but the Spirit's sword gets sharper and sharper the more it's used.
It is a two-edged sword, cuts both ways. Some with conviction, some with conversion, some with condemnation. You can read about it when you go home - we don't have time to read it - in Isaiah 11 verse 4, in Revelation 19 and verse 5, you can read about it right throughout the word of God. It's coming out of the mouth of Christ, Isaiah 49:2: 'He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me'. But the miracle about this sword is this: yes, it is the word of God, but it is put into the hand of the believer as an offensive weapon to the devil! Psalm 149:6 says: 'Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand'. What a privilege it is, isn't it? There's not one bit of armour that's for retreating - and this is a bit of armour that's not just for protection, but for going forward. Our safety is not in running away from the devil, believer, for there's no protection for the soldier's back. Our only safety is resisting the devil on redemption ground with the word of God that 'is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart'.
Now what is this sword? Well, I've already said it's the word of God, but it's the sword of the Spirit - look at verse 17: 'Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God'. Now that 'which is the word of God' can be translated like this: 'which is God's utterance', which is God's utterance. Now the word of God that you find in the Greek language in John chapter 1 is the word 'logos' - 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God' - 'logos' right throughout that chapter. The 'logos' is the personified Christ in flesh, the word, the description of God and who He is. But the word that's used here is the word 'rema' (sp?), and it speaks not of the word of God in flesh, but it speaks of the spoken word, a divine utterance, literally 'a saying of God' - the words that come from the very mouth of God. It's not the usual expression used in the word of God for the word of God 'logos', now why is that?
We must ask the question: why is that so? I'll tell you why it's so - and you note this now, believers, because you're going to need this - in the midst of battle it is the spoken word of God that does the trick. You've got to utter God's words. We defeat the devil when we speak aloud God's truth - and if the devil comes to you and you pick up your Bible and you throw it at him, that's going to do no good, sure it's not? It's the spoken word of God, it's speaking what God has said - there's a difference. When you say: 'Now, here is what God says', when you have a definite saying of God for that definite situation, you'll defeat him! But don't forget this: that the greatest sword in the world is useless if you don't use it. It's here, but we've got to use it - now, it's not the whole Bible, that's not what it is. It's not Genesis to Revelation, that's not what the Holy Spirit is saying here - as Harry Ironside says: 'This Bible is not the sword of the Spirit, it is the armoury and there are thousands of swords in here, and every one of them is powerful and two-edged'. What this 'rema' is, the word of God, is an appropriate word of the scripture for your specific situation to drive away Satan. Now, please note that, it's not the whole word of God. If the devil comes and tempts you tomorrow and you say: 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth', that's not going to do anything. You'll need a specific verse that will deal with your specific situation.
Now here's the second thing to note - we'll come back to that if we've time - the second thing to note is: why it is important to speak the word of God. Why it's important to utter it audibly, and not just believe it in your heart or to think it in your head. Now let me please labour on this for a moment - this is so so important: never forget that Satan is a created being. He is a creature, and he doesn't perfectly know what you are thinking. Now let me say this: he can, by observing you, get a bit of a gist - because he's been observing humanity for thousands of years - I could look at you and say that you're worried, couldn't I? Well, he can do it to - but he can't read your mind. He doesn't know what you're about to do before you do it. Yes, he can put thoughts in your mind, and he can see by your reaction to those thoughts the way you behave, and he can tell whether you're buying his lie or not - just like I'm trying to influence you with this message, I can't read your mind, but I'm trying to influence you, I'm putting thoughts into your mind - he can do that. But if you're going to resist the devil successfully, listen: you must speak God's word outwardly! He can't read your thoughts, he can't see what's in your heart, if you're going to put him to flight you'll have to tell him.
That's the two most common misconceptions about the devil - people believe he can read your mind, he can't! People believe he knows the future, he can't! Those are divine attributes! Those belong to God alone! Yes, you can communicate to God through your spirit, because He resides within your spirit and He reads the hearts and intents of men - yes! But you can't communicate to Satan that way! Oh, this is so important, and I'm quite sure it's not long since I had this revealed to me - and it's in the word of God: rema, rema, the spoken word, it's all here. It's amazing to me to think that if we command Satan upon the authority of the spoken word, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, he goes! If we, in our own hearts at that moment of battle, commit ourselves to God and outwardly, verbally, resist the devil - he will flee from us! What a victory!
Now let me say this: this is nothing to do with our strength. Corinthians says: 'For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds' - and if you go home tonight please, and look at the Lord Jesus Christ, look at His example in temptation in Luke chapter 4 verses 1 to 13. Three times He quoted the word of God, not just random, but He quoted the appropriate verse for that appropriate situation. When the devil tempted Him, when He was hungry, to turn stones into bread, the Lord Jesus said: 'It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word' - incidentally 'rema', the spoken word - 'of God'. Satan suggested an easy way for Him to get the world - bow down to me and I'll give You everything - but the Lord said: 'Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve'. Satan can get religious you know, he tempted the Lord to exercise His faith and throw Himself off the pinnacle of the temple, and he even quoted the word of God to Him! He says: 'God will not suffer Thy foot to be dashed against a stone, He gives His angels charge over Thee' - but he only quoted part of the scripture, because the word of God says: 'He'll keep thee in all thy ways', and it wasn't one of Christ's ways to throw Himself off the temple to test the devil. The Lord said: 'Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God'. And the miracle of grace is this: that that resisting of temptation is ours, because the armour that He wore, He has given to us. Three times He resisted him, and then it says - glory to His name! - the devil leaves him, and he'll leave you to if you follow His way.
Every talented swordsman has to acquaint himself with the weapon. Are you acquainting yourself with the word of God? Are you assimilating the word of God? Bunyan, in Pilgrim's Progress this time, speaks of Apollyon who is the devil - it's a name for the devil. He says this with regard to Apollyon attacking Christian, listen to this: 'Then Apollyon espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall; and with that Christian's Sword flew out of his hand. Then said Apollyon, I am sure of thee now; and with that he had almost pressed him to death; so that Christian began to despair of life. But, as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching of his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his Sword, and caught it, saying, Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy! When I fall I shall arise; and with that gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound. Christian perceiving that, made at him again; saying, Nay, in all these things we are more than Conquerors, through him that loved us. And with that Apollyon spread forth his Dragon's wings, and sped him away, and Christian saw him no more'. Hallelujah!
He'd got it right, Bunyan, hadn't he? Valiant-For-Truth, that we find in that great masterpiece, said this at the end of his days - please listen to this: 'I fought till my Sword did cleave to my hand, and then they were joined together as if a Sword grew out of my arm. And when the blood run through my fingers, then I fought with most courage'. He had resisted unto blood against sin. As we close let me say this: this whole armour of God is putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, putting off the clothes and works of the flesh and putting on Him. The belt of truth: 'I am the way the truth and the life'. The breastplate of righteousness: 'We are made the righteousness of God in him'. The shoes of peace: 'He is our peace, who has broken down every wall of partition'. His faithfulness makes our faith possible. 'The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me' - He is our salvation! He is the word of God made flesh to dwell among us. Paul told the Romans in chapter 13: 'It's time to waken up, put off the flesh, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ'.
Let's bow our heads, and you see if you're here tonight and you're not saved, well you can have the victory through the Lord Jesus. Victory over sin, temptation, and you can know Him as your Saviour and your Lord - speak to me afterwards if you want to trust the Lord. Christian, how mighty it is that we have a Saviour who has overcome, and if we stand in His armour and on His victory we will know the joy of our salvation. Lord Jesus, we thank Thee, we worship Thee and bless Thee, for Thou art a great Saviour - the Victor, the Lord Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords. Lord, we pray that we will know more of Thee in these days, more of the victory that was won at Calvary, in Thy name, 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 thirty-first tape in his Ephesians series, titled "The Holy War Part 4: The Christian Warrior's Armour" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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