Thank you Day, and good evening again - it's good to be back at the Lifeboat once more. I want you to turn with me in your Bibles, please, to Isaiah 61. If you were here with us last Thursday night, I was ministering from Psalm 57 on 'The Cry From The Cave' - and then Bertie had you in the cave again, I think, on Sunday morning, didn't he? Hopefully you're out of it by now! We'll try to get you out tonight!
Isaiah 61, now I want to minister really out of what I shared last week, and something I may have referred to in this portion of Scripture. We're beginning to read at verse 1, then, of Isaiah 61: "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified".
I'm sure all of you are familiar with Isaiah's prophecy, and how it has even been called 'the Gospel of Isaiah' because, prophetically, it's so accurate and so specific down to minutiae of the life and ministry of the suffering Servant prophesied here in Isaiah's book, the Lord Jesus Christ. We're so familiar with Isaiah 53, but of course here in Isaiah 61 Isaiah is speaking prophetically on behalf of Messiah, and he is announcing that Messiah will be blessed, and Messiah will be empowered by the Spirit of the Lord God, Jehovah God. Now, of course, 'Messiah' means 'Anointed One'. It's the same meaning as the Greek word 'Christos', from which we get 'Christ'. It's easy for us as Christians to identify in history who the anointed Messiah was.
Turn with me to Luke chapter 4 please, you might want to put a marker in Isaiah 61, Luke chapter 4, and here in history we see the Lord Jesus' identification with this prophecy. Luke 4:16: 'And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?'.
The Lord Jesus is in a synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth and, as was His custom, He gets up to read a portion of the holy Scriptures. He turns to Isaiah 61 in the scroll, and He reads verse 1 and the first line of verse 2. Then when He sits down, He simply says to all in His hearing: 'Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears'. Now, if you turn a number of chapters to chapter 7 of Luke's Gospel, you will see that John the Baptist, the great forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ, questioned, momentarily questioned, the identity of Jesus. Luke 7 and verse 19 please: 'John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come?', Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ, 'or look we for another? When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight'. Here is what the Lord Jesus appeals to as a qualification of His identity as the Anointed One: 'Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me'.
The Lord Jesus, effectively, was appealing to what He had read in the synagogue from Isaiah 61: the One who would be anointed of God as Messiah, the Christ, would do these things - the power of Jesus' ministry, the chosen of God, anointed with power from the Spirit of God. Now, this is what I'm getting at tonight: as partakers of the New Covenant - that's what we are as New Testament believers, Jesus has shed His blood for our sins, He has died and been buried, He has been risen again, He has ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit has been given, and we have been made partakers, engrafted into the vine - and so the power of Jesus' ministry is toward us also. Now that's important as we lay a foundation for what I'm going to say here tonight, I want you to grasp that the power of Jesus' ministry enshrined in Isaiah 61, again in His own historical experience read in Luke 4, and then testified again from His lips in Luke 7 to John the Baptist, we have become partakers of that power in ministry. First Corinthians 1 and verse 30 says: 'Because of him', that is, God, 'you are in Christ Jesus' - that's where you are now - 'Because of God you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption'. In other words, the power of Jesus' ministry has now come to us by grace, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, that is amazing! We get so familiar with these things that we lose the thrill and the wonder of it all. It is amazing that we can have the same anointing from the Spirit of the living God, we can have the same Spirit, and be partakers of that Spirit, that Jesus was anointed with in His ministry on earth. That's what John said in 1 John 2 verse 20: 'You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things' - isn't that wonderful? The power of Jesus' ministry can be ours. We can be partakers of His ministry personally in our individual lives, but also - and this is remarkable - we can be sharers of His ministry to others.
Now, that's the power of Jesus' ministry to us, but what I really want to emphasise tonight is this second point: the purpose of Jesus' ministry to us, the purpose of Jesus' ministry to us. Now, back to Isaiah 61 please: why was He anointed? That's His power, but the purpose of His anointing was to 'preach good tidings', second half of verse 1, 'unto the meek', the poor, 'he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD'.
Now, summarise - how would you summarise all those things that Jesus purposed to do in His ministry? Very simply like this: Jesus, the Anointed One, with the power of God, came to undo all that sin had done. In fact, 1 John actually says this, that the Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the wicked one. The word for 'destroy' there is the Greek word 'luo', which means 'to loose'. It's as if Jesus came and He loosed at the seams everything that the devil had done. As He walked about in His earthly ministry - and we see this in the wonderful works that He did, and in the empowerment that He gave to the apostles and then all His disciples and followers in the great commission, and the power that we now are made partakers of - He's still meant to be doing this! He is meant to be tearing at the seams the work of the devil, for sin impoverishes, doesn't it? It makes people poor. Sin breaks hearts, so many people are heartbroken because of sin. Sin captivates with its great attractiveness, and then of course it imprisons people once they have followed that attraction. Sin binds, sin puts people in all sorts of bondages. But what the Lord Jesus has purposed in coming is to heal the brokenhearted, isn't that right? To bind them up! To proclaim liberty, freedom to captives. To open the doors of the prison to them that are bound - this is what the Lord Jesus has purposed to do. He has announced and is ushering in the acceptable year of the Lord, that is the year of Jubilee.
Now, if you go to Leviticus - I don't want you to do it, but if you read Leviticus 25 you will find that every seven years the Jews were to observe a sabbatical year. It was to allow the land to rest. But after seven sabbaticals, seven sevens, 49 years, they were to celebrate the 50th year as the year of Jubilee, and that was a wonderful time of celebration. There was the releasing of all slaves, the land was returned to its original owners, whoever they were, and all debts were cancelled. Now, on a practical level, that was the Lord's way of balancing the economy and keeping the rich from exploiting the poor - but typologically it was pointing forward to a new beginning that Israel would have and that (and this is what I want you to really understand tonight) believers in Christ now are meant to be living in their spiritual year of Jubilee!
Now there is coming a day when, yes, He will avenge sin. It's significant that the Lord Jesus, in Luke 4, when He read this portion of Scripture He stopped reading before the end of verse 2. Look at verse 2 of Isaiah 61, He didn't read this part: 'and the day of vengeance of our God', because He will perform this at His second coming, but at His first coming - as the old hymn says - He did not come to judge the world, He only came to save. John 3 and 17 teaches us that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. That comma there, do you see it? Look at it, the comma between the 'year of the LORD', 'and the day of vengeance' - that comma stands for well-nigh over 2000 years. In fact, the whole dispensation of grace is summed up here in a comma - it's incredible, isn't it? Doesn't that testify to the long-suffering heart of our God, 2 Peter 3:9: 'The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance'.
Look, compare a whole year of grace here to just a single day of vengeance! Look at it: He has come to proclaim the acceptable 'year' of the Lord, and the 'day' of vengeance of our God. He spends a year on grace, and just a day on vengeance. Is it any wonder He revealed Himself to Moses as 'The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, abounding in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation'. Isn't He a wonderful God? Isn't He a wonderful God? He has been revealed in Christ, His Anointed One, the power of Jesus' ministry to do this, and the purpose of His ministry to us as New Testament Gentile believers - does it not blow your mind?
Look at it: 'to comfort those that mourn', the end of verse 2. All you have to do is go back to chapter 40 and read that wonderful passage, 'Comfort ye, comfort ye my people' - all about comfort! Because sin brings mourning, doesn't it? When we sin, if we are convicted about it, we mourn over it; but when others sin against us and upon us, we mourn about that as well. But let me ask you very personal question: when was the last time you let the Lord comfort you? He has sent the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, the Old Testament believers didn't know this ministry. Jesus Himself has come to us in the Comforter, that's what He says. 'The Comforter' literally means 'The Encourager', that when you're downcast and discouraged He is the one to come alongside and lift you up. Our word 'comfort' that's used of 'The Encourager' in the Authorised Version is an old English word made up of two Latin roots 'com' which means 'with', and 'fortis' which means 'strong'. It literally means 'to strengthen by companionship', to strengthen by someone being with you.
This is what is ours! It's the difference between, imagine a wee child walking down a road in the dark, and the difference between that and a wee child walking down the road in the dark with his hand in his father's hand - that's the difference. Instead, verse 3, of ashes for mourning - and what do ashes speak of? Ashes speak of all the joys of life burnt out. Instead of ashes of mourning He gives His people beauty. Do you know what the word 'beauty' there in Hebrew means? A 'headdress', that's literally the word, 'a crown'. It's used in Exodus 29 of the bonnets that the priests used to wear. Instead of ashes on your head for mourning, God gives you a crown, a headdress. Instead of the mourning itself, look at verse 3, He gives His people the oil of joy. Instead of the spirit of heaviness, He gives His people the garment of praise.
Now, when you put all these figures together, this is figurative language that suggests a comparison between a funeral and a wedding: ashes of mourning, mourning, and a spirit of heaviness replaced by beauty, a bonnet, a crown, joy and praise. In the funeral service of the Jews, they put ashes upon their heads, and they mourned, and they lamented, and wailed and wept. They even at times adorned themselves with sackcloth for their mourning; but at their wedding feasts, a bit like ours, they wore beautiful bridal clothes and bridal wreaths, they wore garments of praise. The custom in this society, just as it is in ours to a certain extent, was that the manner of your dress reflected your mood.
When we go to funerals, of course, some of us wear black - it's still a custom in our age. When we're going to weddings we wear more flamboyant clothing. Now Christianity, we are now new covenant believers - and I know it's taking me a wee while getting to where I am wanting to go tonight, but it's important that I lay this foundation - we as partakers of the new covenant, we own the power of Jesus' ministry in our lives, we can share it with others, and we know the purpose of Jesus' ministry to us. Jesus taught that Christianity is meant to be a wedding, not a funeral! In Mark chapter 2 He taught that, and I haven't time to read it tonight, but the Pharisees asked why the disciples of John fasted and Jesus' disciples didn't fast. He said that they had the Bridegroom with them, and when the Bridegroom was gone then they would fast - but He went on to tell two parables: one about new cloth being put on an old garment, and how it wouldn't do; and new wine being put in old wine bottles or wineskins, and how the new wine would make it burst. What He was teaching was that the old forms and rituals of Judaism wouldn't be fit to hold the vibrant vitality of the new wine of the Gospel kingdom! What He was teaching was: 'My kingdom will be a feast, not a famine!'.
Now that is what will happen if the ministry of Messiah, its purpose is realised in your life. This is what I want to labour on tonight, this one statement that 'you will be given the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness'. This is where I want to camp tonight: one of these things that you will get in the new covenant is the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Now, what is 'the spirit of heaviness'? Well, three translations render it in a different fashion. One says: 'the spirit of despair', that's a valid translation - the spirit of heaviness is the spirit of the despair. Another says: 'the spirit of weakness' - and that's also true, this spirit of heaviness makes you weak. Another translation is: 'a faint spirit' - where, as it were, metaphorically, when your legs go like jelly, that's what happens inside, internally, that your spirit faints and fails.
Now let me try and paint this picture for you, because this word for 'heaviness', 'a spirit of heaviness', is used on other occasions and in other contexts in the Old Testament. It is applied to a lamp that's about to go out in Isaiah 42 verse 3, you know the verse well: 'A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoking flax he will not quench'. It's the smoking flax that word 'heaviness' is used for, just like a candle going out, that's what this spirit of heaviness is like, where your flame is extinguished. It's also used in 1 Samuel 3:2 of Eli's eyesight being dimmed or dulled - when the eyesight is going, that's this figure of heaviness: you can hardly see through the smog, or just your sight is failing. It's also used in Leviticus 13:39 of a faint or pale colour in the instruction given to the priests over deciding whether a leprous spot has been cleansed or not. It talks about the spot becoming pale of colour, and the word is used there for 'heaviness', you're off-colour.
Now most people have interpreted this 'spirit of heaviness' as an attitude of the human heart, you're down in the dumps, or life is just getting too much all around you and the walls and ceiling are caving in. There's no doubt about it, that that is more than likely what this means here in the context - but there are other people who have interpreted 'spirit' here, 'spirit of heaviness', as an actual demonic spirit. The reason they think such is that the word 'spirit' in Hebrew is 'ruach', which means 'wind' or 'breath', but it also is used of all spiritual life and beings including, at times, God. They believe that, perhaps, behind heaviness can often be a spirit. Now I have to say to you that both of those are most likely true, certainly in experience; and I am absolutely sure that if you indulge, personally indulge, an attitude of heaviness in your mind and in your heart, there is no doubt whatsoever that that will become a foothold for the devil, and may well form demonisation in your life.
There's no doubt about it: sometimes we can be down in our spirits just internally for our own reasons, but there are other times - and I've been experiencing a lot of it lately - when you're just oppressed, and it seems to be for no apparent reason whatsoever, but it's a dark Satanic oppression that has a spiritual origin outside of yourself. Now I don't know what category yours is in, it's probably been both at one time or another. So, what is the remedy for this spirit of heaviness? Isaiah gives us the answer: the garment of praise. Now, how do you get it? Well, God gives it to you, but like every provision of God it must be put on by faith. Now that is one of the most important lessons you will ever learn, so I want you to retain that: you get this from God, but like every provision of God it must be put on by faith.
Turn with me to Ephesians 6 so that I can illustrate this, this is the great chapter on the armour of God. Ephesians 6 - now notice the language here, this is the panoply of God, it's God's own armour in a sense - but look at how Paul instructs them in the face of wrestling, verse 12, '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'. They have got something to do, they've to take the armour, that they may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. So they've got to take, and they've got to stand. They've got to: 'Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth', they've got to gird their loins with truth, 'having on', implied is putting on, 'the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod', shodding your feet, 'with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench', you have to take, you have to quench, 'all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always', and so on and so forth.
But you see here that though we are given as a gift of God's grace the armour of God, wherewith we can withstand the ways of the devil, we have to take, by faith, what God has provided by grace. Salvation is like that: it's provided by grace, but we've got to take it by faith. The provision is grace, the arm that takes it is our faith. So, in the same sense, the garment of praise has to be put on - it has to be put on. Literally it means, in Isaiah 61, wrapping yourself up in praise - that's what a garment does for you, isn't it? It wraps you, it envelops you, and that's what we're meant to do with praise: wrap ourselves up in praise.
Now, when we come into the New Testament there is a lot said to believers about putting off things and putting on certain clothes, new clothes. Listen to a couple of these verses as I read them to you, Romans 13:12: 'The night is far spent, the day is at hand: therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light', casting something old off, putting something new from God on. Ephesians 4:22 and 23: 'That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in' - put on a new mind - 'the spirit of your mind', putting off and putting on. Another in Colossians 3:8-10: 'But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him'.
So in the New Testament there is this acknowledged type of exchange, that you put off the old and you put on the new. Now listen, I am convinced of this, though I can't prove it to you from Isaiah 61, but from my own experience and the experience of others, that with the garment of praise the order is somewhat different than the putting off of the New Testament and the putting on. Because I think that the garment of praise, the putting on of the garment of praise, effects the putting off of the spirit of heaviness. Now let me repeat this, and I want this to be really clear in your mind because I think there's a revelation from God to our hearts here tonight: it is actually the putting on, first, of the garment of praise that effects the putting off and putting away of the spirit of heaviness - do you understand the difference? The New Testament is 'put off the old man, and put on the new', but here the putting on of the garment of praise effects the driving away of the spirit of heaviness. In other words, you can't put heaviness off until you put praise on!
Do you see what I'm saying? This fits in with what I shared with you in the latter part of last week. Do you remember I highlighted the power that there is in praise in various spheres? Two of them were this: praise heals the soul and calms the troubled spirit. Do you remember that? So if the spirit of heaviness here is speaking of our human spirit when it is downcast, when it is dim, when it is cloudy, when it is going through all sorts of trials and tribulations, the answer is still praise! Do you remember the text that I referred to you in 2 Kings 3, where Elisha was angry at the idolatrous King of Israel, and he was going to give out - as we would say - to him. He asked for a minstrel to come to him, and he played, calming his spirit, and he prophesied. We read in 2 Kings 3:15: ''Bring me a minstrel'. Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him'. He was, if you like, clothed with the garment of praise that drove away the spirit of heaviness. Do you see it?
So if you're here tonight, and you have a spirit of heaviness in the attitude and the disposition of your heart, you need to wrap yourself around with the garment of praise, you need to take it by faith. It's not about sitting and praying and asking God for it, it's been provided to you by the blood of Jesus, you must take it by faith and put it on - and, if you have to, get a minstrel or a musician alongside you to do it.
But then I shared with you last week at the end as well that when there is Satanic opposition, praise has the power to drive the devil away and demons away. Do you remember I referred you to 1 Samuel 16:23: 'It came to pass, an evil spirit from God was upon Saul, and David took a harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him'. So if the spirit of heaviness for you might be an actual spirit of oppression, a demon seeking to drag you down, and maybe that has got a foothold in your life because of recurrent bouts of depression - praise, literally, can drive the devil away! I want you to understand this: this is a weapon that we have. Satan is allergic to praise! Where there is jubilant praise, Satan is paralysed! Praise is an antidote to the poison of Satanic oppression!
Now I shared with you last Thursday night that I have been walking through this ministry myself. I said last week that I had a number of bad days. Well, the days didn't stop last week, they've gone on into this week. On Tuesday evening I determined that I was going to have to do something radical, because it's very easy - I will confess to you - it's very easy to lie under it, it's very easy to lie under it. A spirit of heaviness does weigh you down, and it saps you of any vitality and get up and go to do anything about it - that's why faith is so necessary. I decided, having been thinking of ministry from last week and this week: 'I know what I'm going to do tomorrow, if the garment of praise is the only remedy for the spirit of heaviness' - I shared this with Bertie just yesterday - I decided on Thursday I wasn't going to ask God for one thing, I was just going to praise God and thank God as much as I could all that day. Do you know something? It was pretty hard to do! Sometimes our prayers are so self-centred, they are so wrapped up in 'me', and 'my needs', and 'my satisfaction', and 'my problems' - but can I tell you what happened? It wasn't easy, and I had to dig in - and you know faith is a matter of choice, it's an exercise of the will, it's not just that, but that's part of what it was - I had to choose to decide to praise God, and to thank God. Do you know what happens? You get lifted out of yourself, and praise is a ministry, it is a ministry to the spirit that has heaviness, or to a spirit that is bringing heaviness.
Now, it does follow that it would be unthinkable to - having put on the garment of praise, and driving the spirit of heaviness away - to then, yourself, by your own volition, go and put the old garments on again. That's what some of us do. Here's where the problem is: you see you can come to a meeting like this, and maybe you have a spirit of heaviness inside yourself, maybe there is a spirit of oppression at your heels, and you hear a message like this and you maybe sing 'Count your blessings', and you get in the prayer meeting and things go well tonight, and you feel a measure of burden lifted off you - then you go home and you revert back to normal again. Why? Because, having been momentarily delivered from your spirit of heaviness by the garment of praise, you go home and - just like putting your pyjamas or nightie on - you put the old garment of the spirit of heaviness on again.
What are you talking about, David? I'm talking about the negativity that we engage in in our minds - that's why Paul says 'renewing the spirit of your mind'. Do you see when we grumble? You do grumble, don't you? Don't you? Come on now! When you grumble, when you murmur, when you complain, when you engage in pessimism, when you engage in unbelief, you invite the spirit of heaviness. Effectively this is what you're doing: you're putting your arm into that garment of heaviness for the devil. He's holding the coat up for you just like that, you know the way you do for the old men, and you're just putting your arm in for him, and you're putting it on again - do you see?
So, just as we read tonight from Romans 13, you are to make no provision for the flesh. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, but make no provision for the flesh. In other words, wrap yourself in the garment of praise, but burn the other garment - don't hang it up in the wardrobe for when you want a pity party and feel sorry for yourself! Burn it! Let it go! Don't engage in negativism, don't articulate your fears, don't analyse what the devil puts in your mind to get you going and living on it for weeks, don't follow his tune, don't be dancing to it! Reject the lies of the devil - that's why in Philippians 4 Paul says: 'Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding', is beyond comprehension, 'will rule in your heart and your mind through Jesus Christ our Lord' - but that's not where he stopped. He said: 'Now, brethren, think on these things: whatever things are good, whatever things are pure' - do you see?
It is unthinkable. It's like the person in Matthew 12 that Jesus said who is delivered from demons, and the house, the place where the demons lived was swept and made clean, but because it was left empty the demons came back and seven of their friends, and the man was in a worse state than he was at the first. Do you understand? This garment of praise has got to be constantly put on, but you've got to resist the devil, resist the devil. This is what a lot of people aren't doing. They go for deliverance, and they go for prayer, and they wonder why it's not working - I'm talking to them in these days, and a lot of them have failed to resist the devil themselves.
First Thessalonians 5 and verse 8, I close with this, turn to it with me. Here is a practical thing for you to do, and I like to give you something to do as you go tonight - especially if you're affected by the spirit of heaviness. First Thessalonians 5 and verse 8: 'But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on', there is that active language, you're doing it, 'putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation'. In Ephesians 6 the helmet is just called 'salvation', here in 1 Thessalonians 5 the helmet is called 'the hope of salvation'. Where is it put? It's put over your head, over your mind - and what it's talking about is regulating your mind, renewing your mind according to the truths of God's word, according to who you are in Christ, according to the promises that are all Yes and Amen in Jesus toward you. In other words, filling your head with the truth of God, not the lies of the devil.
Now I could preach on this every time I preach, because it is a severe problem among believers and in the church, and it was for me - but thank God, He has delivered me. Now I'm not saying I don't have hard days, I have testified of that to you - but we can resist the devil, and he does flee from us. It's when we don't resist him that he doesn't, he just digs his heels in, and he encamps on whatever ground we will give him. But will you go away tonight, and will you put on the helmet of salvation? Will you think about what God has done for you? Will you count your blessings? Will you do that? Will you appraise to praise? Do you know what that means? Appraise the blessings of God, appraise the goodness of God, appraise the character of God, weigh it up, estimate it - and then that will fill your mind and fill your heart in order to praise God as you should. That, effectively, is putting on the garment of praise.
Down in verse 10 of Isaiah 61 we see: 'I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness'. Here it is, this garment of praise, it's God's salvation! Wrap yourself up in it!
I shared this with you before, but it's worth repeating: Handel, when he was composing the Messiah - 'The Anointed', Messiah - he barricaded himself into his room and practically neither ate nor slept as he wrote. Of course, the great crescendo and climax of the masterpiece is the Hallelujah Chorus, which means, of course, 'Praise the Lord', 'Hallelujah'. Later he told a friend about his experience in that room. He said: 'It seemed as if heaven came down and filled my soul'. That's what the garment of praise does for you.
Let us pray. Now, we established tonight the power of the ministry of Jesus, and we have established that it is toward us - we can experience it and we can share it with others. The purpose of that power, among many things delineated in our portion tonight, one of which is: anyone suffering from the spirit of heaviness, when they put on the garment of praise that is their right through His shed blood, they will experience deliverance, deliverance. Who here tonight - and you're all rather sheepish - all of us at times, as Christians, are behind the door when it comes to dealing with God and doing it in public. You don't have to do it in public, but just remember your Lord was hung stark naked in public, and impaled on a tree in public for you - wouldn't it be wonderful tonight if some of you here got free from a spirit of heaviness by standing to your feet and praising God in prayer, or by raising a hymn or a chorus, and got free by exercising faith in taking to yourself the garment of praise, and taking it to you every day.
Do you know what George Mueller said? He would stay in his closet every day until he secured his happiness in God - what a statement! He stayed there until he was bursting with joy, and that's a lot of work, it doesn't just come with the flick of a switch. Who will do it tonight? As we come to prayer, let the shackles off and praise Him! Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Lifeboat Fellowship, Moy, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording titled "Put On The Garment Of Praise" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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