Scripture Reading: Isaiah 52:7-15
Sermon Title: God’s Glorious Armor
Sermon Text: Ephesians 6:13-17
Memory Verse: Isaiah 52:7
MAIN IDEA: Take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist evil and stand firm in Christ
Take up Christ’s Armor
Take up Battle Proven Armor
Take up God’s Armor Daily
NOTE: “Scripture quotations are from the NASB." This manuscript is provided as a courtesy and is not intended for publication. The audio message will differ because the manuscript is not followed word for word. Thanks for understanding.
If you desire to live the victorious Christian life, today’s message is for you.
- If you are easily swayed in your belief, and you have difficulty discerning the truth of God’s Word,
- if the beauty of salvation is no longer beautiful, but the things of this world are more attractive,
- if you easily fall into temptation, and afterward, you feel unworthy to serve Christ and be around others in the church, or
- if you received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, yet you often wonder if you are truly saved, today’s message is for you.
We are in a battle. We may not see the ammunition flying, but we may know it is present. We see the effects of the battle. People doubt their salvation. The desire for holiness is lost, and people find themselves caught in a web of immorality and temptation. The church no longer feels much like family, but has become a sibling rivalry with quibbles and petty fighting. The Word of God used to have excitement, but now the Bible sits on the shelf and is only taken off the shelf on Sundays. Bringing the Gospel to the lost takes a backseat to an ongoing string of church potluck dinners. The battle has many faces.
Every day Christians face conflicting affections as temptations pull on our heart attempting to lead us away from obeying God. Schools, news pundits, and entertainment are filled with a multitude of lies contradicting the truth of Scripture. Even our neighbors and friends speak untruth or unwittingly tempt us.
The whole world is under assault by our enemy the devil. The war is won, but the battles do not end until Jesus returns on His white horse brandishing His sword of vengeance. Until Christ returns, we will face a continual onslaught of lies and temptations.
Although the battle sounds desperate, there is good news for the Christian. We may be attacked, but we are not subject to defeat by the enemy. We may be crushed, but not destroyed. The enemy may not steal our salvation. The enemy may not make it so that God stops loving us.
Jesus death on the cross is a decisive victory. It is finished. Jesus overwhelmingly conquers, and we are more than conquerors through Christ. But, before we begin the victory parade, we need to know Christianity is not a “let go and let God” proposition.
We may not sit back and do nothing and hope God does everything. God’s purpose is to have us participate in the battle for souls. Jesus died and conquered the grave so we may stand strong in the battle with Him. Jesus didn’t die on the cross for us to become passive couch potatoes meandering through life. He died so we may stand up to the enemy. Our life has purpose and meaning. We are chosen enlisted soldiers in the battle against evil. We need to stand up and not let the enemy push us around.
Although the enemy may not steal our salvation, nor may he make us his slaves, he still attacks. Satan seeks to make us ineffective for the kingdom of God. He has two weapons, deceit, and temptation. He will use both weapons to try and steal our joy in Christ. He will present a continuous parade of false idols, so we take our eyes off the Savior. He will persecute those who dare share the gospel. The enemy seeks to remove us from the front lines of winning souls. His goal is to have us so that we are lying about in the medic tent complaining about an ingrown toenail and munching nachos.
To participate in the battle for souls and the battle against evil, we need to be rightly equipped. We need to take up the full armor of God so that our enemy may not push us away or distract us from the joy of being in Christ. We stand on a pinnacle of ground won by Christ. Do not be moved. With God’s armor, Christians may stand strong and firm in Christ.
The church in Ephesus took their eyes off Christ. They fell off the high-ground. They did not know the riches of the glory of the inheritance of being in Christ. They allowed the enemy to distract them from knowing of the surpassing greatness of God’s power working in their favor (Eph. 1:18-19). In reading the letter, we know they wavered in their faith because of deceit (Eph. 4:14). They wandered from obedience because of temptations of sensuality and greediness (Eph. 4:19).
The letter puts them back in the right place. In concluding the letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul summarizes all which he has said in an easy to remember word picture. Do you want to remember the main arguments of Ephesians? Remember this passage. His goal is to have them no longer be fooled by the enemy. He pens this word picture to help them know how to stand firm in their faith.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces
of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14
Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15
and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16
in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:10-17)
Our first point is that we need to know that taking up God’s armor is that we do not earn the armor, but it is given to us because we are in Christ. The armor is not our armor. We are to:
Take up Christ’s Armor
This passage is not telling us to be strong in ourselves by bucking up and putting on our armor. We are scrawny, pathetic, fragile humans incapable of fighting spiritual battles. When it comes to spiritual battles, we are outwitted, outnumbered, and overpowered. We do not stand a chance.
God is mighty to save. Throughout the Old Testament, God fights for His people. The only reason Israel won any battles is that God is on their side fighting for them. He is the mighty fortress and the strong Deliver.
Scripture describes God’s salvation as coming from His right arm. The right arm is the arm of power. The right arm of God is the Messiah. The saving arm of God is described wearing armor by the prophet Isaiah. The Apostle Paul quotes from three passages in the book of the Prophet Isaiah to show us that, the armor we are to take up, is the armor which belongs to Christ the Messiah.
The Messianic references reveal to us that the armor we are to take up is not just any armor. If we are to have any success in our spiritual battle, we dare not venture into battle without taking up the armor of Christ.
The first passage (going through Isaiah in chronological order, not by the listing in Ephesians) in Isaiah is from chapter 11. It begins with:
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-2)
This speaks of the Messiah coming from the stem of Jesse, the father of King David. Every Jew knows this passage speaks of the Messiah. Isaiah continues …
But with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, and faithfulness the belt about His waist
. (Isaiah 11:4-5)
The Messiah strikes the earth and slays the wicked. He wears a belt about His waist. It is His belt we are to take up.
The second passage is in Isaiah 52. This passage speaks about God hearing the cries of His people who are oppressed by the Assyrians. The Lord God declares His people will hear Him when He calls.
How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation
says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Listen! Your watchmen lift up their
voices, they shout joyfully together; for they will see with their own eyes when the Lord restores Zion. Break forth, shout joyfully together, you waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared His holy arm (Christ) in the sight of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:7-10)
The Good News of Peace is the proclamation of the revealing of the Lord’s holy arm; the Messiah Jesus Christ. He comforts God’s people and brings the salvation of God. It is the good news of the gospel of peace brought about by Christ with which we prepare our feet. The holy arm of God redeems Jerusalem and all the ends of the earth.
The third passage in Isaiah is in chapter 59 (verse 9, 14-20).
Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, but behold, darkness, for brightness, but we walk in gloom. … Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the street, and uprightness cannot enter. Yes, truth is lacking; and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the Lord saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm (Christ) brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness upheld Him. He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head
; and He put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. According to their
deeds, so He will repay, wrath to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; to the coastlands He will make recompense. So they will fear the name of the Lord from the west and His glory from the rising of the sun, for He will come like a rushing stream which the wind of the Lord drives. “A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 59:9, 14-20)
The One wearing the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation is the Lord. He fights the enemy and adversaries. He reigns from the east to the west. The Messiah comes to Zion, and He is the redeemer.
The armor we take up is the armor worn by our Savior; we are taking up Christ’s armor.
Paul’s references to Isaiah serve a purpose, and that is for us to:
Take up Battle Proven Armor
The armor of Christ is proven. The horse is ready for battle, but victory rests with the Lord (Pro. 21:31).
The Israelites wore the armor the evening they sprinkled their doorposts with blood to escape the angel of death. Job wore the armor of God when under the burden of great attack from Satan. David wore the armor of God when he slew the giant Goliath. The apostles wore the armor when they planted churches all throughout the world while under attack of great persecution. Our salvation came about because of the saints who wore the armor to bring us the gospel. Our church here in Plainfield, NH, thousands of miles away from Jerusalem is proof of the effectiveness of God’s armor.
The church is successful when the armor is worn.
When we read the testimony of the Messiah in Isaiah, the purpose is to encourage us and give us confidence that, because we are joined with Christ, we may be sure of victory. Throughout the Isaiah passages, we read words of Christ’s victory.
He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips, He slays the wicked. (Isaiah 11:4). God’s Servant prospers, He is high and lifted up and greatly exalted. Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him (Is. 52:13, 15). The glory of the Messiah is from the rising of the sun, and He comes forth like a rushing stream driven by the wind of the Lord. He is the mighty Redeemer who comes to Zion (Is. 59:19-20).
Christ overcomes our greatest foes; Satan, death, and the grave (1 Cor. 15:55). All of Scripture testifies to the victory we have in Christ. We may say with confidence, thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57).
The glory of the Messiah, the Holy One of Israel, also brings us glory (Is. 60:9). As a result, of His victory, Isaiah writes,
The sons of those who afflicted you will come bowing to you, and all those who despised you will bow themselves at the soles of your feet; and they will call you the city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. (Is. 60:14)
Our armor is proven as weak and vulnerable. We dare not enter battle with our righteousness. We dare not enter battle trying to save ourselves. Whenever we try on our own or look at our efforts, we will fall into temptation, and we will struggle with assurance of salvation.
God’s armor is glorious and proven in battle. We must wear the readiness of the gospel of Christ upon our feet and no other gospel. We must gird ourselves with the truth of Christ and discard all lies and deceit. We wear His helmet of salvation, and we carry a shield with His name and a sword with His Spirit.
We need to all put on the armor of Christ. The beauty of the armor of Christ is that we all look the same. With the armor of Christ, there is no rich or poor, black or white, republican or democrat, Korean or American. We take up identical armor. The enemy sees thousands of soldiers wearing the same armor worn by Jesus. Nobody appears weak. We all appear as strong as our Lord because we wear His armor garments. When we resist and stand strong in the armor of Christ, the devil has no choice but to flee.
Take up Christ’s armor. Take up battle proven armor. Lastly, take up the armor daily.
Take up the Armor Daily
By now, hopefully, we are all convinced that we need to take up Christ’s armor. The only way to stand firm in our faith is to take up the full armor of God.
Obviously, Scripture does not intend for us to take up a real suit of armor. There will be no box from Amazon sitting on our porch this afternoon.
Throughout the letter to the Ephesians, we learn about the armor. The suit of armor we protect ourselves is not figurative, but is real to our eyes, proclaimed with our lips, and with which we may feel with our fingers. It is tangible. It is time for us to no longer speak figuratively, but practically.
How then do we take up the armor daily? What is the armor?
First, we take up the belt of truth.
Take up the Belt of Truth
Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth,
The belt we put on is the truth of Christ. We are joined to Christ by listening to the message of truth. When we believe the truth we receive the Holy Spirit of Promise (Eph. 1:13). We need to remind ourselves daily of the truth which brings us salvation.
Jesus is the truth. He is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6). He is the vine; we are the branches. Jesus promises when we abide in Him, we will bear fruit and apart from Him, we may do nothing (Jn. 15:6). We are to read His truth knowing He is the source of life. Jesus alone brings healing. Jesus alone saves. Jesus is the only way to the Father. This is the belt of truth.
If Jesus says we belong to Him, we may know that nobody may snatch us from His hand (Jn. 10:18). The eternal life that Jesus promises, He gives. He is not a liar or deceiver. Take these truths and wrap them around our waist. Gird our loins with this truth, and we will stand firm.
We also listen to others speak the truth and gird ourselves. The letter to the Ephesians says we are to speak the truth in love to one another. It is the speaking of the truth to one another we mature and build up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:15). Lay aside falsehood, and speak truth each one of us
with our neighbor (Eph. 4:25).
We take up the belt of truth by listening to the truth, believing the truth, and speaking the truth daily.
Take up the Breastplate of Righteousness
… and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
By the way, you may have heard the breastplate only protects the front so we better keep moving forward. However, this is not true. We are not to move forward, but stand firm. Most breastplates of ancient Rome covered both front and back. When we wear Christ’s breastplate of righteousness, as we stand firm, we will not be stabbed in the back.
Wearing the breastplate of righteousness means we do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead we expose them. It is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by those in secret (Eph. 4:11-12). When wearing the breastplate, we are not to exchange stories about unrighteous behavior. What we should do is lovingly, and compassionately, let others know when they are participating in unfruitful deeds. While wearing the breastplate, we are to go about our day in righteousness, walking wisely and understanding the will of the Lord making the most of our time because the days are evil (Eph. 4:15-17).
Christ’s breastplate is glorious. We are to have behavior fitting for a child of God wearing His armor. We don’t make garbage dump wearing our tuxedo and prom dresses. Wearing the armor of righteousness should make us think twice about playing in the sewer of sin.
We are to walk worthy of our calling. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with our heart to the Lord. We are to be always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God. Most of all, we are to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Subject ourselves in our marriage, at home, and at work (Eph. 4:18 – 6:9).
We are to be fervent in prayer. We are to ask the Lord to lead us not into temptation, but to deliver us from evil. If we are tempted, we are to know God always provides a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). The Bible says we are to hide God’s Word in our heart so that we may not sin against God.
When we do fall to temptation and sin, we are to confess our sin knowing God is faithful to forgive us our sin (1 John 1:9). Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and stand firm.
The devil will tempt us in every way. Put on the breastplate of righteousness, walk uprightly, and he will flee.
Take up the Shoes of Gospel Readiness
… shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace
Every Christian should know the gospel. If you have been a Christian for a year, you should know the gospel well enough to lead someone to the Lord. However, most importantly, know the gospel for your own sake.
I’ve shared this before, and it is worth sharing again. I had the opportunity to spend an hour with Jerry Bridges. He has written many books and is a trusted resource for understanding the gospel. In talking with Jerry, we shared with one another our favorite authors. I told Jerry how his book, The Joy of Fearing God
, was very helpful to me in my early years of ministry. He shared with me that one of his favorite authors is John Piper. He said there is one book in particular which he reads every day, and that book is, 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die
. The reason he said he read this book is so he may preach the gospel to himself every day.
We need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day.
Put on the shoes of the gospel by reading Ephesians chapter one to remember it is all because of Christ we are saved. In Christ, we receive all the blessings of heaven; we are adopted according to the kind intention of God’s will. In Christ, we receive forgiveness of our sin and redemption through His blood. God is working all things for the glory of Christ.
Take up the Shield of Faith
in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Of all our armor, our faith is most important. It is by faith we make the attacks of the enemy null and void. Unlike the other pieces of the armor, Paul does not look to Isaiah to speak about faith. Instead, he writes from experience.
The way we take up the shield of faith is simple. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ (Ro. 10:17). We need to read God’s word daily. We do not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God. No read, no feed.
We must know the circumstances of life are for the testing of our faith. The testing of our faith produces perseverance (Ja. 1:4). It helps us be strong in the Lord. God doesn’t test our faith, so He knows our faith. He tests our faith, so we know where we are weak and how we are to grow. God desires for us to trust Him in all things. God is working all things for good. He wants us to believe this is true.
God desires for us to believe we will someday dwell in the house of the Lord forever. He is working to bring us to a place of completely enjoying Him and trusting Him.
Don’t be satisfied with a weak understanding of the Scripture. Read the word so faith deepens and trust in God becomes a joy in all of life circumstances. We need to be content with loss and joyful in prosperity. In all things, we are to have faith in God.
Everyone born of God overcomes the world. Faith is the victory that overcomes (1 Jn. 5:4).
Notice how the shield of faith has a commentary included, unlike the other When we take up the shield of faith, all of the enemies attacks are extinguished.
Take up the Helmet of Salvation
And take the helmet of salvation
We do not put on our helmet of salvation; we put on the helmet of salvation given to us by Christ our Savior. There is nothing good we have done to save ourselves. We are born with sinful hearts, dead in our trespasses and sins. We found pleasure in the lust of our flesh and God’s wrath was pointed at us.
We need to remember we are sinners in need of a Savior. Just as the thief on the cross could not come off the cross and feed orphans, help the widows, or give his money to the poor, we also may do nothing to save ourselves. We are saved by grace through faith. It is not of ourselves; it is a gift of God. It is not a result of our works so we may not boast (Eph. 2:8-9).
Take up the Sword of the Spirit
… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
We have talked about truth, faith, and the gospel. It may be this verse is talking about something different. I believe it is.
The Apostle Paul makes a connection between the Holy Spirit and the word of God. Let’s look at Ephesians 1.
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14
who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own
possession, to the praise of His glory. (Eph. 1:13-14)
The connection Paul makes in Ephesians 1 is that our salvation is sealed with the Holy Spirit. This is the only place in Scripture where the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Holy Spirit of Promise. The way we should understand this is that God seals the Word of His promise with His Holy Spirit. He is a pledge of God’s intention to follow through. We may believe God’s word because we are indwelled with His Spirit. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit of Promise is to have us know with certainty, all of God’s promises are true.
God is not a liar. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises (2 Pe. 3:9). All His promises find their yes in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). We are in Christ; we have God’s Spirit of Promise; therefore, we may know we receive every promise of Scripture.
When we take up the sword, we know that we are in Christ, God will fulfill all His promises. The greatest truth we may think about when taking up our sword is that He who did not spare His Son will fulfill all He promises (Ro. 8:32). In other words, how do we know God will not hold back His promises because God did not hold back in giving His most blessed and precious gift.
Whenever we begin to doubt, take up the sword and say, “Of course God will provide according to His word. He already gave us His best, why would He hold back anything else?” Am I saved? Yes. God gave the gift of His Son. Does God love me? Yes. God gave me His Son to prove His love. Will I dwell in the house of the Lord forever? Yes. God indwells me with the Spirit of Promise.
Take up the sword of the Spirit and pierce every lie and doubt. Know God loves His children.
Each of us has two main oppositions to our Christian walk.
One opposition is Satan. He will seek to attack us in two ways, deceit, and temptation. The other opposition is our flesh. Our flesh gives in to the attack of Satan and falls prey to the deceit and temptation.
Scripture tells us to take hold of our flesh. If we have self-control and not give in to temptation, we will do well. If we study to know the difference between the truth of God and the lies of Satan, we also will do well. Therefore, our success in our Christian life is completely in our control.
To live the full life God intends, we need to be rightly equipped. We need to take up the full armor of God so that our enemy may not push us away or distract us from the joy of being in Christ. With God’s armor, Christians may stand strong and firm in Christ.
If you are satisfied with the status quo, do nothing. Continue venturing about without taking up God’s armor. Let the enemy put you on the bench because you suffer from bruises and depression. I can’t make you take up your armor. Your spouse or your parents can’t make you take up the armor of God.
Living a victorious Christian life is completely up to you.
I have yet to meet a weak, ineffective Christian who is prayerful, daily reading the Bible, and actively putting to death the deeds of the flesh. In other words, they are fighting the lies with truth and fighting sin with obedience. It is that simple. There is no magic verse to read. There is no magic prayer. Walk in the Spirit like Jesus. Jesus overcame deceit and temptation with obedience.
If you are tired of being swayed in your belief and with having difficulty discerning the truth of God’s Word, take up God’s armor.
If you are ready to bear fruit and no longer be an immature believer, take up God’s armor.
If you desire to gaze upon the beauty of Christ and His salvation, take up God’s armor.
If you desire to resist temptation and stand strong in your faith, take up God’s armor.
If you desire to live in peace and enjoy the blessings of God, take up God’s armor.
If you desire to go about every day confident and assured of God’s salvation; take up God’s armor.
The choice of being a mature Christian is completely up to you.
Take up the full armor of God to stand firm as a mature believer, to enjoy the fullness of being in union with Christ, and to give testimony to the glory of Christ’s salvation.
Be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.
Take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist evil and stand firm in Christ.