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Scripture Reading: Ephesians 6:10-17 Sermon Title: Take up God’s Armor Sermon Text: Ephesians 6:13-17 Memory Verse: 2 Corinthians 12:9 MAIN IDEA: Take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist evil and stand firm in Christ Know these three truths about taking up the armor of God:

  • Know the reason for taking up God’s armor.
  • Know the outcome of taking up God’s armor.
  • Know the testimony of taking up God’s armor.
  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.   Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. There are spiritual forces working hard trying to make it so we do not stand firm. The devil and his army are working to make us fall. The last place Satan wants us is standing firmly in Christ. He is scheming and planning to have us not be strong, but weak in Christ. The armor of God protects us so we may stand strong in the Lord. Before we begin talking about the armor, we need to be cautioned. There is a right way and a wrong way to understand the armor. Knowing the context of the passage within the letter will help us to stand firm. If we don’t understand the context, we will not stand firm nor will we be strong in the Lord. This morning, there are going to look at three truths we need to know about taking up God’s armor.

Know The Reason For Taking up God’s Armor

We need to remember why Ephesians is written. Paul’s prayer to the church holds the key to understanding the purpose of Paul’s letter. We’ve talked about this already, but it is always good to review. Paul started the church. He taught them about salvation. The Ephesians moved away from what he taught. They did not stand firm. In reading the letter, we come to realize the Ephesians believe the inheritance of God as being different for Jews than for Gentiles. Paul wants the Ephesian church to grasp the glories of being saved. The first fourteen verses speak of how every saint receives all the blessings of God equally. God blesses us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, not some of the blessings, but every blessing (Eph. 1:3). God predestines all the saints for adoption, not some, but all (Eph. 1:5). All saints obtain an inheritance according to God’s will and purpose (Eph. 1:11). We are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise given as a pledge of our inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14). This is the only place where the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Holy Spirit of promise. In his letters, Paul consistently uses the word promise to refer to the promises of Abraham. Because the blessings of salvation are given, Paul prays: 15For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. (Eph. 1:15-19) After telling how he prays for them, Paul proves they have fallen away from what he taught and that there is one salvation and the Ephesian believes partake in the same salvation as the Jews. Listen to how Paul proves his case. Chapter two:  both Jew and Gentile are lost and saved by God. Jews are not special people before salvation. Both are children of wrath and sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:1-4). God saves Jew and Gentile by grace, not by any work (Eph. 2:5-10). Jesus Christ brings together Jews and Gentile as building stones into a temple with Christ as the cornerstone (Eph. 2:11-22). In chapter three, Paul is very specific about the equality of Jew and Gentile and being equal with salvation. He blatantly makes the point: to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Eph. 3:6) Paul finishes his proof of the equality of the blessings for all saints in chapter four with this summary: There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-5) Paul is stressing that there are not two salvations; one for the Jews and one for the Gentiles. There is one. One Lord, one faith, and hope. Obviously, when Paul planted the church, he taught them all of what he is writing. His letter is to bring them back from where they once stood. They were not strong in the Lord, they strayed. What happened between the time Paul planted the church five or six years earlier and when he writes the letter? The Ephesian saints did not stand firm in Christ. Instead of maturing in their faith, they became weaker in their faith. Look at Ephesians 4:14. Paul urges them to: no longer be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (4:14). They allowed themselves to be deceived. Who is the author of deception? Notice the phrase, deceitful scheming. Does it sound familiar? Of course it does. Paul is intentionally connecting this phrase of 4:14 to the solution in chapter six. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil (Eph. 6:11). They did not stand strong in the Lord and the strength of His might because they were not putting on the armor. They were tossed here and there and blown around in their doctrine. The enemies tricked them into falling for the schemes of the devil. In short, the Ephesians suffer from assurance of salvation. They allowed themselves to be persuaded that they were not good enough. The enemy came in and said, you don’t deserve salvation and the promises of heaven. The Ephesians fell for the deception. What problem comes about from not taking up the full armor of God? The believer will suffer with assurance of salvation. They will not be planted firmly in Christ. They do not see themselves seated in the heavenly places with Christ. They look at themselves and not the glory of Christ. Of course we are not good enough. We are not good enough to be saved and we are not good enough to stay saved. When we take our eyes off Christ, we will wander around in a defeated, and depressed state of mind. Listen very carefully. Struggling with assurance of salvation is a very common Christian problem. Far too many Christians struggle with understanding the basis of their salvation. Far too many Christians wonder if they are saved. They do not believe how the blessings of heaven and the promises of God may belong to them. Those who lack confidence in salvation will be ineffective Christians. They lose their joy. They lose motivation to persevere. They don’t serve because they are not good enough. They don’t evangelize because they don’t feel worthy. They do not enjoy the fellowship of the believers because it looks like everyone else is a better Christian. There is no such thing as a “better, more-saved Christian.” There are only Christians and non-Christians. When we lack confidence and assurance of salvation and we become ineffective in our faith we don’t play on the field but we sit on the sidelines. This is exactly where Satan wants us to be. We are no longer to be like children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming. The reason for taking up God’s armor is our maturity as believers. The second truth about taking up the armor of God we need to know is:

Know The Outcome of Taking up God’s Armor

If we received a box of armor from Amazon, the first thing we may want to do is test it out. Let’s put the armor to a test and go out and pick a fight. The armor is not for us to go out and pick a fight. There is no offensive command in the passage. In other words, there is no command to move forward. The passage is about standing firm, not going out and fighting for Christ to gain new kingdom territory. Often, this passage is used to encourage people to go out and take down strongholds of the enemy. Notice though, the passage says three times to stand firm.
  • Verse 11, put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm.
  • Verse 13, put on the armor of God to resist in the evil day, having done everything, to stand firm.
  • Verse 14, stand firm
When a general gives the order to “resist” or “stand firm,” the soldiers do not move forward and attack. They stand their ground. Christians are already on the highest-ground and in the best position. God doesn’t want us to move off the positon He has placed us. God wants us to stand firm. We are in union with Christ. The armor allows us to hold our ground. An obvious question needing answered is, “If we are to stand and not move, why are we given shoes and a sword?” The references made with the armor are cleverly and wisely worded to conjure up images, but not in the way we may think. The Apostle uses four quotes from Isaiah to build the pieces of the armor. We will see as we look at those quotes the image which should come to mind. In other words, we are not to bring to the text the image of just any soldier wearing armor, but the references from Isaiah are to have us see an image of a very specific soldier wearing armor. Yes, we have shoes of the Gospel, but no, those shoes are not for moving forward, they are to help us stand firm. Yes, we have a sword, but that sword is not for moving forward, the sword is to help us stand our ground. We will look at each individual piece of armor to understand how they help us to stand. The armor is the power to stand firm. When we have the armor, we are strong in the Lord, not weak in the Lord. When we take up the armor of God, we are strong in the strength of His might. Notice, we are to wear the full armor. We are not to think we can get by with just the sword and a shield or maybe the helmet and a breastplate. We may not take up pieces of the armor. Each piece works best when all the armor is worn. Most importantly, know the outcome of taking up the armor of God is that we will be able to stand firm. We will not run away in retreat. We will not advance. The outcome is to remain firmly planted in the glories of Christ. We will stand firm and we will become stronger and stronger. We will not become strong in ourselves, but we will become strong in trusting Christ. We will not rely about our own ability, but we will rely upon Christ as being mighty to save. The outcome of taking up the armor of God is that we will stand firm in Christ. The third truth about taking up the armor of God we need to know is:

Know The Testimony of Taking up God’s Armor

The armor of God is a testimony to Satan and his army. To see this, we need to review Ephesians from a different vantage point. Imagine we are flying overhead and we have special glasses to help us see the spiritual realm.  We are going to zoom out and learn from the church in Ephesus wearing our spiritual glasses. In doing so, we are will see the underlying Ephesian spiritual battle (it is in every chapter of Ephesians). In our zooming out, let’s not only go to the beginning of the letter, but let’s recall Paul’s initial missionary work in the city of Ephesus. Let’s remember the events that take place. In Acts chapter 19, Luke tells us the Ephesians are worshippers of the false God Artemis. Also, an interesting event happens in the lives of the believers. After salvation, the church members repent of their formal way of life. Not only do they leave behind the worship of Artemis, but they also give up their occult practices. Before Christ, they practice witchcraft and divination. Listen to the account in the book of Acts: … fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. (Acts 19:18-19) A great spiritual battle took place. God’s Holy Spirit moved in, and Satan’s influence had to move out. The believers went home, gathered their books on the occult, brought them together and burned them. The value of the books calculates to 50,000 pieces of silver. One piece of silver is a day’s wage. At today’s average income the value of the books exceeds $8,000,000. This is a mighty blow for Satan. It is as if his large storage of ammunition is brought out and destroyed. The Ephesians are a people who were greatly influenced by Satan and his army. They know full well what Paul is talking about when he reminds them of the schemes of the devil and that the struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, powers, world forces of darkness, and against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. They relied on the teaching of Satan to help them cope in life. They practiced magic to overcome illness or to prosper in their job. They put aside Satan’s influence and stood strong in the Lord and the strength of His might. But, after Paul left Ephesus, Satan and his army snuck back in to their homes. He used different methods and Paul wants them to see the influence of Satan. If we read the letter to the Ephesians with our spiritual glasses, we see the Apostle talks about the devil’s schemes, rulers, powers, darkness, and spiritual forces of wickedness through the entire letter. Every major topic is set against the backdrop of spiritual battle. In Ephesians 6, the final admonition begins with the statement, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10). Turn to chapter one. The letter begins telling how the saints receive the all the blessings of God because of our union in Christ. All the blessings are given to us, (verse 19) in accordance with the working of the strength of His might. Let’s continue with Paul’s speaking about the working of the strength of God’s might. It is this working: … which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (Eph. 1:20-21) It is the strength of God’s might that works in Christ to be raised above all authorities and power. The strength of God’s might not only raises Jesus from the dead, but raised Jesus above all rulers, powers, world forces of darkness, and heavenly spiritual forces. There is nothing over Christ. After raising Jesus above all things, what does God do? And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Eph. 1:22-23) God gives Jesus to the church. Why? Chapter two tells us why. He writes, you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. (Eph. 2:2). Notice the spiritual battle? The prince of the power of the air is the spirit working in unbelievers. God gives Jesus, who is head over all things to the church so we may escape the clutches of the enemy. Without Christ, there is no hope of escape. We stand in the domain of darkness with no ability to overcome. After telling of our captivity by Satan, we are given those two great words of chapter two: But God! God, because of His mercy, raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6) Not only does God save us, but God raises us up with Christ. Joined together with Christ, we are above every ruler and power. In chapter six, we are told to stand firm. We are already seated on high-ground. There is no such thing as advancing to a better position when we stand in Christ, far above the enemy. In Christ, we are untouchable. After telling the Gentiles they are on equal footing with the Jews, Paul reveals more about the spiritual battle taking place. Turn to chapter three. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. (Eph. 3:8-10) This is where we begin to see the testimony of the armor. When God joins us with Christ by faith, the manifold wisdom of God is made known through the church to the rulers, powers, world forces of darkness, and spiritual forces in the heavenly places. It is not that the church is showing wisdom, but God’s wisdom in saving men is being revealed. The armor is a testimony to God’s wisdom and His saving work. The wisdom is not revealed in what the church does, but God’s wisdom is revealed in what God does for the church. In Christ, God is saving the church. The manifold wisdom of God is His provision of all the riches of Christ applied to all who put their faith in Christ. God gives the riches of Christ to us and this raises us above the evil of the enemy. When we are strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might, we give testimony of God’s wisdom. We are bringing to light the power and strength of God. God’s manifold wisdom is that God’s mercy poured out onto sinners raises them higher than all other spiritual forces. The power and strength of God’s grace, love and forgiveness quickens the heart made dead by Satan, gives the heart life, raises the saint and seats the saint with Christ above all rulers and authorities. Love wins over hate. Holiness wins over evil. Truth wins over deception. We need not watch a Hollywood movie or read a bestselling book to hear a great story of good overcoming evil. We may read about the most amazing story right here in the Bible. Not only do we read about the story, we are participants. We receive good and the goodness of God gives us the power to overcome. In Christ, we are more than conquerors. Continuing with our spiritual glasses, we may know that we are not one-time conquerors, but we continually conquer. In chapter four, we learn how God equips the church to overcome the deceit of Satan. He writes, “when He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.” The gifts to the church are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11) who speak the truth to us and help us mature in Christ. When we mature in Christ, se stand stronger and firmer in Him. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (Eph. 4:14). Chapter four continues with warnings about not falling prey to the enemy. Don’t live as we formerly lived, with a “darkened understanding” or be allow our old self to continue corrupting us with the lusts of deceit (Eph. 4:22). We are told to be careful with our anger, because if we are angry and we sin, we give the devil, our enemy an opportunity (Eph. 4:25-27). The struggle against evil continues in chapter five. We are warned not to be immoral, impure, or idolatry because it is not fitting for those who inherit the kingdom (Eph. 5:3). Don’t be deceived or partakers with deeds of darkness, but as children of the light, expose the deeds of the enemy. Don’t let the enemy or his forces interfere with the work of God’s goodness, righteousness and truth We are to be wise, making the most of our time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:5-11, 15)

Here is the testimony we are to know:

In our struggle, we may never win against Satan and his forces. We only lose. We begin our life having lost because we are dead to sin. The enemy works in us and we are the sons of disobedience. We believe his lies, we fall prey to his temptations, we are lost and without hope. God mercifully looks upon our condition and places us in the arms of Christ. With the same strength of His might that raises Christ from the dead and seats Him in the heavenly places, God makes us alive, raises us up, and seats us with Christ in the heavenly places. In Christ, we are made strong. In Christ, we conquer over our enemies. It is by the armor of God, we overcome. It is not our armor, it is God’s armor given to us. Every piece of the armor is inscribed with the name above all names, Jesus Christ. We are victorious because His armor is perfect. It is His helmet of salvation, His gospel of peace, His righteousness, His Holy Spirit, His truth. When we put our faith in the name upon the armor, we are able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. The testimony of us taking up the armor of God is that the glories of Christ’s unfathomable riches take a weak, spiritually dead, mortal, human and allows the human to be placed on a battlefield and able to overcome Satan, a very powerful foe. The testimony is not, look at the strong and powerful human. The testimony of God is, “Look at the bright, shining, impenetrable armor Satan. Do you see the wisdom of God in the armor, Satan? Do you still believe you are able to usurp the throne of God in your unrighteousness? No, you may not. You may not even defeat a weak human who wears the armor of My beloved Son. See how this weak human is made strong and powerful when they put on the righteousness of Christ. See how My love poured out in their heart gives them victory over all the evil lies and temptations you bring their way.” The testimony of taking up the armor of God is that Satan and his rulers, powers, world forces of darkness, and spiritual forces in the heavenly places have no choice but to bend their knee before Christ and declare Him as King of kings and Lord of lords. Know the reason for taking up the armor is for us to not be tricked, but to stand firm as mature believers. Know the outcome of taking up the armor is not to gain new ground, but stand firm in our union with Christ. Don’t be moved. Lastly, know the testimony of taking up the armor is the glory of Christ. It is a testimony to His power. Be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might. MAIN IDEA: Take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist evil and stand firm in Christ.