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August 27, 2023
Dressed for Battle – Part 1
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
Ephesians 6: 14 - 17

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This powerful series will challenge you to understand your role in the body of Christ. Through the book of Ephesians, Pastor Philip will remind us of the joy and blessings God intends for believers to experience in the church as they live as a united family in Christ.

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Transcript

Take your Bible and turn to Ephesians chapter six. We’re going to look at verses 14, 15, 16, and 17. Over the next couple of weeks, invite you to keep your Bible open and follow along. Stand therefore says Paul, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness and having your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace above all, taking the shield of faith by which you will be able to quench all the fairy 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. Dressed for battle. According to the legend, the Knights of the round table, when they returned to King Arthur’s court after battle, they were actually examined. They were carefully examined to see if their bodies bore the marks of battle scars and if not, they were sent back into battle with this exhortation.
Go get your scars. It’s quite a story. Go get your scars. It seems to me that it’s God’s expectation that the Christian also go get some battle scars for the sake of the gospel. It’s heaven’s expectation that we against all odds act as an outpost of God’s kingdom on earth. In fact, Paul tells us that he bears in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Paul was a spiritual warrior, a foot soldier for the gospel, and he bore the marks of battle. He had some scars and may we go get our scars. May we be fined standing for Jesus Christ in the evil day and given that reality, we want to dig deeper into the attacks we’ve been looking at. We looked at verses 10 through 13 the last time in a message called We are at war. We are. But this morning and the next time we’re together, we’re going to look at verses 14 through 17, A message entitled, Dressed for Battle, because here we’re actually going to learn how to put on the whole armor of God.
Paul has exhorted us to do that in verse 11 and verse 13, and now he explains what that looks like and what’s entailed in that. Now there’s four things we’re going to consider. We’re going to cover them this morning, but not finish the last one and pick it up the next time together. We’re going to look at the provision of the armor, the priority of the armor, the plenitude of the armor and the parts or pieces of the armor. There’s a classic book on spiritual warfare and the Christian’s armor written by one of the puritans called William Gurnall. He’s got a great quote. “In heaven we shall appear not in armor, but in robes of glory. But here the pieces of armor are to be worn night and day. We must walk, work and sleep in them or else we are not true soldiers of Christ.”
It’s going to be a wonderful day when we sat down the armor and we get clothed in robes of glory. But until then we’ve got to walk, work and sleep in this armor because we are always profoundly in danger. So let’s look at these four thoughts, the provision of the armor. Notice the beginning of verse 14. He’s picking up the language of verses 10 through 13. Stand. Therefore the word therefore pushes us back to consider some of the prior thoughts leading up to this present thought and certainly we’re picking up on the idea of putting on and taking up the armor of God. Look at verse 11. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand. Look at verse 13. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand and then we’ve got verse 14, Stand therefore.
Stand therefore, by putting on, taking up the armor of God. I want to come back to this thought for a moment, the provision of the armor, because you’ll notice that Paul describes it as the armor of God. It’s from God, it’s his to give. In fact, while the foreground is the Roman soldier, right? Ephesians 6:20 tells us that Paul was in chains. The background is Isaiah 59 verse 17 where God is described as a warrior and he puts on armor the armor of righteousness and wisdom and strength. It’s just a metaphorical way of talking about our God is clothed in righteousness and wisdom and power and he fights for his people. I love that old phrase in the Old Testament, right? The battle is the lord’s. He’s the warrior and the armor comes from him. In fact, the armor we get from trusting in him this armor, this protection is not sourced in us.
It’s forged and fashioned from him. It’s not something we manufacture, it’s something we receive as a grace gift and we live in union with Jesus Christ. In fact, let me put it this way, this armor is a gracious, comprehensive provision from God to us through Christ. The protection is the gospel, the protection, the security, the armor that we enjoy in the face of our enemy is gospel privileges that are ours through union with Jesus Christ. We saw last week, didn’t we from Romans 13 verse 14, that in many ways putting on the armor is tantamount to simply putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, living in relationship with him, living in union with him, abiding in him and drawing from him all the benefits of the gospel. Timothy Chester, a good British expositor and writer says this, it is clear that the armor of God is the gospel.
Commentator’s delight in describing the intricacies of Roman military hardware, but Paul’s focuses on the armor representing the gospel. The gospel is the revelation of truth. The gospel is the gift of righteousness. The gospel is the means of peace. The gospel is the provision of salvation. The gospel comes through the word of God. To put on this armor is to remind ourselves of the gospel. Listen our greatest protection against the schemes and savagery of the devil, and remember, he’s breathing down your neck. Remember, you’re living in enemy territory. Your spiritual experience was the physical experience of our soldiers in Fallujah, every door was dangerous. Every mile of a street was fraught with traps and endangerment. That’s our experience, but our greatest protection against the schemes and savagery of the devil is looking to and living in Christ. We’re going to look at these individual pieces, but I don’t want to lose sight of the forest for the trees.
As we said last week, this is Christ. These are the benefits of the gospel. Lived out, putting on the armor of God amongst two believers, drawing fully upon their identity in Christ and the spiritual resources that we possess in union with him. Can I go back over chapters one, two, and three just briefly to remind you of what you are and what you have in Jesus and as you hear this repeated, you get a sense of your security and your sufficiency in him. In Christ. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. Chapter one, verse three. In Christ, we have been predestined to be adopted into God’s family. Chapter one, verses four to five. In Christ we have redemption through his blood, forgiveness of sins. Chapter one, verse seven, in Christ we have knowledge of God’s will. Mysteries have been revealed.
Chapter one, verse nine. In Christ we have a secure future. We have an inheritance chapter one verse 11, and in Christ we have the permanent indwelling of the spirit as a pledge of our future. Chapter one verses 12 to 14, I could go on and I will. In Christ we have surpassing power and inner strength. Chapter one, verse 19 to 20. In Christ we have been made alive. Chapter two, verse one, in Christ we have been elevated in our standing before God. Chapter two verse six, in Christ we have peace with God and we’ve been reconciled to each other. Chapter two, 14 to 15 and there’s more, in Christ we have access to the Father through the spirit. Chapter 2, 21 to 22 and towards the end here in Christ we enjoy God’s deep and abiding love. That’s almost incomprehensible for us to grasp.
Chapter three verses 18 to 19, and we worship a God who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can or think that’s all true. And as you and I come to understand that, love it, revel in it and live it, we’re putting on the armor. The armor is of God. The armor is ours through Christ and the gospel. My friend Mark Hitchcock said this, “The best way to keep Satan out is to keep Christ in.” It’s a good little statement, not that we’re going to endanger of losing Christ since we’ve been sealed by the spirit, but just experientially. The best way to keep Satan out is to keep Jesus in at the center of your life, not at the circumference. So that’s the provision of the armor. What about the priority of the armor? Given our weakness we’re fallen and finite, given the ferocity and cunning of the enemy against us, the wiles of the devil.
Given the nature of the war, much of it is hidden and sometimes imperceptible because we wrestle that against flesh and blood and given the times in which we live, which are clearly marked by wickedness, this is an evil day. Isn’t it a priority that you and I protect ourselves? Now we can because of the provision, but in the light of the provision, we’ve got to make that a priority. That’s why in verse 11 we’re told, put on the whole armor of God. Verse 13, therefore, take up the whole armor of God and then verse 14, the following, therefore gird yourself with the truth. Put on the breastplate of righteousness. Have your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel above all, taking the shield of faith and so on. This is imperative. This is a must. Now we are to put on this armor urgently and unitedly.
Two things urgently and unitedly. The Christian must take advantage of the strength offered to us through the Lord made available to us in the armor we’re told in verse 10, to be strong in the Lord and the power of his might. How’s that brought about? By putting on the armor of God urgently. The Greek word translated put on in verse 11, it has the image of putting on clothes and the tense of the Greek is when you put it on, you keep it on. It carries the idea of permanence. It’s never safe to disrobe. And then interestingly, he uses a stronger verb in verse 13. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, put it on and keep it on and take it up. Grant Osborne in his common Ephesians helps us to get the distinction. The battle has been joined. The forces of the enemy are in attack mode coming at us fast and furious.
Paul changes his imperative from put on clothing imagery to take up weapon imagery. This is a stronger verb often used in a military setting that speaks of an emergency situation in a battle that is already in process. The soldiers are arming themselves one piece at a time, but they’re in a hurry. Less, the encroaching forces catch them unprepared. Get the imagery. The enemy has crossed the border or the enemy is at the gates. The alarm has been sounded and now the soldiers are urgently rushing into the armory and they’re grabbing the spears, the swords, the shields, the helmets, and they’re putting it on so that they can engage the battle before the battle overruns them. That’s our verb. Some years ago, a young man attended our church for a while who was the lieutenant in Navy seal team seven out of Coronado Island and I had the privilege of spending a day with him and some of the seals down on Coronado Island, did a bit of shooting and just enjoyed conversation and got a tour of the facilities.
One of the things I saw was this young man on a particular floor of the base. He had his own, I’m going to call it a cage. It was a locker in some sense, but it was a large cage and inside that he had his gear, he had different weapons, he had scuba gear, he had parachute gear so that when he was called, he lived in San Diego. As the seals do within minutes, he can be at the base given knowledge of what might be unfolding. He goes in and grabs the equipment and off they go into the osprey or into helicopter or whatever. That’s our image. The gear’s here they go get it and put it on and do it urgently and do it, secondly, unitedly, because in verses 10 through 20, the personal pronoun you is in the plural, not in the singular.
Paul is not addressing an individual. He’s addressing the whole church. Now that includes individuals, so there’s an individual element to it. He wants to say to you, put on the whole armor of God, but he’s saying to us collectively put on the whole armor of God without exception, without exemption, putting on the whole armor of God as a corporate act. There’s no deferments in spiritual warfare. This struggle involves the whole church because this struggle is against the whole church and when you and I don’t man our part of the wall, when you and I don’t get involved in the war effort, when you and I go AWOL, when we don’t put our armor on, when we don’t stand in the evil day, we’re not just affecting ourselves, we’re affecting the whole church. Your absence becomes a chink in the armor, so to speak. Your absence becomes an achilles heel for the body of Christ and makes it weak and less formidable than it ought to be.
Look, the soldier is not to be a solitary figure. He marches in columns, he fights in platoons and he belongs to regiments. You talk to a soldier, an old warrior, and he’ll tell you, on the one hand, I fought for God and country on the other hand, he’ll say, I really fought for the guy next to me, my brother. We shed blood together, we fought alongside each other and that’s the camaraderie, that’s the community that Paul wants to church to exhibit, that we take care of each other. We’re there for each other. We fight together because we’re stronger together. This is a corporate act. They were to join forces. They were to come alongside one another under the banner of one Lord, one faith of one baptism, right? Ephesians four to six. Maybe you forgot what the title of this whole series is, but we have called our study in Ephesians Life Together because we saw in our opening studies that unity is one of the great themes of Ephesians. That the wall between Jew and Gentile has been broken down that through Christ we’ve not only been reconciled to God but reconciled to each other.
We’re brothers and sisters. We’ve been adopted into the one family and there’s one faith, one Lord, one baptism, one Father overall, and Paul’s picking that up and he’s letting us know that this fight is a fight that must be done corporately. We’ll see this. I’m going to leave it for now, just give you a hint at it. But when we get to the shield aspect of the armor, there was a small shield and a large shield, and the word that Paul uses is for the large shield, and maybe you’ve seen it in the movie as far back as maybe the old Kirk Douglas Spartacus and in up, up end of today with the 300 or whatever you see, Roman soldiers or soldiers of this time, they locked their shields together and create walls both around them and maybe above them. They become this kind of tortoise, shell, and the Romans were good at it.
That’s why they were so effective. That’s why they conquered a lot of the world. They marched information and they fought together and they used their shields to shield one another from the enemy’s attack and they became a very formidable force. It’s interesting in Colossians two verse five, the Paul says this, for though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit rejoicing to see your good order. That Greek phrase, good order is a military term. It speaks of an unbroken orderly line of soldiers showing a united front. Paul’s commanding the Colossians. I love it. I hear you’re still information, you’re not fractured, you’re not divided. See, Satan loves to divide the church and conquer the church. That’s why we’ve got to act unitedly. We’ve got to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We’ve got to stir one another up on the love good works.
We’ve got to bandage each other’s wounds. If someone has fallen, then you come alongside them, not in a spirit of arrogance but meekness and help them get back on their feet and back into line. You need to listen to your leaders and follow their instructions as they follow the word of God. We need to forgive one another and be patient with one another and bear one another’s burdens because we’ve got to put this armor on urgently, take it up because the enemy’s at the door and put it on and keep it on and we’ve got to do it unitedly. In August of 1776 while signing the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin said to his friends and the surrounding, founding fathers, we must all hang together or assuredly we will hang separately. What did he mean given the British crown, given the strength of the British forces, they needed to show united front in the revolution because if they didn’t hang together, the British would pick them off and hang them separately.
My friends, we’ve got to hang together or assuredly will hang separately. You can’t live the Christian life without the fellowship of seance. So we’ve got the provision, we’ve got the priority. Now we’ve got the plentitude of the armor. That’s a word for completeness, wholeness. You’ll notice again verse 14, therefore it’s thrown us back. We’re not done just totally yet with 10 through 13, put on the whole armor of God. Don’t miss that. It’s the whole armor of God that you need to put on not two pieces of the six, not three pieces of the six, not four or five pieces of the six. That’s not enough, that’s insufficient. It’s all the whole panoply of God’s provision for us in the Lord Jesus Christ. Homer’s great hero, Achilles seemed invincible and up to a certain period was invincible until the day that Paris discovered that his heel was not protected and inevitably Paris aimed his arrow at that single defenseless spot. God’s armor is complete, put it on. God does not leave you with an Achilles heel. You’ve got a helmet for your head, you’ve got a breast plate for your chest, you’ve got a belt and girdles for your thighs. You’ve got protection for your feet. Now here’s the point too on this by implication each piece is essential. We cannot nor ought we pick and choose.
Monday’s the day I’ll put the breast plate of righteousness on Tuesday, I think I’ll take up the sword of the Spirit. Wednesday I’ll give a go with the helmet of salvation. No, you got to put it all on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, put it on, keep it on. No soldier goes to battle half dressed by choice. Some have, they’ve lost their helmet. Many civil war soldiers fought in their bare feet if you read some of the accounts, but that was not by choice. That was because a lack of provision. But our God has us seated in the heavenly places and he’s given us all the blessings we need all the provision that’s necessary to live life on Godliness. And you know what? It’s your job to put on all of the pieces. So let’s put on the armor urgently, unitedly, keeping on permanently. My name, the course is an unusual name.
It’s actually a rare name in Ireland. The introduction into Irish history came in 1176, by a John De Courcy. He was a Norman or a French knight, a man of nobility. He was a courageous knight and warrior and he comes to Ireland in 1176 and beats up on the Irish chieftains and take some of their land. You can go to outside Dublin conceal and go to Northern Ireland to Carrickfergus, and some of his forts and castles are still there. In fact, when I take American friends to Northern Ireland, I usually take them to Carrickfergus Castle. It was built by John De Courcy, and then I take them to the little house I grew up in and I go see how the mighty have fallen. But yeah, John De Courcy build a castle. It’s still in existence today. He was a warrior, but he was not liked by the King John of England.
In fact, he wanted him dead. Dead. And so he actually commissioned Sir Hugh De Lacey to take him out. And so what De Lacey did was he kind of sent some of his guys to keep an eye on John De Courcy, who always wore his armor, always seemed to have his game face on and initially they thought it was going to be impossible to get at him, but then they noticed that the only time that maybe would give them an opportunity was once a year on Good Friday when he took his armor off and it was his custom on Good Friday to take his armor off, not to carry his shield or his weapon, to walk around the church inside his fortification for five times in his bare feet spending time and fasting and praying. And so De Lacey determined to get John De Courcy on Good Friday, and he did, and actually ended up killing him, not before John De Courcy killed 13 of the assassins with a cross pole he got his hands on.
He was a tremendous warrior, but he just opened himself up just one day in 365, took his armor off and became vulnerable. Paul is reminding us to always keep the armor on completely urgently, permanently. So let’s get to the parts of the armor and we’ll look at two of these and we’ll pick up the other four when I get back. But as we begin to look at the six pieces of Roman armor that Paul outlines for us as an imagery of what God has provided for us in Christ. There’s a big question, I’ve got to get it out of the way. It’s an exegetical question that if you’re going to preach this or teach this, you’re going to have to answer, is Paul focused on the objective understanding of these pieces of armor or the subjective? You say, pastor, what do you mean?
Well, I think I can help you understand. Let’s take the belt of truth. Is it objective or is it subjective? Is it gospel truth, gospel doctrine, the tenets of the Christian field, we believe in that and that guards us. Could be or is it subjective truth as in truthfulness, a life marked by truth, sincerity, integrity? You could again argue the same issue on the breastplate of righteousness. Is that objective or is it subjective? If it’s objective, then it’s the imputed righteousness of Christ that we are given as a gift when we put our faith in Jesus Christ. And no doubt there’s protection in that. It’s a wonderful thing when Satan comes to accuse you of your sins that you can point to your perfect standing before God, clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Or is it subjective righteousness that is holiness, ethical living? Well, on the one hand, you could make an argument that it’s both and you can interpret that way starting with the objective and moving to the subjective because the one grows out of the other.
You need to be declared righteous before God, before you can become righteous. I like what Darell Bock, however states this. One thing leads into the other. However, the stress is on the product in our lives. That is the virtues we show growing out of what God has done for us, being prepared for battle means having both access to and appreciation for what God has done and what that means for who we are and what we have become and how we are to live. So even if you argue for both, you’re moving from the objective to the subjective. You end up really thinking through the subjective and that’s where I’m at. I side with it being subjective. I interpret all the pieces subjectively and I’ll give you a couple of reasons why. One, because we’re on the imperative side of the letter. Remember we turn to chapter four verse one and we move from the indicatives what God has done for us to the imperatives, what we do for God by his grace.
Paul talks about living a life worthy of the gospel conduct commensurate with the Christian profession. So I think that’s where we’re at, plus we’re picking up the language of chapter four verse 20 to 24, where we’re told to what put off the old man and put on the new man. That’s behavioral, that’s transformed living, that’s living out what you are because of your relationship with Christ. So if you push me, I’m not going to fight you on it. The objective interpretation has merit, but I think given those factors, I think we’re dealing with the subjective. We’re dealing with conduct, we’re dealing with the practical aspects of gospel life. So let’s get into a couple of these quickly. The belt of truth, verse 14, stand therefore having girded your waist with the truth. The first piece of kit that Paul talks about is the belt of truth or the belt around the soldier’s waist.
Now the belt or the girdle was more than a strip of leather or cloth around the waist. It was more like an apron that hung underneath the armor and protected the thighs in combat. Beyond protection, it served two basic functions that was used to position and hold the sheath for the soldiers’ sword. Or if you were an archer, it would support the quiver of arrows. And then secondly, since the legionnaire wore a tunic of loose fitting cloth that could also flap about, maybe even prove to be a hindrance in hand-to-hand combat, the last thing the soldier could afford was to be tangled in the midst of a tussle. So the soldier would often use the belt to gird his loins, that is to tuck the tunic into the belt so he could move freely and fight effectively without tripping. That’s our image and you’ve got that language there having girded your waist with truth.
So with this image, Paul argues for the vital role of truth in spiritual warfare and by truth we’re going subjective, here. We’re talking about truthfulness, integrity, a life that’s not hollowed out by hypocrisy. Now Paul talks about truth in the objective for sure. Chapter one, verse 13, he talks about the truth of the gospel. Chapter four, verse five, he talks about the one fifth definite article. Chapter 14, he talks about not being blown by every wind of doctrine. Also in chapter 4, verse 21, he talks about the truth that’s found in Jesus, but I don’t think that’s the focus here. We’re on the second side of the letter, the practical, the transformational, and in chapter four verse 15, we’re on the practical, speak the truth in love, deal with each other in an attitude of love. If you’re going to speak the truth, speak it with grace, make it as palatable as you can, as understandable as you can.
You get a similar thought, don’t you? In verse 24 to 25, we’re to put on the new man created according to God in true righteousness, putting away lying. Each of us speak the truth with his neighbor. That’s practical, ethical truth where you don’t lie, but you tell the truth. You’re not two-faced, you’re not hypocritical, you’re not all shop window or something in the back of the store. That’s where Paul is at, here. Get a similar thought, chapter 5, yet 10 and 11 for you were one’s darkness, but now you were light in the Lord, walk as children of the light. Now notice for the fruit of the spirit, that’s practical again, that’s ethical, that’s behavioral for the fruit of the spirit in all goodness, righteousness and truth. So the truth that we have found in Jesus, the truth that we have come to believe about Jesus is truth that we live truth, that we were. Jesus is the truth and the way and the Christian way is truth in word thought and deed.
Here’s a point, if I’m going to summarize this, this is the part I’d want you to remember. Satan’s a liar. You agree with that? Yeah, yeah. Here’s John 8:44, Jesus said he’s a murderer and he was a liar. So listen to this. If Satan is a liar, you’re not going to fight him and you’re not going to beat him If you’re living a lie, it’s impossible to do that. You can’t live a lie. You can’t live your Christian life in the shallow end and survive spiritually. You’ve got to grow in sincerity, honesty, integrity, authenticity. Doesn’t mean you’re perfect, doesn’t mean you’ve got your act together, but the worship you render, the deeds you do, the words you say, there’s an authenticity behind it. You really are sincere. You might fall short of your sincere desires or your sincere attempts, but they’re sincere. They’re not willfully hypocritical.
You’re not playing Judas, you’re not doing an Ananias and Sapphira who remember in Acts 5, were motivated by Satan to lie, to live a lie because he’s a liar and they play it on his turf and lost because they pretended. Remember, they go up and offer the apostles an amount and they get called out. What’s the issue? Oh, you didn’t give enough. No, the issue wasn’t the amount they give, they pretended that they give everything they had when that wasn’t true. The issue was not the amount they give but the sin of pretense. Hypocrisy. And that’s what Paul is saying. Don’t play the hypocrite. Satan’s a liar and you’re never going to beat him by living a lie. So be authentic, if you failed, be authentic. Repent, seek help, be honest, be humble. Don’t put face on, don’t play the church game. Remember what King David said after his own tangled mess of sin with Bathsheba, God desires and delights in truth, in the inward part.
I like what John Stott says in his commentary on Ephesians. To be deceitful to lamps, into hypocrisy, to resort, to intrigue and scheming. This is to play the devil’s game and you shall not be able to beat him at his own game. It’s a really good insight. You’re going to scheme and duck and pretend and play the devil’s game because he’s a deceiver and a schemer. He’s going to beat you every time you need to gird your life with authenticity and truthfulness and sincerity. Remember what Paul said of Timothy in Philippines two 20 to 21 about his love for the Philippines. No one has as much sincere care for you as Timothy. Sincere care. It’s real. It’s meant, it’s felt. You can weigh it, you can see it, you can feel it.
You know what we need to do? We need to pray for ourselves. What Paul prayed for the Philippines having referenced that letter, remember what he said and this I pray that your love may bind still more and more in all knowledge and all discernment. Notice this, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ. In his commentary in Philippines, James Montgomery Boice tells us that this Greek word, sincere’s an interesting word, it can either be translated without wax or oven tested or sun tested. You go, what’s that all about? Okay, here’s what it’s about. If we’re back in that day and you’re in a town or a city and you go into one of the bazaars, a little tent where pottery can be bought and ladies, you go in and you see a dish or a plate or a vase you like, it’s high end and there’s good price to it, the one thing you’ll do is you’ll take it outside and you’ll hold it up to the sun and it’ll become sun tested.
What are we talking about? Well, because it was a good piece of pottery and when it was being made sometimes in the oven or in the kiln, or in the fire, it cracks and the dubious marketer would take it and fill it in with the filler that would blend in with the color and then he would glaze over it and paint over it and to the naked eye in a tent full of shadows like twilight, you’d never see it and then you take it out, but and hold it up on the Sunday and you’ll see it’s sun tested. You might see that crack. Paul’s saying, I want to pray that your life will be without wax. I want as little filler. I want authenticity. I want reality. I want sincerity. I’d rather you be something in a few things than pretend to be more than you are .
You know, for a time, my daughter Angela and her husband Nathan, fostered two little girls, which was a joy to them and a blessing to us, and one of them had a way of responding, which I loved and have reflected on, and maybe we, “Hey, we want to go to McDonald’s for an ice cream, or Hey, you know what? We’re going to go down to the beach tomorrow afternoon or maybe, Hey, we’ve got tickets for Disney.” And invariably she would respond with a big smile on her face. For real. I loved it for real. I can imagine they’re doing it right now, but the more I thought about it too, I think there’s a sadness behind that or at least it produced that as in at least for a part of her life, promises were broken and much that was said was going to happen, never happened. And so much of her life was a disappointment.
And so are you for real? Don’t disappoint me. Are you for real? For real? Paul wants that from you and me and whatever we say we’re going to do for God and whatever we say we are for God for real. We better be for real because Satan’s a liar and you can’t beat him if you’re living a lie. And if you’re involved in intrigue and scheming and hypocrisy, you’re playing his game and you’ll never beat him at it. Here’s the next thought. The breastplate of righteousness and we’ll wrap this up. The second piece of kit that Paul talks about is the breastplate of righteousness, verse 14. Now, no Roman soldier entered the battlefield without a breastplate. It was a tough sleeveless piece of armor that covered the full torso. It was made of leather or heavy linen and overlapping slices of animal hooves or animal horns or pieces of metal sewn on it.
In some cases, perhaps for officers, it was made of a large piece of metal molded and hammered to conform to the body. And as you can imagine, it protected the heart, the lungs, and the vital organs. It was a very essential piece of equipment. And so Paul takes this, this is the second image he’s imagineering here with the Roman soldier beside him here in this fight against the world, the flesh and the devil, be authentic, be real, and secondly, be righteous. We’re taking the subjective side of the argument here. This is not imputed righteousness, although that’s not far from our thoughts. This is practical holiness. John MacArthur is helpful here in a little book on spiritual warfare. Paul here is obviously not speaking of self-righteousness, which is not righteousness at all, but the sin of pride, nor is he speaking of imputed righteousness. The righteousness God applies to the account of every Christian, the moment they believe in Christ.
No, the breastplate of righteousness is the practical righteousness of moment by moment obedience to God’s word. That’s protection. Isn’t that what protected Jesus in the wilderness temptation, obedience to the word. Second, Corinthians 6, verse 7. You’ve got a similar language about putting on the armor of righteousness. See, we’re on the far side of chapter one, two, and three and we are being reminded here on the practical side of the letter, the need to act and think in a manner commensurate with the character of Christ and corresponding to the nature of God. There’s protection in that. Chapter 4, verse 24, that you put on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness. I think that’s practical holiness there. Ethical living according to the law of God and the love of God and the life of Christ. Got a similar thought.
Here we are, chapter 5, verse 8, for you we’re once in darkness, but now you’re in the light, walk. There’s the conduct. Behavioral, walk as children of the light for the fruit of the spirit is in all goodness and notice righteousness and truth, and notice finding out what is pleasing to God, pleasing God, displeases Satan and that’s what we’re committed to. Here’s maybe a simple way to put it again back to one of those kind of summary sentences I want you to think about. Satan promotes the doing of what is wrong, doesn’t he? And he tempts people all the time to pursue what is wrong. Satan promotes the doing of what is wrong and the Christian is protected from the enemy. When we do what is right and we don’t yield a temptation, we don’t surrender to the flesh and we live in the spirit and we overcome by the grace of God, and we defeat Satan in righteous living.
We are to live righteously in this present age, right? Titus 2 verses 11 to 14. This is an evil day and the grace of God that has appeared unto all men. Bringing salvation teaches us not to live in an ungodly manner, but to live righteously while we’re looking for our great God and savior to return building on our last thought and wrapping this up, the Christian is not only to pursue inner truth, the Christian is to pursue outer righteousness. In all their dealings and doings both at home and at church, at work, at rest, at play. Righteous living allows the believer to confront and conquer evil, thus bolting the door in the face of Satan’s attack. Putting on the breastplate of righteous living, prevents the devil from getting a foothold in our lives through lust, greed, anger, and justice. Listen, unconfessed sin, pockets of our lives that haven’t been surrendered to God, that grieves the spirit.
And in grieving the spirit we lower our experience of God’s power making us more vulnerable to the enemy. We need to be filled by the spirit in a world with devils filled. And if we’re going to be filled by the spirit, we can’t grieve him through bitterness and malice and anger and the sins of the flesh. As I said, I’ll have the privilege next Sunday of preaching in the pulpit of Dr. David Jeremiah at Shadow Mountain Community Church. I’ve been reading a little book of his in my studies this week on spiritual warfare. Here’s what he says. When we find little ways of lying and cheating and cheating the truth, when we get set in a foothold in our hearts, nothing so demoralizes and discourages a warrior as being involved in a spiritual battle knowing that there is a problem of character and integrity in their own life.
You see, when you and I sin and our conscience convicts us and we don’t surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ, we just know instinctively we are fighting the enemy with one hand tied behind our back because we have still not surrendered that area or confessed that sin. He goes on, the little sins we tolerate, represent dangerous holes in our bulletproof vest. You can be sure that sooner or later Satan will aim right at that spot. Let me say that again. The little sins we tolerate or the big sins represent dangerous holes in our bulletproof vest. You can be sure that sooner or later Satan will aim right at that spot. Let me tell you a story and wrap this up. And you may have heard this before, if not, it’s a think it illustrates this point well.
A Haitian pastor tells this story about the danger of disobedience, of giving Satan a foothold through unrighteousness known sin, unconfessed rebellion. A certain man wanted to sell his house for $2,000. Another man wanted to buy it, but he couldn’t afford the $2,000. And so they haggled and they bartered. And then the seller agreed to sell the home for half the asking price. But with one condition, the owner was allowed to retain ownership of a small nail protruding from the front door. And after several years past, the original owner had seller’s remorse and went back to the buyer and asked to buy the house back at the original price that he sold it for. And you can imagine the buyer said no. They were enjoying the house. And so after a while, the first owner came back and hung a decaying carcass of a dead dog on that single nail. And before long the house stunk and became uninhabitable, forcing the new owner to sell the home to the original owner at the ridiculously low price, the half price it was bought at all because of a single nail. The Haitian pastor concludes with this application. If we leave the devil, even one small peg in our lives, he will return and hang his rotten garbage on it, making our lives uninhabitable for God’s blessing and favor. Put on urgently, take up, every one of us, all of the armor, and if we do, we’ll be able to stand and putting it on means living a life of integrity and sincerity, rejecting hypocrisy, not living a life of pretense. You can’t beat the liar by living a lie. And then we’re to pursue practical, ethical holiness. We’re to obey the word of God day by day. Close the gaps in terms of our disobedience so that Satan doesn’t get a foothold. Let’s pray.
Father, we thank you for this study. Thank you for the S section of Ephesians. We hear the trumpet call, we hear the alarm sirens going off, that the enemy is at the door, that our lives are under threat in Christ. We thank you, we don’t need to panic. We thank you we don’t need to surrender because victory is possible. Victory is promised. Jesus will lead us in triumph always. And so Lord, help us to work out what you’re working in. Help us to live lives worthy of the gospel we have come to understand, believe and love. Help us practically to move from doctrinal conviction to experiential authenticity, to allow the truth to move from our head, the 12 or 13 inches to our heart where we own it and live it. We’re people of our word. We’re not two-faced. We’re real even in our fallenness. We’re real. Lord, help us to pursue holiness in an unholy world as a protection so that we might remain unspotted from the world. Help us not to leave the welcome sign hanging on the front door because of our disobedience, our slothfulness, in terms of our spiritual lives. Bless this congregation. Help us each to look out for one another, to lock our shields together so that we can stand in this evil day.
Pray for someone or someones who are here or listening who are still not on the Lord’s side. Help them to know they’re living on the side that will be ultimately defeated and destroyed. Help them to run to Jesus. Help them to find refuge in Him. Help them to find strength and victory in Him so that indeed that when he comes, they will be found at His side, loved by Him and kept by Him. Help them to translate from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of your dear son. For we pray and ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.