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Sunday, March 19, 2017 pm                                                    Ephesians Index

 

STUDIES IN EPHESIANS (38)
The Armor of God - Ephesians 6:14-18

 

We are approaching the end of our study of Ephesians.   In our last lesson, we noted that we are in a spiritual war.  In Eph. 6:10-13 we addressed the nature of this war – it is a spiritual battle against spiritual forces of wickedness and darkness.  Because of this we are called upon to take up the WHOLE armor of God and to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. 

I spent 3 years in the military and there it was emphasized that we needed every piece of equipment we were assigned.  It had a purpose, either for defense or to engage and stope the enemy.  That is true of every army throughout history, including the Roman army.   And it is true of the spiritual army that we have enlisted in.  We need to “put on the whole armor of God” so that we will be “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17, 2 Timothy 2:21). 

One of the strengths of the Roman empire was the presence of its military.  It was not uncommon to see soldiers in uniform prepared for whatever they would encounter.   It was this familiarity with the Roman soldier that prompted Paul to make comparison with several pieces of the Roman soldier’s uniform to the “uniform” (qualities) that we need to engage in our spiritual warfare.  Today we want to talk about this armor we are to put on. 

 I.                     The Christian’s armor

a.       Having girded your waist with truth (6:14)

                                                   i.      Soldiers wore around their waist a belt that supported the garments of the midsection.    It also held together and supported other pieces of the uniform. (Much like the belt of a police officer).  This was the hub of the uniform.  It was designed to be loosened for movement, but tightened during battle.

                                                 ii.      The word “girded” deals with putting on the belt and “tightening it up” so as to be prepared for our battle. 

                                                iii.      Our “girdle” is truth.  Truth is that which is actual and real.  That which is right. 
The word of God is our truth – John 17:17.    It is the truth that will make us free (John 8:31-32). 
1 Thessalonian 2:13 – Paul commended the brethren there because they welcomed the gospel as the word of God in truth, rather than the word of men. 
When I think of truth, I think of more than just knowing His word, I think of the confidence I have in that word.  I KNOW it is the truth!  And it is at the HUB of what I do and why I do it.  NOTE: John 8:31, this truth comes from abiding in His word.  And we need to KNOW it!

b.       Put on the breastplate of righteousness

                                                   i.      The breastplate covered the chest, neck and torso and thus protects the vital organs.   Think of a bullet proof vest (but probably a little more)

                                                 ii.      Our breastplate is righteousness.  The word means one who is satisfying God’s demands.  Describes one who is upright in behavior (BDAG).  Thayer describes this as, in the broad sense, the state of him who is such as he ought to be.   In other words, we are living a faithful life doing what God wants us to do.

                                                iii.      We continually emphasize that the success of our interaction with others BEGINS with making ourselves right with God.  We have to live the godly life ourselves first.  It is THAT conduct that makes us examples to the world – Matthew 5:16, Philippians 2:15-16).

c.        Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace

                                                   i.      The right shoes (boots) are imperative to effective combat (or whatever you are doing).  The Roman soldier wore special sandals (or perhaps more) designed to give traction and protection as they swiftly moved on the battle field or over rough terrain.  For shoes to work they had to be properly fitted (shod – bind beneath, fastened – securely in place).

                                                 ii.      As Christians, our feet are to be shod with the gospel of peace – the gospel is the good news of our salvation.   Paul described it as the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). 
Ephesians 1:13 – you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.
Ephesians 3:6 – Gentiles are fellow heirs and partakers of Christ through the gospel. 
Here it is described as a gospel of peace – again the message of Ephesians (Jew and Gentile brought together).  The gospel, when properly accepted produces peace – with God (Romans 5:1), and with one another (Ephesians 2:14).   Matthew 5:9, we are called upon to be peacemakers, THESE are the sons of God. 

                                                iii.       Christians are to be prepared!  This is a point emphasized in this phrase.  If we are to be effective teaching others, engaging error or fighting Satan we need to be prepared.  The root of this word is found in 2 Timothy 2:21 describing us as prepared for every good work.  And so it is in Titus 3:1 also.   1 Peter 3:15 – be ready to give a defense. 

                                                iv.      Consider also with this Romans 10:15 – how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace. 

d.       Taking the shield of faith with which we quench the fiery darts of the wicked one

                                                   i.      The shield – in the Roman army there were different types of shields.  A small personal shield and a larger oblong shield that measured about 4 feet by 2 ½ feet.   The latter is the one mentioned here.  They could be used while advancing to protect you individually, or often they would be used in formations to repel arrows, sword thrusts, etc. as a group advanced. 

                                                 ii.      Faith is our shield.  Faith is believing and trusting God.  It is a firm conviction in Him and His promises.  It is at the foundation of our lives (2 Peter 1:5, Hebrews 11:6, etc.).  Faith is our victory that overcomes the world – 1 John 5:4. A shield is mobile and can be moved in the direction where it is needed.  Similarly, with faith, we turn to God as we deal with “the fiery darts of the wicked one.”   1 Peter 5:8-9 warns us to be sober and vigilant against the devil, and to “Resist him, steadfast in the faith…”

e.       Take the helmet of salvation

                                                   i.            Head gear is another crucial piece of armor.  We need no explanation of its importance.  It protects the brain from the enemy and trauma.
Also, In battle, why are many willing to give their lives?  Usually it is because of a cause that they believe in!  They will die believing their sacrifice is not in vain.

                                                 ii.            Spiritually, our helmet is salvation.  It is the ultimate protection – man can kill the body, but he cannot touch the soul – Matthew 10:28.  1 Peter 3:13-14 – who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good. 
Salvation is our hope! In fact, 1 Thessalonians 5:8 says that.  We put on as a helmet, the hope of salvation.  It is that which keeps us pressing on even though we face a terrible battle.  IT keeps us from giving up or quitting.  Philippians 3:12-14 – Paul pressed toward the goal.  Hebrews 6:19 speaks of hope being an anchor of the soul.  

                                                iii.            NOTE: If we are to survive spiritually, we have to protect the mind.   2 Corinthians 10:4-5 – the weapons of our warfare are designed to pull down strongholds and bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 

f.         The sword of the Spirit which is the word of God

                                                   i.      Like the shield, there were different types of swords. The was a long sword and a short sword, even including a dagger.   The word used here is the shorter sword.  It is an offensive weapon, (in fact, of all the armor mentioned in this study, the sword is the only offensive weapon we have), but it is also can be defensive if it is wielded wisely.    It was designed for close up combat in which you would need to engage the enemy. 

                                                 ii.      Our sword is the word of God.   Hebrews 4:12 – the word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword.  We are to use the word of God as we engage in this war.  We used it to defend ourselves, as did Jesus at His temptation (Matthew 4:3, 7, 10).  But we also use to go and offensively engage the enemy.  We are to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12).

                                                iii.      So many applications could be made with this.  Here I just want to mention – to become effective with any weapon (and virtually anything) you need to become familiar with it and use it.  With God’s word, we need to become so familiar with it that we can effectively use it in our own lives and with others. 

g.       Praying always (6:18-20) – we will deal with this in our next and final study of this book.  But here I just want to mention that communication is part of our battle plan, in fact, ANY battle plan.  Paul concludes addressing our need for prayer. 

 

Thus we can see “the gospel armor” we are to put on.  But I conclude with this observation.  We need to take this armor seriously.  As this letter was written, the Roman Empire was in its prime.  A big reason for that was the discipline, strategies and armor of the army.   But in time that failed.

Most historians acknowledge that the fall of Rome was internal.   They deteriorated from within.  A part of that failure was a relaxed military.  Edward Gibbons in “History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” wrote,  "It is the just and important observation of Vegetius, that the infantry was invariably covered with defensive armor, from the foundation of the city to the reign of the emperor Gratian. The relaxation of discipline, and the disuse of exercise, rendered the soldiers less able, and less willing, to support the fatigues of the service; they complained of the weight of the armor, which they seldom wore: and they successively obtained the permission of laying aside both their cuirasses and their helmets. The heavy weapons of their ancestors, the short sword, and the formidable pilum, which had subdued the world, insensibly dropped from their feeble hands. As the use of the shield is incompatible with that of the bow, they reluctantly marched into the field; condemned to suffer either the pain of wounds, or the ignominy of flight, and always disposed to prefer the more shameful alternative. The cavalry of the Goths, the Huns, and the Alani, had felt the benefits, and adopted the use, of defensive armor; and, as they excelled in the management of missile weapons, they easily overwhelmed the naked and trembling legions, whose heads and breasts were exposed, without defence, to the arrows of the barbarians. The loss of armies, the destruction of cities, and the dishonor of the Roman name, ineffectually solicited the successors of Gratian to restore the helmets and cuirasses of the infantry. The enervated soldiers abandoned their own, and the public defence; and the pusillanimous indolence may be considered as the immediate cause of the downfall of the empire." (Vol. III, pp. 271-272).  In summary, Rome became vulnerable because its army relaxed and became lazy and arrogant.   We cannot afford to do that with God’s word. 

Let us put on the armor of God and use it!