Summary: If a Roman soldier went into battle and forgot to bring his sword, he would be in real trouble. We are equally foolish if we try to live in the battleground of our world without a solid grasp of God's word, the Bible.
This morning we will finish our look at Paul’s Letter to the Ephesian Church, with the last of the pieces of armor that make up the full armor of God. It is God’s desire for each one of us to be able to stand firm in this dangerous world, to be able to stand our ground, able to keep the faith, to be able to move effectively through the battlefield of our world to serve others. For that purpose he has given us all the armor we need: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, foot covering of the readiness to proclaim the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and now, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, the Bible. Each piece of armor requires some assembly, some learning how to use them. Each one is a gift from God. We can’t manufacture any of them alone. They only work because God provides them and stands behind them. If we switched the analogy from armor to power tools, then God would be the power that makes the tools work. So, one more time, please turn in your pew Bibles to Ephesians 6:10-17, which you will find on page 195 of the New Testament sections. Then please stand for the reading of God’s word.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And how important it is to be able to use God's word. For a Christian to go out into this world without knowledge of the Bible would be like a soldier going into battle and then realizing he had forgotten his sword. What’s he going to do? He's helpless! He’s in trouble.
Did you know that even Jesus used the Bible? One day the devil attacked him very directly with 3 sneaky temptations. And the devil came at him when his body was very weak after fasting in the wilderness and while he was working to sort out what his ministry needed to be.
‘Jesus, if you are the Son of God, use your powers to turn one of these stones into bread so that you can eat.’ Jesus had been fasting for days. That sounded very plausible and attractive. But Jesus knew the scripture that would block the temptation, “It is written” he said, “One does not live by bread alone.”
The devil tried again. ‘Jesus, you are here to rule the earth. Let’s make it easier for you. Just bow down and worship me and I’ll give you authority over every country on earth.’ That’s a temptation. Just think of all the pain that would have saved Jesus. But he knew the answer, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” And just imagine a corrupted Messiah leading the earth, but loyal to the devil.
The devil tried one more time. He took Jesus up to this really high point of the temple and said, ‘You know, Jesus, if you are the Son of God, you could jump off and the angels will catch you. There’s a Bible verse that says that.’ The devil can use the Bible, too. But Jesus saw through it and answered with the right verse for the occasion. ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” And the devil gave up. He was defeated. He can’t stand up against a proper use of the Bible.
When the devil attacked, Jesus used the sword of the Spirit, the word of God to parry his thrusts. How can we think that we can do better than he did? If Jesus needed to know the scripture, how much more do we?
But the devil attacks us with more than just temptations. He also works to deceive us with false teachings. It seems that every year a new book comes out and makes a lot of money with a different theory about who Jesus was. And the confusion that creates can paralyze us.