Summary: Paul describes the armor God which helps us in our fight against Satan.
So did you notice anything unusual about what I am wearing this morning? Yep. It’s the shoes. How could you miss these neon green beauties! When do you suppose I would normally wear these shoes? That’s right. They’re running shoes so I would wear them when I want to go for a run or for a long walk. They have a nice grip on the bottom and a cushioned heal to protect my feet from the pounding they would otherwise take. But are these shoes appropriate for preaching? Is there anything in the Bible that tells us what kind of shoes Christians should wear? There is! In fact our text from Ephesians today speaks about what we ought to wear from head to toe. But there aren’t any running shoes on the list, no baseball caps, jeans or t-shirts. Nor are there any dresses or suits. The Apostle Paul lists only battle armor. Why? Let’s find out as we get a God’s-eye view of a Christian’s proper uniform. (Read the text.)
The BBC news service recently filed several reports from the Syrian city of Aleppo. It was documenting the extensive damage done to this ancient city because of the ongoing civil war. A city that was once a playground is now a battlefield. People who still live there have to take appropriate caution when moving about the city lest they get picked off by a sniper. St. Albert and Edmonton don’t look anything like Aleppo, not outwardly, but there is a spiritual battle taking place here and everywhere that demands we take the appropriate caution or we’ll quickly become casualties.
This battle, explains Paul, is not against flesh and blood. Your struggle is not with your difficult boss, or crabby co-worker. It’s not with the sibling or classmate you haven’t spoken to in days because you’re upset at each other. Your battle is against Satan and his minions. That’s so important to remember when someone hurts us with their unloving words and actions. It’s easy to treat that individual as the enemy when in reality Satan is using that person as his pawn. He wants us to react in such a way that would harm our relationship with God and with that other person. But we won’t let that happen if we’re wearing the appropriate uniform for a Christian.
You already heard that the uniform Paul prescribes is battle armor. But let’s be clear on where this armor comes from. It’s not something you have to scrape together yourself. No, this armor is something that God gives. Trying to survive this fight with Satan dressed on our own is like going into a firefight with a homemade “bullet-proof” vest made out of cardboard. It might look like the real thing, but the first bullet to tear through its flimsy exterior will prove otherwise. Likewise Paul urges us to put on the armor that God himself provides for this fight.
So what does this armor work? Well, Paul compares it to the armor that a Roman soldier would have worn. Paul first urges us to put on the belt of truth. Just as a belt holds your pants up so that they don’t fall down around your ankles where they will be a tripping hazard, the truth of God’s Word keeps us from stumbling over Satan’s lies. Satan says that there is no god. He says that this world was came into existence on its own. And therefore you’re really nothing more than an intelligent animal and not a moral being who will have to answer for your deeds someday. When you die, that’s it, says Satan. There’s no heaven, no hell. So you might as well squeeze the most out of life that you can. Do whatever feels right to you. Take whatever you think you deserve to have. That’s what everyone else is doing. Why should you miss out?