Summary: If a Christian is weak and ineffective, or victorious and powerful – it's tied to the issue of understanding and wearying the armor.
“Battle Lines” – Part Two
OPEN: Here’s my dilemma - I find myself in kind of an awkward place in my teaching schedule. Here it is a couple of weeks before Christmas and I’m still in Ephesians and I’m talking about spiritual warfare and the armor of God. And of course that doesn’t fit real well with the yearly calendar. – I’m tempted to just wrap up this series and move into something new with the start of the new year. But there are such great themes found in the armor. Is it worth spending a Sunday morning focusing on the importance of truth? Righteousness? The gospel? The shield of faith? The helmet of salvation? The sword of the Spirit? What would serve us better go through it quickly on one Sunday or slow down and let it marinate in our soul? - the cost is too high if we don’t get this. If the Church is becoming ineffective – in one way or another it is tied back to this issue. If a Christian is weak and ineffective – it has to be tied back to the issue of not really understanding and wearying the armor. I can’t see how doing the normal 20 minute talk on the armor really serves us.
I came across what I thought was a rather interesting story this week as I was preparing for this message. It was a story detailing a class action law suit aimed at a company called Second Chance Body Armor. Second Chance manufactures bullet proof vests for police officers and security personnel. Their products are used by hundreds of police departments throughout the country. Apparently several policemen have been killed recently even though they were wearing the vest. Following some independent field tests on several of their vests it was discovered that there was a flaw with some of their products and it wouldn’t actually stop a bullet that was fired at it. So apparently some rather picky quality control people got all bent out of shape and decided to sue this manufacturer for misrepresenting the quality of its product. The lawsuit alleged that the company withheld information about known defects in its bulletproof vests and sold them anyway. But in all fairness you have to give the company its due – Trying to maintain its image as being a caring and compassionate business the company responded by participating in a voluntary replacement program for anyone who had purchased one of the potentially lethal vests at no cost to the end user. (So if you have a vest and you haven’t been shot yet, they are willing to give you another one.) Along with its replacement program the company has on its website an apology for any inconvenience that their faulty vests may have caused anyone.
Now I think that was rather nice of them, don’t you? - To offer an apology for the inconveniences of a bulletproof vest that doesn’t work? “Hey we’re not too proud to admit when we’re wrong. We just didn’t realize at the time that you wanted every single vest to work. Sorry for the misunderstanding.” The attorney General spearheaded the class action lawsuit - which Second Chance loss. Upon receiving the terms of the settlement, it promptly filed for bankruptcy to avoid having to actually pay out any claims. When you hear stories like that doesn’t it bother you? When you’re dealing with something as serious a bulletproof vests – what margin of error is acceptable? Absolutely none right? The thought of someone being careless or more concerned about money than safety when it comes to protecting the lives of police officers is unimaginable. When you got someone shooting at you – you want to know that the armor you’re wearing is actually going to work right?
Well today we are going to be looking at the armor of God – and one thing we can be absolutely assured of – this armor will hold up in the heat of battle. Last week we talked about the reality of spiritual warfare and that the battle lines are drawn. We are pitted against an incredible spiritual enemy that is beyond us. We can't see him, we can't touch him. We can't out-think, outwit him. It’s an enemy that is deceiving, lying, powerful, supernatural, and superhuman. We live during a time when the battle is heated. We live during a time when the enemy is doing everything he can to prevail against us. So we have to learn how to fight effectively.
- every generation of believers has to take its place on the battle line.
In some ways every generation’s battle is unique. Every generation faces circumstances that are unique to its time period in history. I doubt that there’s been even one generation who has felt that their circumstances are more difficult than the previous one. Every culture has a unique twist or different dynamic which presents unique and peculiar situations. So in some ways the battle each generation faces is unique. But in other ways, the battle every generation faces is the same. Every generation of believers face a battle for truth. Every generation of Christians face a battle with rulers, authorities, against powers of this dark world, against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Every generation of believers face spiritual warfare. One thing is for sure – there is no neutrality in this battle - there are no spiritual Switzerlands. – there is no place of spiritual neutrality.