Hands up if you believe saving souls is a vital part of the work of the Church. "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations" (Matt 28:18-19).
Do you know that the very moment we affirm this, someone reels on his phony temporary throne . .
The devil hates it when the Church gets together with a passion for evangelism. And when the Church plans to do something about it, he panics, because of all the beings there are, he knows better then most that the Church is more than able to crash through the gates of his hellish kingdom on earth, and snatch people from under his very nose. Jesus said it would be so . . .
The devil knows this all too well, and as soon as the Church sets itself up against him in obedience and evangelism, he becomes very concerned. But he does not just sit there and worry about it; he also acts. And he has many acts that he can call upon to knock the Church of its Divine Purpose.
I am amazed at just how effective he has been, fear, embarrassment, persecution, disappointment, and apathy. Can you believe it? Thousands of believers today don’t care about saving the lost!
Now because we believe in spreading the Good News, we as a Church have (and are), going to feel the full might of satan’s destructive force; all the above, you may experience. We have!
Now God has provided protection for all this, and you need not collapse under the devil’s attacks.
Ephesians 6:10-20. Here Paul warns us of great battle we are in . . . if not prepared . . . satan will infect and beat us.
Let’s begin by looking at the enemy and the type of battle we are in.
First, fight is life-long. "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power" (Eph 6:10).
Finally, hence forth, from now on, for the rest of the future . . . Till you die, or Jesus comes . . .
Do you accept this? . . . The first step in avoiding a trap is to know of its existence!
Verse tells us that our enemy is subtle. "Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes" (Eph 6:11). Schemes: sneaky, crafty, deceptive, a cunning method, something worked out carefully. If not careful, you never know it is happening.
The Pharisees thought they were doing God’s will.
"The Devil’s schemes are a baited and camouflaged trap for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." (2Cor 11:14).
Verse 12 tells us our enemy is unseen. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms"(Eph 6:12).
Spiritual forces of evil: no Geneva convention.
Do you see the need for protection ? . . . Are you listening? . . . Hope so, for if you leave this unchecked, satan will play you like a fiddle, he will play his tune on your life, and you will never even know it! Until it’s too late . . . None of us want this . . .
Well the good news today is that God has provided a full set of spiritual armor to protect you and me. But the bad news is that He does not throw it forcefully upon you, you have to actively take it and put it on your self. "Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand" (Eph 6:13).
Put on= aorist active . . . full armour of God = you need all of it . . . .
So what is this armor? We have six bits to it. And the first two have a lot to do with how we live our lives. Look at these two this week. "Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place" (Eph 6:14-15).
Two interpretations of the belt of truth. 1: It’s talking about God’s truth, the truth of the gospel. If so, he is telling us to be knowledgeable about the Bible, where God’s truth is found . . . OK Jesus quoted Bible in temptation . . .
When you feel unloved, Psalm 139 comes to the rescue . . . (you could read before, in the service)
2: A second interpretation says it’s talking not about God’s truth but rather our truthfulness. To paraphrase; "Put on the belt of truthfulness or of genuineness."
It’s not the truth of the gospel that is alluded to, but the undergirding of truth in the sense of integrity.
What we claim with our mouths, we fulfill in how we live. We don’t lie, cheat, steal, gossip, we are not cruel, our yes is yes, and our no is no!
How could this protect us? Well, just think of how much Christian witnesses (and how many Christians) have been wrecked by not being like this. Nothing destroys the Church’s witness faster than hypocrisy . . . You know . . . A lifetime of good witness can be destroyed with one sinful act. . .
Which interpretation do I think is the right one? I think both of them are right! I believe Paul means that we are to get to know God’s truth, and then to let that truth inspire us to live a good life. To belt on truth means to be strengthened by God’s truth in the gospel and to resolve to live in truth.
Do you want protection against the devil’s schemes? Then the first part of the armor of God is know the truth, and live according to that truth with a genuine truthful life.
The second part of the armor is the breastplate of righteousness. Righteousness: integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting. This is not so much to do with avoiding doing wrong, than it is making sure you do what is right. To neglect what we know to be a righteous action is to leave a gaping hole in our armor. We are to avoid the wrong while at the same time make sure we do the right. I’ve known people who boast that they don’t do this or that . .
But what good do you do?!!. . . There are two sides to this armor . . . Jesus is the best example . .
Jesus was not greedy, but He also helped the poor.
Jesus was not a liar, but He loved the dishonest, and helped them find the truth.
Jesus was no adulterer, but He spent time and effort to help a woman court in adultery.
Jesus always avoided the wrong, but always actively did the right, He helped the lowly, the despised, lepers, beggars, prostitutes, the sick, the down and out. Next time you are thinking of all the sins you don’t do, before you pat your self on the back, remember to ask your self what good you do.
Ephesians 4:24 tells us to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
How does doing right protect us from the devil? "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matt 5:14-16). Good deeds grow the Church. And the more of us there are, the stronger we become, and we can stand together against the devil’s schemes.
"Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ’It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom 12:19-21). The devil is trying to destroy witness . . .
"For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men" (1Pet 2:15). The devil cannot attack you so well if your life is full of good deeds . . .