Our Battle – Part 1

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I must say that I love that movie but am glad I didn’t have to live it.  Now, remember that scene as it will play a role in what I’m talking about today which will be part 1 in a  2-part series titled – OUR BATTLE.
Depending on how long you’ve been with us, you may or many not know that it was right at a year ago next week when I would say we actually launched Reality 2.0. A little while before that is when I became the new lead pastor and I spent the first couple of months laying out the vision for what kind of church I believe God called us to be.
Last year we had our annual Father’s Day Cookout at the KOA, just like we did last week. But we were also in the process of moving locations from the movie theater at Strawbridge to where we are now, and it turned out we needed to wait an extra week so we did a second week at the KOA, which was a year ago today.
The following week we had our first service here at Green Run and I launched the series titled WE where I took the whole church though the membership class – at the end of which 64 people became members of this experiment we call Reality 2.0.
It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year now, and what a year it has been! God has certainly been moving! And I noticed that He was especially moving during the series we just wrapped up called How to Be the Church where I went through the book of James.
If you were here for that, and you actually listened to each talk, then you know that it was a rather direct and hard-hitting series because that is just how James is. He doesn’t pull any punches. But what is really cool, is that all through that series I heard stories from many of you talking about how it was affecting your life. And specifically, how God was convicting you to make some changes in your life. And that is great!  That is my prayer always, that God’s Word would penetrate your hearts and minds so that you are convicted to change. Because that’s what God’s Word does.
Hebrews tells us
Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
So, basically, if it’s not cutting you in some way, it’s either because I’m not preaching it, or you’re not really listening.
But I know that for many of you, it’s doing just that. It’s cutting you and you are changing because of it. And it is wonderful to see and fills my heart with joy. And I’m certain that it gives God great delight as well to see His children willingly being formed into the image of His son. Because that’s what is happening. God is shaping you to make you like His son.
Romans 8:28-29
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
If you remember my preaching on this before. The “good” that God is working for is not for all of us to be comfortable and trouble free. The “good” He is working for is to make us into the image of His Son.
And it is to that aim that God has called the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
Ephesians 4
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
The purpose of church as we learned in James, and really as I’ve been talking about for the past year is that we grow, that we make our faith the central part of our lives, that we learn all that we can and apply it to our lives so that we become like Jesus in our character, mature and complete.
And when that process is working, lives are changing, and it makes God smile. And it’s one of the great blessings that comes with being a Pastor.
But, God and I are not the only ones who notice.
There is another player in this that is not so happy about all this life change and growing in the Lord. In fact, he gets seriously enraged when Christians start waking up from their slumber and start actually following Christ!
Because he’s perfectly happy with church-people who just go through the motions. The ones who come to church each week to get “fed” and “feel something”, but then go the rest of the week not giving it a second thought.
He’s fine with the so-called Christians who know more details about their favorite sports team than they do of the person they claim is their LORD, MASTER, and KING.
He couldn’t be more thrilled with a bunch of people who think they are going to heaven simply because they prayed some prayer at the end of a service because the preacher told them there was nothing else required and they should expect to be rich and care free the rest of their life.
Because if you can dupe a bunch of people into thinking they are already saved, then guess what? They’ll stop looking for a savior.
And the Enemy is all-too-happy to let people do that!
But he gets upset when Christians start actually reading their bibles. And especially when they start taking it seriously!
He gets antsy when the preacher dares to preach the Word not watered down and tells people that faith with out works is dead!
That it’s not enough just to listen, you have to do what it says!
That the scriptures warn us over and over not to be deceived by the great deceiver.
 
It makes him angry when so-called Christ Followers actually start following Christ!  Which is exactly what has been happening here at Reality and the Enemy is really starting to get nervous.
Because there is nothing more dangerous to the Enemy than a family of true believers who are done believing his lies and have decided to follow Jesus with their whole lives no matter what!
And that, my friends, is what I believe we are and what we are becoming. And as wonderful as that is, it also means that we are now the target of the Enemy and he will not give up ground without a fight.
And so, today, I’m going to show you from God’s Word how we are supposed to handle this.
It is something that the apostle Paul addresses at the end of his letter to the Ephesians. He’s writing this letter while under guard, probably in Rome. He’s actually chained to a Roman soldier, which he uses as a pretty cool illustration, using his body armor and weapons as props to illustrate the tools a Christ follower has for the battle at hand. Many of you can probably quote this or at least list the items he describes. But I bet there’s at least one thing you’ve never noticed. We’ll see.
It begins in
Ephesians 6:10
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Before we continue, we need to address this “Finally.” It’s kind of like a “therefore”, which means that what he’s about to say is in light of what he said before this. So, before we continue, we need to make sure we are reading it in the right context or we could possibly come away with a false understanding. I recommend as you are reading your bibles, if you ever come across a word like a “therefore” always ask yourself, “what’s it there for?” and go back to see what context the statement is in. Sometimes it’s the immediately previous verses, and sometimes it’s bigger than that.
In this case, Paul is actually referencing the whole letter. He’s saying in light of all that I’ve said in this letter…do this. Because in his letter to the Ephesians, he does a similar thing to James and basically spells out for his listeners what it means to be a Christian and how to live as one. And he knows that if his readers actually put all of what he said into practice, that they are going to encounter resistance from the enemy. And if you look on the back of your bulletins in the notes section you will see that I am recommending that you read all of Ephesians for further study to help you fully understand what I’m talking about today.
So, Paul says “Finally” which translates the Greek word, λοιποῦ, which literally means “henceforth, from now on, finally” – So what Paul is saying is – in light of your assumed obedience to all that i just said, from this point forward..be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Context is important. What we are about to go through is not some isolated passage about doing battle with demons. It is the needed preparation to endure what is coming IF you start truly living by the book. 
Let’s continue.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
 
Let’s stop there for a moment.
This passage is a fascinating one for many people. For most, it is fascinating because it gives us a glimpse into the spiritual realm of angels and demons. That’s what he is referring to in verse 12.
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
There’s really nothing tricky in the Greek here. Paul is literally saying that our struggle, our battle, our wrestling is not against mere human beings (flesh and blood), but that the battle we fight is a spiritual one. And the enemy is big, powerful, organized, and everywhere. 
And that may seem daunting, but Paul surrounds that with two statements about how we combat that enemy.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
First he tells us to put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand against the schemes of the devil. Then he elaborates a bit on what we’re up against. Then he says it again with a “therefore” – in light of what we are up against, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Other than the armor of God, do you notice another theme in these verses?
What does putting on or taking up the armor of God enable us to do?
 
to Stand, withstand, and stand firm.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
and even the next verse begins with “Stand therefore…”
Notice he doesn’t say fight.
He doesn’t say attack.
He doesn’t say advance.
He doesn’t say do battle against.
He says STAND.
That’s even what the Greek says…
STAND = ἵστημι (histemi) =  I stand, stand by, stand still; met: I stand ready, stand firm, am steadfast.
That word is used three times in these few sentences.
The other word from verse 13 is
WITHSTAND = ἀνθίστημι (anthistemi) = anti-histemi = stand against = take a stand against, oppose, resist
This word also has some deeper meaning to it:
properly, take a complete stand against, i.e. a “180 degree, contrary position”; (figuratively) to establish one’s position publicly by conspicuously “holding one’s ground,” i.e. refusing to be moved (“pushed back”).
means to forcefully declare one’s personal conviction (where they unswervingly stand); to keep one’s possessionardently withstand, without giving up (letting go).
What Paul is saying here is that the armor of God is not offensive, but defensive. We put on the armor and we stand firm. Just like the armor of a Roman soldier or a modern soldier, the armor is to protect you from the attacks of the enemy. And Paul is saying that when you put this armor on, you will be unmovable. You will have the power and ability to stand firm in the face of anything the enemy can throw at you. Kind of like what William Wallace and his army were doing in the face of that advancing cavalry. 
So, let’s look at that armor.
 
14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, having taken up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
 
Paul lists six parts of a Roman soldier’s uniform and battle gear, equating each to something spiritual that the Christian soldier has for the kind of battles that we fight.
In Paul’s wording, he actually divides the six into two groups of three. The first three, the belt, breastplate, and shoes, he speaks of as having already PUT ON. The second three, the shield, the helmet, and the sword, he speaks of TAKING UP. It may seem like a minor difference, but you will see later that it is not.
Let’s take a look at the first three: the belt, the breastplate, and the shoes.
These three are different than the other three because these are the three that a Roman soldier would always have on, even when not in a battle. (Hence what I am wearing today.) It’s basically his uniform.

The BELT OF TRUTH
The belt is what would hold the outfit together. The undergarment would be some kind of loose cloth that basically acted as a tunic. Without the belt, it would be flapping in the wind and easy to get a hold of in battle. The belt allowed the soldier to be compact and and sure. Kind of like how a football player wears tights and a tight uniform. Any kind of loose clothing could be used to make an easy tackle. I know I’m always waiting for the guys with the long hair to get tackled by their hair.
The belt of the Roman soldier allowed him to tuck all the looseness in. It is where the sword could be hung securely, leaving his hands free when necessary. It also helped to support the breastplate. If you’ve ever worn a hiking backpack, some of them come with a strap around the waist to help carry the load. The belt for the Roman soldier could work the same way.  It was effectively the central piece of the soldier’s armor. It held everything in place and made the soldier secure and ready for instant action.
There’s a reason why Paul calls it the belt of TRUTH. Because the TRUTH is what holds our faith and our lives together. The TRUTH is not only what is true. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, IS the TRUTH. 
John 14:6
Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
So, to be devoted to Christ also means that you are devoted to the truth. The absolute truth. The exclusive truth. Which can be found in only one place – the Word of God. 
Jesus, when praying to His father made another bold claim when he said, “Your word is truth!” (John 17:17) And John 1:1 describes the great mystery that…
John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The TRUTH is so vitally important, because without it – everything falls apart. Hence Paul’s comparison to the Roman soldier’s belt.
To be a true believer is to have that belt of truth strapped tightly around you. It’s not something you take on and off.

The BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
No Roman soldier would go into battle without his breastplate, a tough, sleeveless piece of armor that covered his full torso. It was often made of leather or heavy linen, onto which were sewn overlapping slices of animal hooves or horns or pieces of metal. Some were made of large pieces of metal molded or hammered to conform to the body. The purpose of that piece of armor is obvious—to protect the heart, lungs, intestines, and other vital organs.
If you remember from one of my talks on James, ancient Jews considered the bowels the seat of the emotions and feelings.  And if you think about it, that is exactly where the Enemy likes to attack the most, because just like our soft torso, our feelings are very easy to puncture and can do a world of damage if they are compromised – especially for the immature Christian who is still somewhat controlled by their emotions. How easy is it for the enemy to get us to do things so contrary to what we know better in our heads by messing with our feelings?
The breastplate of righteousness can protect against that.
Righteousness is the fact that you are righteous in God’s eyes because your sins are forgiven by what Jesus did on the cross. But it doesn’t stop there…
Righteousness is also right-living now that you have a new master. Paul describes it more earlier in his letter:
Ephesians 4
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
It’s basically the same thing we learned in the series on James. A true believer will no longer behave like the world they were saved from. But instead will put off the old self and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
And when that happens, Paul says you now have a protective breastplate around your vital organs that the enemy can’t penetrate.
One of the tactics of the enemy is that he is the great accuser. He will constantly cast accusations at you, pointing out all you’ve ever done wrong. But with this devotion to righteousness, you don’t have to listen to him. When you simply do what is right, then what can you really be accused of?
And if he tries to bring up your PAST SINS, just point at your shoes.

The SHOES
15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 
Have you ever tried to run in flip flops? Or high heels? Or open heeled slippers?  It’s a bit precarious isn’t it? That’s because they are not very secure shoes. Or how about barefoot? That’s fine if you’re on carpet or soft grass, but try that on a rocky dirt road.
Another essential part of the Roman soldier’s (and really any soldier’s) attire was his shoes. In the case of the Roman soldier it was a form of leather sandal that would be tied securely to the foot and probably up the lower part of the leg. It would be completely secure, acting as almost part of the foot but tougher than skin. They would also often have some sort of spikes attached to the bottom of the sole, like cleats. This would ensure very sure footing on any terrain. When the enemy would push on them, they would be able to stand firm with their feet planted securely on the ground.
And Paul equates the Christian soldier’s shoes to the Gospel of Peace.
The gospel of peace refers to the good news that believers are at peace with God. The unsaved person is helpless, ungodly, sinful, and an enemy of God. The saved person, on the other hand, is reconciled to God through faith in His Son. As Paul had proclaimed a few verses earlier, “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:1).
The gospel of peace is the marvelous truth that in Christ we are now at peace with God and are one with Him. Therefore, when our feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, we stand in the confidence of God’s love for us, His union with us, and His commitment to fight for us.
With such a sure foundation, a soldier for Christ is always ready to stand firm against the enemy’s attack.

So, those are the first three pieces of armor, and they are the three that you PUT ON. And WHEN you put them on is the moment you made Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior. They are part of the “new creation” that you become when Christ takes away your sins and gives you the Holy Spirit. The main thing Paul is doing here is not so much commanding you to put this armor on now that you know about it, he’s giving you a practical reminder of what you now have and how you can use it.
The next three pieces are not something you put on, but something you take up. The implication is that they are something you can choose to utilize or not. 
Let’s revisit the text…
16 In addition to all this, having taken up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
And just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that you are ever without these items. You are given them the moment you become a true believer. But just like a helmet, a shield, and a sword are used in physical life, their spiritual equivalents behave in similar manner. 
Think of a Roman soldier, or any soldier for that matter. When they are “at work” they have at least their basic uniform on. But if they are not engaged or about to be engaged in battle, or not specifically on duty, they can take their helmet off, and put their shield and sword down. But they probably won’t take their belt, shoes, and breastplate off.
But the fact is: Paul is not describing a soldier at rest. He’s telling us soldiers to put on the put-onables, and take up the take-upables because battle is imminent.
In one sense, you could look at it as three of these are always on me no matter what I do or think, but these other three actually require a little bit of intentionality on my part. After all, a shield and a sword especially are not something you can just wear.
So, let’s talk about these pieces.

The SHIELD OF FAITH.
This shield was about two and half feet wide and four and a half feet high, designed to protect the entire body of the soldier—who was considerably smaller than the average man today. The shield was made of a solid piece of wood and was covered with metal or heavy oiled leather.
The soldiers who carried these shields were in the front lines of battle, and normally stood side by side with their shields together, forming a huge phalanx extending as long as a mile or more. The archers stood behind this protective wall of shields and shot their arrows as they advanced against the enemy. Anyone who stood or crouched behind such shields was protected from the barrage of enemy arrows and spears.
Our shield against the enemies flaming arrows is faith. Not THE faith, as in our saving faith – that’s what we have on our feet. No, this is our faith/trust in God that is evident in how we act. This is the Proverbs 3:5-6 kind of faith…
Proverbs 3
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
This is the Christ-follower actively trusting God at His word and obeying Him – even when it seems crazy or impossible. Obviously this is something you can choose not to do, just like you can put down a shield. But when you do that, you are exposed to the onslaught of the enemy.
The spiritual flaming arrows against which believers need protection would seem primarily to be temptations. Satan continually bombards God’s children with temptations to immorality, hatred, envy, anger, covetousness, pride, doubt, fear, despair, distrust, and every other sin.
The greatest temptation we all face is to not trust God at His word, which leads to disobeying Him as we trust our own understanding more than Him.
One area where I think many true believers have a hard time trusting God is in their finances. If you really think about it, the only reason you would give some of your hard earned money to the church is because you actually trust God at His word in all the places he tells you to honor Him with your wealth and He’ll bless you for it. If you truly trust God at His word, then you will obey His word and give Him what He asks for, and when He shows himself faithful, your faith will grow. But if you trust your own understanding more than God’s Word, then you won’t give and then the enemy has free reign to mess with you in that area because you’ve effectively put your shield down.
I love this picture of faith as a shield. I imagine that I have this giant shield and I see the enemy arrows coming my way – what a terrifying sight! But then I just crouch down behind this shield, behind my trust in God at His Word. The only thing standing between me and those arrows is that shield and the hope that God will do what He says. And with my eyes closed and holding that shield tight I wait, and wait, and wait, and I’m still alive and unhurt. Then I peek out and see that there are arrows all around me, but there are none in me. God has once again shown himself trustworthy. Which means next time I’ll be a little less scared.

Next is the HELMET OF SALVATION.
A soldier’s helmet was a vital piece of equipment he was sure not to go without in battle.
Some of the helmets were made of thick leather covered with metal plates, and others were of heavy molded or beaten metal. They usually had cheek pieces to protect the face.
The purpose of the helmet, of course, was to protect the head from injury, particularly from the dangerous broadsword commonly used in the warfare of that day. It was often carried by cavalrymen, who would swing at the heads of enemy soldiers to split their skulls or decapitate them.
The helmet for the solder of Christ has a similar purpose. While it is called the “helmet of salvation”, Paul is not suggesting that the helmet is a person getting saved. Remember, that’s what is on your feet. No, what he’s referring to is our ultimate salvation. Our hope of future redemption. A hope that the enemy does not have, thus he tries his hardest to make believers doubt – just like He did to EVE – “Did God really say?”. Paul tells us to take up the helmet of salvation as a protection against the deceptive attack of the enemy.
He refers to it in another letter he wrote to the Thessalonians.
1 Thessalonians 5
But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The helmet of salvation is that great hope of final salvation that gives us confidence and assurance that our present struggle with Satan will not last forever and we will be victorious in the end.
When we hold to that truth that we find in God’s Word, then the enemy cannot make us doubt with his lies.   But like the shield, this piece of armor can be taken off. That doesn’t mean you lose your salvation. It just means you start doubting it, which gives the devil an in. The best way to keep from doubting is to keep your head in the Word. Fill your mind with the Words of God and HE WILL BE THE WHISPERS IN  YOUR EAR INSTEAD OF THE ENEMY.
Speaking of the Word, that is the last piece of armor Paul discusses.

The SWORD OF THE SPIRIT WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD.
This piece is different than the others in that it can be both defensive and offensive.
The sword to which Paul refers here is the machaira, which varied in length from six to eighteen inches. It was the common sword carried by Roman foot soldiers and was the principal weapon in hand-to-hand combat. Carried in a sheath or scabbard attached to their belts, it was always at hand and ready for use.
This is not the only place that God’s Word is referred to as a sword. Remember the verse from Hebrews I mentioned at the beginning today?
Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The term Paul uses here for word is not logos, which refers to general statements or messages, but is rhēma, which refers to individual words or particular statements. The apostle is therefore not talking here about general knowledge of Scripture, but is emphasizing again the precision that comes by knowledge and understanding of specific truths. Like Jesus did in the wilderness, we need to use specific scriptural truths to counter specific satanic falsehoods.
In order to use the sword – you have to know the Word of God. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he countered each of Satan’s specific temptations with specific scriptures. He did that as a model for us.
This is yet another reason why I constantly push all of you to EAT GOD. Knowing God’s Word is not merely about reading it, but about filling your mind with the things of God INSTEAD OF the things of the world. Then you will have your sword ready to wield on a moment’s notice.
And when the Enemy gets close and starts throwing his accusations and temptations at you, you can boldly say
IT IS WRITTEN “If God be for us, then who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)  NOBODY!!
IT IS WRITTEN “Greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world!” (1 John 4:4)
IT IS WRITTEN “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1)
IT IS WRITTEN that I have been “bought with a price.”(1 Corinthians 6:20)
IT IS WRITTEN I have been “washed”, I have been “sanctified”, I have been “justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 6:10) and there is NOTHING that you can do about it!
Because IT IS ALSO WRITTEN
Romans 8
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
My friends, when you learn how to wield that sword, there is nothing the Devil can do to you. There is an answer in God’s Word for everything he can throw at you.
That is why I push this so much. EAT GOD!  Get God’s Word in your head and stop filling it with the trash of this world. Turn off the dirty faucet and turn on the clean faucet. If Sunday Morning is all you get, it is simply not enough and you should not be surprised that the Enemy is good at finding the gaps in your armor. Arm yourself! Get your head in the Word!
So, there you have it. The Armor of God.
The belt of truth.
The breastplate of righteousness.
The shoes of the readiness of the Gospel of peace.
The shield of faith.
The helmet of salvation.
And the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
Paul tells us that to combat the enemy we are to put on and take up all of that armor and then stand. Sink our cleats into the ground in a ready stance and stand firm. Stand ready.
He doesn’t say advance. Or attack. Or start swinging our sword.  He tells us to stand firm.
And so, the begging question is – now what? Do we literally just stand there forever all dressed up for battle and only defend ourselves when an attack comes?  The short answer is, KIND OF…
But it’s not like you’ll be doing nothing.
For one, all that armor actually requires quite a bit of continuous doing on our part. It’s not so much that you have to work hard to keep it on, but in a way you have to work hard to keep it up.
Sword skills require practice to maintain. Just having a sword doesn’t mean you know how to use it.
That helmet needs polishing so it doesn’t corrode. You might need to spend some time truly contemplating your salvation and all that it means so the doubts cannot seep in.
Righteousness is a life-long endeavor. Yes, we are ultimately righteous as far as our sins being forgiven, but we are also to live righteously now that we are in the light.
If you want the belt of truth to stay tight, you have to continually seek after the truth and study it and know it well, and choose the TRUTH of GOD over the LIES of the ENEMY every time, no matter what!
The shoes are like the helmet. You should spend time contemplating the Gospel of Peace so you have sure footing.
And the shield of faith can be heavy if you are not used to lifting it. You need to exercise your faith by obeying God even when you don’t understand Him. That’s how faith grows. You take a step out on the water simply because He told you to, and when you find that you don’t sink – your faith grows.
So, it’s not like wearing the armor is doing nothing.
But aside from that, there is something else that Paul tells us to do. This part is often ignored when talking about the armor of God because, well, it’s less visually appealing.  But it is this that we as a church must start doing if we ever hope to be a true army for Christ. All of the armor is something we must each do individually for ourselves. We can’t dress each other. And if I carry your shield or wear your helmet, it’s not going to help you a whole lot.  But what Paul tells us to do once we have the armor on is something we can do together, much like how the Roman soldiers would line up side by side.
Now you can’t really see it in the English, but in the Greek, Paul shifts from using “aorist participles to using present participles” which means up until now he has been talking in terms of DONE – as in having put on and having taken up – completed actions that do not need repeating. Once you have armor on, it’s on.  Now he’s talking in terms of KEEP DOING. Basically, he’s saying, now that you have all that armor on, here’s what you need to do.
 
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
 
Almost feels a bit anticlimactic.
I’m sure all the guys were hoping for some kind of order to go charging after the enemy, to start casting out demons, to start swinging that sword around (because who doesn’t like doing that?!)
No, the truth of the matter is that the way a soldier of Christ fights is by getting on his knees, hiding behind that shield of faith, and crying out to the God of the universe. And we’re not just talking about a one-time thing, this is supposed to be what we do continuously.
All that armor is for our defense. Even the sword. We’re never ordered to advance. We are ordered to stand firm….and PRAY.
Because it is God who fights the battle – not us.
It is God who wounds and kills the enemy – not us.
And it is God who get’s the glory – not us.
It’s as Moses told the people of Israel as they were pinned between the advancing Egyptian army and the red sea…
Exodus 14:14
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
And a moment later the red sea was parted, they walked across, then God brought the waters back together over the Egyptian army wiping them out. Not a single Israelite got even close to fighting. And that happened because Moses prayed.
It’s a great mystery how it is that God allows our prayers to influence what He does. But it’s true and Scripture testifies to it over and over. Amazing things happen when we pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Staying alert and always praying for all the Lord’s people.
It’s all part of God’s great design that makes us completely dependent on Him.
Which is what I’m going to elaborate on next week in part 2 of this 2-part series titled – OUR BATTLE.
So, I hope you come back next week. We will be having a pot luck and apparently a few people are going to get a pie in the face.
Let’s Pray