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Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. 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. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Ephesians 6:10-18, HCSB
There are two equal but opposite errors many people make about spiritual warfare. The first is to place too little of an emphasis on the devil and demons. The second is an excessive or unhealthy interest in them. The devil is insightful but he is not all-powerful; it’s important to take a middle ground. In verse 11, Paul writes “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” The devil has more than one way to attack believers. You can tell a lot about the tactics and schemes of the enemy that a solider is fighting by looking at his armor. For example:
1. If a solider is carrying a mine detector, what is the tactic of his enemy? Land mines!
2. If a solider is wearing a bullet proof vest, what is the tactic of the enemy? Bullets!
Each of these pieces of armor help us identify a way the enemy attacks us.
I. The Belt of Truth To Combat Satan’s Deception
One of Satan’s schemes is deception (to cause someone to believe something that is not true). The belt of truth shows us that Satan is a deceiver. Jesus called him a liar and the father of lies:
He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. John 8:44, HCSB
In Greek, the word “devil” is “diabolos”, which is where we get our word “diabolical”, which literally means to lie and slander. The devil’s primary language is lying or deception.
Ways Satan Deceives (Distorts Truth)
1. Discrediting truth itself – Satan tries to remove the reality of truth. We live in a post-Christian society. In other words, our country is no longer a Christian nation, regardless of what the statistics show.
One of the ways we can see this is by our society’s definition of truth. Truth is no longer absolute. Today our culture believes that truth is felt, not taught. This is the mantra of our postmodern culture. Truth is whatever you want it to be. If its true in your heart, in your eyes, in your mind, then it is true for you.
In California, the transgender bathroom act means that if a boy feels like a girl, he can use the girls restroom. Boys and girls can disregard what is clearly the true reality of their gender. If a girl really believes she’s a boy, then who are we to tell her otherwise? Who are we to say that we are right and she is wrong?
If truth is relative – in other words, if truth is what we declare it to be – then all of a sudden God’s word is not necessarily truth, unless we want it to be. And that means what we say is truth – and that means we become our own God, which is exactly what the enemy wants us to believe. This way of thinking is all together satanic. Truth itself is incredibly powerful.
Our defense is to put on the belt of truth. The biblical perspective is that truth is absolute and can be defined. The Christian’s response to the lie that there is no absolute truth is to say, “No! Truth is defined, and it’s defined by God himself!”
2. Adding to the truth – Satan tries to add to the person and work of Christ.
a. Christianity AND… (cults)
In C.S. Lewis’ famous The Screwtape Letters a senior demon Screwtape writes to his trainee demon, Wormwood. As he is sharing his vast list of strategies against the saints he shares an attempt: “to keep them in a state of mind he calls ‘Christianity And’” (Screwtape Letters, Letter 25):
In other words, demons promote works-based salvation. One of the great works of the enemy is making people believe they have to earn their way to heaven. Cults are a work of Satan. Any religion that teaches that one is saved by the work of Jesus and something else, is a lie of the enemy.
Mormons claim the name of Christ and Christianity but many of their core doctrines would lead us to believe otherwise. The Mormon religion lists 8 requirements that must be met if a person is to merit forgiveness from personal sins and earn acceptance into heaven (Cowan, Mormon Claims, p. 104-131). These include:
- Faith in Christ
- Being baptized
- Becoming a member of the LDS church
- Keeping the commandments
- Doing temple work
- Accepting Joseph Smith (founder of Mormonism) and his successors as “God’s mouthpiece”
There are over 300,000 Mormon converts in the world every year, and it’s estimated that most of them were Protestant Christians before they made the switch.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe their salvation is largely due to their works and perfect obedience. One of these works is “field work” or door-to-door preaching, all of their hours being recorded.
b. Christianity OR…
“All roads lead to God” is a popular phrase these days. Though our culture considers this view a mature and sophisticated stance on religion, it is not. “All roads lead to God” is not a sophisticated and mature worldview, it’s a Satanic one. Examples:
- Moralists (“I’m a good person”)
Muslims, Mormons, and Hindus are not our enemy. Satan is the enemy and he deceives!
Our defense is to put on the belt of truth. The belt of truth would tell us that truth is absolute and it’s found in Jesus. Jesus is the truth! (Jn. 14:6) The belt of truth would tell us that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, not by works (Eph. 2:8-9). The belt of truth would tell us that all roads don’t lead to God – Jesus isn’t a way to God, He’s THE only way, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (Jn. 14:6). We preach Christ and Him crucified! The work of Jesus through His death and resurrection is enough to save. We are saved by Jesus’ works, not our own. We put on the belt of truth to stand against Satan’s deception in this world.
II. The Breastplate of Righteousness To Combat Satan’s Accusation and Temptation
The Bible relates righteousness to the Christian in two different ways. The first is a positional righteousness. One of the glories of the gospel is that we as Christians have been given the very righteous record of Jesus’ life.
For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19, HCSB
In other words, “It is impossible for God when He looks at you to not see Jesus” (Mike Erre). Yet our enemy would have us to believe otherwise and he tries to get us to doubt our positional righteousness through accusation. The Bible calls him “…the accuser of the brothers…” (Rev. 12:10).
Thomas Brooks, the 17th century puritan, wrote a book in 1652 called “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”. It is a helpful resource here:
Ways The Enemy Accuses Us
1. By causing us to look more at our sin than at our Savior.
-Your sin looks huge, your Savior looks small.
-You feel as if your sin is too big for God to deal with.
2. By causing us to obsess over past sins that have done damage that can’t be undone.
-Is there a past sin that you committed that just haunts you? A sin that you cannot seem to shake no matter how hard you try?
-This is the enemy, constantly badgering you, ruthlessly bringing your past sins to remembrance, hoping to keep you in shame and guilt.
3. By making Christians think that the troubles they are going through must be punishments.
-“This wouldn’t be happening to me unless God is mad at me.”
-“I’ve sinned and now he’s punishing me for them.”
4. By making Christians doubt their salvation due to the inner struggles and feelings they have.
-You think, “If I were a Christian, I wouldn’t be having the thoughts and feelings that I have.”
-“Christians aren’t supposed to think and feel the way I do.”
How do we resound to Satan’s accusations? We put on the breastplate of righteousness that says “though are sin abounds, His grace abounds all the more.” Though we were wicked, He was righteous. “For every one look at your sin, take 10 looks at your Savior!” (Richard Baxter)
Martin Luther responded this way to the enemy’s accusations:
Satan, you will not prevail against me when you try to terrify me by setting forth the greatness of my sins…On the contrary, when you say I am a sinner, you give me armor and weapons against yourself…for Christ died for sinners…As often as you object that I am a sinner, so often you remind me of the benefit of Christ my Redeemer, on whose shoulders, and not on mine, lie all my sins. So when you say I am a sinner, you do not terrify me but comfort me immeasurably.
As we sing in “Before the Throne”:
“When Satan tempts me to despair, And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there Who made an end to all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died, My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied To look on him and pardon me.”
Satan’s accusations against us are a reminder that all of our sins (past, present, and future) were placed upon Christ. This is what it means to put on the breastplate of righteousness.
The enemy not only attacks our positional righteousness but also our practical righteousness by trying to get us to live unholy, unrighteous lives filled with sin. He does this through temptation. The enemy knows that if he can get the believer to live a sinful lifestyle, he will have a foothold, a place of influence.
Ways The Enemy Tempts Us
1. Presents the Bait and Hides the Hook
Just like a good fishermen hides the hook with his bait, so Satan hides the pain and consequences of sin and He presents only the pleasure of sin. In the garden, Satan gave Adam and Eve an apple in exchange for a paradise (Genesis 3:4-5). Sin is like a chocolate-covered hand grenade: it looks sweet and tastes sweet, but it will eventually destroy you.
2. By showing you the sins of Christian leaders
-“Look, they did it too, it must be okay! Nobody is really that pure.”
3. By over-stressing the mercy of God
-So you say, “Do it! God will forgive you, that’s his job.”
4. By making them bitter over suffering
-So we think, “I’ve suffered so much, I deserve this.” This is why many prominent, powerful men are caught having affairs. They think, “Nobody knows how hard I work and how many sacrifices I make. I deserve this.”
5. By showing Christians how many bad people seem to have great lives
-So we think, “Things seem to be going well for them. They are happy. Playing by the rules obviously doesn’t pay off.”
Our defense is the breastplate of righteousness which says we have access to the very presence and person of Christ, what more do we need? When we put on the breastplate of righteousness, it says not only are we righteous in God’s sight but we’ve also been called to live righteously! We do not give the enemy a foothold and place of influence in our lives by giving into sin but rather we choose Jesus who is sweeter than all the pleasures that sin offers.
We put on the breastplate of righteousness and boldly declare that a righteous life is far more satisfying that a sinful life:
…those who seek the Lord will lack any good thing. Psalm 34:8, 10
But as for me, God’s presence is my good. Psalm 76:28, HCSB
To combat the lie that we lack good in our lives and sin will meet our need, we need to taste and see that the Lord is good. His presence is the sweetest pleasure: “In His presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).
III. Put the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace on Your Feet To Combat Satan’s Destruction
We are not only to put on the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness, but also to put on shoes with readiness for the gospel of peace. In one translation, verse 15 reads: “Sandal your feet ready to go tell others about the gospel.”
Satan seeks to deceive the nations (the unsaved world) What does this tell us about our enemy’s schemes? He desires to destroy and devour unbelievers and he is a deceiver of the nations (Rev. 20:3, 7).
But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, HCSB
This is a heavy verse that should put a weight on us. Our family members and friends who don’t know Jesus have been blinded by the enemy, unable to see the beauty of Christ.
Our response is to Satan’s tactic to destroy and blind the world is to put on shoes that are eager, willing, and ready to take this gospel of peace to the world. Paul may have been alluding to Isaiah 52:7:
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the herald, who proclaims peace, who brings news of good things, who proclaims salvation…
Isaiah says that most beautiful part of a body is not the face, not the body, not the curves, not the biceps, but the feet. Specifically the feet of one who is proclaiming the gospel.
In the kingdom of God, the feet of an evangelist who has traveled near and far to spread the good news are far more beautiful than America’s next top model. As John Piper said, “I’d rather look at the bloody feet of a trekking evangelist than any pose of Jennifer Aniston.”
Do we realize this morning that there are billions perishing in this world? Thousands are perishing in this city. Do we believe that? Do we care? Do we weep? Or are we like Charlie Peace?…
Charlie Peace was a criminal. Laws of God or man did not concern him. Finally the law caught up with him, and he was condemned to death. On the fatal morning in Armley Jail, Leeds, England, he was taken on the death-walk. Before him went the prison chaplain, routinely and sleepily reading some Bible verses. The criminal touched the preacher and asked what he was reading. “The Consolations of Religion,” was the reply. Charlie Peace was shocked at the way he professionally read about hell. Could a man be so unmoved…read of a pit that has no bottom into which this fellow must fall? Could this preacher believe the words that there is an eternal fire that never consumes its victims, and yet slide over the phrase without a tremor? Is a man human at all who can say with no tears, “You will be eternally dying and yet never know the relief that death brings”? All this was too much for Charlie Peace, so he preached an on-the-eve-of-hell sermon:
“Sir,” addressing the preacher, “if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worthwhile living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!” (Taken from Leonard Ravenhill’s “Why Revival Tarries”)
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15, HCSB
Then Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15, HCSB
Church, have you sandaled your feet ready to go tell others about the gospel? When is the last time you shared Jesus with someone? Have you ever shared Jesus with someone?
In Ephesians 6, we are told to stand by putting on the spiritual armor. There are a few other places in the Scripture that we are told to stand:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, IN WHICH YOU STAND. 1 Corinthians 15:1, HCSB
In 1 Corinthians 15, we are told to stand not with the spiritual armor but on the gospel. So which is it? Stand with the spiritual armor, or stand with the gospel? YES. Putting on the spiritual armor of God is nothing more and nothing less than an intentional application of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How do we fight the enemy? We proclaim to him and ourselves and the world the power of the gospel found in the person and work of Jesus! There are only two things in the Bible that are referred to as the power of God. One is Jesus himself (1 Cor. 1:24), the other is the gospel (Rom. 1:16).
Let’s not overcomplicate the armor!
Put on the belt of truth: Jesus is the truth!
Put on the breastplate of righteousness: Jesus provides our righteousness.
Put on the shoes of the gospel of peace: Jesus is our peace and his love compels us to take this gospel to the world!
Put on the shield of faith: Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith!
Put on the helmet of salvation: The gospel is the power of God for salvation!
Take the sword of the Spirit: Jesus is the substance and essence of God’s word!