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Jack Graham - What to Wear in the War

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    Jack Graham - What to Wear in the War
TOPICS: Invisible: There's More to Life Than What You See, Unseen Realm, Spiritual warfare, Armor of God

We're taking a behind-the-scenes look, behind the curtain, into this invisible world because what you can't see can hurt you! What you can't see can hurt you! The devil means to do you harm, and therefore, we must not be unaware of our spiritual enemy and our spiritual engagement, this battle for life itself. We must all be in the battle! It's not enough to show up at church and be an audience! God has called us to be a mighty army! D.L. Moody, the great evangelist, would not allow the great hymn Onward, Christian Soldier to be sung at any of his revival or evangelistic crusades because he said, "Can you imagine anything less like an army than the church"? It's a sad indictment upon many of us. But God has called us to battle. So in once sense this message today is a call to arms. It is a battle cry! It is a winnable war, but we must prepare a divine defense. And that divine defense is seen in the book of Ephesians, chapter 6.

Let me back up to last week's passage. "Finally be strong in the Lord", verse 10, "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", these are demon spirits, "against this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places". Heavenly places is not descriptive of heaven, the throne of God, but rather the invisible spaces, the heavenly places around us, all around us. Verse 13: "Therefore take up the whole armor of God", all the panoply of God! Every piece put on with prayer, "that you may be able to withstand in the evil day", this is, this day! These days are critical and, yes, they are evil, "that you may be able to stand in that evil day, and having done all, to stand firm"!

Again and again we're told in this passage of Scripture to stand, to stand, to stand! To withstand against the works and the wickedness of the devil and his demonic powers and forces. But to stand is not to stand still! But it is to stand strong, it is to stand in resistance. Just as a linebacker on a football team would take the proper stance and be prepared for action to defend the territory, we are to resist the devil. We are to stand against the enemy. We're to take this strong stand! And even when we don't understand, and there are many things about the spiritual war, about the enemy himself, the mysteries of iniquity, that we don't understand. But while we don't understand, we are to withstand; knowing that Satan himself is moving across this world. And we're to have spiritual weapons in order to defend ourselves and to defend our families and defend our future! This divine defense is described as the armor of God.

The Bible says we're to take up the armor of God, or put on... do you see it there? Put on... this is something you do. This is not what God does for us; it's what we do in taking up the armor. There are six pieces all protecting us as we stand and each one provides us strength in order to stand. We are to not pick a piece here and there, put on a helmet but not the breastplate of righteous. No, we're to put on the entire armor of God, all of it! There is no place, no position in our lives that must be unguarded. We're to be fully armed! If I go to battle, I don't want to go into battle with a butter knife against an AK-47! I want the whole armor of God! And this armor is not for style and profile, but it is for protection and each piece is essential. We're going to take each piece... I would encourage you to take notes, to write these down, to write in the margins of your Bible, and let's together put on the armor of God that we may fight the good fight of faith and win.

Number one, he says, verse 14: "Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth". Now the belt in a soldier's garb obviously fitted around the mid-section; it held everything together, the pieces of the armor including the breastplate of righteousness, or the breastplate of the Roman soldier; it held that together. The belt also contained weapons for warfare as in the soldier's sword would be hung on that belt, and other implements of war and of fighting. Also the soldier would often wear a long tunic and so when the soldier needed to go to battle and fight, he didn't want to be running in a dress and so he would gather up the tunic and gird it up in that belt, cinch up in that belt as it were tightening the belt.

And so that's the picture that we have here as we engage in this spiritual warfare. We are to first put on this belt of truth, because this belt of truth holds everything together. The belt of truth is the believer's integrity because we are protected against deception, and stand against deception, the believer's integrity. If you are not supported with truth, you will lose in life. The belt of truth supports the core of who you are and what you believe. Truth, absolute truth, biblical truth, God's truth! Satan attacks with lies and errors and deception. We often live with secrets but God says we are to live with truth! Get the truth straight! Because if you don't have your belt tightened with truth, the inner core tightened, the inner you of you strengthened, then everything else is going to fall apart. Everything hangs on the truth of God's Word. Maybe if you're working with a trainer, weight training or physical training, you've heard your trainer talk about your getting your core stronger. Right?

You know I walk around with some mild back pain constantly. Not bad, just a little mild back pain. It'd go away if I quit playing golf probably. But really my back is not my problem. I don't have a back problem, I got a front problem! And if you want to help your back you strengthen your core, right? And so in this spiritual battle strengthen your core! That includes standing for truth before your friends. Remember it's our goal to advance the Gospel, to advance the kingdom of God! And so we stand for truth before our friends, before our family; and we preach the God's truth to ourselves! This is a crazy, violent, insane world in many ways! Demon powers are on the loose. I would be personally frightened, I would be frightened for my family, I would be frightened for my grandchildren and their future were it not for what I know: the truth of God! It is what I know that strengthens me in the inner person, in the inner man!

So this is why I preach the Gospel, the truth of Jesus Christ to myself! I preach it every day because we stand in this truth! Don't go to battle without your belt on! You'll lose your pants and you might just lose your life! The second thing is, we are to put on, verse 14: "the breastplate of righteousness". The breastplate of righteousness. Now obviously this is critical to a soldier because the breastplate covers the heart, the visceral organs, the vital organs of the body, and therefore, the breastplate is critical to staying alive and winning a battle. So we are to put on this breastplate which represents the believer's purity, as we stand against defilement. Protects us against defilement! The breastplate of righteousness: what is this righteousness? We are righteous in Christ; this is not self-righteousness, this is not striving.

Our weapons are not carnal or fleshly, but mighty to the pulling down of strongholds! So we stand, not in our own strength, but we stand in the strength that is Christ, the righteousness that is in Christ. But what Paul is talking about what the Bible is telling us here is to apply this righteousness! Just as you put on the armor, you're to put on and apply the righteousness that is in Christ! In other words, to live in purity, to live in devotion, to live in godliness, to live the right way! It's right living! Proverbs 4:23 "Guard your heart," the Bible says, "for out of it flow the issues of life". So we put on purity and we ask God to protect us from defilement. Satan is a dirty, filthy animal. And sin is a violent, seductive power. And the devil only needs a little crack to get in. "Who is that that knocks so loud? The answer came, 'Just a little sin.' So I opened the door and sin and all hell was in"!

Don't give the devil a way in! Put on the breastplate of righteousness. Nobody started out to be addict; for some it was the click of a mouse on your computer, and "now all hell is in". For some it was just a little flirtation, now "all hell is in". For some it was just a little anxiety! Now with fearful force the bondage has taken over. I'm telling you, we're in a battle! Get dressed up everyday! If I were to ask you, "Why do you share your faith? Why do you not share your faith"? many Christians do not ever share their faith. If we're in an army we should be advancing the Gospel, we should be talking about Jesus, we should be sharing our faith. But for the most part, you have to admit, "I don't share my faith, not because I'm afraid to or because I'm intimidated, or because I don't know the Gospel". But so many would have to say, "I don't advance the Gospel because I'm not living right myself! My friends know it; my family knows it! What kind of phony would I be to talk to somebody else about Jesus"?

You see what has happened here? You've allowed Satan to neutralize your witness! Maybe even to nuke your witness! You don't have a witness because you're not living the right way. Again, I'm not talking about legalism or self-righteousness; I'm talking about putting on the righteousness that we have in Christ. God gave us this armor and the power to stand. 1 John 4:4, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world". Paul talks about this mighty power that we have in Ephesians 1:19-20. You can look at it; mark it later. But what is this power that we have to resist the enemy? To resist temptation? Is it some Mickey Mouse power? No! It is the same power that brought Jesus out of the grave and raised Him up to the throne on high! This same power, this is the strength that is in us! Don't tell me you can't live for Jesus if the power of the living Christ is in you!

There's not only the belt of truth which is the believer's integrity, holds everything together; not only the breastplate of righteousness which is the believer's purity, protecting us against defilement; but then notice verse 15: "and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the Gospel of peace". Now a Roman soldier had to take care of his feet. There were mountains to climb, there was territory to take, there were obstacles to overcome. It was a kind of guerrilla warfare, hand to hand combat, and so your shoes, your feet had to be in good condition. sometimes enemies like would prepare booby-trap with long pointed sticks that soldiers would step on and pierce their feet and so on.

So it's vital that the soldier's feet be in good condition, and therefore, good shoes. The hobnail boots of a Roman legionnaire or the sandals. They were cleated, if you will. They were strong so that the soldier could take a stand and that the soldier could move forward! The soldier could be hostile and mobile, alright? And shoes were needed to do that! This speaks of the believer's stability and protects us against discouragement. The believer's stability or shoes, strengthen us against discouragement. How many of you are discouraged? Because I have been discouraged at times, and I know that's one of the devil's chief tools. Of all the fiery darts of the enemy, discouragement is one of the more powerful. Can completely take you out and lay you out. Discouraged, despondent, depressed, darkness takes over. Therefore we need to stand sometimes all you can do is stand up in the power of Christ and hold on in the name of Christ.

That's our stability! But we don't go down because our feet are firmly planted in the peace of the Gospel. Do you see that there? Your shoes with the readiness of the Gospel of peace. This is, of course, the peace with God in knowing that our future is secure, that we have peace with God. We know that there's nothing ultimately the enemy can do to destroy us because we have peace with God; our peace is made. But it also refers to the peace of God, and that peace of God in all circumstances it's not the absence of fearful circumstances or difficult circumstances. That's not peace, but it is the presence of strength and power in the face of our circumstances! That's stability or standing strong. Remember, I said at the beginning of this message, it's not just standing still, it's standing strong!

You say, "Well, I'm not strong, pastor. I'm weak"! Yes, but in the power of Jesus Christ you can stand! You can stand! But the shoes of the Gospel of peace not only refer to our stability in Christ but our mobility in Christ. Notice he talks about our readiness to share the Gospel of peace. Paul talks about this in Romans 10:15, when he says, "How beautiful are the feet of them who preach to Gospel". I love the story of Acts chapter 8 when Philipp, that godly deacon was led out into the wilderness to share Christ ultimately with an Ethiopian and when the Spirit of God moved on that godly man's life, the Bible says he ran to the chariot! He ran to witness to this man! That's what we're talking about here. "Be swift, my feet, to action. Be jubilant my feet".

We stand in the peace of God. We run in the peace of God. The devil wants to discourage you; don't let him do it. You're grounded in the Gospel. "Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed, finding in His promise perfect peace and rest". "You will keep in perfect peace, those who's minds are stayed upon you" -Isaiah 26 and verse 3. So we put on the belt of truth, that is the core, that's the truth, that is our our integrity in truth. And we put on the breastplate of righteousness and this is our purity, that we stand against defilement of any kind. We put on the shoes of the Gospel of peace, this is our stability and our mobility as we stand with the Gospel, as we run with the Gospel.

But then he speaks again in verse 16: "In all circumstances", whatever you face, "take up the shield of faith, of which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one". That is, take up the shield of faith which is the believer's certainty. We protect ourselves against doubt when the flaming, fiery arrows of hell are falling, we put up the shield of faith. The Roman shield was 2 feet typically by 4 feet; made of leather and medal and you could literally hide behind your shield. When an army was under attack they would place their shields together, hinge them together and the entire army could get behind those shields. And that's an important lesson to remember, isn't it, that we are to connect our shields; that we are in this battle together when our shields are held together as we come to gather in this place today, I trust that we hold up our shields of faith and the army is strengthened against the assault of the enemy.

There's one final piece of armor, two actually, we're going to cover next week as we talk about the battle for the mind. And he said "Put on the helmet of salvation, the helmet of deliverance", verse 17, "and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God". When we put on the helmet of salvation we're putting on the helmet of security. I don't know how long it's been since you have read Pilgrim's Progress. if you haven't you need to put up all that beach fiction you're reading and read something really good, like Pilgrim's Progress. Christian is going against the enemy. He comes against Apollyon who is the devil himself. "Be care, Apollyon, what you do; I am in the King's highway, the way of holiness and I am in His service. Therefore, take heed that you do not overstep your bounds".

Then Apollyon sprang across the highway in front of Christian and said, "I am without fear in this matter! Prepare yourself to die, for I swear by all the infernal powers that you shall go no farther! I will take your soul right here"! Then he hurled a flaming dart at Christian's heart. But Christian held out his shield and blocked it. Christian drew his sword and braced himself for battle. Apollyon came at him with a fury, of flowing darts as thick as hail. Some stuck above and some below Christian's shield, wounding him painfully in spite of all that he could do to defend himself. Then he fell back a little! And seeing this, Apollyon came on with all his force! Here Christian remembered the effectual prayer and took courage. They fought up and down the highway for over half an hour and Christian's strength was almost spent from loss of blood and sheer exhaustion.

Apollyon perceived that Christian was gradually growing weaker, and taking advantage of this he took hold of Christian and threw him to the ground. Then Christian's sword flew out of his hand! "Now," said Apollyon, "I am sure I have you"! And he almost beat him to death. But as God would have it, as Apollyon gave his final blows to finish him off, Christian's hand touched his sword which gave him fresh spirit. He gripped the sword with all his might and said, "Rejoice not against me, O my enemy! When I fall, I shall rise again"! And giving Apollyon a deadly thrust which caused him to fall back as if mortally wounded, summoning all his strength, Christian rose to his feet and advanced toward him, crying, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us"! And this was so much for Apollyon, he spread his wings and flew away!

James 4:7, "Resist the devil and he will flew from you"! This is victory that overcomes the world! Even our faith! Put on the armor of God, church! Because when you put on the armor of God, you're putting on the Lord Jesus Christ! He is the armor of life! He is our Truth; He is our Righteousness; He is our Peace; He is our Strength; He is our Hope; He is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of the living God! Put on the Lord Jesus Christ! And having done all, to stand. Because, Christian, the victory is yours if you will fight in Jesus' name. Amen?
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