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Stand Strong in Everyday Struggles – A Sermon on the Armor of God

This is the sermon on Ephesians 6:10-20 I preached on August 26, 2012

I experimented a little in the last days before school started back up and put the sermon to some simple visuals. This is a Prezi based on the PowerPoint I used during the sermon. Nothing fancy.

Read the Sermon

What do you struggle with today?

I struggle with self doubt.

Every day I struggle with this little voice that whispers things like: “who do you think you are? You have no right to get up in front of people and think that you can speak to them about God.”

I grew up as the little brother. I think there is something like a little brother syndrome. No matter how much I do, or how much I accomplish, I always feel like the little kid.

That little voice says, “you’re not good enough. They don’t really like you, or they just want something from you.”

What are the voices in your head? Maybe you feel like you aren’t good enough. Maybe you want to end it all.

Or maybe you fight the urge to indulge yourself in something, or someone.

It is appropriate that we are looking at this passage on the day that we bless the backpacks. Our students are going into a battlefield.

They face the intimidating social world of school. They’re asking the questions: How do I fit into this place? Will I be accepted? What is the point?

We all fight different battles everyday. But I know we fight something.

Our passage today shows us how to win these battles. Turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 6:10.

Let’s remember that the apostle Paul is writing this letter from prison. He has been fighting battles that most of us can only imagine. His ministry has landed him in jail. He has the strong possibility of even being executed at this point.

So, I imagine Paul sitting there in a Roman prison, thinking about his friends back at the churches surrounding Ephesus who are all facing these everyday struggles, just like us. Then he looks over at one of the prison Guards who is dressed in Roman armor.

Hmmm…that’s an interesting analogy. What would spiritual armor look like…

The whole passage can be summarized in the opening lines:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

There are three parts to this message:

  1. There is an enemy.
  2. We have a defense against this enemy.
  3. What’s the goal? To Stand!

We have an enemy.

For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Our battle is not against people. It is against the powers of evil that dominate our culture.

There is a “spirit of the age” or a “spirit of a place”.

Have you ever noticed how certain places have a certain air about them? In some places you walk in and it instantly feels warm and welcoming. Other places you can feel the icy chill of tension and unrest. It’s like the collective spirits of the individuals in that place and the history of the place all combine to create a spiritual force that in turn controls the people of that place.

It seems that the spirit of our nation right now is division and slander.

We were in vacation for a couple weeks and we hung out at my sister-in-law’s house in Denver. While we were there we had the TV on a lot to watch the Olympics. Now. You have to understand that Colorado is a swing state in the presidential election. every commercial break had at least four political ads. Two for Obama, two for Romney. These guys were just ripping into each other. It was brutal.

This is a spiritual force in our country. We are a polarized nation and our leaders are not afraid to publicly slam their opponents. Its almost like Ultimate Fighting, political style.

this partisan behavior divides and destroys.

Here in the suburbs, we have our own spiritual forces of darkness. The enemy in the suburbs is consumerism, commodification, and individualism. We live busy, frenetic lives where our kids are three different sports and we work two jobs and run from one thing to another all over town every day. It’s like we’re chasing something, but never find it.

Individually, we each fight those spiritual forces that we’ve already mentioned that whisper in our ears all the time.

We have a defense against this enemy. It is the armor of God

The armor of God is inTENSE:

Past tense, present tense, future tense. This passage is one of those instances where we lose a subtle, but significant meaning in the translation.

In this instance, the New King James Version does the best job of catching the different tenses in the original Greek language.

First there is the past tense. The fancy Greek word is the aorist tense. It means you have done it in the past and it continues to be true.

You stand…having already put on:

– belt of truth

– breastplate of righteousness

– feet fitted with readiness of the good news of peace

It is so important to realize that these pieces of armor are not something that you have to work for each day. These are the things that God has done for you. This is what grace is all about.

The belt was that piece that undergirded everything. All the other pieces were connected to the belt and it held everything together. It is the underpinning of everything.

The truth is not a set of correct doctrines. The truth is Jesus.

Do you remember when Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

The truth is that Jesus is the center of it all. He holds it all together. He is our salvation and our hope. And he has been given to us by the father.

This is such an important piece of armor because what is the attack of the enemy? Lies.

All those voices you hear, they’re lies. They are the “schemes” of the accuser.

We need the truth about who God is and who we are in Christ.

Then there is the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate protects our heart, the very center of our being.

God’s righteousness. The goodness of God, a right standing with God.

This has been given to us by Jesus. It is already in place by God’s grace and it protects your inner being.

And then there is the foot wear.

ILL: We spent a couples weeks of vacation in Denver just hanging out with Lona’s sister and her family. It was wonderful. One of the things we did was watch some of the Olympics.

One thing I noticed was the shoes that the sprinters wear. This really stands out to me because my niece is a sprinter and she got all excited because she had the same shoes as the Olympians. She brought them out and showed them to us.

You know, I don’t think you would wear those if you were running out to the store.

Have you noticed that what you wear on your feet makes a difference for what you do?

What is on our feet in the armor of God? Remember, this is the past tense. Our feet have been fitted with the readiness that comes from the good news (the Gospel) of peace.

Here’s the truth. You are at peace with God. That is the truth, the solid foundation that you can stand on.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven,  by making peace through the blood of his cross.

And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him

Colossians 1:19-22

What you take with all these things:

the shield of faith

Faith is putting trust into something. What do we trust? The fact that all the things that have been put on are true. We have the truth in Jesus. Our heart is protected by God’s righteousness. We are at peace with God.

When we believe that these things are true, then those voices–those flaming darts–that come zinging in just fizzle.

But think about this. Even though these things are true, if you don’t believe it, then your shield is down and you can still get burned.

Do you believe that God has done these things for you.

At this point we need to point out an important aspect of this passage.

This passage is in the plural. It literally says Y’all stand strong. y’all put on the armor of God. y’all take up the helmet of salvation, etc.

This is a group effort. This is not an individual struggle. We need each other to stand strong.

I was tempted to show the opening battle scene from the movie Gladiator. it’s pretty graphic, though. The part I wanted to show was how the Roman shields work. The were designed to work together so that a group of soldiers could instantly make an armored box to stand in.

What you take up/receive:

– helmet of salvation

– sword of the Spirit ( spoken Word of God)

We take up our salvation to protect how we think. Every morning we need to wake up an renew our minds in the truth of our salvation. We need to enter into the day remembering that we are children of God. This is our salvation. This is what it means when Paul says we must work out our salvation. It doesn’t mean we have to earn our salvation. Salvation is a gift. It means we need to train our minds to think in terms of being a child of God, set free, not as a victim of the enemy who seeks to destroy us.

Then, finally, we come to the one offensive weapon in this whole suit of armor. It is the sword. Whose sword is it? It is the sword of the Spirit. This sword is the word of God.

Paul uses a special Greek word here. The word is rhema. It specifically means the spoken word. You see, Paul isn’t saying we should beat people over the head with the Bible. What he’s saying is that we should speak the truth about God, who we are in God, and how the lies of the enemy are just that…lies.

There’s the armor. What we have already put on, what we continually cover ourselves with, and what we must actively take up each day.

This leaves us with the final question.

WHY?

so that you can STAND!

There is great irony in this passage. Armor is all about battle. and the whole thing is about being able to stand. But what are the feet covered with? Does it say, “and having your feet shod with the readiness of the good news of evil spirit butt whoopin?” No. It says, “having your feet shod with the readiness that comes from the good news of peace.”

This is not an offensive charge. This is a strong stance on what is true and right, not letting yourself be thrown off by deception.

Many times people think of spiritual warfare as if we are supposed to storm the gates of Hell. The thing is…Jesus already did that. The victory is won.

We stand on the promise that we are at peace with God.

What are you fighting with. It’s not a person. It is the evil force of destruction that is either controlling that person or controlling the environment itself.

My challenge to us today is remember this one truth. God loves you and you are at peace with God. Do you believe that? Are you willing to link shields with your brothers and sisters in this place and quench all those lies?

Are we, as a community, willing to stand strong against the powers of this place and so no to the consumerism, to the selfishness, to the self-doubt, to the self-indulgence, and have the courage to speak the words of truth of God’s grace and freedom to this community.

Let’s stand strong.

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Comments
  • Lovi Calimag February 23, 2016 at 9:07 am

    i understand who the devil is noow!

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