Armor of God

Preached: July 28, 2013

Armor of God
Ephesians 6:10-20

No audio available. What follows are three devotions on three parts of the armor of God. These were used at the outdoor worship service with St. Paul's. Pastor Main preached on the three other parts of the armor.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The word from God through which the Holy Spirit equips us to stand firm with Jesus is Ephesians 6

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 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 saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:10-20 NIV84).

This is the word of our Lord.

A. “Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist”

Dear friends in Christ:

Have you noticed how shifty truth is -- at least what many people call truth? Truth becomes a con-artist getting us to believe one thing only to change it later on. Politic truths shift with the latest poll as politician gauge in which direction popular opinion is blowing. Personal truths shift based on the situation or on new experiences and relationships. Scientific truths shift as new discoveries force current theories, laws, and models to be redesigned. And there are so many religions out there all claiming truth. Is it any wonder that a man of the world like Pontius Pilate would ask, “What is truth?”

But if truth were a shifty con-artist, there would be no armor of God. For you see, dear Christian friends, the belt of truth holds it all in place. The belt anchors the breastplate, so that it does not flop around exposing the vital organs. The belt holds the scabbard, so the sword's not lost. The belt keeps the cloak tight against the body so that it does not entangle the limbs, keeping the hands free to hold the shield and keeping the feet from tripping. For what good is a helmet if a soldier falls and it rolls off?

Now maybe truth seems like a shifty con-artist because so much of what people call truth is nothing more than opinions, best guesses, or wishful thinking. But the belt of truth is entirely different. It's not manufactured by human reason, logic, or desire. It's not woven together from human opinions, guesses, or wishes. It's given by divine revelation. It's written done so that it cannot change from generation to generation. And it has proven its power in your heart and mine.

For you see, dear Christian friends, the belt of truth comes form the Lord God himself, and he does not change. For he is independent of all under no compulsion whatsoever. Yet his good and gracious will freely chose to reveal his truth, clothing it in the words of human language and having it written down in the Scriptures for you and me. In addition, he is faithful, so his truth will never change. Even though heaven and earth pass away -- the entire universe gone -- his truth stands forever.

The truth that God's law reveals confronts you and me with our fallen nature. We would never have known the depths of our helplessness. But God's law exposes our lies and self-deception, convicts us of our guilt, and condemns you and me to hell.

Then God's truth reveals our Savior. What Good News! God's Son has set you free. That's the truth! He has redeemed you, ransoming you with his life-blood. That's the truth! His resurrection liberates you, freeing you from the curse of the law, freeing you from the power of sin, death, and the devil, freeing you to live for Jesus and serve him without fear. That's the truth! What freedom rings out from God's truth!

Keep God's truth buckled around your waist, dear Christian. Don't loosen it by compromising his truth in any part. Don't lose it by neglecting to take it to heart. Rather cherish and treasure his truth. Learn it from the Bible and know it well. Practice and live it daily. Then you will stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around your waist. Amen.

B. “Stand firm … with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”

Dear friends in Christ:

The shoes of Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines, made headlines back in the 1980's. What flabbergasted the average person wasn't their style or color or even cost, but their number. She had over a thousand pairs.

Many of us, no doubt, have several pairs of shoes. We have tennis shoes for walking or running, work boots, dress shoes, snow boots, slippers, sandals, and maybe a few others. Having the right footwear for the right activity makes us ready for it.

A soldier also needed the right footwear. But he couldn't lug around extra pairs of shoes. He needed something versatile, so that he was ready for any terrain, ready to go wherever he was needed.

The gospel of peace gives you and me that readiness, dear Christians.

What is it that makes our feet ready, eager, and bold to go with the gospel? The peace the gospel has already brought to us. We began life at war with God. We were his natural-born enemies, hostile toward him. Guilt disturbed our consciences. Anxiety, fear, and worry ruined our hearts. How could there be any peace?

But angels proclaimed peace on that dark Judean night. The Savior was born. The Prince of peace had come, our one and only Mediator. God became man to reconcile mankind to God. The blood of Jesus, God's Son, erases the guilt from our conscience. For his death and resurrection has ended our warfare. He is our peace. Now that our crucified and risen Savior reigns over all with the power of God's right hand for the good of his blood-washed people, is there anything left for us to worry about, much less to feel fearful or anxious about?

Like those shepherds on that first Christmas night, we too have glad tidings of peace to tell. Now though, as we share the gospel of peace, we may experience heartache and disappoint when others reject it. We give up time and money to support that work -- time and money that we might wonder whether we could have enjoyed otherwise. The ground can be rugged, oh so rugged. But with our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, we go forward. For Jesus is our peace. He takes care of us even if others reject us. He mends our broken hearts. In him we have the riches of heaven, no amount of earthly money or time compares to that.

The gospel of peace is the only pair of shoes you and I need. Be ready, eager, and bold to tell others of the peace that only Jesus brings, peace to repentant sinners, peace with God. The prophet Isaiah proclaim: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7 NIV). Amen.

C. “Take the helmet of salvation”

Dear friends in Christ:

Motorcyclists are encouraged to wear helmets. It can mean the difference between life and death. The CDC estimates that helmets prevent 37% of crash deaths for motorcycle riders and 41% of crash deaths for motorcycle passengers (CDC accessed 2013-07-25). Helmets save lives.

A helmet was also a vital part of a Roman soldier's armor. A fatal blow to the head no longer was fatal. Helmets deflected the slash of a sword or the point of an arrow. Helmets saved lives.

But whether you're talking about a Roman soldier or a motorcyclist, helmets don't always save. If they prevent 37% of crash deaths, 63% still happen.

How different the helmet of salvation with which the Holy Spirit equips us! Don't lay aside that helmet, dear Christian. For there is no other helmet like it. Only Jesus saves. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Peter declared to the Sanhedrin, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Only Jesus saves. He alone furnishes the helmet of salvation.

But how weak and foolish this helmet looks! “Christ crucified? How's that relevant for me today? Oh, maybe this story can encourage someone to bear up under adversity or show love to an enemy, but there's a lot of other stories that can inspire such nobility in us. What's so special about Christ and him crucified? Why would I want that kind of helmet taking away my freedom. I want the open road, not the narrow way.” That's the line of thinking human wisdom takes. And there is no salvation in that kind of thinking, only death. For only Jesus saves.

The helmet of salvation empties our heads of those human notions and instead fills our minds with the things above. From the eternal bosom of the Father, the Son came, sent on his mission to save the lost, to rescue you and me, dear sinners. We were lost, drowning in the ocean of our own sins. In no matter what direction we tried to swim, there was only endless stretches of sin crashing down on us in wave after wave. But Jesus come from above and lowered himself into our murky depths to rescue you and me. His resurrection from the dead has raised us up who were baptized into his name. What great salvation he has brought to all who believe! And look he has ascended back to heaven to one day bring you there along with everyone else who remains faithful to him. What a great salvation awaits his people before his glorious, rainbow-encircled throne as he wipes every tear from our eyes!

Your Savior, Jesus Christ says to you, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. I am your Light and your Salvation. Don't be afraid. I have prepared your true home. Trust in me.” Only Jesus saves. Believe his Good News. Take the helmet of salvation and never take it off. Amen.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313