September 4, 2022
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
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. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Football season is here. Each year the players seem to get faster and stronger making the game more exciting, but also more dangerous. Over the years, the padding has had to keep up with the faster and stronger players to keep them safe. For example, the helmet has undergone many upgrades. A century ago, a football helmet was a piece of leather with thin padding like wool if you were fortunate. Whereas today, bars have been added, a visor, hard shell, better cushioning material and other features designed to protect players heads from multiple skull-crushing impacts. As the years go on, the padding must keep pace with the players if they want to avoid injury.
Understanding your situation allows you to bring the right gear. Understanding the speed and power of a fellow football player motivates you to remember all your gear. Understanding the ferocious nature of your fellow teenagers motivates you to keep up with fashion trends. Understanding Texas weather means bringing both sunscreen and an umbrella with you because you never know what the weather is going to do. In our Gospel reading from Luke 12, Jesus wants you to understand your situation as a believer. Jesus said,
51 “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”Luke 12:51-53
Jesus has divided the world. The two sides are those who believe and those who do not. You as a believer face the temptation to go back to the unbelieving side, to create earthly peace by giving up heavenly peace. You need the right gear to protect yourself from the spiritual forces pulling you back to unbelief.
Your protection comes from the outside. The right padding, trendy clothes, sunscreen or umbrella are all outside of us that we put on to protect us. The same is true of our spiritual situation. In our New Testament reading from Ephesians 6, Paul wrote,
10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”Ephesians 6:10-11
These words begin Paul’s final section in this letter. Before these words, Paul spent most Ephesians layering the blessings of God for his people. He used this letter to summarize the basic truths of the Christian faith. In Ephesians 2, we read,
1 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins… 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions…8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”Ephesians 2:1, 4-5, 8-10
The truth about sin, grace, faith and works that run throughout Scripture are recorded here. They fill the hearts of God’s people with thanksgiving, peace, joy, hope and love. And it is because of these great blessings, that Paul ends his letter to the Ephesians with his encouragement to put on the armor of God. As Jesus said, 51 “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” There are many who are divided against you because of the blessings God has given you. The devil leads the charge against you, and you cannot stand against him alone.
The devil hides his scheming against you. Like a punter on fourth down throwing a pass rather than kicking, the devil is crafty. In John 8, Jesus described the devil like this, 44 … “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” The devil has been around since God created the world. He and his demons have learned over the millennia how to deceive people maintaining division and robbing people of peace with God, and one another. In our New Testament reading from Ephesians 6, Paul encourages us to remember how the devil hides, 12 “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.” The devil tempts and tricks you to fight, argue, ignore, judge and get upset with people, but people are not the enemy. The devil tempts you to fight against visible things to distract you from the invisible. You put the confidence in yourself when your enemy is someone you can see. And when your confidence is high, there is no room for God because you know what to say or what to do to come out the winner, popular, successful, etc. And when your confidence is low, the devil tempts and tricks you to blame difficulties, tragedy and heartbreak on God, but God is not the enemy as we read in 1 Timothy 2, 4 “[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” You lose against the devil when you are not wearing your protection.
The Lord protects you. Protection comes from outside of you to cover you. We read again from Ephesians 6, 10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Your strength comes from God. Your protection comes from God. You take your stand against the devil with the protection God provides. With God’s protection, you remain at peace with Jesus. With God’s protection you are divided from what is evil, wrong and condemned. Paul details the protection of God in Ephesians 6. The list contains five defensive pieces and one offensive piece.
First, 14 “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.” The truth of God’s word protects you from the lies of the devil.
Second, “with the breastplate of righteousness in place.” The righteousness of God, which is Jesus’ perfect, sinless life is yours so that any guilt, shame, rejection, fears and comparisons over past sins does not harm you. This is reinforced in Romans 8, 33 “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
Third, 15 “and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Worry is the enemy of peace. Your peace remains unchanged in the gospel. Jesus reassures us of his peace and stops our worry with his words in Luke 12,
22 “Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”Luke 12:22-24
Fourth, 16 “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Your faith stops all attacks because what you believe in has happened as Jesus said in Luke 24,
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.Luke 24:44-47
Fifth, 17 “Take the helmet of salvation.” Salvation is the different between eternal life in heaven and eternal punishment in the fire of hell. Salvation is yours as Jesus said in John 3,
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”John 3:16-17
These are the five defenses God provides you. Finally, he gives you the offensive protection, “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The Word of God gives you an answer for every question, doubt and challenge. Each book, chapter, verse, phrase and word is backed up by God himself. It is yours to set free to attack and defeat the enemy. God reveals his strength and the strength of his word in our Old Testament reading from Jeremiah 23,
23 “Am I only a God nearby,” declares the Lord, “and not a God far away? 24 Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord… 29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”Jeremiah 23:23-24, 29
Wear this armor every moment of your life. This armor is even for our children. Ephesians 6 is what Kingdom Kids will be focusing on in the coming weeks so that our children will be defended by the mighty power of God. Our church has adopted the culture of Personal Member Ministry to equip and encourage one another in the unique spiritual gifts God has given us so that we stand as a diverse army, a congregation, a corps ready for spiritual battle at home, work, school, community, etc. We stand firm with the armor of God by being in God’s Word in Bible Study, worship and personal devotions, which is why our mission statement as Divine Peace reads, “Teaching solid biblical truth in our community.” We do all of this because this is what it means to be people saved from our sins by God’s grace through faith. We put on the full armor of God as we do the work God has planned for us. We are careful not to become upset with people, but battle for them with the Word of God to divide them from the spiritual forces of darkness and bring them to the side of peace with Jesus.
Each year football pads must keep pace with faster and stronger players to keep them from injury. Your battle is not a game played on a field. It is not even against flesh and blood. Your battle is the spiritual forces of darkness, the devil and demons, and you battle them with the mighty power of the full armor of God. Do not go into that battle alone. God has already won the war through Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, and we will fully enjoy that in heaven. Until then, we faithfully take our stand against the spiritual forces of evil with this encouragement from God in Ephesians 6, 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God. Amen.