The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 10 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #24)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

In Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, the main character, Christian, receives a suit of armor to put on as he prepares to continue his journey to the Celestial City. Bunyan writes, “The next day they took him and had him into the Armory, where they shewed him all manner of armor, which their Lord had provided for Pilgrims, as Sword, Shield, Helmet, Breastplate, All-prayer, and Shoes that would not wear out. And there was here enough of this to harness out as many men for the service of their Lord as there be stars in the Heaven for multitude.“ We, too, face enemies and danger in our walk with Christ, and God has given us armor to put on. So far, in this series, we have looked at six pieces of armor that God has supplied for us as we face spiritual battle every day :

1. The belt of truth.
2. The breastplate of righteousness.
3. The shoes of the Gospel of peace.
4. The shield of faith.
5. The helmet of salvation.
6. The sword of the Spirit — the Word of God.

After a very detailed discussion on the pieces of armor that a Christian needs to put on, one might think that that is all there is too it. But it isn’t. There is one more thing we must do in order to be battle ready. No, it is not another piece of armor. But, based on the way Paul talks about it, it is extremely important. It is prayer.

Three times in a single verse, Paul urges us to engage in prayer as part of our warfare. First, he says we ought to be “praying always,” that is we ought to be in a constant spirit of prayer. We ought to pray “in every season” and at “every opportunity.” Second, he says, “with all prayer,” that is with all forms of prayer which we will discuss shortly today. Third, he says, “and with supplication,” that is to make our requests, in the name of Christ, for things that are in God’s will.

In his commentary on Ephesians, John MacArthur writes, “All the while that we are fighting in the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, we are to be in prayer. Prayer is the very spiritual air that the soldier of Christ breathes. It is the all-pervasive strategy in which warfare is fought.”

Because spiritual warfare is a constant struggle, we ought to be constantly praying. The Bible commands us to “pray without ceasing.” But, what does it mean to pray with “all prayer and supplication.” This means that we should not hesitate to engage in prayer in all its forms — whether alone or with others, in private or in public, silent prayer or praying aloud — all prayer is to be engaged.

Scholars have found in the Bible eight types of prayer. Allow me to share them with you.

1. The prayer of faith. This is a prayer for something that is in God’s will, but is yet to come to pass. In this prayer, you express belief in the power of God to bring things to pass. James 5:15 says, “The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”

2. The prayer of agreement or corporate prayer. This is simply praying with other believers. In Acts 1:14, we find that Jesus’ followers “all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” in the upper room before Pentecost.

3. The prayer of request. When Paul used the word “supplication”, he was talking about this kind of prayer — asking God for your needs and desires. Philippians 4:6 teaches us to “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” John R. Rice said, “Prayer is simply asking and receiving.”

4. The prayer of thanksgiving. This is a prayer of gratitude to God for what He has done for you. This is a prayer you pray after God has answered your prayers. Philippians 4:6 says we ought to offer “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.”

5. The prayer of worship. This is a prayer of praise to God where you aren’t asking or thanking Him for anything specifically, but you are just worshipping Him because of who He is. In Acts 13, we read of early Christians who were “worshipping the Lord and fasting.”

6. The prayer of consecration. When something or someone is consecrated, it means that they are set aside to do God’s will and be used for God’s purposes. Jesus Christ prayed a prayer of consecration in the Garden of Gethsemane when He told His Heavenly Father, “Not my will, but thine be done.” Jesus also taught us to pray this way in the Lord’s prayer which says, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

7. The prayer of intercession. This is when we pray for the needs of others. In 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul says, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” You ought to always have in mind someone you can pray for other than yourself.

8. The prayer of imprecation. These are prayers that invoke God’s judgment on the wicked. David and others prayed these types of prayers in the Psalms. However, Jesus teaches us as Christians to pray for blessings on our enemies, not cursing. He said in Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Of course, that is often a hard thing to do, but we can do it through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Those are the eight types of prayer found in the Bible. When we “pray always with all prayer,” we are engaging, at different times, in all types of prayer.

As a final command regarding spiritual warfare, we are told that we ought to be “watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” This means that we must be alert and we must be watching in order that we might pray. We ought to be on the lookout for saints who are faltering that we might lift them up in prayer. We ought to be on the lookout for sinners that we might lift them up in prayer, asking God to deliver them from their spiritual blindness. We ought to be ready to pray for people and situations at a moment’s notice.

John Piper describes this wonderfully when he calls prayer our “war-time walkie-talkie.” He said prayer “is mainly for those on the front lines of the war effort to call in to headquarters to send help. One of the reasons our prayer malfunctions is that we try to treat it like a domestic intercom for calling the butler for another pillow in the den rather than treating it like a wartime walkie-talkie for calling down the power of the Holy Spirit in the battle for souls.”

That is what we need prayer for in spiritual battle — to ask God to step in and defeat the enemy through the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words we need air power through prayer power. Throughout this series we have mentioned numerous times how that we are not fighting this battle in our own strength, but in the strength of “the Lord and the power of His might.” And the only way to call down the power of the Lord into our present-day spiritual battles is through prayer — so pray always!

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 8 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #22)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

Some Things to Take With You Throughout the New Year

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

So far, in this series, we have looked at four pieces of the armor which God has supplied:

1. The belt of truth — the truth of God’s Word is the foundation to any successful spiritual warfare.

2. The breastplate of righteousness — we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and we must determine to live in obedience to God if we are to be victorious in spiritual warfare.

3. The shoes of the Gospel of peace — part of our job as Christians is to faithfully carry the message of the Gospel wherever we go.

4. The shield of faith — our faith in God and in His Word will enable us to deflect and extinguish Satan’s fiery darts.

Today, we are going to look at the fifth piece of armor — the helmet of salvation. The Bible says, “And take the helmet of salvation…”

First of all, notice the verb “take.” This word lets us know that putting on our armor is a conscious choice. It is something that we must choose to do every day. Just being saved does not mean that we are automatically fit for battle. Some Christians go out in the world every day unprepared for warfare, and they wonder why, by the time they get home, they are defeated, depressed, and discouraged. The thing is, they let Satan beat up on them all day because they failed to put on their armor.

So, along with our other pieces of armor, we must choose to put on the helmet of salvation. The Greek word for “take” is in the aorist imperative tense which carries with it a sense of urgency. We are to pick up and put on the helmet — and do it now!

In this verse, Paul is not talking about receiving salvation itself, for we have already received that. Rather, he is talking about the need for us to not allow the devil to destroy our assurance of salvation. Now, once you accept Christ, you are saved whether you feel like it or not. (Jesus Christ makes sure of that because it is about what He did on the cross, not about what you have done or are doing.) However, you will be more effective in your Christian life and in spiritual warfare if you are confident of your own salvation. Just as a soldier who doubts his ability to fight is timid in his approach to warfare, just like the football player who is worried about being hurt, does not play with abandon, and ends up getting hurt anyway, if you have doubts and worries about your salvation, you will be timid in your approach to spiritual life.

When Satan wants to target our assurance of salvation, where does he attack? He attacks the mind. This is why the helmet of salvation is a necessity. Steven Cole writes, “Your head is a very important part of your body, because it contains your brain, which controls everything. Your head determines how you think about all of life. How you think in large part determines how you feel and how you act….To put on the helmet of salvation requires that you learn to think biblically… You must develop a Christian mindset, a saved mindset. Your head determines how you function in all of life. If your brain is not working properly, it affects how other parts of your body work.”

Someone once said, “What you think means more than anything else in your life. More than what you earn, more than where you live, more than your social position, and more than what anyone else may think about you.”

As you face each day, how do you think about yourself? Do you see yourself as a child of God, who is no longer a slave to the devil and sin? Do you see yourself as a believer who has the power of the Holy Spirit to help resist temptation? Do you see yourself as a Christian who has already overcome the world through Jesus Christ? The condition of your mind — what you think about your salvation and what you think about the devil’s lies — will determine how victorious you are.

Another reason why putting on the helmet of salvation is important is because it gives us hope for the future by reminding us about the second coming of Jesus Christ. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:8, “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” In this context, Paul is referring to the return of Jesus Christ as our blessed hope. Living in this sin-cursed world can be a cause of depression and discouragement for the believer. If we are not careful, we can become so entangled in the affairs of this world that we lose sight of the great hope for the future that we have in Jesus Christ. That is where the helmet of salvation comes in. In his book, The Strategy of Satan: How to Detect and Defeat Him, Warren Wiersbe writes that the helmet of salvation is “referring to the hope the believer has in the return of Jesus Christ.” He says, “Satan often uses discouragement and hopelessness as weapons to oppose us. It is when we are discouraged that we are the most vulnerable. We will make foolish decisions and be susceptible to all kinds of temptations. When the mind is protected by ‘the blessed hope’ of the Lord’s return, Satan cannot use discouragement to attack and defeat us. Discouragement is a lethal weapon in the hands of the enemy. Moses and Elijah became so discouraged they asked God to kill them. The psalms record some of the occasions when David was ‘in the depths’ and could only hope in God.”

Dear friend, let me encourage you to put on the helmet of salvation every day. If you are discouraged, it will encourage you. If you are depressed, it will lift you up. If you are doubting your salvation, it will reassure you. If you are losing sight of God’s plan for the future, it will remind you that we have a blessed hope and a glorious appearing to look forward to. Keep your head up and your helmet on!

One of the techniques that Olympic competitors use to increase their chances of victory is visualization. Before their competition, they visualize themselves performing in the way they wish to perform. In their mind’s eye they picture themselves flawlessly running, swimming, skating, skiing, etc. They picture themselves outdistancing and outperforming their competition. They picture themselves stepping up to the platform and raising a medal in victory. Why is visualization effective? Because it steels the mind against thoughts of negativity, failure, and defeat. Those who go into the competition thinking that they will be victorious are far more likely to win than those who go in already thinking that they will be defeated.

Ladies and gentlemen, we already have the assurance of victory because “greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.” Believe the Word of God, put on the helmet of salvation, and be victorious in spiritual warfare.

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 7 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #21)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

So far, in this series, we have looked at three pieces of the armor which God has supplied:

1. The belt of truth — we must understand that our belief in the truth of God’s Word is the foundation to any successful spiritual warfare.

2. The breastplate of righteousness — we must understand that we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and we must determine to live in obedience to God if we are to be victorious in spiritual warfare.

3. The shoes of the preparation of the Gospel of peace — we must understand that part of our job as Christians is to faithfully carry the message of the Gospel wherever we go.

Today, we are going to look at the fourth piece of armor — the shield of faith. The Bible says, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

Now, the Roman shield, which was what Paul was using as a model, was a very large, slightly curved rectangular shield featuring at its center a large metal knob (called a boss). The shield was an impressive tool of defense. Some of these shields were three and a half feet tall and almost three feet wide, and soldiers were afforded a great deal of protection from enemies.

One of the famous tactics of the Roman infantry is called the tortoise formation in which the soldiers advanced against their enemy as a single, tight, compact unit. The soldiers on the outside of this unit would hold their shields so that the edges were touching the shields of the soldiers to their right and left. The soldiers in the middle of this unit would hold their shields above their head, again with the edges touching the shields of those around them. One of the benefits of this formation is that it protected the soldiers from the arrows of their enemies.

The Bible tells us that our shield of faith is meant to deflect the flaming darts (or arrows) of the wicked one. First of all, what is faith, and how is it meant to be used as a shield? The Bible’s definition of faith states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” At its very core, faith is a strong, unyielding belief in God Almighty and His only begotton Son Jesus Christ even though we can’t see them. However, this faith is not belief based on nothing. Rather, this belief is based on the solid foundation of God’s Word. It is our firm belief in the Word of God which deflects the flaming arrows of the wicked one.

The second question we must ask is what are the fiery darts which the enemy shoots at us? These fiery darts are meant to tear at our faith, our belief, and our confidence in the Word of God. The devil knows that if he can get us to stop believing the Word of God and start acting on our feelings or our own human ideas, he can eventually defeat us.

The fiery darts of the wicked one take on several forms.

1. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of doubt at us. He will tell us that God will not really do what He says He will do. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that he should lie…”

2. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of discouragement at us. He will tell us that our present situation will never get better. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Romans 8:28 that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

3. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of delay at us. He will try to get us to stop trusting God because something that we wanted to happen yesterday still has not happened yet. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.”

4. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of difficulty at us. He will place people and circumstances as obstacles in our path to try to get us to stumble and eventually give up on whatever it is God has called us to do. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

5. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of depression at us. He will try to steal our joy, our contentment, and our happiness from us. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lies because Jesus Christ said in John 16:33, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Although the shield is a defensive weapon, raising the shield is something we must actively do each time the fiery darts of the devil come flying at us. Rick Warren said putting on the shield of faith is “trusting God, no matter what you see, hear, or feel about the world around you. You need the certainty of God when you face the uncertainty of Satan’s fiery darts.”

The devil will never stop throwing his fiery darts at us. That is why we must never take off this all-important piece of armor. We must spend time in the word of God so that we will know what God says about the various difficulties we will face along our Christian journey. When we face those difficulties, we can raise the shield of faith to deflect the arrows and extinguish the fiery darts that the devil throws our way.

During the second World War, a town in England was bombed by the Germans one moonlit night. When workers were clearing away the debris, they found on top of a heap of rubbish a sailor’s prayer book, open at the Twenty-seventh Psalm, with the thirteenth verse marked. That verse reads: “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” The incident was widely commented upon in Great Britain, for it seemed to many that the verse noted in the open prayer book found amid the ruins of that town was the secret of Britain’s magnificent endurance during the worst days of her trial. The victory was won, not just by battleships and tanks and rifles and armed men, but by faith in God and by faith that they would be victorious in the war. Unless the Britons had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in their land, unless they had believed that the future included the survival of their country, they may very well have fainted and given up hope that they would be victorious.

When we believe God’s promises, when we put our trust in Him by holding the shield of faith aloft as we go into battle, we will not faint, and we will eventually be victorious.

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 6 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #20)

PART A

PART B

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

There was a time in the life of Martin Luther when his conflict with Satan became so real that it took on an almost physical manifestation. In his anger against Satan, Martin Luther picked up his inkwell and threw it at the devil which he believed was in the room with him. The inkwell broke and splattered ink all over his wall, and the stain remained for many years, reminding people of how real the conflict with Satan was in Martin Luther’s life. Though we may not be at the spiritual level of a Martin Luther, we must understand that our conflict with Satan is just as real. The Christian and Satan are in a mortal, life-and-death, hand-to-hand combat. That is why it is essential that we put on the whole armor of God.

So far in this series, we have looked at two pieces of the armor which God supplies for the believer.

The first piece is the “belt of truth” which is our belief in the Word of God and our faith in the One who said He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” The second piece of armor is the breastplate of righteousness which is essential if we are going to repel the attacks of the enemy. This piece of armor is provided not because of our own righteousness, but because of Christ’s righteousness which covers the life of every believer.

The Bible describes the armor that God supplies for all Christians in the book of Ephesians. The first piece of armor is the belt of truth. The Bible says, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.” The truth, of course, is the Word of God; and we arm ourselves with the truth when we believe in Jesus Christ and we believe the Word of God.

Today, we are going to look at the third part of the Christian’s armor — the shoes of the gospel of peace. After we have put on the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness, we are to put on the shoes of the gospel of peace. The Bible states, “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”

You probably don’t think about the importance of the shoes you wear each day. In fact, the only time you probably think about the shoes you wear is when you are getting ready to go to a fancy event and you want to make sure that the shoes you are wearing are appropriate and selected to impress others. However, for a soldier, shoes are very important. A soldier who goes into war barefoot will be hindered by the rough terrain, pebbles, stones, and other debris on the battle field. The right kind of footwear enables a soldier to advance against the enemy without encumbrance.

Roman soldiers wore the caliga, a thick-soled, hob-nailed, half-boot which had leather straps that were tied around and fastened tightly to each foot. It was heavily studded with metal nails to give stability in all forms of terrain. It was not strictly a weapon but part of the soldier’s equipment, especially for long, fast-paced marches.

However, for the Christian soldier, his shoes are not just mere protection for his feet. His shoes are built with a purpose. The Christian goes forth not just to fight against the enemy, but to spread the gospel of peace to those bound by the enemy. A Christian who goes forth to make war against Satan is also one who continuously carries forth the message that God has sent Jesus Christ to make peace with man. Thus, to have our feet clothed with the gospel of peace means we must believe the gospel ourselves, and be serious about sharing the gospel with others.

John Piper has pointed out that it is strange that we find a focus on peace in the midst of this passage on war. However, he said, “The aim of our warfare is that people would accept the terms of peace that God holds out, namely, faith in Jesus. And the only reason there is any conflict at all is because the power of sin and the powers of Satan are dead set against [allowing people to] make peace with God.”

If you are not actively seeking out ways you can share the Gospel of peace, you are not fulfilling all of your duty as a Christian.

Quoting Isaiah in Romans 10:15, Paul says, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” The Greek word for “gospel”, which is where we get our word “evangelist” from, simply means to ‘proclaim good news.’ It was a word used when a messenger ran from the battlefield back to the city to proclaim that the army had been victorious in battle. Likewise, we are ambassadors from Heaven, living in this world, proclaiming the victory of Jesus Christ over sin, death, hell, and the devil.

In 490 B.C. King Darius of Persia invaded Greece and threatened the city of Athens. The Athenians sent their champion runner to Sparta to summon help. The runner, whose name was Pheidippides, ran for two days and two nights the 140 miles to Sparta only to find that the Spartans were unwilling to respond until the moon was full. He ran back to Athens with the disappointing news.

The Persians landed on the Greek coast and set up their camp on the plain of Marathon, about 25 miles away. The runner joined the famous Ten Thousand Athenian warriors who charged down upon the Persians and defeated them. He was then asked to carry the news of the victory back to Athens. He ran all the way there, staggered into the city and announced, “Rejoice, we conquer!” Then he collapsed and died.

Dear friend, I ask: are you willing to sacrifice it all in order to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and His victory of sin, death, and Hell, to the people who desperately need to hear it? The message of the Gospel of peace that we have is a message the world needs to hear, but the devil will do everything in his power to prevent us from delivering that message. That is why we need to put on the armor of God.

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 5 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #19)

[audio https://www.buzzsprout.com/3192/229052-the-armor-god-supplies-for-the-christian-part-5-pilgrim-s-progress-according-to-the-bible-19.mp3]

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

Pastor Rick Warren once related the story of how he and some of their church workers regularly visited a prison in California which held some of the state’s most violent gang members. The prison was well-known for the brawls that often broke out there among prisoners, often requiring police in full riot gear to enter in order to restore order in the prison. Warren said that the prison warden informed him that when they came to the prison they needed to be prepared for anything — including having to run for their lives. Warren said that this meant they couldn’t go to the prison wearing shorts and flip-flops. In his words, they had to be “suited and booted.” They had to be ready to defend themselves and ready to get out of the way if a brawl broke out while they were at the prison.

Ladies and gentlemen, in this world, Christians need to be “suited and booted” at all times. We must adopt the slogan of the U.S. Coast Guard — semper paratus, “always ready” — because the devil can attack at anytime. That is why we must put on the whole armor of God.

Last week, you might recall from Pilgrim’s Progress that Christian received his suit of armor from the Palace Beautiful before he set out to continue his journey to the Celestial City.

The Bible describes the armor that God supplies for all Christians in the book of Ephesians. The first piece of armor is the belt of truth. The Bible says, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.” The truth, of course, is the Word of God; and we arm ourselves with the truth when we believe in Jesus Christ and we believe the Word of God.

Today, we are going to look at the second part of the Christian’s armor — the breastplate of righteousness. After we have put on the belt of truth, the Bible says, “and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” A breastplate is a large piece of armor that covers the front of the body from the chest to the waist.

For the Roman soldiers of Paul’s day, the breastplate provided protection for the torso, which contains the vital organs including the heart and the lungs. Without his breastplate, a soldier would be asking for death, as any injury to his body could become fatal. With a strong breastplate, however, the same blows from the enemy are rendered ineffective.

This passage calls righteousness our breastplate. There are two elements of righteousness that make up this piece of defensive armor. The first is found in the basic definition of righteousness — that is right doing or right living — doing the right thing. If we are living in sin, it is as if we are going into battle without any of our armor on. We are exposed to Satanic attack and trickery. Unconfessed sin in our lives is one of the main reasons why Christians are defeated spiritually. So, if we are not living right, we have not put on the breastplate of righteousness.

The second element of righteousness is walking in the confidence that we are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Remember, by His death on the cross, and our acceptance of that sacrifice, God imputed the righteousness of Jesus Christ to us. God no longer sees us as sinners, but as saints. We are viewed as innocent before God because we are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Paul writes in Philippians 3, “not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

John Gill said, “the righteousness of Christ, which being imputed by God, and received by faith, is a guard against, and repels the accusations and charges of Satan, and is a security from all wrath and condemnation.”

The devil will try to attack us mentally by bringing up our old sins, failures, and faults. He will try to make us believe that God has not forgiven us and that we are still just like we were before we accepted salvation through Jesus Christ. If we succumb to the devil’s lies, and fail to cling to the truth of God’s Word — that we are righteous because of Jesus Christ — we will lose many spiritual battles.

Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf, the German reformer and prominent leader of the Moravian church, wrote a hymn that describes how Christ is our righteousness and how we stand in that righteousness as followers of Him.

Bold can I stand in every way,
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully, by Christ, absolved I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

This spotless robe the same appears,
When ruined nature sinks in years;
No age can change its glorious hue,
Its glory is forever new.

Thou God of power, Thou God of love,
Let all Thy saints Thy mercy prove;
Our beauty this, our warrior’s dress,
Jesus the Lord, our Righteousness.

Dear friend, with Jesus Christ as your righteousness, you can stand boldly against the attacks of the devil. So, put on the breastplate of righteousness! If we are committed to righteous living and if we walk in the confidence that we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, we can and will be successful in spiritual battle.

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 4 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #18)

[audio https://www.buzzsprout.com/3192/226910-the-armor-god-supplies-for-the-christian-part-4-pilgrim-s-progress-according-to-the-bible-18.mp3]
Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

Over the past three weeks, we have been talking about what it means to be in spiritual warfare as a Christian. We have looked at the basics of Christian warfare, and those basics are: (1) We gain the strength to fight the battle through Jesus Christ — not on our own. (2) We must choose to be clothed in God’s armor — that is, His righteousness through Jesus Christ — if we are to be successful in spiritual warfare. (3) Our enemy is not physical, but spiritual; our enemy is Satan.

You might recall in Pilgrims progress After Christian had gone through a difficult experience, he was allowed to rest at the Palace Beautiful. While there, he learned much about his Christian faith and what the road ahead looked like for him. One of the things he was shown was the armory, and before he left the Palace, he was outfitted in a suit of armor to prepare him for the journey ahead. Let’s read about it from Pilgrim’s Progress.

Bunyan writes: “Now Christian wanted to go forward, and they were willing that he should. But first, said they, let us go again into the armory. So they did; and they dressed him from head to foot with armor, lest perhaps he should meet with assaults in the way. He being, therefore, thus armed, walked out with his friends to the gate of the palace.”

The Bible tells us that Christians today are (or at least ought to be) armed for battle as well. Like Christian, we ought to expect to meet with assaults along the way of our Christian journey. Let’s look at the specific pieces of armor that God has supplied for the believer.

The belt of truth. The Bible says, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.” Let’s unpack this:

First of all, what are your loins. Your loins are your waist and lower back area. In the agricultural culture of the ancient near east, people wore long tunics. And, sometimes, these tunics could get in the way if you were gathering in the fields or if you had to chase down a stray sheep or chase off a wolf. So, in order for your clothes not to slow you down, a man would gather up the end of his tunic and wrap it around his legs, tucking the bottom of his tunic into his waistband which was called a girdle (you can think of it as a belt). Basically, a man would transform the long tunic into shorts — which are much better for running fast or getting around in rough terrain. That is what it means to gird up your loins.

When you gird up your loins, you are getting ready to do some serious work. A phrase we might use today is “roll up your sleeves.” So, we see from this analogy that our spiritual warfare is no play thing. It is serious work.

Commenting on another passage in First Peter 1 which tells believers to “gird up the loins of their minds”, Matthew Henry states “as the traveler, the racer, the warrior, and the laborer gathered in their long and loose garments, that they might be ready in the business, so let Christians do with their minds and affections. Be sober, be watchful against all spiritual dangers and enemies, and be temperate in all behavior.”

The Bible tells us to be “gird about with truth.” As I mentioned before, the girdle was a waistband or belt. For a soldier going to war, the belt was a very important piece of armor because it encircled the body and held together the other pieces of armor. Without the belt, the other armor lost its effectiveness.

Paul tells us that we are to put on the belt of truth. R.C. Sproul said, “Paul seems to have in mind the confidence that comes from certainty about the truthfulness of God’s Word.” Remember, what Jesus Christ used to defeat the devil? He used the Word of God. If you and I are to use the Word of God to defeat the enemy, we must also have confidence in its truthfulness. When Jesus prayed for His disciples, He said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

We must depend on, lean on, and have confidence in the truth of the Word of God. If the Bible is not true, then we have nothing to stand on. And, as we will soon see, the Word of God is the main offensive weapon that we have. The Bible tells us that Jesus is called “the Word of God.” When we choose to believe the Bible, we are choosing to believe Jesus Christ because the Scriptures “testify” of Him. Thus, when the Bible tells us that we already have the victory over the devil, the flesh, and the world, we ought to stand on that promise because it is rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

As the old hymn says,

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

The essential piece of armor — the belt that hold all the rest of the armor together — is our confidence in the truth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the Word of God which cannot lie. Let’s put on the belt of truth and be victorious in battle.

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 3 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #17)

[audio https://www.buzzsprout.com/3192/225013-the-armor-god-supplies-for-the-christian-part-3-pilgrim-s-progress-according-to-the-bible-17.mp3]
Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

Robert the Bruce was king of Scotland from 1306 to 1329. Early in his reign, King Edward I of England invaded his nation, defeated his army, and forced him into hiding. While on the run, Robert the Bruce took refuge in a cave.

Completely disheartened, the Scottish king lay by a fire in the cave, ready to resign himself to complete defeat and the loss of his kingdom. But then, in the flickering firelight, he noticed a spider on the cave wall, spinning a web. The spider repeatedly attempted to secure the web, then failed, attempted again, then failed. Finally, the spider was able to anchor the web, making it strong and secure.

In the persistence of the spider, the Scottish king saw a metaphor of his own struggle against the English invader. He decided he would not allow himself to be defeated by past failures he had to continue the fight for Scottish freedom. Robert the Bruce left his cave, led his troops into battle, and defeated the English invaders at Bannockburn in 1314. He continued to persevere for the next fourteen years until he finally won Scottish independence in 1328.

In times of spiritual warfare, we will often be tempted to metaphorically crawl into a cave and just give up. We will often be discouraged and distressed. We will often feel as though we are too weak to carry on. However, as we learned in the first message in this series, our strength is not in ourselves, but in the Lord. Paul tells us to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” We cannot be strong on our own, rather, we are made strong through Jesus Christ and Him alone. In the midst of our spiritual battle, we must learn to lean on God and not on ourselves. When we do that, we can come out of our cave and return to the battle.

In the second message in this series, we focused on the stand of the saints. Paul tells us that we are to “put on the whole armour of God so that we will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” When we put on the whole armor of God, we are clothing ourselves in the righteousness of Christ that is afforded to us through salvation. The devil will attack us spiritually, but we can overcome him if we stand against him in Christ’s strength. If we stand in Christ’s strength, clothed in the armor that God has supplied, we will not succumb to the devil’s strategy.

So, God has given us strength, and we are commanded to stand. But what do we need our strength for? And what type of enemy are we to stand against? We are going to answer those questions today as we look at our spiritual enemy.

Paul says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” You cannot fight effectively in a war unless you know who your enemy really is. The devil will try to get you to think that your enemies are physical — people whom you can see and talk to. However, that is only a strategy to keep you sidetracked from the real battle.

The Bible tells us that our enemies are dark spiritual forces. The Evangelical Commentary on the Bible states, “Paul lists four varieties of nonhuman powers, all under the control of the devil, against which believers have their struggles. …this struggle is ultimately not against ‘flesh and blood,’ that is, it is not against other human beings, but rather ‘rulers,’ ‘authorities,’ ‘powers of this dark world,’ and ‘spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’, all of which instigate people to practice evil.”

The Greek word which is translated “wrestle” is only used here in all of the New Testament. Wrestling was a popular sport during the time when Paul was writing Ephesians. Instead of using a more common term for fighting or warfare, Paul uses this term to indicate the closeness of the struggle we face on a daily basis. The implication is that we are engaged in hand-to-hand combat against the enemy. It is a constant, unrelenting struggle. A human opponent might give up after a while, but the devil never gives up. He is always seeking to drag us down and cause us to ruin our testimony for Christ.

The devil will often use people as a means of carrying out his attacks on us. However, if we are aware of this, we will not waste time battling flesh and blood. Rather, we will turn to Christ for strength, and we will focus our offensive weapons of prayer and Scripture on the devil himself.

As followers of Christ, we are engaged in a great spiritual war with unseen evil forces. To overcome the devil, we must stay focused on the enemy, stay confident in God, and determine never to accept defeat.

A story from the Korean war illustrates this attitude. As enemy forces advanced, Baker Company got separated from the rest of their unit. For several hours no word was heard, even though headquarters repeatedly tried to communicate with the missing troops. Finally, a faint signal was received. Straining to hear, the corpsman asked, “Baker Company, do you read me?”

“This is Baker Company,” said the sergeant.

“What is your situation?” asked the man at headquarters.

The sergeant said, “The enemy is to the east of us, the enemy is to the north of us, the enemy is to the west of us, the enemy is to the south of us.” Then after a brief pause, he added, “Well, at least the enemy is not going to get away from us now!”

Although surrounded and outnumbered, he was thinking of victory, not defeat. We ought to have the same attitude as we engage in spiritual warfare. Because we are clothed in the armor that God supplies, we can go forth into spiritual battle confident of victory against our spiritual enemy — the devil.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Take Me to the King” by Tamela Mann and “I Surrender All” by CeCe Winans

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #16)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress
[audio https://www.buzzsprout.com/3192/223226-the-armor-god-supplies-for-the-christian-part-2-pilgrim-s-progress-according-to-the-bible-16.mp3]

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

There is an evil-looking reptile known as the hog nosed snake which attempts to fool predators with two ruses. First, it impersonates a pit viper, by coiling, striking, and hissing viciously. If this tactic fails to intimidate the attacker, the hog-nosed snake turns belly up, opens its mouth and rolls out its tongue, playing dead. If it is picked up and placed right side up, it simply turns over and resumes the death ruse again.

Scripture likens the devil to a cunning serpent who has numerous tricks up his sleeve — the Bible calls them the wiles of the devil. And, in this series, we are exploring the Scriptural command to be aware of and to be wary of the tricks of our spiritual enemy, the devil.

In our last message, we focused on the strength of the Lord. Paul tells us, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Our strength to fight the battle that we are in comes from the Lord, and not from ourselves. The phrase “be strong” literally means “be made strong.” In other words, we cannot be strong on our own, rather, we are made strong through Jesus Christ and Him alone. In the midst of spiritual battle, we as Christians must learn to lean on God and not on ourselves.

Today, we are going to look at the stand of the saints. Paul goes on to say in this passage, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Once we understand that the power to fight the spiritual battle that we are in comes from Jesus Christ, we can proceed with putting on the armor of God so that we will be ready to stand against the devil.

We don’t want to be like the man who has electricity in his home, but he never flips the light switch and so dwells in darkness. He has power, but he never activates it. Our power comes through Jesus Christ, but we must activate it by putting on the whole armor of God and standing against the devil. We will talk about the specific pieces of the armor in a later message, but, right now, we need to understand what it means to put on the whole armor of God.

In his commentary on Ephesians, Peter O’Brien states, “The ‘armor of God’ can be understood as the armour that God supplies, his own armour which he wears, or even the armor that is God himself…. This exhortation to put on God’s armour recalls the earlier instruction about ‘putting on the new self’, which was created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

The devil is described in Scripture as the “accuser of the brethren.” He is always looking to exploit some flaw in our character. He is always looking for some spiritual weakness to use against us. He is always coming up with accusations to use as fiery darts against us. Sometimes, he will try to make us doubt our salvation. Sometimes, he will criticize our feeble prayers. Or he will try to make us feel as though we are unworthy to be called a child of God.

If we are walking in the flesh, the devil will find plenty of weaknesses to cause us to stumble. However, if we are walking in the spirit — if we have put on the new man — we will be clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and we will be impervious to the devil’s wiles — his tricks or strategies. Once again, this goes back to not relying on our own strength in spiritual battle. You can only be successful against temptation and against the accusations of the devil if you rely on the power of Jesus Christ.

As the famous hymn by Martin Luther states:

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

When we put on the whole armor of God, we are clothing ourselves in the righteousness of Christ that is afforded to us through salvation. We do not have to try to stand against the devil in our own strength. Rather, we stand against him in Christ’s strength. Christ has already gained the victory over our enemy; He knows how to outsmart and out-maneuver him. We would be foolish to not walk in the path that He has already paved for us. If we try to stand against the devil on our own, we will fall prey to his tricks every time. But if we stand in Christ’s strength, clothed in his armor, we will not succumb to the devil’s tricks.

Break Up Your Fallow Ground: It is Time to Seek the Lord (Part 18)

Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #80

Scripture: Hosea 10:1-8,12

As you know, we are in a long series titled “Break Up Your Fallow Ground: It Is Time to Seek the Lord” which is based on Hosea 10:12 which reads: “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” In this passage, Hosea urges the children of Israel to turn away from their sins, repent, and get right with God.

As we begin today, let’s take a close look at verse four of Hosea chapter 10. The verse reads, “They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.” God was angry with the children of Israel because of the pervasive corruption that they engaged in. Not only were the Israelites unfaithful in their covenant with God, they were unfaithful in their covenants with their fellow man. Because they had abandoned the law of God, their was no restraint in their society, that would prevent them from “swearing falsely” or breaking their promises to their fellow Israelites. Because of the culture of dishonesty, God sent punishment among the children of Israel. The verse tells us specifically that judgment would come down on them like hemlock which is a poisonous and nauseous plant springs up in good fields.

Now, in this series of messages, we are addressing specific sins that folks in the church need to confess and repent of in order to get our hearts right with God, and so that we can ask God to send revival in our personal lives, our families, our churches, our communities, and our country. So far we have addressed fifty sins in total, and today, we are going to continue this series by addressing three more sins from our list.

1. The first sin we will address today is the sin of not loving our enemies.

2. The second sin we will address today is the sin of not raising our children the right way.

3. The third sin we will address today is the sin of not being patient.

+ Plus, listen to CeCe Winans as she sings “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and Yolanda Adams singing “Is Your All On the Altar?”

How to Avoid Being Destroyed by the Devil (Part 4): How to Overcome the Tricks of the Devil

[audio http://gospellightminute.buzzsprout.com/3192/41666-how-to-avoid-being-destroyed-by-the-devil-part-4-how-to-overcome-the-tricks-of-the-devil.mp3]

Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #44

Daniel Whyte III finishes his sermon series on a topic that many Christians overlook — our enemy, the Devil. In today’s message, Daniel Whyte III discusses the following points:

I. The Devil will tempt you again and again
II. We must resist the Devil in the name of Jesus
III. Overcome the Devil through prayer

+ Plus, listen to Larnelle Harris singing “I Go to the Rock” and the 12th District AME Mass Choir singing “Oh, the Blood of Jesus”