Armed For Battle (10/21/2018)

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Most Orthodox churches around the world don’t have pews or seats in their sanctuaries. People attending the services are expected to stand as they worship the Lord.

You’ll notice I said “most” Orthodox churches don’t have seating. Many congregations in the United States have added it. The reason they’re doing it is quite simple. A friend of mine who grew up in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church told me, “The Orthodox churches in the United States are adding seats because American Christians are too lazy to stand up.”

What about us? Are we lazy Christians too – especially when it comes to our relationship with Jesus? Spiritually lazy Christians readily accept salvation from Jesus but they typically don’t put much effort into spending time with him through meditation, prayer, sitting in God’s presence or any of the other spiritual disciplines.

Please prayerfully answer the following question: Am I a spiritually lazy Christian? And be honest.

Being a dedicated disciple of Jesus isn’t easy. It’s the hardest thing we’ll ever do in life, especially since we’re in a spiritual battle. Satan doesn’t want us to follow Jesus so he constantly sends things our way hoping to discourage our faith.

The good news is God knows this will happen and he doesn’t want us to be defenseless. He gives us weapons so we can fight. Ephesians 6:10-20 says, “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.”

The Apostle Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God. This can automatically lead us to ask some questions.

What is the purpose of armor? It’s a protective covering worn to guard a person from being harmed by an object or individual.

Why is it worn? Someone only puts it on when she or he is facing some type of danger, such as going into battle or chasing dangerous criminals.

We put it on because the devil is scheming against us. One of his most common traps is to get God’s children arguing and fighting with each other. That’s why verse 12 says our struggle isn’t “against flesh and blood.” Our enemies really aren’t other humans. They’re the spiritual forces that trick us into focusing on each other instead of Jesus.

What type of armor should be worn? There are different types. Police officers on patrol wear bullet proof vests to protect their vital organs. People diffusing bombs were uniforms that protect every part of their bodies except for their hands. The type of armor referred to in this passage is the armor worn by Roman soldiers in the 1st Century A.D.

“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.”

Armor is useless if it’s left on the shelf when we go into battle. There are some basic armaments we have to wear if we want to stand our ground against the devil’s schemes. Most of the armor that’s mentioned is for defensive purposes so we can withstand any spiritual attacks that come against us.

Belt of truth – We have to believe the gospel is true. If it isn’t true, then it’s meaningless and we’re wasting our time being Christians. But we know it is true. We can’t let the devil convince us that science has discredited our faith.

Breastplate of righteousness – The devil tries to convince us that we’ll never be good enough or worthy enough to serve God. Often, we believe him because we know the sins we still struggle with even though we’ve asked Jesus into our hearts. But we aren’t righteous because of what we’ve done. We’re righteous because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Coming to terms with this means it a lot harder for the devil to discourage us.

Feet fitted with the gospel of peace – Following Jesus means we now have peace with God and with each other. We’re no longer estranged from God.

Shield of faith – Mathematical formulas won’t prove Jesus is the Messiah. Only faith will. We must have faith that not only can Jesus save us from our sins, he also strengthens and guides us through the everyday storms of life.

The shields Roman soldiers used were often made of wood that was covered with leather. Before battle, the soldiers would drench them in water so they would euish any flaming arrows that were shot at them. Satan is constantly shooting flaming arrows at us to discourage and weaken us. A strong faith is the only thing that extinguishes them.

Helmet of salvation – Jesus alone gives us salvation. Serving him means we’ve already been rescued and released from the clutches of Satan. The devil isn’t strong enough to take us back so he tries to lure us into distancing ourselves from Jesus so that our relationship with Jesus becomes weaker. We must come to terms with how secure – and how powerful – our salvation really is.

Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God – The sword is the only offensive weapon that’s mentioned in this passage. The sword we’re supposed to wield is the word of God. It goes forth and tells people about the love of God that saves us from our sins and gives us hope. When the gospel takes root, it displaces the false religions that enslave people. It brings life where death once reigned. The devil is driven back when we proclaim it.

There’s one more thing we have to do after we put on the armor. “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.”

Although no one really understands how it works, God uses prayer to unleash his supernatural powers. Since we’re fighting a spiritual battle, we need God’s help.

This passage shows us there are 3 things we need to do when it comes to spiritual warfare:

See – The key to winning any battle is understanding your enemy so you can defeat his tactics. Jesus allows us to see the devil is real. We have to acknowledge that we’re in a spiritual battle and fight.

Suit Up – Modern body armor won’t help us when we’re under spiritual attack. The only thing that will protect us and give us victory is spiritual armor. We have to wear it.

Stand – Commanding officers don’t ask soldiers on the battlefield if they feel like fighting today. They tell them when and how to fight. Then the soldiers obey. It’s the same with us.

As we can see, spiritual armor isn’t that hard to wear and spiritual warfare isn’t that complicated. But the war can wear us down mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We have to keep fighting even when we’re tired. Sometimes we just have to pray, “Lord, you know how I feel. Please give me the strength to keep fighting in spite of where I’m at right now.”

One thing is obvious when it comes to spiritual warfare. Spiritually lazy Christians don’t make good Christian soldiers. It’s much easier for the devil to distract us or even defeat us if we don’t stand on the word of God and strengthen our faith by spending time with Jesus.

We have to put on his armor  if we want to have spiritual victory.