The armor of God a solid life in dark times

so I'd invite you to open your Bibles to

the book of Ephesians chapter 6

Ephesians chapter 6 and we're we're kind

of bringing at home there's just two

more messages and we're done with the

book of Ephesians where we're almost

there it's only been a year of kind of

working through it right and here we are

so I'd like to begin by sharing a we're

getting to that famous passage about the

armor of God and before we get into it

I'd like to share a little story because

some of you might know that or maybe you

don't know that I'm Biddle a little bit

of a civil war geek sort of a history

geek

yeah and I'm in good company here

another one of the pastors who will

remain nameless Sammy is also a Civil

War geek we even played hooky went away

for a weekend went to Gettysburg once

and I had my wife and kids looking at me

you're gonna ditch us for a weekend to

go to a Civil War battlefield like I

guess so so I would like to share a

story from that battle for those people

we might have people who don't know the

history it was during the American Civil

War in the mid-1800s when the North and

the South were fighting slavery was

really the provoking issue in this

country it was a big important war if

the South wins then there's two

countries one with slavery for a long

time and if you think race relations are

bad now they would have been even a

whole lot worse had that war turned out

differently so it was an important war

in this country's history and the north

which was the side fighting against

slavery and for the Union wasn't doing

too well

they just kept losing and losing and

losing and there was a big battle in

Gettysburg Pennsylvania and there was a

particular part of that battlefield the

whole army the northern Union army was

spread out on pretty much good high

ground in a huge three-mile line and

curving around they had a great position

but the southern army was going to try

to attack them and flank them and come

around from behind and it was a huge I

must have been over half a million men

in the Union Army there and there was a

little battalion from Maine called the

20th Maine that by a quirk of fate ended

up on the end of the line

this group of maybe 200

cultures from Maine had the privilege of

being the very last or first depending

which way you measure it the last group

of soldiers on this whole line of over

half a million men and they had a

particular position that they assumed at

the last minute of the battle called

Little Round Top a little mountain a

little hill that it was not so little

but it was sort of a rocky slope and

they were up at the top of that and the

southern army well over half the

southern army was focused on that spot

because they knew that if they could get

up over that hill they could circle

around take the Union Army from behind

destroy them and then there was nothing

between them and Washington South wins

so the commander of this little group of

soldiers from Maine

his name was Joshua Chamberlain he was a

professor became a soldier he was told

you must hold this spot at all costs you

cannot retreat at all you must stay here

if you give up if you yield the

Confederate Army will come over the

slope sweep around flank the army war

over you must hold your ground

and so Joshua Chamberlain there sit and

say yes sir I hear you yes sir and he

kept saying do you understand me he's

looking him in the eye so yeah I get the

message yeah kind of wishing him gone so

that he could get things ready cuz they

were coming finally he goes and then he

sits down with his men and he sets him

up and he says gentlemen we are going to

have to be stubborn today we cannot move

from this spot if we do the consequences

are much bigger than any of us can

imagine so he set up his men along a

Stonewall and it happened all these just

Davitt you know Brigade after Brigade

came up coming up that hill and they

were there now fortunately they're

behind a stone wall in the high ground

but it's just 200 men at the end of the

line and they resisted wave after wave

after wave of attacks reloading and

reloading and reloading until finally it

came to the poor

where they were out of ammunition they

were filling up their guns with bullets

from wounded or deceased comrades and

finally came to the point where there

was nothing left

they had not another bullet in their

guns and and they were coming again

another attack and he says we can't

fight we don't have any bullets left we

can't retreat so put on your bayonets

we're gonna have to just go at them and

we'll have the benefit of going downhill

we'll swing like a door on a point and

so these men with no bullets and their

guns just stood there decided well maybe

if we yell really loud they'll think

there are more of us and so they didn't

know how to do the rebel yell that was

more the southern thing but they did it

they stood there and as the army came up

but then they just yelled and swept down

that hill and the southern soldiers put

up their arms and surrendered and that

little xx main group 200 men now down to

less than a hundred won the battle 1 the

next day battle of Gettysburg

and even though the war went on for a

long time after that another couple

bloody horrible years that little battle

may have been the one of the pivotal

points and saving it and the key line

that I want to emphasize was when that

commander looked at his soldiers and

said gentlemen we have to be stubborn

today there are some things we cannot

give up on we can't move we have to

stand firm right here if we move then

all kinds of things go behind us and

that I believe is the spirit behind what

the Apostle Paul was writing to the

Ephesians at the end of this letter we

all know that the letter ends with this

passage we're about to read about

putting on the full armor of God and

taking our stand is because the people

of Ephesus knew that they lived in the

middle of a spiritual war their city was

the center of the worship of the goddess

Diana or Artemis and they it was a

center of paganism there was a spiritual

battle so intense that when the people

who practice witchcraft

came and burned their Scrolls publicly

the value of their magical Scrolls added

up to well over two and a half million

dollars of their witchcraft books they

knew that they were in the middle of a

spiritual battle they knew that they had

to stand firm they had to be stubborn

today and the whole book of Ephesians is

preparing the people of Ephesus to see

themselves in this spiritual perspective

to realize that there is a heavenly or

spiritual dimension to life there's a

spiritual battle going on in the

invisible realm and that they as

Christians have a part to play in it and

the all that has been talked about about

holiness about unity about the gospel

all of that leads into this final

chapter telling them we must be stubborn

today so let's read the text together

Ephesians 6 starting in verse 10 it

starts by saying finally because the

whole book is leading up to this message

finally be strong in the Lord and in his

mighty power now just take a minute

right away there remembering back to

chapter 1 of the book of Ephesus where

it says that power that mighty power

that same phrase is the same mighty

strength that God exerted when he raised

Christ from the dead and seated him in

the heavenly realms far above all rule

and authority and every name that can be

given not only in the present age but

the one to come the same power that

raised Jesus is available to me and you

and I know we may feel like again you

gotta be kidding me I'm me Lourdes just

be you see all my stuff my problems my

weaknesses God says my power is made

perfect in your weaknesses so be strong

in the Lord and in his mighty power not

your confidence not your wisdom his

mighty power put on the full armor of

God so that you can take your stand

against the devil's

games that word scheme is very

intentional it's a very unusual word

Methodius it indicates that we have an

enemy a spiritual enemy who does plot

and plan creative ways to undermine the

gospel and to attack us you know the

beginning of the fourth spiritual law

says the God loves you and has a

wonderful plan for your life it is a

fact that the devil also hates you and

has a terrible plan for your life and we

need to know that I know it's not a

positive thing to talk about it's better

know the truth

than to be a victim for our struggle the

word use there is the Greek word for

wrestling wrestling matches our

wrestling is not against flesh and blood

but against the rulers against the

authorities against the powers of this

dark world another translation is this

present darkness that surrounds us in

this world against the spiritual forces

of evil in the heavenly realms therefore

put on the full armor of God so 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 and with all kinds of prayers

and requests and with this in mind be

alert and keep on always keep on praying

for all of the Lord's people but also

for me that whenever I speak words may

be given to 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 amen

father I thank you God that we are the

Asians today and God that you are

telling us you are that commander

telling us that we must be stubborn

about some things about the gospel and

so father I pray that you would speak to

us God that it would be your spirit

speaking and your mighty power at work

in Jesus name Amen amen

so the beginning thing we need to

realize so most of us live our lives as

if the world is a perfectly normal good

place right we live our lives we go to

work we want to go on vacation to do

good things we have goals we have plans

because the earth is a beautiful place

God created it there's nice trees and

things there's ocean there's sports

there's really good Sun culture there's

all kinds of great things in this world

but what we need to realize and always

remember that this world is not the way

it is supposed to be that there has been

a rebellion in the heavenly places that

there was a spiritual being that at one

point rebelled against God

that angel that became that chief angel

the Satan the accuser that rebelled

against God and people became

collaborators with him even Adam and all

the rest of us have joined that side of

things and this world actually became

because people the rulers of this world

God delegated to people the authority in

this earth Adam and Eve were created in

the image of God that means that they

were like statues of God on earth

reflecting God's rule on earth they were

given authority and power to rule and

cultivate the earth people were meant to

rule this planet in God's name but they

abdicated that authority they rebelled

against God and turned to the evil one

and this earth became enemy occupied

territory Jesus refers to the devil as

the Prince of this world

so this world in a sense came under the

authority of that evil fallen angel it

became the dark planet if you ever read

some science fiction from CS Lewis you

know what I mean it's

planet that went dark when the devil

took over and this reminds me of another

little historical analogy if I may

indulge myself again please let me

indulge myself I like history just this

past week June 6th was the anniversary

of what day anyone know Sammy I know

you're a history geek you can't answer

it right away come on let someone else

it d-day d-day was a specific moment

January 6 1944 during World War two

where Adolf Hitler had taken over most

of Europe and France and Belgium became

Nazi occupied territory and they were

just about to go across the channel take

England and then they would have their

eyes set on the United States and we'd

all be speaking German if things hadn't

gone a different direction I am of

German descent so the language isn't the

bad thing it's all the other stuff

that's the bad thing right so Europe was

enemy occupied territory but on January

6 1944 there was an invasion in the

United States with England France the

Allies invaded the beaches of Normandy

and a bunch of young 18 19 20 year old

boys got out of boats and got shot to

take that beach and it was the beginning

of the end for Hitler now the war didn't

end that day but it was the beginning of

the end because now the Allies had a

foothold in Europe and they worked their

way all across Europe and eventually

into Germany and Hitler lost the work of

the war now in the same way this earth

in the same way but in an analogous way

this earth is enemy occupied territory

the evil one rules now all you have to

do is look out your window to know that

the world is not the way it's supposed

to be right they have to do is turn the

news on for five minutes and you know

this planet isn't right

something has gone dreadfully wrong here

there's innocent people that that die in

volcanoes there's attacks there's evil

there's terrorism there's racism there's

all kinds of bad things the world is not

the way it's supposed to be but the good

news for Christians is that our d-day

has already happened our God

our God became a man those two thousand

years ago he became one of us he went to

the cross and he took on himself he

absorbed the full evil of sin all the

penalty of sin on him on the cross the

power of death upon him three days dead

and in the grave and after three days

God exerted his mighty power and he came

out of that tomb again and won the

decisive victory over Satan sin and

death he took the beach god invaded the

earth it's the beginning of the end at

that point for the devil and the

Apostles ass okay is it over so you're

gonna set up the kingdom now we win

right

they can't kill you and Jesus said huh

not quite it's not for you to know the

times and dates that the Father are set

by its own authority but you will

receive power when the Holy Spirit comes

upon you and you will be my witnesses

right here in Jerusalem out in Judea and

to the ends of the world in other words

you with the power of the Holy Spirit

are gonna retake this planet for God

because this is your planet kids that's

what God's saying this is your planet

your humans I put you here and you with

my power are gonna retake it for the

kingdom of God by preaching the good

news that Jesus has paid the penalty on

the cross he's died he's risen and

everyone who repents and believes in Him

can be part of that kingdom the kingdom

that's coming on earth and one day when

the time is right Jesus will come back

from the heavenly dimension where we

can't see him but he's there and there

will be an unzipping between the

invisible dimension and the physical and

there will be the clouds of glory from

that side and the son of man Jesus will

come from the heavenly side to the

earthly side and the kingdoms of this

world will become the kingdoms of our

God and this earth will be transformed

and returned to the way it's meant to be

and there will be a resurrection and

everything will be the way it was

originally meant to be but even much

better because in the kingdom of God his

plan B is even better than plan a

sometimes so God has a plan and we're

part of retaking this planet for God

there's a spiritual war going on

coming against the enemy but we need to

remember that our situation right now is

not neutral this earth is still enemy

occupied territory we are at war we are

the army of God now it's interesting one

of the analogies that I like to use a

lot for the church is that the church is

a hospital right and I love that image

that jesus said that the healthy don't

need a doctor it's the sick right that's

us right people who know we're sinners

we come to God and say Jesus I need help

and that's what God's here for where a

hospital come with your wounds your

brokenness your saying your problems so

we believe in all that there's another

analogy though in Bible and that's that

the church is the army of God and we are

soldiers of the Cross we need to

rediscover some of these old hymns of

mighty fortress is our God and we shy

away from that because war is an evil

thing right war is not supposed to be

that's part of the sinful fall so it we

get uncomfortable making the analogy but

it's an analogy from the Bible because

our enemy is not humans it's not people

it's not Nations but it's spiritual

forces that are at work in this dark

world we are at war in the book of

Ephesians chapter 2 verse 2 it explains

that the air that we breathe is

contaminated with sin Ephesians 2:2 says

following the course of this world

following the Prince of the power of the

air which is the spirit now at work in

the sons of disobedience in other words

there's a way of this world around us

the way people do things that seems

normal

that is not normal you know it's very

interesting sometimes when people try to

do things God's Way

everyone's like are you crazy that's

bizarre because what's normal seems

crazy because the way of this world the

way people normally operate follows the

Prince of the power of the air

this invisible sort of atmosphere that

we all breathe and there's a prince

ruling behind it that permeates the

attitudes in the worldviews and how we

operate it's a spirit that is at work in

the sons of disobedience the sons of

disobedience are all of us who have

so bade God but then God fishes us out

of that and makes us instead clothed

with Christ but we'll talk about that

later but it's important for us to

realize that our society is infused with

spiritual evil now again I don't believe

in separatism we don't it's very obvious

that we are very involved in the culture

and the society around us education the

arts politics all kinds of different

things but it's important for us to

realize that this world is not neutral

that the governments of this world all

to one degree or another are infused

with demonic lies with a love of power

and evil that the media the media the

news the entertainment systems it's like

the devil has used these as megaphones

to amplify his influence over the world

schools and universities and don't get

me wrong a big fan of school and

university I hope my kids go to one

someday right but we need to realize

that they there is evil behind many of

these in such all of these institutions

in one way or another that the enemy is

in the air the very ecology itself the

nature around us and people all people

because we have sinned have become

collaborators with the enemy who's

occupying this planet the Prince of this

world has set up a mock government in

the spiritual realm

that has to be dislodged now I don't

want to get all freaky and science

fictiony some of you who were you know

kind of knew and I have kids in the

house I don't freaking went out but the

very fact is that there is a spiritual

government in the invisible realm

surround us with organization where

there is there are rulers and

principalities it says we wrestle

against rulers authorities cosmic powers

over this present darkness spiritual

forces of evil in heavenly places as if

there are some demonic rulers or

principalities or personalities that

rule different nations and that

influence nations with their own

particular lies their own particular

temptations and sins and every nation

has demons assigned to them including

our own States regions

cities neighborhoods schools businesses

there are different governments and I

really do believe that there are

different spiritual forces in different

places there's a spiritual geography so

to speak and you can really see this I

mean if you travel you may feel when you

go to certain places that just you could

just feel it in the atmosphere there's

something different here there's

different temptations at work there's

different types of evil and spiritual

air in the place we need to realize that

there is a prince of the power of the

air but thank God again just to come

back to it that Jesus has descended like

the book of Ephesians says to the lower

earthly regions he came into this dark

world and then he suffered the cross and

God raised him from the dead seated him

at his right hand in the spiritual

invisible dimensions remember when Jesus

was risen from the dead after he said

guys I'm going to give you my spirit and

you're gonna take over the planet in the

name of Jesus by preaching the gospel

then what did he do he ascended and a

cloud emerged like a supernatural cloud

and he disappeared from view so Jesus is

still physically alive and present but

in that spiritual dimension and from

that side he sent His Holy Spirit into

this dimension so that we can spread the

kingdom on earth he is exalted to the

right hand in heaven of God in heavenly

places far above all rule and authority

power and Dominion and every name that

is named not only in this age but in the

age to come it's important for us to

realize the war is already decided okay

the war is already won our God is

already the victor over sin and evil we

don't have to live in a fearful timidity

like oh no what's gonna happen no no God

is in charge he is seated on the throne

above all else

but the battle continues and we are

called to stand firm in his power that

he sends from that other side we're

taking this earth for the rightful king

and we need to pick sides now again the

Ephesians were very sensitive to this

oddly because as I've talked about at

other times and if you read about this

in the book of Acts chapter 19 you read

about what happened when the Apostle

Paul visited the city of Ephesus that

when he was there the first thing he did

is pray for people to receive the power

of the Holy Spirit so they needed power

then the Bible says that extraordinary

miracles were done through Paul to the

point where even his sweat rags when he

was making tents he throw him in a pile

the throw away and some brilliant person

says I'm gonna pick up this sweat rag

and I'm gonna put it on my sick

grandmother and hope she's healed now

please no sweat rags I mean let's just

let Jesus heal by his power we're not

gonna sell sweat right we're not gonna

sell but God was doing crazy weird

bizarre miracles okay and then there was

this weird encounter with some people

who tried to use the name of Jesus on a

man who was demonized and he beat him up

because I don't even know who you are

I'm going to come back to that there was

a public confession where everybody who

had practiced different types of

witchcraft and different types of magic

brought their expensive scrolls into the

center and and burned them now we're not

in favor of book burnings usually but if

they're magic demonic incantations then

ya may need to throw it in the furnace

because these are things that they would

use to invoke the power of evil among

them and then finally the Apostle Paul

was preaching about Jesus and then some

of the idol makers the craftsmen began

to feel economically and politically

threatened uh-oh we make a lot of money

by making statues of the goddess Diana

and Artemis and now this guy's saying

that they're not real gods and suddenly

this guy named Demetrius got very

religious and he was like how can they

offend our faith in our precious goddess

Diana of course he's like making all

this money from it right and he's like

we're gonna get in trouble so we've got

to stop him and they gathered in a in a

theater in a Coliseum thousands of

people from Ephesus and began chanting

for two hours great is Artemis of the

Ephesians it was so dangerous they

didn't allow the Apostle Paul to go in

because the Principality over Ephesus

had incorporated into the person of the

goddess Diana now do I believe in Greek

mythology Zeus Diana Artemis upon course

not that's mythology but the devil is

not picky and he adopts sometimes

certain types of superstitions and

beliefs and takes on that personality so

they new we live right where Artemis

lives and we're gonna need some power if

we're gonna stand firm and it was not

easy because remember how it was in

those days or I've talked about this in

other sermons that if you did not go to

the idol feasts to worship the idol you

could lose your job because the union

was part of the idolatry you'd have to

go with the union to worship the idol

and in these idol feasts they would they

would offer sacrifices to the idol

they'd commit sexual immorality and if

you don't play ball you could lose your

job and even be in danger of going to

jail the Ephesians needed to know their

spiritual identity and stand firm and

that's why the book of Ephesians begins

with this amazing line and I'm going to

get to the armor in a minute so just

stay with me but it begins by saying

blessed be the God and father it says

Ephesians 1:3 blessed be the God and

father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has

blessed us in the heavenly places with

every spiritual blessing in Christ in

other words you've got nothing to be

afraid of Artemis cannot defeat you that

you have a power and an identity in the

spiritual realm that not only do you can

you move in that spiritual realm but as

I said before you could fly first-class

you have authority you have power you're

blessed in the heavenly places with it

every spiritual blessing in Christ even

though you were once dead in your

trespasses and sins God made you alive

together with Christ and by grace you've

been saved he raised you up he seated us

with him in the heavenly places in

Christ Jesus so that in the coming ages

he might show the immeasurable riches of

his grace and kindness towards us in

Christ Jesus you were dead but you're

not dead anymore if you believe in Jesus

your spirit is alive and you might be

sitting here physically but your spirit

is sitting on a throne next to Jesus and

I know something you're saying Greg

you've gotta be kidding me do you know

you know what I've going through this

week your spirit in Jesus is next to

Jesus you're seated with Christ in

heavenly places you are a new creation

in Christ your feelings are real but

they're not your reality your reality is

a spiritual power and authority and

dignity you're blessed in heavenly

places you once were darkness but now

you are light in the Lord so now we

learn to live as children of light so

that's why the whole book of Ephesians

talks about how to live out our

spiritual identity all the teaching

about being unified as a church all of

that is in a spiritual warfare context

because an army that is divided is an

army that will be defeated so our unity

is not just so we can be one big happy

family it's because our real enemy is

not the person in the church who bothers

you your real enemy is the devil who's

trying to divide you from that person in

the church so that you won't lock

shields and fight together all the

teaching in the book of Ephesians about

holiness and morality all we're gonna

see comes from a spiritual perspective

because the devil is an accuser he is

like a prosecuting attorney who does

good research about the ways we fail and

our sins and our shortcomings and he

accuses and he uses those openings to

get at us so in Ephesians all the

teaching about morality and holiness and

unity and all of that has to do with

spiritual warfare did the it talks about

remember we preached this was several

months ago how Jews and Gentiles coming

together to be one new person was part

of a glorious reality so also here at

line of Judah in a time when the devil

is trying to separate people based on

race and economics and ethnicity and

politics we are one people from many

tribes and nations and tongues

and languages not because we're just

liberal and idealist but because we all

have the same King and there's a new

kingdom on earth we have the same father

and we're a new family on earth they men

and so that's why we come together

strong against the work of the enemy

talks about holiness it says we should

no longer live as the Gentiles do that

means the collaborators with the ruler

of this world in the futility of their

thinking that we shouldn't let the Sun

go down on our anger and let that

bitterness allow the devil a foothold

that we need to stay alert because the

days are evil don't get drunk on wine

but be filled with the Holy Spirit

because this is not the time to let our

guard down to check out or to go on

spiritual vacation the days are evil we

need to stay alert

Jesus's Prayer he taught us ends by

saying lead us not into temptation but

deliver us from evil every day we put

our guard up and that's why he's saying

we have to stand firm we must be

stubborn today stand stand stand firm

put on the full armor of God so let's go

through it okay so the first one in the

armour of God that we're going to talk

about is the belt of truth put on the

belt of truth and this is that garment

that holds it all together the concept

of truth I think is so important for the

church today oh hey she found some cool

illustrations awesome thank you the belt

of truth that holds it all together we

don't want to be caught with our pants

down please it's all about authenticity

earlier in the book of Ephesians it says

that speaking the truth in love we will

grow up in all things into the one who

is our head but you know that that is a

translation that's a little complicated

because it's very unusual that verse

earlier in the book of Ephesians doesn't

say speaking the truth but just true

thing in love it's weird it's it's a

unique use of that word as if to say

it's not so much what you say although

what you say is important but who you

are it's about being authentic being a

genuine sincere Christian that you're

not playing games

no double life then we won't be infants

tossed back and forth by the waves blown

back and forth by every wind of teaching

in the cunning and craftiness of people

in their deceitful scheming the book of

Ephesians says now there were some

people as I mentioned in Ephesus who

tried to fake it in the spiritual

dimension and I referred to it but I'd

like to go back over the story a little

bit you read about it in Acts chapter 19

they were the sons of a particular

priest named

Eva I think there were seven of them

right I don't know there were a few of

them there's a bunch of these guys and

they were exorcists right there were

ghostbusters so you got a demon did you

just call me for a small fee I'll come

and take care of it and they had ink

incantations that he would use in magic

sayings and amulets and things and then

they saw what God was doing through Paul

and if I hey I'm gonna try this Jesus

trick I'm gonna try the Jesus

incantation and so there was a demonized

man a man who had a demon in him and

they came to do their Ghostbuster thing

and they come in and they say in the

name of Jesus whom Paul preaches come

out you know and you know the story

right the demon threw the man looks at

him and says yeah I know Jesus and I've

heard about Paul but who are you

have we met and the Bible says that that

man that one man overpowered the seven

sons of sceva and sent them running out

into the street bloody and with their

clothes torn and that's what really

shook the town you know why just can't

use the name of Jesus if you don't

belong to Jesus that's like identity

theft right you're using a credit card

that's not yours are saying hey wait is

this really your name on the car you

might be able to fool someone on the

Internet but you're not going to fool

the devil right he's been lying a long

time he's the father of lies and so he

can spot a phony a mile away no faking

it in the devil in the heavenly

dimension we need to be real no double

life if we lead a double life

if we're faking it the devil will eat us

for lunch

we need to walk in the light as he is in

the light and let the blood of Jesus

cleanses and make us all truth now that

doesn't mean that you're perfect right

people like oh man I just I gotta get

out of here man I got struggles I got

problem it's not about being perfect

it's about being genuine

that's why confession is so important

right you don't have to confess to me

because I just don't have time to hear

everybody's but you gotta find someone a

man or a woman of God if you're a guy

find a guy if your girl find a girl

somebody who is a man or woman of God

someone you can trust someone who knows

how to keep a secret someone who's not

going to tell you not to worry about

what you're doing but who also won't say

you're doing what and tell them what

you're struggling with walk in the truth

the devil hates truth he's the father of

lies

he lives in darkness and he hates light

doesn't mean you're perfect but it means

you have your belt of truth on you've

told the truth

to people you're told the truth to God

and you genuinely belong to him the next

one the breastplate of righteousness it

says and with the breastplate of

righteousness in place so this is the

part that goes over the chest and the

heart and the lungs there's this great

proverb I I didn't write down the

reference I should have it memorized

like I'm a pastor and stuff but it says

keep your heart with all vigilance for

from it flow the Springs of life the NIV

says above all else guard your heart for

from it flow the Wellsprings of life the

breastplate guards your heart see God

cares about what's here about what comes

from inside us what's within us and this

is talking about righteousness that

guards our heart now we as Christians

and I'm going to come back to this at

the end we believe that we have a

righteousness that is not by our own

efforts we have a righteousness that is

given to us by faith that when I believe

in God he just credits righteous it his

righteousness just on me praise God and

he covers my heart with the blood of

Jesus

and as Christians it's not about earning

your way to heaven it's about having a

righteousness from God imputed to you

now with that said the book of Ephesians

takes chapter after chapter to say God

gives you righteousness to cover your

heart but now you need to live it out so

that your life matches your faith it

says you were once darkness but now you

are light in the Lord

time to walk as children of light see

the devil lives in darkness he's the

Prince of Darkness in a way he has

authority and a right to live in

darkness and when we have areas of

darkness in our life and shadows in a

sense that is area where the devil has

access to us if we don't deal with it

and bring it into the light and confess

the way I talked about it and seek help

he belongs there

he has her right there that's what Jesus

when Jesus said the Prince of this world

is coming and in the book of John Jesus

says he has nothing in me he has nothing

in me but this is the hour when darkness

reigns

what would he mean by that it meant that

Jesus because he was without sin the

devil had nothing to grab on to no

handles no darkness anywhere with us

there's a lot of handle there's a lot of

darkness there's all kinds of sins that

he can accuse us of and we need to begin

dealing with this aggressively that's

why it says do not let the Sun go down

on your anger and do not give the devil

a foothold it's not that being angry is

sin in of itself but if we hold on to

bitterness and hate one day after

another afternoon

the devil has a right to live there he

can get a foothold in us through that a

little later in Ephesians it said but

among you there should not be even a

hint of sexual immorality or of impurity

or of greed which is idolatry for these

are inappropriate for God's holy people

you were once darkness but now you are

light in the Lord live as children of

light the point being our daily life is

spiritual what I do the way I speak the

way I handle

my relationships my attitudes the way I

deal process life around me have

spiritual implications everything about

life is spiritual sexuality is spiritual

when there is a sexual union the two

become one

it's a spiritual union it's no accident

I believe that Mary Magdalene who worked

as a prostitute needed to have seven

demons cast out of her it's almost as if

there's a spiritual transference that's

why it's so important for our sexuality

to be consecrated to the Lord in

marriage one man one woman for life

holiness we believe that sexuality not

because sex is bad it's because sex is

so good it's so created by God that it

is ordained for that relationship our

our words our spiritual Bible says let

certain things not even be mentioned

among you you ever be in a room where

someone begins to gossip and complain

and criticize and it's like you can feel

a darkness fall on the room our words

are spiritual that's why it says speak

to one another with him songs and

spiritual songs instead of complaining

and negativity Thanksgiving be filled

with the spirit and not that negativity

money is spiritual greed is idolatry

idolatry now to the Ephesians they're

thinking Artemis

Diana offering sacrifices blood

sacrifices chickens and offering that

and bulls in and doing immorality all

kinds of it he said that's what it's

like when you love money more than you

love God the way we treat money instead

of you know that the one who was

stealing steal no longer work is

spiritual but let him work with his hand

so we can share with others work is a

spiritual thing family is spiritual the

relationships of husbands and wives and

children and parents boss an employee

that we talked about all of these things

have spiritual implications if I think I

can come to church and praise and

worship and then in some other of my

life area of my life I'm doing exactly

the opposite I'm playing games with

myself

and it's dangerous my breastplate could

have some openings cover our hearts let

the breastplate of righteousness be in

place let your feet be fitted with a

readiness that comes from the gospel of

peace can you imagine a soldier in bare

feet you know I remember I especially

appreciated this verse when there was

flooding I remember this was about 10

years ago and our basement in Dorchester

was flooded about 6 inches of water and

someone I think about 75 years ago

spilled oil in that basement and so it

wasn't just water but it was yucky water

and I remember I I couldn't find a pair

of boots anywhere in Greater Boston and

I looked everywhere I went and that was

before Amazon days when you could just

think something in the mail it to you

right and and I'm like I just need some

boots man I just need some boots and I

remember someone lent me these you know

purple polka dot boots and I didn't care

I was so happy I felt like I could

conquer the world man I got my boots I'm

gonna gonna let our feet be fitted with

the readiness that comes from the gospel

of peace we need to put on those shoes

as in athletics the right pair of

sneakers goes all the way right the

right pair of cleats well all the more

for a soldier right it has to do with

being alert being ready not letting our

guard down I think all too often and I

think we struggle with this we go

through times when we take our spiritual

shoes off we said I'm just gonna go on

vacation from God for a little while

don't get me wrong I'm a big fan of

vacation everyone needs to go please go

on vacation go to the beach go to the go

camping if you can even if you don't

have the means find a way to take a

break because you need it we need it

we're humans even God rested one day a

week right but when we're on vacation

from work or from our normal routine

we're never on vacation from God right

we can be even closer to God on that on

those down times that's called Sabbath

rest where we rest in God's presence and

you breathe deeply and renew your faith

and energy be alert don't take your

spiritual shoes off because you never

know when you have to run outside fast

keep yourself girded and ready for

service

the master comes he finds you dressed

and ready and doing what you're supposed

to do remembering always that I'm always

a missionary I'm always on a mission

I've always there's always something to

do the Bible says how beautiful on the

mountains are the feet of those who

bring good news keep the shoes on the

gospel of peace because you never know

when someone's going to boom be right

there next to you on a bus or in the

elevator or at work or at a dining room

table that needs to hear the gospel do

you have your shoes on are you ready or

you so checked out that those

opportunities come and go take up the

shield of faith it says in verse 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

now what kind of faith does this refer

to we believe as Christians that we are

saved by faith faith in God faith in

Jesus faith in the gospel that is I

believe the foundational type of faith

we need but we need to take up that

faith every day and say God I believe

not just 20 years ago when I came to the

altar and accepted you but I believe in

you today I believe in your word today

why because their fiery darts being shot

at us in the Roman times they would

shoot arrows that were on fire and they

would have shields that were apparently

doused with water whatever that would

put out the darts right what are the

darts that are flying around us they are

thoughts that the devil can Fleck shoot

into your mind now I know that sounds

silly but it's just a fact some people

ask us can God read my thoughts because

maybe if I don't say something or know

that they asked can the devil read my

thoughts

so if I don't say something he won't

know it right I hate to say this but the

devil doesn't know what you're thinking

he can even shoot thoughts into your

mind sometimes it's just a fact it's

better to just trust Jesus rather than

freak out about whether I'm saying

something so he shoots thoughts into

your mind and we need to realize that

some thoughts are not even dumb things

I'm thinking the devil put that thought

there he's whispering suggestions into

my ear now here's the question will I

listen or will I

snuff out those thoughts immediately and

say that is not of God and got to be

careful because the devil lies real

pretty right he does in the book of

Genesis we read how the devil was able

to make Eve discontent in Paradise

itself if you take a few minutes to

think about what's bothering you it's

not going to take long for the devil to

come up with a whole list of things you

can be angry about about your life about

your boss about your spouse about your

church just give it a minute and the

devil will come up with a whole list of

accusations to suggest to your mind and

we need to say that's from the devil I

rebuke that thought we need in the book

of a Corinthians talks about we take

every thought captive and make it

obedient to Christ the battleground is

in the mind that's where the battle is

going on we need to deal with our

thoughts and think this thing I'm

thinking this attitude I have is this of

God is this in line with his truth or is

it from the enemy and we need to be able

to say that is Alaia won't let myself be

brainwashed by the evil one that's why

when kids go to college you know I'm

concerned yes about the different types

of immorality that they'll face the

different temptations of different

lifestyle issues those are very

significant but an even more subtle

attack are is the worldview that will be

inculcated around them to where if you

disagree with this worldview you are a

narrow-minded bigot how can you possibly

believe in Jesus being the way to God

how narrow-minded it's those kinds of

things that's the real battle it's the

battleground to end the mind where we

need to take the shield of faith and say

I know that my redeemer lives I know in

whom I believed and I'm not ashamed of

the gospel because it is the power of

God for the salvation of everyone who

believes first the Jew then the Gentile

finally it says take up the helmet of

sell or it doesn't not quite finally but

almost finally then take the helmet of

salvation and the sword of the Spirit

which is the word of

that helmet of salvation the most basic

piece of equipment but wait a minute how

many times does a person get saved right

right you pray to accept Jesus and

you're saved once and it's done you're

saved so why do I have to take up the

helmet of salvation

I already did 20 years ago when I

accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior

look your salvation doesn't disappear

every night but your awareness of your

salvation often does right you ever

woken up and forget you're a Christian

now some people you know very religious

no no I wake and but every morning you

got to wake up and remember I'm a

Christian today I believe in God today

I'm gonna raise my hands and take up my

cross today now just because you for God

didn't mean God forgot so you were still

a Christian but I need to remember and

put my helmet on don't assume you slept

in your helmet you got to put it on and

a person without a helmet on a

battlefield is a sitting duck won't last

minutes the days are evil it's not a

time to be trying to dabble in spiritual

things without knowing Jesus that's why

getting involved in different types of

spiritism and spirituality people who

aren't Christians it's just so dangerous

tell them put on the helmet of salvation

and believe in Jesus finally it says

take up the sword of the Spirit which is

the word of God here's our offensive

weapon the sword the word Hebrews 4:12

how many people have it memorized for

the word of God is living and active

sharper than any double-edged sword

piercing to dividing soul and spirit

joints and marrow discerning the

thoughts and intentions of the heart

take that word of God

because the devil's fighting you by

shooting thoughts into your head well we

need to replace it with thoughts that

are in line with the truth of God Jesus

himself did this didn't he in the desert

he'd been fasting for 40 days guess how

Jesus felt hungry he was human folks he

was hungry the devil comes in and tempts

him with what bread the devil knows

where it itches right he knows what

you're hungry for

he's gonna offer you what you want now

is it evil to want to eat bread no

that's not evil but he's like I'll eat

bread in my way in my time I don't want

to eat your bread and Jesus said man

doesn't live by bread alone but by every

word that proceeds from the mouth of God

every time the devil came at Hope with

something if you're really the Son of

God why don't you you know throw

yourself down from the temple and he

said it is it is written you will not

put the Lord your God to the test Jesus

his answer to the devil was it is

written it is written it is written

Jesus says I'm not even going to talk to

you you just talked to the hand here

okay it is written it is written it is

written and he's saying look I'm not

even gonna argue with you devil it's

just it is written and that decides it

okay I'm gonna stay with the Bible Jesus

says this is our sword Jesus used it to

pierce the evil one and we need to

memorize some verses - if you do if

you're wondering where to start I'll

teach you one right now right now we're

gonna memorize a verse together huh how

about this one Philippians 4:13 anyone

got that one for I can do I can do all

things through Christ who strengthens me

Philippians 4:13 look we force our kids

in Awana to memorize verses right we

stuff verses into their little brains

whether they want it or not why so that

then when they're a teenager they're

going to college those verses they just

can't get away from it it's in their

head

ha we got it in there hey that's okay I

got no problem with that I'll bribe them

with whatever just get the word in there

for I can do all things through Christ

who strengthens me now when the devil

comes at you today and tempts you with

this or that the other thing I can't

make it I'm not a good I know I can do

all things through Christ who

strengthens me and I have an answer for

him I see you just get behind me

I can do all things through Christ who

strengthens me it's all about having

that sword and fighting and finally and

I'm going to pick this up again in my

final sermon on this in the future he

invites them to pray in the spirit on

all occasions with all kinds of prayers

and requests he says with this in mind

be alert and always keep on pray

for all the saints and please pray for

me so that I can be bold and that words

will be given to me and I could preach

the gospel boldly as I should prayer is

the way we open up we push back the

spiritual darkness that is blinding

people to the gospel you cannot convince

someone to become a Christian the Holy

Spirit needs to remove the veil as we

speak the words so that God opens their

heart to receive the word it's your job

just to speak the message and as we pray

God opens it up so that people can get

in there we need to be alert and be

praying for each other I thank God that

we have people in this church who are

alert who pay attention I know we have

people in church who wake up in the

middle of the night praying for

something and they text me Greg I was

praying for this that the other thing

I'm like wow how'd you do about that

it's because God spoke it to them

because they're intercessors where we're

all called to cover each other in prayer

that's like in that battle on the on the

wall you're covering your your

companions back pray for each other pray

for each other it doesn't matter how new

you are or what you're going through

pray for each other there's nothing God

can't do and that's when we pray we're

exercising our authority as people made

in the image of God to channel down I'm

sorry to use the word channel I'm not

trying to get new agey but to sort of

conduct down that power from the

heavenly dimension from the throne of

God into this earthly dimension and the

kingdom is spreading pray it works it's

not symbolic it's not just to make

ourselves feel good it makes a

difference pray pray pray pray pray

there's a war on

finally Lion of Judah just gonna want to

end with this we need to be stubborn the

world around us is darker than it ever

has been just watch the news there's

evil pressing around us in a thousand

subtle ways we need to stand firm in the

gospel or the enemy will find chinks in

our armor take our lives

seriously take our unity and our love

for one another seriously take our

attitudes and our mentality our words

our sexuality everything about us make

it spiritual and come into the light

before God

and I have good news for you if you feel

like you can't put on the armor if you

feel like you're not doing it well I do

have some good news for you there is

another who is put on the armor for you

two in the Book of Isaiah chapter 59 the

people of Israel were horribly aware of

their own sin and they said our offenses

are so many in your sight our sins

testify against us our offenses are ever

with us we acknowledge our iniquities if

that's you if you're feeling like I

don't I just know how short I fall a

little later it says that the whole

world around us has gone dark truth has

stumbled in the streets

whoever shuns evil becomes pray for

those who are evil and finally it says

in the Book of Isaiah 59 years before

Jesus it says the Lord looked and was

displeased he was appalled that there

was no one to intervene so his own arm

achieved salvation for him and his own

righteousness sustained him he who's he

talking about Jesus put on righteousness

as his breastplate and the helmet of

salvation on his head and then at the

end of it it says when the enemy comes

against us like a flood the Lord will

raise up a standard against him put on

the armor of God by putting on Jesus in

your life it's not about your perfection

it's about your genuine faith in Christ

and saying Lord your armor is going to

cover me today

cover my openings Bible says for it is

by grace we have been saved through

faith and this is not of ourselves so

that no one can boast

we're as workmanship created in Christ

Jesus for good works but it's all about

God's grace and favor for you that you

don't deserve and didn't earn but we

need to put our faith in Christ so as we

close this time I want to invite you

we're gonna pray if there's anyone here

that maybe you're not sure you've put

your faith in Jesus we're going to have

a prayer time and I'm going to invite

you to

when your heart to Jesus right where you

are and say Lord I want you in my heart

I want to be a Christian I want to be on

God's side of things so I invite you to

stand with me right now and stand

together a father we come before you as

your people Lord God and we know that

you are that commanding officer telling

us that we need to be stubborn today we

need to stand firm on the truth of the

gospel and Lord I pray in Jesus name

Lord that we would stand firm in the

evil day God that we would be unified

that we would be in the lights that

would be clothed with Christ and know

that we're blessed in the heavenly realm

with every spiritual blessing in you Oh

Lord God I thank you God for your mighty

power available to us and it doesn't

matter what is coming against us God

your power is greater to help us

overcome and I thank you that we don't

fight alone we're all together in this

Lord God and together Lord Jesus your

kingdom will come your will will be done

here on earth as it is in heaven

and so now with every I can ask everyone

to close their eyes and and just pray

quietly and I invite you just to let the

Holy Spirit minister to you right now

just everybody in a spirit of prayer and

know that God loves you he's clothing

you he's giving you the strength to

clothe yourself in that armor that you

need and if anyone here wants to accept

Jesus as your Savior maybe this is your

moment and I don't want to pressure you

or force you to do anything crazy but

just right where you are if that's a

decision that you want to make I'm gonna

invite you to raise your hand so that we

can say a prayer together god bless you

bless you yeah god bless you over there

yes god bless you anyone else

right where you are you can either stay

where you are or as they saying you can

come forward but I'm gonna invite you

and I see you right there and I say this

prayer with me okay I'm gonna say a

prayer I invite you to repeat this with

me it's going to be a prayer if that

comes from your own heart where you're

going to be accepting Jesus into your

heart as your Lord and Savior so

everyone's still praying with your eyes

closed I invite you to repeat this with

me dear God I thank you that you love me

I don't deserve it but you sent your son

for me to die on the cross for me and I

believe and I accept you Jesus in my

heart as my Lord and as my Savior come

in Holy Spirit and take over wash me

cream I am your son or your daughter and

I belong to you in Jesus name

and Holy Spirit I pray God that you

would cover this entire congregation

Lord God and all of us together Lord

would breathe in the grace of God right

now and know that whatever is going on

Lord God whatever we're dealing with

Lord Jesus you are here to forgive us

and cleanse us and to make us strong