Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, Part Eight

In the last of my eight posts on Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, we will focus on Paul’s encouragement to put on the full armor of God:

[10] Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. [11] Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. [12] For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. [13] Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. [14] Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, [15] and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. [16] In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; [17] and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, [18] praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, [19] and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, [20] for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:10-20, ESV)

I have mentioned this many times in this series, that Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians while he was in prison. So armor was part of his everyday life. Every day he would watch the soldiers who were guarding him put on their armor to protect themselves from possible attacks from the prisoners. No doubt there were some soldiers who were a little over-confident and resisted putting on the armor. Hopefully the commanders or other soldiers would convince them to put it on.

As a prisoner, he would not have any armor. He would be reminded every day that, in the eyes of the authorities, he had nothing to protect. His life was not worth protecting. He would be lucky if he had anything to wear at all.

Before we look at the specific pieces of our Christian armor it’s best to remind ourselves that we have something to protect. We have the Gospel. It is a treasure that is worth protecting. It is our greatest treasure.

In chapter one of this letter, Paul states that “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:3, ESV) We have it all in Christ.

The reason we need the armor is because the spiritual enemies that Paul is talking about in this text are desperately trying to destroy this treasure. They want to convince us that we don’t have what the Gospel says we have. That we are worthless and that God couldn’t possibly love us. That we are like prisoners, as Paul was when he wrote this letter, who have nothing worth protecting.

The rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places are trying to destroy the conviction that we are precious in God’s sight and have all the treasure of heaven.

So when Paul is saying, “put on your Christian armor,” he is basically saying that we have a very valuable treasure to protect. If we didn’t have a treasure and if we didn’t have enemies trying to steal it from us, we would not need any armor.

My dear friends, if there is one thing I would have you believe it is this; that in Christ you have a treasure that is worth protecting with the very best armor.

The armor is there, the only question is if we will put it on. Are we going to be like those soldiers who resisted putting on their armor, thinking we can get by without it, or are we going to put on the armor that God provides us because he knows we need it?

Let’s now go through the various pieces of armor in light of the treasures we possess. We will do so from the perspective of each piece of armor that Paul mentions as being part of the treasure we have that is worth protecting.

First, Paul says put on the belt of truth. In the Gospel we have truth that is worth protecting. Jesus says in John 8 that if we continue in his Word we are truly his disciples and we will know the truth and the truth will set us free.

Next, Paul says put on breastplate of righteousness. In Christ we have and possess a righteousness that is worth protecting. It is a righteousness that is so perfect that it will enable us sinners to stand in the very presence of God on Judgment Day.

Our feet are to be shod with the readiness given by the Gospel of peace. Paul probably witnessed the soldiers who were guarding him doing their training so they would be ready for any attack. You can overpower a stronger enemy if you can catch them by surprise. Because of the Gospel we are ready for everything.

Take up the shield of faith, Paul says. We have a faith that is worth protecting. We know that because Satan is willing to launch flaming darts to destroy it.

Put on the helmet of salvation. We have a salvation that is worth protecting. The head is the most important part of the body as is the gift of salvation that is ours in Christ.

The sword of the Spirit, the word of God, is the only weapon that Paul mentions. Prayer goes with it. We pray to understand the Word and we pray to know how to use it properly. Later Paul asks the Ephesians to pray for him that words may be given to him to open his mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel.

Paul knew the Word of God through and through. His prayer was not to know the Word of God more, his prayer was to know how to speak it boldly.

This weapon is also a reminder to us that yes, we have a treasure to protect but we also have a treasure to share. Our prayer always should be that God would get us to open our mouths to proclaim boldly the mystery of the Gospel.

The word mystery is important too, because it reminds us that we don’t do the convincing. What we proclaim is a mystery to us. It can only be understood through the Holy Spirit. We can’t get anyone to understand it because we ourselves don’t understand it.

Why do we lock the doors of our houses and cars and lock up our online accounts with passwords? It’s because we have something to protect. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been freely given to us and is a treasure that is worth protecting with the best armor available; the armor of God.

 

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