- Lesson 1: We are at war. When we say yes to Christ, we are not joining the war. We’re merely changing sides.
- Lesson 2: God is in control – He has already defeated Satan, but a retreating enemy still has reach
- Lesson 3: When we become Christian’s
- a) we get a new identity
- b) we go through “basic training” where we learn who our commander is and that He is trustworthy
- Lesson 4: Our new identity – in Christ – is both our offence and defence
- Lesson 5: It is God’s armour not ours.
- Lesson 6: The armour of God is Christ. The Spirit moves in us enabling us to step into Christ. It is Christ who is the Righteousness One, the truth, peace, and our salvation.
When I was preparing this talk, I had an image of wind sock person—the kind we see outside car yards—lying on the ground. This is who we were: dead in our sins in need of help. Then the Holy Spirit animates and fills us with His breath of life. At this point we are alive and vibrant, but vulnerable. We’re still a nylon shell. But we are then encased in the armour of God: not metal, silicon, or Kevlar, but the victorious body of Christ.
- Defence: that which stands between us and the enemy.
- Offence: when we get off the fence and go do something about it.
The armour of God stands up against Satan’s tactics. Warren Wiersbe, in his book Strategy of Satan, identifies four: guilt, lies, suffering, and pride.
- Guilt = Satan wants to keep us where we were—in our sin. But that is not who we are. We wear Christ’s breastplate of Righteousness ie. Christ’s righteousness, or rather Christ himself.
- Lies = To defend ourselves against Satan’s lies, Paul used the analogy of a belt. The Legionnaire’s belt displayed his identification and merit badges. Christ is our new identity, and we stand on the promises of God past present and future, all fulfilled in Christ.
Today we’re looking at the other two tactics of Satan’s attack—suffering and pride—and the how the armour of God protects us.
Suffering – Strategy 3
“Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she can conquer the world.”Dolly Parton
“Give a girl the right boots and she can conquer the enemy.”Donita Bundy
It’s a bit of a mouthful and obviously not as straightforward as, “Pop your shoes on”.
Paul doesn’t specify a particular type of footwear, but rather, the need to “fit out feet”. However, I’ve called them Boots of Peace because the Roman soldier’s kit included boots. Actually, they wore half-boots, with hobnailed soles called Caliga.
So, if the good news—the gospel—we carry is “of peace”, why do we need hobnailed boots… or armour at all, for that matter?
Well, Jesus taught his disciples;
13 You will be hated by all men for My name’s sake.Mark 13:13.
He also promised insults, rejection and suffering on account of the gospel.
So, Where’s the Peace?
And how are hobnail boots going to help defend us? And what have they got to do with peace?
Paul helps us out again.
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.2 Thessalonians 3:16
Jesus is our peace
When we consider the word suffering, we may automatically think of physical suffering. We’ve looked at this aspect in our introduction of this series “the Why and What of Spiritual Warfare”, when we studied Job. But today, I’d like to also consider other aspects of suffering—fear, anxiety, stress, and other forms of distress.
In the war we’re engaged in, the enemy will use all kinds of suffering to tempt us to create distance between us and God. Not that God would ever leave and forsake us: Remember He is faithful. Satan wants us to down tools and go on strike.
But Paul exhorts us to fit our feet with readiness. Despite the circumstances—despite our fear, anxiety, and fear—we need to be ready to move.
Israel were slaves in Egypt and, through God’s interactions, had become a stench in Pharaoh’s nose. He and God were pushing at each other, and the Israelites were the meat in the middle. But finally, after four hundred years, God was fulfilling His promise and He had come to redeem Israel. On their final night they were given strict instructions. Including…
This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.Exodus 12:11
They didn’t know where they were going, only that they were on their way. Ahead of them lay three options: the…
- Highway – roads that the chariots could run them down
- Sea – where they could drown
- Desert – where they could starve
Stop here for a moment. Take a moment to think of your family. Do you have little ones, elderly, sick, people living with a disability and or mental health disorders? Imagine you were about to leave your homes, maybe loved ones who didn’t want to go. How would a move like that affect us? What turmoil would we face?
How do we… how did they, find the peace?
… “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”Psalm 46:10
Through the trials Israel had been watching and learning: who their God was and that He was faithful. They believed He would strengthen them and defend them from the evil one. He was their guide and their rear-guard. By day he led them by a pillar of smoke, by night a pillar of fire.
But they didn’t know this until they stepped out in faith into the unknown. It was then they were able to witness God fulfil His promises to them miraculously.
The good news is their God is our God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is faithful and he strengthens us and defends us from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
God allows us to suffer, but only what we can bear, because he trusts us—like He trusted Job and Moses—to stand in the battle and be faithful. And praise God, we don’t stand in bare feet, we stand in hobnail boots that not only, protect our feet as we travel, give traction over the harsh ground.
We don’t know where we’re headed but with our eyes set on him, his Word a light to our path, and the Sabbath in our hearts, we have peace because we too know: He is faithful, and he will strengthen us and defend us against the evil one.
Pride – Strategy 4
When life is good and we’re cruising along successfully—or at least not limping—we can forget who is responsible for those victories and who has granted us the peace we’ve just talked about. In fact, the easier our path is, the harder it is to stay close to God. Which is Satan’s goal.
God’s Helmet of Salvation
There is only one way we can enter the Kingdom of God and that is to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord of… everything.
And the only way we can do this is if the Holy Spirit has moved within us.
We can’t even do this on our own. We’re wholly incapable of saving ourselves. We can’t even pitch in and help.
It’s all God.
However, over time, as things improve for us, we can lose sight of the grace in which we stand. After gaining some victories, we can begin to think that we’re doing okay. Yes, we may still need a bit of help in some areas, but essentially, instead of it being “all God”, we’re “all good.” Like that horrendous add where the young man continually declares, “all good” when obviously there is nothing good going on at all.
Our Nylon Stocking Crown
Bit by bit we can be tempted to inch Christ off the throne of our lives and take up residence there ourselves, sliding His crown of salvation from our head replacing it with our own nylon-windsock-crown stating, I’m “all good.”
And Satan comes along side us and says, “Yes, yes you are”.
We can only focus on one thing at a time. When we stop looking to Our Saviour, we start looking out: comparing ourselves to others. And in all honesty, compared to some, we’re “all good.”
We not only do this as individuals, but as a church as well. For example, I have noticed the Church has a lot to say to the world about its many sins. But I also notice that Jesus spent most of his time talking to the religious institution of his time about its sin using words like “spiritual blindness” and “hard hearts”—in other words, pride.
“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.”John 12:40
Like the “all good” guy on the add, we can become blind to our greater need. And when we stand from the vantage point of “doing okay”, surveying those around us who—in our opinion—aren’t, we are in great danger.
Speaking From Experience
Remember Nebuchadnezzar? After Daniel and his mates introduced him to Yahweh, the king had a complete turnaround. But one day he slipped—he was warned, but he didn’t listen. Standing on the walls of his castle he surveyed his paper kingdom, wearing his nylon crown and declared, “Look at what I have done, what I have created. It’s all mine and it’s all good”. And then…
He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.Daniel 4:33
We forget that “doing okay” in one particular area in our lives is not what saves us, just as not “doing okay” in another area of our life is going to condemn us… or someone else.
There is only One saves.
And in Him there is no more condemnation.
This is not an excuse to sin—just a warning against judgement and pride
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”Hebrews 12:14:
To be holy is to be set apart. For us it means getting our windsock body over that jet of Holy Spirit wind and under the cover of the body of Christ. Then, when go into the world, we carry the fragrant incense of the Lord. When we’re up to our eyeballs spitting and hissing at folks about their sin, what do they see?
And definitely not the Lord.
Sin is not okay in any level or in anyone. But how are people going to even want to meet with Christ and have the opportunity to receive the transforming power of the Holy Spirit if they don’t even want to cross our path?
If we think we have any hope in the war wearing our own nylon-windsock-crown, instead of Christ’s helmet of Salvation, we’re just as enlightened as “all good guy” and Nebuchadnezzar when he was drenched with the dew from heaven.
Before we start “instructing”, or “helping” others identify their sin, as a church or individuals, Christ suggested we hop off His throne—and our soap box—and address the logs wedged in our eye. Then, when our sight is clear, our hearts are softened and we are once again secure under His helmet of salvation, we are fit for battle, like Nebuchadnezzar, and have something of substance to offer:
34 I raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honoured and glorified him who lives forever.
His dominion is an eternal dominion;Daniel 4:34-35
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”
So what’s all this got to do with Defence?
- Our Armour is not our own or of our own making = it’s All God
- Our Armour is Christ – In him alone do we stand victorious.
- Satan uses four tactics against us in warfare and God’s armour is perfectly equipped to withstand all attack.
- Convicted of guilt we stand in Christ’s righteousness – our new identity
- In the face of lies we declare God’s truth – The Word: written and in person
- Under the constraints of suffering we ready ourselves to move encased in the Boots of Peace – Christ
- When we stumble in pride we replace our wind sock crown with Christ’s Helmet of Salvation
- In truth, there is only one thing we can do under our own steam and that is to exercise our gift of free will.
- To choose either God, or Satan, the world, and sin.
- And to choose to stay close to the Father, encased in The Son, filled with the Holy Spirit, or create distance and… collapse.
It’s our choice.