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Author:Rev. Fred Folkerts
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Congregation:Listowel United Reformed Church
 Listowel, Ontario
 
Title:Stand firm therefore in your spiritual warfare.
Text:Ephesians 6:14 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Spiritual Warfare
 
Added:2003-11-29
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Sermon Text: Ephesians 6:14 (NKJV)
Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-20
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Fred Folkerts, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Theme: Stand firm therefore in your spiritual warfare.

1. Having girded your waist with truth.

2. Having put on the breastplate of righteousness.

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ:

As a youngster playing hockey I recall my coach telling our team to stand up to the other team, stand our ground against them: He would say, ""don''t let them push you around... play your positions and control the ice in your zone."" Stand your ground there - hold your positions.

That''s how it is in all team sports, this is how it is on the battlefield. The apostle Paul on various occasions used examples from the sports arena to teach of the spiritual training and determination and strength we are to have - like a boxer who does not beat the air aimlessly, or the athlete who must train hard and compete according to the rules if he is to win the race and obtain the prize.

And thus the need to discipline the body - these examples he used to teach us to discipline body and soul to be spiritually equipped and strong for our Christian warfare. In Eph. 6 Paul uses the Roman soldier and his battle dress to teach us about our spiritual armament so necessary to be victorious. For there are battles to be fought and a war to win - to be sure we fight only in the strength of the Lord, He is our Captain and power, yet we must do the fighting; we fight not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this age, the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places, the devil himself. Our theme: Stand firm therefore in your spiritual warfare.

These words come to us by way of a command from the Lord: Our text: ""Stand ______.""

This is not an option, but a necessity. A divine command from the apostle''s mouth. Stand therefore: The words imply a resolute determination, an immovable stance against the wiles of the devil, a steadfast conviction. You as Christian warriors, take your stand against the foe; keep to your position so that you do not give ground to him in the evil day - evil days will come and keep coming, but your posture is constant vigilance. We cannot let our guard down. How do we maintain such a spiritual battle-ready posture?

Paul now goes to the specifics of the armament the Lord has prepared for us. He commanded us v. 10 ""to be strong in the Lord in the power of His might and to put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."" How now do we ""stand?"" Well only by having done something prior, past action - having girded your waste with truth, and secondly, having put on the breastplate of righteousness.

First, you stand by having girded yourself waist with truth.

Around the waste the Roman soldier wore a fairly hefty belt or girdle. That he strapped around his midsection - he girded himself, he belted himself if you will with this importance piece of equipment. It was the first piece he put on to prepare for battle. By means of it he tightened his tunic around him so that no loose clothing would hinder his movements. And thus the expression in Scripture - to gird oneself - to make oneself ready to work or run or to fight. David says in 2 Sam. 22:40: ""The Lord has girded me with strength"" or Luke 12:35 Jesus describes faithful servants awaiting their master''s return: ""Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning.""

This belt around the waste of the Roman soldier was crucial. The bottom of his breastplate was attached to it; the scabbard that held his sword was fastened to it. This belt kept everything tight and in place to facilitate the best possible movement. Now Paul says: ""Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.."" If we have not done this to ourselves earlier we won''t be able to make our stand against the scheming unsuspecting attacks of the evil one, just as a soldier not dressed with belt and sword suddenly finding the enemy upon him cannot stand against him. The onus is on us to gird ourselves with the belt of truth - this is the first part of our spiritual armour we must put in order to make our stand. Belt yourselves with this truth. Make it surround you and uphold you.

What is this truth that Paul speaks of? Does it lie naturally in us? Well, no, remember we are dealing with the spiritual armour of God, that He gives that we are to put on. It is the truth which is grounded in God Himself, ""a knowledge and belief of the truth as it is in Jesus Christ."" Paul says to the Ephesians in 4:21 that they have heard of Christ and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus Christ."" This objective truth is what we are to be girded with - it is to be living in our hearts as deep convictions of our inner being, arising if you will from our bowels. Remember this belt is wrapped around our waist or loins. Gird yourself with truth in order to stand against the scheming devil and all his hosts. Charles Hodge says: ""This is the first and indispensable qualification for a Christian soldier. To enter on this spiritual conflict ignorant or doubting would be to enter battle blind and lame.""

This is the first piece of armour we are to put on. This is the beginning or foundation of our armour - this ties or holds all the pieces of armour together. Without it we are lost. If we are not convinced of the truth as it is in Christ how can we stand against the devil? James says ""he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind."" But with the truth wrapped around us proceeding as deep convictions from our inner being we have confidence and certainty that we will be able to ward off the devil; it gives us the freedom of action and determination to fight against him. It gives us the confidence to be able to answer the J. W. who comes knocking at your door. It would give us the conviction and determination to say no to the pervasive pressure you face young people to engage in pre-marital sex. Just as the soldier with his belt on had his tunic tightly wrapped with sword in place had unhindered mobility to fight and take his stand, so also you and me when girded with the truth about our waist to stand against falsehood and immorality.

Have you girded yourself with the truth so that when the evil day comes, when the temptations are strong to compromise your Christian beliefs and practice, you will be able to withstand him? Or might there be some deceit or hypocrisy in your hearts? Outwardly you practice what other believers are doing, regular church attendance for example, yet inwardly you are not convinced of it all - you are not persuaded that Christ alone is your only hope and your chief delight. Then you have not yet girded your waist with truth. How vulnerable you then are to Satan''s attacks. Or you are not convinced that Christ is the only answer to the deepest longings of the human heart, filling our deepest need which is reconciliation with a holy God on account of our sin. But that human reason or popular psychology or even other religions might have their place too in this quest for peace and contentment with God. Then you are not girding your waist with truth as you must and you will not be able to stand the schemings of Satan. Our age of relativism where nothing is said to be absolutely true or absolutely wrong is so opposed to this command of girding ourselves with the truth. In an age where there are no absolutes, no ultimates, where public opinion determines what is good and political might makes right, we must gird ourselves with the truth - be fully convinced in our own minds from God''s Word for behind the spirit of our age lies the evil one, the spiritual hosts and powers of darkness, of wickedness.

Remember we are to stand therefore, stand firm - stand firm on what, stand firm in what?

In the truth of God fully revealed, fully inscribed in His word and fully embodied in Jesus Christ. Jesus said to His disciples: ""you shall know the truth says Jesus, and the truth shall make you free."" That''s what we put on, that where we stand brothers and sisters. Otherwise we falter and fall and will be destroyed by the evil one. But keeping standing therefore, keeping standing having also put on the breastplate of righteousness.

The breastplate was a most vital piece of armour - it protected all the vital organs, most notably the heart. The breastplate was of two pieces - the front covering the chest, the back covering the soldiers back. It covered him from his neck down to his thighs. It was defensive protection. It kept the enemy from thrusting his sword into his belly or chest cavity, or stabbing him in the back. Something akin to bullet proof vests that police wear. But this breastplate is the breastplate of righteousness. Paul says: ""having put on the breastplate of righteousness."" We must put it on, it must be in place to protect our hearts otherwise we cannot stand against the devil.

Its God''s armour given to you for that purpose. But what kind of righteousness is it? Could it be our righteousness? Our own integrity or moral rectitude? No, that would never do. That would be our own armour but we are commanded to put on the whole armour of God. And so its the righteousness that we have only by faith in Jesus Christ. That is our only protection against the accusations and attacks of the devil. In Phil. 3:9 Paul says he desired not to have his own righteousness but the righteousness which is of God by faith in Jesus Christ. He counted everything in himself as loss and rubbish compared with the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ His Lord.

For congregation, does not our own conscience often accuse us? Do not often our own sinful desires and feelings reveal our depraved hearts? If others could read and know our thoughts how shameful we would appear before them. And the temptations of the mind that we succumb too, all our secret sins - how then could we ever claim any righteousness of ourselves as the defence to withstand the devil''s onslaught? Would not the devil''s accusations then rightly hit their mark against us - ""you sinful man, you sinful woman, look at your hearts, outwardly you can look so good, but on the inside there is another side to you - yes the devil is well aware of our fallen corrupt human nature and he uses it to serve his purpose to destroy us if he could. Its fertile ground for him to sow seeds of doubt and rebellion in our hearts against God. And without this breastplate of the righteousness of Christ he could so easily thrust his sword of temptation and deceit and wickedness into us and destroy us. But in Christ we are safe brothers and sisters; with His perfect obedience and perfect suffering imputed to us by faith our standing with God is one of perfect righteousness - for Christ by His obedience fulfills all the demands of the law for us, and by His suffering has endured the wrath of God for us - so that our sin and guilt and punished is removed from us. And furthermore by this faith we too are raised to a newness of life by the Spirit, for as Christ was crucified so also our old nature was crucified with Him (Rom. 6:6) that we may begin to live a new, a righteous, a holy life, remade after the image of Christ - bearing His righteousness and living righteously.

And thus no longer under Satan''s control and power that would destroy us. Indeed those who are in Christ truly he cannot touch nor condemn. They are God''s own forever. This is our breastplate - our only sure defence against Satan. Its true righteousness, imputed to us by faith, yet we must also put it on - believe it, take it as a gift of God, live in it; it demands our conscience faith - dress yourself up in this righteousness of Christ, that it will mark you, radiate from you, set you apart as holy from the unbelieving world. Is that what you want? Its surely what you need, to make your stand.

And give you the spiritual strength and make you bold and determined and give you confidence - confidence in the Lord who saved you and made you holy - now you can stand against the schemings of the devil and know you won''t be defeated. But if we would try enter this warfare hesitantly and uncertain of these realities we are already defeated. We can only begin from the position of true spiritual strength - how can we stand our ground and not be pushed around by the devil''s lies and powers unless we begin with having put on the breastplate of righteousness which is hinged to the belt of truth girded about our waist.

Put on this spiritual armour congregation with your mind, with your will, desires and from it will flourish your righteousness character and holy manner and determination. Isn''t holy obedient living the best offence against the devil''s seductions? When we wilfully disobey the Lord or neglect His commands which are so good for us, don''t we play right into the devil''s hands? Yes we do! Then we''ve cast aside our armour. Have you put on these first pieces of God''s armour or are they laying on the side unused? God gave us this armour on account of the fierceness of the battle that rages around us - the spiritual hosts of wickedness besieging the kingdom of God. The devil would have us think there is no battle at all. Are you fully aware of it? Are you sincerely desirous to fight it - of being on the Lord''s side?

In our own hearts is the tendency to simply join in with the world under is sway of the evil one. Oh, isn''t being grounded in God''s truth the only foundation against the devil''s subtle scheming power? Isn''t being informed about these things and convinced of them the sure away to escape his clutches? Then put on this divine armour of the breastplate of righteousness and the belt of truth so that you will not slide and cave in, but stand firm, stand victorious against wiles of the devil.

Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Fred Folkerts, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Fred Folkerts

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