Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Armor of God

            The letter to the Ephesians was one of if not the first major letter Paul wrote from his first imprisonment in Rome.  In it, he covers the main areas of being a Christian.  The letter is generally broken down into three sections:

1.    The Work of a Christian (Chapters 1-3)
2.    The Walk of a Christian (Chapters 4-5)
3.    The Warfare of a Christian (Chapter 6)

            Ephesus was the fourth largest city in Asia Minor.  It was a port city known for its entertainment, bath houses, the temple to Artemis, and schools of philosophy.  The people of that time were completely carnal in nature worshipping idols, sexually immoral and filled with a lust for violence.  Its from this mind set that Paul writes to the church there establishing the life of a true believer by encouraging unity, love, and peace in efforts to counter the culture and customs of the day.  In chapter six, Paul changes from using love and unity as a passive form of defense to the armor of God needed to actively defend against the true enemy of the believer.  Today, we have the same struggles as the Ephesians did in their time.  We are inundated with sexual immortality, violence, and philosophies counter to the knowledge of God in Christ.  This letter is one of the most important tools we have today in understanding how to act towards each other, to the world, and the spiritual attacks we will face as believers. 

            When it comes to the Armor of God, most Christians consider this as the only place where it is mentioned in the bible.  Paul is actually drawing, in part, from Isaiah 59:17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

            If we arent careful, we could draw from this passage that we have a right to some vengeance and God given authority to let loose on people.  We have to realize a few things.  First, we have to take the whole word of God, not building any belief on a single verse.  That being established, what does the word say about vengeance?  Its God to enact, not ours.  Second, Paul has already set the stage in which we are to do battle.  We are not at war with unbelievers, but spiritual powers that pervert truth, righteousness, faith etcThat affords us the ability to separate the sin from the sinner.  I don't know why people are shock when Non-Christians act like none Christians.  We have to realize that they dont have the truth in them.  We should have compassion for the sinner, and understand that sin is a symptom in the life of a person without a loving, personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  If you are struggling with sin, you don't need condemnation, that will only at best, cause the symptom to be dealt with at the surface.  The root will still be there and will manifest in a different symptom given time.  What we need is the cure.  A pure relationship with a pure God that will sever the root of sin at its source.  This relationship is the fix for all the problems we face today.  Its impossible for sin to exist in His presence.  We have to in His presence daily live.  With that, we begin to understand the importance of putting on the whole Armor of God.

The root of the word Artemis means the thrower of the dart or the shooter

Ephesians 6:10 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.

The word for put onin the Greek is enduo, which means (in the sense of sinking into a garment); to invest with clothing (literally or figuratively):--array, clothe (with), endue

1.    Unarmed Christian
    Ignorance - Doesnt know about the AOG.
    Arrogance - Knows, but doesn't apply it thinking they're strong effort without it.
2.    Half-Armed Christian - Picks which piece to put on, there by winning some battles, but losing in the same areas over and over.
3.    Full-Armed Christian - The strongest and most capable warrior.  Ready for anything and overcoming everything.

What does the Armor of God represent for us as believers?  There are two concepts that are different but often times lumped together by many spirit-filled believers today.  The first is:

   Power - The actually power it takes to do something.  This is seen as the Holy Spirit investing us with its power. 
   Power - The authority to carry out an act on behalf of the vesting authority.  This concept is understood in light of the armor of God.

A good example would be if you carried a gun to a school.  This act in and of itself is within your power to do.  I don't recommend it as you do not have authority to do that and it will land you in jail even if you don't have bad intentions.  Even if you were to see a bad guy and use it to stop him, you still didn't have the authority to and the police would be suspect of your motives for having a gun. 

Putting on the whole armor of God is the same concept.  Its the uniform that gives you the authority to use the power given to you for the work in which we are called to do.  Too many times we are like naked soldiers wilding swords and swinging at anything that moves, including people, thinking we have the authority to cut both believers and unbelievers down to size.  This is what Paul was completely against in the first 2/3s of Ephesians.  The context shows us that we can not be in the army of God without wearing the uniform given to us that shows our superiors and the powers of this world who we are in Christ. 

That being said, this presents us with the next thought concerning the AOG.  Whos armor is it?  Its GodsWho is God?  Jesus!  Isaiah shows us that this is Messiahs armor and Paul tells us in Romans that it is the armor of light. 

Romans 13:12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
In verse 12 is says armor of light and concludes in verse 14 saying put on the Lord Jesus Christ.  This shows us that when we put on the whole Armor of God, we are clothing ourselves in Christ.  The word says that Jesus was the light of the world.  12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

When we put on the Armor of God we become indistinguishable from Jesus to both the unbeliever and the spirits of darkness.  This is why we must pay attention to what we put on.  The enemy knows if you are identifying with Christ or this world.  We are to be crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20) and dead to sin.  We take on the same identity as everyone who names the name of Christ and has their armor on.  It is what we do today in our military.  I was in the Air Force for nine years and the first thing they did when you got to bootcamp was make you take off your civilian clothes and put on a uniform.  This became your identity to yourself and others.  It was noticeable if someone wasn't wearing their whole uniform or was mis-wearing it.  We had Training Instructors that would kindly and gently remind us with warm, loving words of what we were doing wrong and how to fix our errors in private as to not embarrass anyone found out of uniform.  This was not the case, but thankfully Gods army has a little more grace than the Air Force did.  We had whole classes devoted to how-to-wear our uniforms.  We should do the same in church today.  The first thing is to know what the pieces are, then why we have them, and finally how to wear and use them. 

Next week we will go through the parts that make up the armor of God.  The Armor of God is important to the believer today.  It shows the world and its spiritual authorities what side we are on.  It is Christs armor, allowing us to identify with Him, and makes us ready to face the attack of the enemy.  The enemies of this life are not people, but spiritual adversaries.

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