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Dressed For Battle - Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
September 15, 2023 1:00 am

Dressed For Battle - Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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September 15, 2023 1:00 am

Sometimes it’s best to get back to basics. For the believer, the basics are Christian character and discipline. In this message from Ephesians 6, Pastor Lutzer describes the qualities we cling to and the godly routines we persist in. Let’s consider the armor of God we’re called to wear every day.

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Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

Sometimes it's best to get back to the basics. For the believer, the basics are Christian character and Christian discipline. Those two concepts are found in a study of the armor of God in Ephesians chapter 6.

Today, final thoughts on both our defensive and offensive armor. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, we've heard 20 messages from one book of the Bible and many more could have been preached. What's your bottom line takeaway after this extensive study?

Well, Dave, the bottom line is simply this. The book of Ephesians takes us to heaven, shows us that we are already in the heavenlies, and that we have a tremendous inheritance in Jesus Christ, and then it brings us down to earth and shows us how to live the Christian life. It's a remarkable book. That's why I've entitled these 20 messages between heaven and earth, and we are making these messages available to anyone for a gift of any amount so that you can listen to them again and again. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com.

That's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thanks in advance for your generous gifts, it enables us to get the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. And now let us listen carefully as we conclude this remarkable book. It says, verse 16, in addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Now, in those days when a battle took place, they would take arrows and dip them in pitch, and then they would light the tips and then they'd shoot them.

You can see the advantage because then if the arrows landed on something that would burn, a fire would begin. And so Paul uses that imagery. He's thinking of the fact that the devil comes to us with all of these fiery arrows of doubt and unbelief and blasphemy and immorality, and he barrages us, you see, and the question is how can we ward off the fiery darts of the evil one? And the answer is to lift the shield of faith. Now, it doesn't mean the faith by which we are saved. It's important to have that faith as we shall see in a moment, but it's talking about confidence in the promises of God.

The fact that God can be believed. Promises that tell us that greater is he who is in you than those who are in the world. Promises that assure us that Satan has already been crushed, and we can accept that victory on our own. Promises that assure us that Jesus today is above all principalities and all powers and every name that is named. You see, it's those promises that give us faith. Now, in ancient times, the shields were interlocked.

They were interlocked so that if you had soldiers marching, it was like a wall that was walking, a wall that was marching. And you know, that's a wonderful reminder of the fact that we do need one another in the Christian life, don't we? Because sometimes our shield of faith is very, very weak. Sometimes it's fallen to the ground, and we need others to come along and to say, I need you today. As many of you know, I have prayer partners and we meet from time to time to pray, and yesterday morning was one of those times. And one of the prayer partners shared great, great times of disappointment and depression and real difficulty and assault. Well, my dear friend, what we need to do, and as I explained to our group, what we need to do is to uplift him in prayer. We need to stand with him in the battle because sometimes we can't do it alone. Things are so bad that we have to get on the telephone and we have to phone somebody and say, I'm being assaulted.

I can't take the attacks. And other people come to our aid and they pray for us and they stand with us and sometimes they believe with us and for us. So you have the shield of faith as one of the qualities of character, one of the lifestyles, if you please, that we live. And then you have, he says, the helmet of salvation. He says, verse 17, take the helmet of salvation, the gospel of Jesus Christ that covers our minds and preserves us from satanic attack. And we accept that gospel, that good news, and then it becomes our protection. You say, well, all these things are nice, but what do you do when you've fallen?

You said that we had to have one foot planted in the soil of Christian character and you've expounded the way in which we have to live and the attitude we have to have. But what do you do when you're down? Last Sunday during the counseling session, one of the guys who came forward said, you know, I just watched a pornographic movie last night. So here's a man who comes to church Sunday morning, having watched all that Saturday night and all of the images and all of the guilt and all of the impurity and the uncleanness comes to mind.

What do you do when you're down? The answer, of course, is you come to God with your need in openness and honesty and you confess your sins because the scripture says that he is faithful and just to forgive us. And you take your stand once again with Christ and you say that there is no reason for me to have fallen.

I know that Jesus is stronger than my temptation, but first of all, Christ comes to clean us up. He comes to give us a clear conscience. He comes to cleanse us so that we can sing again, so that our hearts are filled with joy because the guilt is gone. And we learn to be able to say to Satan, be gone, for it is written, who shall lay any charge to God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemns?

It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again and is even now on the right hand of the throne of God. We develop confidence in God's forgiveness, in his ability to restore us, to wipe the slate clean so that we can stand again. First foot has to be firmly rooted in the soil of Christian character.

But now where do you plant your other foot? Well, the answer is in the soil of Christian discipline. Christian discipline.

Look at the text. It's actually there, I think, in the middle of verse 17. All of the pieces of the armor until now have been actually defensive, that is to say, they keep you from falling. But notice, now we have an offensive weapon. It says, take the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, and pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. And then Paul says, pray for me that I might not lack courage to share the good news of the gospel. The other foot, the Christian disciplines. Notice he says, take the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. It's the word of God. The Bible says that the word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. It divides the soul and the spirit and pierces within us and shows us who we really are. You know, we can give many arguments for the truth of the word of God, but there are those who will always discount them.

They will always find some way out of the argument. But those who read it find out that the Bible has such an accurate picture of who we are in God's sight that it so accurately diagnoses our human condition that they begin to recognize that this book must be from God. And then God comes along and by his spirit shows the wonder of Jesus and people believe on him. But, but notice the word of God. We need to be disciplined in his word, reading some of it each day.

There is still nothing as wonderful and as helpful as the memorization of scripture. Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee. You remember Jesus saying to Satan, be gone for it is written. And then Christ quoted verses of scripture.

And sometimes we have to treat the devil like that. We stand on God's promises and we stand and we stand and we stand and we stand and we stand. There's a discipline of the word of God. And then also, I want you to notice there's another discipline and that is of prayer. And pray in the spirit on all occasions. We should pray continually. Doesn't mean that we're always mouthing words, but we should be conscious of fellowship with God when we're driving the car, when we're riding the L, when we're in our offices, we're aware that we are in God's presence and through Christ we are talking with him and to him and we're praying continually. Bible says pray without ceasing.

And then notice we should pray persevering Lee. It says a pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers, all kinds. Sometimes we pray and it's a short prayer. Sometimes it is intercession.

Sometimes it's praise. We just simply lean back and we begin to think of the goodness of God and the wonder of what he's done. And, and from our minds and hearts comes praise to his holy name because we recognize him to be a God who is faithful, a God who can be believed and a God who fills the emptiness of the human heart.

And so we pray persevering Lee. We pray in the spirit. That means we recognize that sometimes we don't know exactly how to pray, but we, we ask the holy spirit to guide us. We pray in faith because we quote scripture and we depend upon the promises of God, but we pray, we pray and we pray and we never give up praying.

That's the second Christian discipline. And notice how we are to do it. It says with this in mind, be alert, be alert. That's verse 18, last part, be alert because why? Because Satan is going to try to smack you. Remember this, he has made meticulous plans for your downfall. There are spirits who watch us. They know our weaknesses and therefore you should pray. If I might use the imagery with one eye open because you know that he's after you and somewhere, someplace he wants to get you to ruin your relationship with God and, and so that you might be strewn upon the wreckage of, of human emptiness and the wasteland. That's what his desire is.

He does not have good intentions towards you and you're alert because you know how deceptive he is. Sometimes he comes quoting scriptures he did to Jesus. He takes a verse out of context and says, sure, you can go ahead and do that because after all, and then he'll give you a verse that is quoted according to his liking. Sometimes he comes as a friend as Peter came to Christ and Peter said, Lord, no way are you going to go to Jerusalem and die. Now Peter speaking as a friend, but it's, it's terrible advice because if Jesus had taken Peter's suggestion, Peter would not be redeemed. If the cross had been canceled, if Easter had been canceled, Peter would have died in his sins.

He didn't know what kind of advice he was giving Jesus, but he thought it was good. Many, many years ago when my wife and I were newly married, did you notice I use too many, many, many years ago and my wife and I were, we lived in an apartment that had a mouse and the project of course for us was how do we capture the mouse? We couldn't do it directly. You know, you can't reach out your hand and catch them.

In fact, when they see you there, I remember one time he came out from under the fridge and he saw us there and he skidded around on the floor and clearly he did not have his snow tires on and he just twirled around and stood there and he was just spinning his wheels for the longest time to get back under the fridge. Question is, how do you get them? Well, what you do is you buy a trap and you put a little bit of cheese on the trap and all those other things.

Why? Because you know right well that you can't do it directly. You have to do it under a different label and because a mouse doesn't understand traps and he doesn't understand springs, he thinks he's getting cheese and that's your technique. You give him what he thinks he wants and in the end he's actually going to get what you want and then suddenly snap. Satan comes to us in so many different ways promising us what we think we want but in the end giving us what he wants.

And behind the lie is the liar and behind the trap is the trapper. You talk to people and you say, well, why is it that you didn't recognize that the course that you were taking was going to end up badly? Well, I thought I had it under control. You never have sin under control. You never have sin under control. In the end, it will control you. It will control you. In fact, if you're the servant of sin, Jesus said, you're not free because you so consistently, regularly, methodically, meticulously serve sin.

So behind the trap is the trapper. And so he says, pray with vigilance. Watch out for him because he's going to be there somewhere, somewhere. You say again, well, Pastor Luther, how do I stand?

How do I even begin this life? I'm being so demoralized because of all that I've done and I feel his, I have a letter that I was almost going to bring to you. Someone wrote to me and said, ever since I became a Christian for 10 years, I hear voices.

I'm tuned into the spirit world. I'm being tormented. Usually, what you have to do is to get rid of the thing that Satan likes in your life that gives him a complete reason to still be there and hassle you.

That's usually true. I know that out on the farm when we wanted to get rid of flies, usually it was because there was some garbage that had to be moved out. And oftentimes, what happens is there's so much garbage in our lives that the flies come. But I want you to know that the vultures, the vultures will move on once the carcass has been removed from the premises. And what we can do is to have our lives cleaned up by Christ.

Now, what I'd like to do as we conclude is to simply point out that there's a great sense of victory that we can have as we read this passage. Because remember, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, what he did is he came into this world with its cosmic conflict and he came into behind enemy lines. And when he was born in Bethlehem, he did not come with the armies of heaven.

He could have. But he decided to keep those armies of heaven and to leave them there and he came without them. He came in weakness. He came as a child and he grew up and as he grew up, it became clear that he was the Son of God and he died on a cross. And when he died on the cross, he did that so that we might not have to follow Satan's devices and end up where Satan is going to end up. And Jesus Christ's death on the cross was therefore a victory.

The Bible says that he disarmed all principalities and powers and he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Because what that means is that through faith in Christ, we are redeemed from the corruption of this age. We take our stand with the winner because if you do not put faith in Christ in the end, it will be revealed that you have backed a loser.

You've backed a loser. I speak to you today who are depressed, who are frustrated. I speak to those of you who are going through a difficult time and you say, I'd like to know a way out. You remember that painting that I told you about many years ago? It was a painting between a young man who was wrestling with the devil and they were having a chess game. And the agreement was that whoever won the chess game, that person would be superior.

The loser would have to become a servant of the winner. And the painter had painted it in such a way that the devil had just moved his queen and declared checkmate in three moves. If you're a good chess player, you know that that's possible at times, to declare checkmate in three moves. And the painter painted the pale, terrified face of the young man who clearly saw that there was no move he could make.

His doom was inevitable. But Paul Morfey, who was a great chess player, looked at the painting and he saw the combinations and he kept going over them in his mind and looking at this possibility and that possibility. And finally he shouted, young man, there's a move you can make. There's a move you can make.

The painter had overlooked a particular combination of moves whereby the young man would not be checkmated. I want you to know today that through faith in Jesus Christ, there is a move you can make. When it appeared as if Satan had won, when it appeared on the cross as if Satan said checkmate, the Son of God is on the cross, three more breaths and it's all over. Jesus was raised from the dead. Jesus came back to life and he has triumphed.

I want you to visualize a serpent that is just crushed into the dirt, the strong heel of the Son of God and there the loathsome beast writhes, having been totally defeated. You say, but he's still alive and well. Yes, he still is alive and well.

He's still working really. But the game is over. You know, just like lightning and thunder happen at the same time, but we see the lightning before we hear the thunder in the very same way we have seen Jesus die on the cross and Satan like lightning has fallen from heaven and the thunder is yet to come. It's just a moment of time.

But the sentence has been commuted. The end is inevitable, inevitable. And what you and I must do is to put faith and trust in the only one qualified to save us, to cleanse us from sin, to thwart the works of the devil. The Bible says that Jesus came to thwart, to destroy the works of the devil. And when we put our faith in him, we do that. Remember Martin Luther's famous hymn as he struggled with the doctrine of salvation and his fights with Satan. He finally said, and though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us. The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him. His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure. One little word shall fell him. And that one little word is a six-letter word.

C-H-R-I-S-T. One little word shall fell him. Feet planted in the soil of Christian character, one foot. The other foot in the soil of Christian disciplines, standing, standing for the glory of Christ. Let us pray. Father, our hearts are just so filled with praise this morning, we just burst forth as we think of the fact that Satan's power, however strong it is, is totally limited by what you allow. We thank you that moment by moment at the end of the day, Satan can only do what you allow him to do and nothing more. Therefore, Father, we thank you for your protection, we thank you for your strength, we thank you that we need not fear him, because we thank you, Father, that his end is determined by a sovereign, wonderful savior. And we pray today, Lord, that those who struggle may put on those pieces of armor. We pray, Father, that those who have been negligent in Christian discipline will know that we cannot fight without the word and prayer. And we pray today for those who do not know Christ as savior, we ask that graciously you will show them that Jesus is the deliverer and he came to die that we might belong to him forever. Father, complete the work that you've begun. Build faith in our hearts and make us a triumphant people. In Jesus' name. Amen. Well, this is Pastor Lutzer. My friend today, the strong man has been bound.

Let's plunder his house. Jesus Christ is the one who has won a victory over Satan. This ends a series of messages entitled Between Heaven and Earth. It's actually a series on the book of Ephesians. As you know, Ephesians takes us into the heavenlies, but then also enables us to know how to walk here on earth.

It's a very important book of the New Testament. We are making these messages available to you in permanent form. And we do that because you perhaps have missed some or you have friends and you know that you'd like to share these messages with them. For a gift of any amount, these messages can be yours. Hope that you have a pen or pencil handy. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

Well, because today is the last day we're making this resource available to you. Once again, go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the series of messages Between Heaven and Earth. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life.

Today Pastor Erwin Lutzer concluded Dressed for Battle, the final message in a long series called Between Heaven and Earth, taken from Ephesians. What do you do when you've made a bad call and have to live with it? Next time, don't miss a series on Making the Best of a Bad Decision. We'll learn that there is hope, even when we've really messed things up. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-29 14:50:53 / 2023-10-29 15:00:01 / 9

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