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February 2, 2021 7:00 am
Everyone is or the old sports, average or great defense is the best offense.
Interestingly enough, the Bible seems to agree, at least when it comes to spiritual warfare in the armor of God. In fact, five of the six pieces of armor are defensive.
Find out why that's the case, and learn how the Christian life is a lot like playing football as you listen to this broadcast of the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce.
Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly.
Spiritual battles require preparation and proper preparation begins in God's word. Let's dive into Scripture together today as Dr. Boyce challenges us to think about how prepared we really are to wield the weapons God has given us some time ago I was looking through some school catalogs and my attention was attracted to the portion of the catalog that listed the sports I was curious to see how the various sports would be classified whether there would still be boys sports girl sports in this era of women's liberation.
I found that for the most part, there are still those classes and they're also coed sports and team sports in individual sports is even that category, which in my day we used to call physical education that's for people who couldn't do anything else. There was a half-hour every day that the fat kids agonized over trying to touch their toes.
I thought as I looked at that of a conversation I had some years ago with John Nylund, who at that time was a linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles and before that had been a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys. He had his own way of looking at sports. John Nylund thought that there were really only two kinds of sports there with easy sports and everybody else did. And then there were the contact sports that men over 200 pounds participated in all I think of that now when I turn to Ephesians 6 because it would be proper decide on the basis of the imagery that Paul develops here that Christianity is a contact sport Christian life is no genteel thing that's no mere exercise class is not even spiritual exercise. The Christian life is a battle for war. According to Paul's teaching in it were to be successful in that warfare. We have to avail ourselves of the armor that God has provided to protect us against Satan's onslaughts and wireless. I was talking to John Nylund. I was thinking about the kind of football uniform. He would wear to protect him on the gridiron.
The huge handsome helmet and guards all laughed and I was thinking that even if I was wearing uniform like that made of steel.
I wouldn't go out on the field against John Nylund.
I wouldn't go into a football game against John Nylund in the tank and yet Paul says, whether we like it or not we are engaged in a great battle against the devil and we better be repaired for now, talking about our armor. He mentioned six things he talks about the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth shoes. She compares to the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Five of those six things are defensive in nature. One is offense of minutes. Those five defensive portions of the armor that we want to look at in this study is matter of the belt is interesting, strictly speaking, it wasn't part of the soldiers armor is really part of his clothing, but it was useful in warfare was used to gather up his other garments so we wouldn't trip over them and what it was tight and was made of leather was strong and when it was tightened, gave them a sense of inner strength and fortitude.
Paul is saying that that is what truth must be for the Christian is that with which we must guard ourselves up elsewhere it says burn up your minds is what Paul is thinking of here is a bit of a question as to how that matter of truth, the word truth especially should be taken.
It can be taken as a reference to the truth of God. That is, the doctrines of Christianity, and it is used that way in other places or particularly since in this case the article word. The dozen the card he could refer to what we will call truthfulness or sincerity of heart say well which of those is to be preferred. I tend to agree with John Stott at this point when he suggests that, as Paul handles the idea here is probably not necessary to choose between them. It's true that you can think of truth truthfulness in those two distinct ways in their characteristic biblical way of looking at them. They always go together when I don't discover what it really means to be truthful or trustworthy or sincere until we first encounter and appropriate the truth of God and by contrast, whatever we do come to know and understand love and live in the truth of God so that our minds are guarded about the great doctrines of the Christian faith. This inevitably spills over into our lives. What that really means.
I think if we put it in practical terms is that doctrine will express itself in action and that that's the proper order. See if we don't. First of all fill our minds with the great truths of Christianity. We don't even know how we should act. We Americans especially need to hear that because were activists we think sometimes doesn't really matter what you believe as long as you're doing something. But if you don't know what to do. You can expend your efforts in a useless or even harmful way as well is in a positive way. So you have to begin with a knowledge of Christian truth. We need to hear that. Also, because as a result of our busyness.
We tend so easily to Passover.
The only way in which we can walk along this belt of truth, and that's by a study of the word of God. The knowledge of the truth of God just do not come to us any other way was Andrew Bohn are the Scottish preacher and theologian who first suggested a scene in which a Christian arrives, said, in heaven and meet some of the authors of the biblical books Ezekiel. For example, next to him.
Malachi Amos Obadiah Christian is very excited to meet these distinguished individuals who have contributed portions of the Bible and so he begins with Ezekiel and says on Ezekiel how great it is to meet you and Ezekiel says one glad you're pleased to meet me, tell me have you read my book and Christian has to say well know as a matter of fact, I always found that rather difficult to get through.
I didn't read it. Malachi is standing there and he said well that might be understandable in the case of Ezekiel, he was always long-winded and it's a very long book by book is much shorter. If you read it, and the Christian has to confess no he hasn't read that either Malachi he says. Malachi Malachi's of the Old Testament of the New Testament and so is ignorance is exposed. You get to know those books of the Bible. How do you fill your mind with God's truth is only one way to read them study that will are all kinds helps preaching helps my case it takes years just to get through one of them so that's a that's a help. That's not an adequate way of covering the book books out discussions Bible studies open chiefly to get those books and read them and appropriate those trees for yourself.
I mention Andrew Bohn are Scotsman reminds me of another story involving Scottish preacher.
He was in a poor area of Scotland some years ago, members of his congregation. Some of them never learn to read and so one thing he did to help them was to teach a number of them to read. He visited one home for a number of months where he was teaching an elderly Scotsman to read.
He was working through easy portions of the Bible as they did so and then circumstances change.
The minister had to go away for a while and it was sometime before he came back to when he came back one of the first things he did was to visit this home again call on this Scotsman. He wasn't there, but his wife was.
So he began asked the wife how her husband was doing a seat doing all right is reading.
He asked as he has a getting through the Bible.
She said all now he's gotten out of the Bible into the newspaper long ago.
Now that is what many Christians do we get out of the Bible and all of the other things that the world is so ready to push upon our attention.
The newspapers, books, magazines, and it is sadly often the case that Christians know more about the box scores of the players in the various baseball legs or facts about the football players and football legs. More about that than they do about the Bible, the sermon on the mount. The 10 Commandments and such things we really are to be equipped for this battle, which we are up against.
Whether we like it or not we have to begin by buckling on the truth of God's word.
Secondly, Paul speaks of the breastplate of righteousness like the word truth is also to be taken in two ways. Righteousness can refer to imputed righteousness. That's to say, the righteousness of God which is reckoned to our accounts and on the basis along which were able to stand before God justified in his sight is very easy to find biblical examples of that. On the other hand, it can also refer to personal actual righteousness. What we would call personal holiness, illustrate the first and show how one really involves the other great example of this first case of imputed righteousness is in the book of Zechariah in the story involving Joshua the high priest, Joshua the conquest, but Joshua, a priest of a later day third chapter, Zechariah portrays a scene for us, in which Joshua is standing in the temple, no doubt to go about his responsibilities as priests.
He is clothed with filthy garments were told and Satan is there to accuse him because he is clothed with filthy garments. Satan undoubtedly would understand this, pointing those garments and accusing them garments represent his sin and his unrighteousness, and Satan is undoubtedly saying how can a man who is as simple as this, whose mind and heart and soul are starting is that man like that possibly stand before you and represent the people as their priest never told that Angel was also there.
Angel comes to Joshua and says take off his filthy clothes and in place of his dirty clothes he is given a rich robe and a clean turban for his head. Obviously that symbolizes the righteousness of God. You see that rich robe that clean turban are not something that Joshua acquired for himself. He wasn't capable of doing it.
It's the gift of God's salvation always is. We have their great portrait of what it means to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ.
That's the way in which were saved as Christian people. I find it significant that immediately after that. Immediately after this great scene in which Joshua was clothed with the righteousness of God himself. The angel turns to him and gives him a great charge and it has to do with personal righteousness. Angel says if you will walk in my ways.
He speaking now for God and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here always that way, you say, whenever we become Christians. It is true we are made holy in the sight of God by the righteousness of Christ that imputed righteousness is never something given apart from the work of God to begin to work out practical experiential holiness in our day by day lives. I had to choose between the two. I think I choose the second because Paul is speaking here to Christians by the very fact that there Christian slave already received the imputed righteousness of Christ Valley tells them to take the breastplate of righteousness and put it on faceted in place and I'm sure by that that he means that where to begin to live righteous, holy lives. Jesus said something that I think is pertinent here 14th chapter of John. He was speaking about Satan and he says they're the prince of this world, then he has no hold on me. I heard it said many times that although Jesus had no sin in himself that might in any way become a handle for Satan to grab hold of their certainly plenty of sin in us, we would have to say Satan comes than he has plenty of holes in us and I guess that's true. We are certainly sinners, but what I think Paul is saying here is it that need not be you and I are never going to have perfect lives. Not until we get to heaven, but we are to keep from sinning in outward ways, and as far as possible God giving us strength to keep our lives pure, so at least were to make it difficult for Satan to grab hold in this great spiritual warfare in which were engaged third item in the soldiers armor is perhaps the hardest one to get a hold of. For one thing, the phrase is a bit awkward. Paul speaks of our feet being fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. But one thing he doesn't mention the part of the uniform exactly we have to assume that he's talking about boots or sandals or some such thing. And then when he describes what he has in mind bilateral. It's difficult to tell which of these three words. The follows is to be emphasized. He speaks of readiness speaks of the gospel. He speaks of peace once the chief idea. I think the chief idea is the readiness of the gospel and that for several reasons.
For one thing, he is already talked about truth in the first instance of where to buckle on the truth. We have that the gospel is already something present in our minds. We know that we haven't. Moreover, when he links it to our feet, or to the boots of the sandals which are put upon our feet. That is something that gets us from place to place and what he must have in mind there is that as we go about our business in the world. We should be ready to make this gospel known we should find that is a very effective thing in standing against Satan.
When we hold back. We were not ready when we don't speak well. We give an opportunity to the evil one were out there in the front line. If we are making our testimony and stand clear to those with whom we work. One whom we associate then Satan is off guard and the Lord is particularly able to protect us.
I think here of the story of the battle that involved Gideon against the Midianites. You may recall from that story that Gideon was raised up of God to drive the Midianites from the land of Canaan in order to do that he raise an army of over 32,000 soldiers in his army.
I don't know what Gideon thought at that point, but I suspect he was just a little bit insecure. He must've thought well 32,000 soldiers might be enough barely enough, at least of God is with us and the good soldiers but God looked at the army of 32,000 people and he said to Gideon, Gideon, that's many to many. And Gideon said I'm sorry to hear that and that God said we have to pare the Army down while the getting how we can do that. God said just tell the ones that are afraid to go home and so with some trepidation. Gideon did that. He said now everybody who's afraid it is welcome to go home.
Imagine his dismay when 22,000 soldiers turned around and marched back to their villages was left with 10,000 men. I joke about Gideon.
He was a brave man then seriously. He probably thought at that point well 60%, not least I have 30% and that's not too bad. Maybe if they really fight hard. God is really on our side we can manage with 10,000, and then God said to him, no, you still have to many soldiers. Gideon must've said how many more can we afford to lose 50 or hundred. God said, well, look, here's what I'd like you to do you leave the ball down the waters stream near here where they can get a drink and you keep an eye on them to see what they do. I want you to distinguish between those who when they get to the water kneel down Texas and say this but presumably later armor down and bend over and take a drink. Those who don't kneel down but who stand there with her armor and their weapons in their hand merely lean over lap up the water. Take a little bit of time. I think by this time Gideon was beginning to get the idea and he was sure hoping that not very many of them would kneel down imagine his dismay when he discovered the 9700 of his tics and select troops kneeled down and later armor aside were only 300 standing and ready to fight. God said now we got the Army I want and it took those 300 and they went fell upon the Midianites by nightly utterly routed them and drove them from the land. I think I can apply that here that that's what readiness means is not a question. You see, merely of having the armor doesn't do you any good at is lying on the ground but it's armor that were ready to use.
Above all, when we talk about the gospel it's being ready as Peter says always to give an answer of the hope that is within you, with meekness and fear.
We put it this way are you kneeling or lying down on the job. Are you standing up, ready to give a word for God in every opportunity he gives you.
Paul says if you want to resist Satan well you should fit your feet without cotton readiness.
Fourth item is the shield of faith, Paul uses a special word for shield here, which is helpful in interpreting this. That's because in the Roman soldiers Arsenal are two kinds of shields was a small round shield usage and loose hand-to-hand combat. It was simply to fend off the blows of the enemy and allow them room to maneuver with a sort. That's not the kind shield.
Paul refers to the kind of shield. He refers to here was quite different with a large shield. It was about four 4 1/2 feet in length and 2 feet wide, was oblong in shape. The soldiers use these shields when they were marching along in battle array.
That is, shoulder to shoulder with the other soldiers when they did this they form what the Romans called a phalanx that is a row of soldiers they were literally protected head to toe shoulder to shoulder with the shields and when phalanx upon phalanx came upon the enemy. These work. Actually the terror of their fellows. They were frightened to death when the Romans came marching along with their shields. They carried theirs.
By the way the bag in the top of the shields as they did it, keeping steps, all I saw this last wall of interim freedom bump bump bump bump is a soldiers advanced in the battle. That's the word Paul uses a shield like that. Did a number of things it protected the soldier himself utterly, all of his body linked up with the shields of the soldiers were marching next to him to make an impenetrable wall and it was also because of the nature of the shield sufficient to quench the flaming arrows that were often shot against enemy troops by those they were fighting all says that's what your face should be. Your face should be faith in God that is able to trust him in every circumstance and furthermore this I think is able to link up with the faith of other Christians.
So you stand together so as the United Army just individually, but as the people of God, you're able to quench the arrows that Satan sends against you a space of the shield of faith. Notice that it is not the shield of the faith, I would refer to the content of the gospel, but it's the shield of faith, that is to say, trust in God in all circumstances were to have that no matter where we go matter what part of the battle were engaged final element is the helmet of salvation. This protected the head is a very important thing. I guess this could be taken in different ways. It could mean that our head that is the most vital part of our body is protected in the sense that we are saved. Men and women. Now if you really are Christians. It could mean that. But in first Thessalonians, Paul uses a similar phrase only. There he speaks of the hope of salvation, being our helmet and I think that's what he has in mind here is not so much of the fact that we are saved right now that is true and important but rather that we look to our destiny and we know this is the Christian hope that we will finally attain that destiny by the grace of God we are going to triumph. We are going to be with the Lord Jesus Christ and have a set of Lord Cromwell's soldiers, Cromwell Lord protector of England, that is, soldiers never lost in battle.
The reason they never lost is that they were Calvinists. As Cromwell himself was the reason Calvinists never lost is that they knew they were going to win.
After all, God called him to be soldiers. God placed him to fight the battle he hadn't done that, thinking that they were going to lose so they were going to when they knew their destiny wasn't so they want like a carry that over to the situation here is as if Paul is saying that in the heat of the battle, sometimes things are so confused if we could use the term almost lose your head. You don't know where you are.
You don't know how the battle is moving but what matters is not so much that you particularly yourself know how it's moving but your great command of the Lord Jesus Christ does and he's the one that is guaranteed the victory with that kind of protection you can fight on, knowing that the Lord Jesus Christ will see that eventually you win. I want to give the wrong impression there and suggest that Christians never have hard times or never stumble in this kind of battle we do.
We know that sin were discouraged were cast down.
Even the apostle Paul said at one occasion that he was sometimes tripped up by Satan's onslaughts. He said that he was hard-pressed perplexed, persecuted, struck down second Corinthians 4, but he also said you say that these momentary setbacks are never the end of the Jesus Christ our great commanders always acted even in these things to lead us on and give us victory that full text says this we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed perplexed, but not in despair persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed. Then he makes the conclusion therefore he says I guess he could've said. Therefore, Christian soldier do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal or Jesus Christ works through people who think like that to achieve spiritual victories. Spray her father, bless these studies to our hearts. We recognize that it's one thing to talk about our battles.
It's quite another thing to fight them. One thing to discuss our armor is quite another thing to put our armor on her father, give us grace to do that to so study your word that truth becomes part of our inner character, so live by that we are characterized by righteousness in your eyes.
Also in the eyes of Satan we have her feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace that were protected by faith and trust in you as the eternally trustworthy God and are hit protected by the hope of that eternal salvation which is the reward of all trust and follow you. Bless us. To that end, we pray in the name of Christ Jesus our Savior.
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