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Spiritual Warfare (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
June 17, 2021 4:00 am

Spiritual Warfare (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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June 17, 2021 4:00 am

Are you putting on the full armor of God? If not, then you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to spiritual attacks. Learn more about the protective gear that God provides for every believer, on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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Having protective gear is helpful, have it on. That's why believers need to know how to put on each piece of the spiritual armor that God provides. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg continues a message in Ephesians chapter 6 that teaches us how God equips us for spiritual battle with his entire armor. Well, we're just a week away from the celebration of Memorial Day weekend, when we give thanks and remember those who served the cause of our nation in the giving of their lives. And some of those who gave their lives were involved in the landing of the Allied forces in June of 1944—a landing which, in the history of the Second World War, ensured victory for the Allied forces.

History also records that although victory, particularly then on the Western Front, was absolutely assured, the Allied forces continued to fight the Germans all the way to Berlin until they finally surrendered on the 5th of May 1945—so that although victory was absolutely assured almost a year before, the V-Day, the final triumph and declaration, came a year later. And in many ways, that is a very helpful picture for us of what it means when we turn to a consideration of the battleground that is the experience of the genuine believer. And as we began this this morning, I'm not sure that I articulated this important point, which is why I begin with it now. And it is this, that in the cross, Christ has defeated Satan summarily.

There is no question about his defeat. But nevertheless, Christ has left us here, and the battle continues against the world and the flesh and the devil, until finally, on the day that Christ returns, we will move, as it were, from the D-Day landing to the V-Day of the triumph and victory that is then established and made clear in Jesus. I say that so that we might be very, very clear that we are operating in Jesus, then, from a position of victory.

With that said, however, we recognize, too, that we are up against, as we said this morning, stiff opposition. It is no surprise, then, that Paul moves very, very quickly in this section to the armor which has been provided for us in Christ and which we are to make sure that we put on. You will notice that this is an imperative here in verse 11, put it on.

It's not going to be put on for us. It is something that we then in turn must do. And when he mentions this in 11, and then again in verse 13, you will notice that he says, put on the whole armor of God. In other words, it's not mix and match.

It's not pick and choose. The soldiers of Christ are to make sure that they avail themselves of the provision that has been made for us in order to do battle against this most evil and powerful foe. And so, in the spirit of this morning, I want to move more swiftly than we might do later on and just notice what we're provided with here in terms of this armor. First of all, putting on the belt of truth.

We're down in verse 13. Taking up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, stand therefore having fastened on the belt of truth. Now, this belt was absolutely crucial, because other pieces attached to it—for example, the breastplate would attach to that belt. The sword would be hanging from that belt. Therefore, if you like, the belt is foundational to the armor.

And when you read the commentators, as you may choose to do, you will discover that there is a great debate that really needn't take place about whether this belt of truth is objective or whether it is subjective. In other words, are we dealing here with verse 13 of chapter 1? In him you also, when you heard the word of truth. That this word of truth, which is outside of us and objective to us—which is, of course, a reality for us, for it is by this same word of truth that, having heard it and believed it, we have been changed by it. Or is he referring to it in a subjective sense, which would be verse 25 of Ephesians 4? Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor.

My inclination is that we need not choose between them. That this belt of truth is the truth of the gospel objective to us, and the truthfulness of our relationships with one another are foundational to our engaging in the warfare. And then, with that, the breastplate of righteousness, there in verse 14. Now, again, we can see this objectively and subjectively—objectively, considering it in the terms that we have just sung.

Behold him there, the risen Lamb, my perfect, spotless righteousness. So it is objective to us that we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Therefore, the breastplate of righteousness in its objective dimension is indeed in that spirit.

Now, the subjective element is absolutely crucial as well. Because what is true objectively in that there is a righteousness which is ours in Christ, what is true objectively will then be revealed subjectively. That's why the Bible says to us, Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith, whether that public profession is then matched by a righteous life. Now, the breastplate obviously covered the chest, covered vital organs, the heart and the lungs, and a very strong reminder to us of how the completeness of the pardon of the Lord Jesus for our sins, combined with the integrity of his work within our lives in terms of our character, these two things are then, as one old commentator says, woven together in an impenetrable male, m-a-i-l, i.e., chain male, so that the objective righteousness of Christ and the subjective experience of our growing in our understanding and profession of that then is coalesced in order to provide the protection for the very center of our being. And then, along with that, in verse 15, shoes for your feet, the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Josephus, the Jewish historian, writes of how it was that Caesar's military success had a tremendous amount to do with the footwear that he provided for his troops. Apparently, he used to give them what essentially were like hobnailed boots, and they had studs in the bottom of them, allowing them, then, to make progress over long distances and with significant speed.

And so that in doing so, they would then be able to catch the enemy off guard, or they would be enabled to put themselves in a position where they could withstand the enemy. Now, you've got to imagine—I think you perhaps imagine, along with me—that Paul is not reaching for illustrative material. He didn't go to a book, you know, that said, I need an illustration about the Christian life and the battle and so on.

No, he lives in the middle of this. As he writes to Timothy, remember, he says, it is important that you would be prepared in season and out of season. When you feel like it, when you don't feel like it. Or, as Peter writes, ready in 1 Peter 3, ready with an answer for those who ask a reason for the hope you have. Well, where is that to be found? Well, it's to be found in the fact that we have been given these shoes, if you like—gospel shoes. How lovely on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news!

And in order to facilitate our ability to do that, we are kitted out at that level. And then, immediately, in verse 16, he says, in all circumstances take up the shield of faith. It's interesting, actually, how categorical he is in these things. His use of the equivalent of the little word all in all circumstances to extinguish all the flaming darts.

All circumstances, all the flaming darts. Now, what is the shield of faith? Well, the picture here is not of the little shield that you sometimes see when you watch old movies of the Roman Empire, where the fellow had, like, a little heart-shaped gizmo, and he was using a dagger. There is a word for that. That is not the word that is used here. The word that is used here is for a shield that would have been at least four feet in length and two and a half feet in width.

There was enough that you could get behind it, or you could hold it up like this, you see. And remember the corporate dimension in this. This is not being written to an individual.

This is being written to a church. So we can't have people showing up not in their uniforms. That's why when we say to one another, one for all and all for one, that's why we matter together. That's why gathering together matters.

Because as we're together, then together we can hold up this shield when the enemy warfare is coming against us, when the flaming darts are coming against us, when a brother or a sister is overwhelmed by stuff and has found that their shield has fallen on the dust of the battle, all they are longing for are two or three brothers or sisters to come around them and take their shields and protect them from further onslaughts. That's the picture that is here. It's a wonderful picture.

In the warfare of the time, the flaming arrows would have been dipped in pitch, then set alight, and because of the construction of the shield, the shield was capable of absorbing and, in turn, extinguishing these flaming darts. Now, what a wonderful picture that is. I hope you get it. And again, we've sung about it, haven't we? When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within, what do I do? I take the shield of faith. I hold up my door. What does it say on the door? It says, Christ is my perfect righteousness. When someone comes and says, You don't possibly believe that Bible, do you? I hold up the door. And on it it's inscribed, I am the way, the truth, and the life.

You see the picture? When I am buffeted by anxiety and by panic—and some of you have panic attacks, I know—when I am confronted, all of a sudden and out of the blue, with memories of sin in the past, when bad thoughts invade my mind, when doubts and fears arise, when crushing disappointment seeks to take hold of me, what do we do? We do what Paul says to do. In all circumstances, take up the shield of faith. Take it up. Take it up. Put it on.

Take it up. Here again is the importance of reminding ourselves of what is true of us. I'm not saved on account of anything done by me. I'm not saved on the basis of anything done in me.

I'm saved on the basis of what has been done for me, so that I don't look into myself then or to how well I've been doing, but I look to Christ. Because the peace which God has made through the cross of Christ does not come with an exemption from the battle. It is actually only experienced in the midst of the battle.

You get that? The peace which is ours through the cross of Christ does not come with an exemption from the battle. It is only experienced in the midst of the battle. So again I say to you, do not give much interest to those who want to suggest to you that if you really were a good and a successful Christian, you wouldn't have any notion of these battles at all. Words like doubt and disappointment and fear and rebellion and mistrust and anxiety and so on would all have been a thing of the past.

Well, you're sensible people. You can read your Bibles. You see how important it is that he comes in verse 17 and says, You'd better get your helmet on. The helmet of salvation. The helmet of salvation. What a helmet this must have been! The more I considered the armor, I realized I couldn't wear this armor.

I couldn't hold my head up. Because this helmet was made of bronze or of iron. It had a lining that was constructed by either felt or by sponge, which would lessen the weight and make it more bearable. It was so reinforced—many of them, as you've seen in movies again—had a hinged visor that closed down at the front, almost like a motorcycle helmet, and nothing short of an axe or a hammer could pierce the helmet.

Nothing short of it. The helmet of salvation. Protection for the head.

Protection for the mind. Perhaps we should think, in terms of Paul, when he writes in 1 Thessalonians, when we take this picture—1 Thessalonians 5.8. Those who sleep, sleep at night.

Those who get drunk are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. Again, when he uses that word hope, he's talking about a reality that is only experienced in part, but the ultimate reality of it still awaits us. That's why I've never really got much beyond my Sunday school class, and that great day when whichever teacher it was explained to us the three tenses of salvation. I have been saved from sin's penalty.

That is justification. I am being saved from sin's power. That is sanctification. I will be saved from sin's presence.

That is glorification. And again, I suggest to you, the vital importance of learning to talk to ourselves. Because our minds need to be transformed constantly, don't they?

Be transformed by the renewing of your minds. It is in our minds that the attacks come. That's why we're supposed to gird up the loins of our minds, as Peter puts it.

It's a kind of old-fashioned notion. But gather these thoughts under the rubric of God's power. Because it is in my mind that I'm attacked by guilt. It's in my mind that I'm attacked by doubt. It's in my mind that I'm attacked by fear.

So what are we to do? Don't leave home without the helmet. Don't get caught somewhere saying, I don't need to wear my helmet. You know, I have a scooter.

It goes very fast—about twelve miles an hour, flat out. And everyone tells me, Why? You must wear your helmet. I said, Goodness, if I fell off, I would do more damage to the tarmac than it would do to me.

No, no, they said. Put the thing on. And so I do most of the time. It would be foolish not to. So when I have on the helmet of salvation and the attack comes, I'm gonna say what the lady said to me. I resist that. I will not be overcome by this. Then we have to get theological, you see.

Then we say out loud, if we're driving in the car, Jesus saves sinners. I know that. And I have asked him to save me. I know that. And the whole shooting match is not finished yet, because I am in process. It's not yet complete. And I know that.

But one day he will complete what he has begun—the promise of Philippians 1. And I know that too. That's all part of wearing the helmet. Well, that really brings us to the end of the armor.

I know that people include the sword with the armor, but the sword is really a weapon, isn't it? And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. In other words, do what Jesus did when he was confronted in the wilderness. Do what the psalmist says we should do.

Hide God's Word in our hearts. Because here's the deal. If we don't know it, we can't use it.

If you don't know the formula in your math class, there's no way you can pull it out when the test comes. You have to know. Therefore, we have to know the Bible. There, if we're not Bible men and women, if we're not young Bible people, then we're out there with no weaponry.

You can be all kitted out with the armor, but why would you go out without your sword? I have stored up your word in my heart, says the psalmist, that I might not sin against you. I stored it up so that on the day when the evil one comes, I will be able to respond to him in the same way that Jesus responded with the Word of God to the attacks of the evil one. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

And the other part of the weaponry to which we'll come is the prayer, and praying at all times in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication—exactly what Paul has done in this letter, following the pattern of all that Jesus did in his earthly ministry. But let me end in this way. In going through this day, I found myself saying, But what about the person? And it may be you, it may be me. We come to the end of the day, and we come to the end of the day more conscious of having been defeated rather than having triumphed.

What are we to do? Well, let me encourage you to, if you're tempted to be always taking your spiritual pulse, just stop it. Okay? Getting up in the morning, I wonder if I'm alive today. Am I alive today? Am I spiritually alive today? How many chapters of the Bible have I read today? How much witnessing have I done today? Goodness, you're not even out of your bed. What's wrong with you?

Do you see how easy this is to do? What is our answer to the accuser? He accused us in the night. We awakened at three o'clock. We had a dreadful time to get back to sleep. Now it's half past six, and we must get up.

But the remnants of the accusation remain. We don't get up to take our pulse. We get up to declare, Now you take this up with the captain of my salvation. Remind yourself that you're in a war. Who said this was going to be easy? See your strength in the Lord Jesus. Identify the enemy. Put on the armor. Dig your weapons. Quick march.

That's it. In those times when we feel personally defeated, we have to remind ourselves of God's triumph. You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. We're finding out that none of us is exempt from spiritual battles. This struggle against evil will continue until Christ returns. To help you in the battle, we want to recommend a book that supplements our current study. The book is titled The Whole Armor of God, How Christ's Victory Strengthens Us for Spiritual Warfare. In each chapter of this book, you will learn how to apply each piece of God's armor for maximum protection. You'll also be encouraged as you discover how Jesus has already successfully utilized each piece of armor. Request your copy of the book today when you make a generous one-time donation through our app or online at slash donate. Today we're also excited to offer you the classic book, The Christian in Complete Armor. This famous work on spiritual warfare from the Puritan era has been treasured for generations and right now you can buy the three-volume abridged collection from Truth for Life for just $10 and the shipping is free. Now that low price is made possible because of the generous giving that comes from Truth Partners. If you have not yet joined this important group of your fellow listeners whose giving makes Truth for Life possible, we want to urge you to sign up today. It's quick, it's easy to do online at slash truth partner or you can call 888-588-7884. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening. Join us tomorrow as we discover how our friendship with God puts us at odds with a significant enemy. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-03 10:56:06 / 2023-11-03 11:04:22 / 8

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