Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 6. Experiencing the power of the cross . No 09:- Dead to Satan (Part 5) The belt and breastplate

. No 09:- Dead to Satan (Part 5) The belt and breastplate

 

EXPERIENCING THE POWER OF THE CROSS


DEAD TO SATAN (PART 5)

 

Ephesians 6:10-18 (ESV) 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour 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 armour 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,..”

We are still focussing on our position in the death of Christ on the cross: “when one died for all namely Jesus. Then we all died to Satan.” As we saw a few weeks ago we are dead to sin, but yet we must make dead sin. The same principles are seen in our positional death to Satan. We are dead to Satan, he has no ultimate power over us because of the completed work of Christ on the cross. However he is still our enemy and he must be resisted and he must be fought against. We are at war, if we like it or not. So for four sermons so far we have been looking at the devil, who he is, what Christ achieved against him on the cross, what we need to do with the devil, and then last week we saw how he attacks us as an introduction to putting on the whole armour of God, so that we may stand against the devil and his scheming.

Before we look at the seven parts of the armour, I need to remind you that our strength against the devil and his principalities is not in our armour, but in the Lord. Ephesians 6:10 (ESV) says: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” So while our struggles are against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, our strength is in the Lord and in the strength of His might. So outside the Lord you are doomed to loose. That is why the instruction to Paul in Acts 26 is to bring people from the power of Satan to God. As long as you are under Satan, you will face defeat after defeat, but when you turn to Christ you become victorious. The Lord’s strength is always more than sufficient in battle.

Now Logos is a new church, we are a small church, but we can be a powerful church if we do two things. Look at Revelation 3:8-9 (ESV) as we compare ourselves with the church of Philadelphia: 8 “ ‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you.” So church family, let us keep to God’s Word and let us not deny His Name and let us stand amazed to see what God can do for us, because He loves people like that. If we stand in our own strength, God removes His power and we get what our strength can do for us.

In the ultimate sense our battles against Satan are already won, as we saw what happened to Satan with the crucifixion. Still, we are in a war, a fierce and terrible war, but believe me Christian we have no fear with the Lord on our side, so let’s put on the armour and let’s fight for the glory of our God. Putting on this armour is once and for all, we wear it permanently, it is our lifelong companion.

Paul was probably chained to a Roman soldier when he penned the words. So he knew full well what the armour was and now he draws this analogy of God’s spiritual provision for us in our battle against Satan. So we must put on this armour so that we can stand firm, like a soldier who is unmovable in the face of attack. I had the privilege of visiting Pompeii that was destroyed by a volcano in A.D. 79 when Mount Vesuvius erupted. Because the city was buried so quickly by volcanic ash, the site is a well-preserved snapshot of life in a Roman city. One of the findings was that Soldiers stood on their guard and did not even run in the face of the oncoming ash. That is what you call standing firm.

So, let’s put on this armour this morning and may God give us the grace to understand it and apply it, so that we can face the enemy and be victorious over him.

Point 1. The belt of truth.

14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

When we confront the enemy you need to understand his strength. In our ten points of last week we saw that the strategy of Satan was to do one primary thing and that is to spread lies and to deceive. Now we do not have time to go back to that, but go read the notes. Satan is the father of lies, so he will lie to you all day long and in many ways. Everything that comes from his mouth is a lie, or a lie disguised as a half-truth.

So what is the first and most logical part of the armour that is needed to confront his lies? It has to do with ‘truth’. It is the belt of truth.

If you looked at a Roman soldier and how they were dressed you would notice that when he prepared for battle he put on a belt, or a sash. Roman soldier wore a tunic which was basically a dress for men. It had two holes for arms and a hole for the head. You put it on and it went down around your knees. If you were going to go to battle, you would pull your tunic together with a belt or sash. Typically they wore an undergarment so they would pull up the corners of the long hem of the tunic, and tuck it into the sash, pull it as tight as they could. You don’t want to get into hand-to-hand mortal combat with your dress blowing around, catching the bushes, getting in the way of your sword etc. You need to run fast and you are not going to do it with your tunic around your knees, so you tie it all up around your waist. They need to move with swiftness, skill and speed and had to pull in all the loose ends or they would serve the purposes of the enemy. This all speaks of preparedness, readiness and alertness. The belt or sash would also be the place to which he will attach his sword or other weapons. Now for Romans soldiers of that day the belt was also the place that they would wear their decorations which they received in battle. It’s a fitting combination of things because that’s exactly what the Apostle Paul wants us to understand, that you’re never going to win the spiritual battle unless you really get ready for it.

Peter had the same idea as Paul about the readiness of a Christian as he writes to us in 1 Peter 1:13-14 (ESV) 13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,” Some translations actually say that you must gird the loins of your mind.

Now, the belt of truth here must not be confused at this point with the Word of God as such, because later we will take up the Sword of the Spirit. The Greek word  aletheia {al-ay'-thi-a} is translated as truth, and while it will include content, it is about more than content. It is about truthfulness, integrity and dedication to the content of truth.  It is reflected in the famous story about George Washington and the cherry tree when he said: “I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet.” It is simply a character issue, an integrity issue, that in spite of other possible sins in my life, I just cannot lie, as that belongs to the father of lies. I stand for the truth on all levels.

This is an area that has sadly become okay for many Christians, and they no longer wear this belt or use it to tie up the loose ends. I visited a website this week and there are two articles with content that I am very aware of and have first-hand knowledge on, and five times in the article the author who is a pastor lies. Now none of us should be lying whether you are a pastor or not. It is going to hinder you in battle and it is going to benefit the enemy. True Christians love the truth and are ready to fight for the truth and with truth.

Church family, believe me today, that you will never win the spiritual battles unless you are seriously committed to victory. If you’re just going to flop your way through your Christian experience, you will be a consistent loser. It touches many areas of your life which all affect whether you are truthful about your faith or not. How can we call ourselves truthful in our spiritual battle and we are content with all the loose ends of our lives, content with all the little sins, content with infrequent interest in prayer, infrequent interest in worship, indifference toward great spiritual truth and  content with a small understanding of the greatness of God?  If we are content with things like these then we are an encumbered soldiers, ill prepared for the battle, ignoring truthfulness in all these areas, then get ready to be defeated. We need to pull together those loose ends Christian, or the devil is going to be victorious over us.

Paul not only teaches us about putting on the armour of God, and specifically the belt of truth, you see it in his life. 2 Corinthians 1:12 (ESV) “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” You also see it in 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 (ESV) “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”

Whether you are going to be victorious or not depends on how badly do you want to win? That’s the question. I’m convinced actually that most Christians lose the spiritual battles as they go through life because they really don’t care that much about winning. It doesn’t matter to them that much. If you’re indifferent about the spiritual battle, believe me, you’re going to lose it and you’re going to live in the doldrums and you’re going to waste the opportunity for an eternal reward for usefulness for joy and blessedness. When a believer is committed to being a soldier, you will adhere to the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 2:3-4 (ESV) 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”

When you go into the military, you are a soldier and you are nothing but a soldier. You are nothing more and you are nothing less. And that’s how it is in this spiritual struggle. You strap it on, you gird it up and you pull it together. You go to battle because that’s who you are. You are a soldier and you are engaged in a war. You are committed to obedience, committed to fight the enemy in the power of Christ. It is commitment at any cost. In the years gone by the Romanian believers would not end their prayers with ‘amen’ as we do but with the words ‘whatever it may cost’. Because they knew it could cost them their work, their families and even their lives.

Tell me my friend, how are you doing in the battle as far as truthfulness, character and integrity are concerned? Are you even fighting or are you coasting?

Point 2. The breastplate of righteousness.

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,…”

Dedication and commitment to truthfulness is vital, but it has to be backed up by righteousness. Now, I think we can all remember the pictures of the Roman soldier in battle and what the breastplate is there for. It was to a Roman soldier what the bullet proof vest is to a policeman today. The breastplate covers the most vulnerable part of the soldier’s body. Sometimes a Roman soldier had a breastplate made of leather, or very heavy linen to which were attached overlapping pieces, sometimes of iron, and sometimes of shell, or horn. But more often it was made of metal, sometimes woven chain metal which would be very, very heavy. No Roman soldier would have thought of going into battle without his vital organs protected. You can take a shot in the thigh, you can take a shot in the arm, you can take a shot in the shoulder, but you get one in your vital organs and it is all over, especially in their day and age without the medical advances we have today.

And what is the breastplate? It is righteousness. That’s what protects us from the arrows and the spears and the swords and the crushing blows of the hammers that were wielded in battle. We’re protected by righteousness in our vital areas. Now what would righteousness be? Before I define that, a lesson regarding the thinking of that time would be helpful. The ancient Jew believed that the heart was the place of your thinking, it was literally your mind – As a man thinks in his heart, so he is. The bowels were the seat of your emotions. Now these are the primary areas that Satan would attack you. Satan will pervert truth, fill our minds with worldliness, false doctrines and so we can go on. He will attack our emotions and pervert our affections, desires, morals, loyalties and goals. All he needs to do in these two areas is to stop right thinking and to stop right living, and replace it with wrong thinking and wrong living.

Now what we are not talking about is self-righteousness and also what we are not talking about is imputed righteousness that we have in Jesus Christ. Paul talks about both in Philippians 3:8-9 (ESV) 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—“

So Paul says that self-righteousness, trust in law, rituals and my own goodness will not save me. I have to stand in the righteousness of Christ. That is imputed righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” It is on the basis of imputed righteousness that I can stand before God one day, as He will see me in the completed work of His Son and in Christ I will escape eternal damnation. Self-righteousness by the way is not righteousness at all, but one of the worst forms of sin.

Imputed righteousness is however also not what is in mind here in Ephesians 6. Imputed righteousness will protect us from hell but it will not in itself protect us from the attacks of Satan. The imputed righteousness is not something we put on, but something we are clothed with. We already have that. God put that on you when you were saved. So we need a righteousness that we must put on. Our sins were put on Christ on the cross, and His righteousness was put on us because of believing the message of the cross.

There is another righteousness that you have in the Word of God and that is imparted righteousness or informed righteousness or to put it even simpler, practical righteousness. There is a life of righteous behaviour that must be worked out. Paul says in Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV) 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Imparted righteousness is the working out of imputed righteousness. So if you are a child of God then God has given you imputed righteousness at salvation but He has also gave you the Spirit of God, He has given you a new life in regeneration, and He has given you the Word of God, which now makes you both capable and responsible to work out the righteousness that has been given to you. So in a sense we can talk about imputed righteousness as our position, but now on an experiential level we must put on righteousness. Right living or Holy living is the breastplate of righteousness. You need to make sure that you are following this very clear and simple instruction. It is not hard to miss what Paul means in 2 Corinthians 7:1 (ESV)Since we have these promises, (position) beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God (experiential).”

The question today is. Is there a weakness or chink in your armour, sins, acts of disobedience, wrong attitudes etc.? If there are sins that you are not dealing with, but rather are treasuring then you are vulnerable in the battle. If you’re courting sins in your life then you are walking in life without a breastplate of righteousness. When Satan sees sin, he moves into that crack in your armour and he attacks your right there. You become vulnerable as the world system appeals to that crack in your armour. And the smallest crack can be exploited in a very fatal way, as the arrow or spear will go through their.

So Christian put on the armour. It starts with commitment and it demands righteousness. I want to close by reading you Romans 13:11-14 (ESV) 11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 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.”

Paul is simply saying, hey, look, we’re closer to the end than we’ve ever been. It’s time to wake up, it’s time to put your belt on and go to battle, and it is time to put on the breastplate. The night is almost gone. The day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. The ‘armour of light’ is another way of saying ‘put on the breastplate of righteousness', as it is putting aside the deeds of darkness and doing what is right.

What all of this means so far us simply this – behave like a Christian. Your conduct must be that which is fitting your name. That is why Paul says further, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts, don’t duck and dive in the fight, put on Christlikeness and fight if you are really a Christian.

I do not know if the following story is true. But I heard the story told of Alexander the Great who was trying soldiers who failed in the battle. They brought before him this young 16 year old boy who was fleeing before the enemy and hiding while he should have been in the battle. Alexander the great softened towards the young man as he was so youthful and a handsome young lad. He seemed to show some sympathy to the young man and asked him his name to which the young man replied ‘Alexander’. Alexander the great exploded and shouted ‘what?’ The young man jumped to attention and shouted ‘Alexander Sir’. Alexander the great grabbed hold of his tunic and again shouted ‘what is your name?’ upon which the young man shouted ‘Alexander my Lord’. Alexander the great through him to the ground and said to him ‘young man – change your name, or change your conduct, for no man goes into the battle bearing my name and fleeing before the enemy.’

Are you clothed with Christ, do you claim to have put on Christ and today He is asking you ‘what is your name?’ Christian my Lord, Christian my Jesus, Christian my God … Will we have to hear from Him? ‘Christian, either change your name, or change your conduct’. I trust the Lord give us the grace this morning to put on the belt, to put on the breastplate and to fight in a way that is worthy of the name we have received.

Amen.

Logos Community Church: - 12 May 2013