Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 6. Experiencing the power of the cross . No 10:- Dead to Satan (Part 6) Shoes and Shield

. No 10:- Dead to Satan (Part 6) Shoes and Shield

 

EXPERIENCING THE POWER OF THE CROSS


DEAD TO SATAN (PART 6)

 

Well, this morning we continue with the armour of God and for time sake as this is quite a long sermon I am not going to recap anything from the weeks gone by. I will do a summary sermon at the end of this series where we tie all the ends together in one argument.

I need to remind you however that Satan is a defeated foe. Now while we know that Satan is a defeated enemy, we know that we still struggle against Him and that we must therefore put on the whole armour of God.  That is why we are able to talk about “experiencing the power of the cross, over the devil”. Just a reminder on Hebrews 2:14 (ESV) 14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,” 1 John 3:8 (ESV) says: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” Paul reminds the Christians in Rome in Romans 16:20 (ESV) “20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” At the cross Satan was rendered powerless. His abilities are completely confined and limited by the sovereign purposes of God. He is the victim, not the victor and 1 John 4:4 teaches us that greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.

I read an interesting article yesterday of a lioness that charged a little girl while tourists were out on a game drive. Fortunately the game ranger had his wits about him. He jumped in between the charging lioness and the terrified guests, looked her in the eye and shouted "Stop! Stop!" He also threw a coffee cup at her before slowly backing off. Fortunately, the lioness turned around and ran away. Now sadly this is not going to work with the devil. You are going to need a little bit more than a coffee mug and shouting “Stop!, Stop”.

We are all engaged in a conflict with the enemy of God, the enemy of Christ, the enemy of our souls and the enemy of truth, that roaring lion that goes around seeking whom he may devour. That conflict is inevitable because we who are part of the Kingdom of God, we who are the slaves of Jesus Christ, we who are the soldiers of Christ, as it were, are in enemy territory. Satan is the prince of the power of the air, the ruler of this world. He and his minions, his demons which constitute a third of the angels, run their wicked anti-God, anti-Christ, anti-truth, anti-life system through this world. As long as we are here, we are engaged in that battle. That’s why we read in verse 10 & 11: 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.”

The armour of God, it’s just another way to pull all of the components of the Christian life together in a memorable fashion, in a mental image of a soldier. We have the best outfitted army ever. We have the best Commander in Chief; we are the most powerful force that’s ever walked on the earth. But if you go out without your armour, you’re going to be vulnerable. Put it on and you can handle anything the enemy brings. So let’s look further at the armour.

In my last sermon we looked at the first two parts of the armour which was the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. So let me resist my desire to say more on that and let us march on to the next two parts of the armour.

Armour Part 3:  Shoes for your feet.

Ephesians 6:15 (ESV) 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”

Now if it comes to wearing the right shoes on the right occasion our ladies can tell us all about it. Some of them are shoe mad. I discovered the importance of proper shoes years ago. I ran a 42 km marathon from Nelspruit half way to Sabie and back. However we were a poor family and I ran the marathon with Tiger Tekkies bought from OK Bazaars. The end result was at the end of the race I had the biggest, bloodiest blisters on my heals that you could dream of. It took me weeks to recover.  Now if they are important for a lady’s night out, and if they are important for a sport event, they are even more important for hand-to-hand mortal combat.

The Romans understood that, they understood that the armour of a soldier meant nothing without proper shoes. You could be the best sword fighter, but if your feet were cut up due to the terrain or you could not climb up hills or descend properly, you could become vulnerable and die in battle. If you’re not firm on the ground, it doesn’t matter what you can do, your whole body will be immediately debilitated. Shoes are vital.

Now the Roman soldiers generally wore a very tough sandal made from very tough leather with straps holding it firmly on. And what they did was to pound nails from the inside through the bottom, very much like the studs today built onto our sport shoes and that gave the soldier the ability to stand firm in his footing as he was engaged in the fight, to run up a hill and to run down a hill without slipping and sliding.

And Paul sees a spiritual parallel to this very familiar part of a soldier’s uniform, or armour. So he says in verse 15, “having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” The feet are to be prepared. The feet are to be equipped for the battle like all the other vital parts.
Many Christians believe this text has to do with evangelism based on verses like Romans 10:15 that says: “15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Now while that is true and while it is important to go into the whole world to preach the gospel, it is different than the context in which Paul is writing here. This is not evangelism, this is war, the issue here is taking a firm stand in a battle against the devil as he assaults our lives. It’s like what we read in 1 Corinthians 16:13 (ESV) 13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” The idea here is that our feet need to be equipped to stand firmly when the attacking blows come. So what is it that allows a believer to stand firm, unflinching, never slipping, never sliding in the attack?

The answer is very simple. It is the gospel of peace. At other places it is called the gospel of Christ or the gospel of God. So what is the gospel of peace for us then? It is the good news that you have made peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The good news is that because of the saving grace that has come your way, because of the peace of God which passes all understanding that protects our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, God is not your enemy anymore, God is your strength and that is why you can stand firm with the full armour of God. The fact that you are saved means that the rest of the armour has value. Look again at the concept of standing as we read it in Ephesians 6:11, 13 & 14 (ESV) 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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,” So Paul really goes back to all of this, stand, stand, stand…. that we see in the previous verses.

So you realise today that the fact that you are redeemed by the gospel of peace is in a sense all you need to stand firm. If you have Christ you can stand against everything Satan has to bring. If you go into the battle with Satan and if you’re not sure where you stand with Christ, if you’ve got doubts, you’re very vulnerable. When people ask you if you fear Satan and if you fear hell, your answer is simply to this: I have nothing to fear, why? Because the Word of God teaches me in 2 Timothy 1:12 (ESV): “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” Christian, if you are in Christ you are invincible.  Romans 8:35-39 (ESV) says: 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It is this kind of realization that gives us the security to hold our ground. I take the Word of God at face value, I take the gospel of Jesus, the gospel of God, the gospel of peace, the gospel of my salvation at face value, and I stand firm. I stand in my security which is based on the perseverance of the saints. Jesus promised in John 6:39-40 (ESV) 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

We were all born in rebellion against God, but while we were enemies, God loved us and while we were enemies, Christ died for us, and He redeemed us through the gospel of peace. And we have made peace with God and God is on our side and all the power is ours. So stand firm in your knowledge that God and you are at peace, and that is sufficient. The forces of hell cannot take that away from you.

That brings us to the fourth part of our armour.

Armour Part 4. Shield of Faith.

Ephesians 6:16 (ESV) 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;”

Now what are we talking about? Well we’ve got to make the image clear because that helps us to understand the analogy. There were several kinds of shields that were used by the Roman army. There was a small round one and you would hold in your hand opposite to your fighting hand or sword bearing hand and it would wrap around your wrist and it would be easy to move the shield around to deflect the blows that were coming at you in the fight.

But that is not the sword that is in mind here. The word here is ‘thureon’ and it is a large shield. This shield was app. 1.2 – 1.5 meters tall and app. 70 – 80 cm wide. The design of this shield was to put it on the ground and you were able to put your entire body behind it. It was designed for full protection in the initial phases of ancient battles.

Now you know how ancient armies used to fight in a line called a phalanx? A better word today would simply be ‘formation’.  They would come like a side-winding snake across the ground shoulder to shoulder with the shields protecting the front line. There would be many rows of those and the soldiers would be able to hide behind them so they couldn’t be hit by anything flying in the air. And behind them were the archers who would be shooting their arrows over the rows and rows of shielded soldiers out front. They would move together that way across the land, as a solid line of protection until they engaged the enemy in the hand-to-hand combat when those shields are laid aside because they were useless and you would go to battle if you had another one, a smaller shield, or if not you just fight with your sword. Sometimes these advance lines were more than a km long.

Now, a soldier would continually be ready with his belt on, his shoes on and his breastplate on, always prepared for battle. The shield, the sword and the helmet they would lay down. But the moment the enemy came these were taken up, or let’s put it is Paul’s terms, when the day of evil came, they were ready to fight and to defend themselves – against what? Look at what Paul says: “all the flaming darts of the evil one”.

What they would do in those days to encounter these shields was to put pitch or tar on the tips of their arrows. This they would light before they would shoot and they would shoot these arrows into those shields and the hot flaming tar would splatter onto the enemy behind, if they were lucky. Shields at that time were made out of wood and covered with leather, and they would saturate it with an oily substance that would not burn but would extinguish a fiery arrow.

So the shield was very important as it was the front line protection. Now I believe these fiery darts that this is depicting are symbols of Satan’s multifaceted attacks. It will be his seducing temptations that he puts before you, the willingness to impurity, of lust, greed, vanity, materialism, pride, anger, impatience, covetousness and various other things. They come at us in this world system, and they come at us all the time.  Remember again Satan’s attack of Eve in the Garden of Eden. The sad fact was that she believed Satan, and gave in to sin. So, even today when you sin, who do you believe? Satan. Satan will tell you that you deserve this, you have a right to that, you should enjoy this and that you should do this as it all benefits you. You don’t need to be restrained. You don’t need to be limited. Jump in. That’s the fiery dart Christian. And we all have the remaining sin, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life and the system of Satan comes at us with a viciousness and you either say, “You know, you’re right, Satan, thank you buddy, I will do what you say” or you put up the shield of faith and shout “Stop!” “Stop!” and you throw your coffee mug at him, right? No sadly this will not work with the devil. What you do is to say: “I’m going to trust God or have faith in God that His commandments are best, that His commandments are true, that His commandments produce the greatest fulfilment, the greatest satisfaction, and the greatest joy.” If you give in to Satan, it is because you have failed to take up the shield of faith in God.

It is actually quite simple, church family. If you sin you believe the lie and you are not standing in faith, faith in God, faith in God’s Word and faith in the completed work of Christ. When you do what is right, you demonstrate your faith in God.

Look, for example, at the temptation of Christ in Matthew 4.  Satan the tempter comes to Christ. Christ hasn’t eaten in 40 days and 40 nights, He is hungry, He’s been led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of letting the devil after Him. Why? Because God wants Him to pass the test and vindicate His holiness. The tempter comes in verse 3 and says, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” Do you understand that temptation? “What kind of a deal is this? You are the Son of God, You’re hungry. That’s ridiculous. What is your Father doing to you? You are the perfect, sinless, holy, beloved Son of God, you should never want for anything. You should never lack for anything and God is somehow warped if He withholds anything from you.”

That’s the temptation for Christ in this context and for us today. Distrust God. “I am for you, Satan is saying. I don’t want you to be hungry, I want you to have what you deserve, you’re the Son of God, make some bread.” Now we all know that Jesus could make bread if He wanted to. Surely He is the same Christ who multiplied the loaves and the fish; He is the creator of the world.

“But He answered Satan and said, ‘It is written, man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” And He says, in a sense, “I will not distrust God. I feed not on bread to satisfy me, but on the Word of God, my faith is in God alone.” This is my shield, and Satan your fiery darts will not penetrate it.

Well, the Devil turns up the heat and fires more fiery arrows at Jesus. The devil takes Him in to the holy city, Jerusalem. He has Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, probably the southeast corner which had about a 120 meter drop. He said to Him, “If you’re the Son of God, throw yourself down.” Now look at Satan’s cunning. What is this? You’re the Son of God and nobody knows it. You’re the Son of God and you’re out in the wilderness and you’re hungry and nobody knows you’re the Son of God. What in the world are you doing? Why don’t you just do a jump off this precipice, come down to a soft landing and everybody will believe in you?” In other words, claim what you have a right to, claim what you think satisfies you, claim just what you want.

And then Satan fires another dart in quick succession, and this time misusing Scripture. Doesn’t the Old Testament say: “‘He will command his angels concerning you’, and “‘on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone?’” Christian Satan will use Scripture against you.

Jesus said, on the other hand, “It’s written, you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” I’m not going to do something that God has not willed for me to do and thus test Him. I’m going to trust God or show faith in God, he’ll feed me when it’s time to feed me and He’ll proclaim that I am the Messiah when it is time.”

Satan turns up the temperature further and we see the last barrage of fiery arrows. The devil takes Him to a high mountain. It starts with a simple thing, food, and then he gives Jesus a little bigger deal; convince the Jews that you’re the Messiah. Now he takes Jesus to the whole world. Matthew 4:8-9 (ESV) 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” This tells you who is in charge of the world system.

Did Jesus have a right to all the kingdoms of the world? Of course He did. Satan is saying the same thing. What kind of God have you got? Something’s wrong with God, He is flawed. You’re hungry and you’re His Son. You’re His Messiah and nobody knows it and nobody believes it. You’re supposed to be the king of the world, look at you. You have nothing. I’ll give it all to you, just fall down and worship me.

Now that’s exactly what you do when you sin. You decide Satan will be my god for this experience; Satan will be my god for this moment, his counsel actually makes a lot of senses because it serves my ego and it serves the desires of my flesh. I believe him and declare my faith in him and not in God.

But that wasn’t Jesus’ response, He said in Matthew 4:10 (ESV) 10 Be gone, Satan! For it is written: “‘you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ”

And the devil left Him and the angels came and ministered to Him.

So, you know, whenever Satan comes at us in the world system and panders to our fallen nature even though restored, it is to make us believe him instead of believing God. It is to make us think that our real satisfaction, our real happiness, our real fun and our real fulfilment is going to be found in the things he tells us to do, rather than the things God tells us to do. And when you sin, you believe Satan and succumb to his fiery arrows. And when you don’t, you believe God and you declare your faith in God. That’s why the shield that protects you from Satan is the shield of faith in God in all circumstances.

So this morning I need to ask you. Are your feet fitted with the gospel of peace? Are you at peace with God or are you still running away from God. And then I need to ask you. Is your faith in God unshakable, are you withstanding the temptations put before you by Satan, and trusting God, rather than Satan? Christian, if you do not have your feet prepared, and if you do not have the shield firmly in your hand, you are unprepared and vulnerable, and you need to pop in at the heavenly clothes store and get yourself ready for battle.

Amen.

Logos Community Church: - 19 May 2013