This past week at Oasis, Jared spoke on the passage in Ephesians entitled “The Whole Armor of God” in chapter six. I love this imagery that Paul is using to encourage the Church of Ephesus. Throughout the course of this book, Paul writes a series of letters challenging the people in their faiths and interactions with one another. Then, almost like the final clincher that a football coach may throw in to really get the boys rallied, he presents this imagery of battle gear. This is what it says:
“The Whole Armor of God
10Finally,(M) be strong in the Lord and in(N) the strength of his might. 11(O) Put on(P) the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against(Q) the schemes of the devil. 12For(R) we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against(S) the rulers, against the authorities, against(T) the cosmic powers over(U) this present darkness, against(V) the spiritual forces of evil(W) in the heavenly places. 13Therefore(X) take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in(Y) the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (ESV www.biblegateway.com)
In order to fight in a battle, you have to know your enemy correct? In these first few verses Paul describes that our enemy is “not flesh and blood but rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness and the spiritual forces of evil.” Wow. I don’t think you could take any form of self-defense, karate, or num chuck classes to knock out “cosmic powers” do you? No, the passages precedes into the description of what we are to put on: the armor of God.
14Stand therefore,(Z) having fastened on the belt of truth, and(AA) having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and,(AB) as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up(AC) the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all(AD) the flaming darts of(AE) the evil one; 17and take(AF) the helmet of salvation, and(AG) the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying(AH) at all times(AI) in the Spirit,(AJ) with all prayer and supplication. To that end(AK) keep alert with all perseverance, making(AL) supplication for all the saints, 19and(AM) also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth(AN) boldly to proclaim(AO) the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I(AP) am an ambassador(AQ) in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Ok. I don’t know about you, but this armor of God is pretty intense is it not? A belt of truth followed by a breastplate of righteousness? Because I’m a runner I like this next part, I would think that Paul is saying, “Make sure you have your spikes on” so you’re ready to share the gospel of peace. A shield that reflects …flaming darts? A helmet of salvation? A sword of the spirit which is technically God’s Word with never-ending prayer and supplication.
Whew. You know what really got me jazzed in this passage of scripture? The sword. (Maybe it’s because I took that Meat Science class my freshman year at SDSU and we got to work with knives :) The reason why I love the sword is because this analogy is used throughout all scripture and the other passages bring it to an even higher element of meaning particularly in Revelation 19:15
15(A) From his mouth comes a sharp sword(B) with which to strike down the nations, and(C) he will rule them with a rod of iron.(D) He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. (ESV www.biblegateway.com)
A guy has a sword coming out of his mouth---how cotton-pickin’ cool is that?! This is not just any normal guy, this is indeed our “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” This passage is the ultimate introduction for a warrior; forget the Bulls arena music, when Christ returns on His white horse with flames in his eyes, a crown on his head, a robe dipped in blood and a sword jetting from his mouth, it will be the most majestic sight one will ever witness. Oh, don’t forget the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” tattooed on his thigh—wow. Ok, so the sword. I want you to understand the significance of the sword. Obviously it’s a symbol of a fight, a battle and war. It’s sharp. In fact another passage tells us just how sharp this sword is:
12For(A) the word of God is living and(B) active,(C) sharper than any(D) two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and(E) discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (ESV www.biblegateway.com)
This is not your typical Medieval sword that let’s say Robinhood would use. This sword cuts deeper than flesh and blood. This sword reaches deep inside of your in most being and pierces into your thoughts and intentions of the heart: it’s that sharp. You may not realize it but you hold a deadly weapon in your hand when you hold the Word of God. Just like we discussed earlier, a weapon needs to match your enemy and there is not other weapon that is going to stop Satan except the Word of God. Notice the correlation between this verse and John 1:1 which states
“14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,[d] who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
See how our analogy continues to grow and permeate throughout all of scripture? This is important. The Word became flesh. Christ is the Word made into flesh. This means that the Word is not just a book that we open on Sundays; it’s not just a nice bedtime story book for your kids; it’s not just a rule book for how to live your life---it’s real and a live. The power of God’s Word is like none other. You have to realize that the power that comes from the Word is the same power that spoke light into exsistence, like in Genesis; the power of the Word is the same power that spoke to Moses in the burning bush, like in Exodus. The power of the Word is the same power that spoke through all the prophets of the Old Testament in which, I remind you, all were fulfilled (except for the return of Christ). The power of the Word is the same power that spoke through Jesus in his earthly ministry. The power of the Word is the same power that spoke and Lazarus was raised from the dead. The power of the Word is the same power that spoke the words “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” and “it is finished!” The power of the Word is the same power that spoke and Christ was raised from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God.
Now do you know why I get jazzed about what was talked about Oasis? Do you realize that God has made a power available to us like no other power here on earth? Do you realize that we have been equipped with the same weapon as our Lord Jesus Christ (well, technically, He is his own weapon—wrap your mind around that!). When He returns, He won’t even have to lift a finger—but merely speak and justice will be brought to Satan and his army? My challenge to you this week, is to take up that Sword, take up the Word of God and write what it says on your heart. It is promised to you by God that whatever trial, whatever discouraging event, whatever pain or suffering you encounter in this life, that His Word is with you. You won’t be able to defeat Satan with church. You won’t be able to defeat Satan with giving clothes to the poor and money to the needy. You won’t be able to defeat Satan by saying that your parents were good people and that you believed in God. The ONLY way to obtain this sword is through the acceptance of Jesus Christ into your life and making him Lord and Savior of your life.