A young man had his first holiday without his parents. He knew he needed sunscreen but his mother always used to put it on for him. He smeared it roughly on his body but at the end of the day he was sunburned in all the places he had missed. He had been unaware of the danger from the sun and was not prepared to properly protect himself.
There is a spiritual reality that we cannot see. It’s not just the actions and attitudes of people, there are forces behind it. We need to be aware of the danger and protect ourselves.
In Revelation 12:17 the dragon (the devil) goes to fight against the church, and it is happening today. In Revelation 20:10 the devil is defeated. At the end of the Second World war, Germany was defeated and the war was over, but battles still went on. The devil was defeated at the cross but battles still go on. The victory is won but you will be under attack, and they will try to persuade you to change sides. ‘Devil’ means ‘deceiver’, it’s all about lies.
So, how do you mount a resistance against the attack of the devil? Put on the armour of God. It’s a well known Bible passage, Ephesians 6:10-24. I won’t print it as it’s so long, but you can look it up. Paul uses the imagery of a soldier because he’s under guard. It’s imagery that has been used before:
The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. (Is.59:15b,16,17)
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Eph.6:13)
* The belt holds everything together – hold on to the truth. Only God’s truth can set us free.
* The breastplate covers the heart – how easy it is to lose our self image. Don’t compare yourself with others.
* The shield was metre and a half long, covered in leather. It would be wet down to protect against flaming arrows. But it was most effective in the Roman shield wall. The soldiers would stand close together and overlap the shields in front and the sides. Those in the middle would raise the shields overhead. In this way the group was invulnerable. When you’re under attack, you need to keep close to others in church.
* Shoes for preparation – you need the right kind of footwear. Make sure you are prepared by studying the Scriptures and keeping close to God.
* The sword is the only offensive weapon. Sword of truth – use the word of God to challenge wrong. Canadian Mounties study real money for a long time to learn to identify counterfeits. They know what is right – the right feel, the right pattern, so they can spot it when they handle a fake. If we’re not tuned into God, how can we spot error?
[based on a sermon at Pantygwydr Baptist Church]