This message was part of the ‘Who needs Jesus?’ series, preached at Christ Church Manchester’s church in Fallowfield in autumn 2019. The full series included the following sermons:
This sermon was based on Ephesians 6:10-20.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor 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 armor 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, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
The Belt of Truth
- The primary thing about the Christian message is that it is true. It isn’t true because it works; it works because it’s true. We need to never give up on the amazing, sheer truth of the gospel. It’s like a belt that holds everything else together and in place.
- Paul uses the imagery of a belt to remind us that the Bible (the inspired word of God) is true, it’s what holds everything together.
- Truth must be bound around us, core to our armour, otherwise, we won’t be able to carry with us the sword of the Spirit.
The Breastplate of Righteousness
- We are to wear justice and righteousness. This isn’t just ‘virtue’, it’s the fact that the one true God is the one true judge, and he intends to restore the whole world.
- The righteousness God gives us protects us from death. We will all die, but the promise of living for Jesus means that death is not the end. The cross has made us right before God and so nothing can separate us from our saviour. We have all of eternity to look forward to!
- If we choose to not wear our breastplate of righteousness we’re forgetting what it means to be saved, we’ve left behind our true identity.
Gospel of Peace Shoes
- Nothing annoys the enemy more than believers showing evidence of the creator’s sovereign power. We must recognise that these attacks are coming and learn how to put on the armour which God gives us.
- Paul not only wrote about the armour of God, he also wore it. He found protection and strength in the knowledge of what God’s gospel meant for him and for the others he shared that good news with.
- Running into battle without shoes is a bad idea. Unless you’re fighting in a soft play area, I don’t think barefoot will cut it. Shoes allow us to step freely and without fear while we turn our full attention to the battle at hand. When we truly take comfort in the good news promised by God, there is nothing outside of ourselves that can trouble our hearts or give us reason to be afraid. Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33), and so we have nothing to fear from it.
Shield of Faith
- While a physical shield protects us physically, faith can protect our spiritual lives even in the middle of tough times.
Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith involves a huge element of trust. We can examine the evidence and see that God has proven Himself to be unchanging and consistent. We must firmly believe that He will fulfill His promises to us and hold up our shield of faith.
Helmet of Salvation
- In battle the Roman soldiers would have been dodging arrows. We too dodge arrows; doubt, temptation, arrogance and pride. Paul tells us to ‘take the helmet of salvation’. Salvation means we have been made right with God and we belong to the family of the risen Jesus.
It’s incredible to think that the absence or presence of a helmet can make so much of a difference. One of the pieces of our spiritual armour is the helmet of salvation and a helmet is not a piece of equipment to be underestimated.
With this helmet we can have the same confidence that Paul did that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). No matter what trials we face, we know that at the end of it all waits God’s Kingdom and an eternity of His perfect reign—and what could be better than that?
Sword of the Spirit
- It’s interesting to note that the Bible refers to a double-edged sword. The word of God is like a sword that has two edges, cutting both ways. Jesus strikes the world with his words, with a mouth like a sharp sword. Because we are in Jesus, what is true of him is true of us. So, our words are powerful against the attack of the enemy.
The sword of God is the only way we can complete the work we have been given to do – to see the name of Jesus lifted high.
Jesus used God’s word to counter the enemy’s attacks. We must also learn to live “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).