Dressed for Success

Be strong and courageous

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10)

We do a lot to prepare ourselves for day to day living. We schedule our time, eat right, exercise, rest, and do what we can to get ready for the day ahead. We may even lay out our outfit the night before, making sure our clothes are clean, pressed, and look nice. We know that people evaluate us based on our appearance, and that how we present ourselves is important. None of these preparation will work against the strategies of the devil that Paul wrote about in Ephesians 6. What will protect in spiritual warfare and when we encounter evil?

God is our strength, and He has given us armor. This week we’ll focus on exactly what the armor of God is, but first let’s acknowledge what the armor is designed to do. God’s armor is designed to let us “stand firm against all strategies of the devil”. This passage tells us that the devil has strategies (strategies, plural, so more than one) to knock us down. Satan’s strategies weaken our faith, cause us to doubt God, break down our relationships, cause insecurity, and seek to separate us from God, our loved ones, and our true self. Satan whispers “what if…” and causes us to stumble. But God’s armor gives us strength to stand firm against all of the strategies that the devil uses to knock us down.

Just as soldiers wear protective armor when they head into battle, we wear God’s armor in the day to day battle for our soul. The devil is scheming against us, plotting his strategies to knock us down, but God’s armor protects us and keeps us standing, when we’re wearing it. We put on the armor of God when we trust Him, follow Him, and take the path He designed for us. We take off that armor, and leave ourselves completely vulnerable, when we trust ourselves, or idols (things that get between us and God).

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.(Proverbs 3:5)

There is protection in the armor of God, and there is power in the name of Jesus. The most important thing that you will decide to wear is the armor of God.

Defining the Battle Plan

2 Thes 3 3

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

The battle is not with a certain person, or even with ourselves and our weaknesses. The dispute is not centered around a specific disagreement or philosophical differences…the battle is against evil rulers of an unseen world. The battle is spiritual, and it is for our soul.

We are saved by God, and protected by His armor (which we’ll read more about tomorrow). He is our help, our strength, and our deliverer. Do you know where your help comes from? Do you know what the battle plan is? It’s simple: trust in the Lord. That’s it. Just trust in the Lord. Don’t get ahead of Him, don’t try to come up with your own strategies, simply trust in the Lord.

And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.” (2 Timothy 4:18)

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all of his bones; not one of them is broken.” (Psalm 34:19)

But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him.” (Psalm 37:39)

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.” (Psalm 121:1)

The Belt of Truth

Armor-Truth

We have identified the battle: it is with the evil one for our souls. We have identified the battle plan: Trust in the Lord. Now let’s look at our defense. Remember that God is fighting for us, and He protects us with His armor so we are able to stand firm.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. (Ephesians 6:13-14)

There are several pieces of the armor of God. Does it seem strange that Paul chooses the belt to begin his description of the armor of God? The belt…well that seems sort of unimportant. But actually we need to know a bit more about the significance of the belt to the soldiers in Paul’s time:

“The belt—known as the cingulum or balteus—played a crucial role in the effectiveness of a soldier’s armor. It was the belt that held the scabbard, without which there would be no place to put a sword. Imagine an overzealous soldier, fired up and charging out into battle—but without his belt, and consequently without a weapon!

In addition, the Nelson Study Bible says from the belt “hung strips of leather to protect the lower body.” The Matthew Henry Commentary says the belt “girds on [secures] all the other pieces of our armor.” Truth should cleave to us as a belt cleaves to our body. “[Adapted from, Bible Study Guides, United Church of Christ]

For the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.” (Proverbs 3:26)

The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:14)

Know the truth, stand for the truth, and wrap it around your waist to hold the sword of the Spirit.

The Shoes of Peace

shoes of peace

For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  (Ephesians 6:15)

Paul started describing the armor of God with the belt, and now he moves on to the shoes. Just as we wondered why Paul started off with the belt, something at first glance seemed innocuous, we might find ourselves again wondering about the shoes. But just as we needed to look at why the belt was so important to the Roman soldier, we need to do the same with the shoes.

“Imagine a fully armed soldier. He has his sword, his shield, his helmet, his breastplate and his belt…but his feet are completely bare. The picture probably seems strange, and it should! Just by thinking about it, we can tell something is missing.

But the problem goes beyond just looking odd. A shoeless soldier could run into real trouble in the heat of battle. Unless he is fighting on Astroturf, he is going to encounter some debris. It may be nothing more than twigs and pebbles, but to a bare foot that can cause serious pain—and one of the last things you want to deal with in the middle of a fight is worrying about where you step.

In short, shoes allow us to step freely and without fear while we turn our full attention to the battle at hand.” [Adapted from Bible Study Guides, United Church of God]

Wearing the right protection on our feet protects our steps. We aren’t distracted by looking where we are walking, trying to avoid this pebble and that twig. We can keep our focus on Him. The shoes of God’s Peace guard our steps, keep us upright, and energized to stay on the path. Our feet are secure ready to bring the Good News…

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7)

The shoes of Peace let us walk worthy.

The Shield of Faith, Helmet of Salvation, Sword of the Spirit

Romans 8 37

In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:16-17)

This week as we read through Ephesians 6 we identified the conflict, confirmed the battle plan, put on the belt of truth, body armor of God’s righteousness, and the shoes of peace. The shoes, belt, and armor are fastened to us. We don’t need to do anything to keep them in place, they hold their own. The next item that Paul describes, is the shield of faith. We hold the shield and use it to deflect the devil’s fiery arrows.

How did the shield work in the Roman army?

“The Roman shield—the scutum—was not the standard “medieval-esque” shield most picture in their minds upon hearing the word. It was instead a very large, slightly curved rectangular shield featuring at its center a large metal knob (called a boss).

The scutum was an impressive line of defense. Because of its sheer size (some were three and a half feet tall and almost three feet wide), soldiers were afforded a great deal of protection from enemies. Because of its slight curve, it was able to deflect attacks without transferring the full force of the assault to the man holding the shield. Because of its boss, it was able to deflect even the more vicious blows and function in a limited offensive capacity as a means of knocking an opponent backwards.” [Adapted from Bible Study Guides, United Church of God]

Paul goes on to describe the helmet of salvation. The helmet of salvation protects our minds from the devil’s assault. We are saved, we are delivered, and we are His. The helmet of salvation lets us keep our head in the game.

The fact that the helmet is related to salvation indicates that Satan’s blows are directed at the believer’s security and assurance in Christ. The two dangerous edges of Satan’s spiritual broadsword are discouragement and doubt. To discourage us he points to our failures, our sins, our unresolved problems, our poor health, or to whatever else seems negative in our lives in order to make us lose confidence in the love and care of our heavenly Father. [Adapted from Grace to you]

Paul completed his description of the armor of God with the sword of the Spirit- the word of God.

The sword is the only item listed by Paul that serves in an offensive capacity. Even if we have all the rest of the armor equipped perfectly, without our sword, we amount to little more than heavily armored moving targets.

The all-powerful sword of the living God is able to cut through every defense our enemy can raise—down to the very division of bone and marrow. When wielded by a servant of God, nothing can withstand its ability to cut straight to the core of a matter and uncover the truth. As soldiers in God’s army, it is our responsibility and duty to use His Word to discern the truth and then follow it. When God’s Word shows us something wrong in ourselves, we can use this spiritual weapon to “surgically” remove the offending thoughts and actions (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). [Adapted from Bible Study Guides, United Church of God]

Unlike all other pieces of the armor of God, which are solely defensive, the sword is uniquely suited for both defensive and offensive roles. A solid defense is invaluable, but the sword is the only way we can complete the work we have been given to do.

Clad in the armor of God we are more than conquerors.

Dressing for Success

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When we are clad in His armor we are equipped to be more than conquerors. The belt of truth, shoes of peace,  shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the spirit  allow us to stand firm against the devil’s strategies of evil.

But our dress for success doesn’t stop with the armor of God. Colossians 3:12 tells us that God loves us, He chose us, and we are to dress ourselves in “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

This verse is a great ‘perspective adjuster’. When we feel ourselves becoming punchy, cranky, frustrated, resentful, or worried we aren’t wearing the clothes that God called us to wear. You can’t simultaneously worry and be wearing patience, or harbor a grudge and wear mercy. When you wake in the morning and greet the day decide what you will put on; will it be mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience?

Having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (Revelation 21:11)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

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And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 13:14-15)

When we are wearing God’s armor we are ready to face evil in the world, and when we add tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love and peace to our ensemble. We are equipped for battle, but still reflecting the gentleness of Jesus. We are in harmony, perfectly balanced.

Colossians 13:15 wraps up our instructions with a critical directive, 3 little words…”And be thankful.” This is a directive, meaning that it requires action on our part. We choose to be thankful. It is impossible to be thankful and anxious at the same time. When we choose to be thankful we are open and ready to receive God’s peace in every way.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

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