Introduction

This week’s Sunday School lesson begins the third and final unit of lessons for this quarter.  This unit of lessons is titled:  Lives Worthy of Christ.  This week’s lesson takes a look at spiritual living. Believers are encouraged to put on the whole armor of God. Something that we must come to understand about life is that all is not as it appears to be.

What do I mean by that statement?  While we walk in the flesh as physical beings, our true identity is not a physical one.  When God created mankind, He formed our bodies and then breathed into mankind the “breath of life” . After breathing the breath of life into mankind, we became a living soul (Gen. 2:7). 

A Spiritual Battle

Something I have come to realize as a pastor is how ignorant many of us are to our spiritual reality.

There is a spiritual battle that is taking place this very moment.  This battle began a long time ago when Satan, a fallen angel, believed he could be a better god than God (Is. 14:12-15).  In his pride, the devil waged war in heaven against God before he was cast out of heaven (Rev. 12:7-10).

Since that time, God created mankind to dwell with Him in His image and glory (Gen. 1:26-27).  Seeing this desire of God, the devil moved against God. How did he do this? He began by deceiving Eve in the garden (Gen. 2:16-7; 3:1-7). 

To lift mankind up from sin, God gave the world His only begotten Son.  Jesus defeated sin and the devil to give mankind the opportunity to reclaim its glory. Though he was defeated, Satan still wages war against God by attacking mankind.

We don’t wrestle flesh and blood

While the battle has already been fought and won, the devil still wages war against God today.  The devil still tries to attack God by attacking us.  For this very reason, Paul said to those in the church of Ephesus, “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (v.10).”  

Because we face the wiles of the devil, we are to put on the whole armor on God to stand against them (v.11).  What are the wiles of the devil?  Wile:  a trick or stratagem intended to ensnare or deceive.  The devil is a very cunning deceiver as shown in his tempting of Christ. You must be prepared for the devil to attack using attacks of the flesh, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

Most times we feel our enemies are those we can see in the flesh. However, Paul pointed out that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. What do we wrestle against? We face principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (v.12).  Sin – wickedness, deception, and temptation – is everywhere.

The goal of the devil is for all to fall to sin and remain in sin.  The desire of God is for all to obtain life— everlasting life.  For all of us who live by faith, our goal should also be that all obtain everlasting life.  So, we should encourage as Paul encouraged, “take up the whole armor of God”.  When you put on the whole armor of God, you will be able to withstand the sin that surrounds us.

The Armor of God

Because we are part of a spiritual war, let us understand that the armor of God is spiritual armor.  The armor of God is to cover every aspect of our soul.

Girded by the divine truth

Paul tells believers to put on the breastplate of righteousness.  The breastplate, Paul states, is held up around the waist by the belt of truth.  

The righteousness of the breastplate is God’s righteousness and not self righteousness. Many people believe they’re righteous but they have not obtained God’s righteousness. Self righteousness is the armor of a fool and will do nothing against the wiles of the devil.  In fact, the devil looks at the breastplate of self righteousness and pats it with a smile on his face.

In order for one to gain the righteousness of God, one must live by His truth. This means that God’s truth must reside within you. When you live by God’s truth, His truth will guide and never fail you. God’s truth is a transformative truth that is unbreakable.

Walking in peace

Next, Paul encouraged believers to put on the sandals of the gospel of peace (v.15).  

As we have learned, the believers in the church of Ephesus were not walking in love and compassion.  Because they were not walking in love and compassion, who did it profit?  If it profited anyone, it profited the devil.  Answering hatred and bitterness with hatred and bitterness profits nobody.  If we are to withstand wickedness, we must learn how to walk in peace bearing all that is holy and right.

Something that I want to make clear about walking in peace is that peace doesn’t rollover to what is evil.  Our idea of peace is that peace doesn’t put up a fight nor make a fuss.  However, scripture encourages believers to exhort and rebuke with all authority (Tit. 2:15).  Paul encouraged Timothy to be ready to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with patience and teaching (2 Tim. 4:2).  This is the peace that we are to have on our feet to stand and walk in.

The shield and weapon of attack

After believers put on their shoes of peace, Paul encourages us to take the shield of faith (v.16).  With faith as a shield, Paul states that faith will quench the fiery darts of the wicked one.  Again, let me make it clear that Paul is speaking about having faith in God and not anything else.  

Too often, we are quick to put our faith in anything but God and what comes from that faith?  Not much.  Pay close attention to Paul saying that faith is able to “quench” the fiery darts of our great adversary.  To quench:  to put out, extinguish.  Our faith in God is able to extinguish the afflictions, infirmities, and tribulations that we face on a daily basis.  Are you carrying your shield of faith?

If you notice, the body is protected with the shield and the shoes.  The chest, where our heart is, being protected by the breastplate is representative of the soul being protected.  The only two things left that Paul has not covered is the back and the head.With that in mind, we will see Paul encourage believers to take the helmet of salvation.  This is Paul saying that salvation should always be on our mind; it should uplift us, keep us encouraged, and motivated.  Salvation through Christ is our hope and that hope will protect us from the mental games of the devil.

The shield and helmet

After believers put on their shoes of peace, Paul encourages us to take the shield of faith (v.16).  With faith as a shield, Paul states that faith will quench the fiery darts of the wicked one.  Again, let me make it clear that Paul is speaking about having faith in God and not anything else.  

Too often, we are quick to put our faith in anything but God and what comes from that faith?  Not much.  Pay close attention to Paul saying that faith is able to “quench” the fiery darts of our great adversary.  To quench:  to put out, extinguish.  Our faith in God is able to extinguish all afflictions, infirmities, and tribulations.  Are you carrying your shield of faith?

Paul then encouraged believers to take the helmet of salvation.  Salvation should always be on the mind of the believer. Why is that? Salvation is our hope – it lifts us, keep us encouraged, and motivates us. 

You have to understand that the devil is going to play mind games. As we saw in his temptation of Christ, he will tempt your heart with riches of this world. What can the riches of this world do for you soul? Nothing that is long lasting.

So, to overcome such temptation, heaven should be on your mind. With heaven on your mind, you will be able to be steadfast in your heavenly desire. Salvation through Christ is our hope and that hope will protect us from the mental games of the devil.

Armor for the back?

Now, as we will notice that Paul never addresses putting any armor on our back.  Why do you suppose Paul left the back uncovered? Do you have any thoughts?

To answer that question: believers aren’t supposed to worry about their back because God has our back.  Believers should always keep moving forward because faith is always pushing forward.  Believers should never turn around.  As Jesus said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).”

Are you fit for the kingdom of heaven? Do you have the desire to walk the pathway to heaven and glory? If you do, you should not ever turn back.

The sword of the Spirit

Now, when one is at war, they better have themselves a weapon that they can do battle with.  So, Paul said that believers should also take with them the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (v.17).  So many of us leave our sword at home, in our closets, and on our tables collecting dust. The word of God should always be with you.

Jesus used the word when Satan tempted him.  Remember when the devil encouraged Jesus to turn stones into bread? Do you remember Jesus’ response?

Jesus said to Satan, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:3-4). When Jesus stood on the word of God, the devil left him (Matt. 4:11). 

Many of us often wonder why the devil won’t let us go? To those that ask this question, I ask you: Are you carrying the word of God in with you?  Don’t take this question to mean you should carry your bibles with you everywhere you go. The word of God should live in your soul.

If the word of God is collecting dust, and not abiding within you, then the devil is going to keep hanging around! There is a very good chance that the devil will begin to have his way with you as well.

Prayer, the secret weapon

As we begin to come to the close of our lesson, let’s take a look at one final word from Paul on this subject.  Paul encouraged believers to pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit (v.18). I have shared with you all before that prayer is the secret weapon of believers.

Sadly, Like the word of God, many believers forget that there is power in prayer.

Prayer is our line of communication with God.  James said of prayer that the fervent prayer of a righteous man “avails much” (Jas. 5:16).  Prayer is a healer.  Prayer is able to supply your every need whether they are physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.  Prayer can even help you in overcoming the attacks of the devil.

With prayer being able to do all things, it makes you wonder why so many believers don’t pray? 

The armor of God frustrates Satan.  In Job 1:6-12, when Satan desired to attack Job, he spoke of his frustration to God.  Satan couldn’t penetrate Job’s shield and asked the Lord, “Have you not made a hedge around him?” 

When you’re wearing the whole armor of God, Satan cannot destroy you. In fact, when you put on the full armor of God, you’re going to frustrate the devil greatly. So, I encourage you to put on the whole armor so that you overcome all that the devil throws your way.

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