(6/27) Introduction Ė In 1970, Country music singer Lynn Anderson sang the hit song written by Joe South, Rose Garden. The most famous line from that song, says, "I beg your pardon, I never promised you a Rose Garden. Along with the sunshine, thereís got to be a little rain sometimes."
I start with that because this is a little like the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. The Gospel is good news. Jesus promises all who will repent and receive His grace, complete and full forgiveness, peace with God and the peace of God, adoption into His family, an inheritance, glory, a forever home in the Fatherís
house, and the forever presence of His Holy Spirit with us. He will never leave us, He will never not love us, He will never not forgive us when we repent. He promises us His provision when we put Him first, He promises to train us to be mature Christ Followers that reflect Jesus. Thatís truly Good News and it is the promise of
I. The Exhortations
But itís not just a Rose Garden or a bowl of Cherries that He promises, He also promises the thorns, and the pits. He says things like this:
ē A disciple is not above his teacher, if they persecuted me they will persecute you. (John 15:18)
ē If the world hates you, you know it hated me before it hated you (John 15:19)
ē In this world you will have tribulation (John 16:33)
ē Matthew 24:9-10, "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My nameís sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another."
Add to that the words of Paul
ē Acts 14:22, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."
ē 2 Tim. 3:10-11, "But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystraówhat persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who
desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
ē Turn to Matthew 10:16-31
II. The Enemy
What does this have to with Ephesians? Everything! Paul says, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against
principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness 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." At first there seems to be a contradiction. The persecution,
the hatred, the afflictions, the tribulation comes from people. Its comes from people who hate the gospel, it comes from politicians, it comes from educators, it comes from governments, it comes from religious people, it comes from enemies. These are people, flesh and blood people who donít like you, or your faith, or your Bible,
or your Jesus. They donít like your message, your morals, or your ministry. You are a threat to them. Your words and your life exposes their dark side. For this human reason, Jesus was nailed to a cross. Of course, we know that God had a higher purpose for that. But the point is, The Christian life is not a walk through a rose
garden. It is a walk through a mine field. It is a war we are in.
One more point. We donít always know who the enemy is. This is war today. It used to be that combatants wore uniforms. You knew who the enemy was by the clothes he wore. But since Vietnam, we have been fighting guerilla warfare. The enemy isnít wearing uniforms. You donít know who they are until they shoot
at you or toss a grenade at you or drive their car into you and blow it up. Sometimes they sit beside you in church and work beside you on a mission trip. Judas, Diotrophes, Demas, Hymenaeus, and Alexander are names that do not bring up warm fuzzy emotions in the N.T.
But what Paul is saying is that there is a dark power and a dark enemy behind all of these. They are getting their philosophy, their hatred from a spiritual source. Remember Ephesians 2:1-3? Look at James 3:14-15, 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against
the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.
Same 3 voices speaking. Thatís what the world without Jesus hears, and even Christians still hear and the results are: 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
III. Engaging the Enemy
So, again, while we know that there is an unseen, evil, demonic world out there that is behind the hatred of Christianity and Godís word, it is demonstrated through people. So, how do we prepare ourselves and protect ourselves. How do we, as James will say just a few verses down, resist the devil so that he
flees from us (James 4:7)? Peter, likewise speaking of the devil, says, "Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." (1 Peter 5:9). Paul says in Ephesians 6:13, "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."
The evil day, I believe is the day in which we live. Look back at 5:15-16, "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil." I may be wrong, but this is referring to life before Jesus returns to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Galatians 1:4 says, speaking of Jesus, "who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,"
The word withstand, in Eph. 5:13 is the same as the word James and Peter uses -Resist. Stand firm, steadfast, donít give up the ground you have gained. How do you stand? You must use the equipment that God has given you to protect you and to help you to stand. The whole armor of God, not just pieces of it.
I am sure that living in occupied territory, Paul saw plenty of Roman soldiers, and he was escorted by them to Rome and saw them every day from his prison cell where he wrote this letter. (Phil. 1:13). So, he uses their battle equipment as metaphors for what God wants us to use to resist the devil. Letís
look at it.
IV. The Equipment God has Provided
A. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth (6:14a). This is the utility belt, the tool belt, the belt which holds the swords, or the carpenterís tools, or the policemanís equipment, the soldiersí ammo magazines, canteen, and other equipment. Can you remember putting it on? Can you envision
putting it on? You need this on every day. It is your commitment to the truth. This is not necessarily speaking of using the Word of God because he is going to refer to that in a few verses when he speaks of the Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.
I could be wrong, but I believe he is speaking of our commitment to standing on the truth. I am committed to the truth of this book. I am committed to the One who is the Truth. I am committed to following the Spirit of Truth who is in me. I am committed to being a man or woman of integrity. My word is my
bond. I will speak words that are true. I will be a man or woman that follows the ways of Jesus 24/7/365.
I will not give in to shoddy work, half-hearted allegiance, or see how close I can get to the line without crossing it. Paul told Timothy, "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please
him who enlisted him as a soldier." Ever since the early 70ís America has had an all-volunteer military. People join usually of their own free will. Many will go into battle. None ever have the option to say, "I donít feel into it today, I think I will sit this out, or I really donít want to be a soldier today, maybe tomorrow. I
would rather sit in and play video games." I believe that as you get dressed each day, especially men, when you tighten your belt you should be able to say, "I am committed to the one who is the way, the truth and the life."
B. having put on the breastplate of righteousness, (6:14b). This is body armor, flack vest, bullet proof vest. It protects the vitals region of the heart and lungs. Paul says Righteousness is our body armor. Now the Bible speaks of two kinds of Righteousness. Imputed Righteousness and Practical
Imputed Righteousness is the right standing that you get in Jesus when you place your faith in Him. You will never be condemned, never lose your salvation, never be judged as an unbeliever because as Romans 4, and 2 Cor. 5:21, and Phil. 3 says we have the righteousness of being declared forgiven and saved
by Jesus. It is written in the book of your life. The righteousness of Christ has been charged to your account.
Practical Righteousness is living like a believer. It is obeying the word of God and doing what is right. Which is he referring to here? I believe it is practical righteousness, or you wouldnít have to put it on. Imputed righteousness is yours. Itís like this. You are a father if you helped create a child.
But being a father, takes effort. You can be a man because you are over 18 and male, but being a man means living like it. You can be forgiven because you placed your faith in Christ, but now and every day, you have to live like a redeemed and forgiven person. Do what is right, just, fair, honest, true, and Godís will, thatís how
you protect yourself as well as advance Godís plan.
Look at 1 Peter 1:13-16.
And daily spend some time in introspection (Lordís prayer and 1 John 1:9)
C. And Having Shod Your Feet Shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace (6:15). Soccer, football, baseball players all wear shoes with spikes. Running or tennis shoes have special traction tread to help one grip the ground with sliding or slipping. Roman shoes had hobnails to give them traction and to
keep from slipping or sliding in battle. And they protected the feet of the soldier from stones, metal or pottery pieces or thorns and thistles. Ever run barefoot and step on a thistle? Ouch! Or in cow or dogÖ.?
The good news of peace is both defensive and offensive. The peace I have with God and the Peace of God I have when I commit my way to Him and trust Him protects me from the lies and accusations and doubts of the enemy even when they come from people I care about. I know. I can stand because I know Jesus is
with me and He will never leave me. He will never not love me. And as long as He is with me I am at peace with Him and I can handle whatever comes along. I am prepared and can stand my ground.
Now, I think this may also refer to being prepared to extend peace to those who war against me, like in Romans 12:18-21,
And 1 Peter 3:11-12
This includes the readiness to share the hope of the Gospel which results in peace when people are willing to receive it.
This is not a peace any price, but it is a peace that is humble enough to control oneís tone and speech and to do all he or she can to resolve an issue. It means when I want to fight to defend myself, I try to defuse the situation with the grace I have received from Jesus. I try to consider that if my
adversary is not a Christian, he or she is just acting according to their dead nature. What he or she needs is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do you understand this?
D. above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. (v. 16) Above all. That means that this is extra important. There were two kinds of shields. One was a small shield that looked like Captain Americaís shield. It was carried by a handle or
hung on the arm and used to defend oneís self in hand to hand combat like a gladiator would use. That is NOT the word used here.
The other is the huge shield like the ones used in the movie 300. Front line soldiers would carry them, and lines of soldiers would walk in a line in front of the army or whole armies would carry them until the battle of hand to hand combat would begin and then they would be laid aside. These were used to
stop arrows launched at a long distance by the enemy. Often the arrows would be dipped in pitch and lit on fire that would be hard to put out. These shields were necessary to ward off these arrows that would come in like rain by hundreds of archers. Above all, because they were to protect the whole body until combat began.
So the questions are, what are these fiery darts of the enemy? And, what, is the faith that will stop them?
1. I believe the fiery darts are a number of things.
a. They can be doubts. Remember Peter walking on water?
b. They can be fears. Again, remember when Jesus slept on a boat in the storm?
c. They can be worries or anxiety. Matthew 6:25-34
d. They can be discouragement when one trouble piles on another as in 2 Corinthians 4. Ever have a week when everything breaks down?
e. They can also be temptations to sin, cheat, be self-focused, self-centered, selfish, focus on materialism like Achan in Jericho. Sometimes, we believe that God helps those who help themselves. How foolish? You need the shield of faith
2. The faith here is not what you believe, but in whom you believe. What you believe, as in the Christian faith, is important. But this is the determination to trust and obey God regardless of the circumstances or consequences. Heb. 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes
to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38, "The Just shall live by his faith."
a. I will trust in the person of God
b. I will trust in the promises of God
c. I will trust in the provision of God
d. I will trust in the plan of God
e. I will obey the pattern of God
f. I will obey the plan of God no matter what!
E. And take the helmet of salvation (v. 17a). I am so amazed that Pa. doesnít have a helmet law for motorcyclist. Every year nearly 5000 people die on a motorcycle and over 85,000 are injured. I canít imagine what football was like before the modern helmets. Hard hats are a requirement on many jobs.
Soldiers have worn helmets for centuries to protect the head from injury. What is the helmet of salvation? To help us letís look at 1 Thess. 5:8-10. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain
salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. This the doctrine of eternal security. It is so very important. This is resting in the certainty that no matter what happens here on this earth. That means even the worse tribulation and death, you are
secure with God and will be in His presence forever. It is as simple as that.
The word, hope, as I have told you many times, means a guaranteed certainty that awaits you. Never forget that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. His promise is that He will receive us to live in the home He has prepared in the Fatherís house. I donít have time today, but 2
Corinthians 4-5 are among my absolute favorite chapters in the Bible. Paul could take anything that the world could throw at him because he was focused on his certainty of eternal life.
Job knew that his redeemer lives and after his body becomes worm food, he would see his Savior face to face (Job 19:25-27). Thatís why death has lost its sting, and why it is no longer to be feared. My hope is secure in my salvation. Do you have that security? Satan uses the fear of death to capture people
and turn them away from peace.
F. And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (v. 17b) I believe this goes without saying but, this is our weapon and it is the Bible and basically you just need to know what it teaches, what it says and then use it. The word for sword means a personal small sword, of maybe a foot to 2 or 3 feet
long, not the huge two handed sword. This is the hand to hand combat sword. This is the sword Peter used to cut off Malchusí ear. This sword is both offensive and defensive as you see in any sword fight. You fend off the enemies blows while striking your own.
This presumes that you believe that Godís word is true, accurate and reliable and it is in fact, the very word of God and not of man.
1. Defensively, we use it to defend our actions and beliefs like our Lord did when He was tempted by Satan. He said, "It is written." God said it, and I believe it, and I will obey it, and thatís all there is to it." Peter said to be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks the reason for the hope that is
in us. That is a defense for what we believe and why. Why do we believe:
ē That homosexuality is a sin?
ē That abortion is killing?
ē That Jesus is the only true faith?
ē That there is a hell to fear and a heaven to desire?
ē That God created the world and it didnít just evolve?
ē And you get the idea.
2. Offensively, we use the word of God to tell people the truth of Jesus.
ē We tell them how to be saved
ē We tell them the truth about the lies they have believed
ē We tell them of Godís wonderful promises
ē We tell them the truth about their sins and its consequences
3. It is the sword of the Spirit, because we are to use it as we are filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit who is in us to teach us and empower us to obey it. And we are to use it under His influence and not as a means of getting our own way. Do you understand that.
4. But you must take the time to read, memorize, study and meditate in this book. Remember Joshua 1:7-9? Psalm 1?
This is how we resist the devil. These tools are what we use to stand and fight.
The Belt of Truth Ė I am dedicated to Following the Truth
The Breastplate of Righteousness- I am committed to doing what is Right
The Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace Ė I will stand prepared to advance because I have peace with God.
The Shield of Faith Ė I am ready to trust and obey God no matter what the circumstances or consequences are.
The Helmet of Salvation- No matter what happens to me I am secure in my relationship with God.
The Sword of the Spirit-which is the Word of God. This is absolute truth and the very word of God and I will rest in it.
Our Lord never promised us a Rose Garden.
Letís pray about it.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman