EXPOSING THE ENEMY
February 23, 1992
In recent years, Americans have become more and more fashion conscious. We worry about what we have on and the light really shows our flaws. It’s interesting because we concentrate on and on, over and over about what we wear for specific occasions. None of us likes to be under-dressed or over-dressed, especially if we’re going to a formal function and we have something that’s very casual or maybe we’re going to a casual function and we’re overly dressed. But what if I told you— especially women, listen to this statement—what if I told you that you attend a function regularly that you are dressed horribly for? Oh! I saw a couple almost faint when I said that. Did you hear that? There’s an event that most of us attend and we’re dressed terribly for, our clothes are tattered. Let me tell you what this event is because I know you want to know and you want to ask, “What can I wear to this event? I want to be properly dressed.” Well, the event is called “war.” It’s called war. The Bible calls it spiritual warfare and the Word of God tells us how to get dressed spiritually. It talks about our spiritual wardrobe.
Last week, we looked at our spiritual wardrobe. And when most of us get dressed, we go through three stages, in fact, I’m sure all of us did this this morning. The first stage is we look at ourselves in the mirror and we check out everything. And this morning I woke up and I had bad head, my hair was this way and that way, a little drool coming out, a little stuff in your eyes and you think, “Boy, I’ve got to take a bath or a shower.” So stage two is we go into the shower or the bath and—splish, splash—we’re taking a bath. We get clean, because the mirror shows us where we’re dirty, so we get clean, we get cleaned up.
Now we put on our clothes. We get dressed and we’ll look again at ourselves in the mirror and everything is proper and we’re ready to go out and take on the world, right? We go through this scenario day after day, year after year, but the Bible tells us incredibly to do the same thing spiritually because the Bible says we should look into the mirror every morning, then we should take a bath (that’s right, the Bible) and finally, the Bible says that God has bought the most incredible spiritual wardrobe for all of you here and God wants us to take this spiritual wardrobe and put it on. Now, this spiritual wardrobe does not cost anything, we don’t pay for it, we can’t earn it. The price was incredible, but it’s a free gift and God says, “Christians, if you’re going to truly do something for Christ in this world, if you’re truly going to have peace and truth and meaning and purpose, you’ve got to get dressed spiritually.”
A lot of us would be on the Ten Worst Dressed List. (I usually have Madonna and Cher and Kim Basinger and Dolly Parton on that list.) But, speaking spiritually, I’ve been under-dressed, you’ve been under-dressed and some of us look terrible in our spiritual outfits. Let’s rush right to the point and look in the mirror. James, Chapter 1 talks about the Word of God being a mirror. Look at Verses 23-25 of Chapter 1. The first stage of getting dressed spiritually is looking into the mirror. Verse 23 says, “For if anyone is a hearer of the Word (that means a giant ear, “I hear the Word, Right! Amen! Praise the Lord!”) and is not a doer, he is like a man (circle the word “man”) who looks at his natural face in the mirror.”
Now the word “looks” means a man just glances and this phrase here “man” refers to masculine. It didn’t say a woman and James loved to illustrate because I’ve never seen a woman just glance at herself in the mirror. Right guys? But men, we kind of just glance and we’re off. Well, James says if you just listen to the Word and say, “Oh, I understand that, a very nice sermon, a mirror, a shower, a wardrobe…that’s great! I enjoyed that. You told a couple of jokes and I listened to it,” and you did nothing about it, it’s just like you looked in the mirror and just walked and you forgot about everything. Verse 24 says, “For once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.” Verse 25 is what we’re supposed to do as regarding looking in the mirror, because Verse 25 says, “But one who looks intently at the perfect law” (and the perfect law is the Word of God, that’s our mirror), so one who looks intently at the perfect law. In the original language, “looks intently” means “to stoop down so you can see every blemish on your face.”
So, what’s this saying to us? As I get dressed every morning, I’m to look intently at the perfect law, the Bible calls it the Law of Liberty, and it reflects back to me, “Whoa, I’m dirty. I have spiritual B.O. My hair is not right. I’d better take a shower.” So, James 1:25 says, “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it….” You see, when I look into the Bible as a mirror, I have an obligation to get cleaned up. “…and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer, but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed.”
Question: Every morning when you get up, are you letting the Word of God reflect to you those sins, those inconsistencies, those spiritual blemishes that the Lord Jesus wants to take care of? Every morning we should spend that quality time in the Word. But we’ve got to take a shower. Ephesians 5 talks about that. Ephesians 5:26—turn there with me.
As you know, we have a five year old daughter. Her name is Lee Beth and Lee Beth is not into taking baths at all. We have to coax her into taking a bath. “Lee Beth, look, we’ll have all these toys here,” and many nights I’ll give her a bath. “Lee Beth, look at these toys and we have the mermaid dolls that swim under water,” and finally we can coax her into the bathtub. But once she’s there, she loves it. It’s just getting there that she doesn’t like. And I think there are a lot of believers like that. We say, “God, I don’t want to be washed in your Word. No, God, the water’s too hot.” But once we begin to look at ourselves in the mirror through the Word of God, once we begin to let the Word of God cleanse us, it’s great! Ephesians 5:26, a power-packed verse. It says, “That he might sanctify (He being Christ) her (her, that refers to the church).” We are the church – the church is not bricks and sticks; the church is those people who know Jesus Christ. “So that he might sanctify her (that’s us, believers) having cleansed her (that’s the spiritual shower) by the washing of water with the word.”
So, after I look into the mirror, then the Bible says, “Hey, take a spiritual shower, a bath in the Word of God.” I am to confess my sins, to let the Lord Jesus cleanse me, to let the Word wash me clean every day and now I’m feeling great. the spiritual B.O. is gone, all the blemishes, all the sin. I’m ready to start the day—but no, I’m not. Because I’m under-dressed. I’m kind of like my teammate that I talked about last week, trying to go out and play against the University of Kentucky in his boxer shorts. He wasn’t dressed, he didn’t even have the uniform on. And many of us look in the mirror, and we will read the Word and get washed, but we stop right there.
Now, Ephesians, Chapter 6, Paul describes this incredible wardrobe, this garment. This garment that we’re getting ready to talk about never goes out of style, never goes out of style. You can wear it for every single occasion, it never wrinkles, it’s perfect, it’s vogue, it’s GQ, it’s whatever you want to call it because it’s the armor of God. And St. Paul, as he wrote this letter in Ephesians Chapter 6, he told us that we’re involved in spiritual warfare, that Satan is trying to get after us in many different ways. He uses tactics, methodologies. He tries to trip us up and Paul says that alone, there’s no way that you can take it. There’s no way that you can fight off the evil forces, the missiles, the bombs, the mortar shells that Satan throws on your life and my life. But, Paul says, if you put on the spiritual wardrobe, if you put on the armor of God, God will give us the strength and the power to be victorious.
Now, I’ve often wondered why Paul compared the Christian life to a soldier? Well, Paul was chained up to a Roman official as he penned these words. So he checked this guy out and thought “That could represent Jesus Christ!” So look at Ephesians 6; we’ll begin with Verse 14. Remember last week we had the Roman soldier come out and we dressed the Roman soldier partially? Here’s what we did; look at Verse 14. Paul says, “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth.” That’s the belt of truth. Once we meet Jesus Christ, we know the truth and the truth sets us free. So, we’re to put on the belt of truth, the first part of our garment, our spiritual wardrobe.
Then, it goes on and says in Verse 14, “having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” Now what does righteousness mean? Here’s the picture that Paul’s driving at. Once I receive Christ, and listen to this, once I receive Christ, once I meet Him, at that moment, God transfers my sin to Christ and Christ’s righteousness to me. So when I know the truth, the truth sets me free, I’m righteous. Then the Bible says we’re to put on those “Air Gospel” shoes, those sandals that Roman soldiers wore with spikes on ‘em. They could really grip the ground. They stood on the solid rock and that’s the Lord Jesus.
Stay with me in Ephesians 6, but I want you to write a reference down that is gonna blow your socks off. I couldn’t believe this week when I ran into this verse. In fact, Ray Steadman brought this out in his commentary on Ephesians 6. Ephesians 6 is really an expansion of Christ’s words in John 14:20. But stay with Ephesians 6. Now, John 14:20 is a simple verse, monosyllables, even a little baby can understand it and let me read it to you. You can write this down as I read it. Christ said, “You in me and I in you.” Is that too difficult for anyone? “ You in me and I in you.” Ephesians 6, the armor of God, is an expansion of that thought.
Now what does that mean, “you in me”? “You in me” refers to the Christian in Christ. If I’m “in Christ” what happens? Well, I know the truth, you see. I’m righteous. I have peace with God and my fellow man. Once I received Christ, all those things are mine and that’s why the Bible says, “having put those on.” If I’m a believer, that’s already done.
But then in the next phrase, Christ says, “I in you.” That’s Christ in the Christian. What does it mean for Christ to be in my life? What does that mean? What does it mean for me to appropriate Christ? For me to put Christ on? It means the three things we’re gonna talk about today. It means that I am to take up the shield of faith, that I am to put on this helmet of salvation, and I’m to take up the sword of the spirit. Now, these are things that I am to do as I clothe myself in Christ: the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit. That is Christ in the Christian.
So briefly, let’s delve into the Scripture and look at these final three elements of armor because we’ve all got to put these on. Yes, it’s fun to have on the belt and the “Air Gospel” shoes and this breastplate of righteousness that protects us, but we’ve got to take up the rest of the armor.
I think it’s interesting—I’m referring here in Verse 16 to the shield of faith—Paul says the shield of faith is the most important element of the armor. All you need, all I need is a shield of faith. That’s it. Period. Because the Bible says it’ll knock out every flaming missile. If you watch James Bond or talk to David Lunsdale, it will extinguish every missile the evil one shoots at us. Every one. So, that’s really all we need. And I wondered, “Well, why does God give us the rest of the armor? I mean, why didn’t God say, “and put on the armor of God—the shield of faith.” Why did He go through all this other stuff? I mean, it’s made this sermon series longer. I mean, God, why did you do that?” Well, I found a verse that says the Lord Jesus wants us to be “more than conquerors.” Not just victorious, “Yeah, we won! We beat you!” But I’m talking about victorious and dominate the opponent. I mean, in his face, dog on him, score a touchdown over him, do the deal right there in front of him—all with the strength of the Lord.
So, let’s look here quickly at Verse 16. Here’s what Paul says, “in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith.” So the Bible says we’re not just to have the shield of faith like this, “I’m a Christian, and I have the shield of faith,” you know and you flip it around. What does it say? We’re to take up the shield of faith. Now, a Roman soldier did not have a little measly shield like this. If I could have brought out an authentic shield the Roman soldier had, it’s the size of a door. It was made of wood and leather and the leather was dipped in water. This shield was so big the Roman soldier could hide his entire body behind it, so all the flaming darts and missles, the arrows, the spears, that his enemy (the evil one) would throw—chink, chink, chink, chink. And see, the leather soaked in water would extinguish like a fire extinguisher, those flaming missiles that Satan throws at your life and my life.
So he says, “in addition to all, take up the shield of faith.” It’s like our pulling guard, it blocks for us, and the shield of faith (circle the word “faith”). He didn’t just say the shield of belief, it’s not talking about a historical faith here, or a saving faith, it’s talking about an everyday, active faith. Now what is faith? Faith is action from belief. I believe that I know the truth. I believe I’m righteous. I believe I’m peace and because I believe those three things this is what’s going to happen. I’m gonna take up the shield of faith and follow the Lord.
Faith is action and Satan loves to attack our faith. He loves to attack our faith. And here’s what he does. How many of you have seen the movie, “Rambo” before? I hate to ask you, but remember Rambo? That man was awesome. He would hide in the jungles and had these little arrows with the warheads (like nuclear warheads on them) and he would shoot them and the enemy had no idea and then—BOOM!—out of nowhere, an explosion would occur. That’s what Satan does.
Here is what Satan loves to think about and do in my life and especially in believer’s lives. His quiver is full of arrows, different arrows for your life, for my life, for situations. And Satan, first of all, will fire a round of problems at us, some problems. Maybe a financial problem (pow!) or maybe some problems in a marriage (pow!), a problem at work (pow!). If you’re just thinking about the Christian life, if you’re just trying to investigate it, if you’re not a believer, he’s going to really shoot arrows. Because Satan says, “Wait a minute. This man, this woman, they’re almost gonna accept Jesus Christ. I’ve really got to throw out the artillery, hand grenades and bombs and booby traps.”
So, after he’s fired the problems at us and we’re trying to block them off with the shield of faith but we get so weak and we kind of put the shield of faith down and we’re open, then he keeps firing and begins to throw darts of emotions. After these problems, the emotion of anger, the emotion of jealousy, the emotion of rebellion…. And these flaming darts, we feel just a little tinge here, but then it catches fire to our armor and begins to burn up our entire camp.
So what are we to do? We’re to use our faith as active. The Bible says we can ward off everything Satan throws at us. So, are you using this shield of faith? Are you taking it up every day? Some say, “Well, Ed, I’m taking it up on Sunday morning. I’m at the Fellowship.” I mean, every day.
But the Word of God goes on. Not only, in Verse 16, should we take up the shield of faith which will extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one, but Verse 17 says we’re to take up the “helmet of salvation.” You see, we’re to take up the helmet of salvation. God does not dress us. We’ve got to take it up. It’s a gift from God. Now, here’s the helmet of salvation. The helmet protects the intellect. And no, this helmet does not have a Cowboy star on it. But a helmet was worn and it was so important to the Roman soldier. The Roman soldier would have this helmet over his shoulder and once he got ready for battle, he would take the helmet and put it on—more or less like a football player. On the sideline he’s hot, it’s uncomfortable, he takes his helmet off. But it’s time to go into the game, I’ve never seen a Cowboy go into the game without his helmet on. They’re gonna put the helmet on.
Now, the helmet protects the intellect, it protects the mind. And, where is the battleground? We said this over and over in this series. The battleground is in the mind! That’s where Satan wants to attack us. He wants us to doubt the faith. “Is this really real?” He wants us to doubt ourselves. He wants us to doubt others. He’ll throw confusion into our lives. He wants us to have a divided mind, “Well, I think the Christian life’s okay, but this is alright too.” But we’ve got to have focus. We’ve got to put this protection on.
Whenever I played pee wee football, I thought it was really tough. After you played a certain opponent, you’d have marks on your helmet. In fact, don’t go telling anyone this, but we used to get other colored helmets and just whack it and say, “Did you see this?” Sort of like Dick Butkus, isn’t it? And our spiritual helmets, folks, are gonna have some scars on them, because Satan will come at us head on many times, time and time and time again. So, with this shield of faith, with the helmet of salvation, we’re almost there.
But let me share one last weapon with you. One last weapon. In fact, it’s fine to have the armor of God, but we have no offensive weapons. Everything is defensive. How would you like to fight with just defensive weaponry? You’re not going to be much good. The sword of the spirit. Let’s look at the sword of the spirit. Verse 17, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God.” The sword of the spirit is the Word of God, so I’m to take up the sword.
Now, the sword of the spirit, we cannot separate the sword from the spirit. “But I really have a lot of knowledge of the Bible, Pastor. I know the deeper truths.” And we think we can take the sword without the spirit. But you see, the spirit is the source of the sword and the Holy Spirit is our teacher, the Holy Spirit is our Guide, our Tutor. Do you know of any other book in the world you can read and the author is right there waiting to interpret it for you, to help you live it out? I like to read novels by Tom Clancey and wouldn’t it be great to have Tom sitting right there and ask, “Tom, how in the world do you know all this about the CIA and FBI and covert operations? And Tom….” We have that in Christ. He’s right here with us waiting to interpret, waiting to enlighten. And that’s why people who don’t know Christ, they read the Bible and they think, “I’m not really sure,” but if they had the teacher, the Holy Spirit…. He’s right there with us. So, we are to take this sword up regularly.
Now, someone who knows how to fight (and notice this sword is short, it’s sharp) but someone who really knows how to use a sword practices. They know the weight of the sword, they know how to throw it, they know how to ward off and fight just like Zorro. They know their subject.
Do you remember when Christ was tempted back in Matthew 4? At no time in Christ’s life was he as susceptible to temptation and sin as during that time and notice it was after a spiritual high point. He had been baptized and the Bible says He was driven out into the wilderness. What did Satan do? After Christ had fasted for a month and ten days, he was physically drained. He had prayed hour after hour. He was emotionally drained, then he came to Him. And every temptation that Satan gave Christ, what did Christ do? Did He use His supernatural powers and just knock him flat? What did He do? He said three times, “It is written….It is written…It is written.”
Our own Savior, our own Lord, because He hid the Word of God in His heart, when the temptation came, He was able to fight with the sword of the spirit. You see, a material sword gets duller the more you use it, but the Word of God, it gets sharper. And Ephesians says the Word of God cuts down into the depths of our hearts. That’s why a lot of people are afraid to go to church or maybe fearful to read the Bible because it cuts through all the facade, all the external and gets down to the heart.
I promised you last week that we would dress the Roman soldier, and we’ve brought him out again. John, come out here. Is this guy a great Roman soldier or what, folks? I want you to think about this spiritually, folks—he has the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness. He has on those gospel shoes of peace. He’s a believer in Christ, he has truth, he’s righteous, he is at peace. Now, the Bible says, take up the shield of faith, an active faith. That’s where Satan will try to attack. But if we use this shield, there’s no dart that will penetrate.
Then, the Bible says, the last two pieces of armor, we’ve got to put on the helmet of salvation—it protects the mind from those guilty thoughts, from Satan saying, “Remember when you, or when you were involved in this?” And finally, he says, “Take this sword of the spirit,” this offensive weapon, our authority and learn how to use it. Hide the Word of God in your heart and then He’ll give you the strength and the power to do that hand-to-hand combat with the evil one. So John, you are ready to go out and do battle and claim the land that Christ has for you.
Now, I’m gonna ask you John to walk down those stairs and walk up the aisle and when he’s doing this, folks, I want you to think about this mental picture of getting dressed spiritually because a lot of us are partially clad, a lot of us are on the Ten Worst Dressed List, a lot of us are wondering, “Why the temptation? Why am I failing? Why can’t I resist this as far as lust? Why can’t I resist this as far as being illegal?” The reason is we’re not dressed up in the armor of God, in the armor of God. It’s light, it’s custom-made, God says, “Use it!” and you’ll never be sorry that you did.
I want to suggest one thing to you before I close. For the next seven days, before you get out of bed, I want you mentally to look in the mirror, to take that shower and to get dressed in the armor of God.