Completion Problem, Solved
May 10, 2009
Illus: People come to Texas to see herds and herds of cattle roam across the countryside. People also come to Texas to join the herds and herds of clotheshorses that move from mall to mall, from boutique to boutique, from store to store shopping.
Dallas-Fort Worth, and Miami for that matter, are definitely shopping Meccas. Dallas has its clotheshorses. Miami, though, is different. Miami is hip. It’s cool. It’s chic. In the fashion world, Miami trades in one currency. It’s chiconomics. Both places are definitely places where people are into clothes.
We love to shop. Could it be that really this desire for shopping, this desire for clothing could be but a foreshadowing of a greater focus, a greater desire which is to be clothed in the ultimate designer, Jesus? Because the Scriptures tell us that when someone becomes a follower of Christ, they’re clothed in Christ. And over the last several installments we’ve been talking about what it means to be clothed in Christ.
When you’re clothed in him, you’re wearing what you’re made to wear. Because ultimately, we’re designed for the ultimate designer. And if we wear or model anything else, then we’re going to end up being disappointed.
You’ve heard it said “you are what you wear.” I firmly believe that. But I would tweak that statement a little bit. I believe you are who you wear. Yeah, I think you are what you wear, but also you are who you wear. So I would ask you: what are you wearing? And who are you wearing?
People in both Dallas and Miami I think spend a lot of time thinking about the kind of look, the kind of combinations, the kind of clothing that they wear for a specific event. Whether that be a recreational pursuit; whether it be to some party, to go on a date, a family function, even to an athletic event. Most people put some time into what they are going to wear. They think it through, even though they might not look like they think it through. Believe me, they have thought it through.
God tells us to think it through when it comes to what we’re wearing and who we’re wearing. We’re on the runway 24/7. And if we’re going to find out who we are; if we we’re going to discover our best life now, then we’re going to have to get dressed. Yeah, we get dressed physically. I understand that. But we need to get dressed in a much deeper way. We need to get dressed spiritually.
T.S. The book of Ephesians in the New Testament, Ephesians 6 tell us for the most part there are six items that we need to put on if we’re going to discover our design, if we’re going to discover that we’re designed for the ultimate designer. And these six items aren’t optional; they’re foundational. We should put them on every single day. And we’ve been going through these items.
So I want to take some time and go through several of these items. If you missed last time, last time I talked about the first three. Today I’ll talk about the other three, the final three.
This series is called Fashion Police. I truly believe if the fashion police could make some arrests, they would take away a number of us in the paddy wagon for impersonating believers. Because many of us who go by the label of a Christian aren’t really and truly fully dressed.
You might be wondering, “Why should someone who is a believer, someone who claims the labels of Christian, why should they get dressed? Why should they worry about these six elements of clothing that they should spiritually put on each and every day?”
Number one, for us to reach our ultimate we need to put on the ultimate attire.
Number two, while we’re reaching our ultimate with our ultimate attire, we’ve got to have on this attire because of the fire that we’re going to go through as we model this under armor.
In Ephesians 6:16 (NKJV) it says that the enemy shoots darts our way. He fires these arrows, these darts, in a number of different manners and a number of different methods. These are fiery darts.
I think this word “dart” is interesting to break down, because it sort of tells us what type of artillery, what kind of weaponry, what kinds of stuff he shoots our way.
“D” represents Doubt. Have you ever been dogged by doubt? Have you ever had a bout with doubt? I think we can all say yes.
“Is God really real? Can I trust the Bible?”
It’s okay to have doubts. Don’t freak out over doubt, because when you have faith you are going to have doubt. If you don’t have doubt that means you don’t have faith.
So I always challenge people to doubt their doubts, because if we had no doubt, everything would be certain. And then we wouldn’t need any faith.
“A” represents Anxiety. This word anxious means to be pulled in different directions. I think that would sum up the way a lot of people feel today.
Maybe you’re a single mom or maybe you’re a mom with three or four kids under the age of 7. Maybe you work outside the home as well and you’re dealing with a marital difficulty or financial difficulty. Anxiety is real.
“R” stands for Rebellion. One of the things that we naturally do is we rebel against the authority structures that God has placed in our lives. Students and children want to power up against their parents, coaches, and teachers. And then those of us who are parents, coaches, and teachers want to power up against authority figures. Rebellion is real. It’s this desire that we have to run the show, to pave the own path for our lives.
“T” is Temptation. I guess you could call it Trouble, but Temptation is a good one. There are temptations out there and the Bible says when we’re tempted. Temptations usually come at our greatest strengths and also our greatest weaknesses.
So on one hand we have these darts that are being shot our way. And normally, darts were dipped in some combustible material. And it’s not always an easy thing to withstand the darts.
However, on the other hand the Bible says that we, those of us who are in Christ, are more than conquerors.
Romans 8:37, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
It’s says we’re more than just people who have won now and then or who have more W’s than L’s. We’re victors. So we need to understand who we are and what team we’re on.
T.S. That brings us to the first part of this wardrobe that we need to talk about in Ephesians 6.
Ephesians 6:16 says, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith….”
It doesn’t say belief. It says faith. The shield provided great protection. And in Ephesians 6:16 it says, “Above all”. In other words, the shield is of the utmost importance.
It was usually made of wood and covered with leather, and it was basically about the size of a door so a person could completely hide behind the shield.
Soldiers would often dip the shield in water before battle. So when those fiery darts would hit, the wet leather would extinguish the flame.
This word faith is not just saving faith in this context. It’s not just a historical faith; it’s a living faith, because true faith is acting on belief.
Last time I talked about the belt of truth. We need to believe in the belt of truth and we need to believe in the breastplate of righteousness. We need to believe in the Gospel boots of peace and not only stop there.
We need to act on it. So the shield keeps the darts from penetrating, because once they penetrate you’ve got a fire.
And this faith is not faith in ourselves. It’s faith that God is actively involved in our lives. It’s faith that he is going to come through. And it’s faith that he is in control.
So there is a protective aspect about this part of our wardrobe, but there is also a unification aspect. The edges of these shields were beveled so they could lock together and form a wall. The soldiers would lock their shields together and form this impenetrable wall.
I think about the church. We’re a wall. We have our shields of faith and we should regularly lock them together as we block those fiery darts.
What are you doing to form this wall? At this point you might be asking, “Why did God give us the armor when the shield is more than adequate?”
Again, I say, the Bible says they were to be more than conquerors. We’re not only to win, but to win victoriously. We’re to dominate.
Have you noticed, changing the subject, have you noticed that people are into hats? People wear more hats these days, men and women, than I’ve ever seen. People wear ball caps and berets, top hats, pill box hats, sombreros, cowboy hats. Hats are huge.
Hats are also a part of God’s wardrobe, because one of the most vulnerable areas in warfare has to be somebody’s head.
Ephesians 6 tells us that another part of our war wear, our under armor is the helmet of salvation.
A Roman soldier always carried a helmet with him. He never let his helmet out of his sight. And no his helmet didn’t have a silver star or a dolphin on the side. He would always, though, have the helmet with him.
The theater of operations is our mind, and the purpose of this helmet is to protect our mind. Becoming a believer involves the mind. We repent, and repentance is more than just regret. It’s more than just getting caught or self-pity. It means an about face. It’s a military term that means to change of mind completely about our sins.
2 Corinthians 2:11 says, “For we are not unaware of his schemes.”
In other words, don’t be an igmo. Wearing the helmet of salvation prevents a divided mind. It prevents us from doing one thing and also doing another.
Having this right “hattitude” means a mind controlled by God. One of the things that people struggle with, and I struggle with this as well, is worry. I think I worry way too much. And over the past several years I think I’ve gotten a handle on this.
Illus: A friend of mine said, “You know Ed, there’s this text you need to hear. It says that we’re to take every thought captive.
“Basically, we’ve got three aspects in our lives – our thoughts, feelings and events. Which one of these three can you control? Can you control events?” No. “Feelings?” No. I said, “But I can control my thoughts.”
When we think right, we’ll feel right and when we feel right, then what’s going to happen? We’ll act right.
When God controls our minds, the enemy can’t lead us astray. The devil always attacks the mind.
Think back to the Garden. He started with a question. “Did God really say don’t eat of the fruit on the tree?” Then he went into another train of thought, a denial bomb. He says, “You’re not going to really die.”
He denied God’s Word. Then he brought out the heavy artillery. Then he threw out the substitution bomb, “Hey, you’ll be like God when you eat the fruit on the tree.”
There’s one more part of this wardrobe that I’ve not talked about. It’s the sixth part. The other parts, the other five, are more defensive. The sixth part is the only real offensive weapon described in this wardrobe. We’re to put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and, now, the sword of the Spirit.
Armor is great, but it’s useless without a weapon. We can’t use the sword, though, without the Spirit. We can’t compartmentalize the sword and compartmentalize the Spirit. The sword and the Spirit go together hand in hand.
The Bible is inspired by the Spirit. It’s given to us by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit is the one who teaches and guides us to truth.
A sword pierces the body. The sword of the Spirit pierces the heart.
A sword gets duller the more you use it. The sword of the Spirit gets sharper the more you use it.
The sword is great in the hands of the soldier. The sword of the Spirit is great in the hands of the Holy Spirit.
Illus: One of my favorite authors is John Grisham and you know I think it would be really cool if John Grisham would just stand there and sort of elaborate on some of the characters and some of the reasons why he wrote certain things in the book while I was reading it. Wouldn’t that be cool for Grisham to do that? But obviously he is not there. I don’t know John Grisham.
The Bible, though, is the only book where the author is available 24/7 to guide us and to explain it to us as we read it.
Someone who is good with a sword knows how much it weighs. They practice with it day and night. We’ve got to do the same thing with the sword of the Spirit.
In Matthew 4 Jesus, after his baptism, was drained physically, emotionally, and spiritually after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. At no other time was he as susceptible to temptation. So it came to him three times. And three times the devil turned the volume up on the temptation of Jesus. And Jesus said three times “It is written, it is written, it is written.”
In one sentence, the whole armor of God is a picture of Jesus Christ, because Jesus is truth. He is righteousness. He is peace. He is faith. He is Spirit. He is salvation.
And once we step over the line and become Christ followers, we put on the armor of God once and for all the moment of our salvation.