What To Wear To War

Bible Book: Ephesians  6 : 13-17
Subject: Spiritual Warfare; Christian Living; Christian Armor

Just a few years ago I had the privilege of taking my youngest son, Joshua, to Boston, Massachusetts to spend a couple of days there to see the Boston Red Sox play and to tour the city. It was a beautiful time with my son as we saw the "USS Constitution," nicknamed "Old Ironsides," we walked the campus of Harvard University. But then we went on an historical walk through the city and came to the old North Church.

It was there my imagination took me back to the year 1775, when a man by the name of Paul Revere made an eternal mark in history by a single horse ride. He knew that war was on the horizon, and he did not want his nation to be caught unaware. He knew the enemy was coming, he just didn't know whether it would be by land or by sea. But very late on a moonlit night, when he saw those lanterns in the tower of the old North Church, and knew that the enemy was coming by land, he strode his horse and went from village to village sounding an alarm that would not only wake up the nation, but would wake up the world as he cried out, "To arms! To arms! The British are coming."

Well, I am sounding another alarm to you today to awaken you to the fact that there is a war going on; your enemy is on the march, and I'm calling you to arms; not because the British are coming, but because the devil is here.

It's interesting that the devil is referred to in the book of Genesis as a serpent. In 1999 the "New England Journal of Medicine" published a study concerning people bitten by dead snakes.

Toxicologists at the "Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center" in Phoenix, Arizona, began studying the effect of dead snakes after admitting a patient who had been bitten by a snake while gardening. The man had cut off a rattlesnake's head with a shovel, and when he bent down to pick up the snake's head it bit him.

For almost a year these doctors focused their research on what they called "the dead snake bite phenomenon. They discovered 15% of people being admitted for a snake bite were bitten by a dead snake. One of the doctors involved in the study said, "We were surprised the percentage was that high. We were also surprised most people didn't know that dead snakes still bite."

There's a reason for this. Snakes have a reflex action that continues even after being killed. For this reason a decapitated rattlesnake can still bite up to an hour after death. Now we know that at the cross the Lord Jesus dealt Satan a fatal blow, but he is still dangerous, and we must ever be on our guard against him.

Now just as Satan is a special enemy, he requires special weapons. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 10:4 that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds." In other words, Satan does not fear bombs or bullets. He only fears supernatural weapons that are found in the armor of God.

In this passage of Scripture we are going to study today, Paul tells us what we are to wear to the war that we fight every day. You will notice there are six pieces of equipment that make up this armor: the first five are for our defense against Satan, but the sixth one is so that we might go on the offense for the defeat of Satan.

Now understand that Satan is on the attack because Paul warns us in verse 16 to beware of the "fiery darts of the wicked one." Satan has a quiver full of fiery darts, flaming arrows, and he hurls at us every day from every conceivable angle. Now the good news is none of these can reach us or hurt us as long as we have on the full armor of God. Because each piece of this armor is specifically designed to ward off any particular dart that Satan hurls against us.

I. The Belt of Truth is for the Dart of Deception

"Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth;.." (v.14a) Now the very first piece of equipment that a Roman soldier would put on would be what we would call a girdle or a belt. To this belt was attached all of the other pieces of the armor. The soldier would then gather up the tunic, or long robe that he was wearing, and tuck it into this belt so he would not be hindered in the battle.

Now the belt of truth represents the word of God. In Eph. 1:13 Paul refers to "the word of truth." Jesus said in John 17:17, "Your word is truth." Now in this instance the word of God is a defensive weapon. It is to be used to ward off the dart of deception.

Jesus said something interesting about the devil in John 8:44. He said, "He is a liar and the father of it." Satan is the master of deception. It was his deception of Eve that doomed the human race. Paul said in 1 Tim. 2:14, "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." Now the same devil that could deceive Eve in the Garden of Eden can deceive you where you live today.

Have you ever thought about the fact that the devil has his doctrines just as God has His doctrines? We're warned in 1 Tim. 4:1, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons." Did you know that there is demonic doctrine just as there is divine doctrine? You're not anchored to God securely by the belt of His truth. You will be "tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine."

We are living in a day and age where you better be able to recognize false doctrine. Did you know that there are many Christians who have fallen into the clutches of demonic cults because they could not recognize false doctrine?

A Sunday School teacher asked one of her pupils, "What is false doctrine?" A little boy raised his hand and said, "It's when the doctor gives the wrong stuff to people when they're sick and they die." Well, there is a grain of truth to that because false doctrine will kill you.

You had better put on the belt of truth every day, because just as surely as you take your belt off, you'll be caught with your pants down. That's when Satan will stick a pitchfork in you right where it hurts. This Book is truth. This Book is not God's word because it's true; it is true because it is the word of God. God does not say something because it's true; something is true because God says it is. No matter what you hear from any pulpit or any professor or any preacher, if it doesn't line up with this Book, it is not truth.

The reason why the devil hates this Book so much is because it is the word of truth. One Bible scholar made this astute observation: "Satan does not waste his ammunition. Professors who are being paid to teach philosophy, English, biology, mathematics often take time from their class periods to undermine the Bible and orthodox Christianity.

Why are they not doing the same thing with the sacred books of other religions? The answer is that Satan, the original liar, is sympathetic with books that lie. His real enmity is directed against the book of truth, because it contains the dynamite for his defeat. Every day we must put on the belt of truth, which is the word of God.

II. The Breastplate of Righteousness is for the Dart of Disapproval

After we put on the belt of truth, we must "put on the breastplate of righteousness." (v.14b) The breastplate was a tough sleeveless piece of armor that covered the entire torso of a soldier, and it was designed to protect the most vital organ of the body, which was the heart.

Now your heart is the real battlefield in this war. In the Bible the heart represents the will, the emotions, and the mind. It is the essence of what we are. Your eternal destiny will be determined in your heart. Rom. 10:9 says, "If you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved."

How you think, how you act, the person you are, or you will soon become, is always determined in your heart. Ps. 23:7 says, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he."

The heart of Satan's attack is the attack of the heart. What Satan will do is he will come to your heart and try to tempt you to sin, and the moment you do, condemn you because you did. He is the accuser of the brethren and he loves to remind us of our sins. He loves to bring them up to our attention. He loves to dig up old dirt and throw it in our face. He loves to rattle the skeletons in our closet, and he does that until we become doubting Christians, and then depressed Christians, and finally defeated Christians.

That is why it is so important that you put on the breastplate of righteousness. Because when you do that you can distinguish between the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the accusation of the devil. The Holy Spirit will use the Scripture to convict us, but Satan will use feelings to condemn us. When the Spirit convicts us, it is to draw us closer to God, but when Satan condemns us it is to drive us away from God. Spiritual conviction leads to confession and correction, but satanic accusation leads to depression and discouragement. You see, the Spirit will convict you of sins unconfessed so that you can get right with God, but Satan will accuse you of sins you've already confessed so that you won't feel right with God.

Now when this happens, and it happens to all of us, you must take up the breastplate of righteousness. Now let me tell you what that means. When the Bible speaks of righteousness it refers sometimes to positional righteousness, and it sometimes refers to practical righteousness.

Here is the difference: When God saves you He declares you righteous once and for all. We call that justification. But there is also the righteousness that God wants to manifest in my life day-by-day-we call that sanctification. We need both of these kinds of righteousness in order to ward off the dart of the devil.

The Bible says in 2 Cor. 5:21 that we are "the righteousness of God in Christ." Now the next time Satan comes to you with the dagger of condemnation in his hand and tries to give you a spirit of disapproval and make you think you are not right with God, you make sure you have on the breastplate of righteousness. You simply say to him, "Satan, I am the righteousness of God in Christ, and nothing you can say or do will ever change that." You know what will happen?

The dagger of disapproval will break off in his hand against the breastplate of God's righteousness on your heart.

III. The Gospel of Peace is for the Dart of Dissension

Verse 15 we are told to shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. One of the most important pieces of equipment for a soldier was his boots. Without good boots he couldn't march, and without good boots he could not stand and fight. Attached to the sole of the boot of the Roman soldier were bits of metals or hobnails so that he would have good traction and good footing in case he had to fight on a wet field or a slippery cliff. It was extremely important for a solider to keep his feet because no soldier can fight flat on his back.

That's why we are told that we must have our feet "shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace." Now this peace is the peace that comes from believing the gospel and knowing that Jesus Christ is your Lord. Rom. 5:1 says, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Now think about it. If you are at peace with God you are at war with the devil. Now you will understand why spiritual warfare is so different from natural warfare. You see, in the natural world, when you avoid war you have peace. But in the spiritual world you have peace only when you make war. The only way you can have peace with God is to make war with the devil, and when you declare war on the devil he declares war on you.

That's why you had better have good boots on because as you walk through this life, you will walk through thorns of temptation and thistles of tribulation; you will step in landmines of lust; you will have to climb mountains of misery. But if you have your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, you can crush every thorn, and climb every mountain.

The word "preparation" literally means "to be ready." When you are at peace with God, and you have the peace of God in your heart, you can handle anything the devil can throw at you.

I have said this before, and I want to say it again. It is not what happens to you in life that is important, it is how you react to what happens to you that really matters to God. If you're at peace with God you can withstand any storm that may come your way, for the Bible says in Isa. 26:3, "God will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is fixed on Him."

I read about an elderly lady who was living in an apartment building with her family in London during the Second World War. The Germans came and bombed all around them all night long, and when they began to search among the blown up buildings and ruins for the dead and the missing, low and behold they came upon this old grandmother sound asleep in her little bedroom.

Somebody said to her, "How in the world could you sleep with all of that bombing going on?" She said, "Well, it says in the Bible, 'He that keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps' so I figured there was no need for both of us to stay awake all night, so I went to bed." Now her feet were shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.

IV. The Shield of Faith is for the Dart of Doubt

Now we are told to take "the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." (v.16) Now the shield was a defensive instrument that was often covered with leather and soaked with water because in New Testament times the tips of arrows would often be wrapped in pieces of cloth that had been soaked in pitch and tar. These tips would be lighted and these flaming darts would be shot at the Roman soldiers. These shields would not only defend against these flaming arrows, but would also put out the fire.

Now I believe this shield is to ward off the dart of doubt. The Bible says without faith it is impossible to please God. Well, if faith is what pleases God, then doubt is what pleases the devil, and the devil loves nothing more than to get God's people to doubt. He'll try to get you to doubt the word of God; he'll try to get you to doubt the will of God; he'll try to get you to doubt the works of God.

Let me say right here, there is nothing sinful and nothing wrong about doubt. Some people think it is a sin if you doubt. Friend, faith presupposes doubt. If there's no room for doubt there's no room for faith. Don't ever be ashamed if you've had doubts in your heart. Let me be honest with you. I have doubted. I have doubted my salvation at times.

I know some Christians who claim they've never doubted their salvation, and I don't understand it quite frankly. I heard about a woman who came up to Dwight L. Moody and said, "Mr. Moody, I've been saved for 25 years and I've never had a single doubt." Dwight L. Moody said, "Madam, I doubt you've been saved. That would be like somebody saying, 'We've been married 50 years and never had an argument.' I doubt if they've ever been married."

You see, doubt, in and of itself, is not a sin. It is what you do with your doubt that determines whether or not it becomes a sin. Do you know what doubt is? Doubt is an opportunity to strengthen your faith, and the way you starve your doubt is to feed your faith. Do you know what you need to feed your faith- the word of God. Rom. 10:17 says, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

When doubt comes your way, you just simply need to say, "I am going to take God at His word and live according to His truth no matter what." What's wrong with many Christians is, they take up the shield of feelings rather than the shield of faith. Now the shield of feeling is fine as long as you feel good, but when you begin to feel badly the shield of feelings will disintegrate right before your eyes. The only shield that will ward off the dart of doubt is the shield of faith.

The next time the devil tries to bring doubt into your heart, if you will look him in the eye and say, "Satan, come what may, do what you can, say what you will, regardless of the circumstances, I'm going to believe God." You have just erected a wall he cannot scale; you have just built a mountain he cannot climb; you have just put up a shield he cannot penetrate. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.

V. The Helmet of Salvation is for the Dart of Discouragement

Now we are told to "take the helmet of salvation." (v.17) Just as the breastplate was to protect the heart, the helmet was to protect the head. Because the two prime targets to any enemy is your heart or your head.

You know if Satan cannot get to your heart, he'll try to get to your head. He'll try to play mind games with you. He'll either try to make you think you're lost, or he'll try to convince you that you can lose your salvation. Then the first time you sin he'll say to you, "See, I told you. You lost your salvation. You might have been a Christian, but you're not now; you've lost it." There's not a more discouraged man in the world than a Christian who thinks he's lost his salvation.

When that happens to you, you need to put on the helmet of salvation. What is this helmet? It is, first of all, the knowledge that you are saved, and secondly, the confidence that you can never lose that salvation. Did you know the Bible teaches two things about salvation? It teaches, first of all, you can be sure of it; and number two, you can be secure in it. The next time the devil gets you to doubt whether or not you are saved, let me give you a piece of advice. Don't look back at a past experience. Don't look at how you used to feel. Don't pull out a baptismal certificate. Pull out the word of God.

Just pull out this verse: John 5:24, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." In that one verse Jesus says two things: You can be sure of your salvation and you can be secure in that salvation. You can be sure you have everlasting life, and you can be sure you will never come into judgment.

I read about a little fellow who went to a revival meeting and the preacher preached on that verse and the young man received Jesus as his Lord and Savior. On his way home he said that Satan was so real tempting him that it seemed as though Satan were perched on his shoulder, whispering in his ear saying, "You're not saved, you're not good enough, you're not strong enough, and you’ll never make it to heaven." The devil was doing everything he could to make that little fellow think he was still lost.

When that little boy got home he said he felt like he was just going through pure torment. He sat down on the couch and he said as he was sitting there it seemed like Satan was right under the couch just whispering and talking to him. Finally, that little boy said to himself, "What is that verse again the preacher preached on?" He remembered John 5:24. He started saying it to himself: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that hears my word (he said to himself, "I've heard it") and believes in Him who sent Me, ("I believe that") has everlasting life, ("I've got it") and shall not come into judgment." ("and I'll never lose my salvation") He said, "I have everlasting life and I cannot lose it. Jesus said so." He took that Bible, stuck it under the couch and said, "There devil, read it for yourself." He said from that time on the doubt left him. That's taking up the helmet of salvation.

VI. The Sword of the Spirit is for the Dart of Disbelief

Our last weapon is "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Now remember the first five weapons were for our defense against Satan, but this weapon is for our defeat of Satan. The first five are defensive, the last one is offensive. Because God does not always want us to be on the defense, He wants us to be on the offense. General George Patton once said, "You fight a war attacking from the front, not defending from the rear."

We're told to take the sword of the Spirit and go on the attack. Now the Roman soldier had a short sword about 14 inches long that was sharp at the end and on both sides. It cut both ways, and this sword that we have is the word of God. This reminds us of Heb.4:12, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

Think about this: We have a defense for every weapon he has, but Satan has no defense for the one weapon we have. You see, when we put on the armor of God, we can defend ourselves against every attack of Satan. But when we take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, he cannot defend himself against us.

How did Jesus defeat the devil when He was tempted in the wilderness? He only used one weapon- "It is written." He simply took the sword of the Spirit and thrust Satan through.

Our problem is, too many people keep their sword in the sheath and never pull it out. Just last week, in the Sunday edition of the Atlanta Journal, there was an article entitled "Losing Touch with Scripture." The sub-line said, "The Bible remains a bestseller, but many people know little about it." ("Losing Touch with Scripture," Clayton Hardimon, The Atlanta Journal, Saturday, April 21, 2001, Section B.)

Then it told this story: Not long ago Jay Leno, on the Tonight Show, was moving through his audience asking people what they knew about the Bible. He said to one man, "Name one of the Ten Commandments." The man said, "God helps those who help themselves." Leno said, "Can anyone name one of the apostles?" Not one person in the audience could.

Finally, after asking several Bible questions nobody could answer, he said, "Who can name the Beatles?" and the answer came ringing from throughout the crowd: "George, Paul, John, and Ringo." What was Leno's point? We're living in a society that claims the motto, "In God We Trust," and yet we know more about the Beatles than we do about the Bible.

This same article said that occasional Bible readers declined from 73% in the 1980s to 59% in the year 2000. Only 16% of Christians said they read their Bible every day.

Well, let me state the obvious. A sword must be removed from its sheath. It must be taken from its scabbard if it is going to be of any use. A closed Bible is no better than no Bible at all.


Martin Luther preached a sermon in 1531, and though this message is almost 500 years old, he said something in it that I want to say to you as I think about our war:

"Christendom must have people who can beat down their adversaries and opponents and tear off the devil's equipment and armor that he may be brought into disgrace. But for this work, powerful warriors are needed who are thoroughly familiar with the Scriptures, and can contradict all false interpretations and take the sword from false teachers-that is, those very verses which false teachers use, and turn them round upon them so that they fall back defeated. But as not all Christians can be so capable in defending the Word and articles of their creed, they must have teachers and preachers who study the Scriptures and have daily fellowship with it, so that they can fight for all the others. Yet each Christian should be so armed that he himself is sure of his belief and of the doctrine, and is so equipped with the sayings from the word of God, that he can stand up against the devil and defend himself when men seek to lead him astray."

If you will take the armor of God every day, and from head to toe put it on, and then go do battle with the sword of the Spirit, you will live in victory.