The armour of God.

The armour of God  Ephesians 6

car crashDid you realize that every time you get into a modern motor car, you are putting on an armoury of protection?  Many of us take this for granted, and don’t understand and even despise all the lights, beeps and warning tones that go off in our car, every time we turn the key.  We take little notice of what is happening around us as we click on our seat belt and drive out onto the road.  But did you realize the car has now provided an armour, a safety cell for us, that protects us against impacts from outside.

The instant there is an impact, often, before we even respond ourselves, the armour around us defends our bodies, our life from being killed in an accident. A plethora of safety systems deploy: front and side airbags, curtain airbags, seatbelt retractors, crumple zones collapse absorbing energy and the strengthened cage around the cabin transfers the impact load through to the crumples zones.  All this armour remains hidden yet always active, ready for when there is an impact that could kill us.  Without it, we would certainly die.  Its our modern day armour.

St Paul uses the imagery of armour, that of the Roman soldier, the helmet, the belt, the breast plate, the shield and sword, that protects them from the enemy’s weapons, to describe what Jesus victory over sin, death and the devil really means for us in our lives.  The gospel of Jesus, as Paul describes it in Romans 1:17 ‘a righteousness from God…a righteousness that is by faith from first to last’, is the full armour of God; the armament given to us for protection against the day of evil.  Today, it is equally valid to state this armour of God, this righteousness from God, as being like the safety cell in our car that surrounds us and protects us every moment we drive.

After watching  video advertising, who here would not put on their seatbelt?  Would any of you dare to disconnect the airbags?  After seeing the protection a safety cell provides, would you want to go back to the old cars, like my Valiant, which I am sad to say, has no safety features at all?  We would never do that.  It would be too dangerous…we might be killed.  Have you thought the same way about using the armour God that he has given us to protect us from the fiery arrows, the impacts of the devil?  It’s a sad reality for many of us, and I am often just as much at fault, that we take more care of our physical safety than we do for our spiritual safety.

When we begin each day, because there is no automatic alarms, sirens and flashing lights reminding us of the protection we have around us, we often go though our day without a thought of using God’s full armour.  We face the day, so to speak, with all its impacts from the devil, in an old car, without a seatbelt, without a safety cell, and still expect to be alive and well at the end of the day.  In spiritual terms, we go to work or school, face constant attacks from the devil, all without relying on any protection from God’s armour.   We have no thought about the truth of Jesus; the righteousness we have because of him; the power of the Spirit that can transform our lives, nor understand  the influence that being saved by grace can have on our decisions and on our daily struggles with other people or  in our temptations to sin.    

Have you ever experience a day when you got home in the evening and thought…’what went so wrong?’  How could have I allowed myself to speak like I did, or lose my temper the way I did?’  Or have you lay in bed at night worrying about what the next day was going to bring? Or how you are going to handle your anxiety over a conflict or a desire to act on something you know isn’t right?  Sadly, it is so easy for us to feel confident to face our crisis alone and by our own armament and capabilities; as if our faith is nothing more than an ideology and Jesus word has no power to protect us from such a deadly foe.

You are a Lutheran, I am a Lutheran and Justification, being made right with God through faith in Christ alone, a righteousness of God from faith to faith, as St Paul says, is the central teaching of our church and is what we believe.   This central belief is the armour of God and is the power to enable us to stand in our most difficult days.  How, you may ask?  We have two options when facing a difficult time or an attack from the devil; either we stand and face evil with our own righteousness and works or we put on the armour of God and rely on the righteousness of Christ:  which of these will you choose?

Stand against the devil by your own power and you will spiritually die.  In the same way as you would physically die if you were in a car without a safety system.  Stand in the armour of God and Jesus fights for you and you will live, as Jesus says ‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.’ In other words, you can’t fight on your own.

St Paul encourages us then, to put on Christ as our armour or safety cell, ‘be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.’  We have no mamby pamby God on our side.  Jesus has defeated the devil and sin on the cross and by rising again he has defeated death.  Evil can’t harm us anymore.  Luther writes ‘if sin makes you anxious, and if death terrifies you, just think that this is an empty phantom and an illusion of the devil – which is what it surely is.  For in fact there is no sin any longer, no curse, no death, and no devil, because Christ has conquered and abolished all these.  Accordingly, the victory of Christ is utterly certain.’ 

St Paul says the same ‘we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’  By faith we believe this to be so; trusting in Jesus as our shield, breastplate, helmet and belt.  When the devil impacts us, accuses us of fault and guilt, justification instantly springs into action on our behalf. 

When there is a severe impact to our car, the strengthened cage around the cabin transfers the impact load through to the crumples zones, so that we remain safe and unhurt.  In a similar way, when the devil or sin impacts on our life, Jesus becomes our crumple zone; he is our armour around us who absorbs the impact to keep us spiritually safe.  Suddenly, as an attack happens…the devil accuses us, or someone hurts us with a lie or there is some sort of abuse against us, Jesus takes upon himself all the attacks.  By faith in him we allow the impact to be transferred onto him. 

To put the armour of God at a time like this is to remember and recite passages of scripture like ‘Isaiah 53 ‘Surely he took upon himself our infirmities and carried our sorrows.’ Or 2 Corinthians 5:21 ‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’  Better to be safe than sorry.  Begin everyday by being strong in the Lord, remembering to put on the armour of God, saying ‘I am a child of God, I am baptized and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.’  Let’s put on the armour of God now and say after me ‘I am a child of God, I am baptized and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.’  Amen.

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