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Description: Put on God’s Armor
Put on God’s Armor
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
What I’d point out to you first of all is verse 10 of Ephesians 6. If you could start there that is
where the whole direction comes from. Eph 6:10 –“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength
of his might.” Then he goes into the business about the armor which I think we have taken too
lightly. Eph 6:11 –“Put on the whole armor of God.”
I wonder if you all heard what I heard in Sunday school? We often used to talk about putting on the
armor of God. It was an inspiring and interesting kind of concept and you were all for it. But it
all faded into a general attitude of: be a strong Christian and stand up for Jesus. So I think we
missed the heart of it.
Put on the whole armor of God — and then we often slide over this bit — but this is why you put it
on. “….that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” We’re all used to saying, “Oh
yes, that Devil – he’s tricky. That’s why we have to armor ourselves with everything good so that we
can stand against him. It often ends up with the siding of the good guys against the bad guys. But
it’s much more than this.
Eph 6:12 – “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities,
against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts
of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
We’re all for that, especially as we read The Warfare of the Saints by Jessie Penn Lewis. We think
yes, that’s right, that’s what we are fighting against. Yet it is remarkable that we can sink under
depression and not really think that we are contending against principalities and powers. We think,
“I’m just having a bad day.” Or “I thought of my dad today.” Or, “I’m thinking about the money
today and whether it’s going to work out.” Or, “I’m thinking about that machine that is broken.” Or,
“It’s such a dull day.”
Satan’s job is to keep your eyes off him and get you just to think it’s a bad day and that’s why I’m
a bit depressed. Or, I’ve just been thinking of those who used to be alive here and that’s why I’m
depressed. Or, you’re worried about the meal you’re going to make. Or, what am I going to do about
the coat I don’t really like but that has to be fixed and I have to do something with it. Or, what
will I do about the wretched car or machine that I don’t know how to solve or the problem with this
piece of jewelry and how to fix it.
The principalities and powers are all around us but we can’t see them at all. We say no, no, no.
It’s just the way that Mary spoke to me or the way that Pastor spoke to me or it’s the way I’m
feeling today. Or, it’s the machine. But it’s not! It’s the principalities and powers! The very
atmosphere is thick with them. The whole world — that’s what we mean when we talk about the world.
It has a whole atmosphere about it. The world pretends that there is no God. It lives as if there is
no God. The world has to do everything by its own effort, its own strain and struggle. And so strain
and stress fills the atmosphere and that’s what is coming in upon us.
But we bypass that fact and say, “No, I know all those things are there but actually …” and we go
back to our lies and jokes and being deceived by Satan that it’s just a problem of that machine.
“It’s that machine that is getting me down. If I could solve that I’d be OK. Or it’s the money thing
that is getting me down and if I could sort that out I’d be OK. Or, if I could fix this relationship
that isn’t quite right in this department in the factory…..”
But our poor hearts and spirits lie under these weights. We never think it’s the principalities and
powers. We never think it’s the leaders of darkness. We never think that it’s the elemental spirits
of the universe. It’s a whole world that lives as if there is no God. And the remarkable thing is
that a lot of that is the way we live. We actually live as if there is no God. We wouldn’t dream of
saying that about ourselves but we actually live as if there is no God.
That’s what we are doing about something. God through his word has often said, “Don’t be anxious
about anything! Rejoice in the Lord always. Never have any anxiety about anything because the Lord
is at hand and we know that. But in this situation we are preoccupied with these things that God
hasn’t dealt with. We say, God has dealt with them but here is where we go into our practical
atheism. He may have dealt with them but I still have to face them. That’s my job here. I know what
you say that God has put them under his feet but I still have to do something.
So, it’s really the deception of the principalities and powers that surround us. And it hit me very
powerfully a couple of weeks ago as I began to get some thoughts of this. I thought we live as
though we are just on our own. If you think of the way you think it’s along the lines of, “What am I
going to do now?” “What am I-I-I-I-I going to do? And we are full of ourselves. I don’t like the
term that people use when they say “We are full of it” but that’s what we are “full of it”. We’re
just full of ourselves.
And so we live as if there is no God. Certainly we live as though there isn’t a loving Heavenly
Father bending over us with our arms around us and watching us. I remember dad when I was trying to
learn to roller skate or ride the bike or swim. His hand was always right there. If I slipped into
the water he would lift my chin up. Or, if the bike even looked as if it was going to topple he was
And that’s it with our heavenly Father. He’s every minute right with us. He has us covered whatever.
But we don’t live as if that’s the situation. We live as if we are on our own here. He’s out there
and if we “ring him up” he’ll probably come and help us but we have to tackle this on our own. So we
live like the world. And the world is dominated by the principalities and powers that are really the
elemental spirits that God has allowed to develop and to exist in this planet that flies through his
He has allowed these things so that we will see the difference between living with him and living
without him. The killer is that we live without him but we believe in him. But really we live
without him. And so we experience all the uncertainty of the world – all their fearfulness, all
their anxiety, it’s coming in on us all the time.
This business of the armor of God is to protect us against those powers. It’s to enable us to walk
free from those powers and above them. And it’s not just a general, “Be strong, keep your heart up,
stand up for Jesus, put on the armor so that you can fight Goliath.” It’s not a general direction to
be on the side of the good guys. It’s a detailed direction. If you don’t put this armor on you’ll be
at the mercy of the principalities and powers. And that’s exactly what we are because we don’t
really take seriously putting on the armor of God.
I’ll do it as quickly as I can and explain some of it as much as I can understand it.
Eph 6:12, “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities,
against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts
of wickedness in the heavenly places.” It’s because of them that we put the armor on and we’ll be
protected against them. If we don’t have the armor on we’re at their mercy.
Eph 6:13—“Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day,
and having done all, to stand.” Often that’s all we are able to do is stand but you do stand
against it. “Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth.” I think there are six pieces of
armor which I’ll detail a little as I am able. “…and having put on the breastplate of righteousness
and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the
shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the
helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The first one I tried to deal with is “gird your loins with truth” – that means seeing things as
they really are. Dwell upon that and settle your mind upon it. The truth is not that we are on our
own down here or that God is still fighting things out the best he can against the enemy. We are not
dealing with that kind of dualism — God fighting for the good, the devil fighting for the bad and
we are not quite sure which will win.
The truth is that God who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he has loved us, even
when we were dead in our sins raised us up, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have
been saved and raised us up with him and made us sit with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
The truth is that we are at God’s right hand at this moment. We are not down here slogging it out as
we appear to be. We are at his right hand. I would say that that truth is what is expressed when the
machine breaks. When the machine breaks and your heart drops into your boots I think it’s because
you’re not living at that moment at the right hand of God.
I think we always say, “Myron is a very extrovert kind of guy and he just tells it like it is.
That’s one of the beauties of his life. He expresses exactly what he feels and he is absolutely
bewildered at the breaking of this wretched machine! This is no time for this machine to break! And
so we say, “Well he just needs to be more deceptive. He might think that underneath but he shouldn’t
express it outwardly. He should say, “Well that’s great, God must have something good for us as he’s
allowed us to come into this trial.”
We say our problem here is that we haven’t control over our emotions or we can’t pick it up fast
enough or we can’t deceive cleverly enough. No that’s not it at all. It’s because we aren’t grasping
that we are at God’s right hand. And we’re not grasping that because we live so much in what we see
around us. We walk not by faith but by sight. We are not wearing the armor.
The armor is girded with truth, the truth that you’re at God’s right hand. But we are not wearing
that armor. We aren’t even wearing the armor when we are happy and things are going well. We’re
happy because things seem to be going well in a world that exists without God. So it’s actually bad.
“You shall be like God.” It’s the world trying to make you think you’re like God even though you are
living separate from Him. The world has many things that are working reasonably well. And all of
them are contributing to the idea that this world is OK. What’s fallen about his world?
You always get into trouble when cancer hits or a tsunami comes but generally the more you can
pretend that the world is doing OK without God the more you get used to the idea of being without
him. And so we often think, “If we can pretend then it’s OK.” The truth is that we are at God’s
right hand and we are not down here slogging it out on our own.
But we don’t spend a lot of time there at God’s right hand. Even in our prayers. Remember we used to
joke about Dan that prayed us into the ground. By the time he finished praying about the problem we
were utterly overwhelmed by the problem!
And that’s it. We don’t take the whole armor of God. We don’t gird our loins with the truth of being
at the right hand of God. We don’t spend a lot of time at the right hand of God because we have our
duties to do here on earth. We have all these things to take care of. So who has time to spend up
there? But actually that’s what the old people did. They spent a lot of time at the right hand of
God. So gird your loins with truth.
The second one is righteousness which means that you are living what you say you are living. It’s
action. Let your life be in accordance with what you know to be true. And that’s where the
righteousness comes in. We think righteousness is what God wants from us and righteousness is
freedom from sin. Righteousness is what all good people are and so we ought to be righteous.
No, those are all unimportant. Righteousness is being in accordance with reality. It’s being in
accordance with truth. It’s being in accordance with what you know to be right. Every time you’re
not righteous you are breaking down truth and honesty in your life. You are living the lie that the
world believes — that there is no God.
So the reason why we ought to obey is not to get into Heaven. It’s not even so that we’ll not offend
God. It’s because it’s right — it’s right! It’s in line with the way life really is and that’s why
you are right – you are righteous. You are righteous because you are acting in accordance with the
way that things really are. That’s part of the armor of God.
But we’ve changed righteousness to be a “holy, holy” thing. You must be good; you must avoid sin so
you’ll avoid hell. No it’s more down to earth than that. You are righteous because that’s what life
is. God is in Heaven and right with the world. We are at his right hand and that’s it. So that’s why
we are happy today. That’s why we are at peace in the midst of the disaster that has just happened,
because everything is right. It only appears to be rocking but it isn’t. God has his steady hand
Peace. The word is reconciled. I have often thought, “How on earth or in heaven could God have even
a moment of freedom from strain when some priest is raping a seminarian, or a guy in this school is
shooting all the kids with his guns? How can God be free from strain in light of all the things that
are happening?” How could you live with all those unsatisfactory events unless you have reconciled
all of them? Unless you have worked out how all of them will eventually fit into your plan for us
all. Unless he has worked out over the centuries how he can melt all those things together and make
them all part of his will. Only then could he do that.
I know that so well when it occurs to me, “how are we going to pay for this?” So often this comes to
me in the middle of the night. And you know that you can only get to sleep when you’ve reconciled
it. You can only get to the deep peace of sleep when you’ve sorted the thing out in your own mind
and you can at last let it go.
The Father lives in utter contentment. How can you live in utter contentment when you look at this
world — unless you have sorted it all out? And that’s the truth. Jesus and his father are in peace
together because they have sorted it all out.
When you reconcile the bank account it is not a matter of using an eraser to erase this bit and that
bit. It’s taking these two figures that appear to be contradicting one another and finding out why
they contradict each other. You work out that this check has been cashed and this one has not. You
reconcile them not be erasing but by sorting out why the difference and making them match each
other. That’s what reconciliation is. God has reconciled the whole thing.
This looks like an insuperable loss to the business. It looks like it will do permanent damage to
our position. Has God reconciled it? Of course he has reconciled it. This event that has taken place
in the family with no way to turn it around – God has reconciled it. God has reconciled the world to
himself. He was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. And so you live in the midst of that
I’ll do the others very quickly. It almost speaks for itself the whole business of faith. But it
seems that it’s what is said in 2 Corinthians — not walking by sight but by faith. That’s part of
the armor or God – not walking by sight. I’d ask you how often are we walking by sight? All the
things we say to each other are sight. Do you know what’s happened? Do you know what so and so did?
Do you know what’s going to happen here in this city? Do you know the effect that it’s going to have
on the jewelry business? It’s all sight!
Should you know those things? Yes, you should know that that’s a pillar and you don’t walk into it.
So yes there are certain things that are important to note. But your mind does not need to be filled
with the anxiety in our voice when we say with emphasis, “Did you see where the Thai baht is?” Or,
“Do you know what happened to Colleen when she tried to sell this?
So the constant living by sight is something we justify. Of course we know we have to deal with it
so there is no point in saying, “Well you know you have to be practical.” We all know that we have
to be practical. But there is a difference in being practical to deal with a thing and being
preoccupied with it and letting it be a main factor in your attitude to the next event you have to
deal with. And it’s there that walking by faith is a vital part of the armor of God.
I do think we get used to walking by sight and not having our armor on. Then we run into trouble. It
seems to me the whole message of this verse is that if you are walking this way with the whole armor
or God you won’t have any trouble. You won’t have trouble with worry, anxiety or irritability. You
won’t have trouble with those things because you’ll wear the armor of God naturally. The
principalities and powers that attack you just brush off every moment. So it’s a wider thing than we
The helmet of salvation is the whole realm of the thoughts. I think I’m a preoccupied guy with
thinking and the power of thinking but I think we’re just stupid. We let our thoughts go and go and
go in all kinds of ways that aren’t right. We know we should bring every thought into captivity to
Christ Jesus but think we’ll let the thoughts wander around and let our imagination go and it won’t
do us any harm. It will bring us a little relaxation.
But the armor of God is guarding your head and your mind and your thinking and guarding it from the
wrong thoughts. And immediately that a wrong thought develops in your mind you stop it right there.
It seems to me that’s part of putting on the armor.
Really the whole issue is: Are the thoughts that you have or the things that you think you should do
— are those right? You wonder at times, “did that thought come from God or from other places?”
God is so good. All the thoughts that he’s ever passed onto us human beings are rhema. The emphasis
is not just the “word” uttered but the word that comes home to you as revelation from Him. You can
look it up here in this book (the Bible). What stops you from pretending you are Napoleon and that
you should do this or that? You might be utterly led and deceived by a wrong spirit and so you can
just check it. Is it in the spirit of this book (the Bible)? Is it in the spirit that we see
revealed in this book as being God’s will?
And so the Bible is the closest thing we have to the armor of God that is seen by us and can be
touched by us. So it is a great gift to us to keep us right and from deception. That’s some of what
God is talking about here. I don’t think you become a peaceful, saintly supervisor in a factory or a
businessman that is absolutely untouched or unaffected by the disasters that occur all around you. I
don’t think you get to that by effort and will power and the power of positive thinking. You get it
by putting on the whole armor of God and living in that atmosphere everyday inside and out — then
you naturally God’s child.
I would say what we need to look at things as they really are. Where we have strain or anxiety or
worry we need to face it that we are not wearing God’s armor and we are at the mercy of the
principalities and powers. We had better get the armor of God on and find out how to live this way
inside and out.
Put on the whole armor of God. It’s a bigger issue than just “we were caught off balance this
morning.” I think we’d live longer because when you have to experience an emergency inside yourself
to hold back either this irritability you are feeling or a vague anxiety or worry that is keeping
you from sleeping — when you pull everything together you pull the strain into this body and mind,
into all the arteries and all the blood vessels and you grow older faster.
So it does seem to me one of the effects of this is — Psalm 91:16—“With long life I will satisfy
him, and show him my salvation.” This verse is made real by people who have the whole armor of God
on. Let us pray.