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Description: The Armor of God
The Armor of God
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
The fact that is very clear to all of us when we get into the car and drive out that gate is that
there are all kinds of forces out there and all kinds of thoughts and feelings. And if you drive out
with nothing in your head I think those flow in upon you. So it’s good when it’s a bright sunny
morning and you’re lifted by that. Yet even then, in some way you’re connecting with the elemental
spirits of the universe. Because some of the spirits around us give us that lift. That’s something
we tend to forget – all spirits are not evil and all spirits are not good. There are often evil
spirits with a lot of goodness in them.
I’m sure you haven’t really thought about it and we normally don’t get preoccupied with it but I
think if you reflect upon it at all you will agree that if you go out with nothing very much in your
head you are open to the first road rage guy that cuts across you. And already you are sliding in a
certain direction. So that’s why I’ve put these up again as I know you’ve seen them.
These few verses give you a very clear list of thoughts and attitudes that help to protect you
against those things. That’s why I put these up. It’s not that you can’t remember them but it’s good
to look at it again. You put on the whole armor of God. I think it’s good even to have that in your
head so that you can decide to think of one of them or not. But at least you have them in your head
and that is the armor of God.
The first one is the truth of where you are residing. Are you at 71 Blanche Lane or are you at the
right hand of God? Has God raised you there? If so, that is where you are and that is where your
spirit is. It seems to me it’s good to settle that. You either set your mind on the things of the
earth or you set your mind on the things above where Christ is seated at God’s right hand.
The righteousness is, “Am I in that position? Am I dressed like that? Am I clean and ready to go? Am
I living in the light of the fact that I am at his right hand? Is that where I am spiritually? Is my
mind set on those things? Is my will?” Just check on yourself.
We don’t normally think of doing this but it makes good sense. You know fine well that if you don’t
do that you just happen by chance thinking of this or that. You pass that house on the right and you
wonder if they are further on? Well that’s harmless in itself except that your mind tends to go on
in that way, stimulated by what you see. And often what you see is not really very helpful. I would
say that when you put things in order within by exercising your will over your thoughts, “by
bringing everything into captivity in Christ Jesus” I would say you are in shape to meet whatever
Most of all you are in shape to express Christ and to express the joy of God. And it seems to me
that’s part of what they did in the old monasteries. “This is the day that the Lord has made!” Then
you stood up and said, “We will rejoice and be glad in it!” We smile at it but it was good because
it settled the thing. It set a path for them. And it made them sources of life within rather than
sponges that just soaked in from the outside.
We are in the selling business and concerned with people and what they want. We are concerned in
what they would be interested in buying from us. But it seems to me you can do that safely if you
are fortified within. It’s like a capsule. Would you ever dream of throwing yourself out to space
without one of the space suits on? You’d prefer to be in the space capsule but if you weren’t in it
then you’d want to be in one of those space suits that protect you. But we throw ourselves gaily out
into space here on earth with no protection at all. I think it caught Mary’s imagination that
putting on the armor of God was like getting into a capsule or space suit to go out into the world.
It protects you.
Then there is the peace that God is able to enjoy at this moment despite the marathon situation in
Boston, despite the fact that there are all kinds of little ones dying, despite the fact that there
are all kinds of dreadful things being done to children and to other people. God is at peace himself
because he has already reconciled those things. It’s only a temporary situation where he himself is
giving them grace to bear the difficulties. And so he can rest in peace and he is able to give us
that peace and asks us to rest in that peace ourselves — the peace of Christ. Let the peace of
Christ rule our hearts. And it seems that’s important as you head out into a day.
If you say, “What about that financial thing I have to solve yet?” I would say leave that aside. God
will give you grace at the right time to think that through but let his peace rule your heart, the
peace that he has already dealt with that thing. That it’s already provided for. You may have to do
something about it but it will be something he will direct you in and will be something that is just
to please him – not in order to solve the problem. The problem is already solved. He doesn’t let you
face something that you have to sort out yourself. He always faces you with trials that already have
a way of deliverance. So peace is having that attitude. If you don’t have it you end up frazzled.
Because you barely sort out one thing when further along the road you’re hitting another thing. It’s
not long before there is confusion and a lack of peace in your heart.
It seems to me right from the beginning it’s important to put on the gospel of peace and to walk in
that with the shield of faith. I would say to ones like Greg and me who can be very quick to look at
the dark side that it’s always right to exercise faith. It’s never right for us to exercise just
sight. We’re just making trouble for ourselves. We are just walking straight into difficulty when we
say, “Well, the situation looks like this.”
No, it’s always right to exercise faith and say, “Father, you have all things under control. You
have promised to never leave me nor forsake me. You have said that you are working in all things for
good to those who love you. So Lord, I know you are working for good in this situation. And I have
my eyes upon you.” It’s always right to do that.
It’s always wrong to look at the problems of the situation visible to you. It’s always wrong. We
walk by faith and not by sight. If we walk by sight we have no power at all. We must walk by faith.
Do you mean the first thought of the day? The first thought is the dangerous one. You can’t help the
birds flying over your head but you can stop it building a nest in your hair. And it seems to me you
can’t stop thoughts of wrong or depression or sadness going over your head but the moment you think
of it then you own it and it becomes part of you.
It’s interesting that evil has to be invited in. It has to be allowed in. You are the owner of this
home. You belong to Christ and all things are under his feet. So it’s always right to exercise
faith. It’s always wrong to exercise the sight.
Salvation is the safety that comes from being in Jesus and that we are safe in his arms. There is a
place for singing about “the everlasting arms”. Isn’t that what praise does? The walls of Jericho
came down because they shouted in praise. We have difficulty understanding that the praise has to
precede the work. We want to see the walls come down and then we’ll praise him for bringing the
walls down. But it’s the other way around. When you praise, then the walls come down.
The sword of the spirit – whatever quiet time you’ve had it’s always good to look at the word of
God. It may only be a few verses that have hit you but you have them and you just think about them
as you are driving in the car.
It is interesting that though the armor is setting you up for aggression and action most of the
armor is defensive against the powers of the enemy. And most of your action is in here – the mind.
No, we want to be like a Martin Luther and nail up our 95 theses or haul the walls of Jericho down
ourselves. We do a few things but the main thing that we can do is this – (pointing to the board
listing the armor of God).
I noticed this morning that I was thinking again what I thought the previous night. I see you can
make it a work. You can make it heavy and a burden — “I have to pray!” Well, that kind of prayer
won’t do much. I think part of what is meant here is ejaculatory prayer – prayer that you throw up
to God. It’s says we are to pray always and that means walking in a spirit of prayer all the time.
Someone asked Andrew Murray why people didn’t pray. He baffled me with his answer. He said, because
of the flesh. Flesh in the Bible is independence of God. It’s because people don’t really believe in
God. They don’t pray because they don’t really believe that he’s there and able to do anything for
I thought it was good because we all like to piously say why we don’t pray. We don’t have the time,
we can’t get up early in the morning or we’re just not praying kind of people. We are reluctant
however to say that we don’t pray because we don’t believe God can do anything about it. We depend
on ourselves and it’s our own right arm that is going to achieve anything.
And so that’s why we don’t pray and it’s more honest to be straight about that. You don’t pray
because you don’t think you need to pray. And of course this is the heart of a person who believes
in God. A person who believes in God is a prayer – ones who is always praying. We pray when someone
is talking with us, as you go out of a store you send up an ejaculatory prayer to God out of the joy
in your heart and out of the love and concern for the person you just talked to.
Does that do any good? Without a doubt it does because it creates a whole atmosphere through the
Holy Spirit of God’s presence. It’s one human spirit seeking God’s spirit and lifting himself up
into his Spirit. That affects the spiritual atmosphere in that very area. And most of all it’s God
being free to act. Remember Watchman Nee’s statement, “God will not act against his own will and he
will not act apart from man’s will.”
I thought it was a good use of the prepositions. God will not act or cannot act against his own
will, but he will not act apart from man’s will. So it’s interesting the “will” and “can”. God could
of course; he is capable of acting apart from man’s will. But he will not and refuses to act apart
from man’s will. He cannot act against his own will. But even when he wills something he will not do
it apart from man’s will.
This is part of why Jesus says, “Stretch forth your hand”, and then I will heal you. If you won’t
stretch forth your hand then Jesus will not heal you. So of course whenever you send up an
ejaculatory prayer to God it frees him to do whatever he was going to do in that shop or in that
office situation. So it’s important to walk in that spirit of prayer.
I think it’s very practical. I don’t think it’s a mystical feeling. I think it’s just very
practical. “It’s true, it’s actual, everything is satisfactural. There’s a bluebird on my shoulder!”
I just think of the old black man in that Disney movie. He was sitting there and then the bird
flutters down and says, “It’s true, it’s actual, everything is satisfactual!” It’s like that. The
whole power of God is on your shoulder and your recognition of that enables him to work without
forcing man’s human will.
It is so important for us to see how vital that is in God’s mind. That is why he set out to die.
That’s why Jesus had to die. God was determined not to have robotic saints. He knew it would not be
possible to have robotic saints. It’s only possible to have robots that have no will at all. But the
moment he wanted children of his Son who could love him because they wanted to, then free will was
necessary. So free will is vital for his work here on earth. So we need to be praying always in the
I thought this was important. Let’s look at Ephesians 6:18 “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with
all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for
all the saints.” We usually overlook that supplication and don’t like too much the idea of it
because it emphases how poor and humble and lowly we are. But making supplication for all the saints
— the translation of the Greek is “imploring”. We implore for all the saints. That’s what God
needs. He needs to be able to express through us his deep concern for the people. He needs to be
able to bring to our hearts the seriousness and gravity and the love and compassion of his heart.
And that’s what supplication is. It’s imploring God because your heart breaks for this person.
God cannot act apart from us. He cannot create what is not there. He has put within us his own image
but we ourselves have to then express that image. And until we express it freely with our own will
he is not able to activate his. So it’s “imploring God”.
You get that idea when you read about people like George Mueller and David Brainerd. You wonder why
are they sweating it out in prayer? Then you realize that it’s because they feel this. They feel the
want that these people have and they want desperately that they will receive from God what they
I thought that about ourselves. We don’t need to make prayer a work but we do need to allow God’s
heart to express himself through us and to pray with real concern for the people. We might do our
duty by praying for this person and that person but we really don’t feel for them. God himself is
not a mechanical God like that.
It can sound a bit like God is mechanical when he says, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and
you shall find.” Then, because of our limited human minds we think, “Just say it”. Pop the penny in
and out comes the chocolate. But he’s saying, “I want you to express here on earth freely the
concern and compassion that I have for these people.”
Our prayers are to be ones of feeling, love and concern for the other people. How does that apply? I
think it applies when you deal with your customer in the store and you know they are going through
things. I think there is a place for expressing your own heart (whether you express it to them or
not) to God the compassion you feel for them.
It’s really natural isn’t it? If you are part of Jesus his heart is given to you and it’s just a
matter of being what we are. That’s what God means when he says to have that mind in you which you
have in Christ Jesus. You have it, but recognize it and express it. Prayer is to be that of feeling
and compassion for other people and is not just a mechanical thing.
So it seems to me there is content in your own inner being as the day goes through. There is life in
here. Remember at Garden Court the complex air system would make for areas of low pressure which
wasn’t good in the middle of Minnesota winters because it pooled the cold air into certain spots. So
it’s the same here. We can either have a low pressure here where everything outside flows in or you
can have a higher pressure here which enables you to give out. So it is a very different day to
tackle the day. Are you low pressure or high pressure?
Let us pray.