This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Going to Ephesians 6, and reading verses 10 through 12:
“Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (KJV)
I pointed out yesterday and will just briefly repeat today, that the Scripture warns us that all of us, as Christians, are going to be involved in a direct, personal conflict with the devil. This is not something abstract, it’s not purely in the psychological realm; but it’s a person-to-person confrontation. We are going to meet the devil in conflict. And we are warned of one particular thing about him at this point, that he is wily. He is cunning. And in the light of that we are exhorted to prepare ourselves and equip ourselves for an inevitable confrontation.
I was interested to read sometime back in the introduction to the official Roman Catholic rite for exorcism—something that was placed in my hands by a Catholic priest after he had listened to me ministering on deliverance—and I read it with interest because the moment I started to read it, I realized that it had been written by people who had experience. It was not mere theology. While I didn’t agree with every theological suggestion in it, basically I saw that it was right along the lines that the Lord had been teaching me. But in this introduction there was a statement made which I think was very significant. It was very simple. It said this: Evil is not something, it is someone. And I think when you’ve grasped that, you’ve made a real step of progress. Say it again. Evil is not something, it is someone.
All right. Now, going on to verse 12, and I’m giving you not the King James Version, but the ‘Prince version,’ which I explained yesterday and can’t go into again today. Sometimes it varies a little bit according to the inspiration of the moment. But basically it goes like this:
“For our wrestling match is not against persons with bodies, but against rulerships, and the realms of their authority, against the world dominators of the present darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies.”
And very briefly, I suggested that we are involved in a conflict with a very highly organized, efficient, centrally governed but invisible and spiritual kingdom. It is the kingdom of Satan. And contrary to many people’s opinions, Satan is not confined in hell or Hades. In fact, he doesn’t even reside on the surface of the earth. His place of residence and his headquarters are in the heavenlies. And there he rules over a band of rebellious angels who are inevitably submitted to his authority. There is a lower echelon of his kingdom on earth where Satan controls countless myriads of demons or evil spirits. And without making a doctrine of this I suggested that angels are one thing and evil spirits are another. If you want the details, you’ll have to get the tape of the previous teaching.
Because I realize we have people here today that were not here yesterday, let me just say that the Bible reveals heaven is plural all through from the first verse of the Bible onwards, heaven is plural. And 2 Corinthians 12:2 speaks of the “third heaven,” which tells us that there are at least three heavens. And now I suggested as an inference that the first heaven is the visible heaven, the third heaven the Bible reveals as the place of God’s dwelling, where Paradise is. And logically, the second heaven is in between the first and the third. And that is where Satan has his headquarters.
And I pointed out to you by way of confirmation that in Daniel 10, Daniel started to pray. He prayed twenty-one days, his prayer was heard the first day, the first day God dispatched an angel in answer to his prayer, but the angel did not arrive on earth till three weeks later because he was held up by the opposition of satanic angels in the heavenlies. And the two angels in particular that were mentioned in Daniel 10 are called “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” and “the prince of Grecia” (or Greece). Which, I think, indicates that under Satan there are sub-rulers who have delegated areas of authority on earth over empires, kingdoms, states, communities, cities and probably many different other breakdowns of the human race.
All right. Now in 2 Corinthians 10:3–5 we saw that God has given us the weapons that are appropriate to this war. They are not carnal, but by implication they are spiritual. They are mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds. And basically, 2 Corinthians 10:5 reveals that the battlefield is the human mind. The key words there are imaginations, reasonings, speculations, thought and knowledge—all of them dealing with the realm of the mind. In other words, we’re involved in a tremendous battle against unseen forces that are seeking to captivate and dominate the human race through captivating the minds of men. And our responsibility is to liberate the minds of men from Satan’s dominion and bring them into captivity to the obedience of Christ. And I believe we are the most significant people in the earth because we alone have the weapons needed to do the job. That makes us more significant and more influential as Christians than political rulers or military commanders or scientists or other such people. Because, though they may be very effective in their particular realms, they do not operate in this spiritual realm. They do not have the tools, they do not have the equipment. We alone are equipped.
Now, Paul goes on in Ephesians 6:13, he begins with a wherefore. And probably some of you have heard me say that when you find a “wherefore” or a “therefore” in the Bible you need to find out what it’s there for. In other words, it always implies a logical connection with what has gone before. And the connection here is because we are involved in this ruthless conflict, we better see that we’re properly protected ourselves.
And so Paul now begins to talk about the protective armor of the Christian. And basically what we’re going to speak about in this study is our protective armor. Having dealt with protection, we will go on to our weapons of aggression. But I’ve seen by experience that Paul was very right in warning us to protect ourselves first. I have met a number of cases of people who have committed themselves to some serious prayer onslaught against Satan but have come out wounded, casualties. Mentally, spiritually, physically or in their family because they didn’t first put on the protective armor.
So I rejoice to see how practical the Bible is. I’ve learned this by experience. Before you get involved in far reaching spiritual conflict and high sounding programs to storm the citadels of Satan, be very sure you’ve got your armor on. Otherwise, you’re going to come out a casualty. And so Paul takes the picture from the standard equipment of a Roman legionary in his day and uses this to build up a picture of spiritual protective armor. And I will read now in the King James verses 13–17, and you will notice that we have six pieces of equipment mentioned. Then we’ll spend most of this time together studying the particular nature and function of each piece of equipment. All right. Going back to Ephesians 6:13:
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God...”
You’ll notice that Paul is emphatic about this. He’s already said in verse 11 to “put on the whole armor.” Now he says “take unto you the whole armor of God.” I want to point out to you that it doesn’t just drop on us. It doesn’t grow on us. We’re not born with it on. We have, by decisive act, to put it on. Otherwise it won’t be on.
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (KJV)
Again, Paul warns us that every one of us is going to face the evil day. I don’t believe that’s the great tribulation, I think it’s something individual. Every one of us is going to go through a period of specific pressure and testing. We must, through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. That’s what the Scripture says. There is no easy way into the life of God’s kingdom. Jesus gave the parable of the two men who built a house; one on the rock, the other on the sand. And in each case he said, “When the storm came ...” It was not if the storm comes, but when the storm comes. You can be sure it will come. And actually, each house was subjected to the same storm. So we are going to be tested by storms. We are going to have to face the evil day. That’s guaranteed. And when you come to the evil day, don’t assume that there’s been a mistake and you’re out of the will of God. It’s probably pretty good evidence that you’re in the will of God. But you need to be prepared. All right. We’ll read that verse again.
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand [to hold out] in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore...”
You’ll notice the emphasis on the word stand, too. It is a word that suggests strength, determination and a refusal to be pushed around.
“Stand therefore, having your loins gird about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith; wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (KJV)
I don’t know whether you were able to pick them out, but there are six pieces of equipment there.
We’ll go through them now briefly one by one.
In verse 14, the first one. Having your loins girt about with truth. Or to use a noun, the first piece of equipment is the girdle of truth. Why did people need a girdle? They didn’t wear trousers such as we wear today. Otherwise you could have understood that they needed a belt. Basically in those days men’s clothing was somewhat loose and often quite long. And if a man was going to do anything that demanded free, active movement, the first thing he had to do was to get his long, loose clothing out of the way. And he did this by doing what the New Testament calls girding up his loins. He would lift the clothing and fasten it around his loins with a girdle so that his legs from the knees downwards were free to move. Then he could do whatever else he had to do after that. So very logically the first step is to put on the girdle.
Now the girdle, in its spiritual application, is truth. You could say it’s the truth of God’s Word, but you’ll find that God’s Word comes later on. And without rejecting that, I think that primarily it’s more basic. It’s just truth. It’s being honest. It’s being real. It’s putting away all the fancy professions and insincerities and unrealities with which most religious people are cluttered. And I say deliberately, “most religious people,” because I think this is the basic problem of religious people; is insincerity. Jesus said “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,” which is hypocrisy. And He spoke many times to the religious leaders of His day. We always tend to think that: That was those people, we aren’t like that. But remember, we are the religious leaders of our day, some of us. And He said to them, “You’re hypocrites.” Now I think that has a very specific meaning and I want to take a few minutes to explain it. The word hypocrite is basically the Greek word for an actor. But in those days, actors were under certain specific rules. When a playwright wrote a play, he didn’t have a wide choice of the kind of characters in his play. The characters were more or less predetermined. And they were limited in number and each character had an appropriate mask. And when the actor went on the stage he didn’t appear in his own face, but he had a mask on. And the mask was stylized and indicated what kind of a person he was supposed to be. So the playwright had to write the play having in mind the masks that the actors were going to have to wear. And the Greek word for that is ?prosopon? which is sometimes translated “face,” sometimes “person” and sometimes “character.” And in rather older English plays you’ll find frequently the phrase at the beginning “the characters of the drama” and a list of the people that occur. Well, that’s all borrowed from that background. So an actor did not appear as his real self, but he appeared in a stylized mask and he uttered lines which had been determined for him by the playwright. And there was a limited number of masks.
Well to me this is exactly like the religious world. I hope I’ll not offend you, but I think in the religious world there’s just a certain number of masks. And they’re allotted and you choose your mask or it’s appointed to you. And your mask basically determines how you’re going to act. We have, for instance, the Catholic mask. The Baptist mask. The Assemblies of God mask. The Episcopal mask. And many others. The Mennonite mask. And when you put your mask on you no longer are yourself. You’ve got to act the way your mask dictates.
Now I’ve been in two groups for a long while, one was the Anglican church (the Episcopal church in Britain). The other one is Pentecostals. And I’m pretty familiar with both those masks. Particularly Pentecostals. I can more or less predict in most given situations how a Pentecostal will react. I will more or less tell you the kind of prayer he will pray. And most of it is a mask. Now I’m not singling out the Pentecostals at the expense of others, they’re the ones I know best. Really frequently there’s little of the real person there at all. Have you ever noticed that some people, when they pray, begin to use a special tone of voice? They’ve got a praying voice. Some preachers have got a preaching voice. And most religious people change their demeanor when they walk inside a church. And then they straighten themselves up, put a mask on and wear it faithfully till they get outside of the church again. Well, I think what Paul is saying in his figure with the girdle is, “Take the mask off. Be real. Tell it like it is. Call a spade a spade and not an ‘agricultural implement.’ Call a lie ‘a lie’ and call lust, ‘lust’ and hatred, ‘hatred.’ And don’t refine them till they’re meaningless.” And if we don’t do that I doubt whether we can get very far in this conflict because every time if we don’t have our girdle of truth on we try to move, we’ll trip over our garment. And we’ll get no further.
So the first ruthless requirement is put on the girdle of truth. Be real. I’ve discovered in counseling married couples that many times a man doesn’t know the woman he’s married to. He’s married to a mask. I was dealing some time ago with a minister whose home was in serious trouble. And he said to me, “I realize that for twelve years I’ve been married to a plastic mask.” Incidentally, they were Pentecostal people. Both of them brought up in the church from infancy. And really they discovered one day that each of them had been going through a carefully programmed, religious act from childhood upwards. And they succeeded everywhere except in the home. Their church was the fastest growing church in a large city but their home was in ruins. And the reason really was that they were not real with one another.
All right. And please, if you’re Pentecostal don’t think that I’m digging at you more than others. But it’s easiest for me to talk in detail about those whom I know best. I know there’s a Baptist mask. I know there’s a Catholic mask. In fact, every group—I know there’s a Mennonite mask. I’ve just been amongst the Mennonites the last few days. And I’m not saying that to criticize anybody but I’m just pointing out that in actual fact very rarely are religious people their real selves. I think when God’s people get really honest with God and with one another, a revival is just around the corner. And it’s a painful process. Some people shy away from it. When it comes to the moment of honest confrontation, they back off. They’re not prepared to face the truth. But the reward is great.
All right. We go on to the next piece of equipment which is also in verse 14.
“Having on the breastplate of righteousness.”
What particular primary organ of the body does the breast include? The heart, that’s right. So the breastplate now deals with the heart. Let me give you a Scripture, keep your finger in Ephesians 12, we’ll be going back there. Turn to Proverbs 4 for a moment. In verse 23, just the one verse. Proverbs 4:23:
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (KJV)
Above everything, protect your heart. When I was a missionary in East Africa in Kenya I happened to see that verse up on the wall of a student’s dormitory. And it was in an African language, in the Lorigoli language. And just seeing it in another language arrested my attention. I won’t try and quote it in Lorigoli which is a difficult language to pronounce, but this is what it said translated into literal English. “Guard your heart with all your strength, for all the things there are in life come out of it.” And I have never forgotten that. So vivid. Everything you’re going to experience in life originates out of your heart. What you have in your heart will determine the course of your life. If your heart is filled with bitterness, unbelief and fear, it’s going to cause your life to go wrong. But if your heart is filled with faith, peace and love, your life will take the right course. All the things there are in life come out of the heart, so guard your heart with all your strength.
And going back now to Ephesians, Paul says put on the breastplate of righteousness. We need to bear in mind that in the New Testament, righteousness is a condition of the heart, not of the head. Let me show you just two other Scriptures. Keep your finger always in Ephesians 6, we’ll keep coming back.
Look to 1 Thessalonians 5:8, which is a kind of parallel passage. 1 Thessalonians 5:8:
“But let us, who are of the day, [not of the night] be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” (KJV)
Leave out the helmet, we’ll come back there in a little while. But notice the breastplate in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 is faith and love. In Ephesians 6 it’s righteousness. That’s not inconsistent because that tells us what New Testament righteousness is. It’s faith which worketh by love. For in Galatians, Paul said, In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love. So the basic righteousness of the New Testament is faith working by love and it’s a condition of the heart.
Look for a moment in Romans 10:10.
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness...” (KJV)
There’s a difference between believing with the head and believing with the heart. Believing with the head is mere intellectual acceptance of truth, and often leaves a person unchanged in the way that they live. But when we believe with the heart, we believe unto righteousness. It changes the way we live. And so Paul says we need to protect our heart with the breastplate of righteousness which is faith in the heart working by love. And I’m learning more and more in the days in which we live, which are critical days, and days of pressure, to check on whether what I’m doing I’m doing in love. Because if I’m not, it’s wrong. And I’m not by any sense a martyr but I have been subjected at times to criticism, attack and misrepresentation.
As I was mentioning to somebody the other day, I heard a very accurate report about myself the other day that I had committed suicide. As Mark Twain said, the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated! But there is a tendency to react and to fight back. But I’ve learned that it doesn’t do good. “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” When we get upset and angry, we’re not going to produce the right results even if we’re right. It’s not going to produce the right results. So we need to guard our heart and see always that its basic motive is faith working by love. If you’re going to correct a brother, that may be good and it may be needful, but don’t do it until you do it in love. As long as you’re doing it in irritation or in a critical spirit, all you say may be true, but it won’t do any good.
All right. Moving on to verse 15.
“Your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”
What’s the item of equipment in the noun form there? Shoes, that’s right. Or boots. I believe that the Roman legionary had boots which were bound around his calf with leather thongs. And the Roman legionaries were famous for the long distances they could march under pressure. And one of the great requirements of any soldier is to be mobile. And our mobility depends primarily, in the days before mechanized transportation, on our feet. And so Paul gives attention to the equipment for our feet.
This is vivid to me because I served as a soldier reluctantly in World War II and I was in the North African campaign for about two years. And you know the British Army, and probably the American Army too, I’m not quite sure. But the British Army issued you with boots. And I remember that when we were near the enemy at night we were told that we had to sleep with our boots on because if there’s an alarm in the middle of the night and you had to wake up in the dark and feel around for your boots and put them on, you were just not with it. And that’s always stuck with me when I think about this passage. That in order to be mobile and available, you’ve got to be sure that your feet are protected.
I remember also later in the Sudan I was in a small hospital in a place called ?Gebate? in the Red Sea hills. And I had a fellow British soldier who didn’t like to wear the trousers that the British Army issued, which I could well understand. He had smart trousers tailored by a local tailor. But some sly Sudanese cast his eyes upon my friend’s trousers and one night while he was sleeping stole them from beside his bed. My friend woke up in time just to see the man going out of the door with his trousers and got up and took pursuit. My friend was rather a quick runner. He was gaining on the man until they got to a very pebbly, stony place with a lot of sharp stones and then he had to drop out because he had no shoes on. But had he had his shoes on he would have caught the man and got his trousers back. So the motto is, Make sure that in a moment of crisis you have your shoes on.
And this is what Paul is saying. Having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. It’s got to be done in advance. So what does that mean? I think it means perhaps two things. First of all, if we’re to communicate the gospel, it requires advance preparation. We have to be acquainted out of Scripture with the basic facts of the gospel. Many, many people who are saved and born again and members of churches are totally incapable of communicating the gospel to another person. They just don’t know how to explain salvation and how to receive it. And yet it’s not very difficult. So I think the preparation is that we are equipped beforehand to explain to others what the gospel is. You’ll find, for instance, just to take one example, that Jehovah’s Witnesses are much better trained than the average Christian in presenting their faith. It’s not because they’ve got a better faith. It’s because they’ve seen the need of preparation. And I think this is what Paul is telling us we have to be prepared in advance of the basic truths of the gospel and know how to present them. That’s the preparation.
Then it says “the gospel of peace.” And I think another requirement that’s indicated there is if we’re going to talk about having peace with God we better have peace ourselves. If I can’t speak out of peace, I cannot impart peace. Jesus said, “Whatever house you enter into say peace be unto it.” In other words, we can be peace transmitters. And I believe that the unconverted, though they may not understand our theology, can feel our spirit. If you’re a lady and you’re shopping in the supermarket and you meet a very distraught, troubled lady there who is trying to shop and maybe can scarcely concentrate on what she is trying to buy because she’s got emotional problems, it’s not good saying to her, “Well, come to church next Sunday morning.” That’s not going to meet her needs. You’ve got to be able to impart peace to her right where you are. There’s got to be something in you that will cause that troubled, restless spirit to begin to calm and then you’re going to have to tell her basically how she can find peace with God. So it’s a matter of preparation. Intellectual preparation, you know what the gospel teaches. Spiritual preparation, you have peace yourself. I’m learning more and more in this Christian walk that we impart what we are rather than what we say. It would be so nice if we could just say it and not have to live it. But that doesn’t work. So the shoes are the preparation of the gospel of peace.
And then it says,
“Above all, [in verse 16. Or ‘in it all’] taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Now in the Roman legions there were two kinds of shields. One was a small, round shield; the other was a long, oval shield. And the one that’s referred to here is the long, oval shield. And it was such that if you put yourself rightly behind it, it would protect every part of you from arrows and other missiles. And so Paul talks here about a kind of faith that protects us totally. And I believe that we’re going to need it because if we begin to minister for the Lord or challenge Satan, he’s going to fight back. And he’ll not only fight back at us personally, but he’ll fight back at our homes, our children, our business and many other areas of our lives. And we need a shield of faith that can cover ourselves, our children, our business, our automobile, whatever it may be. We need a total protection. And that’s through faith.
And remember that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. In other words, we’ve got to take time in God’s Word to find out God’s provision. God has, I believe, a total protection. It’s there in His Word. But many of us don’t have a complete shield. There are areas of our lives which are unprotected. Almost every minister would testify to the fact that the more he’s used of God, the more Satan steps up pressure on his family. And not a few ministers have been disqualified for the ministry because of the pressures that Satan has brought against their homes. And so I think Paul says very reasonably, “Take the shield of faith that will cover everything.”
Just to illustrate this, it became very clear to me in a deliverance service I conducted a good many years ago. I dealt with a woman and I cast the spirit of suicide out of her and it very definitely left her. Her life was changed. But later I learned this: That she and her husband had a beautiful dog, I think it was a German shepherd. They were very fond of it, it was a very beautiful dog. And at that particular time that she was delivered from the spirit of suicide, her husband was driving an open truck down the highway, the dog was standing in the back of the truck where he normally stood. Without any reason or explanation he jumped out of the fast moving truck onto the highway and was killed. And I have no doubt in my mind, however you explain it, that the demon that went out of the woman went into the dog. If that seems strange to you, put it in your pending file. And so ever since then, when I conduct a deliverance service, which I don’t do so often now, when I pray, I plead God’s protection on the families and the associates and friends and businesses of those who are being delivered. And I believe we’re entitled to do that. That’s taking the shield of faith, the overall protection which God makes available through His Word.
And notice I want to say this and emphasize it again: we have to take it. It doesn’t drop into our hands. It doesn’t grow. We have to lay hold upon it, grasp it. And I believe it’s true that the Roman legionary was trained to grasp the shield very, very firmly. I think it was strapped around his left arm if I’m not mistaken. In other words, you’ve got to strap your faith on so that it won’t slip in an emergency. You’ve got to have it there firm and secure.
All right. Going on to the next item of equipment. The helmet of salvation. Now let’s consider that for a moment. What part of the body does the helmet protect? The head. And what does the head represent? The mind or the thought life. And so God has provided specific protection for our thought life. And having served as a missionary in two countries and having known many missionaries, many dedicated and capable servants of the Lord, I would say that I’ve known not a few who were incapacitated because they were wounded in the head. They did not know how to protect their mind. Satan will besiege our minds with such things as mistrust. That’s one of his commonest weapons. We begin to mistrust our wife, our husband, our fellow Christians, our minister ... Then suspicion. And then fear and doubt and depression. Again, I would say, one out of five Christian workers has a problem with depression. And I speak from experience because when I had been saved, baptized in the Spirit and called to the ministry and serving as a pastor, I had a persistent problem with depression. And I’m going to relate this problem a little bit because it was through this that I discovered God’s provision.
I was in many ways successful, my sermons were accepted, people got saved, people got baptized in the Holy Spirit at a time when this was a very rare thing. But I had this tremendous personal pressure of depression. It was embarrassing because I could feel it come down over me like a kind of gray cloud and envelop me. And it would seem to shut me off from my family and from communication with other people. And the most embarrassing thing was I knew that wherever I went this pressure went with me. And so it not only affected me but it affected my family. Well, I tried every way I knew to deal with depression. Every kind of scriptural recommendation. Romans 6, reckoning myself dead, I did that till there was just no more reckoning left. But it didn’t work.
Then one day reading Isaiah 61:3 I read this phrase: “The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” And when I read that word “the spirit of heaviness,” it was like the Holy Spirit said to me, “That’s your problem. It’s not you, it’s not psychological, it’s not mental, it’s a spirit, it’s a person, it’s a person that’s after you and he’s been after you since your childhood and he was after your father before you.” And I saw it all in a flash. I saw my family background, my history, my parents’ home. I saw my enemy. Well when I saw the real identity of my enemy— and I want to remind you of what I said: Evil is not something, it is someone. When I saw that, I was about eighty percent of the way to victory. Immediately. I needed one more thing and that was Joel 2:31, or is it 32? I think. “It shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered.”
And so I was very simple, almost naive. I claimed those two Scriptures, I said, “Lord, You’ve shown me that I have a spirit of heaviness and I claim Your promise now: Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I’m asking You to deliver me from the spirit of heaviness.” And I got delivered. That was about l953 or something like that. But I thought that I was a very strange unusual type of person that I had an experience that other people didn’t have and I didn’t like to tell people about it. I wanted to keep it quiet. I thought it was a disgrace that I had as a minister to be delivered from an evil spirit. About ten years later the Lord showed me against my will that this was a very normal experience. In fact, I would say most Christians in the present condition of the church need deliverance. I’m not saying they should; I’m saying they do. And just about ten or eleven years later the Lord began to show me how many of His people had the same type of problem that I had.
However, I’m going to return to my own experience. After I was delivered God showed me that He’d done the delivering, but it was my responsibility to re-educate my mind. Before I’d been delivered, I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t master of my own thoughts. After I was delivered, I could do it and God wouldn’t do it for me. And I had to re-educate my mind and cultivate different thought patterns. And that was a matter of discipline and it didn’t happen instantly. But while I was struggling with this problem, and realizing that my main weakness was in my mind— And let me say this. I had a very highly trained mind. I was a philosopher by profession. And I discovered this: That people with the most highly trained minds are the people who are the most vulnerable in their minds. It’s the highly educated that have problems in their minds. They’re not the only ones by any means. Because I think we’ve come to trust in our minds.
Well, in the middle of this struggle I read here in Ephesians 6:17: “Take the helmet of salvation.” And I saw instantly that was the protection for the head. And then I thought to myself, “Well, the helmet of salvation. I’m saved. Does that mean I’ve got it, or is there something more?” And by the grace of God I had in my Bible a cross reference to 1 Thessalonians 5:8. So I turned to 1 Thessalonians 5:8 and I read that verse we already read once, but we’ll read it again.
“But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” (KJV)
And when I read that word, it went right through me. The helmet is hope. You’ll notice there at the end of 1 Corinthians 13 Paul says, “Now abide these three: faith, hope and love.” And they’re all mentioned in that verse. “But the greatest of these is love.” And I preached myself the first sermon I’d ever heard on hope. It’s a strange thing. I said to myself, “Paul says faith, hope, love. I’ve heard many sermons on faith, a good many on love. I’ve never heard one sermon on hope. And God gave me a complete sermon on hope. And He showed me this is your helmet. You’ve got to cultivate hope. Hope, in the Bible, is a confident expectation of that which is good.
See, many people get them mixed up. They have faith in their mind. That doesn’t work. Faith has to be in the heart. But the protection for the mind is hope. Now somebody said everybody is born either a pessimist or an optimist. Some people say, “You’re born either a conservative or a labor, a republican or democrat.” But I don’t know about that. But I knew when I was born, I was born a pessimist. There was no doubt about that. Furthermore, I had been carefully trained to be a pessimist. And I really love and respect my parents, who no longer are living, but I would have to say in my family, if you weren’t worrying, you should be worrying about the fact you weren’t worrying! And I saw I had to re-educate my mind. I saw that to be a pessimist was a denial of my faith. Why? Because Romans 8:28 says, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.”
Now if I love God and I’m walking in His calling and purpose—now those are important conditions—then I know that everything that happens is working together for my good. So there is no logical room for pessimism. I may not see it, but I know good is coming out of it. Well, I succeeded. I re- educated myself; I put on the helmet. And believe me, I sleep with my helmet on. I don’t know about you. Do you ever wake up with pessimistic, gloomy thoughts in the morning? You slept without your helmet! I know all this from experience; I’m not theorizing. You know what they say in construction, “This is a hard hat area”? Well, believe me, the Christian life is a hard hat area! You better not take your hat off.
All right. Now I just am going to take a few moments to give you some of the Scriptures on hope that God gave me. They are very, very precious. I have a complete message on tape which is called “The Helmet of Hope.” If you want to get it you can get it through my catalog. But in the meanwhile let me just give you a few quick Scriptures. Romans 8:24:
“For we are saved by hope ...” (KJV)
Did you ever notice that? All right. No hope, no salvation. Ephesians 2:12, speaking about those without Christ, the unsaved. Paul says:
“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” (KJV)
And God showed me three things. Without Christ, without God, without hope. They go together. And then in Colossians 1:27, Paul speaks about the great mystery which has been kept hid from generations, now is revealed unto the saints.
“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (KJV)
I saw very clearly, no hope, no Christ. My salvation hinges on hope. I’m saved by hope. If I’m without hope, I’m without Christ. And if I have Christ, I have hope. And then in Hebrews 6, this is the last reference. Hebrews 6, this is one of the most beautiful passages in all Scripture. Tears come to my eyes when I think how gracious it is. Beginning in verse 17:
“Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:” (KJV)
The meaning is that God not merely gave us His Word, but He confirmed it by an oath, which is unusual.
“That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:” (KJV)
Now that is a metaphor taken from the Old Testament where if a man was being pursued by the avenger, there was one place of refuge from which the avenger could not drag him away. What was that? The horns of the altar, that’s right. Then if he could lay hold of the horns of the altar it was considered blasphemy to drag a man away from God’s altar. So when you’re under pressure and the enemy is hounding you, lay hold of the horns of the altar which is: Lay hold upon the hope which is set before us. Don’t give up your hope. And then it says, this is the last figure, the next verse, verse 19 says:
“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” (KJV)
The next figure of hope is an anchor. And I say to myself in my reasoning, philosophic way, What kind of thing needs an anchor? The answer was a ship. Why does a ship need an anchor? Because a ship rests in a totally unstable medium which is water. There is no stability, there is no permanency, there is nothing to lay hold upon in water. Consequently, if a ship is to be secured, it has to have an anchor which passes through the unstable medium of water and fastens into something stable and secure such as a rock.
And that’s a picture of our life. We’re like a ship or a boat in the water with no stability. In all the things of time, there’s nothing you can lay hold upon which is permanent. As I was saying last night, we have to learn to distinguish between the temporal and the eternal, the visible and the invisible. And if we want security and stability, we have to have an anchor that passes through time into eternity, and fastens in the Rock of Ages. And this anchor of hope takes us beyond the second veil into the Holy of Holies, into the immediate presence of Almighty God where Jesus, our High Priest and forerunner has entered for us. Now when your anchor is fastened there, you can smile at the storms of life. But the anchor is hope.
All right. Going back quickly to Ephesians 6 and just taking a few moments for the last of the six pieces of equipment. Ephesians 6:17:
“Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (KJV)
You’ll notice for the first time we’re passing out of the purely defensive into something that is in a sense aggressive. Because a sword you can use aggressively against your enemy. But a sword by itself is limited because it will go no further than your arm can stretch. However, we are beginning to pass from the defensive to the aggressive.
Now in Greek there are two words for word. One is logos, which means counsel, reason, a set truth. The other is rhema, which means specifically a word that is spoken. The word that is used here is rhema. The sword of the Spirit is not the eternal logos, it’s the word when you speak it. And if you don’t speak it, you have no sword.
I think the perfect example of this is Jesus confronted by the devil in the wilderness. Each temptation He met by saying, “It is written.” And interestingly enough He quoted from the book in the Bible whose authenticity is most disputed by modern scholars, Deuteronomy. Every quotation was taken from Deuteronomy. The interesting thing is neither the Lord nor the devil doubted the authenticity of Deuteronomy! And if you don’t doubt it, Satan won’t doubt it. He knows it’s true. Jesus said, “It is written, it is written, it is written.” And Satan backed off. And we have to do the same. We have to know the Word of God and not just have the Bible resting on the bedside table at night, but speak the Word like a sharp two-edged sword out of our mouth. And then at least we can keep the devil off our toes.
Now, tomorrow, God helping me, I’m going to talk about the real weapons of attack. So we’ll close there this morning. Let’s just quickly enumerate the six items of equipment. The girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the preparation of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of hope and the sword, which is the spoken Word of God.