- From the Editor -
The Whole Armor of God
by Dr. Dennis Corle
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt 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:” (Ephesians 6:10-17)
The Christian life is a spiritual warfare; the Bible warns us of that fact again and again. If you get saved and start trying to do the will of God, then I want you to know that the devil is coming after you. God did not leave us defenseless; He provided us with everything we need for protection and for battle. But if you fail to put on the whole armor of God, you will certainly be a casualty or a fatality spiritually.
Christian soldiers are dropping like flies, and it’s tragic to see the number of preachers getting out of the ministry and out of the will of God. But for every preacher that has wrecked his life, there have been a thousand church members that have done the same; you just don’t hear as much talk about it.
I want you to know, if you’re sincere and trying to do right, then you have an enemy. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (I Peter 5:8) Notice that he is YOUR enemy. This is personal. His plan is to destroy you, and he will make every effort. But God has provided everything you need to engage in battle on the front lines and come away without becoming a casualty. Victory is promised -- not just survival. But I’m going to have to take seriously this matter of putting on the whole armor of God.
In Ephesians 6:10 he said, “Finally, my brethren...” Brethren, saved, born again children of God. If you are here today and you have never been born again, then you have no protection against the devil at all. He can do whatever he will with you, and you are defenseless against him. Whatever provision I’m going to share with you from the Word of God right now is for brethren, those who are saved. Not only is it important to be saved for protection from Hell fire in eternity, it’s also vital that you are born into God’s family so that you can have the protection you need from the devil’s onslaught to destroy your life. This armor is for those who are born into the family of God.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” If you are not strong in the Lord, then you are not strong at all. To be strong in the Lord is to be strong in the Holy Spirit’s power. One of the greatest problems we have today is the fact that we’re operating in weakness, doing all the right things in the energy of the flesh. The mechanics are good. The methods are right. We have all our ducks in a row, but unanointed truth doesn’t change things. Unanointed labor does not make the difference. We need the might and power of the Holy Spirit of God on our lives, our labors, everything we do. We need the strength we can only have in the Lord and the power of His might, not our own.
You would think the wording of verse 11 might say, “Put on your favorite piece of armor.” That’s what we want to do. Everyone in this room has at least one strong point. Do you know what we do? That one thing that’s our strength, we polish that baby up and show it off and put it on display. But I’m warning you, even the best Christian in this room has far more weaknesses than you have strengths. While you magnify and display your one strength, you’re weak and vulnerable in a dozen areas. I’m afraid we’re always looking at everybody else’s weaknesses instead of seeing our own, and being prepared against the devil’s attack.
He said, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God,...” Those words ‘put on’ indicate there’s something for me to do in order to appropriate this armor. Did you notice he didn’t say to make or create armor? God has already provided the armor, but it’s up to me to put it on.
When I played football in high school, the school provided you with a complete uniform and equipment, but they didn’t dress you. It was up to each individual player to put it on. Every player was responsible to have every piece of equipment in it’s place so you were protected. He said to put on the whole armor of God that I may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. This devil that we face every day has defeated smarter and stronger people than you and I put together. He’s defeated wiser and more spiritual people than us. We dare not think that we can be haphazard and still be victorious.
The sad statistics that accompany war are the casualties. Have you ever considered the word casualty? It means somebody that got hurt. But notice that its root word is ‘casual.’ I’m convinced that many casualties in this spiritual warfare are the result of somebody acting casually in a desperate or dangerous situation. If I have an enemy with the kind of power that Old Slewfoot has, then I’d better be on the lookout. If he’s as sly as the Bible says he is, then I’d better be sober and vigilant. I’d better be expecting an attack. Don’t be caught by surprise. If you’re trying to do the right thing, you know the devil is looking for his best opportunity to attack.
Beware, folks, if you can go day after day and the devil never attacks you. It’s only because you’re no threat to him. It means you are no threat in prayer or in your soulwinning labor. You’re no threat in your influence. You’re not going to make a difference. The devil doesn’t want to stir you up. He wants to keep you asleep in your prayerless and powerless position. If you’re doing the wrong thing, he’s not going to attack you. He already has you in his pocket. I’d be ashamed if I wasn’t enough of a threat to the devil that he never bothered with me.
The Bible says in verse 12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,...” The fact is that my warfare is not with men. You and I get so preoccupied with flesh and blood that we forget who the real enemy is. The devil would like nothing more than to get you too preoccupied with evil men that you forget about the real war, the spiritual conflict. Nothing would please him more. I’m afraid he’s duped a lot of people because we get ‘issues-oriented.’ Now folks, I’m against everything you’re against. I think wrong ought to be preached against and stood against.
But if you get occupied with flesh and blood, you are going to be destroyed by the devil. Do you know what happens to people when they get their focus on evil men? They get bitter. We need to wake up and realize that evil men are nothing more than pawns in the game, moved by the hand of Satan. He’s just using them to accomplish his purpose. We must understand who the real enemy is. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” We have an enemy whose power is high. It is a spiritual power in high places.
In verse 13 he begins with, “Wherefore.” Any time you see that word wherefore, it’s kind of like the word therefore. You look back to the previous statement, and it will tell you what it’s there for. It’s making a reference to the fact that the devil is a spirit being, that the devil is wily and powerful, and that he is the spiritual wickedness that we’re dealing with. God said, ‘Because you’re not dealing with just flesh and blood, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God,...”
Again, he said the whole armor. Did you notice those action words? First he said, “Put on.” Then he said, “Take unto you.” Again God is telling me that I have to appropriate the armor. Just the fact that He provided it doesn’t protect me. I must put it on. I must Scripturally appropriate what God has supplied; it doesn’t matter how great my armor is if I leave it in the tent. It doesn’t matter what I have, if I go into battle and don’t strap it on when I face the enemy.
So he said, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” I got to looking at these words. I wrestled in high school. Wrestling is not defensive; it’s an aggressive sport. God is simply telling me I’m to get on the attack, get on the offense, and go after the devil. Don’t wait for him to slap you. Slap him first! Don’t wait for him to come knocking at your door. The Bible said I’m supposed to take the battle to him. As in wrestling, I’m supposed to attack the devil until I can attack no more.
Then he uses the word “withstand.” The last time I checked that meant somebody was coming against me and I was holding up against them. He said I am to withstand. I’m to attack continually until I have no more strength to attack. Then, when I have no more strength to attack, I’m supposed to withstand when the devil comes against me. The devil is going to come after you every day, but you know as well as I do that there are times when he gets an advantage and comes with great wrath.
When I played football, the defense tried to stop you on every down. But there were certain times when they put just about everybody on the line of scrimmage and blitzed. They put extra pressure on, and came with everything they had. The devil tries to trip you up every day. He’s after you every day, but there will be times when it’s loaded so badly against you it looks like there’s no hope, and he’s going to come with everything he has. You’re not going to gain any ground then, but God says, “Don’t yield, either. Withstand.”
Then he used the word “stand.” I checked the etymology of that word just to find out how many different ways it was used. Do you know what he’s talking about? He said, “Stand or hold your ground.” So first we’re instructed to attack until you can attack no more, then resist until you can resist no more. He said when you can’t attack anymore and you can’t resist anymore, and you’re prostrate on the ground, just don’t change your position. Hold your ground, even when there’s nothing more you can do.
We have a lot of folks changing their position today. God said attack. Get on the offense. When you can’t attack anymore, resist and withstand. When you can’t resist anymore and you’re prostrate on the ground, don’t change your position. Just hold your ground. If you’re going to keep these commands God gave you, it’s absolutely necessary that you put on and take unto you the whole armor of God “...that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day,...” That’s the day when the devil blitzes, and he comes with everything he has. That’s that day when you’re down, the day of sorrow, the day of bereavement, the day of grief, the day of disappointment. When the devil comes at you with everything he has, you’d better have on the whole armor of God. If you were a spiritual giant all the time you might be okay, but since you’re not, you’d better have the whole armor of God on.
I preach that principle about the matter of separation. Folks always think they’re spiritual enough to handle exposure to every wicked thing. They find out too late that they’re not. I ought to have enough standards and rules to protect me even when I’m not spiritual. On my worst day, I still ought to be able to stay clean. But most folks plan their lives based on their best day, not their worst day, and because of it they wreck themselves when their worst day comes around.
Girdle of Truth
This passage goes on to deal with specific areas of protection for us in this spiritual armor. “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth,...” If you stop to consider, the ‘loins’ has to do with the mid-section of the body. God is talking here about that which will protect my moral purity. Brother, we live in a day of immorality, perversion, adultery, fornication, and every kind of ungodliness and sexual sin. The Bible said that my loins are to be girt about with truth. God has given me provision to stay pure. He has given me protection to stay moral and clean and right.
“What does he mean by ‘truth?’” The Bible says, “...thy word is truth.” The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. You’ll find that Jesus is, ‘...the way, the truth, and the life.’ I think certainly the person of Christ, and the Holy Spirit’s leadership and power, and the purity of the Word of God are all instrumental in protecting my purity.
But beyond that, I think God is simply telling us here we’re supposed to operate in truth and transparency. Stop and think about this for a moment, and I think you’ll agree. Very few people are ever immoral before they’re dishonest. Most folks get dishonest with themselves, and dishonest with other people, and the more they slip around the edges of being truthful, the more likely they are to end up in immorality. They didn’t plan it that way. Some of you practice just what I’m talking about. You sit through every invitation like you have everything in order. You stand there, hold on to the pew, and look around for everybody else to respond, but you never stop and examine yourself. You’re never willing to admit there is a need in your own life. You’re not being truthful with yourself. That kind of untruthfulness will cause a person to wreck themselves morally. God said the loins are to be girt about with truth.
But many of you live in the arena of not being truthful and transparent with others. You evade the question and give answers that are half-truths. You spend hours when no one in your family knows where you are, what you are doing or who you may be with. When you start living a secret life from those around you, you are headed for destruction. The devil already has you lured into his trap.
I read an article where they had interviewed 1,000 professing believers. I don’t know how many of them were truly saved or how many of them were independent Baptists. They just said in the article they had spoken to 1,000 people who claimed to be born again Christians. Of those 1,000 people, they said that one out of every eight men admitted some kind of marital indiscretion. That’s about 12%. I’m not talking about the lost world, or those who never darken the doors of a church. I’m talking about people that at least claim to know Christ as Saviour. One out of eight men.
Ladies, don’t get too puffed up. One out of every 12 of those ladies they interviewed said that they too had been involved in some kind of marital indiscretion, not necessarily to the extent of committing adultery, but some kind of flirtation, contact or activity that was not right for the people of God, and especially for married people.
We are dealing with a huge problem of moral indiscretion among God’s people, because we are living in a time when folks don’t even know the truth when they see it. They don’t tell the truth when they could. We get so used to living a lie, we start believing it. We get so good at playing church and faking it for others, that we start thinking we’re actually good Christians.
He said the loins are to be girt about with truth. We need to accept that warning about being loose with the truth. We need to hold ourselves 100% transparent and accountable for where we are and what we are doing. The easier it is to bend the truth and hide the truth, the closer you are to moral destruction. That girdle of truth will protect my moral purity. We’ve got folks today wrecking their marriages and their homes and the lives of those they love the most. Their lack of honesty and morals is destroying their lives and marriages. He said the loins are to be girt about with truth.
Breastplate of Righteousness
Then he said, “...and having on the breastplate of righteousness;” The breastplate covers the chest cavity. What is the major organ in the chest cavity? The heart. Now when the Bible mentions the heart, it doesn’t mean the organ that pumps blood. He’s talking about the spirit of man. God wants me to put on the breastplate of righteousness to protect my heart.
How many believe if I get stabbed in the heart, I’m going to die? When they trained the gladiators back around the days of Christ, they taught them about two kinds of wounds to inflict upon the enemy. There was a maiming wound to the arm or leg, the extremities of the body, and then a mortal wound to the head or chest cavity -- areas where there were major organs. A mortal wound would not only put them out of commission temporarily, they would never face them on the battlefield again.
God said to put on the breastplate of righteousness. Remember, I don’t have a physical enemy. He’s not talking about a stainless steel breastplate. It’s something that will protect me from my spiritual enemy, and protect my spirit.
Proverbs makes it clear that the spirit of man will come to his rescue when he’s wounded. “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” (Proverbs 18:14) That means if I get a wound somewhere else and my spirit is in good shape, then my spirit will run to the rescue. Somebody hurts my feelings, but if my spirit is in good shape, my spirit will nurse me back to health. It’s my spiritual immune system, what helps me when I’m hurt in any other area. If my spirit is in good shape, I’ll survive. But the Bible said, “...a wounded spirit who can bear?” A person who gets a wounded spirit is kind of like the fellow with AIDS and has no immune system. You or I might get some bug or virus and shake it without any problem. Because he has no immune system, any little thing will kill him.
I see folks leaving a good church. “He didn’t shake my hand.” “They’re not very friendly.” “Things have changed.” Just little things that don’t amount to a hill of beans. Why did they leave? Not because that happened. They left because they had a wounded spirit. Maybe somebody did do them wrong or overlook them or disappoint them. It wasn’t so huge it was worth leaving the church. They did have a hurt, but if their spirit was in good shape they could have endured that. The reason that thing destroyed them is because they already had a wounded spirit. They did not keep on the breastplate of righteousness.
When he talks about the breastplate of righteousness, he’s not talking about imputed righteousness. I don’t have to put that on. When I trusted Jesus Christ as my Saviour, He imputed that to me and clothed me in His righteousness. So what did he mean? I’m to put on the breastplate of righteousness, or right living, doing the right thing. Isn’t that too simple? Don’t you wish it was deeper than that? Don’t you wish it was more mystical so you didn’t understand it so well? For me to put on the breastplate of righteousness is for me just to do the right thing.
“How do you know what is the right thing?” That’s why you have a Bible. The Bible tells me what to do about separation, about soulwinning, about serving God. The Bible tells me what to do about church attendance and giving and treating people with honesty and kindness. When folks decide not to obey the Bible, what they’re doing is throwing their protection to the wind, and leaving themselves wide open for a wounded spirit.
“Preacher, you make too much of that separation. It’s not that big a deal.” Yes it is, because not doing right is not having the breastplate on. “You make too much of giving. You’re money hungry.” No, I’m trying to get you to put the breastplate on. “You talk too much about soulwinning. It’s always soulwinning, soulwinning, soulwinning.” I’m just trying to get you to put the breastplate on. If I don’t do what’s right, I am leaving my spirit open for an attack. If I get a wounded spirit, I can’t bear it and any little thing will do me in.
There are too many people with wrecked lives and it was over some little thing. But the truth is, it was because they did not do the right thing, and put on the breastplate. Often folks get a wounded spirit during the preaching service. Do you know why? Because the preacher is preaching the righteousness of God, and they’re not practicing the righteousness of God, so they think he is picking on them. They feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and get uncomfortable. They say, “I don’t enjoy church. They make me miserable every time I go.” It’s not the preacher that makes you miserable. It’s your sin, because you will not get right and do right and obey the Holy Spirit when He deals with you.
Put on the breastplate of righteousness or right living. “Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.” (Proverbs 13:6) God said righteousness, me doing the right thing, keeps or preserves me because it keeps my spirit in good shape. I can sustain a lot of other injuries, and if my spirit is in good shape it’s going to nurse me back to health. A whole bunch of people can do me wrong, and if my spirit is in good shape I’ll survive it. But if I have a wounded spirit, I will not survive the smallest wound. It will finish me. So God tells me to put on the breastplate of righteousness, the breastplate of right living, doing the right thing, and obeying the Scriptures.
“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;” You say, “Preacher, I thought you were talking about armor. What do shoes have to do with armor?” I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to battle and the enemy is fully clad, I don’t want to be out there on the battlefield barefoot. A lot of folks are sidelined with wounded feet, folks sitting there rubbing sore feet, and never finishing the fight. Why? They got to a certain stage and they thought they were above soulwinning, so they took their shoes off. When he talks about the preparation of the Gospel of peace, that is soulwinner’s shoes. The only provision and protection I have for my feet is soulwinning, spreading the Gospel of peace. When I take my shoes off, I’m going to be hurting, and limping along.
Shoes do not make the load on my shoulders any lighter. If I have my shoes on, it does not make the road any less rough. Shoes won’t make the journey one step shorter. Shoes can not make the enemy any less fierce. But shoes can enable me to handle the rough road, the heavy load, the long journey, and the fierce enemy. We don’t need to look for the easy route. I’ve got news for you, friend. The Christian life is not a life of ease. It’s a life of blessing, a life of victory.
The Bible says in I Corinthians 15:57 that “God giveth the victory.” It didn’t say that God giveth the tranquility. The only way you can have victory is if you have conflict, if you overcome an enemy. When God promised me victory, He was also promising conflict. He didn’t say I wouldn’t face conflict. He said He’d give me victory in the face of conflict, but only if I put on the whole armor of God and if I take the battle to the enemy using the weapons God has given.
I don’t want you to go into battle with the right weapons and no armor. If you start binding the strong man, pulling down the strong holds, using the weapon of prayer, using the sword of the Word of God and telling people how to be born again, I promise you’re going to get the devil’s attention. When you do, you’d better have the protection of the whole armor of God. That’s why some folks get excited about doing the will of God, and in about six months they’re out of church. They made that decision at the altar and were sincere, and they did set out to serve God. But that got the devil stirred up and they didn’t know anything about the armor of God. They didn’t know how to protect themselves against the attacks of Satan. You get the devil stirred up when you attack him, but you don’t need to be afraid of him. You just need to be prepared for him. Not just a certain favorite piece of armor -- you need to put on the whole armor of God.
God does not delve into the unnecessary. If God provided me a piece of armor, it’s because He deemed it necessary for me to be victorious. For me to leave any piece of armor out of place is for me to be vulnerable, and not respect the power of the enemy. He said I need to put on the shoes of soulwinning, the preparation of the Gospel of peace. It happens to some preachers. Early in their ministry they go soulwinning and get folks saved, operating with their shoes on. Then they get to the place where they think it’s going to happen whether I go or not. I have enough people going. I don’t need to go. I’m too busy and too important doing other things. Somebody else can do that menial task of soulwinning. I’ve got news for you. There’s not a greater work on the face of the earth, other than intercession and doing battle in prayer. There is not a greater work than one on one, telling somebody about Jesus Christ. What they do is kick their shoes off.
But after a while it causes them to become compromisers. Since they don’t go soulwinning, and they don’t have their shoes on, they’re tender-foots. They look out in the crowd and say, “If I preach what I believe about that, I’m going to create nine miles of rough road, and I don’t have my shoes on. I’m going to have to go over to this side and ‘tiptoe through the tithers.’ I’m going to take the easy route.”
The preachers that start out right and finish right are men that keep their shoes on for a lifetime. John Rice finished the same way he started, and he died with his shoes on. I could name man after man, many I’ve known personally, that are now in Heaven, who finished right. They kept their soulwinning shoes on. It’s not a matter of how great a soulwinner, just how faithful for a lifetime. Just keep on plugging. Keep on keeping on. I know when you get a bigger ministry there’s more to administrate. You can’t give as many hours as you once gave.
When I first went into evangelism, all I had to do was go soulwinning and preach. I went soulwinning eight or nine hours a day. My wife would bear witness to that. She thought she was a widow for awhile. I’d leave in the morning before she was up, and she’d see me on the platform at night. I had converts sitting out here walking the aisle every night, people I had led to Christ that day. I went soulwinning all day every day. I had 15-25 baptisms in a week, my own converts from out soulwinning. I still go soulwinning, and I still get people down the aisle and baptized. But back then I didn’t have a newspaper, I wasn’t writing books, didn’t have a correspondence college, never carried preacherboys. Back then I didn’t have an office staff. Back then I didn’t have a national conference or regional conferences to organize. Back then I was only holding 40 meetings a year instead of 125. I can’t spend the same amount of hours soulwinning that I did then, but bless God, I’d better keep my shoes on or I’ll not finish the way I started.
It’s not a matter of being impressive or having statistics to flash around. It’s a matter of keeping your shoes on. Every church member, every preacher, needs to keep their shoes on if they’re going to finish the race and be victorious in the fight. Your enemy’s going to keep his shoes on. You’d better not face him barefoot or you are in trouble.
Shield of Faith
Then he said, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (Ephesians 6:16) He’s given me a shield to deflect the attacks coming at me. The devil usually attacks you through doubt and unbelief. He got Eve to doubt the Word of God and the goodness of God. When heartaches and hardships and things you don’t understand come, the devil will try to attack you with one of those fiery darts of doubt and unbelief to get you to doubt the Word of God, the goodness of God, and the love of God. But that’s why God has given me a shield of faith.
Do you know what faith is? Faith is when the Word of God is enough. I don’t need a tingle. I don’t need a feeling. I don’t need a sign. I don’t need a wonder. All I need is the Word of God on it. If I have the Bible on it, that’s enough to stop, and that’s enough to move forward, and that’s enough to make a right turn or go to the left. Whatever the Bible says, it doesn’t matter what the brethren say. It doesn’t matter what the commentary said. It doesn’t matter what everybody else says. It matters what the Book says.
Faith is when the Word of God is enough. I’m going to take action just because God said so, not because I understand why He said it, not because I know how it’s going to work out. If I knew how it was going to work out, I wouldn’t need any faith. If I understood it all, I wouldn’t need any faith. I have to come to the place where, even though I don’t understand it, I know God said it, and I’m going to commit myself to Him. If He can’t take care of me, I’m in big trouble. Don’t worry. He won’t let you down. Cast your care upon Him, and He’ll sustain you. Just hold up that shield of faith when everything is caving in and you don’t understand, and you don’t know what to do. Just obey the Bible. Just let the Word of God be enough.
Notice that all these other pieces of armor are stationary. Shoes only protect one area -- my feet. That girdle only protects one area -- my loins. That breastplate only protects one area -- my chest cavity. But the shield is movable. No matter if the attack comes from the left or right, high or low. I can protect myself with the shield of faith. Do you know what that means? That means if I operated by faith 100% of the time I’d never even get a dent in my breastplate. If I had perfect faith all the time, that would be all the protection I would need. But God knows we won’t do that. We’re too stinking carnal. So He gave us a breastplate and said, “If you’ll do the right thing even when you don’t have great faith, then you’ll still be protected if one of those fiery darts gets through.” We need to use the shield of faith.
Helmet of Salvation
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” The helmet is the last piece of armor, since the sword is a weapon. The sword is for me to attack the devil and his plans, not just defend. The sword is for me to launch an offensive against him, not just to keep myself from getting hurt.
But he talks about the helmet of salvation. What does the helmet protect? The head, and what’s inside the head? The brain or the mind. Friend, the devil will try to invade your mind. He’ll try and invade your mind with lust, with pride, with rebellion. He will try and invade your mind with false doctrine of some kind or with self-righteous thoughts or with unscriptural priorities and philosophy. The devil will do everything he can to invade your mind. Remember, there were two areas of a mortal wound, the head and the chest cavity. It sounds to me like this helmet is pretty important. It protects my mind.
The Bible says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:...” (Proverbs 23:7) If I think wrong, I am wrong. If I am wrong, I can’t do right consistently. That’s why God went to great pains in Philippians chapter four telling us, not only what to do, but how to think. Think on things that are true, just, and holy, and that which is full of virtue and praise. I’m not just supposed to be careful in my actions and haphazard in my thought life. I’ve got to be careful because, if I think wrong, I am wrong. If I am wrong, I will do wrong. If I’m wrong inside, it’s unnatural for me to do right on the outside.
That’s why some of you think Christianity is so miserable. You’re trying to live the Christian life outwardly, but you’re different in here than you are out here. You are trying to live a double life. If you would protect your thought-life, and not allow the devil to invade your mind, and not allow yourself to think wrong, then you wouldn’t think Christianity is miserable. If your mind is occupied with the right thoughts, then right actions follow naturally.
We have a bunch of people thinking all the wrong thoughts, exposing themselves to all the wrong things, and then trying to force themselves to do right. They’re unhappy and unsuccessful living the Christian life. If you think Christianity is miserable, you won’t keep it up. The reason you think that way is because you have allowed the devil to invade your mind. You have not kept the helmet of salvation on. If the devil gets your mind, he’s got you. When he controls your mind, he will destroy your life. A lot of folks get on a pity party, and it destroys them. The devil captured their mind. Why? They didn’t have on the helmet of salvation.
“Preacher, what does that mean, the helmet of salvation?” It doesn’t mean the helmet of being saved, because he was already writing to a church, to believers, to brethren. He was telling the brethren to put on the helmet of salvation.
“Then what does it mean?” I think God wants me to have a saved mind like I have a saved soul. A lot of people have a saved soul and a lost mind. I’m talking about their values being lost. I’m talking about their priorities being just like the lost world. Their thoughts are in the same realm as the lost world. They have a saved soul and a lost mind. All their values and priorities and thinking is steeped in humanism. Why? They didn’t put on the helmet of salvation.
What do you think this helmet represents? We know what it protects. It protects the mind. How do I protect my mind? I’m going to have to separate from the wrong crowd and the wrong influence. I have to protect my mind from things coming into it that will cause it to think the wrong thoughts. If I’m going to think right, I can’t listen to what’s wrong and spend my time looking at what’s wrong. This helmet represents separation.
That’s why David said in Psalm 101:3, after his sin with Bathsheba, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” He said, “I’m going to separate from that crowd and influence. I know the painful results of looking upon the wrong thing. I know the pain of exposure. I know the damage. I’m going to protect my mind and keep from thinking wrong. Everything gets into my mind by my eye or my ear, or my touch, or by my fellowship and the influence that I’m under. I’m going to have to separate from the wrong crowd, wrong reading, wrong music, wrong viewing, and wrong fellowship. I’m going to have to separate from things that would influence me through the eye gate.”
Folks say, “Well, separation is just these preachers who are a bunch of legalists trying to tell everybody how to live.” You bonehead, I’m trying to protect you, trying to get you to put your helmet on! The problem is the devil has already invaded your mind. That’s why you can’t see clearly enough to know what’s going on. You think that anybody that preaches any separation is a legalist.
Separation provides me a buffer zone so that I’m not living on the edge of sin. You will not live in constant temptation and avoid sin. Jesus told those disciples, “Pray that you enter not into temptation.” God didn’t say, “Pray that you enter not into sin.” He said, “Pray that you enter not into temptation.” He doesn’t want you to just live in temptation all the time, but avoid sin. He said, “I want you to avoid temptation, so you won’t be destroyed by sin.” The helmet of salvation will protect me from those things that the devil will use to invade my mind.
What’s God provided me with? He’s given me the helmet of salvation. There’s some overlap, just like the coat of mail. Those plates overlap one another. He’s given me a helmet of separation to protect my mind. He said He’s given me the breastplate of right living, doing the right thing, to protect my heart, to keep from getting a wounded spirit. He’s given me the girdle of truth or transparency, living truthfully and honestly according to the Word of truth to protect my loins or my moral purity. He said that He’s given me soulwinner’s shoes so that I don’t get wounded feet and get sidelined, so that I can take the rough stretches of road, and the heat of the battle and the heavy load. Then He said, “I’ve given you a shield of faith wherewith you can quench every fiery dart that comes your way, if you’ll just let the Word of God be enough.” God said that He wants us to put on the whole armor of God.
During my junior year of high school, we had the best team we had the whole time I was in high school. That was the year we really, legitimately had a chance to win a championship. We never had the material to win a championship any other year but that one. We had a good quarterback, a good receiver, had a good running back. We had an excellent line, offense and defense, and played well as a team. When you go out for football, they give everybody on the team a complete uniform. They give you a helmet and shoulder pads, and vest pads to protect your ribs, and girdle pads and thigh pads, and knee pads. They give you shoes, britches, a jersey, mouthpiece, the whole works, everything you need. They gave you a whole uniform.
We played the first game of the season, and beat a pretty good team by a couple of touchdowns. In the second game we beat a little bit better team by one touchdown. We came into the third game of the season and this was not the best team we faced. We had already faced better teams the first two games. Our quarterback decided that he was not going to wear his vest pads in that game. He said when he went back to pass they restricted his throwing motion. He didn’t tell the coach. But in that game he wore every bit of the uniform except the vest pads. When you looked at him, you couldn’t even tell he didn’t have vest pads on. They pulled tight against your ribs.
We got through the first quarter and scored a touchdown. We kicked off. They ran the ball back to the 50 yard line and fumbled. We took over on the 50 yard line and started a second drive. We ran two plays and lost two yards. We came to third and 12, an obvious passing down. I’ll never forget it. We came up to the line, came out of the huddle, called a passing play. I looked up and there was nobody in their back field. They had 11 men on the line of scrimmage. I looked up there and said, “We’re in trouble.” It’s either going to be a touchdown or somebody’s going to get killed in the back field. It’s going to be real good or real bad.”
We lined up, snapped the ball. They came like a flood. There were two big, old guys on the outside that nobody blocked at all. They just came around the outside untouched. The quarterback got the ball, drew his arm up to pass. One of those guys hit him on each side and crunched him. He went down.
I don’t remember whether he had broken or cracked ribs, but I can tell you this. The rest of the season he did not play. The guy we had for a back-up quarterback thought he was playing basketball and dribbled it around. We lost games we could have won easily if our quarterback was healthy. It destroyed a team that had the potential for a championship. We won one more game and tied one more game and lost all the rest of the games that season. Do you know why that quarterback got hurt? He didn’t get hurt because they blitzed. He got hurt because he didn’t have the whole uniform on, because he left one piece off that he thought he could get by without.
“Preacher, that separation kind of restricts my throwing motion.” “That soulwinning just kind of restricts my leisure time.” “That giving restricts my play time and toys.” “I’m just going to leave that one piece of armor off, and I’ll be okay.” Well, he made it through the first quarter all right, but he was finished before the game was and before the season was. He did not get injured because they blitzed. He got injured because he did not have on the whole armor. It didn’t just affect him for the rest of the season, it hurt everybody on the whole team.
There are no small players in the local church. Everybody is vital. If you don’t put on the whole armor of God, you’re going to be a casualty, and you’re going to hurt the whole work. You’re going to hurt the whole body because you didn’t put on the whole armor of God.
The truth is there are some folks who have been operating with no armor, and some about half clad. Some of you have been polishing up your favorite piece, your strong point, your long suit, the one thing that you’re known for, the one thing that comes easy. But you’ve neglected more than one piece. Then there are others who are doing real good, just like our quarterback, and you have it all on but one thing. “I just don’t think I need that. I have the rest of the uniform on. I’m doing better without it.” That’s all it took for us to go from a championship team to a losing team, one man to leave off one piece of armor, and become a casualty when the pressure was on.
Some day we will stand before the Lord Jesus. God knows I don’t want to be the one some day to find out that I hurt the whole team because I didn’t put on the whole armor of God, didn’t take the enemy seriously, didn’t take God’s provision seriously, and didn’t put it all on. I don’t want to be the one who caused the loss, when we had the potential to win.
Friend, the devil doesn’t care how he gets you. He doesn’t care if he gets you through your mind or a wounded spirit or dishonesty and immorality. He doesn’t care if he gets you through your feet, because you quit soulwinning. He’ll get you one way or another if you don’t have the whole armor on. He doesn’t have a preference. It doesn’t matter to him which way he gets you. He said, “Just go ahead and leave one piece off and you are mine.”
God told us, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God,...” every piece. Some of us need to put on the separation, the right living, the truthfulness and transparency, honesty, the soulwinning, and the matter of operating by faith where the Word of God is enough. We need to put on a piece of armor that you haven’t take seriously. If you don’t, one of these days you’re going to be the casualty that hurts the whole cause, and brings defeat instead of victory.
Put on the whole armor of God.
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