Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller

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The Shield, Helmet and Sword

Ephesians 6:15-17

We?ve talking about taking up and putting on the full armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-20. So far we?ve seen:

  • The armor is a set, not individual pieces we can pick and choose from (vs 11)
  • It is God?s armor (Isaiah 11)
  • We use it in God?s strength, not ours (vs 10)
  • The main action of the soldier is the ?stand? which means to ?hold your ground? against the enemy. God has given us a post, a mission, a place. We are to stay on post and hold our position. (vs 11)
  • We do that by 1) becoming like Jesus and 2) representing Jesus. (5:1-2)
  • Though the enemy is evil and unseen, the actual battle takes place in the relationships we have and the communities we find ourselves in. Enemy combatants are pawns of Satan that we should pray for, not try to destroy. (vs 12)
  • The belt corresponds to holding to the truth of who Jesus is, and speaking the truth in love.
  • The breastplate of righteousness means we have the righteousness of God through Jesus and we then act in that pure character.
  • We?re in a battle whether we like it or not against an enemy who we cannot see and doesn?t play fair
  • We don?t ever fight Satan directly, but use God?s own armor to both protect ourselves and to wage war against this unseen foe.
  • We must ?take up? the ?full? or complete set of armor. Every piece is vital.
  • Getting ready for this battle takes preparation and practice
  • Underneath and undergirding everything is the truth of who Jesus is?never waver from that no matter what you face. And never waver from being a truth teller. Speak the truth in love always.
  • Righteousness protects us from attack?both by the fact that we are righteous in Jesus (not from our own merits) and by the practicing of rightness, of God?s character in a world that does not do things God?s ways.
  • Be a Christian wherever you go and be ready to respond to those who ask. Remember, the primary mission of your life is to share the love of God through Jesus.
  • No matter what happens in that mission, what skirmishes you encounter?trust God to see you through it.
  • Know that the enemy cannot throw anything at you that will destroy you. You have salvation and eternal life!
  • And remember that your most potent weapon, when all else fails, is to speak the truth of the gospel through the Word of God. Nothing is as sharp or effective at cutting through the layers of falsehood in this age.

The first two parts of the armor we looked at were the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness.

Today we look at the footwear, the shield, the helmet, and the sword of the soldier.

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The footgear mentioned here is called a caliga and was a kind of half boot that was used for long marches. It isn?t technically a weapon at all, but part of the equipment a solder puts on.

A couple of interesting notes about the Roman sandals?they were designed to keep blisters from forming during long marches. They featured ankle protection and had a heavy sole. Iron hobnails were then used to provide structural support and traction. It is the boots that won the Roman Army so many battles because they could keep going when other armies? feet gave out.

Paul uses a somewhat unusual construction for his description of the use of the sandals. He says ?your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.?

The Old Testament imagery for this comes once again from Isaiah:

Isaiah 52:7 ?How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the herald, who proclaims peace, who brings news of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ?Your God reigns!?

When a nation or a city was at war, a lone messenger running usually meant good news (if there were a bunch of soldiers running it probably meant retreat and bad news). The messenger would approach the city and yell out ?peace?, proclaiming salvation from war and that God had once again won the battle for Israel.

In this case, the ?good news? is that our war with God is over. In our sins we were enemies of God, but Jesus, through His sacrifice, created a lasting peace:

Col. 1:20 ?and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross?whether things on earth or things in heaven.?

The ?good news? today, then is the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Paul says we should ready, or prepare, our feet with this gospel. My take on this is that your feet symbolize wherever you go. When Aaron was anointed the high priest of Israel, Moses placed a drop of blood on his right earlobe, his right thumbnail, and his right big toe.

Being ready with the gospel means that you take the good news of Jesus with you in whatever situation you find yourself in. 2 Timothy 4:2 ?Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season?. The HCSB says: ?whether convenient or not.?

Being fitted means that the gospel, the good news that Jesus died for our sins, allows you to be a soldier for God. It also means that that we are to be spreaders of that gospel no matter where our feet tread.

You are by far the most effective preacher of the gospel most of your friends will ever know. It doesn?t mean you yell fire and damnation to them, but it means you model the character of Christ and be ready to tell what Jesus has done for you.

Paul says it is the ?gospel of peace.? Don?t you think it?s odd that a soldier is fitted for peace? I thought we were in a war! We are, but that war is to bring about peace between God and man through the man Christ Jesus.

And just as the Roman sandals allowed them to walk further and not give up, so too we should never tire of sharing the good news and keep sharing it no matter the difficult journey we are on.

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Now Paul tells us to ?take up? the ?shield of faith.? This type of shield isn?t a small one, but a large shield that covers most of the entire body. They measured four feet by two feet and were made of wood and covered with canvas and calves skin. It was reinforced with metal at the top and bottom. Roman soldiers would dip the shields in water so that when an enemy launched an arrow dipped in pitch then lit on fire ? it would hit the shield and not them and would go out.

Paul says with this shield we can ?quench? or ?extinguish? every flaming arrow the enemy sends our way. We do this by trusting that God will protect us.

Is. 54:17 ?No weapon formed against you will succeed, and you will refute any accusation raised against you in court. This is the heritage of the LORD?s servants, and their righteousness is from Me.?

Philippians 1:6 ?being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;?

There is great danger here. The enemy is powerful. On our own we are vulnerable. But with a very powerful God, and our trust in Him, we will not be damaged so that we are unable to continue serving.

Paul says to take up the shield in ?every situation?. The attacks against us can be anything: temptation, despair, trial, even direct attack against you by another. That trust in God stands in front of the devil?s attacks. God is in control. He is sovereign over your life. You will accomplish everything God has for you. It isn?t ?some? of the arrows launched at you but ?all? that will be extinguished.

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Helmet of Salvation ? The Roman soldier?s helmet was made of bronze with pieces of cheek inside to make it wearable. Paul is again pulling this imagery from Isaiah 59 where Yahweh puts on the ?helmet of salvation? to save His people.

Here we are to put on the helmet ?which is salvation.? The fact that Jesus has saved us and given us eternal life that cannot be taken away makes us more powerful than Satan. The Devil can throw his worst at you but since you are saved you are indestructible. God may allow him to take your human life, but that only means you get your new model body.

Sword of the Spirit ? The Roman sword was known as the gladius. It was between 24 and 33 inches long, weighed 1.5 to 2.2 pounds with a blade of steel and a hilt of wood, bronze, or ivory. It was an all-purpose sword that could be used to cut, chop, or thrust. The Greek word used by Paul here suggests this short sword. He says it is the Spirit?s sword. The way to look at this is that the Spirit makes the sword powerful. Paul further describes it as the Word of God, and it is one of only two of our offensive weapons. A Roman soldier would also have two javelins. He would throw them into the shields to disrupt the enemy formation, then move in with the sword. Though Paul doesn?t specifically call out the javelin, it fits the other weapon, which is prayer. We?ll get to that next time.

The idea of God?s Word as a weapon comes to us from the Messiah imagery in Isaiah 11:4 ?He will strike the land with discipline from His mouth, and He will kill the wicked with a command from His lips.? So the Messiah wages war with His words. We see this played out when Jesus the Messiah returns to earth.

Rev. 19:15 ?A sharp sword came from His mouth, so that He might strike the nations with it. He will shepherd them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty.?

As with all of the armor here, it is Messiah?s armor that we put on and use. This includes the sword of the Spirit, which is God?s Word.

Heb. 4:12  ?For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.?

When confronted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus used His Word as an effective weapon (Matthew 3). One of Satan?s most useful ?tactics? is to get us to doubt God and even try to use Bible verses out of context as Satan did to Jesus.

So it?s important that we know the Word well and use it well (2 Timothy 2:15). Reading, studying, memorizing?all contribute to good swordsmanship. It doesn?t mean that every word from your mouth is just spouting verses, but as the Psalmist says we should ?hide? God?s Word in our hearts (Psalm 119:11) so that we can be ready to give a defense (1 Peter 3:15 ?Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.?).

So how do we use this sword? Paul uses an interesting word here for ?word.? Normally he uses the Greek logos but here he uses hrema which is more the spoken word. Here particularly it means ?communicate?. So it?s not that the Bible itself is the sword, but it?s how we communicate the gospel into other people?s lives. It?s not just speaking ad hoc verses to Satan like sword-thrusts, but it is the proclaiming of the gospel in a world full of darkness by shining the light of Christ?s love so that those in Satan?s clutches can hear the gospel, it penetrates their hearts and frees them as they place their faith and trust in Jesus as the Messiah.

Conclusions

Let?s walk up to where we are so far:

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