Turn this morning to Ephesians six. This is a familiar passage regarding the whole armor of God. This morning I want to talk about being a soldier of the cross.
- Ephesians 6:10-20
As we go through life and as we get older, we become more aware of the meaning and purpose of life. We are led to realize there are many things, forces, that work against the Christian. Paul refers to them as principalities and powers, and the prince of darkness, at work in this world.
Like Lot, we are vexed by the wickedness around us. Many things try to pull us away from God and the church. There are all sorts of numberless and unseen foes that stand against us. We understand that the greater our effort to live a life which is pleasing to God, the greater is our danger of being assaulted by the evil one.
The devil isn't really assaulting those who are his. He's coming after you and me. Paul's talking about standing against the devil. We strive to live a godly life.
- 2 Corinthians 5:9
In many ways, we're laboring to be accepted by God. We labor to do God's will.
- 2 Timothy 3:12
- 1 Peter 4:12-19
Fiery trials are nothing new. They had them then, and we have them now. Fiery trials will always come.
All of this is true because Christ and the sinful world are diametrically opposed to each other. There is a life and death struggle in progress between them, with issues involved so far-reaching and the conflict so universal as to make impossible the exemption of any responsible human being from the contest.
The struggle never ends.
Everyone, therefore, must take a stand, either for or against the Lord.
- Matthew 12:30
We're going to look today at the Christian's side of the conflict. We shall consider it from the standpoint of Paul's well-known and favorite figure—namely, the soldier of the cross, or the Christian warfare.
When it comes to military life and the life of a Christian the principal phase of army life is the conflict itself. We're going to look this morning at the equipment, training, and attitude of the individual soldiers which are so essential to successful warfare.
The Prerequisites of a Good Soldier
- We must love the cause for which he is fighting.
- We must have faith in the leader.
- We must have faith in our comrades.
- We must have hope of victory.
Things Essential to a Successful Stand as a Soldier
We call this the Christian armor, Ephesians 6:14-17.
- 2 Corinthians 10:4
"Having girded your loins with truth." — vs. 14
Here is a reference to the equipment that a Roman soldier would wear. The girdle was not a mere ornament but was an essential part of the soldier's equipment. Placed around his loins, it supported his sword and was useful in keeping his armor and clothing in place.
Paul's figure, of course, was based on the Roman soldier of his day.
The application to the Christian soldier was with reference to the state of his heart as it respects the truth of God— the practical acknowledgment of the truth as it is in Christ, or the agreement of our convictions with his revelation.
- John 17:17
- John 8:31-32
It's our acknowledgment of the truth of the gospel that holds together our whole armor.
"Having put on the breastplate of righteousness." — vs. 14
As its name indicates, this part of the soldier's armor was worn over his breast and served to protect his vital organs.
Righteousness here is used in the sense of moral rectitude, or correctness in thinking and feeling and acting. When we understand the truth, and we walk in a right relationship with God we can't avoid the truth.
- Proverbs 4:23
- 1 Thessalonians 5:8
- 1 John 3:7, 10
We've got to have respect and knowledge of the truth. We've got to be prepared with the breastplate of righteousness.
"Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace." — vs. 15
The soldier who makes a determined stand against the enemy must have his feet protected. This would make it possible for him to move with a quick and certain step.
- Isaiah 52:7
To be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace is to have a cheerful and willing attitude of mind which gives a spirit of courageous readiness for the battle with evil.
This state of mind is produced by the gospel, which is the gospel of peace.
- Romans 5:1-2
"Taking up the shield of faith." — vs. 16
In addition to those parts of the armor which were to be worn on the body, an essential part of the soldier's equipment was the shield.
This shield was oblong in shape and was large enough to afford protection for the whole body. It was carried on the left arm and held in place by means of a handle. An ordinary shield was about four feet long and two and one half feet wide.
The evil one is throwing, not little darts, but javelins, with fire. We must have the shield of faith which is able to quench the fiery darts.
The shield of the Christian soldier is faith or a conviction which makes him sensitive to holy influences which neutralize the power of temptations and evil influences.
Such faith enlists the direct help of God in overcoming these evil things.
- 1 Corinthians 10:13
- 2 Peter 2:9
- James 1:2-8
We're to take with us the shield of faith that we'll be able to extinguish those fiery darts.
"Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit." — vs. 17
This word, take, introduces a different word is here introduced, as well as a difference in grammatical construction. The Christian soldier was to gird his loins, put on the breastplate, shoe his feet, and take up the shield; but now he is to receive something from the divine side. This Greek word is to indicate the idea of taking up or receiving something.
"The helmet of salvation." — vs. 17
- 1 Thessalonians 5:8
What does a helmet do in battle? It protects in battle. That helmet of the hope of salvation gives us a reason to keep our head up to have hope in the knowledge of salvation. This knowledge of salvation enables the Christian soldier to hold up his head with joy and confidence, and it comes to him as a result of the assurance of the Scriptures.
- Ephesians 2:8
That's not to say that we have no part in our own salvation. We've got to act in response to the grace of salvation. We've got to respond to the love that is given. We do that in obedience to God's word. Jesus said if you love me keep my commandments, John 14:15.
It's not because of something we do, but because of something that God has done. We can't merit our own salvation. No matter the good we might do, it will never outweigh the gift of salvation.
"The sword of the Spirit." — vs. 16
This sword is described as the word of God, and it is the weapon which the Spirit himself puts into the hand of the Christian soldier.
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17
We're to take all the equipment and then we are to take our stand.
The Divine Order to Stand as a Soldier
The divine order is to stand. It should be observed that no provisions have been made for a retreat on the part of the Christian soldier.
We've got to take a stand for Christ. We've got to be a soldier of the Cross.
Are you a soldier of the cross?
Do you possess the shield of faith? We must believe in God, Hebrews 11:6 says of those who believe in Him that, He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Jesus said, unless you believe that I am He you will die in your sins, we must believe, John 8:24. Having faith, have you confessed Jesus Christ as Lord? Jesus said, if you will confess me before men, I will confess you before the Father, Matthew 10:32.
Have you committed yourself to Him in turning away from sin? Paul says in Acts 17:30, that the times of ignorance God once winked at, but now commands all men, everywhere to repent. Have you repented of your sins?
Have you committed to Him and had your sins washed away in baptism? Even as Saul of Tarsus was told, arise, be baptized washing away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord, Acts 22:16.
Have you enlisted in God's service? You can turn to God, and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can turn to God and live as a soldier fighting against the wiles of the Devil.
If we can assist you in knowing how to put on the armor of God and stand as a soldier of the cross, please contact us.
Adapted from a sermon by: Leslie G Thomas – A Third Hundred Sermons