The Armour of God:
Wherefore put on the whole armour of God .... and having done all, to stand. (Ephes. vi. 13)
THE Apostle in these words lays down three propositions. Firstly, he exhorts that we arm ourselves with spiritual arms. Take unto you the whole armour of God. Secondly, he shows our need of it. That ye may be able to with- stand. Thirdly, he gives the reason for it. Having done all, to stand.
(1) We ought to take the girdle of knowledge. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth. Gird up thy loins like a man. (Job xl. 7)
To gird means to environ and fortify. So we ought to gird our minds with knowledge. What we need to know is that we are always in danger of being tempted. Thus we need to know the times and conditions that trigger and catalyst temptation’s arrival. We need to know how to subdue, conquer, and overcome temptation through God’s Grace.
(2) We ought to put on the breastplate of righteousness. Breastplate of righteousness. He put on righteousness as a breastplate. (Is. lix. 17)
If we would wage an effective war on sin, then we must put on the breastplate of righteousness. This means that we must defend ourselves with righteous and holy intentions, thoughts, and deeds. Knowledge of good and evil is not enough. We must cleave to the good and abandon all evil. This is accomplished is we are clothed in the protective armour of righteousness.
(3) We ought to take the shield of faith. His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night. (Ps. xci. 4, 5) Your adversary the devil as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour, whom resist steadfast in the faith. (1 St. Pet. v. 8)
Knowledge and virtue must be founded always on faith. We believe in the invisible power of God to protect and defend us. We must call upon this invisible power to aid us in our war on sin. Faith in God enables us call upon His strength and might to defeat sin.
(4) With the helmet of salvation. And take the helmet of salvation. An helmet of salvation upon His head. (Is. lix. 17) Putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for an helmet the hope of salvation; for God hath not appointed us to wrath. (1 Thess. v. 8, 9)
The helmut of salvation surrounds the mind with purpose and meaning for our warfare against sin. We fight in order to gain the victory over sin, death, and Satan in our lives. The salvation we seek has been won for us already in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. He invites us into His victory over all that opposes the Providential Good Will of God the Father in Creation.
(5) The sword of the Word of God. The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. For the Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword. (Heb. iv. 12)
The Sword of God’s Word enables us to command the devil and his temptation to flee and perish. In the Name of Jesus and by the Blood of Jesus we can command sin to decamp, cut, run, and vanish. In the presence of God’s Word the true nature of sin is revealed to us. Seeing it, we can destroy it through the same Word.
The armour of God protects us on the first day, which could be the day of evil or the day of goodness. To overcome the evil of the first day, we must be mindfully thankful for those good things, through which God desires to make the day reflective of His Grace.
(2) The day of temporal prosperity. I am not troubled, fleeing thee… and I have not desired the day of man, as Thou knowest. That which went out of my lips hath been right in Thy sight. (Jer. xvii. 16) The Lord will deliver him in the time of trouble. (Ps. xli. 1)
In the day of prosperity, we must put on the whole armour of God. Should we fail to do this because we think that we are at peace, then the devil shall pervert and contaminate our souls and have the swifter victory over us. We must put on the whole armour of God at all times, in all places, knowing that life on earth is always the plain of spiritual warfare. Temporal prosperity might lead us to trust delusionally in the satisfaction that earthly goods bring to us.
(3) The day of temporal adversity. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (St. Matt. vi. 34)
If we treat each day as one of spiritual battle, we shall be put on the whole the armour of God and be prepared to see temporal adversities as merely the opposite of temporal prosperity. That is to say that we shall see temporal adversity as part and parcel of what should inspire us to cleave more steadfastly to the armour of God and the power of His Grace.
(4) The day of temptation of the devil. Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil ? i.e., in the days of temptation. (Ps. xlix. 6)
Every day will be spiritually prosperous only if the armour of God that enables us to have the victory over temporal adversities then provides us with the weapons to fight a spiritual fight for spiritual victory.
(5) The day of judgment. Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near. (Amos vi. 3) It is called the evil day because that is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of waste and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk with blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord : and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. (Zeph. i. 15-18)
Every day must be the day of judgment for us. Each day we must ask the Lord Jesus to judge us in relation to His goodness. We must then ask Him to punish, discipline, and correct us. We must ask Him to realign us to our Heavenly Father’s will through the Grace of the Holy Spirit.
III. On the third head it is to be noted, that in five ways we ought to stand perfect.
(1) In purity of heart and body. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Cor. vii. 1)
Purity of heart is perfection of intention and motivation. We should intend and desire to please God with all of our lives. But this purity should be brought alive not only in the heart or soul but also in the body. To be pure in heart and body we must supplicate the Grace of God. Through the infusion of God’s Grace we can surrender and submit to His rule and governance in our lives. He alone can generate purity in us.
(2) In the keeping of the commandments of God. If ye fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well. But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point is guilty in all. (S. James ii. 8-12)
Perfection becomes a man’s possession in the common drudgery of human life. Where the commandment of God or His will is not obeyed, even if it seems to be a small instance, then a man is wholly imperfect. We must embrace the the Grace of God and apply it to the whole of our lives. The Commandment to love God and our neighbor in God is essential to salvation. Failure to do so reveals that the love of God is not being perfected in us.
(3) In the reformation of the tongue. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and also able to bridle the whole body. (St. James iii. 2)
Bridling the tongue is evidence that the mind is consumed with the cause of all other forms of perfection. Righteousness is generated first in the mind or soul and only thereafter in word and deed.
(4) In love towards God and one's neighbour. Perfect love casteth out fear. (1 St. John iv. 18) But I say unto you, Love your enemies. Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (St. Matt. v. 44, 45, 48)
Pure and perfect love is actualized in the life of the man who loves God above all things and his neighbor in and for God.
(5) In the praise of God and in the giving of thanks. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings, Thou hast perfected praise. (Ps. viii. 2) To which praise may He lead us Who is blessed for evermore.
Praising God is the highest expression coming from the creature immersed in His effectual love. When we praise God, we submerge ourselves in the love that is beyond all that we can ever deserve or desire. When we praise God we find a love that is able to conquer sin, bring it to death in our lives, and then to raise us up new creatures out of it. When we praise God we find a love that is able then to be so perfected in us that it becomes the trigger and catalyst for other men’s discovery of the love of God. Amen.
St. Michael and All Angels Sermons