If you love watching sports, you should know that the game or match you watch is the product of a lot of preparation. Today, at 8:20pm, the Eagles will play against their biggest rival, the Cowboys. After the Eagles lost to the Vikings last Sunday, guess what they were doing on Monday? Watching film. Every team does it. They watch the game to see what they did right and what they did wrong. The coach lets the team know what they need to work on.
After they had a good grasp on the truth about their own team, they started watching film of the Cowboys. They studied their rival to learn their formations, their strategy, discover any patterns that will be useful for tonight’s game. Then they went out to the field and practiced formations and ran drills to defeat the Cowboys. Tonight, we will see the result of all that hard work (update: the Eagles lost).
As Christians, it’s important to be prepared for the evil day, for game day, for the attack of our rival, our enemy. We do that by watching film, or in other words, reading God’s Word. Through God’s Word, we will see what we need to work on, but we will also learn more about the enemy’s strategy.
Today, we’re going to see the importance of knowing two things:
- What God says about us
- What the enemy says about us
Before you arrived to church today, guess who was already here? The enemy. Satan does not want you to be here. He does not want you to hear the Truth. He is constantly lying to you so that he can block God’s Truth. We can’t fight the enemy with physical weapons. It doesn’t work because the enemy is in a different realm. Guns won’t work. Crystals won’t work. Yoga won’t work. These aren’t human beings, these are much stranger things.
In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul tells us exactly how to be prepared for the evil day. He says to put on the whole armor of God! If you don’t, then you’re going into this spiritual battle empty-handed.
Many things that happen in your physical life are a result of what happens in your spiritual life. Trials, tribulations, and circumstances that happen in our day-to-day can stem from issues in our spiritual life. We try to fix our physical life without even considering our spiritual life. We treat the runny nose without fixing the virus. We treat the symptom without treating the disease. Satan wants us to focus on the physical. But Paul says, in Ephesians 6.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.Ephesians 6:13
Paul describes this armor by listing 6 pieces. We went through the first two last week.
We talked about the Belt of Truth!
It doesn’t matter what we think or how we feel or what everybody else says. There’s one Truth and we need to wear this Truth around our waist at ALL TIMES. We cannot leave the house without it. We do this by meditating on God’s Word. How do we do that? Meditating is like worrying, but instead of worrying about negative things, we fill our mind with godly things.
. . . whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8
So if you listen to garbage music, your mind will be filled with garbage. If you watch garbage movies and have garbage conversations, your mind will be so filled with garbage that God’s Truth can’t even get in.
Then we put on the Breastplate of Righteousness.
We are ALL imperfect but Jesus is our perfection. So we need to give up trying to earn His love, surrender it all to Him, and give Him our sin, our temptations, our sinful desires. Then He will give us His righteousness, His perfection. And He’ll start to change us from the inside out. So now we come to our next piece of armor. By the way, so far, all these pieces of armor help us to stand firm. Check it out!
and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.Ephesians 6:15
So we got a belt, a breastplate, and now we need to put on:
The Shoes of Readiness
Paul is referring to a Roman soldier so this shoe looks very different than the shoes soldiers wear today. These shoes were open-toed leather boots or sandals. They were tied to the ankle with straps. But what made these shoes so effective is what they put underneath the sole. They put a bunch of nails under the shoe so spikes would stick out. Kind of like football cleats or soccer cleats
However, these shoes were not meant for running. They were made for marching and for standing firm! It gave the soldiers traction so they wouldn’t slip on the battlefield.
Last Wednesday, I went fishing with Tim and Jason. Had a great time, caught 6 fish. It was a blast. I used waders for the first time. Waders are amazing because you can enter the cold water and not freeze. So there I am, fishing in two feet of cold water, catching fish, enjoying God’s beautiful creation.
Then I looked over and I saw Tim crossing the creek. Once in a while I saw him catch his balance. Not gonna lie, I thought, “Tim is amazing at fishing, but he needs to work on his balance.” But when the fish stopped biting where I was casting, I decided to try a different location and thought, “I’ll just cross the creek. I have waders on. I’m good!”
Church, I kid you not, I felt and looked like such a fool, the fish were probably laughing at me. I was slipping around so much you would think I was walking on ice.
“I’m going to fall on my face and drown in two feet of water. This is how I go!”
So now I know for a fact that Tim is actually really good at crossing the creek because he did NOT look the way I did.
Sometimes, when we’re in this spiritual battlefield, we’re wearing the wrong shoes! We enter the battle field with flip flops on and then wonder why we’re slipping around when the enemy attacks. Or we enter the battle field wearing running shoes with no spikes, so when the enemy attacks, we can’t stand firm so we have to run away because our shoes are not meant for standing firm; they’re meant for running!
The Bible never tells us to run from the devil.
It tells us to run from sin but not the devil. God’s Word tells us to resist the devil and HE will flee. Paul is saying, we need to be IMMOVABLE! When the devil realizes he can’t knock you down, he’ll give up and he’ll run.
Many of us had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we committed to Christ. We said, “I commit to Jesus” without counting the cost of living for Jesus. We thought it would be easy and smooth sailing.
“How bad can crossing two feet of water be?”
But once we became a Christian we appeared on the enemy’s radar.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.John 14:27
Oh! Phew! So we’re good! No need to be afraid or troubled. Jesus will give us peace. But the issue is, there are many Christians living their life without ANY peace! See, the world’s idea of peace is different than the peace Jesus gives us.
The world can give us peace, but it’s temporary. We can take a pill that can give us peace. And there’s nothing wrong with using pills to help with anxiety but even people who use pills can live life without the peace of Jesus. We can go on vacation and have peace, but it’s temporary. We have to go back home eventually. We can retire, buy a beach house, relax, and experience peace, but it’s still not the kind of peace Jesus is talking about.
The kind of peace Jesus is talking about, and the one that we need to put on our feet is the same peace that was in Jesus before He was crucified. It’s the kind of peace that was in Christians when they were thrown into the coliseum to be eaten alive by lions. It’s the peace that was in the Christians who were being burned alive. It’s the peace that was in Stephen, the first Christian martyr, who while he was being stoned to death, was filled with peace.
And I’m over here, worried about running out of gas on the turnpike, and not getting enough sleep for church the next morning.
What kind of peace does Jesus give because that’s the kind of peace I need right about now? It’s the peace that allowed Jesus to sleep through the storm. The world can’t give us that kind of peace.
See, just because we have peace with God, doesn’t mean we have the peace of God. As Christians, we know we’re saved and justified and forgiven, but OUR normal is to worry. Our normal is to be anxious. The evil day arrives and freak out. We can’t sleep, can’t eat, and can’t focus because we have no peace. But Jesus said He would give us His peace.
Something you will always find in my car is a box of energy powder packets. You just add it to a bottle of water, drink it, and you get a boost of energy. I always have it in the car because one day, when I was driving home from college, I fell asleep for a few seconds. When I woke up, I hit the brakes but I ended up hitting the car in front of me. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but it made me realize that I cannot drive while tired.
So the energy packets are with me while I drive but the only way to actually benefit from an energy packet is if I consume it. Having it in my car gives me the security I need. “Hey, if I’m tired, I have these energy packets I can rely on to get through this drive.” But there have been times that I drove the car, tired, and FORGOT that I had them in the car. So I drove the whole way, feeling tired and exhausted for nothing. But I had the energy packets with me the whole time!
The peace of God is available to us at any time. But when we’re tired, when we’re exhausted, when we are worrying, overwhelmed and have no peace in or lives, we don’t turn to it. We don’t ask God for it. We have the right shoes but we leave them in the back of the closet. We don’t put them on. So when circumstances come, when the evil day arrives, we’re not ready for it. We don’t stand firm. We stumble and slip around. Paul is saying, when you put on the shoes that gives you the readiness that is given to us by the gospel of peace, you can stand firm and withstand in the evil day.
But here’s our problem: many of us don’t know the gospel of peace.
We don’t know the Truth enough to even benefit from the peace that comes from it. If you’re a Christian, you might have peace with God, but you also need the peace of God. If you’re not a Christian and you’re reading this, I pray that you ask Jesus to save you so that you can have peace with God and the peace of God. You need to watch film and read what God says about you because when the evil day comes, you’ll be able to stand firm because you know the Truth!
Things at work might be falling apart for you. That’s a fact. But here’s the Truth.
9 The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.Psalm 9:9-10
You can’t sleep because of issues happening in your life. The issues are real. But here’s the Truth. God says:
My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.Exodus 33:14
Maybe you’re afraid of what’s to come. A conversation you’re about to have, news that you’re afraid of hearing, changes happening in your life. Those things are real. But the Truth of God’s Word says:
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.Isaiah 12:2
So the peace that Jesus gives is the kind that allows you to stand firm in the battle. It’s the kind of peace that allows you to sing even though the world around you is falling apart. It’s the kind of peace that allows you to dance in your house even though you may not have the money to pay for your rent or mortgage next month. It’s the kind of peace that allows you to rest even though the hours are long and you never seem to get some time for yourself. This kind of peace only comes when we put on the shoes of readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
How can we get this peace? Simply ask God for it.
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7
We need to put on the shoes of readiness. Let’s check out the second piece of armor for today.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil oneEphesians 6:16
The fourth piece of armor is:
The Shield of Faith
Now, don’t think of a shield like Captain America. The shield Paul is talking about isn’t a small one. In fact, the word Paul uses for shield here is derived from the word for door. It was made of two layers of wood and covered with linen and then a leather covering on the outside. It was about two feet wide and four feet tall. This allowed the soldier to crouch down and hide his entire body behind the shield.
In fact, they would often interlock each other’s shields together to create a wall that the entire army could hide behind. This would stop spears, arrows, rocks, and whatever else was thrown at them as they approached a city.
So what is this shield of faith?
The Bible tells us many times that God, Himself, is our shield.
This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.Psalm 18:30
So the faith we need as a shield comes from the faithfulness of God. God has remained faithful. He has always been there for us. He is perfect. His Word proves true. So the faithfulness of God towards us gives us the assurance that we can walk toward the city and nothing will be able to touch us.
Now let’s talk about these flaming arrows.
Back in those days, the enemy would dip their arrows in some inflammable substance, light it on fire, and shoot it from a distance. That’s really important to know.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.1 Peter 5:8
Have you ever seen videos of a lion hunting? They don’t hope around and make noises. They prowl around waiting for the right moment to attack. The lion is not seen from a distance. They inch closer and closer and before the prey notices him, it’s too late.
In the same way, the enemy is shooting flaming arrows at us from a distance. It comes at us when we least expect it. When we think life is good, things are going smoothly, BAM! It hits us and we never saw it coming.
What kind of arrows does the enemy shoot at us?
They have many types of arrows in their arsenal. I want to quickly give you five examples. Maybe you can relate to some or all of these. It’s important to know what God says about us but also what the enemy says about us.
The enemy will shoot…
1. Arrows of accusation
Satan is an accuser. He’s been around long enough to know what can lead you to despair. He will tell you that you’re not good enough. He will accuse you of your past sins and tell you that you’re not fit to be in church. He will even use other people to do the accusing.
The enemy will shoot…
2. Arrows of temptation
We all have a sinful nature and sometimes, it only takes a small little flame to ignite us. Satan knows what tempts you, what causes you to stumble in sin. It can be something sensual. It can be an opportunity to gain money in a dishonest way. It can be a temptation to lie to get your way. We may not have been reading God’s Word to learn about the enemy’s tactics but the enemy has been watching us to learn about our weaknesses.
The enemy also shoots…
3. Arrows of trials
These are the ones we really don’t understand. The enemy will use illness, tragedies, and persecution to discourage and distract us. Difficult times will come and when we should come closer to God, Satan will do whatever He can so you can walk away from God. He wants you to blame God for your difficult times instead of running towards God.
The enemy will shoot…
4. Arrows of doubt
There are many false prophets out there, preaching lies. They will twist the Truth so that it pleases everyone and Satan will use them to lead people away from Jesus. Doubt will start as a small flame but if not taken care of, it can consume us.
The fifth type of arrow is one we often neglect and don’t think about, but it can be deadlier than any other type of arrow.
5. Arrows from the church
David wrote a Psalm about this kind of arrows.
3 They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their bitter words like arrows. 4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent, attacking suddenly and fearlessly.Psalm 64:3-64 NLT
I have experienced these types of arrows. Sometimes they came disguised as prayer requests.
“We really need to pray for Pastor. He’s got issues. This is just a prayer request.”
Satan can use people in the church to discourage us, to hurt us, and to divide us.
How do we protect ourselves from these arrows?
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.1 John 5:4
We need to pick up the shield of faith.
In order to win on game day, in order to withstand the enemy on the evil day, we need to know two things. What God says about us and what Satan says about us. Hear me out when I say that this church is a place where you will find consistency.
We don’t change the Truth here.
We simply read God’s Word and allow God to speak to us. This is a safe place to disagree with each other. We need to talk things out. We need to tell each other our stories. We need to…we must!
Do you know why? Because while Jesus wants us to be united, Satan wants us to be divided. We need to come to a place where we can interlock our shields together and stand firm. My hope is that this church will always be a place where you can come to and say, “In this church, I’m truly loved, but also, in this church, my faith is challenged.”
How about you?
What do you need to do to put on the shoes of readiness?
The only way you can be ready is when you know the gospel of peace. If you’ve never read the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—I encourage you to do so. If you have, read them again! Get to know this Jesus we preach about. When you do, you will discover what God says about you. It’s kind of like watching film. God will tell you what you need to change, the sins you need to repent of, and the things you are getting right. Ask God today, “Lord, give me a hunger for your Word.”
What do you need to do to take up the shield of faith?
What arrows is the enemy shooting at you? When you know what God says about you, it doesn’t matter what the enemy says about you. God’s faithfulness, His goodness, His mercy, His forgiveness, will be a shield that will extinguish every arrow from the enemy.
Church, I want you to have the peace of God. Some of you are overwhelmed. Some of you are not living a life of peace. God’s Word tells us to not worry about anything, but pray about everything. As you read the Gospels. As you read God’s Word, ask Him to give you the peace you need to get through whatever you’re going through. You may still have issues at your job. The sickness might still be there. You may still feel your pain. The bills may still be laying on your kitchen table
But I encourage you to gather your family, go on your knees before the Lord, and cry out to Him. God will give you a peace which exceeds anything you can understand.
That’s what’s at stake here. That’s what we’re missing out on when we’re not reading God’s Word and holding onto Him. That’s what we’re missing out on when we don’t put the belt of Truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of readiness, and the shield of faith. That’s what we’re missing out on when we don’t interlock our shields with one another.
We need to be prepared for the evil day when the enemy attacks.