Good Morning. Thank you for having us back! Last Sunday I ended by saying that in order for us to be Salt and Light in a world that loves the DARK, we needed to put on the WHOLE ARMOR of God and STAND before a culture that hates us more every day! A Culture that has LOST its fear of a SOVEREIGN, ALL POWERFUL, GOD surrounds us.
How can we do that? How can we, who really just want to be free to worship as we see fit and NOT HURT ANYONE, need Spiritual ARMOR just to speak the TRUTH? In the beginning was the WORD and the WORD was With God and the WORD WAS GOD! In HIM was LIFE. And the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness COMPREHENDS IT NOT.
Did you ever walk into a room, the door shuts behind you, and you find yourself in utter Darkness? You can’t see ANYTHING not the floor, not the walls, not your hand in front of your face? You snap the switch on your flashlight or turn on the light and everything is FINE again? What happens when you turn out the light? Is the darkness defeated? Does it remain banished to the corners and shadows? NOT HARDLY! In the sixties, the “silent majority” of Christians in this nation allowed the light to be turned off. God was banished from schools, His truth was removed from the public square, and we became a post-Christian nation. In a closed room the result of turning out the light is instantaneous. In a nation, the results are generational. The darkness slowly engulfs our thought processes, our reasoning becomes more and more self oriented, until anyone who looks different or is of a different opinion, is an enemy and the truth is what each of us SAYS IT IS! My opinion is BETTER than yours! Ladies and gentlemen that is where we are now. That is the culture we live in. Thing is: TRUTH is NOT just an OPINION! Opinion MUST yield to IT! Ever rubbed salt in an open wound? (Holding up the Bible) We call the Bible the Word of God. Rightly understood and RIGHTEOUSLY APPLIED, that IS what it is. But that is RARELY the CASE in the world in which we live!
Please Open your Bibles to the Gospel of John Chapter Three beginning at verse 1. When you have it please stand out of respect for God’s Holy and Inerrant Word. Before we get to the Whole Armor of God there is some groundwork that must be laid. If we try to be soul winners (I really have a problem with that term) the very first thing we have to recognize is what we are up against. Gospel of John chapter 3.
1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
May God bless the reading of His Word.
The world wants NO PART of the TRUTH that IS Jesus Christ! The unregenerate heart is the open wound and the TRUTH OF our Lord Jesus Christ IS the SALT! Unregenerate is how we are BORN into this world, and that is the state in which we EXIST until, by the GRACE of God ALONE HE CALLS us TO HIM! Sola Gratia: By GRACE ALONE. Not our pipe dream wishes of shared Glory, Not the bitter cry of broken hearted anguish, not even the anguish of compassion for another’s loss, it is NOT the worldly circumstances of our lives that turn us to Christ! I’m sure God uses circumstances in the process of renewing our minds but only the Holy Spirit moves to REMOVE our heart of stone and give us a heart of FLESH; A heart that CAN be moved and molded by the TRUTH that IS our Lord Jesus Christ through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
God uses the physical world to give us examples of, and to teach us, spiritual truth. Probably the most familiar example is the parable of the sewer and the 4 types of ground.
Christians like to think of the day they accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior as the Day they were born again! In my experience, they see their salvation as some sort of a cooperative effort. God offered His Son Jesus Christ for the propitiation of our sins and we either accept and get saved or reject and go to hell: SIMPLE! Easy to understand. I do not challenge anyone’s bona fides as a born again Christian. I WOULD like you to consider this and in doing so consider how GRACIOUS the mercy of our God and how SELFLESS the sacrifice of our LORD are, and remember we learn SPIRITUAL TRUTH by physical world example:
Did you choose to be born? Did you choose the day and hour? Did you choose your parents or the economic condition into which you were born? The Nation? The State? The County? The City? Your health or infirmity? Your SEX! In short, just what condition did YOU set concerning your physical birth? Did you choose to be born DEAD in trespass and sin? We can thank Adam, the Federal Head of the human race for that. That is what God tells us in His Word. He reveals to us Who He is AND He reveals to us who WE are, standing before HIM!
God has a plan and it includes every thing and every one around us. His plan started in Eternity Past and will come to fruition in Eternity Future. I use the terms past and future in this reference to God, BUT past, present and future are an open book and all of time is accessible to Him. That sort of defines Omnipresence doesn’t it? I digress.
Whether you admit or NOT, you know you COULD NOT set any condition concerning your birth into this world, including being born dead in trespass and sin; and you know that the PHYSICALLY dead have NO VOICE in the disposition of their affairs, meaning that the dead have no voice and are TOTALLY at the mercy of the living. The question becomes WHO HAS THE POWER OF LIFE to decide your Condition and Position in this world? But the dead cannot even ASK THAT QUESTION! Because our unregenerate condition is a bit more complicated than that of an INERT CORPSE, There is this to consider also! God told Adam that he was NOT to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil for if he did, on that day he would surely DIE! We know that Adam and Eve ATE and hid themselves from the voice of God when He asked where they were. They did not get it that their SPIRITUAL bond with God ended. They killed it by their disobedience. God ALONE could reanimate that life! God ALONE has the POWER of LIFE and LIFE ETERNAL!
Scripture says that Eve was deceived but Adam was NOT! Adam Rebelled against God. That rebellion Lives in every one of his natural born offspring. That rebellion is the desire to sit on the throne ourselves! There is no room on the throne of the unregenerate heart for Christ. Scripture refers to it several different ways but mainly as a heart of stone. It would rather DIE than yield. That is the TRUTH that Jesus expressed in Mark 7:
Many when faced with this passage say OH He was talking about food sacrificed to Idols! I would ask you to examine it more closely. You will see that His explanation to His disciples only began with food. They understood that food was the basis for the PARABLE concerning the condition of the unregenerate heart. Our Lord unpacks Jeremiah 17:9 which says: 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
What Jeremiah says here is that the human heart is deceitful ABOVE anything else in the created realm. It is DESPERATELY wicked. In the Hebrew, Jeremiah is telling us that the heart CASTS ABOUT for ways to cast GOD OUT of its DOMAIN!! It is pretty easy to lie to ourselves, isn’t it? We sure don’t want to spend eternity in Hell. And when we hear about the “FREE” offer of salvation, many really want some of that. We see people doing good things and assume they are GOOD PEOPLE! And when we look around us today, is it always easy to SEE THE TRUTH in what the prophets REVEALED TO US through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit?
Do we really and TRULY WANT TO? Where is this going? If we don’t have any input in when, where, how, and by whom we were born into this world, What makes you think you could OR DID CHOOSE WHEN OR IF the GOD of HEAVEN and EARTH, the CREATOR OF ALL THAT IS, will at your beck and call bestow the most precious gift we can’t even imagine: LIFE. The TRUTH is we would absolutely REFUSE if it were OUR CHOICE! We want NOTHING from God. The gift of ETERNAL LIFE is not something that a being who ABHORS life is dying to HAVE! In a nutshell, The Holy Spirit goes where it will, when it will and we don’t even know its BEEN until we find within us the DESIRE for LIFE and LOVE and LIGHT. Babies are born totally dependent knowing only that they are hungry and uncomfortable. It takes years for us to become capable of taking care of ourselves. How long does it take for the new heart within us to gain enough strength, knowledge and understanding to stand against the hate and darkness and self-absorption we were first born with ourselves, and how much longer to stand against the peer pressure and cultural immersion we encounter every day?
It is the job of every parent and grandparent to speak truth into the lives of our children wherever and whenever possible IN SPITE of the eye rolling and negative feedback from those who LOVE THE LIE! ! We must make some effort to speak against the cultural darkness that is overwhelming US as well as the following generations. What can we do? Prepare ourselves to follow the Great Commission. The first of the armor of God is to ‘girt our Loins about with the TRUTH!’ The physical process of ‘girting the loins’ was to pull the robe or tunic up between the legs and secure it with a heavy belt, allowing the legs freedom of movement and keeping the loose cloth from becoming entangled in or caught up on anything should one find it necessary to move quickly. The TRUTH is what keeps us from becoming entangled in the sophistry and convoluted “logic” of those who would deceive us and try to steer us away from the doctrine of Christ that we are to abide in continually.
With that, is to put on the breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS. The breastplate protects the heart and other vital organs from harm. True righteousness is doing what is right in the eyes of God. There is more than one way to BE righteous but the only proper way is with compassion and humbleness of heart knowing that “there but for the grace of God go I”. Knowing you are doing the right thing for the right reason with the right attitude in whatever circumstance, is the breastplate that protects you from the weapons that aim for the heart: guilt, shame, regret, fear, revenge, lust, wrath, and pride.
We’re to have our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.
Isaiah 52:7 says ‘How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”‘
We carry the best news the world has ever heard. We KNOW that Jesus Christ took the wrath of GOD upon Himself so that we who BELIEVE would not have to suffer it when the JUSTICE of a RIGHTEOUS GOD is meted out upon a dark and unbelieving and violent world.
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. We are saved by Grace THROUGH FAITH and THAT not of yourselves lest any man BOAST! Sola Fide, through FAITH ALONE. The very faith that we have in Jesus Christ is ITSELF a gift of God. Faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things NOT SEEN. Faith, the unwavering belief that Jesus Christ did ALL that He promised, CAN QUENCH the fiery darts of the wicked. Those fiery darts are accusations of all our sins and shortcomings! And THEY are UNDER THE BLOOD! If I had to make it to God’s Grace on MY record I’d spend eternity in HELL. Thank God it is not MY record but the record and sacrifice of Christ Jesus that allows the unmerited favor of God’s Grace to clothe me in His righteousness.
The helmet protects the head from serious injury. The head is the seat of knowledge. The knowledge of our salvation protects us from being knocked out by doubt and fear. And the sword of the Spirit is our only offensive weapon. Paul says ‘And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may PROVE what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.’ Feelings LIE! That is why we are to PROVE through the right use of a RENEWED MIND what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God, NOT rely on just feeling like we are doing or saying the right thing! We are supposed to have GOOD REASON for our actions and our words.
We must MAKE a STAND beginning TODAY. Whether History will remember anything we do or say there is ONE Who SURELY Will! I would call your attention to this April issue of The Pathway. It says 900 SBC churches close their doors each year. They are advertising a speech and seminar in STL in June. They are promoting another program to help stop the bleeding of churches across America. I’m sorry to say Olney and Dover are examples of slowly fading small SBC churches. They NOW have a program to bring them back from the brink! Consider this: God has a PROGRAM ALSO: 2nd Chronicles 7:14 says ‘If MY people, which are called by MY name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek MY face, and turn from their wicked ways; THEN will I hear from heaven, and will FORGIVE their sin, and will HEAL their land.’ It starts with EVERY ONE of US.
As we prepare for our time of invitation with every eye closed and head bowed, we MUST examine ourselves whether we be IN the Faith, and consider, is that how we worship the ONLY TRUE GOD and His Son Jesus Christ! (Hymn of invitation) Micah 6:8 tells us ‘He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly WITH thy God? Sharing the Truth of God this week IS sharing His Love! Closing prayer Thanks again for having us here today. We hope to see you again soon. May God Bless!
The Whole Armor of God
John 1:1, 4a, 5b
2nd Chronicles 7:14