A lot of us don’t have the authority of the key’s because we’re following the wrong agenda. We need to make sure we are on God’s kingdom program. Jesus tells us how to get on that program in ( Matthew 16:24 ) when He say, if anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Living on a kingdom agenda means giving up the rights to your life. There’s only one reason to take up a cross, and that’s to die on it. Our problem in the church today is that we have to many Christians who are still in charge of their lives. But if you are running your own existence, you can’t have God’s victory and God’s authority. When you die, you relinquish all rights to yourself. We are to die each day in the sense of giving up our rights and our plans. As Paul put it, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me ( Galatians 2:20 ).
There’s a good example of what it means to be on a Kingdom agenda in( Matthew 16 ). After Peter’s confession, Jesus told His disciples that He was going to the cross. Peter rebuked Jesus for saying this, but Jesus turned and said to Peter, Get behind me, Satan!” ( v.23 ). Jesus called Peter the devil because Peter was trying to stop Jesus from carrying out God’s agenda. Jesus let Peter know that he was operating on Satan’s agenda, not on God’s Kingdom agenda. Peter thought he was helping God by trying to stop Jesus from going to the cross. But in reality, to try to stop Jesus from going to the cross was to cooperate with the devil, since Satan’s goal was to keep Jesus from accomplishing what He came to do.
The keys of the kingdom are tied to a concept that Jesus called binding and looseing. What dose that mean? It has to do with allowing or forbidding, with access or lack of access. The church of Jesus Christ has been given the keys of the kingdom of God. It has been given access to heaven, so that whatever the church declares on earth, if it agrees with the kingdom of God, has already been determined in heaven. In other words, there is a backup for the things you do on earth that are in concert with the kingdom. If you are doing kingdom business, if you are a kingdom Christian living a kingdom life, then you can have kingdom victory. There’s a good example of what it means to be on a kingdom agenda in Matthew 16. After Peter’s confession, Jesus told His disciples that he was going to the cross. Peter rebuked Jesus for saying this, But Jesus turned and said to Peter, Get behind Me Satan! ( Matthew 23 ). Jesus called Peter the devil because peter was trying to stop Jesus from carrying out God’s agenda. Jesus let Peter know that he was operating on Satan’s agenda, not on God’s kingdom agenda. Peter thought he was helping God by trying to stop Jesus from going to the cross. But in reality, to try to turn Jesus away from the cross was to cooperate with the devil, since Satan’s goal was to keep Jesus from accomplishing what He came to do. Tune in next week to read more of God’s powerful word on the keys of authority.
This is another part of Jesus teaching concening the authority that Christ has delegated to the church. Jesus said, I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bounded in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loose in heaven” ( Matthew 16:19 ). Keys are a symbol of authority in the Bible, ( Isaiah 22:22, Luke 11:52 ). The one who has the keys has access, Which translates to authority. The keys Jesus was talking about belong to the kingdom of Heaven. Keys can open locked gates. Jesus is saying that for every hellish gate, there is a corresponding heavenly Key. For everything Satan throws at you, there is always a divine response. There is no problem in your life to which God dose not have a response. That’s why you need to quit messing with the gates of hell and start learning how to use the keys of the kingdom that Jesus has given the Church. Tune in next week to read more about God’s powerful word on the keys of authority.
The Shield of Faith
The fourth piece of armor Paul tells us to take up is the shield of faith, which allows us to “extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16B). The shield that a Roman soldier carried into battle was about four-and-a-half feet square. It was a huge shield that would even cover part of the body of the soldier fight beside the shield-holder. So Roman soldiers lined up side by side in close formation with their shields together, all of them were covered as they advanced. What is the shield of faith that is able to protect you from anything Satan cover ever fire at you? It is acting on the truth that you say you believe. You take up the shield of faith when you take the truth that you “amened” on Sunday and live it out on Monday. One of the best examples of what I’m talking about is Joshua at the battle of Jericho (Joshua 6). God told Joshua to have the Israelites march around the city once a day for seven days, and then march around seven times on the seventh day. That must have seemed like a foolish thing to do. It didn’t make sense militarily. It certainly wasn’t accepted strategy for warfare. But God commanded Joshua to do it, He promised to fight Israel’s battle. So no matter how it looked to anyone else, Joshua took up the shield of faith and obeyed God. And God delivered Jericho into Joshua’s lap. I’m also reminded of Naaman, the Syrian commander who was covered with leprosy (2 Kings 5). Elisha told Naaman to go and dip seven times in the Jordan River to be cleansed. Naaman got insulted, because the Jordan River is a dirty, muddy river. He didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of his servants by having to dip in the Jordan River. But his servants convinced him to do it, and Naaman did what God’s prophet told him to do.
See, obeying God can sometimes seem foolish, difficult, or downright embarrassing. But God wants us to trust him even when it doesn’t make sense to trust him. At times like these, we need to pick up our shield of faith and obey. I was once counseling a couple having martial problems. I gave the husband some things to work on and I told him, “These things may be hard to do right now. But because they are based on the Word of God, I believe if you’ll do them your marriage will improve.” He came back later and asked for some more things he could do! What God asks for us to do may be hard at the time, but our response of faith can extinguish the enemy’s flaming arrows. If you remember those old TV westerns, you know the damage that flaming arrows can do. The wagon train would be fighting off the Indians, with the wagons in a circle. But then a few Indians would set fire to their arrows and shoot them. Those arrows weren’t aimed at the settlers behind the wagons. They were aimed at the canvas tops of the wagons, which would burst into flame. Why did the Indians want to set the wagons on fire? First to distract the settlers and get them fighting the fires, because they couldn’t fight the fires and the Indians at the same time. But the main reason for setting the wagons on fire was to get rid of the settlers’ protection. With the wagons burned down, they wouldn’t have anything to hide behind.
Satan wants to hit us with as many flaming arrows as he can. That way, while we’re fighting one fire he can hit us with another. Ever had days like that? Sure you have. So have I. The flaming arrows are hitting all over the place. And if we don’t get all the fire put out, Satan will burn down our protection. The question is, how can you put out Satan’s fires? Answer: You can’t. But the shield of faith can. If you will act on God’s Word and believe him, God will send his angelic host to snuff out the Satan’s fiery arrows as they come in.
The third piece of spiritual armor we need to wear are the shoes of “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). If you are going to stand firm, you definitely need reliable footwear. Earlier in Ephesians, Paul had said that Jesus is our peace (Ephesians 2:14) . So we’re still talking about getting dresses up in Jesus. The “gospel of peace,” the good news of Jesus Christ, not only brings us truth and righteousness, it brings us peace of heart. The Roman solider wore shoes with cleats on them for surefootedness in battle. A soldier had to be able to stand and fight without slipping and sliding around, because lost footing could be fatal. Do you ever feel like your life is slipping and sliding all over the place? You’re doing you “James Brown” thing, just slipping and sliding. That’s when you especially need to have the peace of God anchoring your feet and guarding your heart. We need to distinguish between the peace of God and peace with God. Peace with God only comes when you place your faith in Christ and become a Christian.
Once you know Christ, you are in position to enjoy the peace of God, which He gives to His children each day as they prepare for spiritual warfare. But it’s peace with God that is listed as the bit of equipment here. Paul says we need to be prepared with peace because the world we are going to face is not always peaceful. In fact, since we are engaged in spiritual battle we should expect turmoil. But when we are wearing peace with God like shoes on our feet, we can handle whatever Satan brings against us— problems on the job, trouble with family — without stumbling. We don’t need to pop a pill in the morning or do anything else like that to deal with life. God’s peace is on duty. Our national ministry, The Urban Alternative, took a group of friends on a cruise not long ago. During the cruise we hit a terrible storm. There were thirty-foot waves. It was horrific. The captain sent us this message: “This is a bad storm, the worst we’ve ever been in, but don’t worry. This ship was built with these kind of storms in mind.” He was reassuring us the ship was seaworthy. The storms in your life may be bad, but the peace of God is seaworthy. It can handle whatever storm you face. Or in the imagery of spiritual warfare, the peace of God can keep you calm even when the battle is raging all around you. Is the devil attacking hard right now? The peace of God can help you stand firm while Jesus deals with the enemy through you. When you get dressed each day. check to make sure you are wearing God’s peace.
The second piece of armor is also found Ephesians 6:14. “Stand firm therefore . . . having put on the breastplate of righteousness.”
The Roman soldier’s breastplate protected his chest, his heart. What is the best protection for your heart in spiritual warfare? The best protection is to be covered in Christ’s righteousness . This is talking about our salvation. A lot of Christians don’t understand all that happened to them when they got saved. A lot of Christiana only know that Christ forgave their sins. But that’s not all that happened. If you knew Jesus Christ as your Savior, not only were your sins forgiven, but Christ gave you His perfect righteousness. That is, God credited the righteousness of Christ to your spiritual account. You are righteous today as a Christian because of this transfer. The theological term for this transaction is imputation. Christ’s righteousness was put on your account. As a Christian, you are not simply a forgiven sinner. You stand as righteous in God’s sight as Jesus Himself, because Jesus’ righteousness is wrapped around you like a robe. When Satan accuses you, you can point to your righteous standing before God. So you don’t get up in the morning determined to try to be righteous. That’s human effort. Instead, you get up in the morning and say, “Because of Christ, I am righteous today.” The breastplate of righteousness is part of the armor you wear all the time, because everyday you are dressed in Christ’s righteousness. One reason so many Christians exercise so little authority in spiritual warfare is that they don’t really know who they are. That’s why in his writing. Paul always starts with who you are in Christ before he gets to what you are to do for Christ. The book of Ephesians is a good example. Paul outlines our Christians identity in chapters 1 to 3, then he spends chapter 4 to 6 telling us how to act.
If you don’t get those two things in the right order, you are going to wind up with a lot of human effort without much divine power. You can’t act with authority against Satan until you know what authority you possess. In other words, we act like turkeys sometimes because we forget we are eagles. Instead of soaring spiritually, we waddle. The breastplate of righteousness speaks of our exalted position in Christ. As we put it on each day, we have protection against Satan and his demons, because they cant just hang out in an environment of righteousness. Of coarse we fail at times and act unrighteously. But that’s when we confess our sin (1 John 1:9) and keep on going.
You don’t lose your breastplate just because you blow it. Righteousness isn’t just something you practice. It’s your identity. You are righteous in Jesus Christ. Let me tell you one more thing before we move on. You are a righteous person, God is going to help you pursue things that enable you to act like who you are and help you avoid things that do not enhance your righteousness. This means He will have to discipline you on occasion. One day my granddaughter, Kariss, was running around the house with scissors. I told her to give them to me because I was afraid she would fall with them and get hurt. But Kariss didn’t want to give me the scissors. She wanted to run around with them and do her own thing because she wanted to cut some paper. So I had to catch her and take the scissors away from her. God will do the same for us, not because He doesn’t want us to have any fun. He doesn’t want us falling on the things we grasp and hurting ourselves. He’s after our long-term blessing. So our prayer for each day as we put on the breastplate should be, “Lord, I thank You that You have already made me righteous. Help me today to live up to what I already am.”
For the rest of the chapter. I want to do the detailed study of each piece of armor God has provided for us. These are important weapons you must know how to wear and how to wiled if you are going to make the most of the spiritual authority you have in Christ.
The Belt Of Truth
The first piece of armor Paul names is the belt of truth. “Stand firm therefore, having your loins with truth” (Emphasis 6:14a). The spiritual armor Paul describes in this chapter is patterned after the armor and weapons of Roman soldier of the day. For instance, these soldiers wore a long tunic that flowed down to the ground. But when it came time to fight, the soldier picked up that tunic and tucked it in his belt so he would have mobility for battle. A Roman soldier also carried his sword on his belt. and his breastplate connected to the belt too. So the belt was fundamental, because everything else connected to it. Without his belt, a soldier couldn’t keep himself together. We men use our belts today to hold up our pants and keep our shirts tucked in. It gives us the look we want, keep us neat, holds everything together.
That’s what the truth is designed to do for us spiritually. The truth is an objective standard of reality that stands outside our experiences and above our opinions. That standard of truth is the Word of God. When you’re up against a foe who is trying to take away your joy, your meaning, your future, your family, and even your life, you’d better not go out to battle without your belt of truth on. The belt of truth is becoming more and more important because we live in a world that no longer accepts objective truth. Our children are not taught objective truth in school anymore. We live in a day of “I think” or “That’s your opinion” Everybody has an opinion, everybody has an idea. Truth today is totally relative, and “tolerance” is the current buzzword. That’s why you’ll hear people say “What’s true for you is not necessarily true for me” The devil will whip you if he finds you without your belt of truth. We need to know God’s truth because the devil is a liar. He thrives on lies, so If he can get you in an environment where there is no objective standard of truth, he will milk it for all it’s worth. People say “I don’t want anybody telling me how to live my life.” They don’t want objective truth when it comes to the spiritual world. But the amazing thing to me is that when it comes to other things that really matter, people suddenly want objective standards. For example, nobody wants a surgeon who says in the operating room. “You know, I think this is where I need to cut on you. Other doctors have different opinions about this operation. No one can really say who is right, so all surgeons just cut wherever we think best. Let’s try an incision here and see if I’m right.”
Is that the kind of doctor you want? I don’t either! Suppose you went to a pharmacist who said, “I can’t say for sure, but I think this is the medicine you should take. The pharmacist down the street thinks these pills could kill you, but who knows? What’s right for him isn’t necessarily right for me. Try them and let’s see what happens.” When you’re up in a plane, you want your pilot to be very narrow-minded and very sure about his standard of truth. You don’t want him guessing which button to push or which lever to pull. When we’re in the operating room, we demand and objective standard of truth. When we go to the pharmacist, we want precise standards. And in an airplane at 35,000 feet, we sure enough want truth! Truth is the beginning point of authority. The belt of truth holds your life together and protects you from the lies of the evil one. The belt of truth also keeps us from replacing God’s word with our feelings. If you want real weapons on the spiritual authority, you have to be ready to say that when God’s Word contradicts how you feel, then your feelings are wrong and God’s Word is right.
Satan gets nervous when he sees that you are committed to God’s Truth, because you haven’t left him any loopholes he can get through. Satan is getting at a lot of believers because how they feel is more important that what God says. The belt of truth goes around the “Loins.” the mid-section. This is the area that provides strength to the body, but it is also a vulnerable area that needs protection. When your midsection is protected by truth, you are off to a good start, for Jesus Christ is truth. (John, 14:6
A third reason you need your armor is found in an interesting phrase in ( Ephesians 6:13 ). Paul says we need to stand firm and resist Satan in the evil day. What is the evil day? That’s the day when your number comes up, so to speak. One translation puts it, when things are at their worst. Are you having it pretty easy right now? Enjoy it, because an evil day is coming. That’s not pessimism, just reality. There are days when Satan is going to unleash the forces of hell on you. When those times come, you need to have your armor on. Ask job about the evil day, when Satan unleashes everything he has against you. Job couldn’t do anything about his horrible losses, but he stood firm by saying, Though He slay me, I will hope in him ( Job 13:15 ). You need the armor of God to stand firm when the evil day comes. in ( 1 Corinthians 16:13 ) Paul writes, stand firm in the faith. That’s the key. You can stand firm because your faith is in the one who provides you with the armor. He has surrounded you with protection, so you don’t worry about the enemy’s attacks. God wants us to hold our ground and not budge when the evil day comes.
The second reason you need God’s armor is because of the nature of the victory Christ has won for us. Let me explain. Three times here in ( Ephesians 6 ), Paul tells us that our goal in spiritual warfare is to stand firm. That means to hold the ground Jesus has already won for us. This dose not negate what we said earlier about the church assaulting the gates of hell with the keys of the Kingdom. But the assult is led by the risen Christ. That’s a lot different than us going out looking for demons to whip. You have probably listen to the television preachers who are always talking about attacking the devil. But the Bible doesn’t tell us to attack Satan, It tells us to stand firm. Why? Beause Jesus has already invaded Satan’s domain and won back all the territory Adam lost, and then some. So our job is to hold the ground Jesus has won, not to fight to win. Remember that we are fighting from victory, not for victory. One reason the church has so many defeated Christians on its hands is that they are still trying to whip Satan. That means that they are fighting the wrong battle. We saw in ( Colossians 2:15 ), that Jesus has already beaten and embarrassed Satan. So all we have to do is stand firm. We as believers are like a football team that’s ahead 72-0 late in the game. When your team is up by that many points, winning is no longer the issue. you don’t need to score any more points. You’re only on the field to hold your ground and keep the other team from scoring. You need to understand that satan is trying to rob you of spiritual victory and spiritual blessings you already posses. (Ephesians 1:3 ), says God has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing it was possible to give us. Would you go out and borrow money if you already had a million dollars sitting in your bank account? Would you go out on the streets like a pauper and ask,” Buddy,” can you spare a dime?” if your daddy owned it all? Some of us are walking around like spiritual paupers when Jesus Christ has credited to our account all of His power and authority. Our weapons are weapons of authority, because of the decisive victory Jesus has won for us. Tune in next week for more of Gods powerful word.