Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
November 19, 2000
Some of you may remember the story from ancient history of the Thracian slave named Spartacus
who led a very successful uprising of slaves against ancient Rome. Spartacus defeated the Roman army
seven times before he was defeated by the great Roman General Marcus Licinius Crassus in 71 B.C.
Spartacus started with a small band of slaves that were being trained as gladiators. At first, little
attention was given to him, for it was thought that even a small force of Roman soldiers would easily
defeat him. Yet with a smaller force, Spartacus was consistently able to defeat larger forces. Why?
Spartacus learned to attack late at night or early in the morning when the enemy was not prepared to do
battle. He attacked when they did not have their armor on!
The same is true with us in Spiritual Warfare. Certainly there is more power available to us that
to our enemy because Jesus Christ in us is greater than Satan who is in the world (1 John 4:4). It is also
clearly stated in James 4:7 that if we submit to God and resist the devil, he will flee from us. Yet, our
adversary, Satan, and his forces are able to be victorious over us time and again and we fall back into
sin. Why? Because Satan, like Spartacus, will seek to attack when we are most vulnerable – when we do
not have our armor on!
This morning we are going to begin our study of the armor God has provided to us so that we
might be victorious in Spiritual Warfare. David is going to come up here and help me illustrate.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of
God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not
against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this
darkness, against the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly [places.] 13 Therefore, take up
the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to
stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the
breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the
flaming missiles of the evil [one.] 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.
Understand the picture that Paul is painting here. All the symbolism used is military in nature.
(Appropriate symbolism to describe warfare). The various pieces of armor are those that were actually
worn by the Greek hoplite, or the Roman foot soldier. In all likelihood, there was a soldier either
chained to Paul or at least standing guard over him while he was writing. Paul could simply look at
each piece of equipment the soldier had and use that to illustrate what is needed to be prepared for
spiritual warfare. David here is dressed with the various pieces of the armor of the typical Roman
There is the belt which ties and holds everything together. Here is the breastplate that protects
the vital organs. Here are the shoes which are specially designed to give good firm footing so that the
soldier would not slip and fall. There is the shield which was used to defend against the blows of the
enemy. Here is the helmet which protects the head, which is critical to the body’s ability to function.
And finally the sword which was used as both a defensive weapon to parry the strikes of the enemy as
well as an offensive weapon to make strikes of your own. (Thanks David)
Now note again what verse 13 states. “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may
be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” This is the second time
Paul has said to put on our armor so that we can stand firm. The stress is that we have to be prepared.
The word translated here as “put on” or “take up” is the general military word for taking up your
arms. The battle is about to begin, get ready, put all your armor on! Don’t be caught off guard as the
Romans were when Spartacus attacked. They were only able to grab what was handy. We have to
make sure we have every piece of our armor on.
Why? The purpose is so that we may be able to stand against the enemy in the evil day. What
evil day? Today! Back in 5:16 Paul says to, “redeem the time because the days are evil.” Until Jesus
Christ returns to set up His millennial kingdom we will live in an evil time. This is why Satan is also
refereed to as the “god of this age” ( – 2 Cor. 4:4). That is why the idea of man being able to
bring about any type of utopia is ludicrous. As long as Satan is active among men, there will be
conflict, corruption and chaos regardless of what political or religious efforts man makes.
However, though we may suffer because of the evil in the world, we do not have to be
partakers of it. We do not have to fall into Satan’s traps and stumble into sin. We are, after having
done everything, that is, having put our armor on, to “stand firm.” We are to hold our ground.
In verse 14 Paul says again, “Stand firm therefore…”. This is the fourth time in this section
that he has called us to resist the devil and hold our ground. The picture here is not so much that we
are attacking as that we are being attacked. Our objective is to hold our position and not fall back to
where we were before. And where is that? In sin. Do not give up ground in your pursuit of living in
righteousness. Jesus died to break the bondage of sin in your life and to cleanse you and make you
holy that you might have a relationship with God. Your salvation from hell is simply a side benefit.
He then wants you to go out into the world and make disciples of Jesus Christ. Our enemy would seek
to subvert that by enticing you to sin and distracting you from your purpose in making disciples. He
would like you to think that people are the enemy and not him.
The first piece of equipment mentioned is in verse 14. Paul says we are to Stand firm
therefore, having girded your loins with truth.” We might call this piece of equipment a girdle or a
belt, though it is a special kind of belt.
What was this belt for? Now David did a great job modeling our equipment for us, but he was
not wearing the typical clothing of a Roman soldier. The typical clothing of the time was a sort of
long gown or robe often called a “tunic.” It was usually made of a square piece of cloth with holes out
for the head and arms. It would hang down from the shoulders. This was great for most activities, but
it you could not move fast or agilely in it. The girdle or belt would be used to hold the clothing up off
the legs so that the person could move quickly. That is what the phrase, “gird up your loins,” means.
Arrange your clothing so that you can move quickly without being hindered. The Roman Soldier
would also typically wear what would in essence be a skirt – often with leather pleats. The girdle or
belt would secure the tunic in place, hold this outer “skirt” on and provide a place to hold the sheath
for the sword. It was an essential piece of equipment that tied everything together.
Notice that Paul refers to this belt as truth. It is truth that ties everything together securing us
and giving us the ability to move quickly and decisively. It is truth that holds the sheath for the sword
of the Spirit, the Bible. Truth is foundational to the Christian and I find that when we are attacked by
the devil or one of his cohorts, that attack is almost always against the truth.
Jesus said in 8:31,32 “to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, then you
are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’.” What
would the truth make us free from? From bondage to sin; from Satan as our master; from a self-centered life; from a life lived for the here and now that would end in the tragedy of an eternity
separated from God. I am always encouraged when I meet someone seeking the truth no matter how
far away from it they may be at the present time because the truth invariably leads to Jesus Christ.
Jesus Himself said that He is “the way, the truth, the life.” Everyone who is an actual truth seeker will
find Jesus Christ at the end of their quest. They will invariably come to the Scriptures, for Jesus
declared the word of God to be truth (Jn. 17:17).
The devil is the opposite. In John 8:44, Jesus said of him, He was a murderer from the
beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie,
he speaks from his own [nature;] for he is a liar, and the father of lies.
Some of Satan’s lies are easy to identify for they are in direct opposition to what God has
declared. Other lies are very subtle and difficult to discern. Satan can twist the Scriptures themselves
to put people on a path almost parallel to the truth, but since it is not the truth, it is a road that
eventually leads to hell. Jesus said “for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to
destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that
leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Matt. 7:13,14). One of Satan’s goal is to keep people
from coming to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. He will use any means available to him to
accomplish these goals, and lies are a major means.
In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father
except by Me.” The devil’s lies present Jesus as a way, a truth and a life and you can get to the Father
any way you want, if the Father really exists. If a direct lie won’t work, he will pervert the truth to
one degree or another. Satan’s lies against this verse have resulted in atheism (there is no God),
agnosticism (I can’t know God), skepticism (I doubt, therefore I judge), false religions (there are other
gods), and cults (I can come to God in my own way).
Satan also lies in order keep the Christian from living a holy life for God and making disciples
of Jesus Christ. All of Satan’s lies are ultimately against the character and nature of God and by doing
so he seeks to usurp God and turn us away from trusting and following Christ. To the degree that I do
not believe God’s character will be the degree that I will not trust Him or follow Him. If God is not
holy, I don’t need to be holy. If God is not true, then other sources of information are as equally
valid. If God is not wise, then I don’t need to pay attention to Him. If God is not omnipotent, then I
don’t need to fear Him. If God is not omnipresent, then I can hide from Him. If God is not loving,
good and just, then I must fear Him and find a way to manipulate Him. Satan’s lies against God are
designed to lessen or destroy my trust of Him.
Pilate asked, “What is truth?” Truth is that which is in conformity to reality. Jesus is truth.
Scripture is truth. Everything else is only a perception of reality, not reality itself. In our battle against
the forces of evil, we must make sure that we are living according to the truth, not false perceptions of
reality. Truth must be as a belt around us, holding the rest of our armor in place. Are you a truth
seeker? Are you living according to the truth?
The second piece of armor God has given to us is the breastplate of righteousness. The Roman
soldier might have worn one of several types of breastplates, and depending on the particular design
the breastplate would extend from just below the neck to either the thighs or just below the stomach in
the front and to the top of the buttock in back. It was usually made out of some material into which
had been sewn strips of leather and/or bits of tough material such as bones, hooves, or metal. Those
in high rank might have a breastplate made completely out of metal, usually copper or bronze, that
was hammered into shape to fit the individual. The function of the breastplate was the same regardless
of the particular type. It was to protect the thorax, (the literal Greek word here), i.e. the portion of
your body between your neck and legs.
Why was this so important? It protected all of the vital organs except the brain – the heart,
lungs, liver, kidneys, stomach, etc. Damage to any of these organs would generally prove fatal so it
was critical to provide protection for them from swords, spears and arrows.
It is important to note that Jewish culture of that time would describe their emotions and
feelings in terms of their vital organs. The “tender mercy” of God mentioned in Luke 1:78 is literally,
“bowels of mercy.” The heart was used to symbolize the seat of volition – the ability to understand and
make choices. The Hebrew word for “kidneys” is translated in the KJV as “reins” and in the NAS as
“mind” or “inner man” since that is what is being referred to. Prov. 23:16 literal reads, “My son, if
your heart is wise, My own heart also will be glad; and my ‘kidneys’ will rejoice, When your lips
speak what is right.”
Why is this important? Because what Paul is talking about being protected by the breastplate of
righteousness are your emotions and will. Too often we fall into the devil’s traps because we make our
decisions based on how we feel rather than on what is actually true and right. Women are often kidded
about making their decisions based on their feelings, but men are often just as guilty.
Marketing experts play upon your feeling all the time in order to motivate you to buy
something, do something or even vote a certain way. It is irrelevant whether they speak the truth or
lies, advocate right or wrong, or what is claimed can be done as long as they move us to the action
they desire by what we feel. Satan is the expert on exploiting the feelings of people to keep them from
either coming to Christ for salvation or living for Christ if they are believers. The breastplate of
righteousness can protect you from His schemes.
What then is this righteousness and how does it protect us? Notice that this is something that
you are to put on. In fact, as verse 14 states it, the implication is that you cannot stand firm against the
devil unless you have put it on. Yet at the same time, righteousness, like truth, is not something we
humans manufacture and establish. We can only recognize the truth after it has been given to us. We
can then live in harmony with truth by letting it control us. Righteousness is also something that must
be given to us after which we can then live in harmony with it.
That Paul is not talking about man’s own efforts to be righteous is demonstrated simply by the
fact that man has no righteousness of his own. Isaiah 64:6 tells us that all our righteous deeds are as
filthy rags before God. Regardless of whatever efforts a man might make to be righteous before God,
he will always fail. All mankind is guilty before God. No one can achieve righteousness on his own.
This is why Titus 3:5 tells us that “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in
righteousness, but according to His mercy…”. True righteousness can only come from the source of
all righteousness which is God Himself.
This is what happens in salvation. In repentance a person turns from himself and his sin to
Jesus Christ. In believing in Christ and His work of atonement alone for the forgiveness of sin they
are changed and become new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17) with a new nature (Eph. 4:24). The
righteousness of Jesus Christ is then imputed to them. Paul puts it this way in 2 Cor. 5:21 – “He made
Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in
Him.” We have been clothed with His robe of righteousness, as Isa. 61:10 describes it. We cannot
take that robe for ourselves. It is God that puts righteousness upon us. 1 Cor 1:30 But by His doing
you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification,
and redemption…”. This is imputed righteousness, the righteousness of Jesus Christ that is given to us
so that we may stand in God’s presence. It is a great defense against the attacks of the devil in several
It defeats the false notion that a person must be good enough to win God’s favor in order to be
saved. The Holy Spirit is sent to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16:8).
Salvation is not offered on the basis of how good you are being. There is no weighing of scales to see
if your good is more than your evil, for it only takes one sin, any sin, to justly condemn you to hell
forever. Salvation is based on the mercy and grace of God which imputes to you the righteousness of
Christ. There is no human is so evil, no sin is so great, that Jesus’ death on the cross cannot pay its
penalty and which He will not forgive. Some have worried that they have committed the “unforgivable
sin” mentioned in Matthew 12. The very fact that they are concerned about it proves they have not
committed it. There is hope. Forgiveness can be granted if they will but come to Jesus Christ.
Imputed righteousness by grace defeats the lie of righteousness earned by good works.
The breastplate of righteousness in Christ also protects us from the devil’s accusation that the
sin in our lives leaves us in no condition to pray. We feel guilty and ashamed resulting in a hesitation
to approach God who is also our judge. Satan will remind us that God is a holy God and too pure to
look upon evil (Habak. 1:13), nor will he pay attention to the prayers of those who have iniquity in
their hearts (Ps 66:18). The resulting despondency keeps us away from God. Imputed righteousness
will bring us back to where we belong in the daily, movement by moment blessing of fellowship with
our creator. We have never come to God based on our own righteousness, but upon the righteousness
of Christ. Heb. 10:19 tells us that it is through the blood of Jesus that we can enter into the Holy
Place. It is because He is our high priest that we can “therefore draw near with confidence to the
throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15). 1
John 1:9 makes it clear that our part is to confess our sins in trust of His character of being faithful
and just. His part is to keep His promise to forgive our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness
because of the atoning work of Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 10 explains how what God has done for us in Christ is to flow into our daily lives. In
the first part of the chapter he explains the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice of Himself to cleanse us
from all sin and bring forgiveness. Then, starting in vs 18, he goes on to say, 18 Now where there is
forgiveness of these things, there is no longer [any] offering for sin. 19 Since therefore, brethren, we
have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He
inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since [we have] a great priest over the
house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts
sprinkled [clean] from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast
the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider
how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together,
as is the habit of some, but encouraging [one another]; and all the more, as you see the day drawing
Our changed standing before God is to result in a changed manner of living. Imputed
righteousness must result in imparted righteousness. Verse 26 goes on to warn, 26 For if we go on
sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for
sins, 27 but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the
adversaries. To claim to belong to Christ and then willfully go against His commandments is to, as
vs. 29 states it, “to trample underfoot the Son of God” and “regard as unclean the blood” He shed to
save you. That is defiant sin which is not the mark of a true Christian.
Imputed righteousness will result in increasing practical righteousness, and practical
righteousness of living in obedience to Christ is a wonderful defense against many areas of the devils
attacks. Let me mention a few briefly.
First, in the matter of temptations. Satan’s temptations are presented to us in three major areas
– the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and boastful pride of life (1 John 2:15). Some
temptations are so flagrant they are easily recognized and dismissed. Others are very subtle or will
work on our emotions and make us feel like we have no choice but to commit the sin.
The truth is stated clearly in 1 Cor. 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is
common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able,
but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. Yet at
times we do not feel like that verse is true. The breastplate of righteousness protects us as we develop
a stronger desire to do what is right more than anything else.
Flagrant, open sins start with hidden, modest sins. Adultery starts with a wandering, lustful
eye (Mt. 5:28). Job was a righteous man and defended himself against the accusations made against
him saying “I have made a covenant with my eyes, how then could I gaze at a virgin” (Job 31:31).
This may not be easy in a society where pornography is easily obtained and immodesty is used to sell
nearly everything, but that only stresses its importance. A covenant with your eyes is one of the links
of armor in your breastplate of righteousness. It is a practical outworking of Christ in you.
You pick whatever sin most plagues you and see if the pursuit of holiness, the practical life of
righteousness will not keep you from that sin. Do you have a problem with a sharp and angry tongue?
“The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). Do you lie and
manipulate others to get your way? Jesus said we are to seek the will of the Father, and not our own
(Mt. 6:11). Are you proud or boastful? God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble, humble
yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:5,6). Are you lazy and slothful? Eph.
4:16 tells us to make the most of our time for the days are evil. Are you lacking in self-control? Gal.
5:23 lists self-control as one of the fruit of the Spirit. 1 Cor. 9:25 speaks of exercising self-control that
we might win an imperishable wreath from God.
Put on the breastplate of righteousness. Pursue holiness above all else and the temptations that
once plagued you will be easily resisted. Why? Who could care much about the things of this world
when we have heaven in view.
Second, in the matter of persecution, the breastplate of righteousness keeps us from becoming
despondent. Let’s be honest, it can be hard to be different. Life is a lot easier if we just blend in with
everyone else and do what they do whether it is right or wrong. Being made the butt of jokes, being
over looked for promotions because of our ethical stands, being slandered by those who hate
righteousness is no picnic. If we are not careful to be living in and pursuing righteous living we could
easily give up. In addition, we would lose the only source of joy in such circumstances which is
knowing that God is pleased with us. Jesus said that we could rejoice and be glad when we are
persecuted for the sake of righteousness because our reward in heaven would be great and that it was
the same with the prophets that went before us (Mt. 5:11,12). If we are living in righteousness and are
reviled, insulted, falsely accused and persecuted, we can still be joyful. Paul said that he was content
and even joyful in suffering for Christ’s sake.
Third, in the matter of contentment and joy in the Christian life, practical righteousness makes
all the difference. The Christian who pursues personal holiness can have joy in any circumstance, but
there are consequences to not living in practical righteousness. Not only are you more open to Satan’s
designs against you, you will also find yourself fruitless, lose your rewards, bring reproach on God’s
glory and be one miserable person.
The breastplate of righteousness is our protection against Satan’s devices to deceive us through
our emotions. Deception that would lead to wrong decisions that would make our lives miserable.
Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of
righteousness. Don’t fall into the trap of the devil’s schemes to keep you from knowing and walking
with the Lord Jesus Christ. Be a truth seeker so that you are not deceived by Satan’s lies. Submit your
emotions to the test of God’s righteousness. Our emotions can be wonderful and very helpful to us, but
they are not the basis for our decisions in life for life is not about what you feel, but about what is right
before God. As you step forward in faith to live in the holiness of obedience to God, you will find that
our emotions will follow. And that is a wonderful way to live!
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young
Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your
parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the words
“truth” and “righteousness” are used. 2) Discuss with your parents how truth and righteousness can help you
resist the devils lies and keep your emotions under control.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
How was Spartacus able to defeat larger armies? How does the devil seek to attack you? Why does Paul use a
soldiers’ equipment as an analogy of how we should prepare ourselves to stand firm against the devil and his
schemes? What is the “evil day” in which we have to “resist” and “stand firm”? What does it mean to “stand
firm”? What was the soldier’s belt used for? Why does Paul use this as an analogy for truth? What does the
truth make you free from? What will people find if they search for the truth? What is the basic character of
Satan? What is Satan’s basic method of achieving his goals? How does the devil seek to keep people from
coming to Christ? How does he seek to keep Christians from living for Christ? What are the devil’s lies
ultimately against? How can you protect yourself against his lies? What is the “breastplate of righteousness”?
What does it protect? Where does it come from? How does the devil (and people) manipulate use your
emotions against you? Is this a weak area for you? What happens in a person’s life at salvation? How does
imputed righteousness defeat earned righteousness? How does it encourage prayer? What is its logical result?
How can holiness control your emotions?
Sermon Notes – 11/19/2000 A.M.
Spiritual Warfare: Standing Firm: Truth & Righteousness
The Soldier’s Equipment
Standing Firm (vs. 13)
As long as Satan is active among men, there will be conflict, corruption and chaos regardless of what political or
religious efforts man makes.
Our objective is to hold our position and not fall back to where we were before. And where is that? In sin. Do not
give up ground in your pursuit of living in righteousness.
The Belt of Truth (vs. 14)
The Importance of Truth (John 8:31,32)
It is _______ that ______ everything together, securing us, and giving us the ability to move quickly and decisively.
Truth is foundational to the Christian and when we are attacked by the devil it is almost always against the truth.
The Devil’s Character (John 8:44)
Standing against the Devil’s Lies
The Breastplate of Righteousness
Description & Importance
The function of the breastplate was protect the _________________
The breastplate of righteousness protects you from the devils schemes aimed at your __________ and _______.
Imputed righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus Christ given to us so that we may stand in God’s presence.
Salvation is not offered on the basis of how good you are being. Salvation is based on the mercy and grace
of God which imputes to you the righteousness of Christ.
Defeats Devil’s Accusations
Practical Righteousness. (Hebrews 10:18-29)
Imputed righteousness will result in increasing ____________ righteousness
Pursue holiness above all else and the temptations that once plagued you will be easily resisted. Why? Who
could care much about the things of this world when we have heaven in view.
Strengthens in Persecution
Brings Contentment and Joy in All Circumstance