Have you put on the full armour of God?

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Introduction S Khumalo
We greet everyone in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We thank the Lord that we can worship Him and listen to His word. May the Lord bless us today. We greet Rev Stegen. May the Lord be with you and strengthen you.

Ntokozo Nhlabathi
I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank the Lord for keeping us and granting us this opportunity. I humbly greet Rev Stegen and the leadership.

There are people behind us who intercede. The Lord continues His work because of their prayers and support. Some people are seen doing the Lord’s work, but there are those who are behind - doing a deep work before the Lord, day and night.

We are blessed with different talents and different members. Some fulfil their functions, but others do not. We have mouths but some only use their mouths for eating, others use their mouths for eating and speaking.

Some run while others support them. The support team may be more active than you imagine. The striker kicks the goals during the soccer match and he is the one who is praised, but the coach is forgotten. The child at school is praised because he performs well at school, but the teacher who spent hours to prepare that child, is forgotten.

Thank you to our parents for their intercessory prayers. Thank you that you have given spiritual birth to us. Sometimes we are stubborn and do wrong and then we do not want to be helped. We hear and understand but decide to refuse to listen.

We live in a tumultuous period. Time is short; the sun is setting. At dusk you gather the things that are outside and bring them in. The Bible says that there will be wars and rumours of wars – a sign that we are nearing the end. Ukraine may be far away, but the wise will realise that that war has an indirect effect on us too. The brethren are experiencing hardship there; they have no shelter; they are exposed to the elements. What are we doing for our brethren there?

There are disasters closer to home and people are weeping. God has raised His little finger and destruction has resulted. People have died. God is telling us that the sun is setting. If people experience such hardship, how much more the Creator of the world?

When God sees men killing one another and violence, should He just look on? God created male and female and said that it is good. Now, however, men want to be women. A man who has been perfectly created with a beard and a low voice, says that God did not know what He was doing when He created him and he should be a woman.  God used the rod, His finger, to wake people up. During the Easter period there were the drinkers and party goers, but God took those who were innocent so that the guilty may wake up.

You say you have your private faith that helps you only, not others. When people sing in the church, you can sing but you do not sing. Some people cook but you do not get involved. People get up to help but you cannot. When people laugh, you do not laugh. When people cry, you do not. When someone tries to shake you, you are immovable. What kind of person are you? You are comfortably seated and relaxed while you watch those who are hard at work.

In Swaziland we once went to a hospital to preach, but when we got there we realised that it was different to any hospital we had visited before. Doors were locked and unlocked to allow people to go in and out. There were police on guard. We were escorted to the room where we were to address some young men. The men entered and sat on the floor. As we sang the choruses, the men nudged one another as if something was wrong. They made circular motions on either side of their heads to indicate that we were crazy. When we prayed, they watched one another to see who would close their eyes first. As we took the devotion the motioning gradually stopped. We gave the opportunity for them to make their lives right with God. When we explained what this entailed, they laughed and made signs that we were crazy. One of the brethren testified how the Lord had set him free from dagga. The audience motioned that he was really crazy.

You can do the same. You can watch the people who are so active, preaching and singing, and you also feel that they are crazy, just as these men in this hospital did. You feel there is something wrong with them, but you feel you are already perfect, you have finished your race so you can watch and say they are crazy.

When these men made right with God, it dawned on them who the people were who were crazy. They realised that they had to be reconciled to their parents, as it was because of their disobedience to their parents that they smoked dagga and then were mentally affected. If you relax, you may also end up in such a hospital where you think the others are crazy, but you fail to see that you are the crazy one.

Those who take things easy and look on, are the most critical. They can tell everyone how to run but they do not. The person on the track is giving all he has got. You watch the choir and say it should be done in a particular way, not that way. You are the specialist and know how everything should be done. You have time to find fault and criticize because you are not running in the race.

13 Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, Ephesians 6:13-18

In this text Paul addresses the church of Ephesians. He prepares them to face life’s circumstances and mentions various aspects pertaining to the church. Towards the end of the chapter, he arms and equips them for the future.

13 Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness… 

We live in a time where things are back to front. There are things which have never been mentioned in the church but because of what is happening in the church, they must be addressed. This church needs to stand with their loins girded with the belt of truth.

We live in a time where church members do not have their loins girded. Church members seem to be on fire for the Lord, they shout amens and hallelujahs, but they do not have girded loins. Some do not have their loins girded because of what they feed on - some of the things young people show one another and talk about. The preacher feeds himself on filth – a preacher who is in a trustworthy position has affairs with women in the church. Some excuse themselves with the fact that they are adults and can look at what they like. They loosen their loins. Your loins should be girded with the belt of truth.

The breastplate of righteousness: Paul knew all the things that can be hidden there. He knew that even if people are decently dressed, the things in their breasts are scary, they are rotten. The breast that is unprotected by Jesus contains all types of filth. Gossip is in your breast. Some people have been buried because of things which came from the breasts of others. Others have parted from the Lord because of things that came from the breasts of people and were passed on to them. There are people who are like rubbish bins and all manner of filth can be poured therein. They pour their filth into your breast because what they have in their breast burns them. ‘I am just sharing this with you, I trust you – don’t tell anybody else,’ they say. ‘I am just sharing it with you, child of God, I am not saying it badly, I don’t mean it badly. Just remember so-and-so in prayer,’ they say. Yet you do not pray but rather cut the person to pieces and destroy them in front of another person and your filth enters them. You do not conclude with prayer either.

Some hearts boil and then they blurt out and say, ‘I just wanted to see how you would respond.’ A student says, ‘That teacher is so boring, I don’t feel blessed by that teacher.’ Afterwards they comment with, ‘I was just playing, joking. I just wanted to see what you would say.’ A person tests another to see how protected their breast is. If you are unprotected, that filth will enter you.

Others offload all their dirt onto the internet, on Facebook or social media. If they are troubled by pride, they put it online and tell everyone about it. People who love themselves, take selfies and add many extra things on their image. They send it to others and say, ‘I just wanted to see what you would say.’

Have you put on the breastplate of righteousness? If you have, then what comes out will come from a heart that is protected by righteousness. No dirt enters there.

With some brethren, on Sundays it is ‘glory to Jesus’ but then afterwards there are some people they will not even greet. You sit next to a brother or sister and they have needs but you do not care. You do not talk to someone because you have heard so much about how bad they are. You no longer confess your sins because you have heard from someone how bad they are. You have never asked them yourself. People pour their rubbish out and because your breast is not protected, it enters and you eventually leave the faith because of it. How many people are there whom you once valued but because of what you have heard about them, that person has declined in your estimation. They have been accused of sin they know nothing about – and you accept it as the truth.

There might be children who play with your children, but you feel it is not good for them because of what you have seen. You do not speak to the parents about the problem, but you forbid your child from playing with them. If there is something wrong in the parents’ hearts, it will be wrong in the hearts of the children as well. The fact that your child is jealous or stingy is because of what you are sowing. Our children have more truth than the preachers in the pulpit. They will say, ‘My parents said I should not play or eat with you.’ But the parents do not speak straight, they do not address issues head-on. We say, ‘The devil got it right with my child.’ It is not the devil, you are the problem.

15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

Our feet should be shod with the shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace. Are we ready and prepared to preach this gospel of peace or are we busy with some other gospel? May God have mercy on us that we may be busy with what Christ wants us to be busy with.

17 and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…

If we have put on the helmet of salvation our heads are protected, our minds have put on this salvation, our eyes are protected, our mouths are covered. This will produce believers who are precious and of great value in this world. If we have not received the helmet, we will not have our breast protected, neither our loins. Then you will scatter words that are harmful and not upbuilding because you do not have the helmet of salvation. We will always find ourselves at fault because we do not have the helmet of salvation.

If our minds are not covered with this helmet, we will always see things differently to how God sees them. If our intelligence has not been covered in this salvation of God, our wisdom will be wicked.

I know a very gifted preacher. In the beginning when he preached people would listen attentively. If you had not given your life to the Lord, you could give yourself to the Lord. Slowly but surely the little foxes entered the vineyard. Carelessness entered. He no longer felt it necessary to report to his superiors. He had ‘revival meetings’ in an area, but his overseers did not even know about it. He started criticizing his overseers for starting the service at a particular time, for not allotting more time for praise and worship. Slowly but surely his attire changed. His shirt hung out now but he said that the Lord sees the heart and not the outside.

He had previously always been very strict regarding sin. When he prayed for people before he put his hand on their head, but now he began feeling them all over. They were no longer given a chance to explain why they had come for prayer. One day, a visiting preaching preached on this word I read today and this minister criticized him saying he had no theological training, he did not know what he was saying.  He said that preachers should understand that they must treat people carefully - first portray the love of Jesus and then slowly continue. He said he was sorry that he had invited him. The visiting preacher asked the congregation for forgiveness, but he said he will not apologise for preaching the word of God. He said that if that minister and church wanted the love of boys and girls in their church then they should never invite him again. It didn’t take long for this minister who did not have the helmet of salvation on, for his eyes, lips, breast and loins to be loosened. He encouraged the young people to greet each other by embracing and rubbing cheek to cheek. Love that is not built on Christ is poisonous and evil.

13 Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 

Paul said that the Ephesians should be equipped with the armour of God. He used this illustration of the armour of God so that it would be understood by all. Is it the same with us, brethren, as Jesus expects it? Are we still equipped with these weapons as Christ expects? Are we influenced by what people say? Go before the Lord and examine whether you are equipped with the full armour of God. It starts little by little - the cell phone – from the eye to the mind, to the heart, affects the loins and the result is bad.

Conclusion Sbongiseni Khumalo
God’s children should be fully equipped. Soldiers of Christ must be armoured and equipped. We must be fitted with the whole armour of God and then we can stand firm. Are we armoured? Are there pieces of equipment missing? We have heard what the causes can be. Are we fully equipped with the armour of God?