Maybe I should make a deal with you folks. If you can forget the heat and all the thoughts of going home and listen to me for a little while, I promise you I’ll never bother you again. A lady was telling about sending her little boy to get washed. She had to send him a second time and then a third time and the little boy said, “Would you put your finger on the spot?” As we have sat in these meetings we have felt the Lord putting His finger on the spot.
I want to speak to you this afternoon about the letter Paul wrote to the Ephesians, especially the last part about the armor. Chapter 6:10-12: “Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Paul is talking about the devil, the wiles of the devil. We are not wrestling against flesh and blood. It’s not a battle of brains and brawn, but an unseen enemy. One time during the last war a reporter went into General Montgomery’s tent and saw a picture of Rommel, and when questioned about it Montgomery said, “Every day I look at him and realize that he is my enemy.” We talk about the world, the flesh, and the devil. I don’t know which is the worst, or how to separate the three.
The devil was one time an angel and I don’t know exactly when he was cast out of Heaven, but I believe it could have been when Jesus was crucified. Revelation 12:10: “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” This has all been taken care of in Christ. He will accuse us before one another but he is no longer able to accuse us before God.
The devil was fighting over the body of Moses. I have a feeling that Michael the archangel was the one that buried Moses. The devil would have liked to have got Moses’ body and buried it, then he would have told people where it was and they’d have made a monument and gone there to worship. The people thought a lot of Moses but God didn’t allow it and He didn’t allow Jesus to be buried either for the same reason. God took care of all that.
Anyway, we’ve got an enemy. Jesus said he was a liar and a murderer. He can’t touch the Lord anymore because he’s been cast out of Heaven, but he still gets at God’s people. He gets back at God by getting at His people. He just delights in tormenting God’s people and he will till the very end. We have an unseen battle against an evil spirit, “against principalities.” The devil will use people in authority to hinder God’s people and God’s work. He will work through the government. I feel guilty for not praying for men in authority as I should. Garrett Hughes thought it a good thing to pray for the hostages in Iran. I felt guilty because I never even thought of it. Jesus said, “Pray that your flight be not in winter.” If you don’t pray about it, God is not going to be concerned. True, God does know everything, but if you are concerned enough to pray, God might do something about it. Be moved to pray.
There are all kinds of powers in the world. There is life and death in the power of the tongue. Two ladies were talking and one finally said, “I can’t tell you anymore because I have already told you more than I heard.”
Paul is referring to the power in authority, the god of this world, the spirit of disobedience working in the children of men. It comes from the devil. Postponed obedience is just as bad as disobedience. I was looking at some of the names that have been given to the devil. One was “Apollyon”: one that exterminates, a destroyer. He will try to put you out but there are some things that he cannot destroy. He cannot destroy the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.
Psalm 11:3: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” He is not talking about the foundation of truth, but the foundation in people’s hearts. If that is destroyed, what can anyone do? The devil would like to destroy it. He would like us to lose our love for the truth. He would like to destroy our faith. Watch out lest you lose your love for the little fellowship meetings.
When we were young, it never entered my mind to try to miss a meeting. If there was a meeting I knew I should try and be there.
This is one of the things that the writer to the Hebrews was worried about. It is in 10:25: “Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together.” If there is no love in the heart to be there, if the foundation of love is destroyed, what can the righteous do? Part of this family of God is in Heaven. They are beyond the reach of the devil. He can’t touch them there.
I was in a place with George Walker a few years ago and someone brought a telegram and said they had some sad news for him. It was that John Cook was dead. George said, “That’s not sad news, that’s good news.” George Walker will be 104 on February 12th and he said that if any enquire after him tell them, “I am being killed with kindness.” I have proved if you give, it will be given to you. Every promise God has made, He has fulfilled. George has been in the Work for over eighty years and talks about the old days and going on to Heaven. He has always encouraged us to “take your burdens to the Lord, and when preaching the Gospel, never get away from lifting up Jesus.”
In the first chapter of this letter, Paul speaks about being blessed with spiritual blessings. The greatest spiritual blessing I know that I have is the forgiveness of sin. I could lose that and so could you. The devil has just got to get you not to forgive another person, and you lose yours, so you have to watch out. At one Special Meeting, someone spoke about forgiveness. One man talked to me afterwards and said he couldn’t find it in his heart to forgive another man. He didn’t say who the person was, or what the trouble was, and I didn’t want to know. I just said, “I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes.” After a bit more talking, he went away weeping. It wasn’t long afterwards that I heard that man was dead, and I was sure glad I didn’t have to take that funeral. That man died as far as I know, with hardness in his heart.
We spoke of the Lord doing the finishing of our faith, but the Lord can’t do what you are supposed to do yourself. That man still haunts me. I feel he didn’t pray enough and he lost his forgiveness because he wasn’t willing to pray enough. The devil can destroy our forgiveness and I don’t want to lose that.
Verse 11: “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance…” We could lose our inheritance. Verse 2:6: “And has made us sit together in heavenly places.” This Convention is like a Heavenly place. Our little meetings are like Heavenly places and the devil could get us to bring in a spirit that would destroy these Heavenly places. We are responsible for every meeting we go to. Verse 19: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” The devil could destroy our citizenship of God’s household.
Chapter 4:3: “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” The devil would like to destroy unity. It is the work of the Spirit to make us one. Psalm 133 is a psalm of unity. “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion…” Unity is produced when people are walking uprightly. Unity is destroyed when people are not true. “… as the dew of Hermon.” Dew only comes when the atmosphere is right. It doesn’t fall when there’s a storm on.
The truth of God is a tropical plant in a frigid zone. The fig tree is foreign to our country but one man wanted to try and grow one, so he had to produce the right climate. The truth of God does not live in the heart by nature. We have to produce the right atmosphere. Chapter 5:16 speaks of redeeming the time. The devil will get you to waste time; he will get you to put something else into the time God has given. Proverbs 18:9 says that the slothful man is brother to him that is a great waster.
Proverbs 26:14: “As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.” The door turns on its hinges; the wind blows it back and forth. The slothful man is turning upon his bed; he never gets any further. When we were children and Mother used to call us, we would turn over and make the bed squeak so that she would think we were getting up. You give your testimony and make a lot of noise about it. It would be sad if you are like the slothful and don’t get any further. Proverbs 12:27: “The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting.” Coming to Convention has cost us something but if we don’t use what we have received, we are only a waster.
Ephesians 5:19: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…” The devil could take away our song. I have a sister who used to go about the house singing hymns, but she got involved in making too much money. The devil has destroyed her song and all there is now is the radio.
Psalm 137:2: “We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof…. How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land.” They had lost their song. The devil took it away.
The next Paul speaks about is the home life and the devil will destroy that if he can. One man was telling me that his home life is gone and it gets like, “I hardly want to go home.” God intended that children be brought up in a home life where husbands love their wives and wives love their husbands. I tried to call up a lady on the phone and after several tries I got her. She said she had been out with her third love. This puzzled me but she explained that the Lord was her first love, her husband was her second love and her horse was her third love. I visited there perhaps a year or so later and they had a little baby, so I asked, “Well, how do things stand now?” She said, “The Lord is still my first love, my husband is second, the baby is third and I have sold the horse.” She still had everything quite in order. It’s God’s plan that the Lord should be our first love.
“Children obey your parents…” The devil could destroy that too. My father and mother never had a disagreement. Married couples should stand by one another.
Ephesians 6:14: “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” If you bend before the Lord you can stand before men. This is a wonderful protection. Two young professing girls were at school and a play was being organized. The other girls wanted these two girls to have a part in it but they refused. They even wanted the principal to approach them, but he said he wouldn’t even ask them. He knew they would not get involved in those things. The Truth protected them. The Truth will help you to stand upright. Keep your loins girt about with truth, and have on the breastplate of righteousness; doing the right thing at the right time.
Verse 16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Goliath had an armor bearer to carry his shield. David never had a shield. The name of the Lord was his shield; not his own name but the name of the Lord. A little girl of 6 or 7 was staying in the home of her grandparents. The teacher asked the children what they thought about that statement that “God is dead.” The little girl said that God wasn’t dead because her grandpa talked to Him at noon. A faith was put into her that protected her from believing that God is dead. In the northern part of Ontario there was a little boy hardly school age, but he knew every detail about the gun and shooting. He had heard his father talk so much about it. If you talk about the truth of God enough, it will get in.
Verse 18: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…” What would all the armor amount to without praying? Fighting without praying is defeat. Praying without fighting is hypocrisy. This enemy of ours is a liar, a murderer. The first thing he destroyed in the Garden of Eden was simplicity. I hope we will never let him destroy simplicity. It is our protection. Humble thoughts are a protection to the mind. Eve listened to Satan and lost her simplicity. Verse 18: “… and watching thereunto with all perseverance.” Praying is a wonderful thing. Sincerity is a wonderful thing. Hosea 7:8-9: “Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not; yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.” A cake not turned is like not being the same all the way through. He had mixed among the people. When with God’s people, being like them. When with the world, being like them. True people can’t mix with the world. “Gray hairs… yet he knoweth it not.” He wasn’t looking at himself and getting a picture as God saw him. The Laodiceans had a picture of themselves that they were rich and increased with goods and had need of nothing. God had a very different picture of them. We need to pray that the Lord will give us a picture as He sees us. I hope we will be sincere, and then we’ll come out on top.