A person’s attitude says a lot about who they believe God is and who they believe they are. What does your attitude look like today? Is it an attitude of defeat or victory? Despair or joy? Obedience or rebellion? What does your attitude look like today? Because your attitude today, says a lot about who you believe God is and who you believe God says you are.
Ephesians 6:10 – 20…
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor 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, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
What Does Your Attitude Look Like Today?
In these verses, Paul is giving his instructions to Christians to take a stand as warriors who are living in a spiritual warzone called “this present darkness”. His instructions all along have had much more to do with attitude over action. What we do is important. But how we do what we do is more important. Action without the proper attitude will produce devastating results.
How Does Attitude Affect Action?
Think with me for a minute about how my attitude affects my activity. I am called to be an active participant in this spiritual war. There’s no such thing as sitting on the sidelines and there’s no such thing as retreat in the Christian life. And Paul lists seven pieces of armor that are absolutely vital for victory in this spiritual war. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Word and prayer are all pieces of armor that I am called to put on and take a stand against the spiritual forces of evil in this present darkness, in this day of evil. But how does my attitude affect my active participation in taking a stand in this spiritual battle?
If I believe that the battle depends on my activity then my attitude is an attitude of self-reliance or self-sufficiency. And the end result of this kind of attitude will be legalism and moralism. Truth will be relative, righteousness will be earned, peace will be circumstantial, faith will be fabricated, salvation will be experiential, the Bible will be a moralistic list and prayer will be a means to get what I want. Action without the proper attitude produces devastating results. The devastating results of this attitude/action imbalance will ultimately be legalism and moralism.
There Are Three Layers To The Message Of Ephesians…
Paul was a fierce opponent of legalism and moralism because he knew that our gospel doesn’t rest on what we do but rather on what Christ has done. Even the flow of Paul’s thoughts throughout this letter to the Ephesians testifies to this. Let’s not forget that Paul began by laying a foundation of gospel identity in chapters 1 – 3 as he hammered home the truth of who God is and who we are in Christ Jesus.
Then in chapters 4 – 6:9 Paul added the layer of the action and activity that should flavor the walk of an obedient believer. Don’t forget that this kind of obedience is absolutely impossible without the proper foundation. You cannot walk if you have not first been seated. You walk like Jesus only because you belong to Jesus.
Now in chapter 6:10 – 20, Paul adds the third and final layer to his instructions to the Ephesian church and his instructions are flavored with the theme of taking a stand. First we belong to Jesus. Second we walk like Jesus. Third we stand with the attitude of Jesus.
Think About How Your Attitude Affects Your Actions…
A person’s attitude says a lot about who they believe God is and who they believe they are. What does your attitude look like today? Is it an attitude of defeat or victory? Despair or joy? Obedience or rebellion? What does your attitude look like today? Because your attitude today, says a lot about who you believe God is and who you believe God says you are. And my prayer is that as we study this passage, your attitude would be transformed by the message of the cross and the empty tomb and that you would be moved from a place of defeat, despair and rebellion, into a place of victory, joy and obedience.
Look At Verse 17…
In verse 17 we see two pieces of armor that have been supplied to us that have the ability to radically alter and transform our attitudes. Paul says Stand therefore… and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. These two pieces of weaponry (the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit) are meant to change my attitude.
The helmet of salvation is meant to change my attitude from a works or performance based perspective into a grace and mercy based perspective. And the sword of the Spirit is meant to change my perspective from a mind that is set on a list of rules into a mind that is set on hearing from and knowing God personally. With both of these perspective changes my attitude is transformed from a focus on what I need to do into an attitude that is focused on what Christ has already done which then enables me to take a stand.
Think About Your Attitude Again For A Minute…
What is your attitude towards your job, your coworkers, your family, your friends, your kids, your marriage, your community or the world for that matter? When I think of my attitude in these categories it’s easy to see where the enemy can deceive me in this present darkness.
When my job becomes all about the paycheck, or my coworkers become competition, or my family members become a nuisance, or my friends become a commodity, or my kids become frustrating, or my marriage becomes tiresome, or my community becomes all about what I want to consume, or my worldview becomes all about establishing a better way of life, then my attitude shifts away from what Christ has done onto what I can do and then, what I can do becomes the supreme goal for living and when my performance falls short I live in defeat, despair and rebellion.
Can you see how my attitude affects my actions? Can you see how my attitude can result in actions that are not gospel centered? They may look the same on the outside. But on the inside the effects can be devastating in this present darkness. When I live in this kind of deception, my attitude shifts into a place where I seek salvation from my fear, my doubt, my worry and my loneliness through my performance. When I live in this kind of deception, my attitude shifts into a place where I wield the sword of the Spirit as a list of do’s and don’ts and the Christian life becomes merely performance.
This Is The Me-Centered Attitude Shift…
This is the subtle “me-centered” attitude shift that happens when my worship of the perfect Creator gets traded for the worship of broken creation. In this place, I begin to live in defeat, despair and rebellion instead of victory, joy and obedience. Alternatively I can live in a false sense of victory, joy and obedience as I rely on my relational and circumstantial list of rules and experiences. But even this kind of victory, joy and obedience, based on me and my performance and circumstances, is short-lived when I fail and my circumstances change.
Think about it. If I’m not making enough money at work then I live in defeat and despair but when I get a raise then I experience momentary victory and happiness. Sound familiar? Or how about this, if my coworker gets a raise and I do not then I live in defeat and despair but if we both get a raise then I live in momentary victory and happiness if I think he deserves it as much as I do. Isn’t this a sick cycle? The only thing that can transform my attitude here is the message of the cross and the empty tomb. The cross was the most selfless act to ever happen and the empty tomb was the most powerful event in all of history.
#1: Think About The Helmet of Salvation In Light Of The Cross And The Empty Tomb…
Through the cross and the empty tomb my mind is protected and renewed by the helmet of salvation. One of the things Satan wants to do in his war against you is to deceive you into questioning the security of your salvation. He wants you to always be thinking about how you might either lose your salvation through your works or secure your salvation through your works. Can you see this attitude affecting your actions?
Your mind becomes like a yoyo in these moments as you vacillate back and forth between fear of losing what you can never lose and excitement over gaining what you can never gain. This is the pendulum swing between the pride of despair and the pride of arrogance. Can you see how the attitude of pride can affect your actions here?
The truth that we need to hear is that what you cannot earn cannot be unearned. If you are saved it is by God’s grace through the gift of faith. And the work that God begins in his children he does not discontinue until it is complete. God doesn’t start a project of salvation in you and then discard you for a better project. He doesn’t get bored and he never gives up. If God has begun a work of salvation in you then you can rest assured that he will continue the work until you are finally complete in his presence. (Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 1:6; 28)
God himself wears a breastplate of righteousness and a helmet of salvation and he goes to war on your behalf through the cross of Christ and the empty tomb. God alone is the one responsible for securing your eternal salvation. He will hold you secure like a sure and steadfast anchor when your heart, your mind and your soul are being tossed about on the winds and waves of circumstantial and demonic chaos. (Isa. 59:17; Heb. 6:19)
As I walk out this Christian life, my mind is protected and renewed by the truth that the blood that washed away my sins and defeated Satan cannot be wiped out by my sin. What erases my sin cannot be erased by my sin because the blood of Christ will not be wasted and the power of the empty tomb cannot be overcome. Be encouraged my friends, the helmet of salvation is placed on your head by the nail-scared hand of an eternally secure Father. He loves you, he went to battle to win you, he beat your enemies and he will never give up on you.
#2: Think About The Sword of The Spirit In Light Of The Cross And The Empty Tomb…
Through the cross and the empty tomb my heart, my mind and my life are renewed and reoriented by the very words of the living God. There is nothing that Satan loves more than to twist what has God has said. And Satan loves to deceive you into leaving your sword in its sheath where it presents no threat to our enemy. If Satan can’t distract you from God’s Word he’ll work hard to twist God’s Word into knots.
But God’s Word is a powerful weapon when it’s unleashed. When God’s Word is clenched in the hand between the fingers of hearing, reading, studying, meditating and memorizing, Satan’s deception is destroyed. The person who loves God’s Word is like a strong oak tree with deep roots and good fruit. (Ps. 1:1-3)
God’s Word is like a double-edged sword that cuts deep as it wounds and heals and strengthens. It is by the word of God that things were brought into existence from nothing. And it is by the Word of God that a person is enabled to walk in holiness and purity. (Heb. 4:12; Gen. 1:1; Ps. 119:11)
How can a book have this kind of power? The only answer for this is that it is the very words of God himself breathed out by his very own Spirit through men who recorded his words as they wrote. Many people want to diminish the truth and the power and the authority of God’s Word today. They make it into a mere book of human making or they turn it into a history lesson or a list of moral laws to follow. But the Bible is trustworthy and true because it is the very words of the living God. (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16)
And you might remember that when Satan tempted Jesus he did it by twisting the Old Testament passages regarding the person and work of Jesus himself. And what was Jesus’ response? Jesus’ response was to unleash the Sword of the Spirit with furious accuracy. If this was Jesus’ attitude towards the Scriptures, then how much more do we need to have the same attitude? (Matt. 4)
As I walk out this Christian life, my heart, my mind and my life are renewed and reoriented by the very words of the living God who gave himself away on a cross and left the tomb empty on the third day. God’s Word cannot be defeated and it is never wrong.
Be encouraged my friends, the sword of the Spirit is placed in your hand by the nail scared hand of your Heavenly Father and his word will never fail and it will never return void of the purpose it was intended for. Can you see how the reliability of God’s Word could transform your attitude? Can you see how your attitude could affect your actions?
When I put on the helmet of salvation and when my hand clings to the sword of the Spirit my attitude is transformed. I now take a stand in the salvation that Jesus supplies to me and I take a stand with the sword of the Spirit in my hand. My attitude is transformed from defeat, despair and rebellion into victory, joy and obedience.
The cross and the empty tomb of Jesus is where salvation is made available. The cross and the empty tomb of Jesus is where the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, is made visible. So take a stand in your salvation and take a stand with the sword of the Spirit in your hand as you kneel under the shadow of the cross in the doorway of the empty tomb.