CHRIST DELIVERS US

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Paul has struggled with sin and reached the point of despair. “Wretched man that I am!” The struggle has taken its toll and he sees himself as a wretched man. When he looks at God’s law, he sees that it is holy and good, but he also sees that he regularly fails to keep it perfectly. He gives a vivid example of this in Romans 7:7-11.

7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

The commandment against coveting caused Paul’s sinful nature to want to covet more. This shows us that the law does not sanctify. The law produces death in those that have a sinful nature. 

This does not mean that we get rid of the law. We will completely misunderstand this passage if we fail to make an important distinction between the law as the ‘means of sanctification’ and the law as the ‘goal of sanctification.’ When we speak of the ‘means of sanctification’ we are asking about what empowers our growth. We are asking about the cause of our progress in sanctification. When we speak of the ‘goal of sanctification,’ we are asking about the direction believers are headed. What is our destination?

We can illustrate this by thinking of the difference between gasoline and a road map. Whenever you take a road trip you need three things (1) a car, (2) gas for the car and (3) a map telling you how to get to your destination. The ‘means of sanctification’ is speaking about the fuel or gasoline of sanctification. The ‘goal of sanctification’ is speaking about the way to get to our destination. Paul is denying that the law is the ‘means of sanctification.’ He is saying that we do not get our fuel for the Christian life from the law. He says this clearly in verse 10, “The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.” If you are looking for power in the Christian life, do not look to the law. 

Though the law is not the ‘means of sanctification,’ it is the ‘goal of sanctification.’ The law does not give us power, but like the road map, it gives us direction. So the law is absolutely necessary for the Christians life. It guides us and directs us in the way we should live. But we misuse the law if we try and get fuel for the Christian life from it.          
            
In verse 24, Paul recognizes that the law does not cause his growth. In this context, the law only caused him to realize how sinful he actually is. He has come to the end of himself and is seeking relief. Where does he turn? Not to the law, but to the Gospel. In verse 25 he says, that Jesus Christ our Lord delivers him from his body of death. He does this by his life, death and resurrection. This is the way in which God takes away our sins and it is the way in which God empowers us to live the Christian life. Through faith alone, God transfers your sins to Christ and he transfers Christ’s righteousness to you. Martin Luther called this the great exchange. We exchange our sin and guilt for the perfect righteousness of Christ. The guilt of our sins is taken away because Christ bore it on the cross. God accepts us and declares us righteous on the basis of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us.

This is the message that justifies us and it is the message that sanctifies us. Returning to our road trip analogy we should see that we are the car and the law is the road map. The Gospel is the gasoline. It is the fuel that empowers us to live the Christian life. Paul says in Romans 10:15-17,

As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

The message of the Gospel creates faith “faith comes from hearing.” As we grow in trust that God has forgiven our sins and covered us in Christ’s righteousness, we are empowered to grow in sanctification. In other words, our identity in Christ profoundly affects the way we live. This is why we must always keep in mind that God loves us and has already judged our sin in Christ. Now that our sin problem has been taken away, we need not fear God’s judgment. Now we can seek to please our Father as a child seeks to please his parents. We do this in a context of full acceptance.

But what about our struggle with sin? This is going to continue until we die, but we don’t have to live in anxiety over it. We can have peace of mind by constant meditation on the Gospel. The fact that God accepts us as righteous calms our anxiety and enables us to press on in the midst of our struggle with sin. The answer to salvation and assurance is not the law, but the gospel. When you find yourself troubled over your struggle with sin look away from the Law and look to Christ. This is the key to living the Christian life. This is why Paul immediately moves from our struggle with sin to our justification in Christ. Look at Romans 8:1,

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

This is the key to sanctification. How you think about yourself profoundly influences how you live.

THE BELIEVERS STRUGGLE

15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

A slave acts like a slave because his identity is that of a slave. A freed slave has a new identity, that of a free man. Yet he struggles to live up to his new identity. His old identity is so ingrained in him that he frequently lapses into his old patterns of behavior. How we think of ourselves profoundly affect the way we live. The solution for the freed slave is to remember that he has a new identity. He no longer has to obey his slave master. The same is true of the Christian. As new creatures in Christ, we love God’s law and want to obey it. This is what Paul says in verse 22, “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being.” Yet he also has that old sinful nature still in him and there is nothing good in the flesh. Paul writes in verse 18, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.”
            
These are the two identities that Paul struggles with. His flesh is a slave to sin and wants to obey sin as its master. Yet his renewed nature loves God’s law and wants to obey it. The presence of these two aspects of Paul causes a war. Look at verses 19-21,

19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

Paul has let us into his own personal struggle with sin. He has done this because this is the way in which every Christian lives. No one is completely free from sin and because of this, we will struggle. We may not struggle with the same sins, but the Christian life is characterized as a struggle against sin.

Now I think something needs to be clarified here before I go one. Struggling with sin is not the same thing as completely giving in to sin. Think of the boxer that steps into the ring and never throws a punch. His opponent proceeds to beat him with punch after punch and he never puts up his guard, he never throws a punch. Would you say that the boxer really struggled in this fight? No you would say that he threw the fight. He never put up a fight. The same is true of the Christian life. Struggling with sin means that we put up a fight. We try to resist sin. We don’t passively stand by as sin overcomes us and then say, “Well, the Christian life is a struggle.”

No, a struggle means that we actively fight sin. Now one of the consequences of fighting sin is that we grow tired. We struggle and sometimes fail. Even when we succeed, the fight is tiring and we are very aware that we are nowhere close to being as sanctified as we ought to be. This can be discouraging and we may despair of the thought that we are always going to have to fight sin and wonder if God is truly pleased with us. How can we have peace of conscience in light of this? Paul tells this next week.

THE FLESH IS BAD

14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.

Paul reaffirms that the law is good when he writes that “the law is spiritual.” Though the law inflames the sinful nature, we can never blame the law. The problem is not the law, but the flesh. Paul writes, “but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.” It is important for us to understand what the word ‘flesh’ means. Paul is not using the word ‘flesh’ here to refer to our physical bodies. He is not talking about our skin and muscles and bones. Instead, he is talking about our sinful natures. When Adam fell into sin, his nature became enslaved to sin. As a result of being born, we inherit the guilt of Adam’s sin and a sinful nature. The Bible frequently refers to this as ‘the flesh.’ When we become Christians, God renews our natures, but not completely. He has chosen to not completely eradicate the sinful nature from us. Instead, God has chosen to gradually renew the remnants of the sinful nature throughout our lives. Upon our death, the sinful nature will be immediately eradicated.
            
In this life, we will have to deal with the sinful nature or the flesh. Paul tells us something important about the flesh. He says that it is ‘sold under sin.’ What does this mean? I think this can be best illustrated by the relationship of a slave to his master. The slave has his identity as a slave. This means that he is “sold under” his master. In other words, he is completely subject to his master. When the master commands him to do something, he does it. If the master says to clean the house, the slave does it. If the master commands the slave to feed the horses, the slave obeys, without question. It is in the slave’s identity to obey his master. Again, the way in which you think about yourself profoundly affects your behavior.

Paul is telling us that as Christians, we still have a sinful nature and it is “sold under sin.” Though we are new creatures in Christ, we are not completely new creatures in Christ. Paul wants us to be aware of this. Even though our new identity is in Christ the flesh causes us to fall back into our old identity. The Christian life is a constant warfare between the flesh and the new nature in Christ. This causes a struggle in the Christian life where no struggle had existed before. Non-believers do not struggle with sin. They are completely sold under sin and they obey it without question. Sure, they struggle with certain behaviors. Maybe they want to change certain things about themselves and they struggle with this. But this is very different from the Christian. The Christian struggles because he wants to please God. The non-believer struggles not to please God but for some other personal benefit.    

What we have seen thus far is that the law is good. We can never blame God or his law when we sin. The problem is that we have remnants of our old identity as sinners. We have remnants of our old sinful nature. And this sinful nature is sold under sin. As Christians, in Christ, we are new creatures. But as Christians we have remnants of sin. When the Christian hears God’s law, it inflames his sinful nature. But his new nature loves the law and want to obey it. This means that there is a struggle between the old nature and the new nature, between the old identity and the new identity. Paul will show us how this struggle played out in his own personal life next week.

THE LAW IS GOOD

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

The above passage is Romans 7:13. Throughout the course of this mini-series on Romans we have seen a few things. First, all mankind is under the condemnation of the Law. God requires absolute moral perfection and mankind falls far short of this. Second, the only way we can be justified is through faith alone. Our works will never be good enough to justify us. Only the works of Jesus Christ can justify us. His perfect life and sacrificial death takes away our guilt and gives us righteousness. 

In Romans 7, Paul is talking about the relationship between the justified Christian and God's Law. His basic point is that the Law cannot empower us to obey the Law. The Law is good and we must obey the Law. But the Law will not give us the power to obey. Rather, the Gospel gives us the power to obey the Law. We will see this over the course of the next few weeks. 

I like to take walks around the neighborhood in the morning. As I walk through and admire the nice houses, I notice that many front yards have signs. Some of them read “No dogs on grass.” Or “Clean up after your dog.” You see not only do I enjoy walking through the neighborhood, but so do dog owners. Sometimes, their dogs need to find some grass. On a number of occasions, I have witnessed a dog doing what he had to do, right in front of one of those signs. The commandment on the sign, did nothing to stop the behavior. In fact it may have provoked it.    

Paul is saying something similar in verse 13. He is talking about God’s law and he is saying that it is good. The problem is that he is sinful and when the law (which is good) meets up with a sinful nature (which is bad), the result is more sin!

We see this in the previous section in Romans 7:7-8. Paul says,

“What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.”

Paul says again in our Romans 7:13, “in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.”

What he is saying is that God’s good law does not empower obedience, but actually inflames sin. Just like those signs that say “keep dog off grass,” so also God’s law makes a sinful nature worse. There is something about fallen man that makes him rebel against God’s law, even as a Christian.
            
It is important to realize that Paul is writing these verses as a committed Christian. He is sharing with us his own experience in living the Christian life. This is very instructive for us because Paul was probably one of the most sanctified men to walk the face of the earth. And yet he tells us that the law inflames his sinful nature. But he is emphatic. The problem is not the Law, it is us. It is the remnants of the sinful nature in us as Christians. That is the problem. Paul will elaborate on this next week.

THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

THE BELT OF TRUTH

THE BELT OF TRUTH

 

BLESSED ARE THE REVILED

"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Every Sunday I try to remember the persecuted church in the pastoral prayer. I try to keep a note that we should be praying for them in the email blast as well. It is important that we do this because all throughout the world our brothers and sisters are suffering greatly for righteousness sake. Recent estimates suggest that 70 million Christians were martyred in the past two thousand years. About 45 million of these (approximately two-thirds) were martyred between 1900 and 2000. Martyrdom still occurs today.

The kind of persecution that Jesus is speaking about includes being murdered, tortured or physically abused for righteousness. However, Jesus means more than this. In America, violent persecution is rare. We often think that persecution is only when the government tries to put us to death or tries to hinder the work of the church. Jesus says that it also includes “reviling” and “harassing” and “uttering all kinds of evil against you falsely.”    

To ‘revile’ means to ‘reproach’ or to heap insults upon. When people do this to you for righteousness sake, you are being persecuted. The word, Jesus uses in verse 11 for “persecute” means to run after or pursue. It is what we would call harassment. When this happens to you for righteousness sake, then you are being persecuted. When people lie about you and make things up about you falsely, you are being persecuted. In the ancient church, Christians were falsely accused of being atheist, cannibals and adulterers. All this was false of course, but that is what they were accused of. In that sense they were being persecuted.

We see that the concept of persecution includes a number of things. We are likely to be persecuted in some manner, when we try to imitate our Lord. The phrase “on my account” is parallel with the previous verses “for righteousness sake.” This means that the righteousness in view is the imitation of Jesus. Remember that all these beatitudes describe Jesus. Since we are united to Jesus and identified with Jesus, we will manifest them all to some degree. This is why we can expect persecution. Look at Matthew 15:18-20,    

"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

Why is the church persecuted? Because the world hates Jesus. But we can rejoice when the world persecutes us by looking to our heavenly reward. This is what Jesus says in verse 12.   

If you have ever had surgery or a major dental procedure, you know what it feels like to dread something. You dread the pain that you will have to go through and you dread the recovery. Maybe you are a little scared and it causes you anxiety. How do you get through it? Well you remind yourself that it is temporary. You will not be in pain forever. You will not feel anxious forever. In a little while, it will all be over. You view the present, painful experience, through the future experience. This is exactly what Jesus is telling us to do. He says, “rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” In other words, view your present suffering through the fact that you will be rewarded in heaven. A heavenly perspective does three things for us.
            
First, it enables us to endure hardship. Whether by persecution of in general. Look at 2 Corinthians 4:17-18,

"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

Second, it motivates us to do good works. Look at Matthew 6:19-21,

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." 

Third, it helps us to rejoice and be glad. Notice what Jesus says in the first part of verse 12, “Rejoice and be glad.” This is a commandment to us in the midst of suffering and persecution. What this tells us is that rejoicing and being glad will not spontaneously arise within us under bad circumstances.

We must work at rejoicing and being glad. We do this by interpreting our circumstances in light of our heavenly reward. However, we are not to rejoice at the pain and suffering. Jesus is not a masochist. He knows that the pain we feel is real and it does not feel good. Jesus would not be so insensitive to tell us that we should be happy about the pain. Instead he says that we are to rejoice because our heavenly reward.

BEARING FRUIT

Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.
— John 15:4

The Bible often uses the word fruit not to refer to produce, but as a metaphor for virtue and good works. How does one have the power to bear fruit? It is not by self-effort. It is not by trying really hard in your own power. It is by being united to Jesus Christ through faith alone. Martin Luther explains this well. He writes concerning John 15:4,

It will always be true that the one who is a Christian must have emerged and grown naturally from Christ the vine.

When I am baptized or converted by the gospel, the Holy Spirit is present. The Spirit takes me as a piece of clay and make of me a new creature, which is endowed with a different mind, heart, and thoughts, that is, with true knowledge of God and a sincere trust in his grace. The very essence of my heart is changed. This makes me a new plant, one that is grafted on Christ the vine and grows from him. My holiness, righteousness, and purity do not stem from me, nor do they depend on me. They come solely from Christ and are based only in him, in whom I am rooted by faith, just as the sap flows from the stalk into the branches. Now I am like him and of his kind. Both he and I are of one nature and essence, and I bear fruit in him and through him. This fruit is not mine; it is the vine’s.
 
That Christ and the Christian become one loaf and one body, so that the Christian can bear good fruit—not Adam’s or his own, but Christ’s.

THE SCHEMES OF THE DEVIL

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

The armor of God enables us to “be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Satan and his minons attack God’s people through their schemes. They do not have only one approach, but many creative and different approaches. The word “schemes” speaks of the trickery of the devil in his use of evil. One commentator writes,

Evil rarely looks evil until it accomplishes its goal; it gains entrance by appearing attractive, desirable and perfectly legitimate. It is a baited and camouflaged trap. The Bible describes many schemes that the devil uses. We will look at 7.  

First, Satan tries to make the Word of God ineffective in our lives by snatching it away (Matt. 13:19) or by choking it out through the cares of life and the deceitfulness of riches (Matt. 13:22). We see this in the parable of the sower. Look at Matthew 13:19-22.

"When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful."

Second, he attempts to cause people to doubt and deny Christ by sifting them through difficult experiences and afflictions. Look at Luke 22:31-34.

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." Peter said to him, "Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death." Jesus said, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me."

Third, he tries to make us feel timid or ashamed of Christ and His Word. Look at Matt. 26:69-75. Remember that Jesus had told Peter that Satan wanted to sift him.   

"Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, "You also were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you mean." And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." And again he denied it with an oath: "I do not know the man." After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you." Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly."

Fourth, he tries to get us to withhold forgiveness when it is due. This leads to strife, tension, bitterness, and destruction of people. Look at 2 Cor. 2:10-11.

"Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs."

Fifth, he tries to deceive us by false doctrine. Look at 2 Cor. 11:3-4.

"But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough."

Sixth, he can act like he is our friend. Look at Genesis 3:1-5.

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'"

Seventh, he can appear holy and beautiful for the purpose of deceiving us. Look at 2 Cor 11:13-15.

"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds."

We need to keep these schemes in mind because Satan will try to destroy us through them. Peter describes Satan as a roaring lion. Look at 1 Peter 5:8,

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

The power and trickery of Satan may cause some to be discouraged or fearful, but this passage is meant to encourage us. The armor of God protects us from Satan and it shows us that God has already won the victory. That is the only reason we have spiritual warfare. We would not be in this warfare if Satan was not defeated. The fact that he is defeated angers him and causes him to try and harm us. But God protects us with His armor.

GOD'S ARMOR

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. 

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. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."  (Ephesians 6:10-17)

At the end of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he exhorts Christians to be strong in the Lord. The reason for this is that he knows that we are in a spiritual battle. The devil and his demons are real, but they do not fight us in a Hollywood manner. They don’t typically show themselves as in the movie The Exorcist. Instead they fight us more subtly. We will see how over the course of the next several weeks. If we are to stand against them, we must put on the armor of God. Therefore, we must have an understanding of the armor.             

The way in which we are to be strong is to “put on the whole armor of God.” Paul is applying a metaphor he used previously when he said to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24 ESV). To put on the new self is to put on the armor of God. We cannot put on only part of the armor, but we need the “whole armor of God.” This indicates that we are totally dependent upon God for strength. It is not like God gives us some strength and we provide the rest. No God gives us all the strength we need for the battle.

When Paul calls this the armor of God he is saying that this armor not only comes from God, but that it is also God’s armor. We see God clothed in this armor in various Old Testament passages. Let’s take a look at some passages from Isaiah. In Isaiah 11 we read of the prophecy concerning Jesus Christ. He is the shoot of Jesse that will come. Notice how Isaiah describes him in verses 4-5,  

"but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins."

In Isaiah 59 we see the prophet describe God himself. He writes of God in verse 17, 

"He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak."

One more passage in Isaiah 52:6-7. Here we see that it is God himself that preaches the good gospel,    

"Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here am I." How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'"

The imagery of the Armor of God is drawn from Old Testament descriptions of God and the messiah. We will look at these pieces of armor next week. My point in drawing your attention to it now is in order to see who is wearing this armor. It is God that wears this armor. The metaphor of the armor of God is another way of saying that we take our refuge in God. It is another way of speaking about our union with Christ. In order to put on the armor of God you must have faith in Jesus Christ and be united to him. In Christ we wear God’s armor.