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Trinity XXI, October 21, 2018 - Ephesians 6:10-17

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Posted: Sunday, October 21st, 2018 by Pastor Westgate

There’s a war going on. Some of you have served in our armed forces. Perhaps you’ve been on the battlefield and experienced the horrors. Perhaps you were spared those things and served in peace. But you were taught to be prepared for it, and prepared you were. You served your country out of love for her and for your families.

Today in church we don’t hear about a war between America and her enemies. As important as those wars are to our history and our freedoms, that’s not our focus today. We’ll remember those things here with our school children on November 9 and at Minersville Cemetery on Veterans Day itself, but today we need to focus on a different war. Do you think about it much? There’s a spiritual war going on. We are caught in the middle of a war. Satan declared war on God and fell from on high. He tricked your father Adam and your mother Eve to join him in his rebellion. He got them to fire shots at God. He got them to tell Him, “You don’t care about us! We know what’s best for us!” by eating the forbidden fruit.

War has not ceased. The devil hates God passionately, so he fights Him through His beloved creation: man. He fights Him many ways. He fights Him through what we do. He tempts us, and all people, to sin. He leads us to throw off the shackles of God’s commands. He tempts us to be jealous of others, to take what isn’t ours, to lie about others and make fun of them, to sexually lust after others and act out on those lusts and to disregard our spouses, to harm people, and to disobey or disrespect authorities and pooh-pooh our parents. We sin against others and we enjoy it. And Satan is most pleased, for God is not pleased.

He fights God through us in our thoughts, words, and actions. But he does not just fight Him that way. He fights Him through us spiritually. He wants us to become spiritually lazy. He wants us to start to think church isn’t that important. He wants us to think forgiveness doesn’t lead to casting off sin, but simply is a “get out of jail free card” I can use to my heart’s content. He wants us to let God gradually slip out of our hearts and let other things slip in – you name it: work, play, people, felt-needs; they become more important than what God says and receiving His grace. He wants us to eventually think we either don’t need God’s grace or don’t deserve His grace or need to do something to get God’s grace. Then we won’t have it and will be his forever.

He fights in another way. He fights God in the public square. He fights to get the attention of the world. He wants it to forget the true God and His ways. So you hear people proclaim the names of false gods or that there is no god, and others speak of a spirituality which is godless. The worship of the devil himself is on the comeback. People change the definition of when life begins so they can do to it as they wish. They experiment with the creation to change what God has made and alter His institution of marriage and sexuality. They claim there’s no way the world could have been created by a true God. The world presses Christians to abandon what God teaches us. Dr. Luther will make us sing “Though devils all the world should fill, All eager to devour us” in a few minutes, and now we must realize he really meant it, even if we didn’t quite believe it when we sang those words every year on Reformation Sundays past.

“We tremble not, we fear no ill, They shall not overpower us.” We sing those words next. “The world is very evil, The times are waxing late,” yet “We tremble not, we fear no ill, They shall not overpower us.” You don’t fight on the devil’s side anymore. “This world’s prince may still Scowl fierce as he will, He can harm us none, He’s judged; the deed is done; One little word can fell him.” That word is Christ.

Christ fells the devil. He did it in a very unspectacular way. He did it by dying. You might expect him to just cause the wicked spirits to evaporate. Instead He did it in a way that made them think they were winning the victory. He let them convince the leaders of the Jews and the Romans to crucify Him. The devils thought killing God would make them gods. But they did not notice He was defeating them. They did not notice His feet slumping on the footrest were slumping simply because He was crushing their power by means of His Death. They did not realize it until it was too late. Then He was alive again! And all their power was gone.

He is King of heaven and earth, of life and death, of grace and peace. He has come to you. He has rescued you from the devil’s army. He wrote on you with Baptism’s waters The Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He claimed you to be His own and ordered the devil to depart from you. His Holy Spirit cleared him out of you and claimed you to be The Father’s own dear child. He forgives you all your sins, forgives you your rebellion against God. If you sin now, He is ready to forgive. Beg Him for His forgiveness. Don’t try to earn it. Pray Him to forgive, and He will forgive. That is His promise! You don’t earn His love. He already loves you for Jesus’ sake.

You’re in his army. What do you do? St. Paul says: “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” That’s not one bit about you; it’s all about Him. For He then says to put on the full armor of God so you’ll be able to stand against the methods of the devil. It’s God’s armor. It’s been given you already. You have it because you are baptized. You have Christ. That’s what you need. You need His righteousness. You need His salvation. That’s what repels the devil.

What does Jesus give you? He gives you Himself. Right here, in His Word, He gives you Himself. He tells you you’re a sinner. You need to hear that, that you’re a sinner deserving hell, because that’s the message that brings you to be truly sorry for your sins. Then He tells you He died for you to take away your sins. He adds that He rose to give you eternal life. He tells you you now belong to Him.

Since you belong to Him, that changes how you live. You want to please Him. You are informed by His Word. The Bible tells you how God wants you to live. It tells you to live not for yourself, but for others. It tells you to show love with all your life for God and for neighbor. It reminds you that true blessing comes from being undefiled in the way by walking in the Law of the Lord. That’s exactly what Satan doesn’t want. And he is going to try to stop you.

He is stronger than you. Never forget that. You need God’s help to keep you in continual godliness. You need Him to protect you so you will be free of adversities and devoutly given to serve Him in good works to the glory of His Name. You find that help in His Word. You find that help in His Sacrament. For at The Altar The Risen Christ gives you His Body to eat and His Blood to drink. He grants here protection for you and healing. He gives you the armor that extinguishes the devil’s flaming arrows. He strengthens your faith and gives you His salvation. When you hear and believe His Word and receive His Sacrament in faith, you are protected from the devil.

So cling to His Means of Grace. Cling to them. Hold on tight and don’t let go of them. Don’t let Christ your God go. Yes, you will yet fall into sin, for you are a frail mortal. But He will always be near to forgive. And then you are saved. Jesus’ salvation wins for you single-handedly the victory over the devil. Therefore, “The kingdom ours remaineth.”

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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