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Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012

Rattle The Chain - December 10, 2006


Ephesians Six

Sermon of the Week #200649 – December 10, 2006

          I will begin this message on the armor of God with the last thing Paul said first, and then we will better understand what he said first. His last statement that he said, “Praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance for all the saints and on my behalf, that utterance may be given unto me in opening my mouth, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which also I am an ambassador in chains; that I may speak boldly as I ought to speak.”

I do not mean this as a flippant remark, but it is true, Paul finished his instruction to put on the whole armor of God by rattling his chain. He wants us to know he is qualified when he speaks of putting on the gospel armor.

Actually Paul spent two years in prison at Rome. He was permitted to live in his own hired house with the soldier that guarded him. He rattled that chain there when he called unto him the chief men among the Jews, and informed them, because of the hope of Israel he was bound with this chain. During those two years he wrote four of his epistles: Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon. When he rattled his chain; it was most effective.

He urges us to stand fast in the Lord, and he mentions it three times, “Stand against the wiles of the Devil, having done all to stand, stand therefore.” If I made that strong statement urging you to stand, you might say, “Just what have you done that gives you the right to speak so boldly to us?” But when Paul says it, he rattles that chain, and we know he is a true warrior for the Lord.

He begins by telling us we have an invisible enemy, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against a spiritual host of wickedness in high places.” Our enemy cannot be seen. Some of the wrestling among the Greeks permitted the antagonist to gouge out the eyes of their opponent and they lived the rest of their lives in darkness. For this reason many do not believe in a Devil they cannot see. They live in spiritual darkness. Paul says, “The Devil has blinded the eyes of them that believe not.”

         The Church is not a playground; it is a battleground between the forces of the Lord and the Devil for your soul. One news report showed soldiers in Bethlehem shooting each other in the place where Jesus is said to have been born. A greater battle is being fought for the souls of men in the meetinghouse of the Churches of Christ. While you relax in services eating donuts and drinking coffee, those who have spiritual vision can see the forked tongues of demons and the leering eyes of fiends looking at them. When I say that, it sounds like a tirade, but when Paul says it, he rattles that chain and we know this is for real. Even now the forging of your chains may be in the making.

         Remember, he said, “Stand against the wiles of the Devil.” Look at his wiles. One of the Devil’s wiles is, when he tells some people the Bible is not the Word of God, and then he tells others the Bible is the Word of God, and so is every other book that claims to be a revelation from God.

         Another of his wiles is that he tells some people that they are good enough to go to Heaven without Christ. And the next thing he is telling somebody is they are so evil that even Christ could not save them.

        Here is another wile; we are justified by living a good life. Be as good as you can be, faith and baptism have nothing to do with it. And then the next thing he is telling somebody is to believe and be baptized for the remission of sins, and then tells them to indulge in any work of the flesh they please.

         The Devil has a device for everybody, specially tailored for his or her situation. He can sock every jock, sack every Jack, chill every Jill, zap every sap, and cope with every dope. If I persist in saying such things the congregation takes another swig of coffee, and says, “OK Preacher, rave on, that is what we are paying you to do.” However, a few may begin to think as they hear Paul rattle that chain.

Put on the whole armor of God that you may stand, and having done all, to stand in the evil day. So here Ladies and Gentlemen, is the armor of God. The first piece that is mentioned is the girdle of truth.


Stand therefore having girded your loins with truth. Ladies and Gentlemen, what kind of girdle are you wearing? Some people have girded themselves with their "I think" girdle. In speaking of spiritual obligations and the hope of Heaven, they are quick to tell you what they think. Everything hangs on what they think. Another girdle that many like to use is made of somewhat the same cloth and is called the "I feel "girdle. These good folk are always ready to tell you how they feel. Some even say they are saved because they feel they are saved. They may read a passage of scripture, and then not conform to it on the basis that they feel it does not mean what it says. The girdle Paul speaks about here is the girdle of truth. Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” He did not wait for the answer. Jesus did not say truth is what you think. He did not say truth is what you feel. He said in His prayer in John seventeen, “Thy Word is truth.”

The Apostle John reminds us that Jesus is full of grace and truth. Some like the idea of grace, but would rather have grace without truth. Grace without truth is nothing more than sickly sentimentality. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one cometh unto the Father but by Me.” Ladies and Gentlemen, that is the truth.

Paul said we should rightly divide the word of truth. If the word of truth can be rightly divided it can also be wrongly divided. A good example of wrongly dividing the word of truth is looking to the example of the salvation of the thief on the cross and applying it to us. The thief died before Jesus was raised from the dead. The law of pardon given to those who believed on Jesus were told, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The girdle of truth is like a belt that holds the garments of the soldier together so they don’t flap around and get in his way. Those who don’t rightly divide the word of truth flap around and believe any and everything.

I had a funeral one time of a man in middle life. He was a good man, but not a Christian. One member of his family was more distraught than the others. Some of the family tried to console him by telling him daddy was with God. While I am not the judge, if he is with God, I must be some kind of a nut. I have been preaching for several decades that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. What a fool I have been!

        Another man died who was a member of the Church. He had been immersed but was very rarely in services by his own choice. After the funeral his son told me he wanted to be immersed. I asked him why? He said, “I want to go where daddy went.” Now I hope his daddy is with the Lord, but if he is I must be the biggest fool in town. I have been telling people for several decades they had to be faithful. What kind of a nut am I? Put on the girdle of truth. I think I can hear it again, “Rave on Preacher, rave on; we all know that truth is not confined to your Bible.” But then there are some who may remember that Paul tells us in Galatians, “If any man preach any other gospel than that which I preached unto you let him be damned.” Such assurance in the message gives us pause as we hear him rattle that chain.


Then the next piece of gospel armor is, put on the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate of righteousness that we put on is not our own. Paul states it for us when he says; “Him that knew no sin was made to be sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” When we put on Christ we put on the righteousness of Christ, “As many of us as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.”

        There is a song that says, “I dare not trust the sweetest frame.” I have often wondered, “What in the world is that frame?” It doesn’t seem to make any sense. What is a frame? Is that word just something that was thrown in to rhyme with name, dame, game, same, came, blame? I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name. I suppose the thought must be regarding the statement we sometimes make, “This person is in a certain frame of mind.” If a person judges his salvation by how he feels, that could be a sweet frame of mind. If you sing a sentimental religious song, and repeat one line of it about ten times it is easy to see that people can work themselves up to a feeling of euphoria; a most sweet frame of mind. But that is not good enough. I cannot trust my feelings no matter how sweet they may be. The rest of the song says, “I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

One good thought about the rattle of Paul’s chain is in Philemon when he referred to himself, not as a prisoner of Nero, but as a prisoner of Jesus Christ. That makes the rattle of the chain all the more effective.


The next piece of gospel armor is, your feet shod with the gospel of peace. The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Acceptance of that gospel is the only thing that can give us real peace in this world. To put on the gospel shoes is to walk through this world in the gospel. Those who do not know the gospel are walking in this world barefooted.

        Paul told the Romans the Lord would bruise Satan under their feet shortly. This reminds us of the statement in Genesis where God predicted that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent. If I am going to step on the head of Satan, the old serpent, I do not want to do it barefooted. I saw a preacher one time during the invitation song come down and urge a sinner in the pew, “Come on down. Put your foot on the Devil’s neck.”

Years ago I saw a sign on the highway that invited people to come in and look at the snake pit. I paid fifty cents and looked down into what appeared to be a shallow well. In the bottom were several reptiles. If I by some quirk of fate would fall into a snake pit, I think I would start stomping as fast as I could; but I would hope I would not have to do it barefooted. If I am to stomp on rattlesnakes, I want to be wearing hob-nailed boots. Ladies and Gentlemen, the world is a snake pit. I don’t want to live in this world without the gospel shoes. The gospel shoes are hob-nailed shoes. The nails are the four nails that pierced the hands and feet of Jesus. With those shoes I can go anywhere with the gospel. Christian young people have to stomp on snakes in school. Snakes usually infest the biology class since the creation story of the Bible is usually forbidden. For a young person to come out unscathed, he has to do some tall stomping. Most folk are walking through the snake pit of life barefooted. It is not overdrawing the picture to think of life as a snake pit. It is hard to listen to Paul as he expounds the gospel without hearing the rattle of the chain. Put on the whole armor of God.


        Then he rattles the chain again when he says, “Take up the shield of faith that will quench every fiery dart of the evil one.” The shield of faith did not protect Paul from a thorn in the flesh. The shield of faith will not keep you from getting fired, or from getting a disease. But the shield of faith will keep you from becoming bitter. It will keep you from giving up. Many a fiery dart has been fired by the Devil at the shield of faith. I have known of preachers who were strong in their belief of the Word, to be felled by the fiery dart of lust.

The best way to use the shield of faith is to take the Bible and hold it in your hand and declare, “Lord, this is your Word. I believe every word of it. I may not understand it all. I may not be able to answer all the questions the sneering unbeliever may ask, but Lord, it is your Word and I believe it. Help thou my unbelief.” When you accept the testimony of the Word of God by faith, all of your stupid inane, insane, asinine, nonsensical, intellectual problems will disappear.

        One of his favorite wiles is to tell people that most scholars do not believe in God because they are smart. It is the person who is dumb who believes in God. However, you can also find a hundred scholars who believe in God, and a hundred persons who don’t believe in God who are dumb.

        There are smart and dumb people on both sides of the equation. Belief or unbelief is not a matter of intelligence; it is a matter of faith. It is written in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the evidence of things not seen.” Put on the whole armor of God. And now the fifth piece of gospel armor is the helmet of salvation.


        The helmet of salvation is important because it encircles the head. The helmet of salvation will keep you strong on the hope of salvation. Of course, some use the helmet to protect their head and then drop their guard by lowering the shield of faith and a dart from the Devil pierces their heart. You can be a saint in the head, and believe the right doctrine, and a reprobate in the heart with an unfaithful life, faithful in the head, but not in the heart.

       Paul also calls the helmet, the hope of salvation. Every plan we ever make is encircled by the thought that this life is not all there is. We are limited in this life as to what we can do and accomplish by the grave. There is a song that says, “One sweetly solemn thought that comes to me o’er, and o’er. I am closer home today than I have been before.”

        Without the hope of life after death, life in this world would not be worth living. Put on the whole armor of God. Then the sixth and last piece of gospel armor is the sword of the Spirit.


The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Ladies and Gentlemen, Paul has a right to rattle that chain because it is because of his faithfulness to the Word of God that he is in prison. In Hebrews we read that the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword piercing even unto the dividing of soul and spirit both joints and marrow quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. In Revelation, John saw a vision of Jesus with a sharp two-edged sword sticking out of His mouth. The hand of the preacher does not use the sword of the Spirit; the mouth uses it. This is God’s super weapon.

        Jesus used that sword when He was tempted of the Devil. He chose to use the same weapon we have at our disposal. When tempted He said over and over, “It is written, it is written, it is written.”

The Bible is a sword. Take it and read it for fifteen minutes; open it up anywhere, and read slowly for fifteen minutes. It won’t be long before one of those verses will jump right off the page and stab you. Put on the whole armor of God.

         And now listen to Paul as he rattles the chain one more time. His last words I used at the first, I use again at the last, “Praying at all seasons for all the saints, and on my behalf that utterance might be given unto me to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which also I am an ambassador in chains.”