Our text from Ephesians chapter 6 reminds of the time after the rebellion of Absalom and after David had returned, when there was a further rebellion where a man called Sheba, the son of Bichri, sought to rebel against David, and to draw away the Israelites. They had a grievance, it was a legitimate grievance; but that was no way to settle the grievance, by a rebellion. David had deposed his general, Joab, because Joab was a murderous man. Joab was actually the one who killed Absalom. He appointed someone else, who was actually a relative of Joab, to be general in his place, and he said to the man, 'Amasa, I want you to muster all my troops and be back here in three days.' I'm afraid Amasa wasn't as efficient at Joab. One thing you can say about Joab was, he was efficient. After three days Amasa was no where to be found; he was still trying to collect people together. So David turned to Joab's brother and he said, 'Here, take my body guards; take my crack troops with you, and chase after this rebel before he gets into a defenced city.'
As they were going, Joab was following with his brother and here came Amasa around the corner. Joab went up to him and he said, 'Are you in health my brother?' Just then his sword fell out. He caught Amasa by the beard (forgive me for touching my own); ostensibly to kiss him. What do you do when you catch a man by his beard? He can't turn his head; he can't see what's going on; and while he held this man's beard, the man couldn't see that he had his sword in his hand and he struck it into Amasa's side ... shed out his bowels to the ground; killed him on the spot. Sheer murder! What was Amasa's problem? He wasn't prepared. He wasn't alert.
We must not let the devil come with well-meaning compliments. 'Are you in health my brother?' That's what Joab said to Amasa; catch us so we can't turn our head. We're caught; we're trapped. We can't see what's going on. Keep your distance from the evil one. Don't be taken in by this common trap that he has, of well-meaning flattery. That's one of the ways in which he will trip you up. 'Oh, you're such a fine Christian. I wish I had the faith you've got.' And that kind of thing. It's just a trap; he's spreading a net for your feet. Poor King Hezekiah fell for it. A good man, but when the ambassadors came from Babylon, he fell for it. Better men than we have fallen for it. Be careful.
'But, having done all, you will stand.' You will hold the field; you will hold the fort. But, when you have held the fort, don't say, 'That's it! I'm done,' and begin to unbuckle your armour. No way, no way! You keep your armour firmly buckled on, because, as we said last week, he can appear to be defeated and then he'll come back from behind when you don't expect it. Stand! Stand firm.
In Psalm 30, verses 6 and 7, David confesses the situation. He says,
'Now in my prosperity I said, 'I shall never be moved.' LORD, by Your favour You have made my mountain stand strong; You hid Your face, and I was troubled.' 'As long as Your face was shining on me, I felt I was on top of the world, nothing could happen; my mountain was going to stand firm; I shall never be moved. But the moment GOD hides His face, I'm in terrible trouble.' David realizes what he needs is always to have the face of GOD towards him. And how dangerous it is to say, 'I shall never be moved.' Peter said the same;
'Though all men deny You, yet will not I. 'Even though I should have to go to death, I will in no way deny You.' Beware of the over confidence of things like that.
So, [Ephesians 6], verse 14:
'Stand, therefore, having girded your waist with truth; having put on the breastplate of righteousness; and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.' These three items are things we should already have on, before we have to face the foe. 'Having'; the exhortation is repeated here, the exhortation 'to stand'. Do you know how many times it is said? Four times. This is the fourth time in verse 14. It is repeated here for the fourth time because it is so vital.
GOD says in verse 11:
'Put on the whole armour of GOD that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.' Verse 13:
'Take up the whole armour of GOD that you may be able to withstand in the evil day. And having done all, to stand.' And then in verse 14:
'Stand therefore.' The exhortation is repeated; retreat is fatal.
Remember what Moses said to the people of Israel, when they saw the Egyptians chasing after them? 'Were there no graves in Egypt that you brought us here to die in the wilderness?' Moses said, 'Fear not, stand still and see the salvation of GOD.' Well they didn't even have to fight; GOD fought for them. But the important thing is, don't run.
'Having girded your waist with truth.' The people of those days, the troops of those days, they used to have their robes. But when it came to battle, or if a person needed to run as a messenger; or if they needed to do something that required action; they had to gather up all those loose folds of their robes and get them out of the way. In India, for example, when you see people watering their crops in the fields, you will find they have tucked up their robes and tucked them under their belt. They have a kind of a girdle around their waist, or a belt, and they use it to pull and tie up all those loose folds of their garments so that their legs are free, and they can wade in the water; they don't get tangled with anything under the water. And when a person was called to run and take a message, they used to have their runners; he had to gird up his loins, because if he ran, the thing flapped and tripped him up. He had to get it out of the way.
And we are told to lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us.