Prepared for Battle

Isaiah 59 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
2 but your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
so that he does not hear.
3 For your hands are defiled with blood
and your fingers with iniquity;
your lips have spoken lies;
your tongue mutters wickedness.
4 No one enters suit justly;
no one goes to law honestly;
they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies,
they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.
5 They hatch adders’ eggs;
they weave the spider’s web;
he who eats their eggs dies,
and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched.
6 Their webs will not serve as clothing;
men will not cover themselves with what they make.
Their works are works of iniquity,
and deeds of violence are in their hands.
7 Their feet run to evil,
and they are swift to shed innocent blood;
their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
desolation and destruction are in their highways.
8 The way of peace they do not know,
and there is no justice in their paths;
they have made their roads crooked;
no one who treads on them knows peace.

9 Therefore justice is far from us,
and righteousness does not overtake us;
we hope for light, and behold, darkness,
and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
10 We grope for the wall like the blind;
we grope like those who have no eyes;
we stumble at noon as in the twilight,
among those in full vigor we are like dead men.
11 We all growl like bears;
we moan and moan like doves;
we hope for justice, but there is none;
for salvation, but it is far from us.
12 For our transgressions are multiplied before you,
and our sins testify against us;
for our transgressions are with us,
and we know our iniquities:
13 transgressing, and denying the LORD,
and turning back from following our God,
speaking oppression and revolt,
conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.

14 Justice is turned back,
and righteousness stands far away;
for truth has stumbled in the public squares,
and uprightness cannot enter.
15 Truth is lacking,
and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.

The LORD saw it, and it displeased him
that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no man,
and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
and his righteousness upheld him.
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.
18 According to their deeds, so will he repay,
wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies;
to the coastlands he will render repayment.
19 So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west,
and his glory from the rising of the sun;
for he will come like a rushing stream,
which the wind of the LORD drives.

20 “And a Redeemer will come to Zion,
to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the LORD.

21 “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

In the last two years we have seen the world around us ask fundamental questions without having the wherewithal to answer any of them adequately or honestly. For example, during her examination by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was asked, “Can you provide a definition for the word, ‘woman’?” She responded, “Can I provide a definition? No. I can’t.” Senator Marsha Blackburn, puzzled, asked, “You can’t?” Judge Jackson then said, “Not in this context. I’m not a biologist.” Of course, many chuckled at her answer, and there is a certain humor to it. But Judge Jackson’s answer was politically calculated, without regard for truth.

There is nothing new about politically calculated words. But the fact that a question with such an obvious answer was given in one of our nation’s most serious, consequential settings, and that she was confirmed for her appointment betrays a culture whose “lips have spoken lies”, whose “tongue mutters wickedness,” and whose “thoughts are thoughts of iniquity.” Our culture is one so thoroughly corrupted, that basic, creational knowledge—that “male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27) has been utterly abandoned.

When the cultural current is so bent on turning over foundational truths, to many, truth itself becomes a casualty of the cultural onslaught. We all feel this, and we all know something is amiss—something is fundamentally wrong with the world in ways we hadn’t felt so acutely in the past. One of the things I want us all to see this morning, is that the problems we face today are not fundamentally new problems. And more importantly, the solutions are not new solutions. These are in fact problems that stem all the way back to the Garden of Eden, and solutions as old as God’s promise that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent.

In our text this morning, we find the nation of Judah in crisis. Remember, Judah is a nation to whom God had made covenant promises. God had made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He had freed their great grandchildren by the hand of Moses and Aaron and brought them into the Promised Land through the leadership of Joshua. He had established the kingdom of Israel by King David.

Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of four Davidic kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Three of the kings were judged positively, in the book of Second Kings, having “done what was right in the eyes of the LORD.” It is only Ahaz that was judged harshly, as an evildoer. Yet it is plain, in Isaiah fifty-nine that the people bear great guilt, and the consequences are dark.

The chapter begins with the declaration that “a separation” had been made between them and God due to the iniquities, that is, the sins of the people. Because of their sin, God “does not hear” their prayers. It is difficult to imagine a situation more grave, more serious than for your words to be unheard by God. I suppose, it is a kind of earthly picture of hell. For in hell, one has no appeal to God for salvation—for by then, your judgment has been settled for all eternity. In hell, there is only constant fear, pain, anger, and malice without end—without anyone to save, without anyone to intervene for you.

But God is gracious, and we’ll see at the end of the passage, God is faithful, even when we are not. Before we dig into the text, let’s pray that the Lord would guide our minds, grant us understanding, and apply His Word to our hearts.

Our text this morning has four main sections. First, in verses 1-8 is the matter of the sin of the people of Judah. It is not a flattering picture of how God’s holy people had fallen. In verses 8-16 we see the dramatic consequences for their sin. Of course, sin leads to God’s judgment, and that is what we see in verses 15-20. And the passage concludes with God’s covenant faithfulness to the people of Judah. Despite their rejection of Him, God is not done with them. After working through the entire chapter, we’ll look at how the New Testament can help us understand and apply this today.


Let’s take a closer look at the first section of Isaiah 59, in verses 1-8. All men, at one time or another, will question God—whether it be his ability to save, his power, his will, his goodness, or any other attribute of God. God, of course, understands this, and in our passage this morning begins by recognizing the weakness of the people of God to believe in His own power to save, or his ability to hear their prayers. By expressing that his “hand is not shortened, that it cannot save or his ear dull, that it cannot hear” he is explaining to the people that he has chosen to not hear, chosen to not intervene to save. He is declaring their guilt and thereby protecting his Name from their slander.

This is a hard thing for them to hear, for by declaring this, God is telling them they are the problem. It is their iniquities, their sins that have put them at odds with God. Recall that Adam was put out of the Garden of Eden because of his sin. Sin has serious consequences, not just in eternity, but in this world. But before those consequences are made clear, Isaiah enumerates their sin, for though in verse 12, it says, they know [their iniquities, they are clearly not truly grappling with their own guilt.

In verses 3-8, Isaiah lists many of the sins that had “made a separation between [Judah and [their God.” It is their sins that “have hidden his face from [them so that he does not hear.” Notice, it is Isaiah, as the prophet of the LORD, who is speaking to a group of people, and is excluding himself from that group. Isaiah uses the pronouns ‘you’ and ‘they.’ Isaiah, as the prophet of the LORD, is speaking God’s words, to God’s covenant people. He is telling them of their sin and guilt.

He lists many sins. He says in verse 3, “…your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity.” In the Bible, blood is spoken of as “the life” (Gen. 9:4) of a person, or an animal. Having blood on your hands was symbolic of the guilt of murder. Isaiah lists many more sins: speaking lies and wickedness, courts marked only by dishonesty. Things are so bad, that the things that are meant to give life—conception and birth produce iniquity and death. In verse 7, Isaiah quotes Proverbs 1:16, “Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed blood.” (Is. 59:7)

Notice the different parts of the body that are said to be corrupted by sin and bringing forth sin. Hands are defiled with blood, fingers with iniquity, lips speak lies, the tongue mutters wickedness, violence is in their hands, their feet run to evil, even the thoughts of the mind are of iniquity. Sin is wholly corrupting. The body is full of corruption and brings forth only evil. And this is the people of God of which Isaiah speaks! These are the people that God called his own, with whom he dwelt in the Temple in their capital city!

A people so corrupted by sin bring only “Desolation and destruction … in their highways”—in stark contrast to “the way of peace”. Their paths are instead lacking justice—they are crooked. This stands in stark contrast to the psalms of David, such as Psalm 17:5, “…by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.” This is a people that has abandoned God and his Word. That is sin—Judah is living in sin.

Consequences of Sin (v. 8-16)

In the second main section of the chapter, from verses 8 to 16, Isaiah describes the consequences of the sins of Judah—namely, what is lacking in their land. Notice the ‘therefore’ in verse 9. The sin of the people of Judah leads to consequences. It is because of the sin of the people that there is no peace, no justice, no righteousness, no light, no salvation, no truth, no uprightness, and no intercessor in the land. An unrighteous people cannot produce a righteous nation. An unrighteous people have no claim upon God for anything. An unrighteous people can only rightly expect God’s judgment!

Judah is a nation, not marked by the covenant blessings of God, that he had promised to his people in Deuteronomy 28, but instead, a distinct lack of the fruit of God’s blessing. In fact, in verse 10 Isaiah paraphrases some of the covenant curses in Deuteronomy 28:28-29, “The LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind, and you shall grope at noonday, as the blind grope in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways. And you shall be only oppressed and robbed continually, and there shall be no one to help you.”

I drew our attention to the pronouns in verses 2-8, but notice how in verse 9, Isaiah begins using the first-person plural pronoun, ‘we’ and ‘our’ from verse 9 through 13. This is significant because the sin and guilt belongs to ‘you’ and ‘they’—a group from which Isaiah excludes himself. But the consequences of sin belong to all Judah, including Isaiah—and presumably the faithful remnant inside Judah. These consequences are covenantal and cannot be escaped, even by the righteous.

Things are not as they should be in Judah. The people knew what justice is, yet they lacked it. They “hoped for light”—they still had some right desires, but those desires were unmet, for behold, “darkness.” Rather than “brightness”, “gloom.” This ‘gloom’ is more than mere darkness—it is a sense of foreboding or despondency. Those walking in gloom are going from bad to worse.

I mentioned earlier, that verse 10 is a paraphrase of covenant curses found in Deuteronomy 28. In groping for the wall, we’re meant to see that the people of Judah had no point of reference. They were looking for something safe, that would reorient themselves to the world around them. Have you ever been in a place so dark that you could see nothing, and could only reach out in the hope that you could find something that would allow you to regain your bearings—a light switch, a door frame, a piece of furniture? Recall that frustration, fear, and anxiety—then imagine your whole life being filled with such feelings. This was what life for the people of Judah was like. Isaiah is describing life under the curse of God. For even at noon, the people were stumbling as though the sun had already set and darkness was prevailing upon the earth. This is not something that can be explained by natural causes. The LORD had indeed stricken Judah “with madness and blindness and confusion of mind”. (Deut. 28:28) How fearful it is to live under the curses of God!

There is no justice in the land, no salvation. Isaiah recognizes what is wrong—he says, “our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities.” Isaiah includes himself in this by using the first-person plural, “our”, “us”, and “we.” God’s covenant people have abandoned their covenant Lord, and consequently, it is the covenant people that are suffering.

The people desire justice, and salvation—they recognize that they need both. But, as verse two says, “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” The people even seem to recognize this, for Isaiah is very clear that the people “know [their iniquities.” Paul describes this in Romans 1:18, when he describes the human condition. He writes, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Rom. 1:18)

The people of Judah are not interested in truth, because they have “turn[ed back from following… God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.” Have you ever wondered how Israel through its long history kept wandering from the LORD? We read of the ten plagues in Egypt, the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, and their idol worship at Mount Sinai a few chapters later. What happened? Or, today, we see rampant sexual confusion around us, and we wonder, how can people be so blind to the reality of two biological sexes? How can they believe anything else?

Isaiah tells us, very simply, when he describes the sinful human condition as “speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.” From the very beginning, mankind has been in revolt against God. Satan tempted Eve, and her response was not faithfulness to God, but instead, “revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.” Today, we are seeing very clearly a truth that was less clear to us in years past. The veil has been removed, so to speak. It is, as Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3, “evil people and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Tim. 3:13)

When the truth is what you cannot tolerate, you must suppress it—fight it. We all end up “conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words” that console us, that justify our desires and revolt against our Creator. It takes enormous psychological energy to live in such a way, for the truth is ever before us, “For what can be known about God is plain…for his invisible attributes…have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world… So [we are without excuse.” (Rom. 3:19-20)

Have you ever tried holding a beach ball under water? It cannot easily be done. It takes concentration and energy to do so. And the very moment you lose focus that ball rapidly finds its way to the surface. Imagine living your life like that—constantly suppressing the truth, to keep it out of your conscious mind. For the moment truth is heard or seen, your conscience condemns you—for you know you stand condemned before God’s law. This is why, in verse 15, “he who departs from evil makes himself a prey”—you become like a hunted animal. Some may call this a kind of “cancel culture.” Step out of line, and your good name will be destroyed.

The unrighteous hate the righteous, for the life of the righteous are a condemnation to the unrighteous. This is why evil must be praised. This is why our culture requires us to affirm homosexual marriage, celebrate “Pride” month, and legally sanction abortion. This is why, Paul wrote in Romans 1, “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Rom. 1:32) So we too, today, can become prey when we depart from evil and speak and live the truth.

I suspect there are some in this room today, who struggle daily, to suppress the truth—to prevent it from exposing your sin and guilt. Know this—you will never win that struggle. God’s truth is always there; because God is eternal, his truth is eternal and will ever be there for you to suppress. Do you really think you can win that struggle? But God’s grace and forgiveness in Christ can be yours, and you can surrender that struggle to suppress the truth and give yourself to Christ. It might seem like a kind of death to do so, and it is, but there is new life on the other side of that death. It is a better life than you could ever imagine. It is eternal life.

Isaiah has more to say concerning the consequences for abandoning truth. In verse fourteen he writes, “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.” Justice and righteousness are not welcome in a land where people have turned their back from following God. Justice is turned away as an unwelcome guest, and righteousness keeps its distance.

The phrase “truth has stumbled in the public squares” is a little puzzling. Truth is supposed to be powerful, unassailable. When an innocent person is accused, they will appeal to the truth, and expect the truth to set them free. But that’s not what we find in verse 14. Truth has no real power in this situation, “it has stumbled.” The word, in Hebrew, could also be translated fall, cast down, or feeble. Regardless of how it is translated, it is clear that truth doesn’t stand a chance in Judah. The very next verse even says, “Truth is lacking”. This isn’t just that there isn’t enough, it just simply isn’t there.

The people of Judah had found a kind of success in suppressing the truth, but that “success” has come at great cost. Their land has become a kind of living hell.

God’s Judgments

In the Psalms we see how Israel and Judah were to orient themselves to truth. Psalm 25:5, “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation…” Psalm 43:3, “Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!” Psalm 45:4, “In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness…” Psalm 51:6, “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being….” Psalm 86:11, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth….”

No wonder we read in verse fifteen, “The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.” When there is no truth, there can be no justice. God’s people had wandered so far from what he had called them to be. This was God’s covenant people, the people he had redeemed out of slavery, the children of Abraham, with whom God had made covenant. This was the people that God had settled in the land promised to Abraham and his offspring.

When God “sees”, he judges. At creation, God created something each day, then “saw that it was good”. When “God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt,” he sent a flood. God sent angels to Sodom and Gomorrah “to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to [him.” (Gen. 18:21) So when we read that “The LORD saw it” in verse 15, we should expect that God is about to judge, and act.

In verse sixteen, God “saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede.” God is looking for someone that will “do something.” But no one is there to intervene for justice. But God doesn’t miss a beat, he’s immediately engaged to act, to intercede. The sentence doesn’t even finish and God is ready, “then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him.” Truth stumbled, we just saw, but God’s righteousness does not stumble—it is powerful. In fact, we see that God is prepared for battle.

We see “the arm of the Lord” earlier in Isaiah 53; where Isaiah writes, “Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” Isaiah then goes on to prophesy of the “Servant of the Lord” whom we know to be Jesus Christ. The “arm of the Lord” in Isaiah 53, and as Isaiah writes in Isaiah 59, “his own arm brought salvation” is none other than Jesus Christ, the very Son of God. This “arm” is unexpected, “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:2b-4)

God is promising to send an intercessor—someone to bring salvation, bring righteousness to a place with only unrighteousness. And by bringing righteousness, he will restore truth and justice for a people oppressed by injustice and iniquity.

In verse seventeen we read of God’s breastplate, helmet, and garments. These are all designed for battle. The list may seem familiar to you; it is almost identical to the list in Ephesians chapter six. “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.” Interestingly, these are only defensive weapons—there is no sword, no spear, no bow. But they are seemingly enough.

God was displeased “that there was no justice”, so he’s going to bring it. He declares his standard in verse 18: “According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies…” This is God’s justice, “according to their deeds.” This is all that, “they…fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun”. God will be feared, he may patiently delay, allowing some to not fear his name, but in the end, he will be feared. Oh, that we would fear him now, and not learn to fear him in his wrath!

But God declares he will not come only to execute justice on the evildoer, but he will come as a “Redeemer” to Zion, “to those in Jacob who turn from transgression.” God is gracious, and will Redeem those who abandon their lives of sin.

God’s Covenant

The chapter ends with the fourth main section, in verse 21 where God declares his covenant purposes. He promises His Spirit and His words. He declares this to his covenant people, who had abandoned him. God had made covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and many others. He is not going to go back on those promises. As Paul says in Romans 3, “Let God be true though every one were a liar.” (Rom. 3:4)

So to the people of Judah, God promised His Spirit upon them, and words that he had put in their mouths, and shall not depart them, or of their offspring, or their children’s offspring. As New Testament Christians, we know that this promise came to pass. God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to be among his people. Like truth and justice during the time of Isaiah, though, Jesus was rejected. He taught many things while ministering to Jew and Gentile, leaving four gospels that we have, to this very day. But Jesus was crucified at the insistence of Israel, yet rose from the grave, ascended into Heaven, and at Pentecost, gave His Holy Spirit to those that believed upon Him.

This heritage is ours, today. It is God’s Words that we hear and read from his Word. It is His Holy Spirit that unites us to him, and to one another. Nearly two thousand years after Christ’s death, God’s Words and God’s Spirit are still here among us. They still stand as a testament to God’s faithfulness and God’s justice.


So what does this all mean to us today? God’s covenant with ethnic Israel passed away with Jesus at His death. Yet we know that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16) So there is much for us to learn from this passage today, surely more than we have time this morning to learn. Jesus’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension fundamentally transformed the world.

First, we must remember that the New Covenant, under which we live, is very different than the covenant under which Israel lived. Israel was covenanted to God through the physical circumcision of all males. (Gen. 17:11) The covenant was therefore ethnic—meaning it was tied to a particular people, set apart through a physical act, uniting a people group in a geographical region

The United States, China, France, Ethiopia, and all other nations, for that matter, are not ethnically covenanted with God as Israel and Judah had been. The New Covenant is a spiritual covenant, with spiritual markers, not ethnic ones. Baptism is now the sign of the covenant—uniting people in Christ, in any nation of the world. So we need to be careful in drawing direct application from this text.

Second, there are specific things about this text that help us understand this passage in light of the New Testament. First, Paul quotes Isaiah 59:7-8 in Romans 3. In Romans 3:15-16, Paul is writing about the spiritual condition of all men—Jew and Gentile. In quoting Isaiah 59:7-8, Paul is clearly teaching that all men are like what Isaiah describes in chapter 59. Israel’s problems were the same problems that all men in all places have faced—they are sinners in need of a Redeemer. So, too, today, apart from the redeeming work of the Holy Spirit, all men are like those described in Isaiah 59.

We’ve already noticed that the armor of God in verse 17 is quoted, and expanded upon, in Ephesians 6. Let’s look at Ephesians 6:11-20:

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.

In Isaiah, God put on his weapons. In Ephesians, those weapons are given to us to wear, but we are given even more. In Ephesians 4:8, Paul writes, “When [Jesus ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” Jesus’s ascension changed everything about the nature of the world—because he gave all his followers his Spirit. It is his Spirit which arms us with the spiritual weapons needed to “put away falsehood…each one of [us speaking the truth with his neighbor…” (Eph. 4:25)

By arming ourselves with “the whole armor of God” we are able to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” We are to do this, that we “may be able to withstand in the evil day… to stand firm.” (Eph. 6:13) Did you notice, too, that our enemy is named? We are armed to “stand against the schemes of the devil.” Satan is our enemy and we are fighting a spiritual war.

So what does this mean for New Testament Christians today? It means that unlike the people of Judah in Isaiah 59, when “there was no man… no one to intercede”, we are the ones God has given to this generation to intercede. God has equipped us with His Spirit and the whole armor of God for this very hour, for the very great needs of our day. God has given us all we need for the battles we face today. One of the new weapons is “shoes for [our feet” which provide “the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” We have what we need for the battle, so we should be “ready” to fight—not hesitant, but equipped, prepared, “ready.”

He has given us weapons to protect us against the onslaught of the enemy. Notice we now have “the belt of truth.” We are God’s truth-bearers. We must not be ashamed of the truth. Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life” so to be ashamed of the truth is to be ashamed of Jesus. We have been equipped with the truth, and so we must not set it down, but instead, wield it—for that is why it is given to us.

One of my great heroes in life is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who survived the Soviet prison camps as an enemy of the state, and later wrote about his experiences in them. He once said, “The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. One word of truth outweighs the world.” Our world is full of lies today, and as followers of Christ, we must refuse to participate in the world’s lies, and instead be people of truth—standing firmly, unashamedly, boldly, knowing it is a weapon belonging to the Lord Almighty.

We also now have the “sword of the Spirit” which is called “the word of God.” We are to wield these weapons “against…rulers, …authorities, … cosmic powers, …the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” These are powerful enemies, but equipped with the whole armor of God, we have everything we need to fight the battles the LORD puts before us.

Paul writes more concerning these battles in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6. He writes:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”

Our weapons are not the kind of weapons the world is accustomed to—they are compared to them, but they are of an altogether different kind. These weapons have “divine power” designed to destroy “arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God”. These are apologetic weapons, designed to make enemies into brothers, to take “every thought captive to obey Christ.” These are weapons meant to defend the faith against false religion, philosophy, and every vain thing. They are meant to convert the nations through the proclamation of the gospel message.

These are spiritual weapons used to fight a spiritual war. They must also be wielded spiritually. That is to say we cannot put them to use in a worldly way. As we learned last week in James 5, we must be patient. We must be humble. We must not repay evil for evil. We must leave it to the LORD to avenge. We must love our enemies. We must overcome evil with good. (Rom. 12:21)

This crooked generation in which we live has abandoned truth and so we should not be surprised at the consequences. Do you sense that “justice is far from us?” Is our culture groping for the wall like the blind? Our nation, our world, like the people of Isaiah’s day, need someone to intercede—someone to bring salvation. We have begun to see institution after institution surrender to the spirit of the age. The church may eventually stand alone among the world’s institutions in proclaiming the truth. But we do not stand alone. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31)

God has equipped us, through Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit, for this very task. We are not the saviors of our world, but we are soldiers of the King of kings, and we bear his message of salvation to all who will believe. The truth, justice, righteousness, and light this generation needs are available through the righteous One, the King of kings, the Prince of Peace, Immanuel, God with Us, the very Son of God—Jesus Christ.

It is my prayer this morning that, like Paul, we would bear the whole armor of God, in the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the Kingdom of God, bringing his righteousness to bear on a world that has forsaken Him. And for those not yet in the Kingdom, not yet sons of the King, that you would repent and believe. His righteousness may be yours. Call upon his name, for if you do so in repentance of sin, and belief that Jesus died for you, you too, may receive his life, his Spirit, and everlasting life. God make it so. Amen.