Put on the Whole Armor of God
Study No. 21
In his Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul teaches us that all who gratify the cravings of their sinful nature by following its desires and thoughts, are dead in their transgressions and sins, Chapter 2, New International Version. Paul prayed for a pouring out of the power of Godís spirit to strengthen the inner being of each Christian. This power produces faith, rooted and established in love, that surpasses knowledge. Faith and love invite Christ to dwell in the heart, to work within us in all the fullness of God, Chapter 3. As this power frees us from darkness and sensuality, it leads us to true understanding and sensitivity. And, it renews our attitude of mind so that we become righteous and holy, Chapter 4.
Paul warns us of deceitful desires, falsehood, anger, stealing, unwholesome talk, bitterness, brawling, slander, malice, sexual immorality, greed, drunkenness, disobedience, etc. As human beings we are continually attacked with trials and problems. Our natural reaction is to counterattack with whatever weapons are immediately available and expedient. Satan is ever ready to arm our emotions and thoughts with weapons that may seem right during periods of emotional stress and spiritual darkness. But, our wise, just, and loving God has inspired Paul (who was once burdened with hatred, bitterness, and prejudice, himself), to show us a better way to do battle. Godís way leads to a long term victory (eternity), and provides immediate peace and happiness instead of causing a life-long struggle (using the methods of the devil) which deceive, entrap, enslave, and ruin, leading to deeper defeat, disappointment, and death.
Paul gives us specific instructions and lists our spiritual armaments in Chapter 6, verse 14-18 (King James Version used here): "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance . . . ."
As Christians, brethren, we need to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. "Be thou strong and very courageous" Joshua 1:7. Our trials will come in various forms and we need the whole armor of God ó armor not for the flesh ó but for the mind and spirit! Our spiritual weapons are TRUTH, RIGHTEOUSNESS, THE GOSPEL OF PEACE, FAITH, SALVATION, THE WORD OF GOD, and, to augment these, we need prayer and perseverance.
TRUTH is the girdle or foundation of our armor. The foundation of truth is the inspired WORD of God. "Your word is truth" John 17:17 (NIV). Truth is understanding of the reality of Godís divine plan, the forces of good and evil, and our human nature. It is essential for us to seek, to understand, and to accept all truth (whether it brings sadness or joy),before we can grow significantly in our spiritual lives. We must be servants of the truth.
RIGHTEOUSNESS is the breastplate that fortifies our heart against Satanís subtle temptations and attacks. To be righteous is to be obedient to Godís commands, Psalms 119:172, and to discern, accept, and acknowledge His standard of justice and arrangement for our justification. Christ bore our sins to enable us to be righteous in Him, II Corinthians 5:21. We weaken our position and separate ourselves from Godís power by attempting to do everything independently, using only our own human strengths, philosophy, politics, theories, and scientific knowledge, without the influence of our Creator. For lasting, sound and true spiritual power, GOD must be our power source!
THE GOSPEL is represented by shoes which provide stability in our resolution to walk the righteous path of life. This is the good news of peace: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" Matthew 6:10 (see also Mark 8:35 and Philippians 4:7, 8). To receive peace in our lives we must strive to live peacefully with all, in so far as possible, without compromising truth! We must use Godís power and our own strength combined synergistically to change things for the better. Also, we must be prepared to accept those things that we cannot change. Presently, this world is under the influence of Satan ó the prince of sin, death, and darkness. Study Matthew, Chapters 5 and 24.
FAITH is like a shield to defend against devious attacks from all directions and protect your whole body. Faith is Godís power planted within us! It is a power over ourselves, over situations, and over all circumstances. If faith is exercised in our lives, amazing things can be accomplished through the "P.M.A." ó positive mental attitude ó that it manifests in our very being. Romans 12:2 says, " . . . be ye transformed by the renewing to your mind . . . ." Each of us must accept, understand, and apply the words of Philippians 4:13 in the very essence of our life, "I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHICH STRENGTHENETH ME." It is from Jesus that faith comes within us, Galatians 3:26, 27; see also Hebrews 11:6 and I John 5:4.
SALVATION is like a helmet of hope and trust. Salvation is demonstrated by the intellectual, spiritual, and philosophical knowledge, appreciation, understanding, and acceptance of Godís divine plan, the purpose of our life, the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, and our destiny. "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High." Psalms 82:6. See John 3:16; Isaiah 62:11; John 11:25-26; Ephesians 1:7-14; and I Corinthians 15:24-28, 50-58.
THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, the two-edged sword of the spirit of truth ó the word of God, the Holy Bible ó is the only offensive weapon wielded by the Christian. Christ prevailed over Satan, saying, "It is written." Like the Bereans, we must search the scriptures daily for Godís truth and apply it to our lives. The "Sword of the Spirit" can only be possessed by careful Bible study and the leading of the spirit after consecration to Godís purpose for our lives. See Hebrews 4:12, Matthew 4:10, and Acts 17:11.
To augment and "buckle" our armor (consisting of the main spiritual weapons as listed above) we must also pray and persevere. To keep in touch with God, pray continually (see I Thessalonians 5:17). Also, exercise patience (perseverance) strengthened with Godís power (see Colossians 1:11 and Galatians 6:9).
We have armor for every part of our body except our backs. God didnít call us and arm us for battle only to have us retreat and/or turn back. Turning back means catching Satanís fiery darts from behind. Use your only offensive weapon, the Sword (the word of God), along with your continuous battle cry of prayer. We must attack Satan by speaking, believing, living, and applying prayer and Bible truth against him. As we win victory over ourselves, we win people. And, as we win people, we win battles.
Use no weapons like Satanís ó anger, malice, hatred, strife, deceit, etc. These weapons are readily available in our human nature, and it is our natural tendency to desire to use them. They come to us so easily, but, in the long run, they will hurt and destroy us, and others. Rather, we must put on the whole armor of God to fight the spiritual battle of God. Thereby, all Christians will build each other up in holy faith, Jude 20.
Instead of trusting in our own abilities, we must humbly look to God for strength from day to day. If we attempt to use our own strength, we will fail against a trial that is too much for the carnal mind. But, with God working in us, we will be fortified through His grace. And we, with the Psalmist, can then say: "For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall . . . . It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect" Psalm 18:29, 32.
Finally, as we consider the effective use of the whole armor of God, letís remember the admonition of Paul: "BE NOT OVERCOME OF EVIL, BUT OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD" Romans 12:21.
ó written by Jim DeFrancisco W
A Faithful Message From the Past, and a Timely Word For the Present
For there is some danger of falling into a soft and effeminate Christianity, under the plea of a lofty and ethereal theology. Christianity was born for endurance; not an exotic, but a hardy plant, braced by the keen wind; not languid, nor childish, nor cowardly. It walks with strong step and erect frame; it is kindly, but firm; it is gentle, but honest; it is calm, but not facile; obliging, but not imbecile; decided, but not churlish. It does not fear to speak the stern word of condemnation against error, nor to raise its voice against surrounding evils, under the pretext it is not of this world; it does not shrink from giving honest reproof, lest it come under the charge of displaying an unchristian spirit. It calls sin sin, on whomsoever it is found, and would rather risk the accusation of being actuated by a bad spirit than not discharge an explicit duty. Let us not misjudge strong words used in honest controversy. Out of the heat a viper may come forth; but we shake it off and feel no harm. The religion of both Old and New Testaments is marked by fervent outspoken testimonies against evil. To speak smooth things in such a case may be sentimentalism, but it is not Christianity. It is a betrayal of the cause of truth and righteousness. If anyone should be frank, manly, honest, cheerful (I do not say blunt or rude, for a Christian must be courteous and polite); it is he who has tasted that the Lord is gracious, and is looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God. I know that charity covereth a multitude of sins; but is does not call evil good, because a good man has done it; it does not excuse inconsistencies, because the inconsistent brother has a high name and a fervent spirit; crookedness and worldliness are still crookedness and worldliness, though exhibited in one who seems to have reached no common height of attainment. ó Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
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