Warfare, Jesus Style

I have thousands of posts on ServeHimInTheWaiting.com. and ways to search them. Yesterday in my devotion time, I was reading Ephesians. I know I have done at least one article on the Armor of God, but can’t find it, so I guess maybe the Lord wants me to just write another one.

There are various approaches to studying the Word. My predominant and favorite way is word-study. The Lord didn’t give me a math brain, but He did give me a greater-than-average propensity and love for words, reading and studying.

Some years back, a friend shared an article with me the writer of which did a great job expounding the Ephesians 6 passage on the armor.

It is easy to view that portion of scripture as merely a nice word-picture reminding us we are to be “good Christian soldiers”. In reality, however, it concentrates down to starkly practical instruction as to how to best succeed in Christ-like living.

The first piece of armor we are instructed to put on is the “girdle” (belt) of truth. Think of a policeman’s uniform as an illustration. The purpose of an officer’s belt is much grater than holding up his pants! The belt is where he stows all the gear he must have within reach at all times while on duty. His radio unit, his gun, flashlight, handcuffs, taser.

The armor in Biblical times, was all anchored to the belt. It held it all together, kept it on, kept it handy.

But how does that convey into spiritual terms?

Well, there is safety, for a Christian, in obedience. This portion of the armor, the belt, correlates with living your life according to scripture principles in every area of life. To do that, one needs a high degree of familiarity with the Word. In school, and college, we are taught to analyze the material we are studying. When exam time comes, you will want to have understood and memorized the essentials of the subject. In Christian terms, God doesn’t “test us” on memory verses, He wants us to understand the principles and values He instructs to us via His Word. It’s obviously not a written exam. God wants to see us seek and work to understand, but the real ” proof” He is interested in, is our obedience to the parts of scripture that we do understand.

Parents don’t expect their toddlers to be responsible for making their bed and to take out the trash. But they do require their toddler to put his blocks back into the toy box, because he is perfectly capable of that ( in most cases).

The belt equates to righteous holy conduct and character, honesty, gentleness, mercy, and all the other un-selfish ways of Christ.

The breastplate protects vital organs, especially the heart. The heart is the seat of courage, love, feelings, of our place and purpose, and our position in God’s creation.

Wearing the breastplate means always keeping everything that happens, in proper perspective in light of having a sovereign God with whom we are reconciled, by whom we are redeemed and restored into favor by the blood of the lamb, delivered from hell, which we deserve, and made heirs to all that belongs to Christ. If we really lived each moment in that light, it would cut every fear, trial, and frustration down to size. We would realize the “great and horrible wizard” (the enemy) is really a powerless being behind a curtain performing parlor tricks, the supply of which is about to run dry.

The shoes a soldier wore in that period had spikes, for firm footing on any type terrain. It kept them upright and grounded, because a soldier can’t prevail if he is slipping, sliding, stumbling, fumbling or falling. I had previously thought that having our feet shod with the gospel of peace had to do with giving the gospel to others, but in this case, at least partly, I think it refers to our own salvation and the peace that should bring. I think the Lord would have us to walk fearless, as young David, knowing all power is God’s, and our fate is already determined and cannot be changed. It is about our confidence in our own sealed position as adopted children and heirs. That means, we have absolutely no reason to feel intimidation. No one has any means to cause us irrevocable harm, because our God can heal, restore, and resurrect, and if in this life we lose, say, our ability to walk, or even work, He will provide for food and clothing, and in the future we already are promised a perfect glorified body. I realize, (and so does God) that as poor pitiful sheep-like creatures, we struggle and often fail to be able to see it that way. It is our nature, and we are in a fallen world, and we cannot entirely conceive of such a future. But we can remind ourselves that God sees our pain, knows our needs, and our limitations, and has it under control. By faith we can choose to dwell on that and not the trouble itself, as per Philippians 4:8.

He has a particular care, for those who feel broken and hopeless, (psalm 34:18) and is near to those who mourn. Death and sickness are not the only things we legitimately mourn. He does not begrudge us our sincere emotions and sensitivities. He gave them to us.  He only lets our troubles go long and far enough to accomplish the good He desires for us. Psalm 34:17, Romans 8: 28

The Shield of faith. The front of the shield of the Roman soldier was leather. Since a prominent method of attack involved burning arrows, the soldiers saturated the shield in water so it could not catch afire. God describes one method of Satan’s attack as fiery darts. Again, getting that into practical terms for the here and now, faith is a choice and is preemptive. It is the decision and resolve ( ahead of time) to take God at His Word. Have you ever done something, and afterward, remarked “I didn’t even know I could do that”?

One illustration often used in witnessing the gospel, to help people grasp the difference between head belief and heart belief, is this: you can look at a chair, size it up, turn it over, and trust it would hold you up if you sat in it. But you could not know for certain unless and until you actually did place your weight into it. Only then would you know the truth, whether it was sound or not. The same with saving faith . You can’t just believe, you have to act upon the faith, test and try it, before you will be convinced beyond any doubt.

Daily faith simply works the exact same way. You see, it is not a matter of how much faith you put in God. It is whether you trust Him at all with your day-to-day concerns. To paraphrase Spurgeon, if He is not trustworthy for your daily bread, why in the world would you believe He can remove your sin debt and reckon you righteous? That would just be absurd, if you really think about it.

No matter the choices we make, no matter what impact the choices of others has upon our life, (or our choices have on the lives of others) on our livelihood, health, security, it is essential to keep in mind, none of the life of a child of God took the direction it did, without His permission. Don’t read right over that sentence without letting it sink in.

When our kids become teens, and learn to drive, if they are obedient, hopefully before they ever drive alone, Mom or Dad has deemed it reasonably safe for him to do so. Even knowing accidents happen, they are not sending that kid out there really solely responsible for the outcome. They, not the kid, have made provision in that they taught and tested him, maintained the integrity and safety of the car, bought auto insurance, liability, and even medical insurance.

In other words, that parent knows the scope and potential implications of risk, far better than the kid does, based on their knowledge of their kid, his nature as compliant versus inclined to test the boundries, etc.  That mom factored in the unknowable potential for other causes of accident and injury. Ideally the parent has prepared the teen and would not allow his solo drive if she was not persuaded he was ready.

God shares the responsibility for our choices to some extent. That does not mean we aren’t accountable, but He only requires that we do the best we can, with what knowledge and understanding we had,  to conduct ourselves by His prescribed guidelines. Where we knowingly defy or disregard those guidelines, the full responsibility is ours and we put ourselves outside the safe zone of His instruction.  He knows we are sheep, prone to act on emotion rather than facts, and besides that, He knew we would make those bad decisions. He has made provision to use even the bad stuff for our good.

So don’t let anyone get a dart of doubt into your heart to torment you. And pre-preemptively, keep a “clean house”, by routinely washing in the water of the Word, striving to obey, so you don’t hand the enemy “legal ground” (spiritually speaking) to torment you with accusations of guilt.Confess and keep rolling along. BELIEVE God’s promise that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins AND what? CLEANSE us anew from all unrighteousness.

Why did Jesus wash the disciples feet? Not just as a demonstration of serving and humility. In life, we believers are perfect in righteoousness as it pertains to our standing with our perfectly holy God. But as long as we walk still on this cursed planet, the contamination effects our hands and feet like germs. Germs don’t hurt you if they never get inside the body, absorbed through open cuts or mucous membranes. Don’t let the gunk of the secular build up on you. We can’t escape it entirely, but we can “wash” when dirty. It is for the sake if spiritual health while we are still in this world ( but no longer of it).

The helmet of salvation

Once saved, you no longer have an excuse of blindness. You have been given sight and light. So you need to walk circumspect, that is to say, aware. Aware of Satan’s devices, so familiar with the Word, you can easily discern error, and most of all, in full confidence that ” it is finished”. You are saved and sealed.

The Sword of the Spirit allows you to be and remain on the offensive. Because the warfare never pauses, and we don’t have to cede one inch to the enemy if we know how to wield that sword.

Think in terms of a doctor or pharmacist. Would you want either of those administering care if they are not trained in their practice? A pharnacist spends years learning what medicine treats which ailment. Likewise, we need to know what ” scripture remedy” to apply to whatever tactic the enemy throws at us.Jesus refuted every lie Satan used in his effort to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, by quoting the relevant scripture.

If you have done all these things, you will be able and ready to stand and remain in the fight. The devil wants to take you down, but you do have weapons and armor that prevent it, if you only train in the use of them, know what to apply in your specific struggle, and put that armor on.

Finally, there is one more admonition. That is to pray in the Spirit always (learn to ” pray on your feet” not just in the prayer closet) in real time the way a soldier maintains contact with his commander. This kind of prayer is prayer in the trenches, and looks nothing like the kind you may hear offered up for public consumption in most churches today. This is prayer that is real, gritty, grabs ahold to God for dear life, and means it. Have you ever prayed that way? It has to be cultivated. It is like learning to walk. Feels odd and awkward maybe at first, but should become second nature and lifelong habit.

We have seasons, sure. Dry seasons, weary seasons, discouraged seasons. In those, we tend do the very thing we can least afford to do. We grow lax in maintaining that open line. We speak to God less, and hear from Him less by neglecting the Word.

But we are now living in a place in the sweeping saga of mankind and Maker, when some really tough things are going to take place, things God has been warning about for Two millennia now. But mankind does not want to hear about it. I often say I am only a tiny cog in the mechanism made up of watchmen abd women. I have done my small part, sometimes with great zeal and other times just pressing forward, and the Bible itself says, a hope deferred makes a heart sick. Sometimes despite our best efforts, we lose our footing, and lose ground, but it ain’t over ’til the trumpet blows. It’s very close now. We aren’t done yet, but keep pressing on, weary one. There’s not much farther left. You can hold out. You will make it.  It will not be easy, but we are almost home. Can’t you hear creation groaning? Is not all of mankind crying out for peace and stability? The terrible, wonderful transition that ends the church age, is already in progress. Labor pangs are getting intense and frequent. Whatever your mission field, big or small, resolve to stand, and if you faltered, get back up. You have not been relieved of duty. Do it for the sake of your Lord who walked the Via de la Rosa, and went the whole distance on the cross.

 

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