Thursday, April 25, 2013

Where's Your FULL Armor?! (Part 2 of 2)

Fight a good fight, and finish the course strong!
We've gone through a few of the important things our King issues to us as a full armor for the battles we will wage in. We have so far established in the first post that the FULL ARMOR of GOD must be put on by those who profess allegiance to Christ Jesus, the King. 

Let's look at that list again, shall we?

11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Ephesians 6, KJV)

#4 - The shield of Faith

If there's one thing we don't want to be without in the battlefield, it is going to be our shield. 

The "Scutum" or "shield" in Latin, is the body shield that is carried by Roman soldiers. It is light enough to be held in one hand and its large height and width covered the entire wielder, making him very unlikely to get hit by missile fire and in hand-to-hand combat.

Whether the attack is from a distance or right in front of you, the soldier's ability to cover himself entirely with the shield helps greatly in his ability to win the fight.

The Word of God describes Satan's attacks as "fiery darts." They aren't only sharp, they're also on fire! This gives me the idea that inflicting PAIN is one of the enemy's main purpose. Whether it be physical, emotional or psychological pain, the devil's primary tactic is to inflict pain to a believer.

Have you ever been burned or scalded? Have you ever had a splinter stuck in your skin? What was it like? Irritatingly painful, right? It's that kind of pain that that the devil wants to inflict to us. It is the kind of pain that takes our minds off of more important things and keeps us focusing on the area that hurts. It makes us whine and cry, even! It is just something that hinders our ability to focus on the task at hand.

Can you see why we are given a shield of faith? Because Faith PREVENTS US from getting hurt, distracted and hindered by the devil. We will be able to move forward and conquer! We will be able to push forth against the attacks of the enemy. 

Why a shield of FAITH? Well, Scripture tells us this...

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith is an assurance of what we have in the promises of our King. It is the ultimate REALITY of the hope we have in Christ. This faith is the evidence of the things we do not see. It gives us the boldness to move forward KNOWING that our King has ultimately won the victory for us. It is our holding on to the promises that we have in our risen LORD! It is FULLY TRUSTING in the FINISHED WORK of the reigning King of kings!

The shield of faith prevents us from wallowing in the pains of life. That is why no matter what we are going through in our battles, when we raise up our shield of faith, we KNOW that everything will be alright because of the promises of our King who has ultimately won the victory!

Our situation may be bad, or we might be going through a whole lot of fiery trials at the moment, but raising up our shield of faith allows us to regain our posture, our strength, our stance in the battle because the shield absorbs the pressures that will come from the fiery darts of the enemy. And it helps to prevent us from feeling totally debilitated by pain. We CAN move forward! We CAN fight back! For we KNOW our King has ALREADY WON THE VICTORY. The end of the story has already been written. The end of the war has already been established. Our King REIGNS VICTORIOUS and we reign victorious together with Him! 

Got a LOT of fiery darts aimed at you today? RAISE UP YOUR SHIELD OF FAITH and KNOW that Christ has won the victory already!!!

#5 - The helmet of salvation

It doesn't take a scientist to know that a helmet is a head protective gear. No matter the shape, color and style, helmets protect the entire head from any kind of injury. I'm sure we all don't need a Nursing or Medical degree, either, to know that injuries to the head are almost always fatal. If not, one ends up either confused or in a coma!

I remember when I used to work at the trauma step-down unit of a hospital in East Texas. Most of our patients were trauma-related injuries and one of the most difficult to handle of all these are those with head injuries. They are the most unstable ones on the floor as they could be in a very confused state, or they could crash on you at any moment.

The head is a very important part of the body as it is where the brain is housed. And we all can agree that the brain is the central computer of our entire body! It is the pretty much the main switch for every automatic vital process going on in our bodies. Any disruption in the brain or central nervous system, could lead to the shutting down of the rest of the vital processes of the body.

That's the physical picture of it. But let us not forget that our heads are also responsible for the thinking process. Our minds function to allow for normal psychological and emotional responses to take place. You might be familiar with the phrase, "The mind is the battleground." That is somewhat true because our mind plays a vital role in our functioning as a whole individual. It is the seat of our knowledge and understanding and holding fast to what we have been taught.

Scripture tells us this in Romans 8:7...

"The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

We all have carnal minds. Our first birth has brought us into this life in the flesh. Jesus explained it to Nicodemus that that which is born of the flesh is flesh. The flesh is carnal, and thus our minds are initially carnal. Unfortunately for that, God's Word said that the carnal mind is enmity against God! 

Our carnal train of thoughts and understanding of life is against that of God's perfect will!  It refuses to be subject to the law of God, and it refuses to understand the ways of God because it just doesn't have the capacity to do so.

What is the end of being carnally-minded? Read Romans 8:6. The end of it is DEATH. If we are not saved, we will DIE not only physically, but also spiritually... eternally separated from God in hell in the end!

Isn't it amazing that our King issues us the very thing we need to protect us from the very thing that hinders our full allegiance to Him? We are issued the helmet of SALVATION! We have to have this helmet ON to renew our minds and subject our thoughts to the LORDSHIP of Christ Jesus! This is what Jesus told Nicodemus in John chapter 3... "YOU MUST be born again."

Only those who are SAVED from sin and death can fully pledge allegiance to the King. Only those who receive the issue of the helmet of SALVATION, can become a soldier of Christ. And this we ought to realize... as part of the full armor of God, this too is ISSUED TO US... given FREELY by Grace... for we are SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH alone. We do not work for it, we do not strive for it, we do not achieve salvation with our own effort. It is GIVEN to us by the King. 

The helmet of salvation then protects us from any driving thoughts that will lead us to rebel against God. It allows us to UNDERSTAND and ACCEPT WILLINGLY the battle commands of the sovereign King! It prevents our thoughts from going back to our carnal nature, but instead protects our minds in Christ Jesus.

This helmet of salvation allows us to do the following for the glory of our King...

"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Have you been born again? Do you have the helmet of salvation? The words of Jesus our King should ring out in our lives... REPENT! 

Turn away from your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus to save you. Trust FULLY in His FINISHED and COMPLETED work on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins and for bringing you into new life with Him.

#6 - The sword of the Spirit

The sword of the Spirit,
which is the Word of God
Aaaah, saving the BEST for last. What's a christian soldier doing in war without his or her sword, right?! This is the ONLY item that we can use for offensive moves! Our King didn't just give us ways to defend ourselves, but He's also given us a way to STRIKE BACK AT THE ENEMY!

The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. It is sharp, it penetrates through and through, and it kills the enemy!!! Hallelujah!

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

We have to understand properly that the sword of the Spirit is part of the FULL ARMOR OF GOD. Those who profess allegiance to King Jesus PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR! There is a problem if a professing soldier is all geared up for war but fails to pick up his or her sword! Imagine a soldier standing in the battlefield with the devil prowling around like a lion just waiting to strike and the soldier only has his shield, helmet, breastplate, belt and sandals! You can't spank that lion with your belt! You can't throw your shield at it, either, in order to defeat it! You probably can run as fast as you can with your sandals but the devil WILL eventually catch up to you when you're tired! 

The enemy doesn't go away! He is persistent and DETERMINED, most of all! We have got to KNOW HOW TO USE OUR SWORD TO STRIKE THE ENEMY DOWN! Now there's something important that we must ponder upon here. Many today believe that they need to have leaders to teach them the Truth in Scripture. That means, you are giving YOUR SWORD to others for them to use for you! If you think that you can't personally STUDY and master the use of your sword with your own hands then you do not belong to the army of God. 

His soldiers EACH carry their own swords and USE their own swords against the enemy! We are only deceiving ourselves into thinking we are part of the army of God if we gear up but do not take control of our swords.

The devil is cunning. He has devised a way to lie to so many by convincing them that the sword of the Spirit can only be used by those in authority or leadership in church. Unfortunately for many today, they take everything from their spiritual leaders hook, line and sinker and never bother to check if things were really so. Many are being deceived that they must not read the Word of God by themselves because it will just confuse them.

Well, a soldier in war who doesn't take up his own weapon to fight back against the enemy is a soldier who's dead. And no matter how much we convince ourselves that we belong to the army of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are nothing but a counterfeit without our FULL ARMOR which includes the use of the sword of the Spirit.

Beloved, are you standing face to face with the devil who is prowling like a lion? PICK UP YOUR SWORD AND STRIKE!!!

"16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The King issues the FULL ARMOR OF GOD to His soldiers. Do YOU have yours? Are you FULLY geared up for battle? Onward Christian soldier and march valiantly into war!!! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Where's Your FULL Armor?! (Part 1 of 2)

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil,
as a roaring lion, walketh about,
seeking whom he may devour:"
(1 Peter 5:8, KJV)
Every professing Christian would probably agree with me when I say that this Christian journey involves a constant, daily spiritual battle. The enemy, who's the devil, is said to prowl around like a lion seeking whom he may devour. 

Now, if indeed we believe that we wage war with a rather persistent, vicious predator of an enemy, we ought to also believe that we should NEVER be left out in the battlefield naked and vulnerable to his attacks, right? If we are indeed waging a spiritual war against the devil and his demons, we MUST be completely geared up for the battle!

I know that a king would always have his soldiers ARMOR UP properly for war and equip them for what they will face in the battlefield before sending them out to the fight. No kingdom will ever have soldiers and warriors who only know how to chant and march and not fight! 

The armor of God

Isn't it amazing that the King of kings also equip his people for the spiritual battles that they will wage in? The Lord God Almighty has not left his followers in the fight without anything to use. He has given the armor for which we SHOULD utilize in our spiritual battles. 

We all know what He gives for the war... we all know what we have as our armor. The Bible tells us this...

11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and 
the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Ephesians 6, KJV)

The person who professes faith in Christ but does not put on the full armor of God is nothing but an empty professor. He is one whose faith is dead. He is just a warrior-wannabe who stands confused and deceived in the ranks while stark naked. What will he do in the battlefield if he does not have his breastplate guarding his chest? And just imagine him fully clad with the armor but without his helmet protecting his head! Worst of all, imagine this so-called soldier going to battle all geared-up, except that he does not have his sword with him! What an embarrassment that would be to the king to which he professes loyalty to! And what great DANGER he is putting himself into by thinking he belongs to the King and yet does not bear the marks thereof! 

The Bible tells us we must take upon ourselves the WHOLE ARMOUR OF GOD... that is the FULL, COMPLETE GEAR that God made available for those who are His. The WHOLE ARMOUR must be present so that we may be ABLE (skilled, adept, competent, equipped) to stand against the devil!

#1 - Loins girt with TRUTH
We've got to get the big picture here! Why are we to "girt our loins" with Truth? Well, let's start by defining "LOINS." Which part of the body is this, anyway? Medically speaking, it is the part of the body that is situated on each side of the spinal column between the hip bone and the false ribs. It's basically what we call the lower back or the "lumbar region." 

Now, this region has a large and complex group of muscles that work together to support the spine, help hold the body upright and allow the trunk of the body to move, twist and bend in many directions.

Okay, if the loin is the region that keeps our body UPRIGHT, helps in our standing and lifting, as well as allows us to move, twist and bend in many directions (flexible in other words), then we can definitely see the spiritual aspect to this. Girding our loins with Truth allows us to be protected in order for ourselves to remain STANDING during the battle! We shall NOT easily fall under the attack of our enemy! We are stable in our stance against the devil because we what keeps us upright is the TRUTH.

TRUTH is what will hold us up and allow us to become agile in dealing with whatever the enemy brings against us during the battle. We can skillfully fight with the devil and remain upright and standing stable all throughout the fight! TRUTH will keep us from falling away... And where do we get our belt of Truth? We get the answer to that in John 17:17...

"God's WORD is TRUTH."

#2 - Breastplate of Righteousness

According to wikipedia, a breastplate is a device worn over the torso to protect it from injury. It was one of the last pieces of functional armour to be abandoned with the development of firearms, because it protected the vital organs without limiting mobility.

I strongly believe that the deadliest hit we can receive on the torso is that which will sever the heart! Though all of the organs in our torso are vital, there probably wouldn't be any quicker death than to receive a direct blow to the body's central blood-pumping organ.

Many passages in the Bible describe the human heart as desperately wicked and deceitful of all things! Jesus also said that out of it spring evil thoughts and wickedness that defile a person. We all have an inherently wicked and unrighteous heart! And this wickedness and love of sin is the deadliest of all in the spiritual sense! 

Death has entered all of us because of one man's sins (Romans 5:12), and since we ALL have sinned against God (Romans 3:23), Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of our sin is death! The heart is not something we must take lightly and for granted because it is desperately wicked. The enemy can easily attack it with a deadly blow, rendering it hardened or deceived which leaves a person dead spiritually! 

That is why we need to PUT ON the breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS. It is the only thing that can SAVE us from the deadly result of sin in our hearts! But wait, the Bible said it's the breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS! We have to understand that this is ONLY available THROUGH the Grace GIVEN TO US by our King. We cannot be righteous because NO-ONE is righteous, no not one according to God's Word! This is why we have to PUT ON this breastplate of righteousness and trust in its FULL & COMPLETE capacity to save us from death. What exactly is this breastplate of Righteousness? Well, Romans 13:14 makes it clear for us...

"But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ
and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."

It is the righteousness OF CHRIST that we must put on in order to protect us from the deadly blow brought about by a corrupted heart. We do not have any righteousness of our own, therefore we must RELY ON THE FULLNESS OF JESUS CHRIST's RIGHTEOUSNESS to save us from the wages of sin which is death! We must only TRUST FULLY in what CHRIST JESUS has done, completed and finished on Calvary in order to be saved from death and sin.

#3 - Feet shod with the preparation of the GOSPEL OF PEACE

The caligae are heavy-soled hob-nailed military boots known for being issued to Roman legionary soldiers and auxiliaries throughout the Roman Republic and Empire. Worn by all ranks up to and including centurions, no other shoes in history are as symbolic of the expansion of an empire as the famed caligae. These military boots were designed so as to reduce the likelihood of blisters forming during forced marches, as well as other disabling foot conditions.

It isn't difficult for all of us to understand that footwear is very important in protecting our feet. An injury to our feet can be debilitating, and it could leave us unable to move forward, unable to fight well, and even unable to run from danger. Our footwear allows us to march forward in battle and helps us "expand" the work of the kingdom of our King!

The gospel of peace is a sure fit for our feet. It not only protect us from getting debilitated in the battles we wage in, but it also allows us to march on to expand the cause of our King. 

Have you noticed that one of the biggest tactic of the devil, our enemy, is DISCOURAGEMENT? And what happens when we are stricken with it? We become debilitated and unable to continue with any work that God has called us to do. 

The gospel of PEACE is the very thing that keeps us MOVING FORWARD. It is our stabilizer next to our belt of Truth. It is the message of HOPE that allows us to keep going no matter what is going on around us in our battles. It is the message of HOPE that gives us the peace that surpasses understanding! And it is the very same message we use to CONQUER, even those who are enemies of God, and reach them with the message of Hope that can turn them into a friend of God!

A true soldier of the LORD marches on in battle with the gospel message to reach the lost. No true soldier goes into battle barefooted. No true follower of Christ remains silent in his profession of faith. With feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of Peace, he MOVES FORWARD, reaching far and wide for the sake of the glory of THE KING! No part of the full armor of God is too small, as even His Word tells us this in Romans 10:15...

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace
and bring glad tidings of good things! 

So, are you armored up yet? :) We'll look into the rest of the things we need to have ON for the battle in the second part of this series. See you then in the next post!


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