Posts Tagged armor

Partnership Power

1 Corinthians 15: 57

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today’s verse concludes our series on the armor of God and the necessarily attendant victory in Christ. This verse speaks so loudly and is at the very crux of standing in victory when it feels like all of hell is against you. This, of course, was written by the same person who taught us about the armor, the Apostle Paul. I bring this to your attention because I want it fit in an overall paradigm for you.

All that we do, must be done in and with the Lord Jesus. There is a balance that is a bit difficult to grasp about our role and his. Our Father designed a partnership model. You see it displayed in this verse. God gives us the victory. That’s what it says, right? There is more though. He gives us our victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Our victory comes in this partnership. There are many Biblical examples of this model but my favorite is still Moses, God and the Red Sea.

You know the story; the children of Israel were in a difficult position. They had left Egypt in route to the Promised Land. However, the Egyptians pursued them and the Israelites were backed up against the Red Sea, seemingly with nowhere to go other than into the grasp of the Egyptians. In Exodus 14, verse 15 the Lord, said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.” Can you imagine your reply to God? I can imagine mine. It would probably sound something like, “I am crying out to you because the Egyptians are almost upon us and they will certainly slaughter us when they catch us. You’ve got to do something God! How shall I tell the people to go forward. There is a sea before us. Do you suppose we can walk on water. Father, if you don’t do something and do it now, we are all going to die. Is that what you want? Is this why you told me to lead them out of captivity.” Fortunately for the entire nation of Israel, Moses was in a better place to listen to the leading of the Lord. In verse 16 we find God’s instructions to Moses, “And as for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.”

As you know, Israel did go through on dry land. Therefore, you know that Moses did as he was instructed. He exercised faith and trust and the result is as it must always be when we follow God in faith and trust. The question I often pose to people is, “So, who parted the sea?” What is your answer? Was it Moses or God? Maybe you chose, “All of the above.” If so, I think you are right and the miracle would not have occurred without the cooperation of God and man.

You, like the Israelites, may be in a position of difficulty. Perhaps you have cried out to God. Have you listened for his response? He may be saying to you as He did Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me?” God has already given us the victory, especially in this post-resurrection age in which we live. Jesus has already won every battle we will ever face but we must do our part. What do you suppose would have happened if Moses had said to Himself, “Oh, God is on the throne. What will be, will be,” or, “God is our deliverer. We will sit here and watch our deliverance” but never raised his staff? What would have happened if Moses did not do his part?

I tell you, “Look around.” You see Christians who are overcoming challenges and enjoying the favor of God. I suspect, though, you see many Christians who are being overrun by the enemy. This is often the case and it grieves my heart to no end. These beloved saints are no less loved by God. They have, perhaps, chosen to believe some lies the devil has proliferated throughout our societies. Others may have never heard the truth. Our job is to stand firm and then help someone else to win their battles. That is why is it important for you to realize we have a real enemy out there but learn how every victory is yours in Christ Jesus. Jesus is not the one wielding the sword. He has given the sword to you. Please let that revelation sink in. I wish we could sit in a rocker on our porch and have success laid at our feet, but that is not how this works. He gave us armor and a sword for a reason. Further, he knew we would need these items. Jesus told us we would have trouble in this world (John 16: 33) but in the same breath he said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

It all comes together right there. Sure there is trouble, be not unaware. However, in Christ is the victory so be at peace in your heart. Do not succumb to despair but neither surrender to apathy. There is something for you to do. God has given the victory into our hands but like Moses, we must lift our hand. I don’t think this need be frightening. The prospect of parting the Red Sea may be overwhelming but at the end of the day, all Moses really did was to lift his staff. You can do that too. Just seek God and follow his advice. You will have to lift your hand, yes, but I can promise that He will do the heavy lifting.

Armored Prayer

Ephesians 6: 18

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.

This week and last we looked at the armor of God as listed in Ephesians 6: 10 – 17. I thought you might be curious to know that upon concluding his list of the armor the very next words Paul wrote were encouragement for us to pray at all times. Could it be that the two thoughts are connected? I believe they are.

First, we are instructed to put on the armor of God, but having donned the armor Paul teaches us to enter into prayer as if the two are related. If you are in spiritual warfare, prayer is probably well advised. Paul says to pray at all times IN the Spirit. What does that mean to you? There would seem to be an insinuation that we connect with the Holy Spirit in this prayer. This prescribed prayer is not a barrage of words from our minds leveled at the gates of heaven. No, there is something entirely different going on here. Remember that Paul’s letter was advice as to how to stand firm against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6: 11). Paul is continuing to teach how to overcome the devil’s attacks. So, when the devil attempts to bring trouble into our lives, we are advised to first put on the armor of God and then secondly, to open up the prayer chest and begin to pour out Holy Spirit inspired prayers.

When we pray with the Spirit, he gives direction to our prayers. This becomes much more than only praying our thoughts. We connect with God, since the Holy Spirit is part of the triune God head. Hence we pray to God through God. As we allow the Spirit to guide our prayers, we pray exactly what God knows we need to pray. The Spirit gives voice to our prayers so that we pray as we should. Isn’t that exciting?

Paul doesn’t even stop there, though. “While you are praying,” he says, “be on the alert.” Isn’t that what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5: 8, “Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour” (NOG). Paul doesn’t end this thought there though. He goes on to entreat us to pray with perseverance for all the saints. You see, the person whom the devil finds who can be devoured probably isn’t you because you have on your armor and are standing firm. Therefore, prayers should be made for all the saints. Satan is on the hunt for some unsuspecting, vulnerable person who he can take advantage of. We have the power and the authority to pray for all those who may be vulnerable to attack.

This is so typical of how God sees the world. First, He meets our needs. Then, with our new found truth and growth, He employs us to help others. As those people learn and mature in spiritual matters, they reach yet more people. When we all do our little part, the multiplication process can, quite literally, reach around the globe. So, it begins with our realizing truth in our own battles against the powers and principalities of this world. As we increasingly attire ourselves in Jesus’ victory, we stand firm in his word praying for others. That is the paradigm, get free and then help someone else to get free. The Holy Spirit is here to guide our steps and our prayers. Let’s put on our armor and get down to business.

Sword

Ephesians 6: 17b

Take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Paul concludes his inventory of the armor of God with a sword, but not any old sword. This sword is the sword of the Holy Spirit. Paul reveals that the weapon of the Spirit is actually the Word of God. So here we are again, back to the Word. The Word is the only matter which is the source of multiple pieces of armor. This bespeaks of its importance. The Word of God is fundamental to our success in standing firm, warfare, and life. The consequence of time in the Word cannot be overrated or overstated and this one revelation has enormous potential to impact our lives. Eventually, we must all embrace the Word as meaningful to our everyday existence.

Why would Paul include a sword in a discussion about armor? The sword is an interesting piece of equipment. It is both defensive and offensive. With the sword, you can parry the attack of a foe. How does that look spiritually? Well, let’s watch Jesus fight with his sword. In the book of Matthew we see the temptation of Jesus. “And the tempter came and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4: 3 – 4). Jesus responded to the devil’s trickery with the Word of God. The Word will always protect you. Jesus countered every move of Satan with his sword, the Word of God. It works the same way with us. When those thoughts come, the ones that have kept you bound for years, you can counter them by brandishing your sword. When the devil persecutes you with the mistakes of your past, you can remind him that you are the righteousness of God. For every problem, every situation there is a parry provided to you in the Word. Even a rookie warrior knows he needs to spend some time practicing with his sword. You and I are no different. When the enemy attacks, it is too late to learn how to handle your sword. Proficiency with the sword is accomplished with time so begin practicing now.

And there you have it, the armor of God. With this armor you can stand firm against all the attacks of the enemy. Jesus has forged this very effective armor for you but it is you who must put it on and wear it. You must learn to stand up to the enemy. He has no weapon which is effective against your armor (Isaiah 54: 17). No matter what challenge is assailing you right now, Father has a defense against it. He has provided everything we need and we are growing into this armor every day. May your victory be complete in the name of Jesus.

Covered

Ephesians 6: 17

Take the helmet of salvation.

Paul wrote this passage under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is no accident that he made salvation a helmet; no accident that salvation is at the head. I imagine this salvation, which is at the top of the armor as well as the upper most part of us, as a covering. Though I see a helmet in my mind’s eye, I also understand that the covering flows down from the helmet of salvation to cover our entire bodies, right down to our shoes. The helmet is more than a hat. It is a complete covering. It caps off the armor and it is appropriate that it would be saved to the last for that reason.

Let us look at the simple ideas here. If a soldier determines to eliminate an enemy, he is likely to target either the heart or the head. The heart is protected by the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus which we wear as a breastplate. Our brain is the one vital organ which is not covered by righteousness. It is contained in the cranium and protected by salvation. That is an interesting construction.

What is salvation? Most of us think as salvation as our rescue from a hell sentence, a condemnation to eternity in the lost realms of Hades. That is good stuff, important awareness. However, it only just begins to embrace the idea of salvation as Jesus knows it. When Jesus speaks of salvation he refers to saving grace in every aspect of life. Salvation embraces the fullness of life. This fullness of salvation is what protects our brains. In other words, salvation in your family relationships, salvation in your finances, salvation in your physical self, saved in your occupational life, and in every single aspect of life is what Jesus has capped us with.

Salvation means the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc., the state of being saved or protected from harm, risk, etc. The helmet is protecting us from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc. Jesus said the devil comes to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10: 10). We are also told that he is a devourer (1 Peter 5: 8). So, the helmet of salvation protects our minds, our thought process from that which would destroy us. If the enemy can get to our minds, he can destroy our lives. Jesus has provided though. All we have to do is to put on salvation like a helmet. We have to put on the complete helmet though. Don’t leave off the salvation in your finances leaving part of your head exposed. As we embrace the fullness of Jesus’ definition of salvation, our heads, brains and thoughts will be protected in each of those areas and salvation will be the helmet or our lives. It will protect and guard us. Salvation will cover us from the top down.

Shielded

Ephesians 6: 16

Taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

I like that Paul does not mince words about “the evil one.” He does not pretend or camouflage that there is a real enemy out there. At the same time, he shows no fear and his confidence seems absolute in these pieces of armor. I believe he was assured that this armor would protect him, as well as each one of us, against “all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” I love that and it inspires me. Maybe, just maybe, we need not be afraid either.

Yesterday’s devotional had an image of a Roman soldier. The soldier is shown holding a shield. That picture helps me to envision my shield extinguishing flaming arrows. I imagine the arrows dissolving into a vapor as they strike the shield, like water extinguishes fire.

There is a lot of vivid imagery of shields in the Bible. The NASB has seventy-four verses about a shield. The first one is good and quite illustrative. It is Genesis 15: 1 and it reads, “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you.’” We have seen Jesus’ many roles in our armor. Now Yahweh represents Himself as part of our defensive accoutrements. Are you not astounded by this? I want to quote scripture upon scripture for you but you can run a search yourself so just one more; 2 Samuel 22: 3, “My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence.

You know how a shield works. You’ve seen enough movies with warriors brandishing their shields both defensively and offensively. Now overlay all those images with the reality that God, He who is called The Almighty, is your shield. How does it get any better than that?

Put on your shield, put on your God as a shield about you and with it, block and defeat every missile of the evil one. You are able to extinguish every dart, every flaming arrow. Stand firm and strong!

Shod

Ephesians 6: 15

Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.

What a funny word, “shod”. Of course it means having put on shoes. Shoes are part of the armor of God, part of what protects us as we stand firm against the enemy. This piece of armor, though, seems to be the most misunderstood of all. Let’s see if we can unravel the meaning in this verse and gain a functional revelation.

The key question, I have found, is, “How do I put on the armor?” Today’s verse actually reveals the answer. We shoe our feet by preparing ourselves in the gospel. Do you see that? The shoes are not shoes of peace. They are armored shoes but the way you obtain and wear them is by preparing yourself through time and attention given to the Word of God.

Shoes may seem rather mundane but think of it this way. Our feet are the one place where we come in contact with the world. We need insulation from the world and its ways. We need a barrier between us and worldly influences. Our shoes provide that protective barrier. Also, if one is to “stand” firm then not only are our feet the point of contact but they are also our foundation. Feet are required for standing so the feet are a focal point.

So far we have considered our belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. We discovered that Jesus is the truth, and that he is our righteousness. So, what do you think about the gospel? John 1: 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Are you seeing a recurring theme here? Jesus is our victory. He has prepared our armor so that we can stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Our part is to put on Jesus. In the case of our shoes, it is done by spending time in the Word. This isn’t a magic pill. The truth is that the Word just arms you for battle. It prepares you to stand. Your confidence is found in the Word.

Why, though, do you think Paul called it the gospel of peace? Several reasons really but the main one for this application is that peace is what we are desirous of. We do not put on the armor of God because we like to fight or want to fight. We are not aggressors. We don the armor of God because we want peace. Jesus has provided the means by which we can live in peace. It begins with truth wrapped around us like a belt, followed by a layer of protection over our hearts called righteousness or being right with God. Then we put on shoes or protection from the ills the world would invade our lives with by spending time with Jesus in his capacity as the Word. Your preparation in the gospel of peace will ground you. It will give you good, solid footing. You will not stumble when you have prepared yourself in the gospel. Invest your heart and some time in the Word. It will stand you in good stead.

Belted

Ephesians 6: 14

Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth.

The first piece of armor God has given us is truth. It is worn like a belt, around your middle. It circumnavigates your whole body and connects the lower and the upper half. Truth is the beginning point. Without tying yourself to the truth, all else will be meaningless. In order to stand firm, the first thing we need is THE truth, and dedication to the truth.

Jesus told us that he is the truth (John 14: 6) and the beginning and the end (Revelation 21: 6). He is continuity. Like a belt or sash wrapped around you, the beginning and the end, come together. They complete one another. There is no loose end because the end is connected to the beginning. The truth is the ongoing support of all else. Jesus was in the beginning with God. Truth, therefore, is the beginning point but it is the ending point as well and everything that is or ever will be must, necessarily, be contained within this circle of beginning and ending and back to the beginning again. Wherever Jesus is, there is truth and we are wrapped with it.

In the case of armor, the belt or sash secures clothing and armament. It is the piece from which many other items of clothing and weaponry depend. Knives and swords are suspended from the belt. In life, it is truth which sets us free. Really, it is knowing the truth, the real truth, not our imagined or perceived truths which is freeing. So, freedom is secured by truth. In an interesting contrast, the more wrapped up we are in the truth, the more free we are. Other garments may be worn loosely but the belt is meant to be snugged securely about us.

When we begin with truth, not only have we begun with Jesus but we actually form the basis by which the rest of our armor, and hence our lives, will depend. The belt of truth is prime importance. There is no possibility in making truth too high a priority. When you hear the word truth, there should be at least two resonant ideas. First is that Jesus is the truth. That should be loud in your mind and spirit. Second, there is the ordinary use of the word truth, as in not false nor even misleading. We should endeavor to live in and speak truth as absolutely as we may. Lying on taxes is not acceptable because it is untruth. Misleading business associates is not living in truth. Do you know that if we are to live in the fullness of victory Jesus has prepared for us, and our battle array to shine and be effective, we cannot even lie to our kids, even when it is uncomfortable? We are going to have to learn new ways to respond to people such that we do not compromise our firm stance. You cannot usher in truth, which is overcoming power and freedom, and at the same time utter untruths. There is a decision to be made here and this is the point of beginning. Will you gird yourself, first and foremost, with truth?

The reality, as we begin this study, is that untruth leaves you exposed. None of us desires to begin with our pants down. So pull up your pants. Cinch your belt of truth and prepare yourself for victory.