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Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Warfare’

And take the helmet of salvation. Ephesians 6:17a

Salvation changes our head–it changes the way we think.

When we consider salvation, we know that a person has to be born again. (See John 3:3) With that, the Bible teaches that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18. We also know that as we live a life with God here on earth, we are renewed in our mind. (See Romans 12:2) Our minds do not stay the same.

Perhaps a helpful picture of the helmet in use is found in 2 Corinthians 10:5 where we read, “for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” It is in disciplining our thoughts that we realize the work of the helmet of salvation.

It is our salvation, our relationship with God through Messiah, made possible by the blood shed on the cross, the empty tomb, and the Spirit poured out on the believing heart that enables us to discipline our thoughts, to take our thoughts captive and to make them obey Christ. God keeps us, but we need participate in guarding our thoughts and hearts–our minds.

The helmet of our salvation protects our thoughts–it gives us a new way of viewing the world, our situation, our future. The helmet protects our mind–it allows us to put aside anxiety, worry, grief, and any manner of thought patterns that might entrap us and rob us of the peace we were promised.

 

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Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16

“Lift up”reminds us that it is a choice to pick up the armor. We must daily choose to believe the God is who He says He is, has done what He said and will do what He promised to do.

Where does this faith come from? Are we responsible to summoning it up? The Bible teaches that faith comes by hearing and hearing from the Word of God. It is the systematic, verse-by-verse study of the Bible that builds and increases faith.

Within the verse we are given information about our enemy, namely that he wants to turn up the heat. He will be attacking us with flaming arrow intended to catch fire and burn us.

Before a battle, the Roman soldiers would soak their shields in water to reduce the risk of fire when the enemy soldiers shot at them with flaming arrows soaked with pitch or other flammable material. Not unlike those solider, our enemy wants to consume our faith with the fire of destruction and leave us without protection. But we can soak our shields in the water of the Word of God and make it much less likely that we will catch fire when the enemy shoots us with his arrows.

Faith in God is like a shield. It protects our vital organs, keeping us alive that we might stand until the end of the battle.

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having [c]strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news] Ephesians 6:15

The premise of Ephesians 6:15 is very similar to that of Psalm 119:11 which says, “Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart, that I may not sin against You.”

It is our daily, consistent, verse-by-verse study of the Word of God which is analogous to strapping the “gospel of peace” on our feet in preparation to meet the enemy with firm-footed stability and readiness.

We strap the gospel on our shoes not unlike the golfer attaches the spikes to his golf shoes–to improve traction. With each scripture a believer studies, meditates on, discusses with others and thereby stores in his heart, he improves traction and is better able to stand in the battle. Our time in the Word of God daily, gives us confidence and amounts to us strapping on the gospel of peace to our shoes. God’s commands, statutes and promises give us that firm-footed stability Paul had in mind. It makes us more likely to be standing at the end of the battle.

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having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart) Ephesians 6:14b

Paul encourages us to “put on” righteousness–right standing with God. Right standing with God requires that we be without sin. This is not possible for us without Christ. Paul is not advocating a works-based righteousness. He is not saying to “do” right things. He is speaking of the imputed righteousness that comes from Jesus Christ. We must believe that Christ was the Son of God, that He was without sin. He died a sacrificial death for all who would believe, acknowledging their sin and their need for the atoning sacrifice of His blood.

[God] made Christ who knew no sin to [judicially] be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God [that is, we would be made acceptable to Him and placed in a right relationship with Him by His gracious lovingkindness].2 Corinthians 5:21

Our righteousness comes from Christ–it is His righteousness that God sees when He looks at us. When we visualize the breastplate of righteousness as a piece of the spiritual armor, we are covering ourselves in the righteousness of Christ. We are standing with an upright heart–a heart that seeks to be in right-standing with God–a heart that knows it could never be “right” with God without the imputed righteousness of Christ covering him or her.

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So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist. Ephesians 6:14a

We are to stand firm, hold our ground. We are to tighten the band (belt) of truth. The truth Paul is referring to here is absolute truth. Be honest with yourself. Be honest before God. Be honest before others. This type of truth is reflected in personal integrity and moral courage.

Personal integrity speaks of wholeness–soundness on the inside. Are you sound on the inside or are you merely a shell of righteousness on the outside with no real substance underneath? You are not fooling God with this facade you have built for yourself. He sees you. He sees the real you. He sees the empty shell of you.

Paul is reminding us to be sound. Fill yourself with the truth of God–His word, His statutes, His righteousness. Allow the Spirit of God to give you integrity, soundness that you might be a person whose words and actions are consistent, that you might be a person characterized by moral courage–bravery in your inner parts.

Moral courage is facing the truth about yourself and allowing God to come in and make the necessary changes. Moral courage makes the hard decisions of life and follows God. Moral courage is obedience in the tough spots, in the times when only God is watching and only God will know that you have lied or deceived or cut a corner or cheated.

Moral courage characterizes the man or woman of God. Moral courage says that I will not allow others to think more of me than God already knows of me. Truth. Not personal truth that shifts like the sands of the desert in the wind storm, but absolute truth–the truth of the One who created all things and knows all things and is in all things. Absolute Truth.

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Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. Ephesians 6:13

The purpose of the armor is to resist, to withstand the action. To resist means to exert force in opposition, to push back. To resist is not to remain static–it involves action. The force we bring as believers–the only force that could possibly compete with these supernatural forces of wickedness–is the power of God that indwells us (the same power that raised Jesus Christ from dead)–other-realm power.

God has given us the armor to allow us to stand our ground. God has given each of us a hill to hold–the hill of my life–your life–your faith, your family, your sphere of influence. God wants us to do “everything that the crisis demands.” Again, this is not static–it’s a call for action–for meekness–power under control.

As a child of God, you need to stand firm in your place. This means that you do not need to fight others’ battles. You just need to stay and maintain the hill God assigned you–not the one you assigned yourself. (See Ephesians 2:10)

The “evil day of danger” is not a possibility–it is a reality. You will have trouble. Jesus told us that in this world we will have tribulation. This, then, is a call to be ready.

Be immovable. So that you can’t be distracted, can’t be deceived, can’t be led astray, can’t be duped, can’t be worn down by trial, and can’t be pushed over. Because you will give an account to God for your actions–or lack thereof. (See Romans 14:12)

How is this possible? God will keep us. But even the saved can be pulled off mission. We need to be ready, prepared. James teaches us that faith without works is dead. (See James 2:14-26).  Put on the armor.

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Our enemy

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. Ephesians 6:12

This is a good reminder. Our enemy is not flesh and blood. If you are being oppressed, harassed, annoyed, frustrated, deceived, or hurt by someone made of flesh and blood–that is not your enemy. Your enemy is the one who seeks to usurp the position, power, and glory of God. Your enemy is the one who wishes to be worshiped as a god, but he is no god.

Rulers of this present darkness may be a person, like a king or a queen who has official power over a country or area. It might also be a crime boss, a cartel leader, or another who has power and authority over a group of people here on earth.

World forces included armies, legions and soldiers. These may be the armies of recognized countries or coalitions, but they may also be rebel armies, armies of soldiers aimed at killing people ruthlessly.

Spiritual forces of wickedness in supernatural places are found both in this realm (the natural) and the other realm (the supernatural). Supernatural refers to a manifestation or event that is attributed to a force or power beyond scientific understanding or measure. Something beyond the laws of nature, beyond the visible and observable universe. Such a force or phenomenon cannot be explained by the laws of nature.

These supernatural forces are beyond our comprehension in the our natural state. But we can understand certain truths about the supernatural realm:

  • First of all, all beings, natural and supernatural, were created. They are all lower and less powerful than their Creator.
  • Second, that there are only two categories of supernatural forces: those which are with God, fighting and battling for the Kingdom of God; and those which oppose God, and are battling against God and His heavenly armies.

Since we can only experience things that can be seen, heard, or touched, for the battle against supernatural forces, we must rely wholly upon God. He must alert us to their presence. He must educate us as to their strategies. He must provide the power to defeat them. This is why the indwelling Spirit of God is so essential in the life of the believer. The Spirit of God within us is the source of the power to stand, doing all to stand until the end of the battle.

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