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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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[S]o that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. Ephesians 6:11b

We’re told in Ephesians 6:11a to “put on the full armor of God,” and now in Ephesians 6:11b, we’re given the reason–that we might be ale to stand successfully. To understand Paul’s meaning we must consider that in this passage, Paul is speaking of the armor that a Roman soldier would wear into battle. When he tells us to stand, his meaning is that we might be still standing at the end of the battle.

What is it that would oppose us? What would cause us not to stand? Paul tells us that there are schemes, strategies and deceits of the devil all of which will threaten and undermine our ability to stay standing.

A scheme is a secret, dishonest plan or underhanded plot. The schemes of the devil involve discrediting God through discrediting the work on the cross, the transforming power of the blood and the sanctifying power of the indwelling Spirit. The devil has a scheme. We don’t know exactly what he will do next, but it will be underhanded. He will not fight fair.

A strategy is a master plan; a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. A strategy is the art of war, military tactics, a plan for a military operation and movement during a war or battle. Why would we be at risk when the battle has already been won? In the spiritual battle we are not taking ground, but rather we are holding ground–standing not advancing. The strategy of the devil is to steal, kill and destroy by taking with him as many as he can–keeping them from the abundant life here and eternal life with God.

A deceit is a trick; the action or practice of deceiving someone by concealing or misrepresenting the truth. A deceit is the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid; an attempt or device to deceive. The devil will try to substitute the false for the truth. He will shave the truth, bend the truth, distort the truth, but he will never tell the truth. Therefore, that is how this battle must be fought–with the truth–the Word of God. Against that, the devil will never prevail.

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Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier]  Ephesians 6:11a

Sometimes passages of scripture like Ephesians 6 can become so familiar that we don’t take the time to dissect them and extract the precious promises of God.
The phrase “Put on” speaks of choice, of action, of intentionality. I must choose to follow this command. I must obey. As with much of the teaching of scripture, obedience is key to closer, more intimate relationship with God.

The “armor of God” is a way to remember the truths that already bedeck or outfit the believer. They are truths that flow from being born again and from the sanctifying work of God in the life of every believer. By “putting them on,” we are mentally assenting to their existence and operation in our lives.

The armor is His precepts–they bedazzle us. They word “precept” has at its root “to warn” or “instruct.” A precept is general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought. In other words, His instructions and warnings to us, found in the holy scriptures, are the armor. They are intended to modify our behavior and/or our thoughts in such a way as to protect us, gird us, and equip us for the spiritual battle we face every moment that we are in this world.

As you think about the battle that you have been thrust into, trust in the Word of God, which has been given to you. His precepts are intended to be like the “splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier,” awe-inspiring and sending a message to all who would advance against us, that we are not coming unprepared into the battle.

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Be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. Ephesians 6:10 (Amplified)

In the battle (spiritual warfare), we need to draw our strength from Adonai. How does that occur?
▸ through the indwelling of the Spirit of God
▸ through the study, application and mediation on the word of God

The power is never ours; rather it is His power. We are merely tapping into it. In other words, it is His strength–not our strength–that allows us to stand in the day of battle, so we must first appropriate that strength in order to be able to stand.

What is the power promised?
The nature and extent of the power available to me is boundless–it has no boundary, no end either in time or in space or outside of time and space. It is the power that only a limitless, almighty, un-created God can give.

It is the power of Elohim, the Creator God, who spoke creation into existence from nothing.

It is the power over nature, which opened up the Red Sea for a million plus Israelites to walk through and pushed back the Jordan River during the flood season, so the Israelites could march into the promised land on dry ground. The power that healed the man by the pool of Bethesda, that healed the man with the withered hand, that healed the paralytic lowered through the roof by his friends, that healed the woman with the issue of blood, that restored sight to the blind, and healed the lepers.

It is Resurrection power, the power that raised Jesus from the dead, forever releasing us from the power of death.

It is salvation power, the power to take and sinner and make her into a saint.

It is sanctifying power, the power to transform a life, to make a Paul from a Saul and sane man from a demoniac.

Once we consider the power available, it is easy to see how the battle can be won even against even the strongest and most battle-savvy enemies.

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