Friday, March 6, 2015

Arm Yourself for Battle!

As Christians, we're always in a battle against the devil and his minions. They're constantly trying to hinder us from receiving our blessings from our Father and keeping us away from His loving arms, mercy and grace. As the verse in Ephesians says, we're not fighting against flesh and blood, but against these spiritual beings. But, God has given us a way to defend ourselves (Ephesians 11-18). Just like soldiers preparing for battle, so must we.

Verse 11 says, "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil." (ESV)

What are these pieces of armor?

First, it says to gird or fasten on the belt of truth. What is the belt of truth? According to MacArthur in the MacArthur study Bible, "Girding up was a matter of pulling in the loose ends as preparation for battle. The belt that pulls all the spiritual loose ends in is 'truth' or better, 'truthfulness.' The idea is of sincere commitment to fight and win without hypocrisy - self-discipline in devotion to victory. Everything that hinders is tucked away."

I particularly like the bit about "everything that hinders is tucked away." This means that when we fasten on the belt of truth, we're tucking away everything that isn't true, and we're putting on everything that is true. Truth will protect you from the lies of the devil. And God isn't a liar. He only deals in the truth.

Next, we're to put on the breastplate of righteousness. Righteousness is "in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God." It is "the way in which man may attain a state approved of God," and it's defined as "integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting." (Strong Dictionary)

In order to stop the schemes of the devil, we don't only have to put on all that is true, we have to put on all that is right in the eyes of God. This means that we need to live a life pleasing to God, one that is as close to pure as we can. We can't live in sin and expect the devil to leave us alone. We need to ask for forgiveness of our sins and turn away from them.

But, this is a breastplate. It's something that protects our heart, the place where God dwells within us. It's one of the more vital pieces of armor, of protection. Righteousness is brought about by God, so when we live with God, in a way that is acceptable to God, we're protecting our hearts from getting caught in the schemes of the devil.

Next, we have to shod, or "bind on" (Strong Dictionary), our feet with the "preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace." (Ephesians 6:15 AMP) 

This means that we're going to have to stay in the Word. If we're going to be filled with the "good news of the Gospel of peace," we're going to have to stay in that good news. 

I love what MacArthur had to say, "The gospel of peace pertains to the good news that, through Christ, believers are at peace with God and He is on their side. It is that confidence of divine support which allows the believer to stand firm, knowing that since he is at peace with God, God is his strength."

Did you notice that it said God is our strength? How often do we forget that God is indeed our strength. We pretend that we have to do this alone. That we have to battle whatever comes our way without God, but that isn't the case. We're filled with the gospel of peace, which is God's peace because this is God's Word and God IS the Word. (John 1:1)

And now, "above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." (Ephesians 6:16 NKJV)  

We're still putting on our armor, on the defense, because the devil is always on the offensive. He's always looking for a way to fight us, and believe me, he knows which fiery darts to throw and when to throw them. He knows what will tempt us the most, and he knows what will hurt us the most. So it's imperative that we have this shield of faith to protect us, but faith in what? Faith in God. MacArthur says, "The believer's continual trust in God's word and promise is 'above all' absolutely necessary to protect him from temptations to every sort of sin."

We must believe in God's Word and promises if we're going to stand a chance against the devil!

Our last piece of defense is the helmet of salvation. One of the biggest things that the devil will come against us with is making us doubt that God has saved us from our sins, that He's forgiven us. MacArthur says, "Satan seeks to destroy a believer's assurance of salvation with his weapons of doubt and discouragement.... Satan wants to curse the believer with doubts...." His best game is, unfortunately, mind games. 

See, the helmet is a metaphor for "the protection of the soul which consists in (the hope of) salvation." (Strong Dictionary) And if we are to fight the mind games of the devil, we have to be one hundred percent certain that we have this salvation of God. If God has forgiven you, you're saved. God has made you "white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18), and He has removed your sins as far as the east is to the west. (Psalm 103:12). How far is the east to the west? You can't measure that, so He's literally removed them, never to be seen or heard of again. He's not worried about them once you ask for forgiveness. It's you who has to learn to let it go. If you can't let go of your shame and guilt, then the devil has ammunition against you. He will certainly use this ammunition, so you must always be prepared. This is why it's so important to put on this helmet. 

And finally, we have our offense, the one thing that we can use to fight the devil, the sword of the Spirit. What is the sword of the Spirit? It is "the truth of Scripture" according to MacArthur. And what is the truth of the Scripture? It's God. God IS the scripture as we've already talked about. We have God. We have the most important piece of offense against the enemy. We have something he doesn't have. We have God. God is our fighter, and guess what, when Jesus was nailed to that cross, He won the battles for us. We already have victory in these situations! We have the sword! 

And as this final verse in the section, Ephesians 6:18, "praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit." 

So not only do we have the sword, we have prayer. Both of these things are in "the Spirit" which means that in all things we do, if we do it in and with God, we'll have victory! 

So don't forget to arm yourself in this spiritual battle! You have the means to win - you have God! You will get through this battle, just don't give up. Don't let the devil weaken you because once you're weakened, you're more susceptible to an attack. But take heed, we have God's strength! God will give you His peace and strength to protect you from this attack. 

Arm yourself, friends, for we are in a spiritual war! 

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