Saturday, February 11, 2017

Gear Up and Stand in Christ--Spiritual Warfare II

10  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12  For 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 places.
13  Wherefore 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.
14  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints…                                                                                                                                                                         
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et’s begin our journey to understanding spiritual warfare by reviewing Ephesians 6:10-18.  The verses are very familiar.  Many writers have done an excellent job of unpacking this verses.  For our purposes, I am going to do a quick overview.  What can we learn right off the bat?
     Verse 10:  We need strength and power from God.  Whatever we think our strengths are, whatever talents we possess, whatever our spiritual track record is, we cannot do this Christian life alone.  We cannot do this spiritual warfare alone. 
     Verse 11:  We need armor to do this Christian life.  Why?  It’s a war we are in—pure and simple.  No other garment will do.  Someday we will be arrayed as His bride, but while we inhabit Earth, we are in a battle zone, and we need to be outfitted appropriately.  Why?  So we can STAND.  If you are lying on the ground, the battle’s over and you lost. 
We need to put on the whole kit and caboodle. Not one or two pieces, thinking that will suffice.  Paul declared we need “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) and we are to wear the “whole armor of God.”  If we are outfitted correctly, we are then able to stand against the schemes of Satan.  Don’t bring your fist to the pistol war.  Don’t bring your ball gown to the trenches.
     Verse 12:  The armor fits the battle itself: You must be arrayed in spiritual power, provisioned by God for this expressed purpose, because the battle is in the spiritual realm with spiritual foes.  You wouldn’t bring a crossbow when the enemy has an AK-47.  You don’t fight with your flesh what is in the spiritual realm. 
     Verse 13:  Paul repeats for us put on the whole armor of God.  It’s God’s armor, and we are to put it on—not put on our armor.  We don’t accessorize His armor with our flesh; it is His and His alone. 
He invites us to put it on.  We can either choose to put on what He provides, or we can walk away (a perilous choice).  Evil days are coming and we need to be suited up before they arrive.  Our “having done all” is putting on His armor willingly and standing in His power and might.  No snoozing.  No complacency.  No taking a nap behind the tent.  Armored up and standing.  That’s what He expects of us.
     Verse 14:  Again, Paul says, “Stand.”  A fallen soldier is either dead, MIA, or wounded.  Being properly armored allows us to withstand the onslaught.  Though we may take many hits, we will still be standing.  How? We possess His strength and His mighty power.  Where?  We stand only on His truth. Truth provides the only sure footing, for no matter how the winds of warfare blow, truth takes a beating and keeps on ticking.  Why?  Because you are standing in Christ.  He is The Truth:  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6) 
     He is The Rock: Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock… (Matt. 7:24)
     Jesus alone is the only solid ground on which to stand.  Your heart will be protected by the breastplate of His righteousness as you stand.  Why?  You are facing your foe, and he will strike at your heart.  Because you standing in Christ, He has given you His heart.  Because He is standing, so are you: A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (Ezek. 26:36-7)
       Jesus says,  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. (Luke 6:45)
     The Word says, Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Prov. 4:23 NIV)  Good advice.  A guarded heart is a protected heart. You are not just protecting your own; you are protecting His, for He dwells within you.  His heart in you is far too precious to not protect.
     Verse 15:  People who stand need shoes.  People who sleep can afford to be barefoot.  A soldier must be booted up, for the mission of declaring the Good News of Jesus Christ requires movement when ordered to do so. So, standing or marching, you need shoes. Nikes will do, for Nike in Greek means, “victory.”  Flip flops?  No.
     Verse 16:  Faith is not just your response to God’s lovely offer of grace.  It is your shield that you wave around you, showing your enemy that you are serious.  The armor is on you; the shield is around you.  The bigger your faith, the larger your shield. A dinky shield means an arrow or two will get passed it.  Upgrade.  Faith itself is a gift, so ask for more, and trade up to a larger shield.  Less will get by that greater shield and you will feel bolder as you go forth.   
     But you must stay strong in Christ to wield it.  Faith not only protects, it extinguishes.  How so?Your faith says, “No!” to Satan’s lies and to those who perpetrate his agenda. You are clothed in righteousness because of Christ’s finished work on the cross.  You respond with faith by actively moving your shield and flashing it before the enemy.  Your faith protects you from all sides when the arrows of lies, deceit, temptation and condemnation come flying in. Faith:  Don’t leave home without it. Faith:  Don’t go to war without it.
     Verse 17:  A blow to your head can be fatal and down you go.  A blow to your mind—believing the lies, falling into deceit, yielding to temptation and wallowing in condemnation—can be fatal to your ability to stand and down you go. Your salvation—your adoption into God’s family as His son or daughter because of Jesus’ sacrifice—is your covering.  To insure that the foe doesn’t get too close, mightily wave that sword at him.  The Word of God is the weapon of choice.  Jesus used it to vanquish Satan in the wilderness.  Take a lesson from the Master.  But you must know the Word.  You read the Word and the Word reads you.  So, with the Spirit  + WORD, you get SWORD
     Verse 18:  Pray. All the time.  Every chance you get.  In other words, continuously monitor the intel from HQ.  Listen for Jesus’ voice and run everything you hear by His Word.  His voice and His Word will never contradict each other.  A soldier out of touch with his CO is a soldier in danger. So, persevere.  Fight the good fight.  In other words, STAND.
     What does STAND mean?  "Spiritually Trained And Not Defeated."  Amen!

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