fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

The Armor of God

j0178865Each day we’re caught in the middle of an ongoing spiritual warfare – whether we know it or not. Satan and his demons manifest themselves in one way or another. We can’t see them and we don’t know how, but they are there – delighting in helping make wrong choices. They strive to help us to disobedience and rebellion. This is ongoing – everyday…the “norm” for the enemy. Eph 6:10-12 – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers and against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” 

 The apostle Paul spoke about a spiritual armor we must put on so that we can be prepared to fight back. Just as we wake up in the morning, brush our teeth and get dressed, our morning routine should also include gearing up with the spiritual armor. In fact, gearing up for the day is an act of obedience. Just as a loving parent orders her child to wear a warm jacket before going out to play or school, God also directs us to put on the armor for protection. Eph 6:13 – “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm”.

God’s Spiritual Armor – Ephesians 6:14-17 – “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the work of God.” 

The first three pieces of armor (girdle, breastplate, footwear) were worn continually on the battle field. The last three (shield, helmet, sword) were kept ready to use for when fighting began.

 “Girded with Truth” (Verse 14) – girding involved pulling up the loose material as preparation for the battle. The tunic (underneath the armor) the soldiers wore was loose and a potential danger if hanging material was not girded. Imagine a soldier being tripped by loose material hanging? This armor symbolizes truthfulness; how many times have we “tripped” in our walk with God for not girding ourselves with truthfulness?

Breastplate of Righteousness” (Verse 14) – the breastplate was made of heavy leather or other heavy material that covers the full torso, thus protecting the heart and vital organs. Righteousness is synonymous with holiness; God is Holy (Rev 4:8). Holiness is a chief protection against the enemy because unrighteousness and righteousness cannot co-exist.  John 3:20 – “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that he deeds will be exposed.”

Shod with Gospel of Peace” (Verse 15) – soldiers’ boots had nails on the bottom of the sole to grip the ground while in combat. The gospel of peace pertains to the good news that, through Jesus, believers are reconciled or at peace with God. When we’re at peace with God, we feel an assurance of being in union with Him. This assurance, in itself, is cause for joy and contentment. It in this assurance that we can stand firm with our feet anchored in the ground, knowing God is on our side.  It is through this gospel that we also draw unbelievers to God’s message of salvation. 1Peter 3:15, 16

 “Shield of Faith” (Verse 16) – a size of a shoulder’s was about 2 ½ by 4 ½ feet, which covered the entire body. Heb. 11:1 defines faith as, “the assured expectation of things hoped for though not yet beheld.” This piece of the armor refers to complete trust in God, his word and his promises. It’s through trust in God that we choose obedience over temptation to sin. Part of fighting a spiritual war means that we battle with things that are unseen; when the obvious doesn’t appear before us, do we fight with “an expectation of things hoped for?” Trusting in God means that we surrender all control to Him, knowing He will lead us to victory in all circumstances.

 “Helmet of Salvation” (Verse 17) – the helmet protected the head, which was a major target for the enemy. Opponents know that one blow to the head can cause a soldier his life. This verse is not talking about attaining, but rather having the assurance of salvation that has already been achieved through grace.  The enemy wants nothing more to discourage or cause doubt our own salvation. A believer’s feelings about his salvation may be damaged by doubt, confusion or discouragement (satan’s weapons). Having the assurance of salvation is an essential part of the spiritual armor one must wear daily because blows of doubt and discouragement to the head may be fatal.

 “Sword of the Spirit” (Verse 17) – Heb 4:12 “The word is alive and exerts power and is sharper than a two edged sword). The sword is the only weapon a soldier actually uses in combat, all the other parts of the armor are only used for protection. It is with the sword that a soldier can pierce through the enemy and stop the conflict. All conflicts, hostilities, battles and confrontations can be put to an end with such a weapon as God’s Word. God’s word also helps in the offense to overcome strategies that promote untruth, confusion and separation from God.  Jesus himself demonstrated how important it is to know scripture in Matthew Chapter 4.

 Our assailant is going to take advantage of all opportunities to attack; sometimes he doesn’t wait for an opportunity, but creates ones. In obedience, let us put on the spiritual armor before we go to carry on our daily lives. Praise the Lord, who equips us with all we need to come out victorious.  May your spiritual armor daily include Truthfulness, Righteousness, Gospel of Peace, Faith, Assurance of salvation, God’s word.

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August 10, 2009 Posted by | According to Scripture | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Receiving the Gospel

j0438317GALATIONS 2:11-3:25

 

First things First. WELCOME BACK, SANDY! We missed you and praise God that you arrived back safely.

We continue our second week in the study of Galatians. The theme of the study is the acceptance that salvation is obtained only through faith in Jesus Christ and not in works. In his letter, the apostle Paul reproved the Galatians churches (Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe) with a strong message because they were turning away from the true gospel of Jesus Christ to a different gospel Paul did not preach.

1Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.  Paul continues to defend the gospel of grace. He relates the details of his visit to Jerusalem after his conversion and offered proof that the message he proclaimed was identical to that of the apostles.

11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.  This was a period of darkness for the spreading of the gospel because influential believers such as Peter was helping to spread the confusion of the doctrine of salvation and the apostle Paul had strong counsel him. Peter had withdrawn from Gentile (non-Jewish) believers to fellowship with Judaizers, despite knowing they were teaching a different gospel. Peter was guilty of sin by choosing to correlate with men he knew were in error and because of the harm he caused his brothers and sisters in Christ. We do know that Peter did adjust his thinking because he speaks about God’s saving grace and obedience in his first and second letters. We can learn so much from Peter!

16nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. Paul was very knowledgeable of the Law. He was passionate enough to persecute those who opposed it. The purpose of the law was so 1)remind God’s people they were sinners, 2)remind them they needed a savior, 3)foreshadowed the better things to come. Under the law, God’s people were subject to legalism, self-sufficiency, rituals and man-made redemption (which was only temporary). In the NT “In Christ”, believers achieved justification, forgiveness, grace, empowerment and freedom.

By adding good works to the gospel of grace by faith, it devalues and belittles Christ’s death for us. Grace refers to “unmerited favor”. If we are saved by the good works we perform, then Christ’s sacrificial death would not have been needed. 21″I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
More importantly, the gospel of grace opens the way for believers to be in God’s presence. With the Law, God’s people can only approach God through priestly intermediaries. Being we have been redeemed through the blood of Christ, we can enjoy being in God’s presence through prayer, worship and praise. The law could never do this!

19″For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20″I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  By accepting the gospel, Jewish Christians were free from trying to perfectly keep the law while at the same time being condemned by it. Before our conversion to Christ, we lived for ourselves; we were working hard to earn our salvation. However, when Christ lives in us, we become Christlike.
1You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?  3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  4Did you suffer so many things in vain–if indeed it was in vain? 5So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?  Apparently, this was a message the Galatians took a while to accept because Paul used strong words to reprimand their way of thinking. He also raised thought-provoking questions to help the see the seriousness of their thinking.

Paul continually declared that no one is made right with God by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. Many times we fall prey to sin and yet feel burdened that there’s nothing we can do to make us right with God. That’s true – there’s nothing we can do. But having faith in God’s grace and trust that he will pardon us from sin (once we have repented in our hearts) will make us right. Continuing to strive to attain salvation by works is admitting that we don’t trust in God that He is capable of cleansing us of our sins. Faith in God means that we have total trust in His grace to forgive and redeem us.

Thanks, again Sandy for a great lesson today!

June 14, 2009 Posted by | Expressions | , , , , , | Comments Off on Receiving the Gospel

   

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