Friday, November 4, 2011

The Armor of God

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (ESV)

Guided By Truth was founded because we saw the destruction of churches that teach lies. Lies are powerful things and only the truth can overcome them. In fact, I believe that every sin can be traced back to the belief in a lie. The one who is unfaithful believes the lie that their happiness trumps the commitment they made to their spouse. The person who steals has bought the lie that they deserve something they did not work for. The abuser believes the lie that those whom they abuse have no value. From the garden to today, Satan has done what he does best, deceive.
John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (ESV)
Unfortunately too often, we buy his goods. Here we focus on those who have bought the lies he has taught us in the name of religion, and that is an important feature. But truth is only one layer of the armor of God. It is imperative that we do not get so caught up in the search of truth that we forget to be mindful of the rest of the armor we should be adorning.

What is truth without the breastplate of righteousness? To be true in your doctrine but err in your conduct is not being girded with truth. It's a belt that holds nothing in place. That is only partial truth which in essence is a lie. What about truth without the helmet of salvation, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, or the sword of the Spirit? Without any one of these pieces of armor you are not ready for battle. A belt alone is not enough to keep the arrows from piercing the skin and causing you to fall. No, you must "take up the whole armor of God" in order to be able to withstand.

It was never our intention to only share one piece of armor, it is just the piece that we became most mindful of. In order to be sure that we do teach the full truth, we will be sharing more on the armor. In the weeks ahead we will be delving into the armor, piece by piece, taking a closer look at how we need to be prepared in order to face the battle that we are all in, the battle for truth. We can not have victory if we are not prepared. For now, consider the entire armor, the completed picture.

1 The belt of truth - If truth is not at the core, then the rest of the armor will do no good. It is the piece that ties the others in place.
2. The breastplate of righteousness - Right living, purity, integrity, and virtue. These are absolutely necessary to be in this battle. If your heart is not protected in this battle, it will be pierced and you will die.
3. The shoes of the readiness that comes with the gospel of peace - If we are not living in peace with all men, as much as we are able, then we are not ready for this battle. Peace does not mean that we check truth at the door, but it certainly means that we are peaceable, gentle, and full of mercy when speaking it. Those are the attributes of the wisdom that comes from God (James 3:17).
4. The shield of faith - Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). Our faith must be in God, not in faith itself. It's not what you believe, but in whom you believe that makes the difference.
5. The helmet of salvation - Like a physical helmet protects the brain, our spiritual helmet protects our mind. Our salvation is in Christ and we are told to "guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus" (Phil 4:7) and "to set your minds on things that are above" (Col 3:2). If our minds are not focused on Him it leaves us thoroughly unprotected in a firestorm of battle.
6. The sword of the Spirit - The passage tells us what this piece is, "which is the Word of God." This piece is imperative in battle. No one goes into battle without their weapon and we can not enter our spiritual battle without reading, studying, meditating on, and knowing the Word of God. It takes more than knowing John 3:16 to have victory.

Are you ready, are your armored? If you answer no, then decide today to put it on. If you have never before been armored for battle, you can start now. Pray over each piece of armor, study God's Word to learn more about what each part entails. God will equip you if you ask Him to (James 1:5).

If you read this and find you are only partially armored, then put on the other pieces now. To have truth, but no sword is not OK. You can not bypass or find an easy alternative to carrying a weapon. Only your personal time and study will do. To be in the Word but be blinded from the truth will not work either. As you read the Word be sure that you are believing what it actually says, not what someone else is telling you it means.

And finally, if you have once been armored but for one reason or another took it off, place it back on. It is not too late. Armor is heavy and if we focus on that heaviness it can wear us down. It is only when we keep that helmet on and protect our minds by focusing on the things above, not our burdens, will we be able to carry the weight of it all. No matter what piece you threw to the ground, the belt because you bought into false doctrine, the breastplate because you lacked purity, or the shield because you just couldn't place your faith in Christ for whatever reason, it's not too late to pick it up again. The battle is not over. Put on the armor today. Then, and only then, will you be "able to withstand in the evil day." Not only will you be able to stand, but you will "stand firm."

The Armor of God Part 2 - The Armor of God: The enemy