Fellow Christian . . . do you believe we are in a war? Have you so acclimated to the surrounding culture that you fit right in while still professing a faith in Jesus Christ? James 4:4-6 makes it very clear you can’t have it both ways: “. . . If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that ‘he’s a fiercely jealous lover.’ And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble” (MSG).
I think it’s time for a lesson on spiritual warfare, and the Apostle Paul gave us the greatest information out there in Eph. 6:10-18 in a section subtitled in The Message Bible as “A Fight to the Finish,” and indeed it is:
“ 10-12And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
13-18Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”
The NIV 1984 version states these same verses in a way that most Christians are familiar with: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Okay, let’s unpack this information. First off, we are told that we are in a war with spiritual forces of evil that are so powerful that if we could actually see the warfare going on all around us at any given moment that we’d probably immediately die of heart failure. That is no joke, folks. Our adversary is incredibly stealth in his cunningness and ability to deceive us, and one of his best devices is to lull us to sleep in our apathy and our sin (especially in the comfort of many of our churches where pastors rarely preach on sin or spiritual warfare anymore). And it works every time.
Our adversary’s schemes are innumerable and each one designed for your own specific weaknesses. He knows you better than you know yourself. He’s a master at deception and trickery, and if you aren’t fully awake, he’ll destroy you before you even know what hit you. So how do you wake up? By wearing the full armor of God on a moment-by-moment basis. Let’s take a closer look at the pieces of that armor in Eph. 6:14-18.
(1) The Belt of Truth (vs. 14): Truth comes from the Bible. How often do you read and study the Bible? Not very often? No wonder you fall for the adversary’s schemes. You have no one to blame but yourself.
(2) The Breastplate of Righteousness (vs. 14): Righteousness comes only from God. Do you spend time praying and getting to know God through Jesus Christ on a daily basis? It is His righteousness we wear and not our own. And you can only wear it if you have a vital relationship with Him.
(3) Feet fitted with the Gospel of Peace (vs. 15): Do you bring peace with you into your world, or do you argue with the best of them? Do you take time to learn from the One who gives the only peace there is that passes all understanding, or do you justify your anger at others? Guess who’s at fault.
(3) Here’s the most important piece of the armor–the Shield of Faith (v.16): Does your faith waffle under any kind of pressure that comes your way? If so, you’re a wimp, spiritually. Want to know how to build up your faith? Romans 10:17 has the answer: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Get into the Bible . . . NOW would be a good time, and then do it every single day WITHOUT EXCUSE. Or else you have no one to blame but yourself.
(4) The Helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (vs. 17): Are you sure you’re His? It all begins there. If you’re not sure, visit my resource page, “Where to Look for Encouragement,” to find out how you can be sure. And then you need to get into the Word of God (the Bible) which is the sword of the Spirit. Do it now. No excuses.
(5) Prays Always, on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests–be alert in prayer (vs. 18). Talk to God like you would talk to a friend–NO FORMALITY NEEDED. Did you hear that? You don’t need to use “religious” or flowery language with empty jargon-filled words that mean nothing to God. Give Him your heart when you pray. Stop being “religious.” The Pharisees were the most religious people out there and their prayers didn’t get off the ground. And Jesus told them so, too. They didn’t listen. Will you?
Do you think I’m being hard on you? You bet I am! This life is no joke, and it’s not about you. If you want to stay blind and acclimate yourself to this culture while sitting in some church every Sunday morning thinking that’s all you have to do you are deceived. And if temptation gets to you every time it’s offered you are a wimp!
I Cor. 10:13 clearly states, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” If you don’t turn to Him in your moments of temptation, you’ll fall every time. He said He would provide a way out so that you can stand up under it, and if you don’t take that stand, you are without excuse!
Tough words? ABSOLUTELY! So, deal with it, folks. Eternity is at stake.
YouTube video “Stay Strong” by the Newsboys:
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