Understanding the Spiritual Armor

When I first put on the spiritual armor, I had trouble remembering the order, so I learned the pieces from head down and used that way for a while. Then one day I wondered why it was listed in such a seemingly disconnected way. That’s when my Father whispered in my mind that He has a reason for that process. As I thought about this, I began to understand that reasoning and have put it on correctly ever since.

God led Paul to write about the spiritual armor in Ephesians 6:10-18 after telling these believers in Jesus Christ how to live a life pleasing to Him. Paul, being a prisoner in Rome, knew he’d never see them again and so wanted to help them as much as possible. Most likely, Paul intended this letter to circulate to all the churches in the area. This and Philippians are my favorite letters of all those Paul wrote. Ephesians tells us in chapter one where our spiritual standing lives and how blessed we are. Stuffed full of golden nuggets, we do well to study this book repeatedly. Chapter six gives us final instructions for living a genuine Christian life and at the end tells us how to fight all Satan throws against us.

Ephesians 6:10-12 (New Living Translation* – NLT)  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 wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

 Here Paul tells us that our troubles aren’t caused by people but by the spirits and powers ruling those people. When one becomes a Christ-follower, Satan realizes that person is a threat to him and his kingdom, so he starts to attack that one in various ways. That doesn’t mean non-believers don’t have problems also because Satan’s whole aim is to “steal, kill and destroy.” Jesus calls our enemy the thief in John 10:10 and uses these words to describe him. But Jesus goes on to say that He came to give us a satisfying and rich life [not necessarily rich in money or material possessions, though some Christ-followers are] (NLT). That’s what makes following Jesus such a wonderful blessing. Next Paul describes the spiritual armor that protects us from the assaults of Satan. Then, we’re to stand strong even through the assaults. Christians become stronger through the warfare we endure, but our aim centers on standing for Jesus, no matter what. Without this armor, we cannot stand.

 Ephesians 6:13-17 (NLT):   Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:13-17 (The Message Bible** – MSG):   Be 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. 14 Truth, righteousness, 15 peace, 16 faith, 17 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. I really like this version because it’s so succinct, telling us exactly what’s what.

How do we wear the spiritual armor?

We’re to wrap ourselves in the truth of God’s word, which is the first piece of armor we must wear. Why? Because if we don’t know the truth, the other pieces can’t help us. When the Holy Spirit breaks through to our spirit that Jesus really is the Son of God and that His blood shed so long ago will forgive our sins, then we confess them and turn away from them and start on the path as a child of God. (Please note, salvation only begins with this first step; our full salvation continues as we grow closer to the Lord in this life and finds fulfillment when we arrive in heaven.)

The breastplate of righteousness comes in and gives us that right standing before God, so we can enter His presence and talk with Him. This piece goes over our heart and gives us encouragement to live a godly life daily.

We need these and the other pieces of spiritual armor all the way through our lives because the devil will always try to turn us from the truth of God’s Word. That’s not meant at all to be discouraging but simply states the fact that we do have an enemy who doesn’t want us to follow our Lord.

Next we put on the shoes of the peace that comes from knowing and acting on the Word of God. When we become a believer in Jesus Christ, we receive peace from God because all our sins are forgiven. Afterwards, we’ll find that peace disappears if we stray from God’s way, so we must go back and confess that wrong against God and others; then we’ll regain that peace. This peace also helps us be at peace with other people because once we learn of our Father’s great forgiveness towards us, then we’re enabled to forgive others. For more on God’s peace, please read Philippians 4:6-8 below. I think describing this peace with shoes is important because it indicates that this special inward peace goes with us, no matter what circumstances we face. Paul was in prison when he wrote about this wonderful peace and contentment from God that remains always with us (see also Philippians 4:11, 13 and 19.)

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT):  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Graham Cooke, a godly author and speaker, calls negative thinking “the worship language of the devil” because that’s what he wants us to do. Negative thinking gets us depressed and almost giving up on God. That’s why Paul tells us to keep on thinking about all the goodness of our heavenly Father. Not that we deny earthly problems, but  we realize our circumstances are governed by a God who loves us so much that He gave His own Son to die for us. Unless they were fighting in a war for our country, I seriously doubt I’d ever let one of my sons sacrifice his life for someone who didn’t even like us; yet, that’s exactly what God did! Romans 5:8 (NLT):  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

We take up the shield of faith, which grows larger the more we involve ourselves in Bible study and prayer. Our faith is only enough to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior when we first become a Christian but as we follow our Lord, it grows. We’ll never not need that faith because Satan will always try to discourage it, as the Word says, by throwing those flaming darts of doubt, confusion and lies. That shield is stronger than he is, though, so we can stand faithful as long as we remember that fact. 1 John 4:4 reminds us that the Holy Spirit who lives within us is greater than the devil who rules the world. The Bible goes on to tell us that without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith starts at the beginning of our Christian life and goes through till the end. In Luke 18:8 Jesus asks when He returns, will He find faith on the earth?

The helmet of salvation operates best with all the rest of the armor. We cover our heads (indicating our minds, wills and emotions) guarding them against all doubts and lies Satan and the world in general try to throw at us, but we must know the truth to effectively protect ourselves or others when we’re talking with them. When we’re believers in Jesus Christ, we experience a relationship with Him. Being a good person, joining a church or following a certain religious doctrine doesn’t make us a believer. Christianity isn’t a religion; it’s a relationship with our Lord.

The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. This sword only works if we have an experiential knowledge of the Bible. That means we’ve walked with God and can put His Word into practice. We don’t simply read the Bible as we would another book. Jesus used the sword of the Spirit to defeat Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness (see Matthew 4:1-11) and we’re to do the same thing.

Why is the last piece of the spiritual armor the Word of God? Because everything we think, say or do must be checked by the Bible. It’s the controller of what is and isn’t good for us under God’s leadership. Yes, there are gray areas that aren’t mentioned, things that weren’t even possible during Bible times. For example, television and the internet supplies both spiritual food and spiritual death. Some things remain neutral. When we wear the rest of the armor, we can easily tell which is which. Does what we see build us up spiritually or tear us down? Does it meet the test of Philippians 4:8? If we want to discern the difference, we can. Jesus defeated Satan by using the Word of God and so can we.

James 4:7-10 (MSG):  So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. 8 Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. 9 Hit bottom and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. 10 Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

The Final Act

 Ephesians 6:18-20 (NLT)  Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

Why do we put on and keep on this armor? To protect us from all that the enemy of our souls throws at us. And even more than that, it prepares us to pray as the Holy Spirit leads us to pray not only for ourselves but for other believers – those we know and those around the world. We also pray for those who do not yet know our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

We must support ourselves and keep our hopes high in the Lord. Likewise, we must support each other because all of us experience days that discourage us and need a special word of encouragement at that time. Long ago, I learned that when someone’s name came to mind, to pray for that person. This happened several times with the same lady, so I started calling her then to see how things were going. Each time, she needed prayer about something. I learned then to always pray, no matter where I was, when I suddenly thought of someone, especially if they weren’t usually on my mind’s radar.

If we keep up with Christian news, we know many believers in numerous countries are persecuted, jailed or killed for being Christians and spreading the gospel.  It’s our responsibility as free people to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who miss this freedom. We pray for their safety but also their courage and strength to stand strong during persecution. We also pray for the persecutors because they don’t know Jesus as their Savior. We can pray that either by their captive’s witness, through dreams or other ways that they too will accept Christ. Jesus always cared for those who don’t know Him and still does.

Matthew 9:36-38 (NLT   He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

Thus, it’s our job as believers to protect ourselves from Satan’s attacks and to pray for other believers, whether we know them or not. As well, our duty and privilege call us to pray for those who don’t know Him that they will accept Christ as their Savior. One way Paul mentions he needs prayer is that he will be bold to say exactly what needs to be said. He doesn’t suggest they pray for his quick release, as I probably would, but I’m not sure I’d pray for boldness to witness when it would likely cost me more persecution. Responsibilities come with being a Christian – to others and especially to our Father who loves and gives us so very much. Will we continually wear our spiritual armor and pray for ourselves, for others and for those who don’t yet know our Savior and Lord?

____________

*   Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

**  THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. l rights reserved.

***  I use these modern Bible translations because they are easier to understand for people whose first language may not be English because this goes on my blog, with many readers whom I don’t know.

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Come, My Child

Imagine you’re the parent of a child you’ve always been close to; you could talk about anything and did. Slowly that child drifted away from that intimacy, talking only about school as a whole and not staying as close by as previously. He put you on the back burner. How would you feel? What would you do to regain that previous relationship? This child still wasn’t doing anything particularly wrong; he was keeping curfew, his grades were still high, but you missed the way he’d share what his day had been like, what his friends were doing. Something changed and you didn’t like it.

Now suppose you were standing before God and you’re the child who’s not as intimate as you used to be. Yes, you pray and read the Bible but you don’t have that time of just being with your Father. You’re not a nominal Christian but you notice the difference in the way things are. You may even wonder what’s happened. At church you think it would be great to be as close to God as some others seem to be; but when you leave, nothing changes. One day you’re praying and hear your Father quietly whisper this to your heart:

“Come to Me, my child. Come and feast at my table, for you are lacking in nourishment. You are anemic because you’re not partaking enough of my blood. It is life-sustaining, but you are totally weak and feeble. You need Me, much more of Me than you’ve been getting.

“Come now and let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow; though they are red like crimson they will be like wool. If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land.” (Isaiah 1:18-19 New American Standard Bible.)

“Come and buy food without price. Money can’t buy my food, only love and devotion can (see Isaiah 55:1-4).  How can you buy without money or price? You can buy with love, devotion and time – a time of withdrawal from the world. ‘Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near’” (verse 6).

Jesus’ blood paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins – all of them. Not just the biggies, but the simple things like saying something unpleasant to your family or friend, having a wrong attitude, neglect of Bible study, little time in prayer. Jesus’ blood covers all these and all the other wrongs we do. His blood protects us from the enemy of our souls. It does so much more than we give it credit for, but that’s not our focus now.

Are you willing to set aside more time to spend with your heavenly Father? Will you allow the Holy Spirit to have His way? How much time out of the day do you actually spend thinking about God? Is it enough for the relationship with Him that you desire? I’ve been in this place and asked myself these same questions and find I need more time with my Daddy-God to be satisfied, for He can fill voids nothing else can. We were created in His image and when we let go of that deeper relationship, our hearts yearn for it; we notice the void. Let’s listen to those words again, and go feast at the Father’s table and find the life-sustaining nourishment we need.

“Come to Me, my child. Come and feast at my table, for you are lacking in nourishment. You are anemic because you’re not partaking enough of my blood. It is life-sustaining, but you are totally weak and feeble. You need Me, much more of Me than you’ve been getting.”

What will I do? What will you do? Our soul’s prosperity hinges on the answer.

 

What I Do or Who I Am?

If I’m a Christian, claiming to become more like Jesus, is my Christianity what I do or who I am? We get very closely identified with our jobs and when people ask, we say I’m a teacher, a lawyer, secretary, whatever. But is that really who you are or what you do? Naturally, it’s what you do to make a living. But it’s not the essential of you as a person; hopefully you’re the same type person when you’re not in that role.

In the same way, we as believers in Jesus Christ must aim to be Christians from the inside out, not simply to act like we’re one. Are we the same type person when we’re not in church as we are in it? If we’re kind and friendly in church, are we when at home or work? If we love Jesus in church, do we outside in the world?

Let’s ponder these questions and discover who we really are. Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31 New King James Bible.)

 

Almost Unbelievable Blessings – But Believe Them!

Let me introduce you to two amazing verses that probably most believers read over without paying proper attention to the real meaning of them; I know I did. These are Ephesians 1:3 and 2:6. Only more recently have I given them real thought, though I’ve read the Bible most of my life, and even wrote a simple study of this book long ago. This meditation covers the first verse and soon a second will cover Ephesians 2:6 because they contain too much material to discuss at one time. Continue reading

Merry Christmas as We Celebrate Our King

Merry Christmas! What a wonderful day to celebrate Jesus’ birth as a human baby so He could grow and be tempted just like you and I are[1]. Then one day He died on the cross to pay for our sins[2] and all the many ways we’ve turned from God – total good and truth. Not only did Jesus die, but He rose from that grave and 40 days later went back to heaven[3], where He now sits at God’s right hand praying for you and me[4]. What a marvelous thought! Continue reading

Happy Thanksgiving!

You ask why I’m saying “Happy Thanksgiving” when you’re super busy getting ready for Christmas. We passed that holiday a few weeks ago. Yes, I was Christmas shopping this morning and have been very busy getting ready to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m going caroling to a nursing home in a few days, got Christmas cards in the mail today from friends and haven’t yet gotten around to addressing and mailing theirs. I fully know what you mean about being in the middle of a busy season. Continue reading

I Don’t Need to Understand

Last night in church as we sang about how worthy God is, I considered his holiness, righteousness and majesty and realized I’d never be able to imagine it. Lord God Almighty remains far beyond anything or anyone we can possibly comprehend. Only when we’re in heaven will we grasp His significance and imperial majesty.

Then I realized that I don’t need to understand this while on earth. The fact is settled in my heart that God remains above all gods, all kings, all world leaders, anyone anywhere. My spirit realizes God’s greatness and I worship Him coming from that point. I continued in my worship of the One who fills my heart with joy. No understanding required.

My Daddy-God and Lord God Almighty

I’m so thankful God gives us permission to see and understand Him in two ways; not that we’ll ever fully understand Him in either way but that we grasp a little of His character in those aspects. Daddy-God shows me His individual love for me, like a little child goes to his earthly father when he has a problem, expecting all the time for that father to solve whatever troubles the child. The father wraps the child in his arms and holds them tight against whatever bothers the little one. When I hurt, I feel God’s arms wrapped tightly around me, soothing my pain, comforting my heart. I remember the feeling I had as I sat in my daddy’s lap when trouble or problems came. Continue reading

Hang on to God’s Love

My heart leaks. When I’m in the middle of worshipping God, it often overflows into and out of my eyes. Not the way I’d wish to show my heart, but that’s what happens, whether alone or with others. However, seeing my heart overflow in gratitude tells me that I’m learning to truly appreciate God’s tremendous love for me. That love resides so deep within me that it’s as real as knowing my name. Continue reading

The Fight of Faith

I’m not a fighter. I want peace and sometimes give in when I shouldn’t, but I’ve had to learn to fight until I win the battle. That’s not easy for me and I don’t enjoy it, but when it’s necessary I will. God has richly blessed me in my physical life with loving parents and then a loving husband and children, so my battles don’t come in those areas. What a wonderful life! Of course, we’ve had our ups and downs but no major battles. My battle comes from the enemy of my soul, Satan. For years I didn’t realize I had to fight him, but the last few years I’m aware that he comes only to kill, steal and destroy. (See John 10:10.)

But how do we fight someone we can’t see? Something that’s bigger than we are and far more powerful? First, we get God’s will or promise for our situation. That means we need to spend time with God and with the Bible so we know what His will is and what promises He gives us. Then we ask the Holy Spirit to help us comprehend that so it’s perfectly clear to us and becomes a part of us. If we have head knowledge only of what our Father wants, then we can’t stand well because our whole self isn’t involved. A challenging verse says, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:13). We do everything we can and then we continue to stand against our oppressor. We do NOT let him overcome us.

Most of us learn about this kind of faith as we mature in the Lord; it’s not given when we’re baby believers. We find out Who God is and then who we are in Him. Because we’re in Jesus Christ, we have authority but we must learn that as we grow in living lives pleasing to our Father. With that authority, we can tell the devil to leave us alone as James 4:7 tells us: Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Notice though that first we must be submitted to God. Satan won’t listen to us when we’re not in right relationship with our Father, because He holds all authority. Obedience cannot be overstated in the Christ-follower’s life.

With obedience, we put on our spiritual armor, which protects us from all attacks of our enemy, as Ephesians 6:10-18 says (in the Amplified Version):

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]. 11 Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. 14 Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, 15 And having shod your feet in 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.  [Isaiah 52:7.]

16 Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one]. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God. 18 Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).

Sometimes our battles continue for days, months or years, but we must learn to endure. James, the half-brother of Jesus, tells us about endurance in James 1:2-4 (New Living Translation): Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect [mature] and complete, needing nothing.

What promise keeps me going during this battle? That depends on what the fight concerns, but I study the Word of God until in my spirit I know for sure that He has given me a particular verse on which to stand. Then I daily, and often more regularly, repeat that verse to myself so that I’m positive of where I’m headed. When I see clearly my goal ahead, then no confusion comes in about my destination.

Probably few of us like any kind of battle, but when we know our God, then we can stand, fight and win because He is incomparably stronger than the one who fights against us, as 1 John 4:4 reminds us. I’m encouraged to continue to stand and fight the fight of faith!

Freedom in Christ

Occasionally I like to include posts from friends of mine, and this comes from Laura Shaffer who writes Daily Bible Prayer.  When I read it this morning, I wanted all my readers to see it too. Thank you, Laura.

“When my first son was small, I remember wanting to avoid having a child who yelled ‘no’ all the time, so I tried to avoid saying ‘no’ to him if I could. Eventually, I did end up having to say ‘no’ much more than I wanted. It was such a convenient way to help him understand what was allowable and what was not. Continue reading

The River

At church this morning we sang, “Flow to You, flow to You; Let the river of my worship flow to You.” As we sang, I saw *the river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb to us who were worshiping God with all our hearts as our praise flowed up to the throne of God. The river of our praise and the one flowing from the throne of God came together and flowed into each other. Our hearts and Father God’s were in sync as we stood praising Him.  Beside this single river, from the two joining together, stood the tree of life on each side of the river, bearing fruit that healed all issues we had – whether relationship, financial, health, work. Whatever our need was, God used that tree to supply it. Continue reading

Trouble Changing Wrong Actions?

As Christians we often know we’re not living like we should and keep trying to change so we can please God but don’t always succeed. Why? Maybe it’s the way we think about it. We try to overcome bad habits on our own, asking God to help us.

The good news is we don’t have to fight our wrong actions because they died when Christ was crucified! Maybe you say if such a thing is dead, why does it keep on occurring? Why do I keep on doing what I don’t want to do? I fly off the handle if someone says the wrong thing to me, and I really don’t want to do that. How can that happen if it’s dead? Continue reading

J-O-Y

For Christmas a few years ago I was given the three letters to spell joy and as I looked at them today on a what-not shelf, I realized the subject of this devotional. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying to find “joy,” consider Jesus first, others second and yourself last. I thought that way for most of my life but the last few years, I’ve realized that the first commandment Jesus said is to love God with all our hearts and the second is to love our neighbor as ourselves (see Matthew 22:37-40). The more I’ve thought about this, the more I say we must love ourselves before we can know how to love others! Continue reading

The Missing Mockingbird Song

A couple of mornings ago as my husband and I ate breakfast, I listened to the quiet. The hush awakened me to the silence of the mockingbird. Soon a dove cooed and I noticed how close and loud the dove sounded. Blue jays joined in the chorus but I missed the mockingbird’s sweet melody. Continue reading

The Parable of Maize

Many acres of farmland spread out as my husband and I drove along the Upper and Central Texas Coast yesterday. Mainly corn, soybeans, maize, cotton and hay covered thousands of acres along the trip. When I saw the maize the Holy Spirit whispered a parable to me. Continue reading

Doubt or Confidence?

A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course of victory,” said Arthur Golden. “I never seek to defeat the man I am fighting,” he explained. “I seek to defeat his confidence. A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory. Two men are equals – true equals – only when they both have equal confidence.” Continue reading

Mist Nets

Mist nets are deceptive. While birds fly around searching for seeds or insects to eat, they often fly into mist nets hung between two trees. A fine mesh-like net, barely able to be seen, can span ten feet or more, waiting for the birds. Humans see them if they happen to know exactly where they are or if they notice the binding on the top and bottom of the nets. My husband and I ran into one without seeing it when we were walking in an area where the mist nets were hung. Continue reading