Friday, October 30, 2015

Spiritual warfare, part 2

Here we are on the eve of Halloween, talking about spiritual warfare.

I'd call that appropriate.  I didn't plan it this way, either.  It is noteworthy when things work out beautifully just because they do, and not because you worked hard to finagle a result.  Spontaneous good results reassure me that God is attentive.

We've talked about the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness and Feet Fitted with the Gospel of Peace.  We've seen how the Lord girds us up with the Truth, covers us with the righteousness of Christ, and prepares us to run victoriously with a message of good news.

Today we will look at the Helmet of Salvation, the Shield of Faith and the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

Satan is always trying to disarm us, to make us discouraged, timid and ineffective for the Kingdom of God.

1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)
Stay alert!   Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

A very real threat exists, but we do not need to be afraid, because God is our hope, our shield and defender.  He protects us, and He equips us.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (ESV)
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

Do you see that?  God equips us to tap into His divine power and join Him in destroying strongholds! 

Do you have a battle in your life today?  Is there a place where the enemy is poking at you, taunting you, tripping you up and wearing you down?  There's nothing the enemy can throw at you that's too strategic for God to defend against.

Isaiah 54:17 (NLT)
But in that coming day
    no weapon turned against you will succeed.
You will silence every voice
    raised up to accuse you.
These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord;
    their vindication will come from me.
    I, the Lord, have spoken! 

God is infinitely greater than any power that tries to rage against Him.  This great and mighty God cares for us, His people, His children.  He clothes us in His own righteousness and shelters us with His wings.

He gives us a Helmet of Salvation to cover our heads.  The head is of utmost significance.  People wear bicycle helmets and football helmets and even batters' helmets in baseball, because we know that above all things, the head must be protected. 

How does God protect our heads?  With salvation.  Salvation.  He steers us away from the road to hell, rescuing us with His mighty arm, and puts us on a path to everlasting life.  This is salvation.

Colossians 1:13-14 puts it this way --
For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. (NLT)

We are rescued, saved from the kingdom of darkness, and transferred into the Kingdom of Jesus.  This is our great salvation.  We have been purchased by the blood of Christ.  We are His.  Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ: not danger, trouble, persecution, hunger, or poverty; not death, life, angels, demons, not the future, the present, the past, or the power of hell (see Romans 8:35-39).  We have salvation from Jesus Christ.  Look at what Jesus says about it:

John 10:27-30 (NLT)
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else.  No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.  The Father and I are one.

This is the spiritual helmet that protects our spiritual head.  If you're feeling under attack, say it.  Say it outloud!  "I have been saved by the blood of Jesus.  I belong to Jesus.  Jesus, I am Yours, and You are more powerful than anyone!"

Then, He gives us a Shield of Faith.  Faith is the gift of God (see Ephesians 2:8).  We don't whomp up a load of faith out of our own strength.  God somehow grants us faith, and this is a great mystery, but the bottom line is this: since God granted the faith, it is faith from God, divine faith.  It is strong, and it is powerful.  This is actually the message of the book of Job.  God gave Job faith, and then God allowed Job's faith to be tested, because God knew that the faith He had bestowed would not fail. God wanted to prove and display the strength of the faith He bestows on His children.

That same faith is our shield.  It extinguishes the fiery darts that the evil one throws at us.  It doesn't stop our enemy from attacking, but it stands in the gap between us and our enemy.  Demonic arrows hit the shield of faith, bounce back, and fall on the ground without harming us.  Faith is believing that God is real; God loves us; God has wonderful rewards for all who believe.  Faith is being convinced that the promises of God are true and glorious, while the lies of the devil lead to death.  Faith is an invincible shield against attacks of evil.

Psalm 3:3 (NLT)
But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;
    you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. 

God gives us a great arsenal of good, protective equipment.  He thoroughly equips all whom He calls.  He gives us faith, which results in salvation, which includes being clothed and covered with the righteousness of Christ.  He is real, and He reveals truth about His reality to us, which also builds our faith and holds us together.  He fills our hearts with joy about the good news of the gospel, and with wonderful hope as we look forward to the future He promises us.

God also gives us one offensive weapon:  The Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  The more we read our Bibles, the more we internalize the great truths about Jesus.  The more we memorize, the more we remember in a crisis. Then we can stand against the enemy's schemes.  It is the Word of God that makes us solid on the Truth, and thus we have come full circle.

I could not possibly discuss all the wonders of the Word of God here, now.  All I can say is, read your Bible.  Read Mark.  Read Philippians.  Read Colossians and Genesis.  Read Luke and Acts.  Read the Psalms and the Proverbs.  Read parts of the Bible, and then read all of the Bible.  Read and pray that God will give you a deep love for His Word, and an ability to understand and apply it.

Psalm 119:103-104 (ESV)
How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Through your precepts I get understanding;
    therefore I hate every false way. 


No comments: