Perfection Restored! – III

Romans 8:18-23

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

We have spent our time in two previous Gems concerning our restoration to the perfection our first parents experienced before sin devastated the human race. Now let’s focus on what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:18 through 23:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

Paul mentions in Romans 8:18 the exciting transformation that we as Christians have in store,…the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18).

  • Adam and Eve bore “…the image of God…” (Genesis 1:27) when they were created. But that image was marred when they disobeyed God and fell into sin!
  • The Father restored that lost glorious image in His Son Jesus at His resurrection!
  • God has promised to all Christians that same transformation at Jesus’ return! (see I Corinthians 15:51-54; Philippians 3:21; I John 3:2).

But the apostle goes on to say God’s restoration involves much more than just that which will affect our own personal selves! In Romans 8:19 through 21 Paul writes:

…the earnest expectation of the [entire] creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility…because the creation itself will also be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
  • All nature was…subjected to futility…the bondage of corruption…” (Romans 8:20, 21). Sin brought God’s curse upon all creation! And that curse brought drastic changes! Consider some of the changes that occurred:
✡   Before the curse Adam and Eve were designated to be caretakers over an abundant creation. Isaiah 35:1, 2, 5 and 6 (Bible in Basic English) gives a glimpse of what it was like by describing the restored creation:

The waste land and the dry places will
be glad; the lowland will have joy and
be full of flowers. It will be flower-
ing like the rose; it will be full of
delight and songs.... Then the eyes of
the blind will see, and the ears which
are stopped will be open. Then will
the feeble-footed be jumping like a
roe, and the voice which was stopped
will be loud in song: for in the waste
land streams will be bursting out, and
waters in the dry places.

✡ But after sin entered creation, Adam was told...“Cursed is the ground...in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you...in the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread....
  • Animal life was drastically altered!
✡   Again, restored creation, described in Isaiah 65:25, will host fauna as at the beginning: “‘The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like an ox....They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain.’ says the LORD.” (see also Isaiah 11:6-9).

✡ In Hosea 13:7 and 8 (Good News Bible), God warns Israel that He will be to them like wildlife made vicious after sin and the resultant curse invaded creation:
   I will attack you like a lion. Like 
a leopard I will lie in wait along
your path. I will attack you like a
bear that has lost her cubs, and I
will tear you open. Like a lion I
will devour you on the spot, and
will tear you to pieces like a wild
animal.
  • Human life was profoundly affected!
In Revelation 21:4 and 5 the Lord reveals some wonderful restoration 
truths:

...God will wipe away every tear
from their eyes; there shall be no
more death, nor sorrow, nor crying;
and there shall be no more pain,
for the former things have passed
away....these words are true and
faithful.

✡ God had warned Adam in Genesis 2:16 and 17, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Adam ate, and Adam died! He did
not die physically for many more
years (see Genesis 5:5). But he
died spiritually immediately upon
eating! (see Genesis 3:8).

Separation from God because of
sin is spiritual death!
If this
condition is not rectified in
this present life, a human being
will be assigned to hell, separ-
ated from God for all eternity!

The only way to resolve the problem of being separated from the LORD, is to have our sins washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ!
Come to Him and ask Him to be YOUR Savior!

Romans 8:21 through 23:

...creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

Yes, I am waiting,
and I hope you are too,
for the return of our Lord Jesus
and the amazing Perfection Restored!

And don’t forget,
we are joined in this anticipation by all creation!

Perfection Restored! – II

Romans 8:18-23

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

In the last Gem we saw that Christians will one day be restored to the perfection of Adam and Eve before they sinned and lost …the image of God…” (Genesis 1:27). Jesus was the first to experience this transformation. In Philippians 2:5 through 9 (The Living Bible) we are told this concerning His incarnation and glorification:

...Jesus Christ...though He was God, did 
not demand and cling to His rights as God, 
but laid aside His mighty power and glory, 
taking the disguise of a slave and becoming 
like men. And He humbled Himself even fur-
ther, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross. Yet it was because of this that God raised Him up to the heights of heaven and gave Him a name which is above every other name....
  • Since He is the first to have His humanity glorified, He is called “…the firstborn…” in Romans 8:29. But we who have accepted Him as Savior will also experience His glorification! God…predestined [Christians] to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29).
Philippians 3:20 and 21 – “...the 
Lord Jesus Christ...will transform our
lowly body that it may be conformed to
His glorious body, according to the
working by which He is able to subdue
all things to Himself.


I John 3:2 – “Beloved, now we are
the children of God; and it has not yet
been revealed what we shall be, but we
know that when He [Jesus Christ] is re-
vealed, we shall be like Him, for we
shall see Him as He is.
  • We will live forever in His kingdom…
✞   ...without sickness, pain, sadness, 
tears, or death! (see Revelation 21:4).

✞ ...without sin or the penchant to
sin! (see Galatians 5:19-21; Revela-
tion 21:27).

...in the presence of our God!
(see II Corinthians 5:6, 8; Revelation
21:3).
  • In Romans 8:16 and 17 we are told, “The [Holy] Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
Yes, Jesus certainly suffered at the hands of those who opposed Him (see Psalm 22; 129:3; Isaiah 50:6;52:14, 53:5; Mark 14:65; luke 22:64; John 19:1-3, 34).

And, as Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, “...to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (Philippians 1:29).

But, if we are faithful to Jesus, even in the midst of our sufferings, yes, even unto death, we have “...an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” (I Peter 1:4)

But there is more to Perfection Restoredthan the restoration of just those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ! For there is that which is recorded in Romans 8:18 through 23:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

What is it that the Apostle Paul is expressing in verse 18 – “…the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

  • …this present time…” refers to this life we are now living!
As Moses wrote in Psalm 90:10 (Contemporary English Version): “We can expect seventy years, or maybe eighty, if we are healthy, but even our best years bring trouble and sorrow.

But what is eighty years compared
to a never-ending eternity with our Lord?
  • It brings to mind what Jesus dictated to the Apostle John in His letter to the church at Smyrna in Asia Minor:
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison... and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10).

The “...ten days [of] tribulation...” is obviously not to be taken literally.

➔ For the persecutions experienced
by the believers in Smyrna certainly
lasted far longer than ten days!

The Biblical illustrator sheds
this light on the meaning: “The apos-
tle triumphantly contrasts the brevity
of suffering with the duration of glory
....Suffering is a vanquished power.

There is an eternal and imperishable ...crown of life...awaiting faithful Christians!

The rest of the Romans 8 quote, verses 17 through 23, lets us know there is far more to Perfection Restored than just believers regaining through the Lord Jesus Christ what Adam lost when he sinned! But it will take one more Gem to cover this.

Perfection Restored! – I

Philippians 3:20, 21

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

The Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit (see II Peter 1:21) wrote the following passage, Colossians 1:15 through 17, concerning Jesus Christ, God’s Son:

He is the image of the invisible God, the 
firstborn over all creation. For by Him all
things were created that are in heaven and
that are on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principal-
ities or powers. All things were created
through Him and for Him. And He is before
all things, and in Him all things consist.
  • Jesus, being …the word of God…” (see John 1:1, 14), spoke all things into existence!
  • He, being all-powerful, holds all things together! (see also Hebrews 1:2, 3).
  • His highest creation was mankind, …male and female He created them…in His own image….” (Genesis 1:27). Some say that according to Psalm 8:5 and Hebrews 2:7 and 9, angels are God’s highest creation! For when Jesus became a man we are told, “…we see Jesus…was made a little lower than the angels…” (Hebrews 5:9).
However, angels are never declared 
to be...created...in the image of God
...” (Genesis 1:27), only human beings
are so declared to be in that mighty
image!

According to Philippians 2:8 through 10, Jesus, after He procured salvation for all by dying on the cross, He is now in heaven with the Father! He has been... highly exalted...and [has been]...given... the name which is above every name, that
at the name of Jesus every knee should bow... and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Reading through the first chapter of Hebrews, we are told the Savior has been elevated back to His original position, high above all creation, including angels!
  • Christians, having been redeemed by Jesus’ death and resurrection, are appointed to be restored to Adam and Eve’s original state of being …in the image of God.” (Genesis 1:27). For we are told in I John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He [Jesus] is revealed, we will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Here are two more Scriptures that help us to embrace this marvelous promise:
I Corinthians 15:49 – “...as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man [Jesus Christ].

Philippians 3:20 and 21 – “...the Lord Jesus Christ...will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able to subdue all things to Himself.

Now let’s go back to the beginning – Genesis 1:26 through 28, and 31:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our 
image, according to Our likeness; let
them have dominion over the fish of the
sea, over the birds of the air, and
over the cattle, over all the earth and
over every creeping thing that creeps
upon the earth.” So God created man in
His own image; in the image of God He
created him, male and female He created
them. Then God blessed them, and God
said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply;
fill the earth and subdue it; have do-
minion over...every living thing that
moves on the earth.” ...Then God saw
everything that He had made, and indeed
it was very good.
  • There is no one higher than the LORD God!
  • There is no one more powerful than the LORD God!
  • There is no one more holy than the LORD God!
  • There is no one more good than the LORD God!

But Adam sinned! And Adam died! He and his wife were separated from the LORD’s presence. They ran and hid when He came to have fellowship with them! (see Genesis 3:8).

  • Unless they were found and forgiven by God, that separation would become permanent – eternally permanent!
  • According to Romans 5:12, through Adam,…death has spread to the whole human race because everyone has sinned.” And unless that sin problem is corrected, every member of the human race is naturally separated from the Father, and faces eternal death in hell!

But in His position, power, holiness, and goodness, …God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). Jesus, in Luke 19:10, stated His ultimate purpose for His being born into this world, For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” When we put our faith in Him, we are saved eternally…

  • …from the power of sin! (see John 8:34, 36; Romans 6:6).
  • …from the power of death! (see Hebrews 2:14, 15).
  • …from the power of hell! (see John 5:24).

And that salvation is much more than having our sins forgiven and going to heaven some day! Romans 8:18 through 23 tells us this:

For I consider that the sufferings of this 
present time are not worthy to be compared
with the glory which shall be revealed in
us. For the earnest expectation of the
creation eagerly waits for the revealing
of the sons of God. For the creation was
subjected to futility, not willingly, but
because of Him who subjected it in hope;
because the creation itself also will be
delivered from the bondage of corruption
into the glorious liberty of the children
of God. For we know that the whole crea-
tion groans and labors with birth pangs
together until now. Not only that, but
we also who have the firstfruits of the
Spirit, even we ourselves groan within
ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adop-
tion, the redemption of our body.

Ponder what Paul is saying in these six inspired verses! We will explore more of the meaning of Perfection Restored in our next Gem.

Follow me!

Philippians 3:7-14

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

The artwork above is a representation of the Apostle Paul. There is no physical description of Paul in the Bible. But in the apocryphal book, The Acts of Paul and Thecla, written about 180 AD, there is this description of him: “A man small in size, bald-headed, bandy-legged, well-built, with eyebrows meeting, rather long-nosed, full of grace. For sometimes he seemed like a man, and sometimes he had the countenance of an angel.” The quote ends well, but it’s not a very flattering picture of his physical appearance!

However, consider what he accomplished…!

  • Saul of Tarsus was commissioned by Jesus Christ Himself to be the apostle to the Gentiles (the non-Jews – see Acts 13:1, 2; Galatians 1:15, 16; 2:9).
  • He traveled over a large part of the Roman Empire…
...during three missionary journeys (described in Acts chapters 13 through 21). 

...being arrested in Jerusalem and eventually sent as a prisoner to Rome (see Acts chapters 21-28).

...according to tradition, after being released from Roman imprisonment, Paul traveled as far west as Spain, preaching the gospel (see Romans 15:24, 28).
  • From the website, churchplanting.com: Paul …probably started close to 20 churches himself, with many more born out of those by his apprentice leaders.
  • It is impossible to say how many people came to faith in Jesus Christ through Paul’s influence!
Considering his writings (thirteen epistles), and his history recorded in the book of Acts...

✞ ...the number of people that Paul influenced to embrace salvation is probably in the billions!

Notice in the title of this Gem,Follow me!”, the ‘me’ is not capitalized. This is because the title refers not to Jesus Christ, but to the Apostle Paul! And one of the most challenging things the apostle wrote is found in I Corinthians 4:16: “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” The Contemporary English Version translates it this way: “…I want you to be like me.Wow! That’s bold!

  • I have often heard it said by (or about) people whose lives do not match what they confess, “Do what I say! Don’t do what I do!” Unfortunately, I believe there are too many believers to whom this saying applies!
  • But Paul matched his life to what came out of his mouth! Or, in his case, what the apostle expressed in his writing matched how he lived! If we could pick out a ‘life Scripture’ from his epistles, I believe it would be Philippians 3:7 through 14 (yes, it is lengthy, but it is surely worth its inclusion):
 ...what things were gain to me, these I 
have counted loss for Christ....indeed I
also count all things loss for the excel-
lence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my
Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss
of all things, and count them as rubbish,
that I may gain Christ, and be found in
Him, not having my own righteousness...
but that which is through faith in Christ,
the righteousness which is from God
through faith; that I may know Him and
the power of His resurrection, and the
fellowship of His sufferings, being con-
formed to His death, if, by any means, I
may attain to the resurrection from the
dead. Not that I have already attained,
or am already perfected, but I press on,
that I may lay hold of that for which
Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have
apprehended; but one thing I do, forget-
ting those things which are behind and
reaching forward to those things which
are ahead, I press toward the goal for
the prize of the upward call of God in
Christ Jesus.

I once encountered a young woman who was sitting on her porch. She professed Christ as her Savior, but she was not lately attending Sunday school and/or church. I asked her what precipitated her absence. She named a couple of people, regular attenders at the church services, and told me, “They said and did some things that really offended me. That’s why I am not coming to church.

I considered what she said, and replied, “Yes, some people who identify as Christians sometimes don’t act like they should. Do you know anyone who, when you see how they live, reminds you of Jesus?

Her answer blew me away! She said, “You.I certainly did not feel worthy of that identification! But being familiar with Paul’s confession, I have tried to make Philippians 3:7 through 14 mine!

From what I have researched about the Apostle Paul, he certainly tried to live out the Scripture above! And he challenged others,…I urge you, imitate me…” (I Corinthians 4:16), because his pursued goal was to be like Jesus!

I Corinthians 4:16 was not the only time Paul laid out this challenge to follow his example:

  • I Corinthians 10:31 through 33; and 11:1:
 ...whatever you do, do all to the glory 
of God. Give no offense, either to the
Jews or the Greeks or to the church of
God, just as I also please all men in
all things, not speaking my own profit,
but the profit of many, that they may
be saved. Imitate me, just as I also
imitate Christ.
  • Galatians 4:12 – “Brethren, I urge you to become as I am….
  • Philippians 3:17 – “Brethren, join in following my example….”
  • II Thessalonians 3:7 through 9 – “For you yourselves know you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you…but…we…worked with labor and toil night and day…to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.

Do you call yourself a Christian? Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? Do you dare to repeat Philippians 3:7 through 14 as your own life’s focus?

“…forgetting those things which are behind
and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call
of God in Christ Jesus.”

This Means War! – XXV

Praying Always

Ephesians 6:18-20

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

We have come to the final Gem of this series, This Means War! I have called this twenty-five Gem series by this title because when we are identifying with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord…

  • …we are enlisting as soldiers in His army!
  • …we are issued the Holy Spirit’s armor and weapons!
  • …we are commanded to learn how to don the armor and effectively use the weapons!
  • …we are to engage the demonic legions of our enemy, the devil, in the age-old war against his stated enemy, Almighty God!

Let’s examine Ephesians 6:18 through 20. This is where we find the last-mentioned piece of equipment God has issued to every Christian, our second offensive weapon, so we can effectively fight Satan and his minions:

...praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all saints  — and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. 

Some Bible scholars do not see prayer as an offensive weapon. But obviously, the sword of the Spirit is an offensive weapon! I believe I can make a good case for prayer as a powerful weapon in spiritual warfare!

First of all, prayer is vital as it pertains to the Christian life generally! There are many Scriptures that support this, too many to list for this current study. But let’s consider just three pertinent passages:

  • Psalm 50:15 – “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.
  • Luke 11:9 and 10 – Jesus said, “…ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
  • John 14:13 and 14 – “…whatever you ask in My name that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
✞   Note: the qualification here is, “If you ask anything in My [Jesus’] name....

I John 5:14 and 15 elucidates this qualification:

Now this is the confidence that we
have in Him, that if we ask anything
according to His will, He hears us.
And if we know that He hears us...we
know that we have the petitions that
we have asked of Him.


...in...[Jesus’] name....” means “...according to His will...! And we know that effectively engaging the enemy in spiritual warfare is in the Savior’s will!

Obviously, we need our Lord’s direction when we are battling our enemy. And not always do we have the opportunity for extended prayer, especially when we are in hand-to-hand combat with spiritual darkness! But we can always engage in ‘Nehemiah praying.

What is ‘Nehemiah praying? Nehemiah was a descendant of the Jews taken in captivity almost 150 years before by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.

  • He had risen to the position of cupbearer to the current king of Babylon, Artaxerxes. Cupbearer was an important position. He was the designated wine-taster, the one who would sip the wine first to ensure no one was trying to poison the king!
  • Nehemiah received word that the walls surrounding and protecting the city of Jerusalem lay in ruins! And it had been in that sad state of affairs for almost 150 years, destroyed by the Babylonian army during their final invasion.
He was broken-hearted... 

...over the condition of the
capital city of his beloved
home country!
(see Nehemiah
1:4
).

➔ ...also that ruined Jerusalem
was “...the place of my fathers’
[his ancestors’] tombs...!
(Nehemiah 2:3)

✡ King Artaxerxes detected his loyal servant’s sadness, and asked him, “What do you request?” (Nehemiah 2:4).

✡ Now Nehemiah’s secret desire was to be sent by the king’s decree to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and to reestablish the government of the city!

➔ But He was the king’s cupbearer
– his wine-taster!


➔ If the king granted Nehemiah’s
desire, it would mean being absent
from the royal court for several
years!
  • It is here we learn whatNehemiah prayingis! For what was his response before answering the king? “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 2:4).
✡   ‘Nehemiah prayingis this:

➔ He couldn’t say to the king,
Your majesty, give me an hour
to seek my God, and then I will
tell you what I want to do.


What Nehemiah did was he sent
up a quick prayer,
something
like, “God, help me out here!
Your will be done.
” And then
he requested the king’s per-
mission to go to Jerusalem and
rebuild the city walls.

A ‘Nehemiah prayer’ is a short petition for help and guidance in the midst of something else going on! In the case of spiritual warfare, as we are engaged in battle, we might cry out to God, “Lord, direct me!

  • Should I crouch behind my shield of faith just now, or parry with my sword?
  • Should I fall back or step forward?
  • Should I strike the enemy’s mid-section or go for the head?

I have used ‘Nehemiah praying’ many times when speaking to someone about the Lord. “What should I say now, Lord? Give me the words.

It is all part of the battle of Spiritual Warfare!

  • The Holy Spirit is there to guide the soldier to victory!
  • Satan and/or his demons are there to oppose the Lord God!

But we have a great promise:

  • Jesus Christ has already secured victory in this war!
Luke 10:18 – Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

Colossians 2:15 (Easy-to-Read Version) – “He defeated the rulers and powers of the spiritual world. With the cross He won the victory over them and led them away, as defeated and powerless prisoners for the whole world to see.

Hebrews 2:14 and 15 (Contemporary English Version):

We are people of flesh and blood.
That is why Jesus became one of us.
He died to destroy the devil, who
had power over death. But He also
died to rescue all of us who live
each day in fear of dying.

I John 3:8 – “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
  • We, as Christians, share that victory!
Romans 16:20 – “...the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.

I Corinthians 15:57 – “...thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

There are three more parts to “…praying always…

  • …being watchful…” (Ephesians 6:18) is part of prayer. Jesus told His three disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41). You might say we are instructed to pray with our spiritual eyes open! In other words, pray with understanding!
  • But Paul wants more from his readers than just to pray as they battle. He implores them to pray “…with all perseverance and supplication for all saints…” (Ephesians 6:18). We are admonished to pray for Christian brothers and sisters as they are engaging the enemy, both in foreign lands and at home!
  • But there is one more thing that the apostle desires:
    ...[Pray] for me, that utterance may be 
given to me, that I may open my mouth
boldly, to make known the mystery of
the gospel, for which I am an ambassa-
dor in chains; that in it I may speak
boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians
6:19).

Paul needed the prayers of others to fight his own battles effectively! And notice something else in this Scripture. The apostle reminds his readers that he is “an ambassador in chains.We should be aware of the conditions under which fellow Christians are engaging the enemy!

So, Christian…

…take up the whole armor of God…” (Ephesians 6:13).
Put on the defensive protection!
Take up the offensive weapons!

We have battles to fight in a war that our Lord has already won! Our enemy, the devil, just doesn’t realize yet that Jesus has procured the ultimate victory! God has given us all that we need…

…to withstand in the evil day,
and having done all to stand.
” (Ephesians 6:13).

So fight….!

This Means War! – XXIV

The Sword of the Spirit

Ephesians 6:17

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

With the sword of the Spirit in hand, we approach our enemy. And, with that powerful sword, we thrust and slice, as well as parry his weapons of attack! Remember that “…the sword of the Spirit…is the word of God…” (Ephesians 6:17). As we saw in the last Gem, that Word is very potent! It is written in Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword…!

Jesus, in Luke 4:1 through 13, was attacked by the devil three times! Each attack was designed as a temptation for the Lord to give in and bow to Satan.

  • In I Corinthians 15:45 Jesus is called “…the last Adam….,” in juxtaposition to “…the first Adam….
✡   “...the first Adam...” was given “...dominion over...all the earth...” (Genesis 1:26), Adam was to be the caretaker of all God’s vast earthly creation – but under the LORD’s oversight!

But Adam chose to disobey God! It is recorded in Genesis 3:6 that his wife, Eve offered her husband the fruit “...of the tree of knowledge of good and evil...” (Genesis 2:17).

➔ God had warned Adam in Genesis 2:17, “...in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

➔ “...and he ate...” (Genesis 3:6). And he died! Adam didn’t die physically right away. That came later (see Genesis 5:5). But he died spiritually! He was separated from the LORD! (see Genesis 3:8).

According to Romans 5:12, “...just as through one man [Adam] sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned....

Death (physical and spiritual) ruled...

...until ...the last Adam...,Jesus Christ, who came and defeated death, sin, hell, and the devil! Now everyone who puts his or her faith in Him receives forgiveness of sins and is given eternal life!
  • In I Corinthians 15:47 we are told, “The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.
✡   “The first man...failed! 

➔ And with that failure, Adam transferred...dominion over...all the earth...” (Genesis 1:26) to Satan!

➔ That is how, in the devil’s second temptation recorded in Luke 4:5 through 7, he could offer the Lord “...all the kingdoms of the world...and their glory...All Jesus would have to do is fall down and worship Satan...as did the first man!

...the second Man...won the total victory! And we will see how He defeated Satan in a moment.

Let’s examine the three temptations and how the Lord countered each one with a thrust of “…the sword…the word of God…” (Ephesians 6:17).

The first temptation – “And the devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’” (Luke 4:3).

  • Remember that Jesus had just fasted “…for forty days…in those days He ate nothing, and…He was hungry.
I have never fasted for that long of a time. However, I have experienced that after three days of fasting, a person tends to lose their appetite for food. But after about forty days of fasting, the body has used up all its fatty resources, and it starts to metabolize muscle. It is then that a ferocious hunger takes hold! So when Satan said, “...command this stone to become bread...,it was a strong temptation – for Jesus, being God, could have easily have turned that stone into bread!

The Lord countered with the first of three sword thrusts: But Jesus answered him, saying, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’” (Luke 4:4).
  • Jesus knew the Scriptures! He was quoting Moses in Deuteronomy 8:3, “…man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.
✞   He used...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17).

Satan’s first temptation failed!

The second temptation :

Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the king-
doms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this
authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.
” (Luke 4:5-7).
  • Jesus was going to redeem not just human beings, but the whole world! (see Romans 8:18-21).
There is coming a time when “...loud voices in heaven [will proclaim]...‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.’” (Revelation 11:15).

✞ But the cross had to come first! Satan was offering a way to avoid the cross, yet rule over...the kingdoms of this world...!

But would Jesus really rule?

He, and all the world, would still be under the subjection to the devil!

Again, Jesus countered with a sword thrust, His second:Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Luke 4:8).
  • Jesus knew the Scriptures! Again He was quoting Moses, this time from Deuteronomy 10:20, “You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name.” (see also Deuteronomy 6:13).
✞   He used ...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17).

✞ Satan’s second temptation failed!

The third temptation :

Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and 
said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written, ‘He shall give His angels charge over You, to keep You,’ and ‘In their hands they shall bear You up, lest You dash Your foot against a stone.’”
  • As is often the case, when the devil quotes Scripture, he twists it! Here he left out an important part of Psalm 91:11 and 12
Satan quoted it this way: “...it is written, ‘He shall give His angels charge over You, to keep You...,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear You up, lest You dash Your foot against a stone.’” (Luke 4:10, 11).

Psalm 91:11 actually says, “...He shall give His angels charge over You, to keep You, in all Your ways.

It was as if Satan was saying...

➔ “Oh, Your Father will keep You...

➔ “...even if You act foolishly...just this once!
  • Once more the Lord countered with a thrust of His sword – the third! And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It has been said, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”’
  • Jesus knew the Scriptures! A third time He was quoting Moses, this time word-for- word, from Deuteronomy 6:16, “You shall not tempt the LORD your God….

Follow Jesus’ example! Use …the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.! Read your Bible! Study it! Meditate upon it! Memorize it! Be ready to draw out that powerful sword at any time! Speak forth the Word to Satan and/or his demons, just like Jesus did……and they…will flee from you…! (James 4:7).

Keep in mind what John wrote in I John 4:4:

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them [the devil and his 
demons], because He who is in you [Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit] is
greater than he who is in the world.

When you speak the Word, you are utilizing the power of the One who dwells in you – Jesus Christ. It is as if He Himself is speaking to the enemy! And the enemy must obey the Lord of all!

So dress for battle.
Take up your weapon.
Go forth and fight your enemy.
In Jesus Christ you are guaranteed victory!

In the next Gem we will look at our last listed offensive weapon,…praying always….” (Ephesians 6:18).

This Means War! – XXIII

The Sword of the Spirit

Ephesians 6:17

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

If you are preparing to battle the devil and his demons, your spiritual enemies, you have followed the instructions in Ephesians 6:14-17 and donned your spiritual armor:

  • You have…girded your waist with truth…! (verse 14).
  • You have …put on the breastplate of righteousness…! (verse 14).
  • You have…shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace…! (verse 15).
  • You have taken…the shield of faith…! (verse 16).
  • You have placed …the helmet of salvation…on your head! (verse 17).

These five pieces of armor are for defense. They are to protect your body as you grapple in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy!

Now, according to the last part of verse 17, you must take up…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…! What do you do with that sword? You use it as an offensive weapon against your opponent!

Becoming a proficient swordsman requires four things:

  • Coming under the instruction of a master.
  • Personal study.
  • Practicing what you have learned.
  • Engaging in actual conflict.

While we can learn from other Christians who have experienced spiritual warfare, the best Master anyone can have is Jesus Christ Himself! Let’s examine one incident that can teach us much about battling the enemy; the Savior’s encounter with Satan on the Mount of Temptation in Luke 4:1 through 13.

Consider His preparation:

  • Luke 4:1 – “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan [River] and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.
At the Jordan, He was baptized by His cousin John the Baptist, signifying the beginning of His three-plus year ministry. 

We know Jesus was empowered to minister because it is recorded in Luke 3:21 and 22, “...and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.
  • But further preparation was necessary! …Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit… was led…into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.

Notice some things about His preparation:

  • He was…filled with the Holy Spirit…” (Luke 4:1). This is crucial! The Holy Spirit is God in us – His Person and power! If we are ever to successfully engage in spiritual battles, it must be with God’s direction and in His power!
Paul, in Ephesians 5:18, tells us, “...be filled with the Spirit....” But there is a lot of confusion concerning what it means to “...be filled with the Spirit....

I encourage you to read an early Gem from March 18th, 2013 entitled “Be Filled With What?” Presented there is the answer God gave me to many months of struggling to understand the role of the Holy Spirit in my life.
  • In Luke 4:2 we are told the Lord fasted forty days in the wilderness (see also Matthew 4:2). It was then that the devil came to tempt Him.
I don’t think this was the only time of satanic temptation on the mountain. It says in Luke 4:2, that Jesus was ...was being tempted for forty days by the devil.

➔ But these final three temptations were the most severe!

➔ After a forty-day fast, Jesus was physically weak, but Spiritually strong!

This is key to winning the battle against our enemy. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:10, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.

➔ It does not mean one has to fast for 40 days to achieve Spiritual strength. The main strength a Christian can have is to be regularly in the Word of God!

➔ But be very aware that you have no power in yourself, ...to stand against the wiles of the devil...” (Ephesians 6:11). Your strength must be in and through the Lord Jesus! As Paul stated in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

James gives more instructions concerning spiritual battle in James 4:7-10:

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament, and mourn, and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

What James is writing is pretty clear, except for maybe what he wrote in verse 9: “Lament, and mourn, and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom….

  • He’s not telling us to go around all the time looking like we had just sucked a lemon!
  • He is admonishing us to take sin seriously, to be broken-hearted over offending our Lord! Since God is utterly holy and righteous, we dare not take sin lightly! We are to instead draw near to Him with genuine repentance, confessing our sins and turning away from whatever offends God!
  • Having drawn near to God, that is, having submitted to Him, we are then ready to resist the devil! The result?…he will flee from you…!

There is more to learn concerning “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” So we will continue with one more Gem on the subject.

This Means War! – XXII

The Sword of the Spirit

Ephesians 6:17

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

As soldiers of Jesus Christ, we are under the command of the Son of God!

  • His battle commands are found in Ephesians chapter six.
Ephesians 6:10 and 11 – “...be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:13 – “...take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
  • He also has issued all the protective armor and offensive weapons we need to win the battles in which we are to engage.

But we must remember against whom we are fighting!

  • Satan primarily uses other people to attack us, especially those close to us!
✞  It might be a family member or a friend to whom we look for support.

✞ It is too often those who identify as Christians and should be there to help and encourage us as we grow in the Lord.
  • But human beings are not our enemies! This is why Paul tells us…
...in II Corinthians 10:3 (English Standard Version), “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.

...in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
  • It is spiritual warfare!

We have been issued the defensive armor we need…

  • …to face the enemy!
  • …to protect our person!
  • …to parry the enemy’s blows!
  • …to quench his fiery darts!

But we also have offensive weapons! And the first offensive weapon is, “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” ( Ephesians 6:17). With this, and with the second offensive weapon,…prayer and supplication…” (Ephesians 6:18), we are to actively attack the enemy!

Why is “the Word of God” called “the sword of the Spirit? Because it is identified as such in Revelation 1:16 and 19:15:

  • Revelation 1:16 – “…out of His [Jesus’] mouth went a sharp two-edged sword….
  • Revelation 19:15 – “Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron….

What does it all mean? If we go back to the very beginning, verses 1 and 3 in Genesis chapter one, we are told, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….And God said, ‘Let there be light: and there was light.

  • God spoke, and suddenly out of nothing (ex nihilo) came the heavens and the earth!
  • God spoke, and suddenly out of darkness came light!

But who did the actual speaking? Now turn to the last book of the Bible, Revelation, chapter 19. In verses 11 through 16, Jesus is seen returning in glory to procure His final victory and reclaim the earth! In verse 13 we are told, “…and His name is called the Word of God.

  • In John 1:1 and 14, this is written: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us….
  • Also, in I John 1:1 Jesus is called, “…the Word of Life….

Jesus is the living Word of God! He is the expression of the mind of God. And what God has expressed is that His Son has been ordained to redeem the world!

How powerful is this Living Word?

  • In Colossians 1:16 we read this:
For by Him [Jesus] all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
  • Hebrews 1:2 and 3 speaks about God’s …Son…through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of…[God’s] glory and the express image of His person…[He is] upholding all things by the word of His power….

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God the Son, is the Agent of creation and the Sustainer of it all! His word is that powerful! He is that powerful!

The words that Jesus speaks are very potent! When He is pictured with “…a sharp two-edged sword…[coming] out of His mouth…” (see Revelation 1:16 and 19:15 above), it is a description of how utterly powerful His Word is!

  • We have been given this sword, His Word, as our offensive weapon in the spiritual battle to which we have been called.
  • And, as He leads us, we have been given the same authority to speak in His name, and to expect the same results!

So when we brandish “…the sword of the Spirit…” in the face of Satan or one of his demons, is it any wonder that we are told in James 4:7, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you…?

We have a mighty weapon in …the sword of the Spirit…! It is so powerful, …that with it He should strike the nations. And He himself will rule them with a rod of iron….” (Revelation 19:16).

Surely then it is powerful enough
to put our enemy to flight when he attacks!

In our next Gem we will examine in more detail how we are to use “…the sword of the Spirit….

This Means War! – XXI

Ephesians 6:14-17

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Before we delve into what Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:17 and 18 concerning the two offensive weapons of the “…whole armor of God…” (verse 11), I want you to notice something about the defensive armor God has provided for His children. The five pieces mentioned in verses 14 through 17 are as follows:

  • Verse 14 (English Standard Version) – “…the belt of truth….
  • Verse 14 – “…the breastplate of righteousness….
  • Verse 15 – (King James Version) “…feet shod with the…gospel of peace….
  • Verse 16 – “…the shield of faith….
  • Verse 17 – “…the helmet of salvation….

Looking closely at the illustration above, notice that only three pieces of the armor offer some protection for the back of the soldier’s body: “…the breastplate of righteousness…[the shoes of the]…gospel of peace…[and] the helmet of salvation….” In combat with the enemy, the armor is designed to mainly protect the front of the body!

When the apostle instructs us in Ephesians 6:11 and 13 “…to stand against the wiles of the devil…to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand…,he is only thinking of a soldier facing the enemy, not a soldier in retreat!

  • Jesus battled the devil face to face when He met Satan on the Mount of Temptation.
✞  Three times in Luke 4:1 through 13, the devil tried to turn the Messiah from His mission to “...to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) 

✞ Jesus made full use of the Spiritual armor and won the battle!

And He is the One who goes before His followers to show us how to be victorious also!
  • Peter faced the enemy head-on when he confronted Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1 through 10:
Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit...?” (verse 3).  

When thus confronted, both of them fell over dead!
  • Paul met the enemy in a frontal attack in Acts 13. On his first missionary journey, he, Barnabas, and John Mark traveled through Cyprus preaching the gospel.
In the city of Paphos on the western end of the island, Paul was invited by the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus to share the Word of God with him. One of the proconsul’s advisors was a Jewish sorcerer named Bar-Jesus. This black magic magician opposed what the apostle was saying and tried to turn away the proconsul from the faith. 

In verses 9 through 12, we see Paul’s counterattack:

Then...Paul, filled with the Holy
Spirit, looked intently at him and
said, ‘O full of all deceit and all
fraud, you son of the devil, you
enemy of all righteousness, will you
not cease perverting the straight
ways of the Lord? And now, indeed,
the hand of the Lord is upon you,
and you shall be blind, not seeing
the sun for a time. And immediately
a dark mist fell on him, and he went
around seeking someone to lead him
by the hand. Then the proconsul
believed, when he saw what had been
done, being astonished at the teach-
ing of the Lord.
  • Paul and his companions, on the apostle’s second missionary journey, used the Spiritual armor and weapons to great effect in the Macedonian city of Philippi.
We read in Acts 16 what happened when a possessed slave girl kept harassing them: 

And this did she for many days. But
Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and
said to the spirit, I command you in
the name of Jesus Christ to come out
of her. And he came out that very
hour. (Acts 16:18).

The owners of this slave girl had used her possession to their profit because the evil spirit could supposedly divine the future. But “...when her masters saw the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas...[and] drew them ...unto the rulers.” (Acts 16:19).

They were beaten and thrown
into jail!

➔ Instead of lamenting their
fate, we are told in verse
25 that “...at midnight Paul
and Silas prayed and sang
praises unto God....


✞ Miracles happened!

God sent an earthquake!
(Acts 16:26).

The chains and shackles
fell off the prisoners!
(Acts 16:26).

The jailer and all those in
his house got saved! (Acts
16:27-34).

Many others in the Bible and through the centuries have stood and faced Satan and his demons in spiritual battles! When we examine in the next Gem the first of two offensive weapons God has provided for us, we will begin to understand what we are called to do in this close-quarters combat.

  • If we learn how to properly fight the enemy, we will experience many more personal victories!
  • And if the Body of Christ, the Church, learns how to conduct corporate spiritual warfare, the battles may be bigger, but so will the victories!

And God’s kingdom will advance dramatically!

This Means War! – XIX

Ephesians 6:17 – The Helmet of Salvation (cont.)

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

In the spiritual war in which every Christian is called to be engaged, it is very important to know you are saved, to know you are safe in the nail-scarred hands of the Lord Jesus Christ! But there is more to “…the helmet of salvation…” than just protection of the knowledge that you are saved.

II Corinthians 10:3 through 6 plainly shows the primary location of the spiritual battles we face as believers:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not 
war according to the flesh. For the weapons
of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty
in God for pulling down strong holds, cast-
ing down arguments, and every high thing
that exalts itself against the knowledge of
God, bringing every thought into captivity
to the obedience of Christ, and being ready
to punish all disobedience when your obedi-
ence is fulfilled.

In verse 5 there are three words that tell us where the battle takes place: arguments, knowledge, and thoughts. But I don’t think arguments in the New King James Version is the best translation for the Greek word λογισμo’ς (pronounced log-is-mos’) and meaning “…computation, that is, (figuratively) reasoning (conscience, conceit)…” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary).

  • The Jubilee Bible translates verse 5 this way: “…casting down reasonings and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and leading captive every thought into the obedience of the Christ…
  • Three words in this translation are “…reasonings…knowledge…thought….” And they point to the location of where the spiritual battle rages – the head, the brain, the mind!

While knowing you are saved and safe in Jesus Christ is a great start, there are more things we must know to be effective spiritual soldiers:

  • We are told in Ephesians 4:15 and 13 (verses presented in that order) that we are to …grow up in all things into…Christ…till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
  • And in II Peter 3:18 – “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ….
  • Again, in II Peter 1:3 and 4 (International Standard Version):
His divine power has given us everything 
we need for life and godliness through the
full knowledge of the One who called us
by His own glory and excellence. Through
these He has given us His precious and
wonderful promises, so that through them
you may participate in the divine nature,
seeing that you have escaped the corrup-
tion that is in the world caused by evil
desires.

There is a common word in these three passages (and it appears in many other theme-related places in Scripture) – knowledge! We are to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ! And this is to be a life-long process! Where do we get such knowledge? From the Bible, the Word of God, the revealed mind and heart of the Lord! And the more knowledge we have of our Savior and Lord, the more we are able to successfully engage in spiritual battle!

So “…take the helmet of salvation…and wear it as a necessary part of your spiritual armor! For your enemy would like nothing better than to have you distracted from the purpose to which God has called you. That purpose? …that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11).

  • What are his wiles? Satan’s lies! And his lies can sound so appealing! Remember what Jesus warned us concerning our enemy in John 8:44:
...the devil...was a murderer from the be-
ginning, and does not stand in the truth,
because there is no truth in him. When he
speaks a lie, he speaks from his own re-
sources, for he is a liar and the father
of it.
  • Remember also the Savior’s words…
...in John 8:31 and 32 – “If you abide 
in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
And you shall know the truth, and the
truth shall make you free.

... as He prayed to the Father in John
17:17 – “Your word is truth.

As Paul wrote in I Timothy 6:12…

Fight the good fight of faith….