Sinner’s Progression

June 28, 2013
Psalm 1:1

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

Psalm 1 presents a contrast between a sinner and a godly person.  The first three verses are describing the obedient believer, the last three, the unbeliever.  But the psalm starts the contrast in verse 1 by telling us what the godly one does not do:

    Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands
    in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful….

And this negative description shows us the Sinner’s Progression.  We will consider the three steps described, but from the positive prospective:

•    First, the sinner “…walks…in the counsel of the ungodly….”  It may be he is out
for an evening stroll, but he passes by a group of two or three ungodly people who
are making plans to do some dark deed.  He overhears them speaking, and the
progression starts….

This one who is called a sinner may not have started out planning to sin.  But he
walks where sinners congregate, and that is his mistake!  It is like the alcoholic
who is on the wagon for a few days of sobriety so far.  But he just wants to walk
down the street where is located the old haunt of his favorite bar.  He has no
intention of going into the place, but he just wants to walk by, for old time’s sake…

•    Second, this ungodly one “…stands in the path of sinners….”  He was just walk-
ing by, but now he stops – just to hear what these rascals are planning!  Oh, he’s
not going to join in their evil plotting, but what’s the harm in just listening to
what they are scheming?

Back to our lately-sober alcoholic – As he walks by his old hang-out, he sees through
the window some of his former drinking buddies bellying up to the bar, enjoying a
drink or two, and he remembers the comradeship that used to be part of his own life
not so long ago.  He stops to listen – not to go in and join the party, but just to listen
to their talk, just to call to mind old times and friendships…

•    Third, this unbeliever with perhaps good intentions, “…sits in the seat of the
scornful….”  The old sinful nature kicks in and soon he finds himself sitting down
with those planning evil.  He is now part of their nefarious band, planning dark
deeds with them and ready to join them in carrying out those plans.

Having gone into the bar – just to say hello to his old buddies, you see – this one so
soon sober now takes a seat on his favorite stool at the bar.  And what harm would it
be to order just one beer – just one?  You know the rest of the story!!!

I think you can easily see the Sinner’s Progression in Psalm 1:1.  In short, it is walking, standing, sitting.  It is giving into temptation by degrees!  Now I call this blog the Sinner’s Progression, but it applies to any Christian because we all retain the sinful nature even though – according to II Corinthians 5:17 – we also have been given a new nature.  Paul, Galatians 5:16 and 17, summarizes the cause of the struggle:

    I say then, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 
    For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and
    these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you

Walk, stand and sit – the Sinner’s Progression.  It is better – much better – to not even walk near where they are gathered who are planning sinful deeds!  And if you find yourself in such a place where those kinds of evil deeds are being schemed – Paul has one powerful word of advice  in I Corinthians 10:14: “…flee….”!

A Most Troubling Verse!

June 26, 2013
Matthew 5:48

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

If this one verse of scripture is true, then there is going to be an awful lot of people in trouble!  What verse?  It’s Matthew 5:48 where Jesus said, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  Charles Williams, in The New Testament in the Language of the People, translates the verse this way:  “So you, my followers, ought to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is.”  Whatever translation you choose, Jesus is saying, “Be as perfect as God!

Now who is as perfect as God?  No one!!!  And if this is God’s requirement to be accepted before Him, then – as I said before – this leaves a whole lot of people in big trouble!!!  Paul, in Romans 3:10 through 12 and 23 points out the source of this trouble:

    As it is written, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who
    understands; there is none who seeks after God.  They have all gone out
    of the way; they are together become unprofitable; there is none who does
    good, no, not one.”…for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.

So here is the problem:  God is perfect – absolutely holy and sinless – and He only accepts those who are the same!  He cannot tolerate any sin abiding in His presence!  There are few in their right minds who would claim never to have sinned.  Our own human experience tells us, “…for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).  A teacher and author once said, “If you could carry a recorder around with you, even for one day, that would record not only what you say, but all that you do and even all that you think, you would certainly know, by playing back all that was recorded, that you disappointed God in more ways than one!  But you would not only be disappointing your Creator, you would also be a disappointment to yourself – not living up to your own expectations, let alone God’s!

But notice at the beginning of this blog that I said, “If this one verse of scripture is true, then there is going to be an awful lot of people in trouble!”  I did not say that everybody is going to be in trouble.  You see, there are some who are perfect, as perfect as Godthose who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.  Because when you open your heart and life to the Lord, believing that He died for you – in your place, bearing your sins – and you invite Him into your heart and life, then He does indeed come in.  And when He enters, He brings something neither you nor I can provide – the righteousness of GodWhen we have Jesus Christ, we have His righteousness, His holiness, His perfection.  And we stand before God as if we are perfect – as perfect as God!

So those who are in Jesus Christ – and He is in them as their Savior and Lord – are counted as perfect, and perfectly accepted by God!  These are the ones who are NOT in trouble!  They are safe and secure in the Savior!

So where are you?  Are you in trouble before God?  or safe and secure in the Savior?  Jesus has already done all that is necessary for you to stand before the Father, meeting His requirement of perfection.  Do not try to do it yourselfYou cannot possibly begin to pay the price!  But Jesus has already paid it in full.  Just reach out with the empty hand of faith and ask Him to come in.  After all, He gives this invitation in Revelation 3:20:

    Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart and life] and knock.  If anyone
    hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in….

Don’t continue to be troubled by Matthew 5:48 – God’s absolute standard that you must be as holy and perfect as He is!  The cost has been met, the price has been paid.  Jesus Christ died for you and lives again!

Convoluted Concern

June 24, 2013
Revelation 18:11-19

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

I suppose this blog could be a continuation of the Know Your Enemy! series that we finished last Friday.  It has to do with the way God sees things as opposed to how Satan views it all.  But 21 blogs is plenty for a series!  So this one will stand alone.

Babylon in Revelation – stands not just for the ancient Mesopotamian city made famous by King Nebachudnezzar – but stands for all of human society – political, economic, military – and anything else man, apart from God, has organized in this world.  In Revelation 18, Babylon has fallen.  Society has crumbled under the pressure of God’s judgements poured out upon the nations.  A powerful angel, it says in Revelation 18:2:

    …cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great, is fallen, is
    fallen, and has become a habitation of demons, and the prison for every foul
    spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird.’

First “the rulers of the earth” in Revelation 18:9 and 10 bemoan the fate of their dominion.  Then in Revelation 18:11-19 it is the merchants’ turn.  They lament that the economic system had so broken down that buying and selling that had made them rich – and as had been carried on for centuries – had all but disappeared.  Consider verses 11 through 13:

    And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her [Babylon], for
    no one buys their merchandise anymore:  the merchandise of gold and silver,
    precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind
    of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most
    precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble, and cinnamon and incense, fragrant
    oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep,
    horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men.

There are 28 commodities mentioned.  But in the thinking and writing of the day, such a list was presented in order of importance from the perspective of the one making the list!  Look at what is first on the list – “gold and silver”!  Look what is last on the list – “bodies and souls of men”!  So what is most important in the mind of mankind – driven by Satan and apart from God?  Money!!!  And what is least important to the devil and godless man?  Men, women and children – human beings!  Their bodies (physical needs) are expendable, but especially their eternal souls are worthless!

Now, let’s look at just two examples from everyday life.  If alcohol and tobacco for human consumption were invented today and presented to the Food and Drug Administration for approval, how far do you think the people who were presenting the products would get?  Why they would be laughed right out of the place!  Alcohol and tobacco do more damage to the physical being of people than perhaps any other two commodities on the face of the earth!!!  But there is money to be made!  And so these two commodities are presented, accepted and promoted – to the detriment of the physical being of man!

What about “the souls of men”?  Is the world concerned about the eternal state of man or are they more concerned with the here and now?  It is like the world says – and so the devil who drives the world society – “To hell with people!  As long as we make money!”  Convoluted Concern, or priority turned on its head!!!

So with what is God concerned?  Take this list in Revelation 18:12 and 13 and completely reverse itPeople are of greatest concern to God their eternal souls first, and then their physical needs – just the opposite of how Satan thinks!  And “gold and silver”?  In Psalm 50:12 it says, “…the world is Mine, and all its fulness.”  He owns it all!!!  As far as God is concerned, “gold and silver” are last on His listPeople are His chief concern!!!

As Christians – followers of the Lord Jesus Christ – should not we align our thinking with God’s?  Should we not stop expending so much of our energies on the pursuit of the riches of this world, and be more concerned with what is of greatest value to God – “the bodies and souls of men”Do not be caught up in the devil’s – and the world’s – Convoluted Concern!

Know Your Enemy! – XXI

June 21, 2013

Ephesians 6:18, 19

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

We have come to the final blog of the Know Your Enemy! series – the twenty first chapter!  Let’s look at the final piece of the armor God has given us to fight our battles with Satan and his minions – the second of the two offensive weapons available to us – described in Ephesians 6:18 through 20:

    …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 do not see prayer as one of the available weapons.  I do.  I think you will also see the  importance of prayer in spiritual warfare.

First of all, prayer is vital as it pertains to our Christian lives generally.  There are many scriptures that support this – too many for this short study!  But let’s lift up one passage, I John 5:14 and 15:

    Now this is the confidence that we have in Him [Jesus], that, if we ask any
    thing according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us,
    whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of

It is God’s will that we fight the enemy, so we can know that He hears and answers our prayers concerning this warfare!

Obviously, we need our Lord’s direction when we are engaging our enemy!  And what I call “Nehemiah praying” is essential.  Nehemiah, cupbearer to the king of Babylon, was broken-hearted that Jerusalem lay in ruins – devastated by the Babylonian invasion 141 years before.  His desire was to be sent by royal commission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  The look on his face betrayed his broken heart, and the king asked him what was wrong.  Upon hearing of the situation in Jerusalem, the king asked Nehemiah, “What do you request?” (Nehemiah 2:4).  Nehemiah’s response before answering the king?  “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 2:4).  He sent up a quick prayer, something like, “God, help me out here!”  And then asked the king for permission 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 battling – “Lord, direct me!  Should I crouch behind my shield just now, or parry with my sword?  Should I strike the enemy’s mid-section or go for the head?

…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 eyes open”!

But Paul wants more from his readers than just to pray as they fight.  He implores them to pray “…with all perseverance and supplication for all saints….”  We are admonished to pray for Christian brothers and sisters who are engaging the enemy – both on foreign mission fields and at home!

But there is more 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 ambassador
    in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:19).

Paul needs the prayers of others to fight his own battles effectively!  And notice something else in this scripture.  Paul reminds them that he is “an ambassador in chains.”  We should be aware of the conditions under which fellow Christians are fighting.

So, Christian, “…take up the whole armor of God…” (Ephesians 6:13).  Put on the defensive protection and 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 victory!!!  God has given us all that we need “…to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.”  So fight….!

Know Your Enemy! – XX

June 19, 2013
Ephesians 6:17

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

So, following the instructions in Ephesians 6:14-17, you are dressed in you armor:

    …having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of
    righteousness…having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel
    of peace…taking the shield of faith…[and] the helmet of salvation….

And you have “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” in your hand……  Now what do you do?  You use the sword against the enemy, just as Jesus showed us on the Mount of Temptation.

When the Lord had fasted forty days in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13), Satan came to tempt Him.  Jesus was, after such a fast, physically weak, but spiritually strong!  This is the first key to winning the battle against the enemy.  As Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:10, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.”  Be very aware that you have no power in yourself “…to stand against the wiles of the devil,” (Ephesians 6:11).  But, as Paul stated in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  James wrote 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 means is pretty clear, except for maybe what he wrote in verse 9:  “Lament…mourn …weep…laughter…to mourning…joy to gloom….”  He’s not telling us to go around looking sad all the time.  He is admonishing us to take sin seriously – to be broken-hearted over it!  Since God is utterly holy and righteous, we dare not take sin lightly and try to “draw near to” Him without genuine repentance!  But having drawn “near to God” – having “submit[ed] to God” – we are then ready to “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

With sword in hand, we approach our enemy.  And we thrust and slice with that powerful sword!  Remember that “…the sword…is the word of God….”  And, as we saw in the last blog, that Word is very powerful!  It is written in Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword…”!

Jesus was attacked three times by the devil tempting Him.  Each time the Lord countered with a thrust of “…the sword…the word of God….

•    First temptationAnd the devil said unto him, “If you are the Son of God,
        command this stone to become bread.” (Luke 4:3)
    First thrustBut Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not
        live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’” (Luke 4:4)

•    Second temptationThen the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain,
        showed Him all the kingdoms 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)
Second thrustAnd Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind me, Satan! 
        For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only
        you shall serve.’” (Luke 4:5-7)

•    Third temptationThen 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 Your-
        self 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.’” (Luke 4:9-11)
    Third thrust – And Jesus answered and said to him, It has been said, ‘You
shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
(Luke 4:12)

Use “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God….”!  Read your Bible!  Study it!  Memorize it!  Be ready to draw out that powerful sword at any time!  Speak the Word forth to Satan and/or his demons, just like Jesus did!

Keep in mind what John wrote in I John 4:4, because it is as if Jesus Himself is speaking, not you!

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.

Dress for battleTake up your weaponGo forth and fight your enemyIn Jesus Christ you are guaranteed the victory!!!

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

Know Your Enemy! – XIX

June 17, 2013
Ephesians 6:17

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

The first of the offensive weapons given by God to us for engaging the enemy is found in Ephesians 6:17:  “And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God….”  I say it is the first of the offensive weapons because I see two listed here: “…the word of God…” and “…prayer and supplication…” in Ephesians 6:18.  They are offensive weapons because you do something actively with them to attack the enemy.

Why is “the Word of God” called “the sword of the Spirit”?  It is 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 – in Genesis 1:1 and 3, it is written:

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….And God said, “Let
    there be light: and there was light.”

God spoke and – out of nothing (ex nihilo) – came the heavens and the earth.  But who did the speaking?  In Revelation 19:11 through 16, Jesus is seen returning in glory to procure His final victory and reclaim the earth.  In verse 13 it says, “…and His name is called the Word of God.”  Again, 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, John called Jesus “…the Word of Life…” in I John 1:1

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

In Colossians 1:16 Paul makes this powerful statement:

    For by Him 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.

It was Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was the agent of creation!  He is the One who – being the Word of God – spoke, “‘Let there be…’ and there was….”! (Genesis 1:3)

All this to say that the words which Jesus speaks are powerful!  So when He is pictured with “a sharp two-edged sword” coming out of His mouth, it is a description of how utterly powerful His Word is!  And we have been given this sword – His Word – as our offensive weapon in the spiritual battle to which we have been called.  And we have been given the same authority to speak in His name, and to expect the same resultsas He leads us!

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

We have a powerful weapon in “the sword of the Spirit.”  It is powerful enough “that with it He should strike the nations.  And He himself will rule them with a rod of iron….”  Surely, then, it is powerful enough to put our enemy to flight when he attacks!

In our next blog we will examine more in detail just how we are to fight using “the sword of the Spirit.

Know Your Enemy! – XVIII

June 14, 2013
Ephesians 6:14-17

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

I want you to notice something about the spiritual armor God has provided for His children to protect them as they engage in battle with the devil and his hordes.  Although some of the armor pieces afford protection to the back of body parts, the general defense is for the front of the body!  Read again the description in Ephesians 6:14-17:

    Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breast-
    plate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the
    gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you will be
    able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of

While the belt of “truth”, the boots “of the gospel of peace”, and “the helmet of salvation” gives some protection to the rear of the body parts they are designed to fit, “the breastplate of righteousness” and “the shield of faith” only protect the front!  So when Paul instructs us in Ephesians 6:10 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, more than once, faced the enemy head on, as when Satan three times on the Mount of Temptation tried to make Him fall (Luke 4:1-13).  And Jesus is the One who goes before us to show us how it’s done!  Peter faced the enemy head on when he confronted Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-10: “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit…?” (verse 3).  When thus confronted, both of them fell over dead!  Paul faced the enemy head on in Acts 13 when, on his first missionary journey with Barnabas in Cyprus, he met a sorcerer named Bar-Jesus.  This sorcerer tried to oppose the gospel and turn the procounsel Sergius Paulus away from the faith.  In verses 9 through 12 it says,

    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 procounsel believed, when he
saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Again, in Acts 16 a possessed slave girl harassed the Apostle and Silas in Philippi:

    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.  (verse 18).

Many others in the Bible and through the centuries have stood and faced the battle with the enemy – the devil and his demons.  When we examine in the next blog the first of two offensive weapons God has provided for us, we will see just what we are called to do in this close-quarters combat to which every believer is to be engaged.  And if we learn how to fight the enemy, we will experience many more victories, both personally and – as the Body of Christ, the Church – corporately.  And God’s kingdom will advance abundantly!

Know Your Enemy! – XVII

June 12, 2013
Ephesians 6:17

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

We come to the last piece of defensive armor God has provided for us to fight the spiritual battle to which we are called.  It is identified in Ephesians 6:17: “And take the helmet of salvation….”  A soldier’s helmet protects the head, and the head houses the brain, and the brain contains the mind.  Thus the protection afforded by  “the helmet of salvation” is mainly protection of your mind.

The helmet of salvation” is the knowledge that you are saved.  And that is extremely important.  John wrote in his first epistle, I John 5:11 through 13,

    And this is the testimony; that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in
    His Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God
    does not have life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name
    of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life….

God designed Christianity to be a “know so” belief, not a “hope so” religion!  Look again at the last sentence quoted above that John wrote:

    These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God,
    that you may know that you have eternal life….

So if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord of your life, you have eternal life as a present possession!  And you must know this if you are going to be free to accomplish what God calls you to do!

You see, if you don’t know you have salvation, but only hope you do, then you can never be sure you will be accepted by the Lord.  “Am I really good enough?  What more do I have to do to be accepted by God?”  Thus your belief degenerates into a religion of works.  And the problem with a religion of works is that you never know if you have accomplished enough to please God.  So you either keep trying more and more or you simply give up!

In John chapter 6, Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 men – plus women and children – with “…five barley loaves and two small fish….” (John 6:9).  Because of the free food, the people wanted to make Him their king!  Instead, the Lord directed them to seek the true food of God – Jesus Himself!  But the people had their own idea about it all.  In John 6:28 they asked, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”  The answer from the Lord is in the very next verse: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”  Is Christianity, then, a religion of works?  It involves but a single work by its adherents!  And the work you are called to do is to put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! 

If you know you are saved, you are protecting your head/brain/mind with “the helmet of salvation.”  And being so protected, you are then free to follow the directions of the Lord through the leading of the Holy Spirit within you.

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 you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11).  As Paul wrote in I Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith….

Know Your Enemy! – XVI

June 10, 2013
Ephesians 6:10-18

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

Ephesians 6:16 describes the fourth piece of armor the Christian must don if he or she is to engage the enemy in battle:

    Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench
    all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

First of all, what is faith?  According to Hebrews 11:1 and 6,

    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not
    seen….But without faith it is impossible to please Him [God], for he that
    comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of
    those who diligently seek Him.

You can’t see God, you can’t hold His promises in your hand like a solid rock, but He – and they – are real!  And you can hold in your hand the Bible which contains His promises to His children.  But faith lays hold of God and His promises as solid fact, those promises already accomplished, even though they might not yet be received.  True faith has to start with believing that the God of the Bible exists and He faithfully cares for each one of His children.  It is the trust a child has in his or her good earthly father, a daddy who lovingly watches over his child and will provide for every need.  It is kind of like that little boy or girl who will boast, “My daddy can do anything!” because they really believe that!

As a matter of fact, we are invited to call our Heavenly Father, “Abba Father,” as Jesus did in Mark 14:36, and as Paul tells us in Romans 8:14 and in Galatians 4:6.  The God of all creation wants His son or daughter to trustingly cuddle up in His arms, hug Him around the neck, give Him a kiss on the cheek, and tell Him, “I love you, Daddy!”  That is not blasphemousIt is dear to the heart of God!  And it is a good example of trusting faith!

Now the shield of faith is not the smaller shield used to ward off the blows of the enemy.  It is the large shield behind which a soldier could hunker down behind for protection as the arrows of the enemy come flying in.  Those arrows will come!  For Satan is always trying to wound God’s children and make them ineffective in God’s army.  Those arrows are called “fiery darts” in our scripture, because such darts – or arrows – are designed to do maximum damage.  Remember, as the Lord said in John 10:10, “The thief does not come except to steal, to kill, and to destroy.”  But sometimes in ancient warfare, the large, protecting shields were coated with flame-dowsing substance.  The fiery darts would come flying in, and bury their heads in the coating of the shield, putting out the fire.

That’s what faith is supposed to do – extinguish the fire of the enemy!  For instance, the devil would have you believe that you amount to nothing, and that you can accomplish nothing worthwhile in your life.   Before God, if you are outside of His Son Jesus Christ, you will not amount to much eternally (Isaiah 64:6), and you can do nothing that richly counts in eternity (John 15:5).  But in Christ you are everything to God (read carefully Acts 12:5-19), and, as Paul said in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

So going into spiritual battle without your shield of faith is both dangerous and deadly!  Make sure you have it, and make sure it is strong and ready “…to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”  Now this is a subject for another series of blogs, but the way to build up your faith and make it strong and ready for battle is by getting into your Bible!  For it says in Romans 10:17, “…faith comes…by the word of God.

Get to the daily task of making your faith strong!

Know Your Enemy! – XV

June 7, 2013

Ephesians 6:10-18

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

Today we will examine the third piece of armor God has provided for engaging in spiritual battle.  That third piece is found in Ephesians 6:15, but I quote from verse 14 also as an introduction:

    Stand therefore…having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of

Protection of the feet is important because you have to maintain a good foundation – standing – in all that you do.  Achilles discovered this the hard way!  In an article, Achilles’ heel, on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, it says,

    In Greek mythology, when Achilles was a baby, it was foretold that he would die
    young. To prevent his death, his mother Thetis took Achilles to the River Styx,
    which was supposed to offer powers of invulnerability, and dipped his body into
    the water. But as Thetis held Achilles by the heel, his heel was not washed over
    by the water of the magical river. Achilles grew up to be a man of war who
    survived many great battles. But one day, a poisonous arrow shot at him was
    lodged in his heel, killing him shortly after.

By what are your feet spiritually protected as you fight Satan and his demons?  By “…the preparation of the gospel of peace….”  Notice that protection is not by “the gospel of peace” but by “preparation” – being prepared to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others.  You see, the feet are to take us where we are directed to go.  It is not where we want to go It is where the Holy Spirit leads us!  That’s important, because any soldier must be trained to follow the orders of his or her commander.  And to be prepared to follow orders, one of the first things the military will do in basic training is to break down the self-will of a new recruit so that new soldier can be built up to follow commands and be useful to the larger scheme of things – the overall mission of the military.

Jesus is to be the Christian’s Commander-in-Chief!  And He showed us how we are to prepare ourselves to follow His orders.  In the garden, He prayed to be delivered from the horrific torture of the cross.  Physically, the agony of crucifixion was terrible!  But spiritually…… the perfect Son of God who had never been separated from the Father was about to become sin and sinner before the holy Father, and He would forsake the Son and pour out His full wrath upon Him.  No wonder Jesus prayed in Luke 22:42, “Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from me….”  But He knew His Father’s will, and was prepared to follow it – “…nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”  This is the most important prayer a Christian can pray! (see April 29, 2013 blog).

To be ready to go where the your Commander-in-Chief sends you, to be prepared to share the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ – with others so they can escape the imprisonment of Satan – this is a big part of the spiritual battle our Lord calls us to fight!

So the preparation that guards our feet is more being ready to go without question and do without argument where and what the orders from the Holy Spirit direct us to go and do.  I believe the preparation of what to say as we share the gospel with others is secondary – but important!  We should learn how to show others their condition of sin according to the scriptures.  We should know the Bible well enough to teach someone how Jesus died in our place, for our sins.  We should be able to encourage a person to open his or her heart and life to the Lord and invite Him in, even leading that one in a prayer of repentance and acceptance of salvation.  We should be able to direct a new believer to grow in the Lord by engaging in prayer, reading and study of the Word, worship and fellowship with other Christians, and sharing their faith with those in need.

Notice also that it is called “the gospel of peace”.  That’s because it brings peace to those who believe – peace between God and man.  As it says in Ephesians 2:13 and 14:

    But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off are made near by the blood
    of Christ.  For He Himself is our peace….

Then it brings peace within – Galatians 5:22 and 23:

    …the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness,
    faithfulness, gentleness, self-control….

Finally, as shown in II Corinthians 13:11, it generates peace interacting with others:

    Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in
    peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

Yes, there is a lot to this preparation of the gospel of peace, but it is absolutely essential to being ready to engage the enemy in spiritual battle.  So put on your battle shoes –  the preparation of the gospel of peace.