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Armor wear Armor wear Document Transcript

  • ARMOR WEAR Ephesians 6:10-18 (The Protection and Provision Provided by God for Spiritual Warfare) David J. Clayton, Sr. ARMOR WEAR Copyright ©2008 by David J. Clayton, Sr. LULU Publishing Lulu Enterprises, Inc. 3131 RDU Center, Suite 210 Morrisville, NC 27560 All rights reserved. Written permission required to reproduce any portion of this book. Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures quotations are the New International Version © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society.
  • David Clayton, Sr. David Clayton, Sr. was born in Paris, Tennessee. His parents (James Dave and Betty Clayton) involvement in full time ministry meant that as a“P.K.” (Preachers Kid) he lived in many places but primarily spent his childhood in Chicago, Illinois. He received his B.A. in History from Lipscomb University, did graduate work in theological studies at Harding Graduate School and Vanderbilt Divinity School, earned a Masters in Biblical Studies from Bethany Seminary (1991), and a Masters in Liberal Studies from Fort Hays State University (2006). He is an adjunct history and political science teacher at the college level. David and Sharon were married in 1976 and have three children, David Jr. (married to Sydney), a daughter Sarah, and another son, Chase. David served as a song leader and youth minister in Nashville, Tennessee before becoming a pulpit minister. He has served as pulpit minister for congregations in Tennessee, Kentucky, and South Carolina. David and Sharon at the time of this publication have been with the Summerville Church of Christ, located outside of Charleston, South Carolina, since March 1996. David has written articles for several publications, wrote portions of the Gospel of Matthew and Book of Isaiah commentary published by Landmark Publications. (1988, 1991) and the author the The DaVinci Myth (2005).
  • INTRODUCTION Multiple surveys of Americans indicate a belief that people are capable of doing evil but most do not believe in the reality of a devil or hell. That is like saying that you know tigers exist in the world because you have seen pictures and movies about them but since they do not exist in your neighborhood they are not real to you. I am convinced that spiritual warfare to the modern mind has become more like watching a “Star Wars” or “Lord of the Ring” movie or some scary movie released around Halloween. While there is recognition that we sometimes do bad things and there are monsters walking in our midst as humans who do horrible things, for the most part we do not view ourselves as being part of the spiritual warfare. A prominent entertainer asked about his views on evil in this world replied: I choose to believe that the Universe is a benevolent place and that things happen for a reason. I choose to believe it, however, because it makes me happy, and it certainly doesn't hurt me or anyone else. That tells me that we can choose what we believe, and somehow, the Universe will make it true for us. While believing in the existence of evil, demons, etc., may be "right," creating an evil-free personal reality is wiser. (E.T. Interview, 2003, John Travolta) Even in Christianity, there is a rising tide of followers believing in the rewards and reality of heaven but denying the reality of an eternal hell. A mantra frequently is, “How can a loving God assign people to an eternal hell?” Those sorts of questions sound similar to the one who said they would rather think of the universe as a happy place that is evil free. Count me in! However, wanting it to be that way and the way it really is are not always the same. I would love to think that I could eat all my favorite calorie rich, deep fried foods and it will not affect my health. I feel happier when I eat those foods but I am not healthy. You may be happier to think that there is not a devil or hell in your world but that is just as foolish as the one who believes tigers don’t exist because he can’t see them on Main Street in his/her town. There is a Satan. He is alive and well on planet work. He is actively destroying the work of Jesus Christ wherever possible. We are going to focus in this series on spiritual warfare. The purpose is to get us to stand for the things we claim to believe. Using Ephesians 6:10-19 as a springboard, we will explore how God prepares us for spiritual battle. If you leave this series with a greater awareness of the reality of Satan, a firmer conviction that you can overcome sin, and a better understanding of the armor that God has provided for you, and then I can say to you as soldier of God training accomplished- go and do battle for the Lord. David J. Clayton, Sr. View slide
  • Ephesians 6:10 -18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted for the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. View slide
  • TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction Chapter 1: I’m Still Standing Chapter 2: 18% Grey Chapter 3: Watch Your Step Chapter 4: “Keeping it real man, keeping it real.” Chapter 5: 15 Yard Penalty for Removing Helmet Chapter 6: I’m not the man I use to be. Chapter 7: All
  • 1 I’m Still Standing .. did you think this fool could never win? Well look at me, I'm coming back again… Don't you know I'm still standing better than I ever did? Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid... I'm still standing after all this time Picking up the pieces of my life… I'm still standing yeah yeah yeah I'm still standing yeah yeah yeah. (Music by Elton John: Lyrics by Bernie Taupin from “Too Low For Zero.”) You don’t often get to use portions of an Elton John song to make a spiritual point. This is one of those rare opportunities. After reading Ephesians 6:10-18 about the importance of remaining standing at the end of spiritual conflicts I found myself singing the song above. I know I should have been singing something like “The Battle Belongs to the Lord,” or “Standing on the Promises,” but my heart I was singing, “I’m still standing.” The song is about a person after having gone through a painful breakup realizing that he as hurtful as it was that he has moved on. He has done more than just survived the pain but is stronger and standing. Ephesians 6:13 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. You have the capability of standing. We are often prone to think we are unable to stand up against the temptation of sins- particularly the ones that keep repeatedly tripping us up. Wherever you are in your spiritual journey, it is evident from Paul that you can be victorious. We have the mighty power of God and an armor provided by Him. You can be strong in the Lord. You can put on the armor of God. You can stand your ground. It is not a magical armor but it is a mighty one. It is not that you put on this armor of God and magically you transform into one mean fighting machine. Soldiers are trained to wear and use their gear and spiritually so are we. If you’re willing, God provides the equipment and the training. OUR ENEMY (12-13) Ephesians 6:12-13 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the
  • authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. STRUCTURE Paul leaves no room for doubt regarding the reality of Satan. Notice his organizational structure. He possesses not only tremendous power but also commands an effective organized evil army of angels. Satan has wicked spirits controlled by evil princes who control this world, who in turn answer to Evil rulers. Have you ever thought about that before? There is a devilish hierarchical (or low- archy) structure. Read Revelation 12, Jude 9, and Daniel 10:7-12 for a further description of his structural organization. STRATEGIES Have you ever hear the phrase, “the devil is up to his old tricks?” Ephesians 6:11 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. The eleventh verse, reveals we battle against the devils tricks. The older term was the “wiles “of the devil. I once heard a sermon where the preacher kept referring to the “willies” of the devil. I did everything I could to keep from laughing aloud. Anyone who has ever heard me preach knows that I have had several bloopers so I can laugh with empathy at another preacher who makes the Hall of Fame bloopers list. The wiles of the devil are more than tricks but organized schemes, strategies and plans of warfare. Satan attacks lives and causes that would defeat his plan. That is why as a Christian you experience the effect of his presence. He doesn’t go after those who belong to him as much as he goes after those who oppose him. 2 Corinthians 2:11 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. Don’t be ignorant or indifferent about his schemes or devices. Both attitudes are dangerous. If we are ignorant or indifferent to his devices and trickery, we play right into his strategy. His chief objective is to devour your testimony and to tear apart your influence for Jesus Christ. He seeks every advantage he can get in your life to rip your life apart. It is heartbreaking to have your testimony, relationships, character, and example torn apart by the vicious attack of the devil. Satan delights every time it happens. If he can sow discord into your family and cause it to break apart, he sits back and smiles. If he can get us to be ungodly and divisive and spread rumors and say hateful about each other he delights in his work.
  • Like a prowling lion, he viciously attacks the Christian, the home, and the church- to tear it apart. Moreover, he is doing his job better than he has ever done it. That is why God has provided for us the equipment necessary to protect us. STANDING Ephesians 6:13 So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will still be standing up. Armor is for warfare. There is no middle ground or area of neutrality in this warfare. Good and evil are irreconcilable, opposed to each other. Your attitude toward sin should be no negotiation, no surrender, and no compromise. You are a warrior for God. When you look at the insanity of sin, the sickness of sin, the darkness of sin, the destruction of sin to the individual, family, society and church you begin to see that you have no choice but to fight the good fight of faith. Don’t lose the sense that you are in warfare. You don’t have to live a defeated life. Most people I know don’t want to live this way and you don’t have to because God has provided the armor to wear. You must put it on everyday. Workout clothes hanging in a closet doesn’t make you fit anymore than an armor just hanging in your spiritual closet makes you equipped for the battle. That is why this series of messages is going to be helpful because it is going to raise awareness of what we are involved in and what can be done by the strength and power of God if there is applications of the principles and truths found in these verses. 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. It is good to know that he does not have a free hand with his cunning skills and strategies. God protects and provides a way of escape for Christians who look for the door out of the maze of temptation. An annual fall tradition in the Clayton household is a trip to the fairgrounds to get your hand stamped for unlimited rides, seeing the shows, viewing the exhibits, and oh course the food. Every year I have to get those big huge greasy “Elephant Ears” coated with white sugar and cinnamon. When the children were younger, I would ride the different rides with them and enjoyed them because they went slower and were closer to the ground. Riding the Kid Rides doesn’t break a general rule I learned from my Associate Minister Ernie Thigpen in Spartanburg, South Carolina back in the 1980's. His rule was if the ride wasn’t here yesterday, I’m not riding it today. I observe that rule quite religiously. So what I do is walk around while the kids, now older ride those gut-wrenching, death-defying machines. One place where I like to go is to the “House of Mirrors” and watch with amusement
  • as people try to find their way out of the maze of mirrors. Over the years of watching this event I have observed a couple of common denominators. Once a person discovers the way through the maze the next time they go through they walk swiftly and confidently as if it was a piece of cake. Solving the maze that used to be difficult allows the person to walks through with ease the next time. Second, often a person who has solved the maze will go with another person through the maze and show him or her how to get through. In those observations, I see something about God and the fellowship of believers. First, when God shows us the door of escape to the temptation maze that use to trip us up and defeat us we are now able to walk through with relative ease. This illustrates spiritual growth. It doesn’t happen through my will power but God’s will power. He shows the door and I walk through. Second, solving the maze of temptation makes me want to share the solution with others. James 5:16 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James is talking about sharing solutions to the temptation maze. It is when Christians get together and share how God has shown us the door to escape a temptation or provided forgiveness in order to keep standing by His grace. Confessing your sins one to another is T great strategy to counterattack the tricks of the devil. The debriefing helps you and others. If we share what happens with others it provides information that is useful for other Christians in order to be strengthen to stand up against the temptation. It also encourages us because we discover that other Christians have gone through a similar attack or temptation and we learn from their experience. The devil tricks and deceives in order to enslave you in sin to the point that you give up in your faith. Confession to God brings an openness, renewal, and cleansing to your spirit so that you can keep growing in your faith. This progress occurs by the grace of God. Grace keeps me going when up to his old tricks is telling me my walk with God is so corrupt that I might as well sit down and quit. Remember that the devil is still accountable to God for his actions. So much so that he had to ask permission to do the things, he did to Job. (Job 1-2) Jesus told Peter that “Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back strengthen the fellowship.”(Luke 22:31ff) Job suffers but doesn’t sin while Peter ignores the warning from Jesus about falling. Peter didn’t believe Jesus’ warning. Instead of listening to Jesus, he argued with Jesus. Let me just say this: If a mature Christian Brother or sister is telling you that what you are about to do is going to lead you in the wrong direction don’t argue with them listen to them.
  • We are not as objective about our situations and ourselves as we like to think. Not only that I believe that God gives Christians word of knowledge about the spiritual condition of their brothers and sisters. Sometimes that advice coming from another Christian is not meddling, being nosy, or just a strong opinion. It can be a Word from God to get you to stop what you are about to do. Fellowship is more than just eating together but accountability. That is why we are to encourage one another, to bear one another burdens, to exhort and warn one another. But even if we do fail, remember the words of Jesus: “Turn back and strengthen the fellowship.” Don’t continue to walk in your discouragement. Repent and then tell other Christians what you have learned about the devils strategies. An awareness of the structure and strategies of the devil can help us to sin less. But it also helps us when we do sin to realize that God has not turned His back on me but is encouraging me to get back up and continue to walk by faith through the power of the Holy Spirit and the mercy of His grace. When you realize the power and provision God has given you, it changes your whole tune of life. Instead of feeling discouraged and defeated by the structure, strategies, and schemes of the devil, you find yourself singing I'm still standing yeah yeah yeah I'm still standing yeah yeah yeah.
  • 2 18 % Grey 18% grey. It's a photographer’s nightmare. Give the photographer a black or white and the camera will automatically focus for the perfect shot. Aim your camera at 18% grey and auto focus doesn’t work. Like integrity. Choices presented to us are seldom black and white. No, they are usually in that grey area and all too often, we are content to make grey choices. Then we wonder why are our lives are out of focus. A worker opened his pay envelope one day, only to discover there $100 more than he knew he’d earned. He didn’t report the error. During the following week, however, payroll discovered the error and deducted $100 from the workers next paycheck. When payday came, the worker approached payroll. "Excuse me, sir, but I couldn’t help but notice that I’m $100 short this week.” "You didn’t complain last week," replied the paymaster. "No sir, I didn’t" said the worker. "You see, I don’t mind overlooking one mistake. But when it happens twice, then I figure it’s time to say something!" 18% grey. A recent talk show host posed the following questions to her audience: "What would you do if there was an extra $1,000 in your bank account and there was no way to trace it. Would you tell the bank?” All kinds of answers came back, but most said, "Yes, I would keep the money because I’m not hurting anybody I know or care about.” 18% grey. Many feel that there are all sorts of good reasons to run from the truth or settle for half-truths or to ignore the subject of truth altogether. In his research on the Everyday Ethics of the American people, Joshua Habersham, discovered that approximately 7 out of 10 Americans admitted to lying more or less "regularly" to give themselves an advantage, to escape the consequences of some action, or to "protect" someone from the truth. 18% grey. That should trouble us. For those little harmless lies are really big and harmful. When you understand that you are involved in spiritual warfare against Satan then you realize that lying is one of the tools that he uses to defeat our faith. You see, to put it in armor terms, truth is the belt that we wear that holds every piece of the armor together. If the belt isn’t right then the weapons attached are not going to be in their proper place. Honesty is the business of intentionally aligning our words and deeds, and helping others align theirs, with those dependable planes. We give all kinds of excuses for living in the 18% grey zone. Just a degree this way or that—it looked better or it cost less or other people were doing it or I wanted to protect somebody else—but the fact remains that if that is your approach to living you have left yourself exposed to the devil’s schemes because you have been careless with the truth. The belt was the place where awards for successes in previous significant battles hung. When you came up against this soldier in battle, you knew that you were fighting against a seasoned veteran by looking at the belt. May the belt of your armor be pinned with many medallions representing your victory over sin by the power of God before your Christian journey on this earth is completed. WWW. Beltmaster.com has over 600 different styles of belts you can purchase. You can get antique coin belts, belts with no buckles, belts with large buckles, casual
  • belts, combination belts, contemporary belts, dress belts, fishing and hunting belts, golf belts, ranger belts, reversible belts, trophy belts, and oh course western and Texas belts. There are hundreds of Belts with different styles and sizes but still serving the same purpose. Regardless of where we live on this planet, all cultures seek truth. Paul says that one piece of the armor provided by God is called the belt of truth. Our customs and cultures may vary but essential for everyone is the belt of truth. Ephesians 6:14 Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. Jesus called the devil a liar. John 8:44 For you are the children of your father the devil and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning and a hater of truth—there is not an iota of truth in him. When he lies, it is perfectly normal; for he is the father of liars. And so when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe it! Obviously, the belt of truth has to do with our knowledge about God and His Word. Earlier in Ephesians Paul says stop acting like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. Ephesians 4:15-16 Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times—speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly—and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of his body, the Church. A prayer offered by Paul stressed the foundation of truth in the life of every believer. Ephesians 1:15ff Ever since I heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and of the love you have for Christians everywhere…I pray for you asking God. to give you wisdom to see clearly and really understand who Christ is and all that he has done for you. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can see something of the future he has called you to share… that you will begin to understand how incredibly great his power is to help those who believe him. In a constant changing world, the consistent word of God is great encouragement to anyone. Truth never changes. The Word of God is not some built hypothesis to get closer to the truth but is the truth. Truth never changes. Confronted by ideas in culture about what you should believe and how you should behave, you have a real simple solution before you. It is not to keep listening endlessly to the 24-hour news cable to the talking heads about what they think. It is not to delve deeper into the magazines or believe everything a celebrity might tell you about the universe. The solution should is around your spiritual waist: Know the truth. The truth is what sets you free. For the most part people all across this planet are seeking for truth. It is
  • evident by the number of people that are involved in some sort of religion. While many seek truth through Christianity, others seek it through religions created by people. All have the same goal- to discover truth. In the Lord Jesus Christ, is truth. Put your hope, faith, and trust in the Bible as the source for truth. Build your life on the principles precepts and the promises of God. You will not be disappointed. That belt is not going to break or wear out because truth never goes out of style. Integrity comes from the word "integrate." It's the ability to integrate the values of my heart into my daily actions. It's important; God placed a very high value on integrity. Proverbs 28:6 "Better is the poor who walks in his integrity, than he who is crooked though he be rich." Integrity comes from the same word for “integers.” Integers, in math are the whole numbers. The concept is that person of integrity is whole. I Chronicles 29:17 "I know, my God, that You test the heart and are pleased with integrity." Integrity is important to God and to us. All want to have integrity between my heart's values and my daily actions. Gallup did a poll that said the number one problem Americans face is incongruent values. We say "I don't want to be materialistic" but then we spend a lot of money. We say, "I want to spend a lot of times with my kids, that's important, it's a value in my life" but we just can't find the time. We believe that intimate conversations with our spouse is of value but we might go weeks not having those kinds of conversations. Romans 7:18-20 he gives one of the best descriptions of it I've ever seen. "No matter which way I turn I can't make myself do right. I want to but I can't. I want to do good, I don't. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway." Can you relate to that? A few verses later he says, "I don't understand myself at all." Ephesians 4:15 "Speak the truth in a spirit of love.” Some people speak truth in a way that destroys the relationship rather than builds the relationship. It's important to speak honestly but in a spirit of love. Some people don't tell the truth they launch the truth -- a guided missile into your life. They blow you away with it then they walk away feeling great about themselves and you're laying on the floor destroyed. "I told the truth" they say, but not the truth in the spirit of love. When you and I begin to do that, it has great impact on our relationships. Proverbs 20:7 "It is a wonderful heritage to have an honest father." Do see the impact of speaking honestly? It's a wonderful heritage. A phrase often seen and heard is "Honesty is the best policy.” But a lot of us have canceled that policy . We just don't tell the truth. Why is that? There are times when we lie, times when we refuse to tell the truth. Why is that? I think it's because of a real fear of what
  • will happen when we tell the truth. I will lose by job if I am truthful. With friends, if I say the truth they're not going to like me any more. At home, if I say the truth we're going to end up having a big fight. Let's be honest about honesty. Integrity and honesty are a tremendous risk in relationships. What would they really think if I really told them the truth? It's a risk to tell the truth. Often times in our attempt to keep the peace what we actually do is lie. We say "Everything's OK. No problems." It's a risk to tell the truth. Ecclesiastes 10:8 "There is risk in each stroke of your axe!" There's a risk in telling the truth -- that's right. But there's also tremendous risk in not telling the truth. The risk in telling the truth is that things will blow up and you'll go through a conflict. The risk in not telling the truth is that you'll gradually grow apart. And your love for each other will begin to fall. We just don't want to face conflict. We don't like it. So when it's a choice between an immediate conflict and gradually growing apart, we always say to ourselves, "Maybe it will get better later. Maybe it will come out sometime. Maybe it will work out." But it never does until someone has the courage to tell the truth. Ask God for the courage to tell the truth. Ask Him for the courage to take the risk and tell the truth in the relationship. Honesty is a part of integrity in our relationships, integrity that strengthens a relationship. Another fabric in the belt of truth is being able to admit when you are wrong. Admit when you're wrong. A poem by Ogden Nash offers some good advice. To keep your marriage brimming With love in the loving cup When you're wrong, admit it And when you're right, shut up. Every time I've violated either side of that, there's been trouble. Both of those are important. When you're wrong, admit it. Ernest Hemingway told the story of a father and son that moved to Madrid together. Somehow, they began to grow apart. The son eventually ran away from home and joined the thousands of young boys that were running in the streets at that time. The father couldn't find his son. He looked, searched, asked his friends. Finally, in desperation he placed an advertisement in the Madrid daily newspaper. "Pico, please come home. I'm desperately wanting to see you. If you want to see me, meet me in front of the newspaper office tomorrow morning. All is forgiven. Dad." The next morning the father went down to the office to find lots of young boys in front of the newspaper office. If we just say, "I forgive you." "I'm the one that's been wrong" it would open a floodgate in our relationships. So many people are seeking that. The fabric of the belt of truth contains honesty, admission of wrongdoing, and consistency. The opposite of consistency is hypocrisy. You may be able to hide
  • hypocrisy at work or church but you can't hide it at home, where people know you. You can't hide it there. It is called transformation. Isn’t it amazing how people transform the moment they enter the church parking lot. A dad who yells and is constantly putting down his two teenage kids Monday- Saturday suddenly transforms, as he enters the church parking lot, into a kind compassionate father who speaks good about his family and kids. Consistency is a key part of the belt of truth. Make sure public life matches private life. It's a key area in developing respect and integrity. It shouldn’t be "Do as I say, not as I do." It's better to say, "Shoot for what I'm shooting for. Psalm 101:2 "I will walk in my house in the integrity of my heart." Former Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, once said: "Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle that fits them all.” A lie is simply a misshapen handle that fools the senses into thinking you’re going straight when in reality you’re veering off. It may be the lie that fiddling with the financial report a little can’t really hurt. It may be the deception that quality time with your kids is the same as quantity time. It may be the lie that exaggerating your accomplishments is O.K., or that a little bit of gossip behind someone’s back is perfectly harmless, or that you pretty much have it together spiritually. Remember, nobody sets out in life to be a habitually unethical businessperson or a person who hardly knows his kids. Nobody begins thinking: "I think I’ll become a self-deceived braggart or a vicious backstabber or a hypocritical." Henri Amiel once observed: "Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence.” To be honest is not only to be unwilling to hold onto falsehood in my life, it is to be unwilling to remain silent with a brother or a sister who is working with a lie. Henry David Thoreau once said: "It takes two to speak the truth—one to speak, another to hear.” Why live in 18% grey out of focus because of deception, a ruined character, and lost integrity? It’s called discernment. The more discerning you become by the power of the Holy Spirit the more you realize that most decisions really are black or white. Get out of the grey zone and into the battle zone focusing on defeating the plans of the enemy to destroy you character through lost integrity. A Famous Prayer. From the cowardice that shrinks from new truth, From the laziness that is content with half-truth, From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth, O God of Truth, set us free.
  • 3 Christian Heart Association Six cardiologists established the American Heart Association in 1924. Their goal was to improve public and medical awareness during a time of "almost unbelievable ignorance about heart disease.” Today, the American Heart Association is a viable national voluntary health agency whose mission is to reduce disability and death from cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The breastplate protected the vital organs of the Roman soldier from deadly blows. In spiritual warfare, it symbolizes a person’s heart, emotions, and will. The AHA's mission to protect the physical heart is similar to the Christian Heart Association's to shield the spiritual heart from Satan. An unforgiving spirit, pride, jealously, envy, coveting, feelings slighted or wounded by others are all the warning signs of a spiritual cardiac arrest. The American Heart Association tries to educate the public about proper nutrition and exercise for a healthy heart. Determining to do our will instead of the will of God is a warning of a spiritually unhealthy lifestyle that can lead to spiritual death. Proper knowledge and care can improve keep our hearts fit. The same holds true regarding our spiritual heart. The breastplate piece of armor is essential. Not only does it protect our emotions but also provides the assurance of what it means to be declared justified, righteous, and sanctified. A closer study reveals the thoroughness God’s grace as He provides the armor we could never make. There are certain images that it helps to keep close to our mind's eye, simply because they help us to remember the truths it is all too easy to forget. Author Alex Haley, the late author of Roots, kept such an image in his office throughout his career. It was a photograph of a turtle, mysteriously sitting atop a fencepost. Haley prized that picture as a constant reminder of a lesson he had learned years ago, saying: "If you see a turtle sitting on top of a fencepost, you can be sure of one thing: He must have had help!” No matter what heights we have attained in life, there can be no doubt that we have all had some help along the way. Nevertheless, it is easy to focus on all that we have DONE, are DOING, or still need to DO to elevate our station in life. Without ever meaning for it to happen, we can lose sight of just how much the unmerited and often uninvited help that Christians call "grace" under girds our lives. The turtle on the fencepost and Christians have a lot in common. It is certain whatever successes we ever have are because God has lifted us up and help us every step of the way. We did not get there on our own. Ephesians 6:10 "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. A connection often missed is that this section on spiritual warfare links back to the instructions Paul gives to a husband, wife, child, and servants in Ephesians 5. The
  • trenches of spiritual warfare involve the home, job, and congregations. Remember Satan wants to destroy all that can be an influence for good. This section begins with the word "finally" to let us know that God has empowered us so we can be the spouse, parent, child, and worker bringing honor and glory to Him. There are several of ways to disrupt an entire army. One way is to destroy communications. This is a major tactical plan. When you destroy the ability of an army to communicate to other members, chaos ensues and they quit moving forward. In the spiritual realm of the Church when the free flow of truth is hampered, as falsehood enters in, the ability of the church to fight effectively is thwarted. Falsehood and bad doctrine will keep the army of Christ from understanding its role and its objective, together with its understanding of where its resources come from, which in our case, is the Lord Jesus Christ. If you can convince an army that it does not have the ability to call for help or reinforcements or supplies as you surround it, then it will shortly consider surrender. In a similar way, if the enemy can convince us that God does not hear our prayers, and if He does, He is not interested in answering them, because you are not worthy, then it is only a matter of time before you succumb and become ineffective in the battle for the souls of people. Another way of disrupting an army is to inflict as many casualties as possible without necessarily killing everyone. A wounded soldier effectively removes one to two other soldiers as they come to his aid to remove him from the battlefield. The more casualties the more people you remove from the fighting. Theoretically, if you wound 10 you remove 20 or more. If you wound 50, you remove 100 more and so on, until the fighting force either retreats or captured due to an inability to press the battle. In a spiritual sense, this happens in the church on a continual basis. Satan tries to inflict pain and suffering in his attacks so that others will be obliged to assist. The danger is that if a person under attacked is not utilizing the full armor of God they will become affecting the rest of the body. Yes, we take care of the wounded- yes we bind each other up, but as each is, trusting Christ the healing process is speeded up and they are able to get back in the battle being stronger for it. James 1:2 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." Seasoned soldiers are the most effective soldiers. There is no way you can become seasoned unless you are tested in real battle. Romans 8:17 "Now if we are children, then we are heirs -heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
  • I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:35-37 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." 2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he [Jesus] said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." Do you think Paul was excited about having a thorn in his flesh? I do not think so. Nevertheless, he was content to know that Jesus Christ was there to use Paul to glorify the Lord through that situation and that Paul would be a stronger soldier for the Lord because of it. Paul was always looking for ways to be a better-equipped soldier for Christ and so should we. 1 Peter 1:3 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade -kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this, you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." Armor imagery is in the Old Testament. When Isaiah confessed that Israel had sinned against the Lord and that no truth or justice was found in her gates, we see how the Lord Himself came to defend the helpless. Isaiah 59:17 "He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak." Isaiah 11:5 "Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist."
  • Psalms 93:1 "The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed with strength." Since God’s robe is strength, and we are clothed with Christ, then it makes sense that we too are robed in His strength, His armor if you will. Job speaks of this same thing and yet he uses a little different metaphor from that of armor for battle. He speaks rather of being clothed himself. Job 29:14 "I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban." Paul uses both metaphors of clothing and armor in Romans 13:12 "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Or the flesh) There is no question that Satan's warfare targets our mind and our feelings. He is viscous, in his attack trying to corrupt our mind either through false teachings lies, deception or by getting us to follow his world system. The intent is to leads us further and further away from God. His purpose is to create doubt in order to destroy the effectiveness of the word of God. That is the seed of salvation in our heart. He wants to take a pure mind, the pure conscience and pervert it, corrupt it, to turn it from the ways of God. Therefore, he attacks our mind. He also attacks feelings and emotions. He wants you feeling depressed, emotionally drained, feeling slighted or carrying the burden that someone has hurt or wounded you. Most assuredly, he desires you to lose the assurance of your salvation, the confidence of your faith. Matthew 15:18-19 However, the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. What does it mean to where the righteousness of breastplate of righteousness? Understanding the definition of justify, sanctify, and righteousness is important to spiritual health. As a Christian, I am justified by faith. Think of justify as “Just as if I never sinned.” Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we£ have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. I am declared righteous before God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
  • God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Think of Righteousness as right standing or being made right. I become the righteousness of God not through imitation but through imputation and impartation. Imputed righteousness means that my debt was transferred from my account to someone else. Imparted righteousness means that I have been infused with someone else righteousness. Think of a blood transfusion where someone else blood is transfused into your blood stream. My debt of sin is wiped away and I running in have in my spiritual unclog spiritual arteries the righteousness of God. Expanding 2 Corinthians 2:21 God made him who had no sin (debt free and sinless) to be sin for us (imputed: put the debt on his account) so that in him we might become (imparting, transfusion) the righteousness of God. Clayton Paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 2:21 The Sinless One became sin filled so that sinful me might be declared Sin free. God looks at me as a Christian as just as if I never sinned, having aright to stand in his holy presence by the blood of Jesus Christ. I am justified, righteous, and sanctified. I believe you can see the word “sanctuary” in sanctified. I am holy, set apart in service for God. In temple worship, certain utensils were set aside for exclusive use. That cup or utensil became a holy cup- set apart to in worship to God. I could never view myself as if I had never sinned. I know better. I know I could never on my own approach the throne of God and be in good standing and a right to appear before Him. I know better. I am aware of my sinfulness, transgression, corruption but when I put my faith in Jesus, immersed my life into Christ being born of the water and the spirit it is just as if I never sinned, I can boldly and confidently approach the throne of mercy of God, and I see myself not as an ordinary person with a godly purpose and mission. Commit yourself to accomplish the purpose He has determined. Ephesians 4:22 "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:27 "do not give the devil a foothold. (or an opportunity)". You give the devil first a toehold, he will then a foothold and then a stronghold. He will take whatever he can get and continue to launch his attack to gain more ground in our life or until he is thrown out by resisting him by our submission to God. This is
  • why we do not need to fear, when the attacks come, as to whether or not we possess this full armor of God. We do. James 4:7-8 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you...." That is what makes our choices so important. We are armed and dangerous, as far as the devil is concerned, but only as we depending on Christ. However, it is not our strength. We are armed in the strength of God. The American Heart Association encourages proper diet, exercise, and regular checkups to keep your heart in shape. Consider this lesson a spiritual checkup on your heart. Do not let clogged spiritual arteries remove the joy of your salvation, block spiritual fruit, and constrict your spiritual rewards. Make the decision to get in spiritual shape by living daily, moment by moment in obedience to God through His Son Jesus Christ. God provides the armor but you must provide the willingness. How willing are you?
  • 4 “Keeping it real man, keeping it real.” Obviously the title of this lesson gives betrays my age. In high school, a common greeting of “How’s it going, dude (or man)?” was met with the reply, “Keeping it real man, keeping it real.” Have you noticed how many things claim to be the real thing but really aren’t. The ad for Coca Cola declares, “It’s the real thing.” Oh, really. Have you ever read the product label for Coca Cola? There is not a real ingredient in Coke. It is nothing more than a brew of various chemicals mixed together that can clean the corrosion off your battery and I am afraid to know what it is doing to the lining of the esophagus and stomach. With the emphasis on youthful looks, cosmetic surgeons prosper. You look at people today (not too long or close) and wonder if their appearance is real and natural or a cosmetic surgeon altered it. I like Ping© golf clubs but I am not going to pay Ping© golf club prices. A set I wanted a few years ago cost $700.00. I refuse to pay that much for clubs that cause me more consternation that joy. I went on the internet and found golf club “knockoffs.” “Knockoffs are identical to Ping© except they don’t have the Ping© label. I bought them for about $200.00. No, my game hasn’t improved that much but oh course it is not fault or the clubs fault- if the Courses I play would remove some of the trees, water and sand hazards that are in the way I would have excellent scores. “Knockoffs” are popular in the fashion industry. Clothing stores offer substantial discounts on the latest fashions by offering “knockoff” products. This allows us to purchase even more clothes and shoes to stuff in an already crowded closet. In some areas of life, whether something is “real” or not does not really matter. However, in other areas of life you want it to be real. You want your diploma to be from a real university and not a diploma mill. You want real doctors, real medications, real money, and real love. I tell you what I want more than anything else. I want my faith to be real. I want a real faith. I need a real faith because I am involved in real spiritual warfare. In our text for this lesson, Paul says the devil throws fiery darts in our direction. Only the shield of faith can protect us from this weapon. Not just any faith but a real, genuine faith. Paul and James, men with real faith, provide an excellent description of real faith. Combining their different perspectives reveals the power of faith. Paul views faith from the perspective of what God does through faith. James views faith from the perspective of what we can do through faith. Paul focuses on the root of salvation -- what happens to me internally. Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • James focuses on the fruit of salvation -- what happens on the outside. James 2:14 What good is it if a person claims to have faith but has no deeds? Paul describes, “How to know you're a Christian,” James pictures, “How to show you're a Christian.” Paul shows how to become a believer. James reveals how to behave like a believer. Ephesians 2:8-10 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, for a life of good works that God has already prepared for us to do." There are three prepositions in this passage -- "by grace", "through faith", "for good works.” Note the order- grace, faith, and works. Out of proper order spells trouble. James identifies five signs of real faith. 1. Real Faith is more than words James 1:14 "What good is it my brother if a man claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such `faith' save him?" A recent George Gallup survey reveals 50 million Americans claiming to be born again.” Does the American culture reflect 50 million faithful Christians? There is a difference between a claim and a fact. Insurance companies investigate claims to make sure they are legitimate. Jesus said, "Not everybody who says to me `Lord, Lord' is going to enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 7:21) Not everybody with a Christian bumper sticker is a believer. Not every Professor of Christianity is a possessor of Christianity. 2. REAL FAITH IS MORE THAN FEELINGS James 2:15 "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him `Go, I wish you well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?" Faith is more than feelings. People often confuse emotions and sentiment with faith. You can be emotionally moved and never act on it. You can worship and get a quiver in your liver but it might not lead to any lasting conviction or change. Real faith is active. The heart moves to action. 1 John 3:17 "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" I can't meet everyone’s needs but I can meet somebody’s need.
  • James 2:17 "In the same way, faith by itself if it's not accompanied by actions is dead." If I don't feel like helping other Christians, I don't have a sick faith but a dead faith. 3. REAL FAITH IS MORE THAN REASONING James 2:18 "Someone will say `You have faith, I have deeds.'" Some can intellectually defend the Christian faith. Thomas Aquinas known for his great intellectual skills, believed through reasoning and logic you could prove the existence of God. It is good to know that reasoning and logic is applicable to Christian faith but it is more important to know that Christianity is not a theological discourse but a lifestyle. 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Any time a person becomes a Christian he becomes a new person inside, the old things have passed away. All things become new." It is wonderful that through faith, God has put his Spirit right in the middle of the warfare we all have in controlling our inward nature. My will is not fully capable of controlling my natural desires. God’s Spirit does. His presence in me is greater than the former control of my natural desires. This transformation should be evident to you and others. When I accidentally grabbed hold of a broken prong in a 220-volt outlet, I knew instantly what I had done. The voltage ran through my body, jarring and fortunately knocking my hand away from its electrifying grabbing power. Faith in God should have that a jarring effect to your life. It is more than just sitting around arguing doctrine or methodology, or sipping coffee out of Starbucks© coffee mugs with Scripture emblems, debating whether from the Book of Revelation you are Amillennial, Post-Millennial, Pre-Tribulation, Mid-Tribulation, Post- Tribulation or Post Toasties©. 4. REAL FAITH IS MORE THAN BELIEF James 2:19 "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” It is foolish to be an atheist and the devil is no fool. The devil believes in God! His demons believe and shudder. They shudder in belief but not saved by belief. I believe the government of China is communist but that doesn't make me a communist . Many people are going to miss heaven by 18 inches- the average distance from the head to the heart. Intellectual head knowledge absent heart conviction is valueless. Romans 10:9 -11
  • That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 5. REAL FAITH IS SOMETHING YOU DO Abraham and Rahab are two different people, opposite in so many ways. Abraham was a man and Rahab a woman. Abraham was Jewish and Rahab a Gentile. Abraham was a patriarch, Rahab a prostitute. Abraham was a major character in the Bible, Rahab a minor character. Yet both had an active faith. James 2:20 "You foolish men. Do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar. His faith and his actions were working together. His faith was made complete by what he did. Scripture was fulfilled when it said, `Abraham believed God.'" James 2:25 -26 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. Our faith is not determined by what we do, it is demonstrated by what we do. 2 Corinthians 13:5 "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith." THE SHIELD OF FAITH Ephesians 6:16 Take up the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. The shield of faith, often made of wood, was often soaked in water to prevent fiery arrows from inflicting further damage. They were cut in order that one soldiers shield could fit side by side with another soldiers, forming a wall of protection. Marching close together with shields raised, the Romans were able to advance like a wall towards the enemy. When the fiery arrows were fired the troops would bow and raise the shields for protection. These known facts are applicable to spiritual warfare. Without faith, we are unprotected from the darts of life. Second, we need each other. As mentioned in previous lessons in this series, cooperation, fellowship, accountability, testimonies, and confession are essential in the spiritual battle. First, the fiery darts of the devil. Using the acronym D.A.R.T., helps in remembering areas where Satan launches his attack. D- Doubt (In existence of God or doubt you are saved)
  • A- Addictions (Addictions destroy the purpose and potential of individuals) R- Rebellion (Destroys the concept of submission and obedience) T- Trials, Troubles, Tribulations (Unsettling, Uncertainties) The Shield of faith protects us from all the fiery darts of Satan. Paul refers to “flaming lust” in Romans 1:27. The shield of faith protects us from the flaming or fiery darts. It is a reference to lust set on fire or an activated lust. Paul is referring to the times when a particular lust activates. Faith, if used, can within a matter of seconds, quench the flaming dart. Will power is not enough- you need faith in God. This is a spiritual battle- remember not a battle of flesh and blood. (Ephesians 6:10) Psalm 145:13 “The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.” Romans 8:28 “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Second, the shield of faith points to the power of unity. Remember the shields formed a wall of protection when linked together. That image is a beautiful description of the power of church fellowship. Note the numerous “one another” verses in the New Testament. Romans 12:10 Devoted Romans 12:16 Harmony Romans 13:08 Love Romans 14:13 Don’t judge Romans 15:07 Accept Romans 15:14 Instruct Romans 16:16 Greet Galatians 5:13 Serve Ephesians 4:02 Bear Ephesians 4:32 Kindness Ephesians 5:19 Sing to one another Ephesians 5:21 Submit Colossians 3:13 Forgive Colossians 3:16 Admonish 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Encourage Hebrews 10:24 Spur one another James 4:11 Don’t slander James 5:09 Don’t grumble James 5:16 Pray James 5:16 Confess 1 Peter 4:09 Hospitable 1 Peter 5:05 Humility 1 John 1:07 Fellowship In faith, What is real man, real is “we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:37)
  • CHAPTER 5 15 yard Penalty for Removal of Helmet Thurman Thomas was a great running back, playing most of his career with the Buffalo Bills. The Buffalo Bills are known for numerous trips to the Super Bowl and always losing. Thurman Thomas is also known for something else involving a Super Bowl game. The Bills were known for starting games with scripted plays sometimes as many of the first ten plays were prearranged. Thurman Thomas was key player in the plays. It was essential for Thomas to establish the ground game early so the passing attack led by Jim Kelly would be effective. Preparations were made, the atmosphere intense, and the teams were ready to play. Except for one. Thurman Thomas forgot his helmet in the locker room. By the time Thomas returned with his helmet, the game had started and the Bills never recovered. A couple of years ago the National Football League passed a rule disallowing players from removing their helmets on the playing field. Removal of helmet is punishable by a fifteen-yard penalty. Several games have been decided since then by a player forgetting in the excitement of the game and the team penalized for fifteen yards, leading to eventual winning scores by the other team. God provides eternal salvation. God has placed this salvation as a protective helmet for the head. No blow from Satan can pierce this armor! Jesus promised that those who trust in Him will be presented to the Father as saved in the last day. There is a protective helmet for the minds of the redeemed. God has given us the assurance of His reality and of His presence. He also provides us with clear understanding of what is right and how to pursue it as well as what is wrong and how to avoid it. John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. John 6:40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jude 1:24-25 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore, Amen. Mind Protection 1. Guard the Mind Paul warned that we should beware lest any man spoil us through philosophy and vain deceit (Colossians 2:8). 2. Filter the Mind
  • Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, THINK ON THESE THINGS" 3. Transform the Mind Romans 12:1-2 “be transformed by the renewing of the mind, "...that ye may prove what is good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" Proverbs 1:9; 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom. The helmet of hope Paul also used the helmet image in the letter to First Thessalonians. In the context of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Paul urged the Christians to be ready for his arrival. 1 Thessalonians 5:8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. Titus 1:2-3 " a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, " Colossians 1:22-23 " if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Hope points to the promised eternal life in God. An understanding of God’s promises brings hope. Psalms 25:3-5 No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me,
  • for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalms 33:20-22 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you. Psalms 119:81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word. Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Hebrews 6:19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Satan cannot force us to sin, but rather, he must persuade us to commit sin. The mind is the control center that decides if we will sin. Satan uses a variety of tactics against our minds designed to weaken faith, ruin discernment, and corrupt thoughts. 2 Timothy 2:26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 2 Corinthians 11:3, “I’m afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Colossians 3:1-3 since, then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above.. A mind left unguarded can become "futile" and the "foolish heart darkened" (Romans 1:21), exchanging the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:25). STRAIGHT AND CLEAR THINKING
  • The intellectuals of our times, the "best and brightest" of our age, admit to being utterly baffled by the dangerous social, political, and moral problems that confront our society. The culture is staggered by complexity of the issues of runaway crime rates, child neglect, child abuse, and child pornography; political corruption and rampant immorality in our government; spiraling rates of teen pregnancy, single parenthood, fatherless children, and abortion; festering racial strife and gender warfare; exploding terrorism and expanding proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons; the breakdown of the family and the rise of immorality in our homes, in the media, and on the Internet, and on and on and on! Where does it all end? Solutions offered in the Post-Christian secular world are empty. The helmet of salvation will keep your thinking straight in times of confusion and darkness. We need not cave to the delusion of the world--the belief that human effort can bring about redemption, salvation, and the resolution of all human problems. How long has the world grasped at that futile dream? Read the ancient writings of the Greek philosophers and you will see that they were saying the same things and dreaming the same utopian dreams even then. As far back as human history goes, people have chased this elusive hope that some form of heaven can be worked out on earth. Throughout Scripture, God tells us that we are incapable of solving our salvation problem. Only the hope of salvation is found in the salvation offered in Jesus Christ. John 1:12-13 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. Galatians 3:27 -28 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Forgetting his helmet on Super Bowl day was embarrassing to Thurman Thomas. Penalties accessed players for removal of helmet on the playing field have been costly leading to an opponent’s victory. Failure of a Christian to wear the helmet of salvation in the spiritual warfare can be deadly.
  • 6 I’m Not the Man I Use to Be Ephesians 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. The sword was the primary weapon through a long period of history, dating back to the Bronze Age (c. 3000 BC); when copper and bronze weapons were produced with long, leaf-shaped blades and with hilts consisting of an extension of the blade in handle form. Some swords were long with straight blades and some swords like in Persia and India were long with curved blades. The Romans were the ones who created what is now considered the classic double-edged sword. The sword was invaluable to the Roman soldier. Around the time that Paul was writing Ephesians some dramatic changes took place with the Roman Sword. A newer sleeker double edge sword with a sharp point called the Pompeii became popular. The shorter sword measured 16 inches long and 2 inches thick. The longer sword measured between 25-30 inches long with a narrow guard and the hilt was topped with a rounded ball. The double edge of the "Pompeii" sword gave the Roman soldier the ability to thrust not only at his opponent but to cut him. A short blade was much better suited for fighting against a long sword, when in the hands of a skilled soldier. The quick delivery of a stab to the face or stomach was still a favored method of executing the enemy. The warrior just had to step inside of the enemy’s guard and kill him. Short swords were also less tiring when used in conjunction with a shield. Ephesians 6:17 Take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Reading this text about the Word of God being a sword reminds me that I am not the person I use to be. It started way back in my childhood. Some of my earliest childhood memories have to do with Bible. If I close my eyes I can still see my Papa and Grandma Brisendine’s farm house the way it use to be before it was remodeled years ago. In a corner of the den was a chair and small table with a phone. In the drawer of the table or on the shelf below the phone there were always three things. A pad of paper for writing, The Adult Sunday School Curriculum Quarterly Book, and a well worn Bible. On Saturday evenings at papa and grandma’s there was routine that seldom changed. Somewhere after supper and taking the Saturday night bath, grandma would have me go and get the Christian Lessons book and her Bible and we would sit in the living room. The Gospel Advocate Books back then were usually about 1 Book in the Bible like Ephesians. However in each chapter there was very little commentary but lines upon lines of portions of scriptures with blank lines to be filled in. Grandma and I would sit down together and she would ask me to help her with her Sunday School lesson. I would look up the verses and read them to her and she would fill in the blanks. We would sit there together doing this until the lesson was
  • through. I remember thinking quite often how nice it was that I got to help grandma out with her Sunday School lesson. I often wondered how she ever got her lesson done whenever I had to go back home from summer vacation back to Chicago without me there to help her. Often she would say, “David keep reading and fill in the blanks – I’ll be right back I need to do something.” And she would be gone for several minutes and I would look up the answers and fill in the blanks- helping her out. It didn’t dawn on me for many years that I wasn’t helping Grandma out. She could quote scripture and she lived scripture as well as any Christian woman I had ever known. She was training me to use the Word of God- I wasn’t helping her. Now studying the Bible wasn’t something foreign to me. I was blessed to grow up in a home where the Bible was studied, discussed, and debated. There were many occasions in the car, around the dinner table, or just sitting around that the family would talk about the Bible. Little did I know at the time that those discussions were ways in which my dad and mom were training their five boys to handle properly the sword of the Word of God. I still have my dad’s Bible that he used when he first started preaching in the 1940’s. It was an American Standard Version of the Bible. It is filled with his notes and comments mostly in red pencil- to keep the markings from bleeding through the pages. It was worn out when I was a child and I have not done anything to it- the binding of the book still has the same blue tape and clear tape my dad put on it to hold it together decades ago. I often will take it off my shelf and use it as a reference for scriptures I am studying because of the notes. In March of 1965 my Dad and Mom gave me “The Good News Illustrated New Testament.” It was filled with maps and pictures of the Middle East as well as pictures of artifacts from the first century. The Bible helped me as I was reading the text to get a visual image of the particular section of Scripture being read. Sometimes I would read for a little awhile and often I would just turn the pages looking at one picture after another. I still have that sword on my self. Sometime in 1967 a box load of paperback Bibles were delivered to the Northwest Church of Christ in Chicago. I remember dad distributing them to the Church members and I remember with pride taking my quarter and buying the “Good News For Modern Man.” I had never read a Bible like that. It was in a language I understood- No “Thee” or “Thou,” etc but regular ordinary everyday talk- the way I talked and my friends talked. I sat down and within a very short time I read the entire New Testament through. It read like a novel. Excited, I would share with my mom, dad, and brothers something new I just learned. I would take my illustrated Bible and look at the pictures and compare it to the paperback Good News Bible translation. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was learning the importance of comparing Bible versions and translations for the best meaning of the text. My sword skills were being sharpened. From my dad I learned the technical aspects of Bible translations, language, doctrines, and the importance of keeping verses in context. Memorization and Bible drills were a part of my childhood. I learned reverence, respect, and power of the scriptures from my dad. From my mom I learned application. Don’t get me wrong- she could discuss bible topics on deep level as well but her primary interest was to show us that the Bible was not just some history book written a long time ago about
  • people in the past but was a living word- a word to be applied to everyday living. Book knowledge is one thing but spiritual life is quite another. Just knowing the scriptures without knowing how to apply the scriptures leave a person vulnerable to an attack from the enemy. There are plenty of scriptures that tell us the importance of knowing the word of God. Remember that the Bereans were noble because the “Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11 However Hebrews gives the balance to what the Bereans were doing. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. I learned in my formative years that knowledge coupled with application is the way to win victory over temptation and sin. In our text on the “Sword of the Spirit” which is the word of God” the term word is rhema which means the spoken Word of God. In the spiritual warfare raging against our impulses, thoughts, emotions, and will often there isn’t always a physical Bible to hold up as a sword. In the wilderness when Jesus was being tempted by the devil he used the spoken word to thwart the purposes of the devil. Jesus responded to the temptations of the devil by saying, “It is written.” (Matthew 4:1-11) When I left home to go to college my mom gave me her Bible. It was the “Revised Standard Version Holman Study Bible.” I used it all the way through college and used it in the pulpit from 1972 until 1987. With the advent of computers and internet the world of reading has changed considerably. Access to Bible translations, commentaries, devotionals, and practical study guides are a click away. I think that is great. There is little excuse in our day and time for a Christian to be uninformed about what the Bible teaches and how to apply it to everyday living. I think about our generation and the scripture that says “in the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent”(Acts 17:29) and realize that we are without excuse. Of all the Christians that have ever lived our generation and the ones to follow should be displaying and living in spiritual victory like no other. We are surrounded by opportunities to read, study, share, and apply the Word of God without the fear of being imprisoned, persecuted, or put to death. The time in which we live gives all of us ample opportunities to spend in the Word of God in order to grow, learn and advance the cause of Christ. Now in the pulpit I have started using another Bible. It is called the “NIV GIANT PRINT Reference Bible” a good indication of some changes going on in my life. I can’t wait until they come out with the NIV SUPER GIANT PRINT Reference Bible.” In preparing for this lesson I have found myself going down memory lane. It hasn’t been just a nostalgic one- not just one of a middle age man wishing he could go back in time again- it has been reflective. What grandma and my parents did to help me
  • use the Sword of the Spirit was invaluable. They weren’t perfect and I’m not either. But like them, I learned through the Word of God I don’t have to be because I have a perfect Savior in whom I can trust and depend upon for my redemption, mercy and grace. James writes: … humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:21 -21 That implanted word has the power to save my soul. I have looked at the same face in the mirror for over 50 years. I look at that face in the mirror today and it is not the same face I had when I 25-30 years old. People who knew me when I was 25-30 would hardly recognize me today. I have changed so much. Something else of greater importance has changed. I am not the man today that I was 25 years ago. Much has changed. The change has not been just because I have gotten older- everyone gets older- much has changed because I have gotten wiser. The hours each week I spend in the Word of God sharpening the skills I learned from my family and others along the way have changed me. I am not the man I was 25 years ago. Thank God.
  • All Ephesians 6:18-20 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. It is a simple three-letter word with a clear meaning. Using this word is inclusive, demanding action. When you say “all,” well, you have said it all. There is no wiggle room or debate. Complete… Thorough… Everything... Sacrifice… Obedience… The meaning of was clear to Joshua. As Creator God declared, “all that he made was good.” (Genesis 1:31) On the seventh day, “he rested from all his work.” (Genesis 2:2) Later God would grieve that his creation had reached the point where their “thoughts were evil all the time.” (Genesis 6:5) When God sent Joshua and Israel into the promise land, he specified that they kept nothing of the bounty for themselves. After the defeat in Ai, God revealed that some of the things had been taken for personal use after all. (Joshua 7:11) Achan did not take a lot just some. However, some is not all. It was disobedience and God punished Achan for not honoring the command of “all.” King Saul was given specific instructions that all the possessions and livestock were to be destroyed. (1 Samuel 15) Samuel arrives after the battle and confronts Saul as to why he could hear the sound of sheep that were suppose to be dead. Saul kept some when he instructed by God to destroy all. In the Great Commission Jesus told his followers, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me? 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 Paul, in describing the God’s Sovereignty declared: 8 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 Romans 3:22-24 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Not some but all. The word “some” is vague and open to interpretation. What if the text read, “Some authority has been given to me, go and make disciples of some nations?” Or, “The righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to
  • some who believe.” What about “For some have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Some changes the meaning. It dilutes and excludes. But not all. All is commanding and clear. Like in our text about the armor of God. We are told to put on “all of the armor.” The protective gear of the spiritual warrior is provided by God. It requires more than wearing the armor but the aura of a soldier plays an important part in warfare. A soldier dressed up lacking confidence is not going to cause the enemy to hesitate or retreat. An aura of confidence causes the enemy to try to attack someone or somewhere else. If you had a choice to launch an attack against a confident opponent or an uncertain one, which would you choose? A strong prayer life is the confident aura of a spiritual soldier. A strong prayer life is marked by the word “all.” Paul says a Christian warrior prays at all times, all kinds of prayers and requests, for all the saints. There is the word “all” again. Its meaning is clear. A soldier in the spiritual warfare who is willing to give all at all times for all Christians. Not sometimes, some prayers, and for some Christians, but all. The image is one of a mighty warrior exuding confidence on the battlefield. Observing this solider on the battlefield causes the enemy picks another time, person, or place to fight. The aura of invincibility- the charisma that tells the opponent that you would will give it you all in the battle. Not some but all. This charisma and aura come from the power of prayer. I joined my first organized baseball team around 10 years old. Our team was organized late by the Y.M.C.A. and we had just a few practices before the season began. We did not even have uniforms but our moms took white T-shirts and used laundry black markers to write our names and numbers on the back of the T- shirt. A few days prior to our first game the coaches organized a scrimmage game against the team we would play in the season opener on Tuesday afternoon. They team came to our practice field which was nothing more than just a field with some baseball bags placed in the proper place. I looked at the team and thought we should beat them because they did not look like much and we proceeded to beat them in the scrimmage game-not as easily as I thought it would be but a win is a win -and the win gave us a certain confidence as we headed into the season opener on Saturday. On Saturday we arrived at their field to play and everything was different. We came with confidence, clean T-shirts with laundry-marked numbers and names. However, the other team had on real baseball uniforms, sitting in a real dugout. Immediately our hearts and confidence melted. Suddenly we felt underdressed, ashamed, and poor, like we did not belong on this beautiful field. We took the practice field first but felt the dressed up team watching us. Our fielding and throws became sloppy and from distracted attitudes. When they took the practice field going through their routines in their new uniforms they might as well called the game at that moment. It wasn’t much longer before they did. In little league they have the mercy rule “the 10 run rule” and before we knew it we were back in our cars and heading home wondering what in the world happen. The same team we had beat on Tuesday owned us on Saturday. The difference was the aura. Clothes that day indeed made the difference. Still does. James 4:7- 4:10 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come
  • near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. This is a powerful verse declaring when the devil will run from the spiritual battle. Have you ever noticed that there have been times when you have resisted the devil and he laughs and continues instead of fleeing? There is more to resisting to just resisting. A certain strength and confidence must be present in order to cause the devil to flee. When a soldier is going up against an enemy opponent that refuses to surrender and who is willing to give all to win the battle the enemy will retreat. Being backed by the right person also helps. A seemingly weakling can say things to a stronger opponent if he is backed by a stronger person. The devil takes one look at our armor and aura and realizes that we are standing under the protection and provisions of Christ and he runs. The problem with many Christians is that we are willing to surrender some, pray sometimes, some prayers, and for some Christians but not all. We are willing to give thanks in some circumstances but not all, praise God for some things that happen but not all, to count it all joy to be a Christian sometimes but not all the time. Then we wonder why the devil does not leave us alone in our feeble attempts to sometimes to fight the spiritual battle. The problem with trying to serve the Lord sometime instead of at all times is that leads to confusion. Let me try to keep this straight. I am going to resist the temptations the devil is throwing at me today – the same one that I sometimes give into on other days? I am going to pray for the people of this congregation today- the same ones I tear up through gossip and trash talking an hour later over lunch. I am glad to sing, “I surrender all” in worship on Sunday but content to “commit to some” the rest of the week. There is a difference between some and all. Moreover, you can be sure the devil knows it. No, if you want to be victorious in spiritual warfare you must have the aura of victory surrounding you. You must be willing to give your all for Christ. It comes through prayer at all times, all kinds of prayers, for all Christians. What does this aura of confidence look like that causes the devil to flee? It is where you aspire to be a better person through belief, confidence, and devotion to Christ. You are exalting Him through your faith, praising His goodness, influencing others to do the same by displaying acts of justice, kindness, love, mercy, and obedience to God. Like Paul who gave his all. Examine the life of Paul and you find a man of prayer. Observe the life of Elijah and you discover a man of prayer. The people in the Bible who did great things for God were people who prayed. Not just sometime about some things and for some people but ALL. James declares that a successful warrior has the aura of confidence that causes the devil to flee. Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Submission comes from obedience to the will of God. We learn obedience through the Word of God and prayer. Leaving the prayer room, dressed in the armor of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and properly handling the Word of God, we have surrounding us the spiritual aura of invincibility.
  • King Jehoshaphat experienced it when he was totally obedient to God when his nation was facing destruction by a combined two-nation army. 2 Chronicles 20:15 -17 15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’” Here should be our goal. Every time the devil brings a temptation against us he discovers us wearing all the pieces of the armor of God and exerting a confidence, not pride, but confidence, that God is on our side. Seeing the power of our submission to God, the devil gives up the attack. If you have been a Christian for any length of time you have experienced those victories on occasions in your life. The times when you saw temptation flee and felt the liberation from sin. Romans 15:13 (NIV) 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. I guess the question you have to ask yourself is whether you want to experience this hope and power sometimes or all times. Luke 18:1 1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
  • CONCLUSION It is my prayer the thoughts in this series that you not only have a greater awareness of the spiritual conflict but an understanding of a God stronger and greater than evil. Begin each day determined to wear the full armor of God, walking by faith, upheld by grace, fortified by mercy, strengthen by forgiveness, and en-couraged by hope. God bless.