I remember in "Basic Training" being issued two pairs of quality ("Combat") boots. I was curious as to why two pairs. They cost quite a bit (taxpayer money, you know). Why two? I found out, quickly enough. An army travels a lot on their feet. Changing boots every day keeps our feet healthy. Legs and feet are vital for missions and for safety. It is with them that we invade enemy territory. We must be ready to move right in. Hence, the admonition to have our "…feet shod with the preparation (i.e; readiness to go with) of the gospel of peace…." (From Ephesians 6:15). Do you recall some of Jesus' last words in Mark 16:15, before He returned to Heaven? "…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." This is our mission. The enemy territory must be taken. Peace terms (we are talking about "the gospel of peace") must be laid down to enemy forces. The primary condition for the enemy is "unconditional surrender." This is an absolute must, if people are to have peace with God. Many will refuse the terms and for them the war goes on but for those who drop their resistance, the Victor extends to them amazing Grace. What about those who refuse to lay down their arms? Jesus said, "…upon this rock (i.e; He, Himself) I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it…." (From Matthew 16:18). Are we ready to move against the gates of hell? Generous peace terms are laid out in our orders (the Bible). Let's get our boots on and move out to conquer. Selah! Good boots help keep our feet healthy. "…How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things…." (From Romans 10:15). "The best defense is a good offensive!" Ron
"Against the foe in vales below, let all our strength be hurled; faith (trust) is the victory, we know, that overcomes the world." (John H.Yates).
Returning to our means of protection in Ephesians 6:14, we come to our need of "…having on the breastplate of righteousness..." This is a twofold protection only issued to us who are His. This item of equipment is explained in the Word of God. This is part of the equipment provided to enable us to be "…a good soldier of Jesus Christ." (From II Timothy 2:3). The use of the military motif is for a very good reason. This war that we are in is more deadly than any conflict between nations. Those conflicts may result in death of the body, suffering, and loss of freedom. The battle waged against us is for our eternal souls. If the enemy can't keep us on his side, he is relentless in striving to prevent us from bringing others over to the winning side. In other words, he wants to destroy our testimony. The breastplate is external protection covering the chest and heart. When we come to Christ, we are given a legal righteousness. This is a righteousness credited to us. It is Jesus' own righteousness and therefore is "perfect" and "complete." Never can the enemy take us back over to his side. Within this imputed righteousness is the need for imparted righteousness. The credited righteousness can't be overcome but the imparted righteousness can be damaged and cause us to be wounded in action and even rendered useless for our Commander in Chief. We receive imputed righteousness simply as a gift, as a part of our salvation. The Holy Spirit is training us along the lines described in our military manual (i.e; the Bible). Our basic training includes the disciplined development of practical righteousness. It is this discipline that undermines the enemy's attempts to defeat and discredit us. Selah! God can use "holy" lives to convince others to come over to our side. Unholy lives may convince them to stay where they are. Ron
Needing to use weapons implies some form of contending and/or combat. Ephesians 6:11 informs us that we are able to be tricked by "the wiles of the devil." He is a clever and effective adversary. However, we can stand against him and defeat him, if we use our full armor! The proper use of the armor is "…to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might." (From Verse 10). Remember: "The Word of God is….powerful…." (From Hebrews 4:12). Verse 12 adds further information. Satan has help! We are in spiritual combat against evil beings. Verse 13 points out that the only way we can win against these allied enemies is to use the armor. Put it on! If we do, we can stand our ground and rout the attackers. It's up to us! Will you and I "Stand, therefore, having your (our) loins girt about with Truth..?" ( From Verse 14). This girdle (i.e; a military style belt) helps protect us and is where our Sword is attached. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, who inhabits us who belong to God, is able to use His Sword, the Bible (absolute Truth) in our hands, to force an enemy retreat. The devil and his demons cannot stand against proper use of Scripture! Now is the time to begin learning skills in the use of His Sword in our hands. We need to hide the Word in our hearts and have it ready to thrust, at a moment's notice. We need to be grounded in sound doctrine and ready to defend the faith. Many battles are lost in our minds, if we do not protect them with God's Truth. Selah! Sharpen your Sword, practice using it until you become skillful, and keep honing it daily. It's your greatest weapon! Ron
Satan's main, if not only, access to your life is through your mind. If he can get your attention by suggestions, he can and will try to manipulate you. He will succeed unless……….you resist. How do we resist? Our first line of defense is to have a genuine relationship with Jesus as Savior and Lord. Unsaved people are wide open to the devil's attacks. He deceives them constantly and with their willing and/or unwitting co-operation. Once we are saved, we must take charge of our thought life. Instead of basing our values and behavior on our "feelings," desires, and our old way of reasoning, we need to develop, thoughtfully and prayerfully, solid Biblical principles and then discipline ourselves, with God's help, to implement them. This will necessitate "in depth," regular, and careful study of Scripture. (II Timothy 2:15). Jesus serves as our example. (See Matthew 4:1-11). Instead of His buying Satan's twisting of Scripture and succumbing to his suggestions, Jesus applied Scripture correctly and the devil retreated. If we act on God's principles and correct use of the Bible, Satan will flee from us, as well. Another important part of enjoying victory is spelled out in Ephesians 6:11-18. Verses 11-13 show us why we are to equip ourselves with the weapons listed in Verses 14-18. I hope to spend a few days on what these weapons are and how they are to be used. Selah! The way to win is spelled out in Romans 8:37: "…we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." Either that, or we will be a conquest. Be a victor, not a victim! Ron
I think a great many people just let their thoughts go where they will. It takes discipline to conquer a wandering mind. If we are going to be effective as Christians, we must take charge of our thought life. If we just let our thoughts flow, our responses and reactions will likely be impulsive/emotional rather than spiritual. They, too often, will not be reasoned acts and can have negative consequences. In order to progress Spiritually, our thoughts must be shaped by Biblical principles. We have usually had many years of being governed by our desires, our peers, and the media. We have allowed ourselves to be manipulated into wrong behavior and other bad choices. We have used excuses and rationalizations to condone different types of sin. This drift downward must be stopped to enable us to experience God's blessings in our lives. Before we came to Christ, our minds were spiritually blinded (See II Corinthians 4:4). As the light of God's Word enters our hearts at the new birth, our minds start to be renewed. Increasing exposure to and the applying of Scripture will reverse the damage done by sinful, self-centered, thinking. "…be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." (From Romans 12:2). The blessings of Godly thinking and living are not able to be overstated. In a previous article, you read about our responsibility to take our thoughts captive. (See II Corinthians 10:4-5). As you begin to discharge your responsibility, you will meet strong resistance. Remember this: "….Resist the devil, and He will flee from you." (From James 4:7). Selah! Lord willing, specific ways to resist will engage our thoughts tomorrow. I hope you will join us. Hopefully, it will provide you with practical means to enjoy the victories that God desires for you to experience. Ron
Yesterday, we considered Satan's influence on our thinking and his very successful strategy. So the idea seems to be that we are victims. Such a conclusion might lead us to think that we are not really responsible for our wrong thinking and our behavior that results from these thoughts. On the contrary, James 1:14-15b places the responsibility squarely on our own shoulders. "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin…." What is the bottom line in all this? Our thought life is being invaded from outside and we must resist the invasion. Paul, under Divine inspiration, reminds us that "…(the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [i.e; something that we try to do in our own strength], but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds)…." (From II Corinthians 10:14). Satan can't take ownership of our minds. "….ye are not your own for ye are bought with a price…." (From I Corinthians 6:19-20). God owns the true Christian! However, our adversary, the devil, can establish strongholds in our thoughts. We must use God's weapons to pull down these strongholds. How this is accomplished is tomorrow's subject, Lord willing. Selah! Think of your mind as a battlefield. Our Savior owns the field but Satan is trying to establish a "beachhead." When we take the Owner's side, Satan's offensive grinds to a halt. When we don't pull down the strongholds, he gains ground and resistance becomes more difficult. We must learn how we can resist successfully. Be sure to stop by tomorrow! Ron
Any genuine Christian is very aware of Satan's attacks on us. However, I wonder how many of us are able to say what Paul said to the Church at Corinth. Writing to the Corinthian believers, he said, "…for we are not ignorant of his (Satan's) devices." (From II Corinthians 2:11). It is because few of us realize his too successful strategy for getting at us, that I sense the need to revisit this subject. We are mistaken, if we assume that all our thoughts originate from within ourselves. How does Satan work with us if not through our thoughts? Think back to Eve. The "serpent" implanted in her thoughts the possibility of vastly increased knowledge, and becoming as gods (i.e; like God). Drawing her attention to the forbidden fruit, he craftily engaged her mind. She began to consider that this fruit would make wonderful food. This is the lust of the flesh. This is the same lust with which some today become junk food addicts or a slave to some other vice. Next, it looked so appealing to her. It was a "mouth watering" sight. It looked so luscious! Her thoughts began to crave it. This was the lust of the eyes. The next thought was the possibility of possessing unlimited knowledge. This is the pride of life. The outcome: She ate! The consequences are still with us today! Satan has used this threefold appeal for centuries. He tried to implant it in Jesus' mind during the temptation in the wilderness and he works unceasingly to capture and enslave our thoughts in this same way today. Selah! We are frequently trapped by this clever scheme because we fail to recognize that we are being manipulated. Our lusts are being stimulated by a very shrewd enemy. More on this tomorrow. Ron