The Armour of God
Ephesians 6:11 – 18 says, "Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."
"Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."
We need more than just people skills to get through life because we come into conflict with beings that are a lot nastier than people sometimes are, and they are much more clever and vastly more powerful. We are continually being stalked by evil spiritual forces that are bent on destroying human souls. But God has not left us to cope on our own with these seducers and brutes. He is infinitely smarter and infinitely more powerful than all the forces of darkness. He offers us protection through receiving Yeshua as our Saviour and provides impenetrable armour and mighty weapons that Yeshua paid for to go on the offensive against the devil and his hordes.
Some Christians say that they put their armour on every day. Why don't they leave it on all the time? We need to be on guard all the time. Do they think that the devil doesn't try to attack them when they are asleep or before they have used the bathroom when they wake up in the morning? We need to put the armour on and leave it on. It needs to become inseparable from our personality.
Paul said to take on the whole armour of God. That not only means every piece of armour, but we also need to dig deep into the Word of God and the Spirit of God to find out all about each piece of equipment and how it works. I don't know all about it, but I have learned some things, which I will share and add to, as I learn more.
Belt of Truth
The first piece of armour is the belt of truth. The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:13 – 16, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of the Anointed Lord Yeshua; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be holy; for I am holy."
There is a connection made in Scripture between the loins and the mind. Why? Because the mind is a battlefield and satan wants to deceive us, so that he can plunder us, and he can plunder us on two flanks if he finds weakness: the first is, if we don't have the truth or lack the guts to face the truth when God is trying to teach us His truth, and the second is if we know the truth, but don't have the guts to stand up for it.
Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me: seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children." We see in this verse that it is not only imperative that we know God's truth, but also seek to know more of God's truth, instead of going into denial about the things of God that are contrary to our flesh.
The penalty for willful rejection of the truth is that God will reject the rejecters, and not only them, but if they are parents, they deprive their unsaved children of God's protection and provision. Of course, children can choose of themselves to seek after God and have a relationship with Him through the Lord Yeshua, but it will be no thanks to their parents. It will be more difficult for them to come to know the Lord (if they ever do), when it did not need to be. And by rejecting God's truth, the parents will be lost, separated eternally from God and all their loved ones who put their trust in Him.
How do we gird our loins with the belt of truth, which supports our commitment and courage in this battle? Dig deep into the Word of God. Learn all you can, making it your habit every day to feed on the Scriptures. Going through some silly ritual where you say, "I gird my loins with the belt of truth, etc …" is nothing more than a superstitious practice. It is not that easy to gird one's loins with the belt of truth.
Proverbs 4:7 says, "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all your getting get understanding." We put on the belt of truth by making this commitment to getting wisdom and understanding, and we tighten and adjust it and learn about all its features by studying the Word of God, not only by storing it in our mind, but also by stockpiling loads of it in our heart (the depths of our being) so that it is available to us when we are under siege, and guarding it there against the nibbling rats of doubt and unbelief.
Further, we need to be really honest with ourselves about what is in our heart and get rid of the crud, because that is part of being girded with the truth. Psalm 51:6 says, "Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part you shall make me to know wisdom."
Quit playing around, thinking that a general idea of what the Bible says is enough. We have a deadly enemy who wants to not only rob us of a fabulous inheritance in Heaven (what we weave in Time, we wear for Eternity), but also wants to rob us of our souls, if he can manage it. We need to get to know the Bible really well and find out where we are not living up to what God expects, so that we can be followers of the Anointed Lord Yeshua who does not bring reproach on His Name by our behaviour, and to also stay faithful to Him to the end.
A further aspect of firming up our courage by girding our loins with the belt of truth is to know The Truth, for it is not knowing the Bible, but knowing The Truth that sets us free.
Lots of people know the Bible, and they aren't even Christians. Some get to know it as a matter of having a well–rounded education. Others get to know it so that they can oppose it by twisting Scripture and undermine the faith of those who believe in it.
Most unbelievers consider the truth to be not the Bible, but facts, some of which are impossible to bear if one does not have faith in the Lord Yeshua. It does not set anyone free to know those kinds of truths, but rather it binds them with fear and keeps them enslaved to satan.
The Truth is a Person, Yeshua of Nazareth. When we know Him, truly know Him, He helps us deal with unpleasant facts, and we know He is so wonderful that we won't want to risk being separated from Him forever. We will be set free from selfishness and fear, so that we will be willing to make any sacrifice that He asks of us to follow Him.
Every Christian who has a Bible should have read it from cover to cover at least once, but preferably many times, and we should also dig into the meanings of the original Hebrew and Greek, if that is available to us. If you have computer, it is available. It can be accessed through e–Sword and it is free. If your computer has the capability, you can download all of the Bible translations, dictionaries, and commentaries. It is so much fun to do that, like going shopping for free and loading up a shopping cart with big, fat, priceless volumes of knowledge.
The Bible says in Romans 12:2, "And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Neurologists used to think that the brain was static, that it could not be changed, but those who are now on the cutting edge of brain science are discovering what this verse stated 2000 years ago; that we can change our brain. It can heal. It is called neuroplasticity.
Irrational people can become sane and sane people can become more sane by renewing their mind in the Word of God, and it is exceptionally effective if we read the Bible to ourselves aloud. The brain places a higher premium on what we say to ourselves than what anybody else says. We need to input positive stuff into our mind. There is nothing more positive than the Mind of Christ. When we read His Word aloud, it facilitates the passage of His Word from our mind to our heart. It is when the Word is in our heart that it is performed, by actions that demonstrate integrity (this also heals our DNA), and to transfer the blessings of Heaven to Earth (miracles).
Breastplate of Righteousness
The breastplate of righteousness is given to us when we receive Yeshua as our Saviour. His blood paid our debts, raising us to zero, and His righteousness was credited to our account, so that there is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in the Anointed Lord Yeshua, and by virtue of His righteousness, we have been made worthy to receive all the wonderful things that He is so eager to give us.
We are required, though, to remain IN the Anointed Lord Yeshua. If we deny Him or run from Him, we don't have any right to appropriate the good things that He wants us to have. To stand fast until the end, we must maintain a clear conscience before God, walking in obedience to Him out of gratitude for our salvation.
That is a clear conscience, not a seared conscience. Habitual sin can muffle the conviction of the Holy Spirit. 1 Timothy 1:19 says, "Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck."
Philippians 4:7 says, "And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through the Anointed Lord Yeshua." We won't have the peace of God if we walk in disobedience to Him. Grateful, joyful, willing obedience to the Lord helps to keep our conscience clear, but it is the righteousness of Jesus Christ conferred on us that is the strength of the breastplate of righteousness. Our good works can be sifted and selfish motives exposed, but Yeshua's righteousness is always pure.
Humility is what helps us see our need for the Saviour, and gratitude for His salvation, as well as reverence, help us be obedient to Him. These things unite to form an impenetrable barrier to spirits of condemnation. Reciting to oneself every morning that we take upon ourself the breastplate of righteousness is futile, unless we do it with the understanding that we need to walk in obedience to the Lord Yeshua out of gratitude for what He did for us on the cross, as well as in confidence of what He did for us on the cross. If we wander away from Jesus, satan can find chinks in our armour. We need to remain hidden in Christ, to walk in the Spirit. If we do that, the Bible says that we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
Shoes of the Gospel of Peace
We also need to walk in forgiveness towards others. This is what it means to wear the shoes of the Good News of peace. It relates to when Yeshua hung on the cross and prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Could any of us have gotten saved if Yeshua had cried to God to have vengeance on us for His death, instead of mercy?
We are all responsible for putting Him on that cross, because all of us have sinned. We could not be saved from the just penalty of our sins if Yeshua had not taken our place and paid the penalty for us. Because He forgave us, we are obliged to extend forgiveness to others.
When we forgive others, it shoots daggers through the soles of our shoes that slice the enemy to pieces. It is not only a protective piece of equipment, but also an agressive weapon against the enemy, sort of like a tank. Just imagine what it does to the enemy when we walk on him with those kinds of shoes. Forgiveness helps us make advances on enemy territory and take it for the Lord.
Forgiving others for their offenses against us has a way of softening them up, so that they are more receptive to what the Lord has given us to give to them, whether it is the message of salvation to unbelievers, or godly instruction or rebuke to fellow believers.
The Bible says in Luke 10:19, "Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." If we don't forgive others, our Heavenly Father won't forgive us our sins. According to Matthew 18:34, we will be delivered to the tormentors until all our debt is paid. Don't walk around without your shoes; those nasty snakes (fallen angels) and scorpions (demons) are always going to be trying to attack us until we get Home to Heaven.
Yeshua has given us the power to forgive. It is not something that we can work up, but we can surrender our will to Him by choosing to let go of anger, bitterness, and the desire for revenge, giving God an open channel for His love and forgiveness to flow through us instead.
The more deeply we forgive, the longer and deadlier the daggers grow through the soles of our Holy Ghost shoes, making us a walking terror to the enemy. Don't settle for hobnails. Let forgiveness come from deep in the heart until it is like walking on stilts, far above any offense from the past or that the enemy can spring on us in the future.
Shield of Faith
We are told above all to take the shield of faith. Why above all? Well, as long as we have a shield to duck behind, even if we can't do much damage to the enemy, it will help us stay alive until reinforcements arrive to help us. We need to grow our faith, though, so that we don't have to depend so much on others to pull us through our difficulties, and can instead be more of a help to others.
We all start off with a little shield, like a target. We need to feed our faith with the Word of God so that our shield grows and offers more protection. We need to study the Word, and study books and listen to teaching that throws more light on the Word, so that our confidence in God will grow.
This is what I got out of finding out more about the circumstances that surrounded the Exodus and the significance of God's signs and wonders, which I have distilled into my poem The Moses Memoirs. I found out what the world's slant was on those events and why Pharoah and his sorcerers were not impressed with them, at first. The signs and wonders could be explained away by scientific facts, but only up to a point.
How did Moses know what was going to happen before it happened, and even more importantly, exactly when it was going to happen? They did not have the equipment in those days to pinpoint those events or to activate them. And just how was it that everything that happened proved to be a disaster for the Egyptians, but worked deliverance for the Israelites?
Even Pharoah, stubborn jackass that he was, had to admit that he was evil and the Hebrew's God was in control of all those events, though his greed and envy got the better of him again and lured him to his destruction. This is good stuff that the Church needs to know to enlarge its faith and help get it through the events that will precede Yeshua's return.
As we grow in our relationship with God and get to know His character better, we enter more fully into His rest, have more confidence in Him, and are less worried about false accusations or dire predictions about the future when the devil shoots his fiery arrows, telling us that we are unworthy and we will fail, or that God has let us down or will let us down.
Helmet of Salvation
The helmet of salvation is given to us to guard our minds, not only against doubt and unbelief, but also against deception and other unholy thoughts. We are told in 2 Corinthians 10:3 – 5, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of the Anointed."
The helmet of salvation helps us cast down a critical or judgemental spirit towards others, because we know that if it weren't for God's mercy in saving us, we would be just as bad or worse. We are to judge only other people's words and actions as to whether they line up with the Word of God, and take suitable action in response, but not judge them in the sense of looking down on them because of their faults or condemning them because of their faults.
The helmet of salvation can be compared to the mitre that the High Priest wore in the Old Testament. Exodus 28:36 – 38 says, "And you shall make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. And you shall put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be. And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD."
In taking the helmet of salvation, we take on the mind of the Anointed Lord Yeshua. 1 Corinthians 2:12 – 16 says, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of the Anointed."
The mind of the Anointed Lord Yeshua is something that we grow into, washing our minds through the washing of the water of the Word, getting the kinks of worldly thinking worked out of it. Yeshua is the only one who thinks totally straight. When we subject our minds to watching worldly entertainments and reading worldly books that promote twisted philosophies, that helmet of salvation is more likely rolling around somewhere around our ankles, rather than sitting firmly on our heads to protect our minds from deception and seduction.
Satan is extremely aggressive about grooming people to follow his agenda. He uses every kind of media to do so. Christians need to be even more aggressive about ridding their minds of past programming and reprogramming ourselves to follow after the Lord. We need to pull our heads out from under the pipe that many of us have in our homes, whereby satan's sewage is pumped into our minds. It would probably be a good thing to disable all the TVs in our homes and take them to the dump where they more properly belong, and toss the computer games in there along with them. The main point of many computer games is to allow people to experience sin vicariously, particularly the sin of covetousness, and satan certainly is getting a lot of mileage out of Christians wasting lots of time on them.
As Joshua said to the Israelites, to be successful warriors in God's Kingdom, we need to meditate in God's Word day and night. That word meditate means "to mutter." We are not to just read the Bible and think about it, but to repeat it back to ourselves to embed it deep into our minds and hearts. In addition to the spiritual benefits, physiologically there is a benefit to this method of study; it causes the brain to make new connections and become more alert and retentive.
Sword of the Spirit
The Sword of the Spirit is not just the written word of God; it is the anointed Word of God. We need to meditate on the written word so that it becomes the anointed, activated Word, filled with faith and power.
Merely committing the Bible to memory isn't going to cut it in the battles that we have to face, though it does help to do this. What makes the Word effective is when it gets into the heart and then pours out of the heart, both through obedience to it and through faith–filled declarations. We can quote Scripture at the devil and it won't impress him one bit, unless we actually believe what we are saying and practice what we preach. Then it cuts him to ribbons.
All Kinds of Prayer
There are many kinds of prayer. If we tried to do all of them all the time, we would go nuts. What we need to do is pray however God directs us. This is what it means to pray in the Spirit. Here are some types of prayer:
- Thanksgiving (in all circumstances, sometimes as a sacrifice, continually trusting that God is good, even if circumstances seem to say otherwise, not just when we are grateful for specific blessings)
- Praise (verbal or physical, such as testifying, singing, playing instruments, raising hands, clapping, triumphant laughter, weeping for joy, waving banners or ribbons, and praising God in dance)
- Worship (soaring into the place of awe)
- Being still and knowing that He is God (resting in Him with the sure knowledge that He can do whatever He likes and nobody can stop Him, and that He will never do anything contrary to the Law of Love)
- Communion (snuggling in God's bosom, enjoying His love)
- Conversational (fellowship; it involves both speaking and listening)
- Inquiry (filtering everything through the Word of God to see how it lines up, which amounts to getting God's point of view on all that we observe, including our thought life and feelings – this should be continuous)
- Petition (involves listening as well as asking, so that we pray according to God's will, and not to fulfill our lusts; this encompasses prayers of repentance – admissions of guilt and requests for forgiveness)
- Praying in tongues, edifying ourselves and interceding on the behalf of others with perfect prayers. (When we don't understand what the Holy Ghost is praying through us, these prayers can not be hindered by doubt or unbelief.)
- Intercession/Supplication on the behalf of others (verbal or physical, such as spoken prayer, raising hands, clapping, dancing, triumphant laughter in advance of manifested victory, and other prophetic signs)
We are told to watch with all perseverance and supplications, not just for ourselves, but for all other saints, as well. The Song of Solomon 7: 4 describes the Beloved, saying " … your nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus." Syria was always a source of trouble for Israel and they had to keep a close watch in that direction.
God wants us to be aware of where attacks are likely to come from, to be good at sniffing out trouble before it gets to us (spotting trends and figuring out where they are headed), praying accordingly to prevent trouble, and to warn others of impending danger so that they can be roused in time from their spiritual lethargy to fight their way to victory.
We also need to practice spiritual espionage by waiting on God for advance notice of what is coming our way, perhaps to deflect it, or to prepare to endure it, if it is tribulation that He has ordained.
Being in denial is a big hindrance to alertness. Many Christians are in denial about a lot of things that are a danger to our spiritual growth and survival because they are carnal, and don't want to give up their addictions, particularly if their addictions are socially acceptable within their culture.
A woman named Mary Katherine Baxter saw in her vision of Hell that seducing spirits operate through bakeries, as well as more readily recognized venues for offering temptation. I have stood in bakeries, looking over the array of beautifully crafted pastries, both to gratify my own flesh, as well as to win some cheap points with my children and grandchildren. It is unlikely that anybody who saw me there thought to themselves, "Look at that sinner!"
There is either no nutritional value in pastries, or so little as to make it negligible, and eating it undermines our health and beauty, but we have thrown our money away on this stuff because we like how it tastes, or we have given it to others to win favour with them. The same can be said of candy that is made with unhealthy ingredients. We tell ourselves, "A little bit can't hurt." It is a rare person who can stop at a little bit, but if they can stop at a little bit, why don't they just steer clear of it? It doesn't do them any good to eat it.
We should not be quick to judge others as gluttons, though, if they are overweight. Poor eating habits from the past can break down the digestive system, and make it really hard to lose weight, even when modest amounts of food are eaten. People with this problem would have to starve themselves to lose weight, but even that would not work for long because then their metabolism would slow down to conserve fat stores. Also, some people naturally have a slow metabolism, which contributes to weight gain.
I have referred to eating pastries as just a simple sample of how we mess ourselves up by being in denial and catering to our flesh. We should try to make our calories count by eating nutritious food. Satan has managed to undermine the health and shorten the lives of many Christians through gluttony and junk food. He has also corrupted the minds of many Christians through the books they read and the shows they watch.
What was shocking in the 1940's is pretty tame compared to what is usual to see on TV or in the movies now. Was that because people were backwards back then and are more enlightened now? No. The Judeo/Christian ethic was stronger in those days in our society, and people conformed to that type of morality, whether they were Christian or not. When the Lord's Prayer was said and the Bible was taught in schools, and the media was censored against immorality and extreme violence and gore, respect for elders and authority was higher, crime was lower, and it was unheard of for teachers and students to get massacred in school by another student. Running in the halls and chewing bubble gum in class were the issues that mainly had to be dealt with in those days.
The media, which will eventually be totally given over to becoming the mouth of the Beast, has already made a lot of inroads into the Church. There are things that used to be considered indecent that don't bother Christians very much any more. Profanity is one of them. A woman I know spoke very crudely to me about her daughter–in–law, whom she detested. I rebuked her for language and she scoffed at me, telling me that she has heard even anointed ministers of God use those words.
I had to admit that what she said was sadly true. I once attended a revival meeting where I was shocked at what the speaker called his detractors. Some people got up and walked out. He was privately rebuked and there was no repetition of griping or profanity for the remaining meetings, but damage was done to his credibility. Profanity in the mouths of ministers of God does not make it right. I pointed that out and replied to my acquaintance that when we become Christians, we need to clean up our mouths. When Simon Peter wanted to distance himself from suspected connections to Yeshua, he did it by cursing and swearing.
I was startled by a male friend one day when he used the f word. This was not a guy whom one would consider backslidden. At least, he did not consider himself to be backslidden. I can deal with Christians using vulgarisms when they haven't had a good upbringing, and have sometimes used expressions myself that very well–mannered people would not consider to be in good taste, but in regards to that particular word, it should never be spoken by a Christian.
My stepfather wasn't even a Christian, but he didn't use the f word, and here was this brother who let it slip out when he was slightly frustrated, a holdover from his sinful past when he spoke in more robust, "manly" vernacular. He attended a lot of revival meetings and (apparently) got plastered in the Holy Ghost on frequent occasions, but he still used words like that?
The Bible says in Proverbs 22:24 & 25, "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man you shall not go: Lest you learn his ways, and get a snare to your soul." 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." When I heard that man speak in that way, it put me on my guard and diminished my interest in spending time with him.
The Bible says in Titus 2:7 & 8, "In all things showing yourself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you."
I have been accused of being "holier than thou" for bringing up this issue. Is that an acceptable way for a Christian to respond to such a rebuke? Is the rebuke not warranted when Christians talk or act crude or approve of crudeness? Particularly if they have had a decent upbringing and have sat for years under good preaching. I am not talking about new converts fresh from living on the street, who warrant greater patience.
If a person can't raise an issue about commonplace pitfalls such as gluttony or profanity, what hope is there of issuing a warning about more serious matters and not being reviled or ignored? At the very least, we can be alert on our own behalf.
We can't control what others do, but we can steer clear from being like the evil servant in Matthew 24 who told himself that his Lord was delaying His coming, so there would be adequate time to repent and get his heart right after he indulged his flesh and abused his fellow servants, not knowing that his opportunity to reconnect to the Lord would be cut off when he least expected it.
Though we need to keep an eye on ungodly trends and sound a warning, the best way to be alert is to be in prayer and open to hearing God. God can tell us more about what is going on than the newspapers can. Also, if He chooses to warn us through another believer, we will be better able to discern that they have rendered us a valuable service, rather than dismissing them as being overly sensitive.
In conclusion, put the armour on, leave it on, find out more about it, get more comfortable in it, and never turn your back and run. God never gave us anything to protect our back, except that He promises that His glory will be our rear guard (Isaiah 58:8), but that is only as long as we don't deny Him. If we turn tail and deny Him, He can't deny Himself because He knows He is real, so He is left with no choice but to deny those who deny Him.
If we are serious about staying in for the long haul, making it safely to our Heavenly Home, and bringing along whoever we can, then we need to be serious about the armour and walking in truth, instead of fiddling around with useless little prayer rituals that give us a false sense of security.