The Breastplate of Righteousness (Part Two)

IMG_0163Ephesians 6:14

It is good to know that God has given us the gift of the breastplate of righteousness, which is part of the armor of the God. This gift is for his glory and our good. So then, let us consider how this armor strongly protects us from two of Satan’s schemes.

One of the ways that Satan opposes the people of God is to accuse us before God (Job 1-2; Zechariah 3; Rev 12). As our adversary, Satan seeks to disrupt our fellowship with God. One means is to attempt to raise questions about our standing before God. The evil one strives to find an ally within us called a guilty conscience. By attacking us here, he seeks to cause all kinds of uneasiness in us. An attack might proceed something like this: “How can you possibly imagine that God will accept you? Look at the ugly mess your life is in! The Holy God, whom you presume to call ‘Father’, will have nothing to do with you, sinner! I have observed your way of life. You call yourself a child of God? Hypocrite is a better name for someone like you.” And so Satan seeks to unnerve us, to raise doubt and fear and unbelief in the good news of Jesus Christ.

How do you handle such attacks?

  • A mere professor of religion will shrug them off. “Why should I worry? I made a decision, I was baptized, and I am a member of the church! I even serve in the church!” But notice the emphasis on “I”. Such an attitude reveals reliance on “works righteousness”. And such a person does not have any firm basis for salvation.
  • On the other hand, a true believer will renew his or her repentance, humbly bow before the Father, and cry out, “Father in heaven, I have no other hope but the blood and righteousness of your Son. Lord Jesus, I trust in you! Lord, you know all about my sin, and my deepest thoughts and motives, but your saving grace is all the merit I need. I rest on you.” Every time a true believer relies on Christ, he or she will experience the full strength of Christ’s righteousness. There is no condemnation (Romans 8:1)!

Another tactic of the evil one is to distract us from the glory of Christ and the joy of knowing the Lord. There are many subtle attacks here. One method is to tempt us to add a little to Christ—a little ritual, a little doctrinal knowledge, a little experience, or a little service. Once the believer falls into the trap, the devil promptly kicks the legs out from that one little extra. Some problem enters the church or the believer’s life, and he or she finds out that there is no joy in that little extra. They have lost connection with the head of the church. The only way back is repentance and reliance on the Lord’s perfect righteousness. Another method is to draw our hearts away from our first love to pursue worldly things: wealth, sports, recreation, vacation, homes, tech toys, and so on capture the heart, and the believer wanders from the battle line to the sidelines. Listen to their talk. It is not about Christ and his righteousness. It is about their current infatuation with the worldly thing. Can such a person recover? Yes, praise God that Christ’s righteousness is sufficient even for that bitter denial of Christ.

Think of the words of verse two of “At the Foot of the Cross” by Steve & Vikki Cook. “Upon the cross of Jesus, Lord I would fix my eyes, for it always will remind me of these truths. My iniquity seems endless, yet greater still your grace, and I will glory in the Cross throughout the ages.”

Has something besides the Risen Lord Jesus captured your heart? What is the burning passion, the desire of your heart? Do you want to sing “love songs” to the Lord Christ, to praise the Father by the power of the Spirit for God’s Beloved Son? Or do you wonder what in the world a preacher or this blog writer is talking about? “What has happened to all your joy? … I am perplexed you” (Galatians 4:15, 20)! I plead with you. Put on God’s armor! Rest and rejoice in Christ’s surpassing righteousness.

Grace and peace, David

The Nature of Spiritual Warfare (Part Two)

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Ephesians 6:11-12

In spiritual warfare the Christian faces a cunning opposing commander. Satan thinks up schemes or traps to try to defeat those who follow Jesus. The word for schemes could be translated as “strategies”. He is drawing up battle plans to be used against us (2 Corinthians 2:11). All these schemes are saturated with deceit and lies, because they come from the father of lies (John 8:44). Consider 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15; 1 Timothy 4:1. This kind of deceptive activity will only increase as we move closer to the coming of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12; Matthew 24:10-14, 21-25). How then can you know what is truth or error? You can know by the Scriptures (John 17:17).

Here are eight types of schemes that the devil uses against us to draw us into sin.

  • Satan presents the bait and hides the hook (Genesis 3:4-5; Matthew 4:8-9).
  • Satan paints sin with the colors of religion (1 Samuel 15:15, 22-23).
  • Satan lessens the sin or makes it seem less by mentioning all kinds of extenuating circumstances (Joshua 7:20-21; 2 Samuel 6:6-7).
  • Satan talks up the sin of the saints, while hiding their troubles from their sin, the sorrow of their repentance, and their true heart for God: David (2 Samuel 11:4; Psalm 51:1ff), Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:24-26), and Peter (Mark 14:71-72).
  • Satan misrepresents sin and its consequences, claiming that sinful people enjoy blessings while the godly suffer (Jeremiah 44:15-18), conveniently omitting eternal consequences (Psalm 73).
  • Satan encourages us to compare ourselves with people less religious and moral and in this way builds up our pride (Luke 18:11).
  • Satan pollutes minds with dangerous errors that make sin seem less dangerous (Jude 1:4).
  • Satan prompts us to choose wicked friends. 2 Chronicles 18:1ff; 19:1-3).

This is a small selection of the schemes that the evil one uses against us! Since we have a powerful enemy that seeks our destruction in many ways, what should we do? We must trust and obey the Lord. Rely on the Lord’s almighty power and put on the armor that he has given for your protection.

Grace and peace, David

Spiritually Outfitted (Part Two)

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Ephesians 6:11

Why should we put on the full armor of God? We should put it on because the Lord commands us to (cf. Luke 12:35). This alone ought to be sufficient reason. We are to recognize his authority to direct our lives. Who are we to disobey the Lord? But this is an age of incredible spiritual immaturity. I speak of us all. Someone has said that American Christianity is 3,000 miles wide and a half an inch deep. Therefore, let’s think of some other reasons.

Satan has a great advantage in battle when we fail to put on and then use the weapons of our warfare (cf. Luke 4:13; 16:21-23). Imagine going tent camping and then failing to zip up the doors to keep out the mosquitoes and other nasty bugs. That would be failing to use your advantage. Whatever opportunity the evil one now misses by our diligence, he hopes to find again by our negligence. He hopes that we will be tired out by continual duty. Satan is a skilled hunter (1 Peter 5:8). He watches the tracks of our feet for an indication of the direction of our hearts (Psalm 119:10). Beware of youthful over-activity, middle-aged laziness, or senior sleepiness. We need to be like Eleazar in battle (2 Samuel 23:9-10) or like Joshua (Joshua 10:12-14).

It is hard to reactivate a habit of grace when it has fallen into disuse (Song 5:3). Sometimes this happens because of the shame of guilt. Is there anyone reading that is too ashamed to serve because you have really messed up your Christian life? I know one way that you can be whiter than snow. The blood of Christ never loses its power! Remember that after David was forgiven he went out to fight again. Sometimes this happens from sheer difficulty. When a room has been messed up, it is harder to clean than when it is kept in constant order. One sin tolerated will eventually lead to greater problems. Learning to play a musical instrument and then neglecting to practice and then trying to play again is difficult. Sometimes our lack of spiritual responsiveness happens from being under false teaching. Human-centered or free will teaching marinates a soul in self-sufficiency. Legalism bakes the heart hard in self-reliance. Transforming experience errors of various types send a soul on an empty search for something besides Jesus Christ. Seek fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, not an experience!

In one sense it doesn’t matter how someone falls into a trap. What matters is how to get out of it. The only way is through a fresh faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. What can I do to persuade you of our Lord’s surpassing worth and all-sufficiency?

We should put our armor on for the sake of our fellow soldiers. A soldier who does not know how to use his weapons is a danger to his own comrades (cf. Hebrews 5:11-14). Good doctrine with an evil lifestyle is like a loaded gun in the hands of a two-year-old. Incorrect doctrine with good intentions is like carrying out attacks without regard to where the enemy is—many are injured by “friendly fire”. The unwise conduct of one professing believer makes the situation worse for many others. Even when the person does not fall into a scandal, he or she cannot help other saints, as should be the case.

We can only put on spiritual armor by faith. This action is a daily necessity for every follower of Christ. You and I must be prepared for battle! However, you cannot put on spiritual armor unless you first know the Lord. Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? Are you united to him by faith? Do you desire to fellowship with the Lord? True Christianity is a relationship with the risen Lord, and not an empty practice of duty. Make sure that you know the Lord before you try to follow him.

Grace and peace, David