Friday, November 11, 2016

that you will be able - Ephesians 6:13-17

"Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:13-17)
Once again, Paul encourages us to take up the panoply of God; taking unto ourselves the full armor, utility, and instrumentality of God. What is important to understand is that the time to do this is not when you find yourselves in the mist of the evil day. When everything is assaulting you, it's not the time to be looking for your armor. Armor must be put on prior to the battle, not in the midst of it. Also, the armor is not something you put on and take off. We are to be continuously robed in the armor of God. Only then we will be properly prepared to meet whatever may come our way. It is also interesting to note that our call is to stand. I have known some people who always seem to be looking for a spiritual fight. They are always assaulting something or trying to cast something out. Paul is not telling us to be running head-long into the battle we think we should be fighting, but rather to be prepared to stand should the battle come our way. Paul's words to us are like the Boy Scouts' motto, "Be prepared." You needn't go looking for a fight. Trust me, it will find you. Therefore, be prepared.

To gird oneself is to be ready for action and for service. Jesus tells us to always be prepared for whatever may come our way. He also tells us to be ready at a moment's notice to obey our master's wishes. "Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately." (Luke 12:35-36 NKJV) Truth is essential to our preparation to act. Without truth we are easily lead astray. Without truth we fail to understand the true nature of life and the world we live in. We fail to understand the importance of being ready and what is at stake by our obedience to Christ. To properly see the world and to be ready to answer God's call we must shed the lies of the world and surround ourselves with the truth of the Gospel.

While, here, Paul references the breastplate of righteousness, in other places he refers to it as the, "the breastplate of faith and love." (1 Thessalonians 5:8) I believe that this is because faith and love equal righteousness. Remember the words of Paul when he said, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love." (Galatians 5:6) Righteousness is nothing more than faith working through love. It is also interesting to note that righteousness can be a defensive weapon.Remember when Jesus said, "the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me." (John 14:30) Righteousness removes all the hooks in our heart by which the enemy can grab and yank us around. The enemy comes around looking for those in who he has place, but righteousness closes the door and keeps him out. How powerful is righteousness to our ability to stand!

The phrase, "the preparation of the Gospel of peace" has always been a bit enigmatic for me. Is the Gospel of peace the preparation or are we to shod our feet as the preparation for the Gospel of peace? Here are two alternative translations that may help us to understand this verse. "Be ready with the good news of peace as shoes on your feet." (Ephesians 6:15 BBE) "as well as the shoes of the Good News of peace-- a firm foundation for your feet." (Ephesians 6:15 Weymouth) Along with these translations, we have the prophetic words of Isaiah, "How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'" (Isaiah 52:7) I think what Paul is saying is that we should ever be ready to share and take the Gospel of peace to those who need it. To "be ready in season and out of season." (2 Timothy 4:2) Furthermore, we must always remember that it is a Gospel of peace and not one of condemnation and alienation. We are to bring the message of reconciliation and peace with the Father that is for all who place their hope and trust in Him.

The shield Paul refers too is a large shield the size and shape of a door. It is meant to protect our whole person. So what are those fiery darts, or missiles, we are to protect ourselves against? Primarily they are the lies and accusations of the enemy. Jesus told us, "Whenever he [the devil] speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44) Similarly, the angel tells John that the Devil is, "the accuser of our brethren." (Revelation 12:10) Faith enables us to recognize the lies of the enemy. It helps us to distinguish the false accusations of our enemy from the conviction of the Holy Spirit. In this case, faith is more than trust, it is a belief and an acknowledgment of the truth we have been taught by Christ. When we believe His truth, we will not be so quick to buy into the lies the enemy tries to send our way. This is critical to our life with God because, "the truth will make you free" (John 8:32) while the lies of the enemy only brings bondage.

Paul speaks here of the helmet of salvation while in another place he identifies it as, "a helmet, the hope of salvation." (1 Thessalonians 5:8) The key here is that a helmet is meant to protect our heads and, in this case, our thoughts and reasoning. Our hope is empowered as we fill our understanding with the truth and knowledge of God. As we meditate on the salvation of God, we crowd out the other thoughts that diminish us and that bring worry and anxiety to life. Many people get caught in the cycle of replaying over and over in their minds the slights, worries, failures, and fears of their life. This constant rehearsing gives power to those thoughts and can for a stronghold in their mind that is difficult to tear down. This is why Paul encourages us, "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." (Philippians 4:8) These are the things that accompany our salvation and, even while we may not see them presently in our lives, they are the hope of our salvation. These are the things we should fill our minds with, not the lies and deceit of the enemy.

Finally, Paul tells us to take up the sword of the spirit. In both the Greek and Hebrew language, the word for Spirit is the same as the word for breath. This verse can also be translated as the "sword of the breath." As odd as this might sound, it is a perfect picture of what John describes in revelations as he sees, "From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron." (Revelation 19:15) Truly the sword of his breath. What is important to note here is that, as important as it is to think right, taking up the helmet of salvation, it is equally important to speak right, using the sword of His breath. If we speak doubt, fear, and resignation, then we give place to those things in our life. However, if we speak the truth with all its hope, faith, and assurance, then we empower the truth we believe to become effective in our lives and the lives of those around us. Solomon tells us, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit." (Proverbs 18:21) Our words are seeds that produce either life or death depending on the seeds we sow. When we take up the sword of the word of God and learn to speak the same things as God speaks then, not only do we reap a harvest of life, but we also plant seeds of life on others as well. Our speach is powerful and we should use it as the weapon it is.

David Robison

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