Suit Up--Part 8


Little guy takes on big bully.

David and Goliath stories thrill us and the Biblical account of David killing Goliath tops them all.

We love David's boldness as he marches right onto the battlefield armed with nothing but a bag of rocks. And a giant faith.

But what he says next is the turning point of the battle. His words determined who won, and these are the same words you need before you attempt to take on your enemy, Satan.

He spoke clearly to an enemy twice his size. "I come against you in the name of the Lord God of Israel. The Lord will defeat you today so that all the world will know there is a God in Israel."

The armor we have studied thus far has been defensive armor. It protects us against the schemes, deception, and below-the-belt attacks of our enemy.

But the next piece of armor puts us on the offense. We don't have to cower in fear, taking blow after blow until he tires of us. We have the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And with that sword, we can attack him, barging into his ranks, and doing some damage to the kingdom of darkness.

God's Word is compared to a sword. It pierces through darkness, wounds with conviction, and slashes away worldly trappings that entangle us. But like a sword, it has to be handled correctly and with a lot of practice. Soldiers didn't charge into battle with no training. Hand-to-hand combat required hours and hours of practice, training with one particular sword so that when necessary they could use it effectively and not end up stabbed with their own weapons.
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In the same way, God's Word is not a weapon we can use any way we choose. The power comes from God's Spirit and authority, not ours. When we start tossing around Scripture to support any idea we like, we're like a rogue cop abusing his badge for personal gain. Successful warfare requires that we know the Word of God inside and out, understanding its application and meaning. You can be certain that Satan knows what it means and he well knows if you are stepping outside your bounds.
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As David came against Goliath in the name and through the power of God, for God's ultimate glory, so we can come against Satan in the power and authority of God, using his Word to take command over the spirits of darkness. But those words alone have no power in themselves if the Spirit of God is not flowing through your spirit, empowering them. Satan knows quite well whether or not you carry the authority of God in your words.
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The Holy Spirit dwelling in you is your badge of authority. Your level of obedience and submission to Him determines how effective your sword will be. Whether they like it or not, dark powers must obey the children of God when they speak with His authority in specific situations.
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I must use this authority frequently in counseling situations when God's Spirit reveals to me that demonic forces are present. Standing on the authority of God's Word, I can command them to be silent. Sometimes, with the permission of the client, I command them to leave. And they do. It is only then the client's mind clears and he can understand truth.
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The armor of God is highly effective for every believer who chooses to wear it. We see the corpses from Satan's slaughter all around us and he is far from satisfied with his kill. He wants you too.
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Your only defense is the spiritual armor God has given you and it is free for the taking, but you must wear it the way he created it to be worn and wear it consistently. Don't head into the battle of your day without it.

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Suit Up--Part 7


The football team charges onto the field, bulky with padding. Cleats churn up the sod as the crowd cheers. Their jerseys sport the team logo. Equipment is top of the line except for one thing: they wear no helmets!
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Every mother in the stands rises in horror because everyone knows what one blow to the head can do. I am very aware of the damage one well-placed blow can do, as my daughter Susie has lived every day for the past 9 years dealing with that damage. And it could have been worse. (See Saving Susie)
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Brain damage is devastating because that little hunk of grey matter under the hair is the control center for the whole body. If something is wrong in there, nothing else works right.
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...And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION...Eph.6. 
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Paul calls attention to that critical battle front, the mind, when he instructs us to wear our "helmet of salvation." Without the certainty of God's salvation giving us strength, our minds are susceptible to every deceitful thought that floats by. Every worldly philosophy, every feel-good ideology, every vain impulse or man made theology can sound wonderfully reasonable without that helmet.
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It is in the mind that action begins. With the mind, we believe or reject. And unless we protect our minds, renew our minds, restore our minds continually with the truth of salvation by Jesus alone, we are easy prey for any one of Satan's glittery counterfeits.
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But how many of us work to actively protect our minds? Satan convinces us that we are so brilliant, so enlightened, so discerning that we can continually expose ourselves to lies, evil, and ungodly speculation and it won't affect us at all. That makes as much sense as a football player heading into a game without a helmet, assuming that because he is such a good player, he cannot be injured.
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We parents wouldn't dream of sending our kids into a tackle football game without proper gear, yet we rarely take such pains to protect their minds from attack. What are they watching? What are they listening to? Who are they emulating? Who are their heroes?
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How about you? Adults are not exempt from head injury either. What are you watching and listening to. Who do you admire? Are you wearing your helmet at all times or have you bought the lie that you don't need it? Do you allow speculation to hang around in the hinterlands of your mind, unanswered questions becoming a roadblock to spiritual growth?
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You wouldn't go to war or into a football game without a strong helmet. Your life is a battlefront and you need your helmet there, too. Don't go into war without it.


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Baal Is Alive and Well




“Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left..."

But what is the divine response to him? “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” (Rom. 11:2-3)

Not much has changed since Elijah had that conversation with God. All around us, those who claim to follow Christ are caving to Baal's social pressure and opinion. They may have traded a stone idol for one made of grey matter, but it is Baal all over again. He masquerades as the god of intellect, tolerance, or self-determination. 


Even the concept of love has been hijacked by the Baal worshipers and redefined as passive acceptance of anything someone chooses to do. Agreement with the biblical definition of sin is labeled as "Judging" and dismissed. The Bible is analyzed, discussed, and surveyed as literature... anything but followed-- even by those who profess to believe it. The serpent's challenge still echoes in 21st century America: "Has God really said...?"

God had a nation of millions in Elijah's day, but only 7000 had not bowed the knee to Baal. What if God took a headcount today?


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Suit Up--Part 6

"...take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." Eph. 6
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When you think of a shield, what comes to mind? We have windshields, sun shields, weather shield, and Blue Shield. The word shield implies protection from something, which is exactly what Paul had in mind when he told us to take up the Shield of Faith.
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But let's get away from the mental gymnastics that spiritual talk often produces. The word "faith" sometimes acts as a mute button in our minds. We instantly shift from the concrete to the abstract and too many people get lost right there.
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We think, "Oh, that's nice for church conversation, but it doesn't help with the mess I'm in right now. Faith sounds all soft and innocent, but it's not much good when I'm up against the wall. I need something concrete like money, a better job, a nicer spouse, or the location of my child. Church words just don't make the crossover into real life."
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That's exactly why the Apostle Paul used such concrete imagery to describe our real battles. He knew we thought like that, because he did too. So he describes our weaponry in vivid war terms and the best way to describe faith in God was to compare it to a shield.
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Shields protect. They form an impenetrable barrier between our vulnerability and the danger attacking us. A Roman shield was made out of iron, two layers of wood, and covered with leather. A gap was left between layers so that arrows dipped in pitch and set fire would penetrate just far enough to stick and be extinguished. If they fell to the ground, they could set the grass on fire. They needed not only to be stopped, but quenched.
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Get the picture?
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Paul reminds us that if our faith in God's truth is strong enough it not only stops Satan's flaming arrows, it puts them completely out so they don't catch something else on fire. The enemy shoots at us with blasphemous thoughts, nagging doubts, overwhelming hopelessness, and burning desires to sin.
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Without our shield, those fiery arrows can destroy us. We feel them sink into our heart and suddenly, they are our own. "Yeah, I should have the right to decide my own life...Sin is an old-fashioned concept...Life just isn't worth it. I should end it all..."
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With one well-placed missile, our faith in the goodness of God is shattered. As the enemy pounds against us, the rest of the armor starts to slip as well. "Maybe the Bible isn't the word of God after all...Maybe all religions are the same...Maybe I'm standing fast for nothing..."
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So how do you keep your shield shiny and ready for battle?
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1. Accept that your mind does not have to comprehend everything your spirit knows.
2. Choose to act on what you believe rather than only what you see or understand.
3. Take every thought captive the moment you are aware it is not from God. (2 Cor. 10:5)
4. Speak the word (rhema) of God until the missile is quenched.
5. Saturate your spirit with worship--like spraying water on a spark before it becomes raging
grass fire. Satan hates it and often won’t stay around long.
6. Seek opportunities to share your faith. A shared faith grows rapidly.
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Just as you would never drive down the interstate without a windshield on your car, don't try to live this life without your Shield of Faith properly polished and ready. Satan would love to take you out of the game with a single blow. Don't give him the chance.

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Suit Up--Part 5


Every spring for years, my sons and I made a trip to the shoe store for a specific item--cleats. It was baseball season and my Little Leaguers had to have cleats to play.
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Being a supportive mom, I refrained from mentioning how few times they actually ran to the bases, scampered to catch a fly ball, or exerted such physical effort that sliding on the grass was a real danger. The fact remained: they MUST have cleats because that was part of the uniform.
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Just in case they got aggressive enough to race madly down the baseline, the cleats would help them keep their footing. How sad to watch the little guy in Barney tennis shoes take a tumble and be mercilessly tagged while he was down.
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God provides cleats for our spiritual armor as well. Ephesians 6 includes them when it says we must have "our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace."
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A soldier’s battle shoes were studded like cleats with nails or spikes to help him keep his balance. The last thing he needed during the heat of battle was to lose his footing. Once he went down, it didn’t matter how great the rest of his armor was, the enemy had him.
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To be prepared in battle, means you are always ready for whatever attack your enemy may launch. You’ve thought ahead, learned the enemy’s strategy, and have your feet firmly planted on solid footing. Your peace comes from the knowledge that your protection is assured. Jesus has already accomplished it for you. The battle has already been won--you're just holding the fort.
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Paul warns us in I Cor. 15 that if we listen to any other message, it is a false gospel. When we allow our minds to entertain other possibilities for salvation, other roads to God, we are on slippery ground. Wearing Peace Shoes means we have dug our feet into the deep turf of God's Word and are holding fast. Unless we go down, Satan cannot defeat us.
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Soooo...he launches a flaming missile of doubt: “If God really loved you, He wouldn’t have let this happen.”
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 But you are ready, feet firmly established, and you reply: “It is written, “All things work together for the good, to them who love God and are called according to His purpose.”
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Satan takes a stab from behind: “Remember what you did? You don’t deserve forgiveness.”
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With shoes planted securely in truth, we parry back: “I'm forgiven for that. It is written, Satan, ‘if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’”
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Or he attacks the very foundation of your peace: “You don’t really believe all this ancient nonsense, do you? Why is your way better than someone else’s? All religions have their merits. One is as good as another.” 
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 If your feet are not firmly established, you may feel them slipping from beneath you. “What if he's right? What if I’m following God for nothing?”
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But if you are prepared with the Gospel of Peace, you can dig in and slash back: “Satan, Jesus said, ‘I am the way the truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by me.’ There is no other truth.”

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Shoes are also for moving. When we are properly girded and grounded in the truth of the Gospel, God expects us to go on the offense and take that Gospel of peace to others. Battle armor is not merely for self-protection, but to send us in after others who are going down under Satan’s assaults. 1 Peter 3:14-16 says “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
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When you are actively living out your faith and sharing with others what God is teaching you, Satan's darts are so ineffective against your armor that he may as well be using a Nerf gun.
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Peace shoes were not given to us so that we could simply stand there and wait for Satan to hit us. God wants us to go on the offense, driving back the enemy's attacks, and clearing a path for those still struggling to find God.
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So look down. Are you spiritually barefoot? Time for a trip to the shoe store. Dig into God's Word and learn the truth about who you are and where you are going. Then sink your feet firmly into that truth and you will not go down. You can't. Those aren't Barney tennis shoes you're wearing!


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Suit Up--Part 4


Eph.6: 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.
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Ever fall and land flat on your stomach? Whoosh! The air leaves your body and for a timeless instant, you wonder if you are dead.
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A whack to the chest or abdomen can be fatal and that's why few pieces of armor were more crucial to survival than the breastplate. Made of bronze or chain mail, it covered the vital organs and attached to the belt. If the belt was loosened, the breastplate slipped right off.
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You're quick. You know where we're going with this, but the thought is already forming in your head: Righteousness? Well, that lets me out. I was all for that Belt of Truth thing, but if this armor-wearing requires me to be perfect, forget it. Can't do it.
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GREAT! You're already on the right path!
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Because, remember from last time, Whose name is stamped on your armor? The moment you accepted Christ's sacrifice on the cross as payment for your sin, He handed you a breastplate and said, "Here. Your righteousness is not sufficient to protect you. Wear mine."
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That's right! The Breastplate of Righteousness is not yours! Satan can slice major holes in any attempt of ours to appear righteous. Wearing our righteousness into battle would be like wearing a silk shirt rather than bronze armor.
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So how do I keep it on?
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By "seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." By making God's ways your ways, His laws your delight. By keeping your sin confessed and your heart humble before Him. At the point where you say "no" to God, a little crack appears in your armor. Satan is adept at finding those cracks and thrusting a spear into your vital organs.
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Sounds great. So why doesn't everyone wear it all the time?
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One reason too many believers let their breastplate slip off is that it can feel heavy. A soldier's breastplate had to be thick and heavy to deflect the enemy's spears and arrows. Seeking God can be exhausting and time-consuming. It requires that I make choices against my fleshly desires and often say no to myself. Seeking His righteousness means I turn away from enticing worldly attractions--not because I have to. But because it tarnishes my breastplate.
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Another reason believers aren't wearing their armor is that they don't believe they possess it. Satan has already planted the lie that says it is your OWN righteousness that will protect you, and since you know you are not nearly good enough to stand strong on your own, you shrug and give up.
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Third, too many think that simply because they accepted Christ at one time, they are automatically suited up. But as we pointed out in the first post, if this armor has to be put on, then it is clearly not already on. It is an act of our will to don each piece and see that it fits securely. Satan wins many victories over defenseless Christians trying to do battle in their underwear.
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Everything comes with a manufacturer's warning these days. Pages of examples of what NOT to do if you want to use your new item successfully. God's Breastplate of Righteousness has a list of things that will also cause it to malfunction in your life:
  • Tolerating sin in your life. (I know it's wrong, but...)

  • Direct disobedience. (Choosing my will over what I know God wants for me.)

  • Holding on to bitterness or unforgiveness. (If you knew what he did to me...)

  • Allowing earthly concerns to crowd out time for God. (Good things take away from the best things.)

  • Entertaining "speculations or any lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God." 2 Cor. 10:5

  • Allowing sinful compromise into your life. (The movie was mostly good except for a couple of scenes and the language...)
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God provides an excellent protective device for your heart, but it has to be buckled securely to the Belt of Truth and kept clean and shiny to protect you. It would be a shame to let such quality armor go to waste.
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Suit Up--Part 3


Eph. 6: 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist...

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Ever leave the house in a hurry, wearing pants or a skirt that was too big around the waist--and you had no belt? All day you're a bit nervous, pressing your arm against the waistband and praying against a wardrobe malfunction.
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That little belt you left in the closet starts to seem mighty important when you have to walk all the way across the parking lot with arms full and no way to hold your pants up.
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The Belt of Truth Paul talks about here is even more valuable. When Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free," this belt is what he meant.
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A soldier's belt was a thick, heavy item to which all the rest of the armor was attached. It was buckled tightly about the waist and kept everything else in place. If it came unbuckled or loose, the rest of the armor would start to slip.
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In the same way, truth is the foundation upon which our total security rests. If we don't have God's absolute truth buried deep in our souls, one well-placed lie can send us reeling. ("The Bible is not relevant to us anymore..." "What was sin back then isn't sin anymore..." "Science has proven the Bible false...")
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LIES are Satan's favorite weapons. He used a couple in the Garden and they worked so well, why change tactics? He figured out long ago how woefully ignorant we humans are and how easily fooled we are by a smooth-talking, snake-oil salesman.
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Wearing the Belt of Truth requires that we remain completely honest before God about ourselves as well. We must be willing to accept how God sees us, admit our own weaknesses, and live with a clear conscience. We have to be willing for God to shine a bright light into those secret places of our souls and get rid of those pet lies we keep around for company. To entertain deception in any form loosens the belt.
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This belt is buckled on by our Will. Every day we choose what to believe, what to allow into our minds, and whether or not to question God's stated truth. As your will slips, so does the belt.
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God won't force you to wear the Belt of Truth, but He offers it to you with His guarantee stamped onto it. It can stand up against any lie Satan throws at it. It readies you for battle and is the foundation for the rest of your armor. But if won't do you any good if you don't buckle it on.

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