Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Spiritual Protection ................. Parables 230

(date sometime in fall of 1990)

When he was actively farming, my dad added a “hard hat” to his working clothes. It was the full-brimmed kind, silver in color with numerous scratches and dents. It went well with his tattered overalls, well-worn plaid shirt, wool socks and scuffed work boots. He said the “louder clang” made him more aware of how frequently he whacked his head against a piece of machinery.

My problem is not with my head but my feet. Every time I go barefoot, I stub my toes or drop something on them. I probably do it with shoes too, but don’t notice so much. The bruises help me remember to keep my feet protected.

Back in New Testament days, a Roman foot soldier needed all his clothing too. If he left his sword and shield at home, he quickly discovered how painful the enemy’s arrows can be to an unprotected body.

Seems to me that only a foolish fighter would forget his weapons or his defense but it must have happened because Paul used the armor of a soldier to illustrate a warning to His warriors. Ephesians 6 says: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor 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... spiritual wickedness in high places.”

The Bible speaks metaphorically of this divine armor:

BELT OF TRUTH - In Bible times, the soldier’s belt bound up flapping garments that might hinder him in battle. Since we battle Satan, the father of lies, it is important to gird ourselves with truth, as well as an inner quality of truthfulness. Anything less and we can lose the battle.

BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS - The Roman foot soldier was wrapped at his most vulnerable part with a tough breastplate. This is also the need of a Christian. We need to be wrapped with righteousness, not only the garment of righteousness which is given to us at salvation, but the current condition of our lives. Any believer caught up in unrighteous activity is already losing.

SHOD WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE - The battlefields were covered with stones that easily put a barefoot warrior out of commission. He needed proper footgear. The Christian does too. Our footwear is peace with God through faith in the gospel and assurance that all is well with our soul. This gives us confidence, even in a crisis and is so important because when anxiety takes over, the dominion of the enemy is not far behind.

SHIELD OF FAITH - This was not the small shield used in hand-to-hand combat but the large one that protected the soldier’s entire body. Christians need a faith that is sufficient for all that the enemy hurls, a shield that is adequate to extinguish his lies with their power to tempt, deceive and discourage. Without it, we are extremely vulnerable.

HELMET OF SALVATION - The soldier’s head needed armor. So does ours, to protect us against false ideas such as: “Look at all those negatives in your life... how can God love you...?” The warrior who knows He belongs to God and knows he is loved, no matter what, is an invincible fighter.

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT - which is the Word of God. How else can one fight a lie but with the truth? However, it is one thing to know it, to be convinced of it, to have it in our hearts, to even live it out... but when the lie comes, none of that will drive it back to hell from where it came; we need the Words of the Living God. Jesus used Scripture when tempted by the devil (see Matthew 4); so must each soldier in His army.

One other thing needs mentioning: strategy. This war is fought by “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching with all perseverance and supplication for all saints...”

Prayer and God’s armor are both our weapon and our protection against our enemy; hard hats or steel toed boots won’t begin to defend us against his lies. We need to be fully dressed in the armor that God provides.

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