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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Neal Pirolo :: Prepare for Battle

Neal Pirolo :: Chapter 1 - Spiritual Armor

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"Put on the whole armor of God." Ephesians 6:11.

In secular war the first consideration must relate to the protection of the warriors. Throughout the years of history many different materials have been tried. Some armor was so scant that, though it allowed for mobility, it provided no protection. In the Middle Ages, the armor was so heavy a warrior had to be hoisted into the saddle of his steed. Lightweight, yet protective, is ideal.

In spiritual warfare, the goal is the same. In the war that is raging, we must remain mobile. Yet we must also be well-protected, for the battle is fierce.

Though various pieces of spiritual armor are mentioned throughout the Word, a rather complete list is given by Paul to the Christians in Ephesus. It is important to note that before he even mentions the five pieces of armor he twice emphasizes to put it all on.

"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 principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Ephesians 6:11-13

Note with equal emphasis that it is the armor of God. It is His provision for us. Isaiah rejoiced greatly, for Jehovah "has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness…" Isaiah 61:10 Our combat is not against …flesh and blood," but against spiritual forces. Thus, our armor, our protection against the enemy, is not made of any materials of this world but is of spiritual fiber. See 2 Corinthians 10:4.

As Paul introduces this theme to the churches of Ephesus, he says, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might…" Ephesians 6:10 In ourselves we are no match for the enemy. Even the sum total of all the Christians in the world banded together in perfect unity would be no match for the enemy if they were to go out to fight for right only in the power of their own might. Paul prayed for the Christians in Colossae that they would be "strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power." Colossians 1:11 Jesus said, "Without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5 Paul acknowledged the truth in the converse: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13.

Before we carefully examine and become familiar with each piece of our armor, let us further note that armor is defensive. Though we are to fight an offensive battle, "overpowering evil with good" (Romans 12:21), our armor is for our protection. In the heat of battle we do not strip ourselves of one or another piece of armor and begin using it as a weapon. When we are trying to exhort our brother to purity in his life habits, we don't take off our helmet of salvation and begin beating him over the head with how "pure" we are and how sure we are of what we believe. The minute we allow any part of our spiritual being to be unprotected, the fiery darts of the enemy can find easy target. Injury to warriors so foolish is inevitable.

And lastly, this armor has to fit us, individually. We cannot go out to fight for right suited in another's armor. The truth girded about my loins must be Truth from the Word that has become real in my life. When doing battle with the enemy we cannot say, "Well, my pastor and three commentaries say it is true." When we raise our shield of faith against the fiery darts of the enemy, this faith must have been tested, tempered and proven in the crucible of our own life experiences.

Who cannot remember David, the young shepherd boy? His father has sent him to take corn and bread to his brothers and to discover how they were doing in battle against the Philistines. He arrives at a camp held captive in fear-fear of one giant named Goliath. You know the story. Saul has raised the reward three times: All the riches one would desire, his daughter in marriage, and his father's house free of taxes! Still no one will volunteer to fight Goliath. But David says he will fight him.

His brothers try to send him home. The word gets out and finally reaches the ears of King Saul. After a lengthy discussion during which the king, too, tries to dissuade David, he finally says, "OK, go for it! But at least put my armor on."

Now remember, Saul stands "head and shoulders above all the men of Israel." 1 Samuel 9:2 David is just a stripling youth. But in obedience to the king, the armor bearers start dressing him in Saul's armor. On goes the helmet of brass. David probably has to look out through the mouth opening. And the coat of mail? There are no letters here for David. He tries to walk, but can't. He says to Saul, "I cannot go out with these, for I have not proved them." See 1 Samuel 17:39. "Not proved" means they had not been made to fit him. And the armory tailor had no time to take in a tuck here or cut off a snip there.

In the same manner-now in the spiritual arena?the armor we put on for our protection must be proven by us-it must fit each of us-individually; personally. As we look at each of these pieces of armor, let's do so in this context: Does this armor fit me?

"Stand, therefore, having your loins girded about with truth, and having the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation…" Ephesians 6:14-17a

The Loin Cloth of Truth

Truth is primary. Truth is unchanging. Truth is eternal. Today, however, the world is telling us all truth is relative. Whether scientific, legislative, or even historical, truth is as changeable as the people currently in authority.

The world is flat. No, it is spherical. No, it is pear-shaped. I remember the early days of space exploration. Each space launch was so unique that they carried continuous live coverage. And, of course, there were often "holds" on the countdown as this or that had to be repaired or adjusted. During those "holds" in the countdown, the radio or TV commentator had to have something with which to fill that time.

On one launch that I was following excitedly on the car radio, Cape Canaveral put the launch on hold. By phone the newsman began talking with a chap in England. He happened to be the president of the Society for the Preservation of the Flatness of the Earth! Yes, this was back in the "dark ages" of the 1960s, but I almost had a wreck as I wove across the freeway lanes in disbelief that anyone could still think the earth was flat!

When the newsman asked him what his society did with the beautiful pictures being taken from space showing the curvature of the earth, he said, "I will have to admit that they cause us a bit of a problem!" "Do you still believe the earth is flat?" came the next question. "Yes, we do. We will find some reasonable explanation for those pictures." I kid you not! That is exactly what the man said.

One probe of the rings of Saturn disproved 28 previously held truths about them. Each new discovery from every branch of science is more and more clearly pointing to a young earth and an infinitely creative force. Yet evolution is more and more emphatically being taught as truth. Even those who promote Intelligent Design, have not come to the full measure of Truth. By the world's standards, scientific truth is relative.

The foundational truths on which human governments are based prove to be relative. Pilate, trained and experienced in principles of government, reasoned with the Jewish leadership, knowing that their arguments were perversions of their own beliefs. Trying to find a way to release Jesus, he talked with Him. Jesus said, "Everyone that is of the truth hears My voice." Pilate, rising to go back to the people, obviously frustrated by this travesty of justice, asked of Him, "What is truth?" John 18:37-38.

With the ebb and flow of conservative and liberal court justices, legislative truth is interpreted as relative. In one day the sanctity of life in the womb is subjugated to a "woman's choice" and the child created in the image of God is described as "fetal matter" although the same law books determine that the destruction of that "matter" is murder if done without the woman's choice! And people with other perceptions of truth have been fighting that truth ever since.

Historical truth is also deemed to be relative. When one form of government fails in a country, all that was expounded as truth by its leader is now relegated to the archives of error. The new regime tears down the statues of the deposed leader and finally buries his bones.

Cults, and even Christians, establishing dates for this or that to happen, have to "reinterpret" their historical truth to maintain a degree of credibility. Scoffers say, "Where is the promise of His coming? All things remain the same since the beginning of creation." 2 Peter 3:4 Yet, Truth says, "All of human history will be consummated in Christ." Ephesians 1:10.

On a personal level, from those who choose to believe a lie, we hear, "Oh, that's beautiful. That's your reality," when they are confronted with Truth. As if truth could be true for one person and not for another.

The Bible is not mere scientific truth, yet there is not one scientific principle (not theory) in contradiction with the Word of God.

The Bible is not mere legislative truth, yet the principles of government that have paralleled the counsel of the Almighty through His Written Word have been found to yield justice and equity.

The Bible is not mere historical truth, yet the data of every new archaeological find builds evidence for the historical accuracy of every Word of God.

COBE probed the outer reaches of our Solar System looking for proof of the Big Bang theory. Instead, it sent back data suggesting an orderly, creative act. One sincere probe of the Word in any area of investigation will yield Truth. For Christ, the Living Word, said, 'I am the Truth!' John 14:6.

Study the Word. Let it be the milk and meat to mature you in Truth. See Hebrews 5:13-14; 6:1. Jesus said, "Abide (make your home, settle in, become comfortable) in Me and let My words abide (make their home, settle in, become comfortable) in you…" John 15:7 As well-studied in the Word as Paul was, he commended the Bereans for not simply relying on his words. But rather they "searched the Scriptures daily to see if these things he said were true." Acts 17:11.

E. V. Hill, in a dynamic sermon focusing on the power of the Word to transform society, related the story of growing up in Sweet Home, Texas. His mother couldn't read. So, often she would ask her son to read the Word to her. Once in a while to try to trick her, he would substitute the Word of God with his own words. She would immediately stop him, saying, "That's wrong. That's wrong! That just doesn't sound like God!"

Likewise, may we become so familiar with Truth that when error-half-truths, perversions, distortions or full-on lies-are foisted on us, we can immediately stop them with "No! That just doesn't sound like God!"

There are some who in their attempt to know Truth begin to investigate error. They can easily become engrossed, then possibly enamored with the tantalizing tenets of that error. Their motive is right: To know Truth. But their method leads them astray as they read more and more about false teachings.

Instead of making a study of false teachings, consider the example of bank tellers in training: When it is time for them to learn how to detect counterfeit (false) money, the teacher does not bring out a hundred samples of counterfeit bills and point out all the errors. In-stead, he gives each teller a stack of real (true) money. The tellers spend time pulling them-bill by bill-through their hands. Their hands become familiar with the feel of true money. Their fingers become sensitized to "truth." After a set time, the teacher slips in a few counterfeit bills. As the tellers pull the paper through their hands they are able to detect the false bills. Those bills just don't feel right. Likewise, may we be so sensitized to the Truth that when anyone would impose on us a counterfeit thought or doctrine, we could immediately stop him with, "That just doesn't feel right. That just doesn't sound like God."

Truth is the primary part of our defense as we go out to fight for right, armed with faith and a clear conscience. The compass of this writing does not include how to study Truth. And I admit that just knowing that Truth must "abide" in us is not enough. There are many excellent methods and programs available for getting the Word to "abide" in us, not the least being the Holy Spirit with us in our personal closet of prayer. Knowing this, that "when He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide us into all Truth…" John 16:13.

The Breastplate of Righteousness

In 2 Corinthians 6:7, as Paul was speaking of his own warfare, he said he was a minister of God "by the Word of Truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left." The upper part of our torso-our chest and back, our "comings and goings"-needs to be protected by the righteousness of Christ. See Psalm 139:5. Herein lie the two most vital life systems-the respiratory and circulatory.

A very simple definition of righteousness is "right relationships." In Luke 2:52 it says, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, gaining favor with God and man." Even our Lord grew in developing right relationships with God and man. In Luke's record of Paul's statements in the Book of Acts and in his epistles, you find Paul continually talking about having a clear conscience before God and man. Notably, as he shared his final words with the elders of the churches of Ephesus at Miletus, he said, "I am pure from the blood of all men." See Acts 20:26. This was in reference, most probably, to Ezekiel's words in Chapters 3 [Eze 3:16-21] and 33 [Eze 33:1-9].

(You surely have noted by this point in the study that I am listing numerous Scripture references that I am but alluding to in context. I encourage you to be like a Berean and search these Scriptures to prove in your heart that what I am saying is true-more to the point: That you will develop a deep sense for the Truth of His Word.)

When Paul stood before Felix, he was able to use as a part of his defense the truth of his words, "I do my utmost to live my whole life with a conscience void of offense toward God and toward men." Acts 24:16 When we clear our conscience we get "a load off our chest." We are able to "breathe freely." With a clear conscience, we can look everyone straight in the eye and say, "To the best of my knowledge, agape love is the force that binds us together." We are not harboring some blame for their previous actions or words. We are not concealing some guilt for ill we did against them. And as far as we know, they are not holding anything against us.

In Matthew 5:6, Jesus said our desire for righteousness should be as intense as the physical drives of hunger and thirst. How long do we go without eating or drinking before we say, "I'm starving to death!" or "I'm dying of thirst?" We're a long way from literal death, but that speaks of the strength of these drives in our physical makeup. Thus, in the emotional/psychological/spiritual dimensions of our life, we are to have an equally intense drive to maintain right relationships with God and man. It is a part of our defense-a part of our protection in warfare.

Unresolved conflicts are like breaches in our breastplate. They are weak spots in our armor which leave us open and susceptible to the fiery darts of the enemy. It can happen when we say, "I can forgive everybody but______. (You fill in the name.) There is no way I can forgive that gossiping rumor-monger for the way he hurt me." So you go out to fight for right with unforgiveness in your heart, you may be thinking yourself to be "armed with faith and a clear conscience." 1 Timothy 1:18-19 But wait! There is a chink-a weak spot-in your armor. I say it again, unforgiveness leaves a giant hole in your breastplate.

Then you begin sharing with a person. Sure enough, he is having a hard time forgiving someone. "How can I have victory over this?" he asks you. You know the Word. You know the specific instruction to bring him peace. You bring Truth to bear on the issue. And he may even go away with peace in his heart and a plan for resolving his conflict with his brother. But (and possibly unknown to him) you had been sharing it with less than true conviction because satan was launching a steady barrage of fiery darts (They feel more like atomic bombs!) through that opening, that weak spot in your breastplate of righteousness.

Am I saying that we cannot minister until we are "perfect?" No! But to the degree that we harbor unresolved conflict, we reduce our effectiveness as Soldiers of the Cross. And we open ourselves up to become casualties on the battlefield.

The Word also says, "As much as is possible, live at peace with all men." Romans 12:18 But if they will not make peace with us, there is not much we can do, except wait patiently for the Lord to work in their lives.

A minister friend of mine, through a terrible misunderstanding, found himself in a broken relationship with another minister. When my friend realized the cause, he did everything in his power to bring about a resolution. And because he has forgiven his brother, his own heart is at peace. But the breach remains a grievous issue, for the other minister will not allow a resolution.

Proverbs 10 and 11 discuss no less than 28 benefits to the righteous-the upright in heart. Read them. List them. Study them. Ask God, the Holy Spirit, to lead you into all truth regarding those benefits. They will then become a strong motivation for keeping a clear conscience. Proverbs 16:7 says that when a man's ways please the Lord (that is, he walks in right relationship with God and man), He will make even his enemies to be at peace with him! Right relationships give people no chance to slander your good name.

The breastplate of righteousness not only protects our respiratory system (so we may breathe freely), but also the most vital organ of our circulatory system, our heart. Our heart is safe when we have right relationship with God and man. Paul shows the importance of having a protected heart when he writes, "Our ultimate aim is agape love which flows from a pure heart and a good conscience and a genuine faith." 1 Timothy 1:5 Solomon knew the importance of a clear conscience when he said, "Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the issues of life." Proverbs 4:23.

Right relationships with God and man are at the very core of Scripture. Of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), the first four primarily deal with our relationship with God; the remaining six primarily with our relationships with man. Jesus summed it up succinctly, so simply (for He was the Master of simplicity), "Love God; love your neighbor as yourself. All of the Law and the Prophets rests on these two commandments." Matthew 22:37-40 "The Kingdom of God is not a matter of meat or drink," Paul said to the Christians at Rome, but its very essence is "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17.

Our Feet Shod With The Preparation Of The
Gospel Of Peace

The focus of Paul's instruction here is on the preparation of the Gospel of Peace-knowing how to share, what to share and when to share the Good News; "being instant in season and out." 2 Timothy 4:2 This would assume, of course, that we are fully cognizant of what the Gospel of Peace consists.

"These boots were made for walking and I'm going to walk all over you!" were the words of a secular song of yesteryear. How tragic a thought. Yet, more incomprehensible is the unfortunate truth that often our presentation of the Gospel of Peace tramples all over the very one we wish to come to the Lord.

Once I was waiting to pick up my car at the shop. Phil, the owner, with whom I was building a relationship, is an Iranian. He is a cultural Muslim who thinks any person who sincerely follows what he believes will make it to his "heaven"-whatever he wants that eternity to be. His (American) wife Mary, who was preparing the billing for the customer in front of me, was being harassed by a well-intentioned patron who kept inviting her to church. Mary kept kindly refusing. After many-too many-exchanges, it became obvious that Mary was becoming irritated by the customer's insistence. In one final burst of exasperation, Mary forcefully expressed, "I'm an atheist!" Without batting an eye, without missing a beat, the customer said, "Well, if you ever change your mind, you're still welcome at our church!" Then she turned and walked out.

I apologized for her. But it gave Phil and Mary one more "reason" to be sure they wanted nothing to do with Christianity.

Paul told Timothy, "Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who needs not be ashamed, knowing how to use the Word of Truth to the best advantage." 2 Timothy 2:15 This requires us to do more than simply quote Scripture to people. Our lifestyle as well as our words are to be "seasoned with salt" (Colossians 4:6) so the unbeliever in Christ will become thirsty for the Living Water. We need to know where they're coming from. What their interests are. Where they're hurting. What Jesus are they rejecting. That means that we need to get them to ask questions. And it is usually our walk-not so much our talk-that draws out the questions. "How can you have it together in a world that's falling apart?" they will ask.

(No, I don't believe we have to build a relationship with people before we have the right to tell them their house is burning down. But I do believe there is a way to give them that news without their becoming so panicked that they die in the fire!)

Do you think the Samaritan woman who came to the well at noontime (instead of in the evening with the rest of the ladies) was hurting? Maybe she was not even allowed at the well in the evening because of her reputation. Onto this situation Jesus sprinkled some salt! And she asked the questions. See John 4:6-30.

On another occasion in that same auto shop, during the Gulf War, Phil was engrossed in the television monitoring of the conflict when I walked in. He asked, "Neal, what in the world is going on?" Before I could answer, he said, "No! No! Never mind. I know what you believe." But my influence on his life was obvious. And we were able to talk about all the injustices of war. And about the war raging in his own soul. Scripture tells us that we are to "have a quiet and reverent answer for the reason of the hope that lies within us." 1 Peter 3:15.

We can readily agree with the world (and with Phil, my mechanic) that all paths do lead to God. All spokes do lead to the hub. His Word declares it: "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God." Isaiah 45:23; Philippians 2:10; Romans 14:11-12 The Truth, however, encompasses a broader consideration. Every path but one leads to a God of justice and judgment. There is only one-through Jesus Christ-that leads to a God of mercy and grace. Even this concept of agreeing with unbelievers where we can is a "nail" in the shodding of our feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace.

Paul, in his first letter to the Christians at Corinth, distilled this Good News-this Gospel of Peace-into a succinct statement: "Christ (fully God-fully man) died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures." 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 The Gospel is truly a simple message-so simple a child can understand it. In fact, Jesus said that "unless we receive the Kingdom of God as a little child we will not enter into it." Luke 18:17.

Many years ago now, I participated in a prayer meeting in Lima, Peru. I was dumbfounded as Catholics and "Protest"ants-rather, Christians-were uniting their hearts in prayer on various matters of concern. I had never experienced anything like this before, and from my childhood prejudice against Roman Catholicism I was struggling! I would look up every once in a while and notice the stiff white collars, the black suits on the men, the full black habits on the women and the rosary beads hanging from their waists. Once when I looked up, it was just in time for me to focus on the face of a nun, her cheeks pinched by the tight, black wimple. Yet the sweetest expression was on her face as she said, "Thank you, Jesus, for the simplicity of the Gospel."

We clutter the Gospel with our culture and our "habits" of worship. (And I would not be theologically ignorant at this point to suggest that Roman Catholicism has no doctrinal error. But then neither would I be as a "blind guide" and encourage you to believe that "Protest"ants have sorted everything out either.) But when all the superfluous cultural and religious garb, and all doctrinal error are stripped away, the irreducible element is "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." Acts 16:31.

Jesus said to Nicodemus, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 'If you openly admit with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord,' Paul reasoned with his Jewish brethren, '"and if you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.' Romans 10:9 Joel (quoted by Peter in Acts 2:21 and by Paul in Romans 10:13) who, by faith, had to look forward to the cross, simply said, '"Whoever will call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.' Joel 2:32.

Yet, not unlike Naaman who would have done some great and difficult feat to be healed of his leprosy-so much so that he almost refused to do the simple thing (See 2 Kings 5:10-14.)-we today often complicate the simplicity of the Gospel. Instead of our feet being shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace, we go out to battle with our iPod loaded with our favorite translation(s) plus every conceivable commentary. And, oh yes, we downloaded our Greek-English Interlinear New Testament for instant referral. And then to be sure, we take with us the latest arguments on whether Paul wrote the Book of Hebrews, if there were one or two Daniels, etc. Our feet, heavy with the weight, become mired in the "mud" of controversy. And we are no longer useful on the battlefield.

The questions that some theologians are spending their lives in ivory towers trying to find the answers to are not being asked by the lost of the world. Behind the world's façade of togetherness-lost in their wild pursuits of wealth, fame and happiness-at the root of their endless questions of "Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?" lies one simple question: "What must I do to be saved?"

Paul says it is for our protection against the enemy that we go out to battle with our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace. And he lived his instruction: "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified…" 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 Earlier he had reminded them, "I was determined to know nothing before you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified." 1 Corinthians 2:2.

One more Biblical illustration should seal in our hearts and minds the vitality of this part of our armor. A battle was raging. There had been a rebellion in David's kingdom of the worst kind. His son Absalom was in revolt. And the armies of God were pursuing him. David remained at home. "And Joab blew the trumpet and the people returned." The battle was over. The news had to get to David quickly. "And Joab said to Cushi, '`Go tell the king what you saw.'"

But Ahimaaz, a faster runner, said, "Let me run!"

"No!" Joab ordered. "You don't have a message ready to give the king!"

"Please! Let me run!"

"OK! OK! Go ahead and run!" And Ahimaaz outran Cushi and arrived at the king's palace first.

He had a lot of things to say but the only question King David wanted answered was, "Is the young man Absalom safe?"

Ahimaaz could only respond, "I saw a great tumult, but I don't know what happened."

Stand aside (those of you without a relevant message), here comes Cushi. "Is the young man Absalom safe?" King David asks again.

"Let the enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against you to do you hurt, be as that young man is." See 2 Samuel 18:19-32.

Runners who bring the message that Paul did or didn't write Hebrews, runners who bring the message that there are one or two Daniels, one, two, or three Isaiahs, runners who are carrying every wind of doctrine, stand aside! The question the world is asking (in many different ways) is "What must I do to be saved?" The answer is found in "Jesus Christ who died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures." 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 Paul, quoting Isaiah 52:7 said, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of them who preach the Gospel of Peace." Romans 10:15 They will be beautiful to the degree that they are shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace.

In summary, we must come back to the point that having our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace is for our defense-our protection. Knowing how, when and what to share keeps us from "putting our foot in our mouth." There are many excellent methods and programs available for learning when, how and where to share your faith. A simple "Google" search will give you scores from which to choose. However, do not neglect having an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit, Who will "…bring back to your remembrance all things that I have told you." John 14:26 May we, through our study of God's Word and through our experiences of sharing our faith, become "instant in season, and out." 2 Timothy 4:2.

The Shield Of Faith

God's provision for our protection in battle is born out of His wisdom and, therefore, is perfect. This next piece of our armor is exciting. The shield of faith is that part of our armor that is moveable. There is a strap on the middle back side of the shield. We slip our arm through it and grab the hand-hold fastened near the edge. We are able to move the shield from side to side and up and down. It is our first level of protection, our first line of defense. It is able to quench some of the fiery darts of the enemy. Stop! That just doesn't sound like God!-to quench some of the fiery darts? We had better check our translation. What does it say? All! Yes, …all of the fiery darts.

However, I have read "living epistles," including the one I see in the mirror, and too often they read, "some." When does it read, "some?" "There just seems to be no way for me to have victory over this sin. Temptation comes and I just fall again and again. There is no hope for me." Whether or not you have said (or thought) that, I am sure you have heard it. In effect, whoever says that has rewritten Scripture to say the shield of faith can quench only some of the fiery darts of the enemy. But we are assured in the Word that by faith in Christ we are able to extinguish all of the enemy's fiery darts.

Yes, extinguish! Historically, the shields were made of wood overlaid with leather. Before a battle the warrior would soak his shield in water. Thus, when the flaming arrows of his enemy stuck in his shield, they were actually extinguished. May our faith be so thoroughly "soaked" with the Water of His Word that our shield extinguishes all of the enemy's fiery darts.

Another characteristic of faith has to do with its size. Some Christians arm themselves for battle with a postage stamp-sized shield-maybe even smaller! And they consume all of their energy "defending their faith." They are never able to take an offensive posture. They may have heard somewhere about mustard seed faith and gotten stuck wearing the seed in a plastic ball around their neck! The point of Jesus' story about faith being the size of a mustard seed was not to emphasize our faith remaining small. Rather, Jesus taught of the capacity of our faith to experience phenomenal growth. Even though a mustard seed is the littlest of herbal seeds, when planted, it grows into a very large tree so that even birds can nest in it. So if your faith is like a mustard seed (in other words, capable of such phenomenal growth), you can say to this mountain….See Matthew 13:31-32 and Matthew 17:20.

But, you may say, I thought that "to each is given a measure of faith" (Romans 12:3) and that's it. Yes, we are given a measure of faith. But what do we do with that measure? Do we exercise it? Do we plant it? Do we bury it in a cloth? We find in Scripture: "Lord, increase our faith" (Luke 17:5); "We thank God because your faith is growing exceedingly." 2 Thessalonians 1:3 Each of these phrases in its context points to the growing nature of faith. And the formula for this growth is concise: "Faith comes from hearing the message, and that message is the Word of God." Romans 10:17 Thus, we are driven back to the Word, the Source of our sustenance, our very life itself.

You may one day look at what you believe you have the faith to accomplish. And being dissatisfied with that amount, you pray, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." Mark 9:24 Get into the Word. Let your faith grow. Sometime later you do another "faith check." And though your faith has grown to believe God for greater things than before, you again are at a point of wanting more. So again you dig deeper into the message of the Word. And your faith grows. And you read and study and apply the Word to your life. And your faith grows some more. And the day will come when your faith is so large that your shield will cover you from the soles of your feet to the top of your head. You will be able to stand there against the enemy, knowing that that shield of faith is your protection, your defense, as you go out and overpower evil with good. With Paul you can shout, "I can do all things through Christ who is my strength!" Philippians 4:13 With the emphasis, of course, on "through Christ" and not on "my great faith." (And be sure to read that Scripture in its context to understand what the "all things" were that Paul said he could do.)

The Helmet Of Salvation

As vital as our shield of faith may be, no less important is our helmet of salvation. The battle is raging for our minds. The world is searching the human brain to identify the mind. Every conceivable discipline of study is postulating its unique opinion. Though not new at all, currently one of the most unusual thoughts being put forward is: "Consciousness (mind) is but an illusion!" I prefer the statement of Sir John Eckles, Nobel Laureate for his work in brain theory: "We have to admit that the mind is much more than a series of brain functions." Our "grey matter"-our brain-is part of our body. Our mind goes beyond the neurons and synapses and lobes and cortex. It reaches to the depth of "and man became a living soul!" Genesis 2:7 It may be a Bell racing helmet that can protect your brain in a cycling accident, but it is the helmet of salvation that protects your mind in warfare with the enemy.

At a person's salvation, the initial euphoria can be "mind-boggling." I'm saved! I'm free! I'm clean! I'm a newborn baby in Christ! The weight of sin is gone! I feel so light I could fly! And for some, that euphoric bubble of protection can last for a long time. That's great. It should. But even as the Galatians were being called foolish for trying to complete in the flesh what was begun in the Spirit (Galatians 3:3) and the Ephesians were being called back to their first love (Revelation 2:4-5), we too can become foolish and forget our first love.

There is a cinch strap that goes under our chin to hold the helmet securely on our heads. Pull that strap tight. "Be fully persuaded in your minds," Paul said. See Romans 14:5. Know what you believe and why you believe it before you get into the heat of battle.

The heat of the battle is not always in the middle of the day. The vicious onslaughts of the enemy are unrelenting. Imagine yourself on a battlefield-let's say, somewhere in another country-another culture. You are sharing the Good News. Yet, in your mind's eye, you see the teeming millions who are not responding and are going to a Christless eternity. In the still of night just as you are dozing off, exhausted from the heavy warfare of the day, the enemy sarcastically mocks in your ear, "A God of love…Do you really think He will send all those people to hell?" Kerbam! A fiery dart that feels more like an atomic explosion blasts against the side of your head. Unless your cinch strap is tight, off rolls your helmet of salvation. And because you don't fully understand God's ways, you may find yourself entertaining the enemy's enticements to doubt an all-wise, all-knowing God. When you come to your senses, you have to put down your Sword and shield to get the helmet back on, leaving yourself even more defenseless.

Rather, when you hear the whine of the enemy's missile flying through the air, you would do better to point your own powerful "It is written…" statement of faith at his fiery dart. And then, like a laser beam of Light, the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God intercepts and destroys the enemy's attack. You are able to use that Sword because you know what you believe and why.

No, I am not saying you must be a theological genius before you go out to battle, but so that you "be not shaken in mind" (2 Thessalonians 2:2), you must have some semblance of an apology, a catechism-a statement of what you believe and why. To simplify and thus clarify the process, I put my belief system into three categories:

1) Absolute Truth: I believe thus and so and here is the specific, unequivocal Word of God to substantiate this Truth.

Example: The virgin birth. (Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:27) Anyone who believes in the inerrant Word of God-and if they don't believe that, they are already in big trouble!-must accept the fact of the miraculous conception of Jesus.

2) Reasoned truth: I believe thus and so because as I study the Whole Counsel of God, it seems to me that this is what the Word says. Yet, I acknowledge that others, many of whom know the Word (and Hebrew and Greek) far better than I, have studied the same Scriptures and have come up with another interpretation.

Example: I personally believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. As I study the Word, this seems to be the most reasonable sequence of events. But I realize others study the same inerrant Word of God and conclude a mid-trib or a post-tribulation rapture-even no rapture! And I have discovered that people of divergent cultures have come up with an entirely different scheme of "end times" doctrinal positions. If anyone wants to "debate" this issue with me, I simply say, "I'm a pre-tribber. I sure hope God is!" (Between the first draft and final editing of this writing, I have vacillated time and again over this "reasoned" truth. And do continue to do so.)

3) Cultural truth: I believe this because it fits comfortably into my cultural mores. There may be Scripture about it; there may be none. But I recognize it is largely a cultural decision.

Example: Unless forced into it by an extremely awkward cultural situation, I will not drink alcoholic beverages. I even acknowledge there is Scripture that says it is okay to drink alcohol in moderation. See John 2:1-10; 1 Timothy 5:23; Ephesians 5:18. But because my Christian sub-culture says it is "sin," and because I have seen what it does to a person caught in excess, and because I am aware how easily one can get caught up in that excess, I have determined it is in my best interest to not drink alcohol.

(I must admit that even in the three examples given, all Christians would probably not agree into which category they should go. And this results in more conflict.)

But let's go on. Because you want to focus on the critical issues of life, as you develop your statement of belief, you will look back through your three categories and consider, "For which of these am I willing to die?"

Let's put these three beliefs to the death test!

Third Category of Belief: You are ministering with a team of European Christians. After a wonderful evening service you're at the local cafe with them. In their rejoicing over the power of God at work in this outreach, they insist that you join them in a toast to the Lord. No, your 7-Up won't do. It has to be the wine they are all drinking. Seeing the inevitable is before you, would you rise up in "righteous indignation" and "fight to the death" your insistence that you not drink alcohol? I wouldn't. I would be a little disappointed in their in-sensitivity to my culture. But, we are in their country, so…"Bottoms up!" You see I have decided that drinking-or not drinking-alcohol just is not worth dying for! Though I do believe it is best for me to not drink, I have and I would. (One time I decided to drink was when I was leading a communion service at an Anglican home church group in Singapore. Until the common cup was being passed around, I hadn't even thought about the fact that this would be the "real stuff!")

Second Category of Belief: The war is raging for the souls of men; you are part of a witnessing team on Castro Street in San Francisco. As you are declaring the Good News of emancipation to those held captive, Michael, a homosexual "evangelist for Christ," strikes up a conversation. Your partner takes the lead. You are praying. Somehow the subject gets around to "the rapture." To your chagrin, your partner starts sharing his "mid-trib" position. Are you going to divert your spiritual fire power from the critical issue of the soul of this man and engage your partner in a battle-to the death-on this subject? Are you willing to die for your eschatological position? I'm not.

First Category of Belief: To write a believable story about denying the virgin birth has had me at wit's end! It is inconceivable to me (no pun intended) that in this world of "live and let live" that a time could come when I would be forced to deny the virgin birth.

Yet, there are signs of ecumenism that suggest its possibility. A world religious leader recently proclaimed that "all of us (snake worshippers, fire worshippers, spiritists, animists, witch doctors, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians) are praying to the same god." (I left the word "god" intentionally uncapitalized.)

Persecution of Christians today is unprecedented. More Christians were martyred for their faith in the 20th Century than in all previous centuries combined. And this century is not looking any better.

The issue is: Will you die for your belief in the virgin birth? I will!

Now, I am no more anxious to die than the next person. In fact, I am going to fight death to my dying day. But here is the point. There are certain Truths for which I will die. Having grappled with those issues of Absolute Truth, my mind is protected. The "cinch strap" is pulled tight.

However, there is another advantage. I have also determined that I will live for the beliefs for which I am willing to die! Come now let us reason together that we not be shaken in mind. As we listen to sermons, as we listen to Bible study tapes, the radio, TV or a friend who has come up with a new doctrine, whether a wind of doctrine or some "deep theological something," ask yourself the question, "Will I die for this?" If not, then don't clutter your mind trying to wrestle to the ground some issue that cannot be resolved by our finite minds.

David acknowledged that there were things too high for him to consider. See Psalm 139:6. Paul said, "We see through the glass darkly. At present all I know is a small fraction of the Truth, but the time will come when I shall know as fully as God now knows me." 1 Corinthians 13:12 Yet we do not sit back and !et our brains vegetate. On issues of life we are to be "fully persuaded in our mind." Romans 14:5 We want to experience the fullness of the Scripture (as incredible as it may sound), "We who are spiritual have the very mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16 Or as Paul said to the Philippian Christians, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…" Philippians 2:5 Thus, the instruction of Romans 12:2 becomes critical: "Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its mold, but let God renew your mind from within."

Renewal of the Mind

The battle for our mind is such a critical issue, I believe it is important to look at yet another aspect. We are only too familiar with the methods of our society to squeeze us into its mold-to conform us to the ways of the world. The advertising media will spend more than a million dollars a minute to get us to listen to their messages. They create the "needs." Then they supply a plethora of products to meet those needs-only to offer us "new and improved" versions long before the first ones are paid for.

To step off this treadmill is to fall into the loving arms of our Lord who will by His Spirit renew our thinking-our very method of thought-processing.

Let's study this diagram.

A Diagram of Man

© Graphic artist Kevin Schmuki

Yes, it is a picture of you and me! Not too glamorous-a little chubby around the middle-without arms or legs, but it will do to illustrate the process of renewing the mind.

"And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul " Genesis 2:7 "I will praise You Lord for I am fear- fully and wonderfully made While my body was developing, You saw me You noted what days each member should be fashioned-" Psalm 135:14 'The spirit of man SPIRIT is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward - chambers of the soul." Proverbs 20:27- 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock' Revelation 3:20

"Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its mold, but let God renew your mind from within." Romans 12:2.

First, notice our body. It is very good. It is the highest creation of God. Admittedly, it is our temporal dwelling. It is only for a certain period of time. Then it will return to dust. It is our earth suit. As astronauts need space suits, we-the real us-need earth suits. It is not evil or bad. Yes, it is of the molecular structure of the earth, but it is also the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is our eternal being's home on earth. Each cell is a "universe" of life-a miracle of the creative genius of God!

The Psalmist David declares, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14 Moses penned the words describing the creation of the first human: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground (body) and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (spirit) and man became a living soul." Genesis 2:7 And Paul prayed for the Thessalonians that their "whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

Now I realize that a simple two-dimensional drawing cannot show all the nuances of relationship and integration of our being. Why, even the Word declares that it is only the Sword of the Spirit that can penetrate deeply, making a distinction between the soul and the spirit and is able to discern the thoughts of the mind and the intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 But let us go on to what we might understand.

The spirit of man is that eternal meeting place with God. It is His breath of life. It is the home of our beliefs. The motivations of love and fear reside here. All the Fruit of the Spirit that grows out of our love relationship with Jesus finds its origin here. Galatians 5:22 The deep, settled peace that Christ said He would leave us with is found here. John 14:27 It is our spirit that came alive in God through Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:1-6 It is often referred to as "the inner man." See Ephesians 3:16; Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:16.

The soul of man is that part which allows us to relate with ourselves and others-our consciousness. We relate through our senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell (utilizing our body, of course). Our mind (thoughts) and our emotions (feelings) vie for dominance as our will (volition) tries to moderate, based on input from the spirit or (unfortunately) from the "flesh."

Yes, though we have been reckoned dead to sin (i.e. put in God's ledger column labeled, death), we have an "old man" or "sinful nature" to deal with while we remain on this earth. "In this flesh," Paul declared, "there dwells no good thing." Romans 7:18.

Some people say that they have plenty of "will" power. It is "won't" power that they need. A unique characteristic of our will is that it is the "choice" of all decisions. And thus, in our diagram, it is a moving part. It moves up and down at "will" as our mind or emotions convince us to "mind the things of the Spirit" or "mind the things of the flesh." Romans 8:5 So we can willfully move our will down (sealing off the "old man") and we mind the things of the Spirit. Or, equally, by an act of our will, we can seal off godly motivations, grieving the Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30), limiting the Holy One of Israel, by our unbelief (Psalm 78:41; Hebrews 3:19) and mind the things of the flesh. So either the Spirit of God within our spirit becomes the motivation of our conscious level of living or that bottom doorway is open, and guess what? We cry with Paul, "Oh, wretched man that I am!" Romans 7:24.

But God wants more of a relationship with us than that our spirits be alive in Him. He ordained that "we should become conformed to the image of His Son." Romans 8:29 Thus begins the process of the renewing of the mind so that we will utilize the wealth of resource rightfully ours in having the mind of Christ.

Christ stands at the door of our soul and knocks, "If any man will open the door, I will come in and have supper with him." Revelation 3:20 I am not ignorant of the wide usage of this verse as a "salvation" Scripture. Nor will I "die" to argue a point contrary to that. However, in the context of this passage, Jesus is speaking to Christians. Thus, I believe the door at which He is knocking is the door to our soul. By an act of our will, we open the door. We sit around the table of fellowship, for we have been invited to a banquet of wisdom and understanding. See Proverbs 9:1-6.

The Bible is a Book of diverse figurative language, but follow carefully. When we open the door to Him, any desire to mind the things of the flesh is blocked off. Then the Lord ignites (Psalm 18:28) the "spirit of man (through our reading of His Word) which becomes the candle of the Lord, and He begins searching all the inward parts (rooms) of the belly (soul)." Proverbs 20:27.

Let's say He is dealing right now in your life relating to your friendships. Certainly as you came to Christ you found friendships with a whole new set of people-the family of God. But you don't just ignore your worldly friends. It's just that you have a different relationship with them now. You don't sin with them anymore, for sure. So He brings the search light to the door of the room labeled "companions." And He knocks. But before you let Him in, you shove Joel, that one friend of the world that you just can't let go, under a pile of clothes in the closet. You lock that closet door and skip happily across the room to open the door on which Jesus is knocking. Together you begin sorting. "Yes, Lord, I know because of my previous intimate relationship with that person, I must stay far away from him, for now."

"Of this one," He says, "you will very soon have an opportunity to lead her to Me. Develop that relationship." Finally, he starts moving around the room, obviously looking for someone. "By the way," He asks, "where is Joel?" You know that Joel by this time is suffocating under that pile of clothes in your closet. Jesus is a gentleman; you now have a choice. You can either leave that closet door shut and "mind the things of the flesh" as you tell Him you don't know where Joel is. And the room will grow dim and your fellowship with Jesus will be diminished. Or you can cooperate with that renewal process, open the door, pull Joel out from under the clothes and talk with the Lord about him.

In this manner, He will deal with all areas of our life, whether it is the room full of our companions, our use of time, our use of money, our attitude toward law and order, our attitude toward media input, our dress styles, our sexuality…everything! Into every room of our soul He will eventually bring that candle (our spirit) to search out and expose to the Light of His Word those deeds that can only be done in the dark. And the Light of Life will light up our life, making us a witness of the transforming power of God.

As we allow this process to continue, we will not only be thinking the thoughts of Christ, but our very thought-processing will be renewed. Our cinch strap will be pulled tight, indeed. The gang says, "Let's go to that new movie." But you have read the reviews and immediately remember the words of David: "I will set no wicked thing before my eyes." Psalm 101:3 Your mind has been renewed with God's thoughts and you can easily say, "No, that's not for me." Every situation you face will be viewed through a renewed perspective.

Put on Jesus Christ

It is comforting to note that after having so thoroughly detailed the five pieces of armor, we can find the sum and substance of the subject in the words of Paul to the Christians at Rome, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light…let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ!" Romans 13:12,14.

Yes, as we gird up our loins with Truth, we are putting on Jesus Christ, for He said "I am Truth." John 14:6.

Yes, as we put on the breastplate of righteousness, we are surrounding ourselves with Jesus Christ, for He is our righteousness; His Name declares it. See Jeremiah 23:6 and Romans 10:4.

Yes, as we shod our feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace, we are stepping into Jesus Christ, for He is the Living Word of God, expressed in the written Word. John 1:1

Yes, as we take up the shield of faith, we are putting on Jesus Christ for He will go before us and He is our rear guard as well. See Psalm 139:5; Isaiah 52:12: 58:8.

Yes, as we pull that cinch strap tight, firmly positioning our helmet of salvation, we have put on Jesus Christ, for He is our salvation. "For there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12.

An exercise I find myself doing often: As I throw my legs over the edge of the bed to the floor each morning-sometimes even before my eyes are open-I see myself putting on each of the pieces of armor. I say a prayer with each action. As I am slipping my feet into the preparation of the Gospel of Peace, I might ask for an opportunity to give a quiet and reverent answer to someone for the reason of the hope that lies within me. As I clasp that belt of truth about my waist, I might ask for a clearer understanding of some doctrinal point. As I pull the cinch strap tight under my chin, I might gratefully thank Him for His sacrificial death that I may live. As I fit the breastplate to my chest, I ask God to protect my relationships. As I slip my arm through the strap of my shield, I thank God that my faith stands firm in Him.

PRACTICAL INSIGHTS

When Satan Hassles Christians

From my experiences, I have come to have a healthy respect for the awfulness of satan. He has been lying and deceiving and robbing and destroying for a long time. He is experienced. He isn't stupid. He knows he can't use the same tactics on Christians as non-Christians, nor the same lies on every person. He is far more subtle than that.

I am not saying that he does not, at times, use overt attacks to scare us; he does. It was our third night on a mission center in South America, and we had already sensed a heavy oppression over the whole area. On the way home from a meeting, my husband, Neal, had said that if we hadn't known for sure that this was where God wanted us, we would have been on the first plane out of there.

We were now in bed, and the light was out. We were talking about the heavy atmosphere on the center-and how it might be affecting the young people. I asked, "I wonder if the kids here have dabbled in any witchcraft or played with Ouija boards?" Well, Neal had fallen asleep while I was talking. But there was a voice that answered me! As clearly as if it had been audible, I heard, "Sure they have. And I'm going to get your kids, too!"

The presence of evil in the room was like a heavy blanket. I immediately did what I knew to do. I rebuked the enemy in Jesus' name and told him to leave-only he didn't leave! That was a first for me. So I told him again to leave-but he didn't. So, I decided to sing praise songs because I knew that the enemy hates to hear praise to God. However, I couldn't open my mouth because I felt that if I did, the evil spirit would come in through my mouth. Now I knew in my head that that wasn't possible. But the thought was so strong-even though it was against what I believed to be true-that I didn't open my mouth. So, I began humming instead. I hummed praise songs for about ten minutes. And the evil presence was gone!

Unexplainable footsteps in the hall of the group house where we lived, apparitions-people seeing spirits materialize, a heavy awareness of evil-Yes! He can be overt in his hassles. Those experiences are easier to recognize and therefore, easier to deal with. However, to a far greater extent, he uses the more subtle, wear-you-out, tear-you-down, rob-you-of-your-joy approach. Too often we do not recognize them.

Without giving "paranoid" attention to the enemy, it is important to know, to discern and be aware of his tactics on a day-to-day basis. One of the major ways we Christians get attacked is through our relationships-especially with the people closest to us-our spouses, roommates, children, parents. He wants to destroy our witness and rob us of our fellowship. Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:35 And satan knows that!

Chapter by chapter, through this study, I will share with you some practical insights from my experiences. But you must understand that they are my experiences (or those of friends). The more important thing for you to do as you read through these sections is to try to identify these types of experiences with the ones you go through. I would like you to keep four questions in your mind:

1) Has this (or something very similar) ever happened to me?

2) How soon into the situation did I recognize the influence of the enemy?

3) How did I respond?

4) Could I have responded in a better way? If so, how?

I would encourage you even to write out the answers to these questions-particularly when you recognize recurring situations. It has been said many times that being aware of a problem is the first step towards resolving it. As you are giving your attention to this study and recording the answers to the questions I suggested, you will be getting a clearer picture of your problem areas.

You will be halfway to the solution. But what is involved in the other half? For we do want to live in the solutions God has provided for us. And that is the starting point: Our solutions are found in our trust and dependence upon God. He is sovereign. He is in control. He knows the end from the beginning and how everything in between "…will work out for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes." That is where we usually stop. It is important to realize that the continuation of that thought is in the next verse. The "good" is that we "be conformed to the image of His Son." Romans 8:28-29 That is God's design and purpose.

While we were in South America, Paul, a friend of ours, was called to a tribal village. Everyone knew what the problem was: A witch doctor had placed a curse on a man named Juan, and he was dying. Otherwise a healthy person, he was now losing strength…and dying. The fact that the community was aware of the problem brought them halfway to the solution.

A group of Christians in the community asked Paul to come. He, along with others, began to pray. The curse was broken, and the man recovered instantly. Just as quickly another problem presented itself: the symptoms that Juan had displayed were now showing themselves in Paul! They realized that prayer for protection should have been made first. Before they prayed for Paul they asked for protection for themselves. The symptoms immediately stopped in Paul, and did not recur in any of the others.

When the hassles of satan are written in story form and we are able in a moment to read from the beginning to the end, it is a lot easier to recognize them than when we are going through the situation. A missionary family lived under a spiritual assault that no one seemed to recognize. It wasn't until fifteen years later that spiritual insight was given. As soon as the problem was known (first step to the solution), those of the family who prayed the prayer to break the power of satan found a new freedom to start walking in. Those who didn't, continued to struggle without victory.

The problem and the solution: The source of the problem can always be traced back to satan, the enemy of our souls. Jesus said of the devil, "He is a liar, and the father of lies." John 8:44 But it is important to sort through his methods and our vulnerability to them and learn to identify the source of the problem.

The solution, then, will always involve taking some action. Even such a basic command as "Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord" (2 Chronicles 20:14) is action to be taken. Sometimes standing still-or taking our hands off and trusting God to do it all-is the hardest. As you read through this study, you will recognize some of the most common types of spiritual attacks. Following each of them are practical Biblical solutions. Look for the problems that you identify within your life and then focus on the solutions.

There are three basic attitudes that are needed in every situation. Keep these key points in mind as you read about the specific situations:

1) Know that God is in control. Satan is allowed to do his destructiveness only within the bounds of God's control. Though satan has his purposes, God's purposes will be accomplished. A "favored" son was sold to the Egyptians by his brothers out of their feelings of envy and hatred toward him. Years later he was able to say to them, "You thought evil against me, but God meant it for good." Genesis 50:20 Even "the wrath of men shall praise You," the Psalmist declared. Psalm 76:10.

2) Learn to recognize the enemy. Ask God for the gift of discernment of spirits so you will quickly recognize when the enemy is launching an attack. Learn his tactics. Be prepared to see trouble coming. Know what is going on. Be alert. Be on guard.

We all have established habits that just seem "natural" to us but leave us open for attack. When I am running late, due to leaving things to the last minute, it is an opportunity for him to instigate a crisis. Recognizing what is happening can help me respond in a godly way, instead of reacting in an ungodly manner.

3) Keep your eyes focused on Jesus. He is "the author (source) and finisher (goal) of our faith." Hebrews 12:2 "In all these things (tribulations, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword) we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Romans 8:35,37 Another promise that should keep our eyes focused on Jesus: "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of His appearing." Philippians 1:6.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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