Preparing the Heart and Harvest:
“Finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breast plate of righteousness, and as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. All the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with al prayer and supplication.” In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish” Ephesians 6:10-15 English Standard Version
I’ve got a red juicy confession to make, recently, I’ve had to give up red wine. I can see you teetotalers out there nodding, but to be clear, I don’t believe drinking in and of itself is a sin. It can be when you drink without self-control or in front of someone who has a problem with alcohol. In my case, it became a sin when God told me not to and I did.
I’ve spent the holidays clinging to my rights and arguing with God over the issue. You know when it’s not fair God pries something out of your hands but not others. That my friend is called personal relationship. Then, there’s that smell of Italian food wafting from the kitchen. Have you noticed when God tells you to give something up you want it more than you did before? That’s called temptation. Then, you pour a glass and think after the holidays I’ll give it up, but that’s called disobedience.
Delayed obedience is only disobedience.
So, I’ve had to confess my disobedience and surrender my wine glass to the Father. Some have asked how long I will abstain, but I don’t know the answer to that question, except to say, as long as He says no.
Throughout my wavering, I tried to hit temptation head on. I purchased Kombucha drinks, trying to put something healthy in the fridge that I could drink with dinner, but it didn’t work. I’d justify using pizza night as my excuse or I’d pour a smaller glass and think to myself I’m not hurting anyone. But that’s a lie too. I hurt my Father and our relationship. It felt as if He was pulling away, but instead, I’d built a crystal wall of rebellion between us.
My rebellion is the perfect example I could find to illustrate the armors of God, so I’ll throw myself under a bus for the sake of truth. I’ve found if we’re not willing to admit our own failures how can we help anyone else conquer theirs?
This month, I’ve been leading a women’s Bible study on Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God. Right up front, I’m going to tell you this is where much of my information in this article will come from, but you’re only getting a taste, so I recommend you take the study at your church or on your own to get the full buffet. (I will post the link for the study below)
It is believed Paul was imprisoned when he wrote the book of Ephesians. He wrote the book in a dark, moldy, cell while Roman soldiers stood guard. I imagine when he looked up through the manhole in the ceiling of his cell and saw those Roman soldiers fully clad in their physical armor, it clicked. God spoke about putting on the armor in the book of Isaiah (chapter 59) and as Paul wrote that letter to the church in Ephesus he reminded them that they are in a spiritual battle, just as we are today. Every difficulty we face as an abiding follower of Christ has spiritual implications.
So, let’s find out what each piece of armor is supposed to do for us, and how we can apply it to our lives.
Belt of Truth
Paul starts with the Belt of Truth. Being the first piece of armor the soldier put on, the belt held the other pieces in place and gave support to the soldiers core. This belt kept him from falling over under the weight of all the other armor he wore.
Spiritually, the belt of truth keeps a believer from falling for any lies of the enemy that can make a believer stumble. The belt of truth keeps you grounded in recognizing what is true and what is not. It is a tool of discernment that keeps you standing firm in your spiritual battles.
When God started impressing on me to give up dinner wine, immediately and repetitiously, I had the thought, “Did God really say I had to give up red wine completely?” If you begin thinking this thought, “Did God really say to …” Then, the answer more than likely is yes, He did. Truth tells us Satan used those exact words in the Garden of Eden when Eve looked upon the fruit God told her not to eat. Truth also states the enemy deceives and sets out to destroy us with deception. He tries to muddy the waters, so we start to question the voice of the Father. One litmus test I use, I ask myself do I feel peace continuing to do whatever I felt God had asked me not to. If you feel a wrestling in your spirit pouring that glass of wine, spending that money, eating that chocolate cake, or whatever it is God commanded you to give up, then you’ve fallen into enemy territory. You’ve taken a detour from following the path God illuminated for you that leads to the purpose He’s already prepared ahead of time for you in your life
But there is hope in the detour.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
“Commit your way to the Lord, trust Him and He will act.” Psalms 37:5 ESV.
If you confess your disobedience and commit your will and way to God, it is up to Him to straighten your path. He will lead you out of darkness and back into the light.
Satan knows I hate legalism. I truly think legalism is a death spiral for the freeing gospel. It points out you must do these actions and stay away from these things in order to be saved. This is a lie. For many who subscribed to this false doctrine, they may have checked off you must not drink wine in order to be saved.
For me, I wanted to cling to my hatred of legalism as a reason to not give up wine. But, I’m free in Christ. I thought. You see the pendulum can swing too far the other way. Our freedom should never bring disobedience to what God is telling us individually to do. When I tuck my arguments into my belt of truth, this is what I find. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I tell you?” Luke 6:46 (ESV)
The Breast Plate of Righteousness
The Breast Plate of Righteousness hooks into the belt of truth. The soldier’s arms would give out if he had to hold the full weight of this breast plate. It is a plate meant to protect the soldier’s most vulnerable spot—his heart.
When we are in disobedience to something God is telling us to do, we have relinquished wearing our breast plate of righteousness, and through that one disobedience have opened ourselves up to a full-on attack from Satan. He will aim straight at the heart, which pumps into every other part of you. In my experience, I felt guilt, sudden insecurities, and defeat. There is no peace in disobedience because you’ve willingly entered into a war with the enemy allowing him to have the upper hand.
If you try to hold the weight of your righteousness without hooking it into the belt of truth you will surrender under the weight of trying to be good. God’s truth states, “None is righteous, no, not one;” Romans 3:10a. (ESV) “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)
When your breast plate of righteousness remains hooked into the belt of truth, you will have freedom of movement. Let’s apply this to my story. When I tried to give up wine in my own way…I couldn’t. In fact, it backfired. I wanted it more. It wasn’t until I prayed and asked God to take the desire away from me, that I could walk into the kitchen, smell that good Italian food cooking and not want a glass of red wine. It’s as simple as releasing your grip and allowing the Father to take it.
Hooking your breast plate of righteousness into your belt of truth, means you are relying on God’s power through the Holy Spirit in your life to help you overcome sin and live out God’s will. It is His righteousness that will work through you, not your own.
The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace:
A Roman soldier’s sandals contained cleats across the soles. The cleats helped them stand their ground when an enemy attacked in battle, because the cleats dug into the soil. It also prevented them from slipping on wet terrain which gave them stability.
Spiritually speaking, the shoes of the gospel of peace keep a Christian from slipping when life becomes stormy. It helps us remain calm in the midst of difficulties, because we have God’s peace firmly locking us in place, so we will not waiver. Within the will of the Father we will find peace through Jesus Christ. When you wander outside of God’s will through disobedience, we lose our peace and slip on the enemy’s slope.
Shoes are an important piece of armor because they are what move you forward. They put distance between you and that “thing,” but also move you towards living out your faith. Having faith cannot be just a head knowledge. True faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord is a faith in action which grows fruit as a result. What fruit has you life produced? Strap on those sandals and move soldier!
In part two we will look at the three remaining pieces of armor and what makes them all work properly. The Shield of Faith, The Sword of the Spirit, The Helmet of Salvation, and Prayer.
See you then…
To purchase The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer go to http://www.lifeway.com or your nearest mom and pop Bible bookstore.