Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

The Armor(s) of God

So, I’ve blogged a bit about all the troubles we see around us, and as my brothers and sisters in Christ know, we are to put on the whole armor of God… but what does that really mean?  What are the references to this armor in scripture?  Do you know Paul did not originate the idea, nor was he the first to write about it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Let’s take a look;

Ephesians 6: 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

So, in Ephesians we have Truth as a garment that is girded (tied for war), Righteousness as a breastplate, the Gospel as boots, Faith as a shield, Salvation as a helmet, the word of God as a sword.  Let’s dig in a bit to the words here;

First, truth is an easy one, in the Greek alḗtheia, which is just as we would read it, simply truth.  Unchanging fact, and that truth is tied up, girded, as a garment around the “loins.”  The loins in Jewish thought represented (and were) the seat of procreative power.  Truth protects the future of the people of God.  We are to be draped in Truth, and when in war, gird it around us to aid in battle.

Next, we have a Breastplate, covering the thorax and it is Righteousness.  Righteousness in Greek is dikaiosýnē, and is “right-ness.”  It is union with God in the sense of having been made “right” and “upstanding” in relation to Him.  Of course, we believe that is the righteousness granted to us by Christ, by His Righteousness.  So, that covers the thorax; the lungs that breath, the heart that pumps the blood.  It covers your vitals, and the heart is seen to be the seat of thought in Jewish teaching.  The air we breath, the thoughts that make us “us,” and the very blood pumping through our veins is to be covered in Right-ness.

For a foot covering we have the Gospel of peace.  Gospel is euangélion in the Greek, and you should recognize that; evangelize. Are feet are protected and bound up with the Gospel.  In Jewish description, disciples sat at the feet of the teacher.  As we go forth and as we teach others, the first and most important thing to present is the Gospel of Christ; the good news/tidings of Christ. Further, the Gospel acts to protect us on our journey.  Even when we are just walking and not fighting, the gospel protects us because it is covering our steps.  Peace… the gospel is the good news of how to have peace with the Creator of all.

After that is the shield, which is faith.  In the Greek pistis, faith, is trusting with great confidence.  It isn’t head knowledge, it is reliance on something, and it can have different targets.  For the Christian it is God.  In this context it acts to shield us, and is so powerful it doesn’t just stop normal “arrows” but can actually quench the fire that is riding on the arrows.  One of the drawbacks of many shields was that the arrows raining down would “stick” into the shield, and if they were lit with fire, you would have this fire clinging to you.  The shield of faith takes care of the heat and flame, it will not touch you.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

The helmet is next, and is salvation.  Soterion is salvation in the Greek.  Salvation protects your brain.  Remember what the Lord said?  A fool hath said in his heart there is no God.  The mind is a tricky thing, as well as the heart.  We can over think things and even confuse ourselves because we are so sure we are brilliant.  Salvation cuts right to the point and keeps one humble; you can’t save yourself, and if you are smart, you will believe in God.  With salvation comes the gift of the Holy Spirit, and He changes us (including our minds) from the inside out, and protects us from the outside in.

Finally is your weapon; the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  We forget that a sword is both offensive weapon and defensive armor, in the sense that you block oncoming attacks, not just with your shield or other wearable pieces of armor, but also with your weapon.  Notice that Paul tell us we have to “take up” the armor, including the sword.  It’s not just something “there.”  If you want a weapon you need to know the word.  That means time and effort in order to become armed.

Isaiah had a few things to say about armor;

Isaiah 59:15 Yes, truth is lacking; And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the Lord saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. 16 And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him. 17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. 18 According to their deeds , so He will repay, Wrath to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; To the coastlands He will make recompense.

Notice the similarities?  Notice the differences?  Breastplate/Righteousness, and Helmet/Salvation is the same.  Notice this is the Armor of God Himself, it is what He wears.  What is different?  He also has garments of vengeance, and a mantle of zeal.  We don’t have the same thing, we aren’t to take up vengeance, and God’s zeal, His passion and jealousy aren’t a part of our armor or our clothing, they are His.  We learn elsewhere, in Revelation, that He also has a sharp sword coming out of His mouth; the word of the Lord.

Last but not least, read Paul again, and think on this;

Romans 13: 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

And now, to the crux of the command; put on the armor of Light.  And what does that mean; put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Folks, we are living in a war zone, the deeds of darkness are all around us, but we have been given access to the armor of Light.  Put on the whole armor of God, be active in it.  Don’t mistake our clothing for His, we have what we need, we only need to accept and utilize what has been provided for us.  If you haven’t put on the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, my prayer is that you will do so soon.

Grace and peace to all those covered in Him,

K

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Theology

A call for calm…

One of the central teachings of the Bible, and especially of Jesus is a call for calm, or a call for peace.  When we live in a world such as ours it is far easier to worry and to fret than to be content in whatever position we find ourselves in.  I also firmly believe that we will never reach that state of peace 24/7/365, but it is always good to be reminded of it.

One of the things I love about Christ is His teaching methods, and His manner with His friends, the apostles.  The writers of the Bible give us such great visuals, it is easy to put “flesh and blood” on a lot of the stories shared.  One of them is in Mark Chapter 4:

Mark 4:37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

So, a storm brewed up and hammered the ship…everyone else is apparently awake, afraid, watching the waves, what is our Lord doing?  Sleeping peacefully.  Notice that the people with Him, didn’t just wake Him up, they didn’t just ask Him to help…what did they do?  “Carest thou not that we perish?”  Don’t you care what’s happening to us?  They attempted to put the ol’ guilt trip on Him.

The Lord gets up and does two distinct things; rebukes the wind, and calmed the waves.  The wind was what was actually stirring up trouble, it gets rebuked (perhaps this has to do with the prince of the power of the air…).  The waves were at the “mercy” of the winds, and they get calmed.  The Lord then asks two questions and they are definitely connected, and yet they cover separate issues.

The first question: “Why are ye so fearful?”  Why are they so afraid?  They’ve been with Christ, they’ve seen God’s power, they know that He is in total and absolute control, yet they fear.  The second question; “How is it that ye have no faith?”  Why don’t they have trust and confidence?  The Lord Himself is onboard, He loves them as friends, He’s been teaching non-stop about faith, yet they have none in Him, or in the Father.  Then, what did they do; they feared exceedingly…not because of His questioning of them, but because of His power over the very elements.

He had to get exasperated.  As far as I know warranted exasperation isn’t a sin, and I can imagine the look on the Lord’s face, can’t you?  Anyway, the point here is that our faith is tied up in our fear or the absence of fear.  We as Christians know that the Lord is in control, we know that God has us in sight, that we can go to Him without guilt trips and ask whatever we need.  We, most of us, recognize that it rains on the just and the unjust alike.  Contrary to what a lot of the cream puff preachers are preaching now-a-days, we were told we would have tribulation in this life; especially if we are Christians.

Peace, be still…we are to be as the waves buffeted by the wind; calmed by His command. Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. This is a hard thing to get to, it is hard to really carry out, and I’ve failed at it many a time.  But it is something to think on, and with the help of the Holy Spirit to aim for.  Look at the Apostles; before the resurrection and before the Holy Spirit indwelt them, they often had trouble controlling their fear, Peter even denied Christ three times.  But, after He arose, and after the Holy Spirit came, these men were transformed.  They were calm and content even in the face of torture and death.  Keep in mind, the Lord has the power both to rebuke whatever is causing the problems, and to calm the effect of those problems.

We can really be at peace no matter what rages around us…and as Doc Scott used to say, “Cheer up saints, it’s gonna get worse!”

Again, notice that their fear was connected to their lack of faith.  Grow your faith, and the fear will become less…not what we have to face, but the fear that comes with it will diminish.  I know that there have been times when my fear came out, when there was no good reason that it should, and we definitely shouldn’t try to put a guilt trip on the Almighty.  But our old man and the new do war within us.  Our aim, with the help of the Holy Spirit, is to grow that faith, to live from faith to faith, and try to remember that call for calm…

When we are out and about in the world, we Christians can also model that calm for others, and in situations where and when a group of people are scared, if we can remember Christ’s power, and God’s watchful eye, we Christians should be the calmest ones out of the lot.  Again, we will all slip, but it is something to aim for and think about with the help of the Spirit.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

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Finding the Sacred in the “Secular”…

First, I don’t believe (once someone gets past being a “Sunday Christian” ) that there is a divide between the sacred and the secular, but that is a different post for a different day.  I’m going to use the labels to get my point across for the sake of this post.  Finding the sacred in the secular is a knack…not everyone has it, and not everyone wants it.  There are some hyper-fundamentalists, and some denominations that would disagree with pretty much everything I’m going to say in this installment.

When one comes to Christ, and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, it not something that is turned on and off…our beings become fundamentally changed and we are made a new creature.  A new creature sees and hears the world in a different way; everything starts having different meanings, and our lives are richer for it.  There have been many things in my life that have either taught me spiritual truth, or have made me think more deeply about some aspect of life, the universe, and everything, that have come from a secular source (by this point all my readers should see that plainly by my enjoyment of Doctor Who, amongst other things).  There are “secular” songs, for instance that are written about various subjects from romance to fame that resonate with me about theological issues, books that aren’t about religion in any way shape or form that touch my soul, movies that may reveal an aspect of our relationship to God or to other humans that were never “meant” by the writers, directors and producers to be taken that way.

There are those in Christendom that would tell each of us to shun everything secular…besides being impossible, isn’t that a bit presumptive?  When the Lord wanted to get a point across in a way that would stick in the minds of the people listening He often employed parables; teaching stories that brought in aspects of everyday life (that most would label “secular”) that also taught spiritual truth for those with the eyes and ears to see and hear the point He was making.  He was the Master at weaving the sacred into the mundane.  Now, I don’t believe that all secular musicians and writers are doing the same thing that He did, far from it, but I do believe that the Holy Spirit can use the secular to turn on a light bulb within us.

My point is this; keep your eyes and ears open, you never know what medium or in what way God may decide to get you thinking.  We are to be in the world, but not of it, we are to think of good and wonderful things…but that does not mean we are to live with our heads in the sand, or to stop up our ears and hide our eyes from all things secular.  The Holy Spirit is quite capable of directing us to something, or away from it on an individual basis, and I for one firmly believe that He uses the mundane to get us thinking and to transform the secular into the sacred; to transform various everyday experiences, like watching a television show, or listening to a song, or fishing, or hiking, or working out, or reading a book…into something that can teach us about the spiritual aspects of ourselves, or our relationship to Him.  And, no, that doesn’t give us an excuse not to turn to Him in His word, or to abandon “sacred” music…it’s just another aspect of our lives that He can (and I believe does) use. This can also fit into apologetics; when we are talking to others, it is sometimes easier for us to communicate a point by giving examples and drawing connections between things that people experience in a “secular” sense, depending on the other person’s experiences.

I hope to have a precise example written up to better illustrate my point by tomorrow, and will add the link here when it is up.  EDIT: Okay, here are my thoughts using a Breaking Benjamin song (a secular band) to remind readers that Jesus is a Lamb, and a Lion.

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The Church in China…

If interested about the growing number of Christians in China, here is a news article in the LA Times:  Christianity is Flourishing in China The Holy Spirit sure does seem to be at work.  God can enter into all things, hopefully the upcoming Olympics will somehow be an aid to our church family in China.  Also, don’t forget that the persecution of belivers is a very very serious issue there, and more than anything they seek aid through prayer.  Edit to add: We should probably be praying that the True Gospel be spread like wildfire, while any false gospels are stamped out along the way…

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Filed under Conversion, Ministries, Of Interest