This past weekend I had an awesome time of praise and worship at Heavenfest in Morrison, Colorado. It was 2 days of watching Christian musicians from a variety of genres. The crowd was people of all ages praising and worshiping our Lord Jesus Christ all day and all night. The weather was hot but it was worth it. There was one Christian rapper that stood out to me because of the messages that he shared upon the stage. They were messages that needed to be heard by all that were there, especially the younger generation. The rapper goes by the name Propaganda. I found this one particular message that everyone must hear and share.
I just came back from a long much needed vacation. Which is the reason I have been off the weekly rhythm. It gave me time to think about this next post because this one is about my favorite topic, faith! To me, this is the most important piece of armor out of all of them. Without faith everything else becomes vulnerable. What good is righteousness without faith? What good is salvation without faith? What good is truth and peace without faith? Faith in general means to have trust and to believe in a reality that is unseen through the human eye. God wants us to have faith within our hearts because that is where He wants us to feel His presence. Feeling the presence of God working through our hearts is much greater than any of the five senses that He has given us to fully function on this earth. If we have Christ in our hearts it will be in our nature to trust in God as He works through us. This is what faith is! Faith is initially gained by accepting the Lord into our life as a young believer and then as we gain wisdom through God’s Word our faith becomes a shield that protects us so the relationship between us and the Lord becomes inseparable.
A soldier in battle holds their shield out in front of them to take any blow that comes from the enemy. Paul mentions that it protects us from the fiery arrows that come from the enemy. He doesn’t mention just arrows but fiery arrows. Fiery arrows are intended to do widespread damage so it can affect multiple soldiers at once. They can also cause enough damage so that the armor on the soldier will be ineffective if it becomes engulfed in flames. From a spiritual perspective the enemy wants to hit us personally and everyone around us. They will shoot whatever they have to disrupt our relationships between family, friends, and most importantly our relationship with Jesus Christ. However, if we hold our shield out in front and stand strong in faith, everything behind our shield is protected. The fiery arrows from the enemy can be great enough to burn through our breastplate, our helmet, and deliver enough damage that will inhibit us from reaching our sword to fight back if we are burned bad enough. Our shield is described as our faith because behind faith lies our righteous hearts, our minds on salvation, our focus on God’s truth and peace.
There are a lot of believers that tend to lose faith during times of trials. They may think the struggle is impossible to overcome. If these believers can just read God’s Word, and understand that these times of trials and tribulations are when God wants us to communicate with Him the most. These trials are the ultimate test to faith but there are a lot of us that give up or forget that He is there waiting to hear our voice call His name.
Ephesians 6:15 (NIV) “and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
As you know by reading the whole armor of God, the Apostle Paul is telling us how we need to suit up for spiritual warfare. In Ephesians 6:15 he is telling us we need to be fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. To be ready in the sense of spiritual warfare means to be mentally and emotionally willing to battle with peace in our heart. How can a soldier in battle have a peaceful heart with intent to destroy their enemy? So having a peaceful heart in a spiritual battle means that you have a full understanding of God’s Truth. As you consistently read and listen to God’s Word you realize that the enemy is already defeated through your faith. If you know that you are already victorious through Christ, then why have anguish and fear through the many battles in life? The more you absorb scripture into your heart, the more fitted you will be with God’s Word. Paul uses the word “readiness” along with being “fitted”. Once you have the gospel fitted in your life, it is time to prepare and be ready for battle with peace of mind. Peace in Greek means rest and quietness, so in other words you can say the gospel of peace is our good news of rest. Rest, as in resting our soul and letting Jesus Christ handle the issues of spiritual warfare. Throughout life we all have issues that we struggle with. As I mentioned in my previous post regarding the pillars of sin, these issues can be those pillars that the enemy has built up within us. Tearing them down can be a struggle which is a spiritual battle that takes place within our heart, mind, and soul. We just need to keep it in our minds that the enemy is already defeated. We just need to stand behind the Lord and have faith that he is there to deliver us from the wickedness of this world.
Matthew 11:28 (NIV) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
I am stepping away from the pieces of God’s armor this week to write about something else that has been tugging at me. I will continue with the other pieces of armor next week but this message I will keep in this series to give you an idea of why we need to put on the whole armor of God. I feel the Lord wants me to write about how sin can be like pillars in our life. Pillars are usually large, they stand tall and are hard to move. If we look at pillars as sin in our life they will always stand between us and the Lord. I did some research on pillars and realized that pillars have so many symbolic meanings. Today we normally see them used for structural purposes by supporting buildings and homes but back in the Old Testament, I read that they had more of an idolatrous purpose to them. They were stood up and idolized by pagans and were considered sacred. Pillars are mentioned throughout all of scripture so not all references to pillars represented something to be worshiped. As a matter fact Moses actually stood up twelve pillars to represent the twelve tribes of Israel and Solomon’s temple had two bronze pillars at the entrance of the Lord’s temple so you will see many mentions of pillars throughout the bible. The pillars I am referring to are the ones that are considered to be sacred and worshipped by people that either have no idea of the One True God or through plain denial of His existence. If you read through the NKJV translation of the bible and search the terms “sacred pillars”, you will notice that the context of these two terms together referencing objects that need to be broken and torn down. Anything that is sacred other than God Himself is an idol that stands between us and His love. Our God is a jealous God and does not want anything to stand between us and Him.
You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…
Looking at modern times now with all the changes that have occurred in the world from the birth of the industrial age to the present time, it has become easier to stand up these pillars of sin that can easily stand between us and our relationship with Jesus Christ. We all have something in our lives that can easily get in the way of that relationship. Sins that consistently stand between us and God are like sacred pillars that stand strong and are hard to bring down. The longer these pillars stand upright in our lives, the harder and stronger they become. These pillars can be in the form of an addiction, or an unrighteous lifestyle. Whatever it may be, these pillars get in the way and need to be torn down with whatever it takes.
You shall not make idols for yourselves; neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God.
If you have a pillar in your life and it has diminished your relationship with Jesus Christ, then this pillar has become sacred in a way and becomes a replacement for God. It becomes an idol and something you have devoted your life to. Idols can be the form of anything especially during this current time where our faith is constantly being attacked by influences from the world today. Look at what separates you from your relationship with the Lord and ask yourself if what you’re doing is defying the first commandment.
Mark 12:30 (NKJV)
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.
There are people out there that say they live for Christ but somehow justify and have peace with what holds them captive in their sin. This is a sin in itself because they say they live for the Lord on the outside but they know that their sin is hurtful to the Father. How can you live for Christ if you don’t repent of your sin?
Mark 7:6 (NIV)
He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.”
It doesn’t matter who can see the outside, what matters is what’s in the heart where the Lord examines. If you confess and own up to your sin with the Lord and feel guilt and regret, then this is repentance. If there is no struggle, if there is no guilt and regret of the sin that stands strong as a sacred pillar, then the sin has taken over your life. For those of us that fight and try to take down these pillars, God sees this in us and wants us to persevere and be strong in faith. This is where God’s armor has to be taken up fully so we can resist and stand strong enough to tear down the pillars of sin in our lives.
What is truth? The definition of truth is fact that has been confirmed. God’s truth is His living Word that has been confirmed throughout time. It is everything from Genesis to Revelation and nothing more. As Christians, you don’t just believe in it, you walk in it. In Ephesians 6:14 Paul begins describing the armor of God with the belt of truth because the truth is where everything starts as a believer in Christ. If you don’t have the full truth or if you become misled with something additional that could twist the truth, then you are not walking in God’s full truth. So what is the meaning behind the belt? Back in Paul’s day a belt was used by Roman soldiers to protect their midsection, it would keep the soldier upright in posture as they walk with heavy armor. The belt would also keep other pieces of armor aligned and fastened to their body. If you look at truth in the same way a soldier is wearing a belt, you can see how important the integrity of God’s truth is. By walking in God’s truth, you will remain upright with integrity and your righteousness will remain aligned with it.
When you understand the Word of God and have faith in His salvation, it begins to change who you are as an individual. This transformation takes place in the heart. Paul mentions the breastplate of righteousness as a part of God’s armor. The actual breastplate of a Roman soldier would protect the chest and the upper torso in battle. It protects the internal organs, the ribs, and of course the most vital organ, the heart. The heart that Paul is referring to though, is not the physical heart but the heart that ascertains who you are as a person. Your heart is what makes you a one of a kind individual. The heart of a person is where everything comes from such as personalities, emotions, character, and other elements that can make up a person’s nature. God wants you to change your nature. He wants you to change the person you are now to one of righteousness. He wants you to change your mindset, your morals and the standards you live by. He wants you to put on the breastplate of righteousness by living with a righteous heart that thrives under righteous values.
With all the distractions the world puts in front of you, you have to keep your spiritual heart pumping. If your spiritual heart stops pumping, the Holy Spirit within you stops flowing. A righteous heart keeps the Holy Spirit alive inside of you. Your body becomes a temple for the Holy Spirit. So when God’s Spirit thrives through you, you begin to notice changes in your actions. So when Paul tells you to put on the breastplate of righteousness, he is saying to uphold the righteous values that you need to live by, no matter what the circumstances are. So how do we have a righteous heart? It is done through faith and by living under the values that bring glory to the Lord in everything you do. Living for the Lord means you have left the old you by being born again. We are all born in the flesh but the new you, is born in the Spirit!
Bible Challenge: What is the difference between your heart, soul, and spirit?
Look up these three Greek terms (Psyche, Pneuma, Kardia) in any concordance and answer the question above. This challenge can help you get an understanding of how these terms correlate with each other.
As a believer in Christ, your first introduction to salvation was through the Word of God and understanding that He sent His only Son to rescue the world from sin. As you absorb the knowledge of God’s truth you realize that salvation is through the blood of Jesus Christ, and by this sins are forgiven by His grace. The term salvation means to be delivered, to be saved, or to be rescued from harm. As your faith grows stronger in the Lord’s promise, you grow closer to Him. Because of this relationship evil will test your faith, which is why you will need a helmet as a part of your armor. Why does Paul describe salvation as a helmet, something you wear on your head? Salvation is made known through the understanding of God’s Word so where else is the knowledge retained other than your head? The enemy likes to attack our faith and the battle usually begins in the mind. The enemy will attempt to stir up fear, doubt, discouragement or anything else that can help him diminish your faith in Christ. Through God’s salvation, the enemy is already beat! The enemy knows this and will not go down without a fight, often trying to twist your thoughts while trying to separate you from the Lord Jesus Christ. This separation is the ultimate goal the enemy has toward the people of God’s kingdom. Protecting your mind as a believer in Christ will be a lifelong spiritual battle on this earth. Your mind can be manipulated and can become a gateway for evil so protect your head with the helmet of salvation. Keep your mind filled with God’s Word consistently so righteousness can overtake the earthly distractions that surround you.
How is the Helmet of Salvation important to the framework of your life? If you are living a life for the Lord as you strive to reach your goals, don’t be misled by earthly distractions. Keep your helmet on because there will be times where the enemy will try and separate you from your purpose, so have faith in the Lord’s promise of salvation. When you are living for an eternal purpose, you should go to God for strength and courage because that’s a part of the relationship. If you have faith in Him to get you through those rough patches in life, you will be encouraged to have faith in your own abilities to physically get you through it. As you have faith in God’s promise of salvation you know your purpose is timeless and has no boundary. It’s timeless because you are living a life that is headed into eternity!