“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.” Philippians 2:5-6 NKJV
Jesus had the power to be equal to God but chose to be humble. Paul tells us to let this mind be in you which was also in Christ. In Philippians 2 Paul tells us to be humble and to be like-minded amongst each other and to look out for other’s interest, not just our own.
Being humble is a mindset, a Christ-like mindset. But, it doesn’t begin in the mind. The actual transformation needs to take place in the heart for it to change your mind. See, the mind is the gateway for God’s word to flow in and out of, but it is your heart that governs how you project His truth out to the world. The heart is your spiritual connection with God and where your relationship with Him is formed. We can read biblical instructions all day long and do what they say, but are the instructions written in your heart? Are you living by God’s standards to please Him, or are you just doing what it says to please everyone around you because that’s the way you should act as a Christian? See as Christians living for Christ, we don’t act! We live God’s word with all of our heart and all of our mind because we have chosen to be grounded on a foundation of Christ. That foundation is our relationship with Him as our Father.
Being humble is a mindset that is controlled by the heart. To be humble means to sacrifice yourself for others, and to be a servant to others. There will be times in your life where this will be very difficult depending on the circumstance and the people God wants you to impact. God wants you to submit yourself through obedience and to show the world that you stand for His kingdom no matter what sacrifice you have to make to humble yourself.
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.”
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.
Your character defines who you are as a person, but there is true character and there is acting. True character is what’s in your heart and the only one that can fully see it besides yourself is God. The question to ask yourself as a Christian is, do you consistently project your heart out to the world? Or do you have a spiritual valve in your heart that you open and close depending on your surroundings? Does your character change depending on who you are around? This can be confusing because it makes you wonder who you really are sometimes. I know this can be common with new believers but as they progress, they will eventually realize and reshape their character by re-aligning their values as they freshly read the Word. That’s because it’s that fresh fire inside as they learn about Jesus for the first time and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. We all felt it in the very beginning, and it is an awesome feeling. But if you don’t maintain the knowledge and don’t live it consistently, that flame begins to diminish over time and world distractions begin to take over the time you use to spend with God, so that feeling goes away. You have to be diligent in the Word to transform your character and to live under righteous principles and values.
The point of all this is that the principles you set for yourself must be consistent daily. Keep that feeling going! You need to consistently feed your mind and heart. Take in the knowledge and live it. If you become wise in the Word, then you have established a strong foundation for your life.
Lets tie in your dream with your character. Lets say you have a dream and you have found your purpose in this world as you become consistent in God’s Word. By welcoming Christ into your life, you have become a temple for the Holy Spirit, and have developed this very special relationship with God. Your faith is strong, you have found your purpose, and the Lord is right there with you every step of the way. This doesn’t mean everything is going to be easy and perfect in your eyes. The Lord will test you. He wants to be sure your faith is strong, not just toward Him, but faith in yourself as well. Sometimes these tests and trials can be hard and devastating and cause us to suffer in many ways. The Lord will allow us to go through this to make us stronger and build us up spiritually. It is up to you to figure that out through knowledge and wisdom by being diligent in feeding yourself with His Word. By reading the Word, you will understand that there is hope because you’re confident in God’s promises. You will understand that God is strengthening your character as you persevere through whatever pain is in your life at that point of time. Paul describes it best to the Romans:
Romans 5:3-5 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.