Archive for November, 2009

Putting on the Full Armor of God, Part 3

November 24, 2009

Title: Putting on the Full Armor of God, Part 3

Text: Ephesians 6:16-18

Date: November 17th, 2009

 

A couple of weeks ago I started the message series “Putting on the full armor of God,” I’ve covered about one-half of the instructions contained in Ephesians 6:10-18 in dealing with spiritual attack. This morning I’d like to conclude by explaining the remaining four points included in the verse. I’ve already explained the importance of standing on the truth, of being righteous, and in keeping our hearts at peace through the gospel in dealing with evil, spiritual opposition. Today I’d like to talk about the importance of faith, talk more about salvation, explain God’s Word and finally, talk about the importance of prayer in connection with defending ourselves from evil and winning our battles with the devil and demons. As I mentioned before, lots of people think you are crazy if you mention the devil or demons with any degree of seriousness. For modern people today, the devil and demons departed from any intelligent belief hundreds of years ago. Now, the only discussion involving them is in measuring the results of how these beliefs effect the behavior of those who still believe in them, but as far as most people are concerned in our modern world, the devil and demons don’t really exist. Now at this specific point we each have to make a personal decision – am I going to follow the majority of popular opinion and dismiss the devil and demons as mythology or am I going to follow the Bible’s teaching on the subject — which is that they certainly do exist and because of this we must be prepared to resist them and defend ourselves against them when they oppose us in life. I hope you choose to follow the Bible because it gives us the only line of defense against evil spiritual attack. If we don’t take evil seriously, like I said before, we’ll be sitting ducks; we won’t be able to defend ourselves in the battle for our soul. So this is serious stuff and we must be prepared to take it seriously even if most people in our modern culture don’t take it seriously. Ephesians 6:16-18, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Here we see four more items that make up the “full armor of God.” We are told by the Apostle Paul to “Put on the full armor of God” and it would be well for us to listen to that advice because without the full resources of God in our battle against spiritual evil, we’ll probably lose. Some Christians utilize some of the spiritual resources God provides but fail to use all of them. For example, some Christians have prayer devotion every day, but don’t read from the Bible much, while others read more from the Bible but neglect prayer. If we want to be “strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” as we are commanded, we must implement the full resources of God in dealing with spiritual opposition. Let’s look at a few more resources. (more…)

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Putting on the Full Armor of God, Part 2

November 22, 2009

Title: Putting on the Full Armor of God, Part 2

Text: Ephesians 6:13-15

Date: November 16th, 2009

 

Last week I began a series on what it means to “put on the full armor of God” as described in Ephesians 6:10-18. I only covered three or four verses last week because I didn’t want to rush through this important set of instructions written by the Apostle Paul to Christians about being ready for spiritual opposition in life. We are taught to be equipped for evil, demonic, spiritual attack by the enemy of our soul – the devil and his demons. A lot of people today laugh at the idea that there really are demons – evil spiritual creatures dedicated to our destruction and death. People make fun of Christians who take these things seriously, but I have to ask the scoffers and skeptics of evil just how they explain things like the recent shootings at Fort Hood, Texas? We are just learning about this individual’s background, and although he is a Muslim, although he was against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, although he wanted out of the military, still these factors don’t explain why he killed 13 people and injured over 30 more. Here was a highly educated, trained professional psychiatrist who didn’t appear mentally disturbed or even particularly depressed or violent in any way, suddenly with premeditation gunning down his fellow soldiers and U.S citizens on America soil. What accounts for such evil? I believe only the presence of demonic influence that took inner anger past rage into violence and murder. But most of the time, the devil and demons don’t receive this much control and influence in a person’s life; usually they operate on a lesser level, but still, we must be ready for attack at any level. That’s why God gives us the instructions of Ephesians 6:13-15, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” This is obviously a military description; used for battle. The problem today is that most Christians don’t have a will to fight or battle over anything, even to defend their own Christian faith. For example, in the United States, we’ve had such a peaceful and prosperous life here that we’ve grown used to it; we assume that the Christian life is basically a recreational activity – after all, isn’t the main activity on the weekend, on Sunday? We seem to look to the Christian life as “fun” instead of seeing it in terms of a life and death struggle between the forces God or good versus the forces of evil, sin and the devil. With that mindset, no wonder most Christians aren’t prepared to deal with or face evil when it attacks them. Why are there so many Christian divorces? Why are so many Christian families breaking up? Why are so many Christians falling into temptation and sin? Why are so many Christians living a defeated life? The answer is, they aren’t prepared to fight the good fight of faith, and when the enemy attacks them they are incapable of defending themselves. They simply don’t know how to fight or they refuse to fight. This must change. Let’s look at God’s instructions on fighting our spiritual battles. Let’s get ourselves equipped for our spiritual struggle in life. (more…)

Putting on the Full Armor of God, Part 1

November 12, 2009

Title: Putting on the Full Armor of God, Part 1

Text: Ephesians 6:10-13

Date: November 8th, 2009

 

Today I’d like to pick up on some point I made a couple of weeks ago in another context. If you remember I was talking about “binding the strong man” as we read about in Matthew 12:29, or in other words, dealing with the devil. At the end of that message I presented some practical tips on how to deal with demonic attack through putting on the full armor of God as described in Ephesians 6:10-18. I didn’t have time enough at the end of that message to develop the topic of the full armor of God, so today I’d like to attempt to explain in practical terms how we as Christians can actually “put on the full armor of God.” I say practical because I’ve heard and I’m sure you’ve heard messages on Ephesians 6:10-18 or putting on the full armor of God, but often the teaching will be more or less a verse-by-verse covering of the biblical passage, reading and explaining what the Bible says, but with little or no practical application of what the verse means and how it can be followed in real life. Often the teacher of this passage will simply read the verse and make a few comments, perhaps about the background and context of the verse or some historical explanation of Roman armor, but then never get around to explaining how we as Christians are to “put on the full armor of God” within our lives today. Obviously, the reference to “putting on armor” is symbolic, a metaphor for something spiritual, something spiritual we must do in order to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) in our day and age. But often we don’t get the application of what all this means to our lives today. So in order to correct this typical oversight in teaching Christian truth, I’ll attempt to make practical application of this passage to our lives today. I’ll make some historical references, but I won’t go into great detail about describing details of the armor worn by soldiers of the Roman Empire, nor spend a lot of time setting the historical background and context. I think it’s pretty clear what the spiritual meanings and applications found in this verse, and so I’ll simply make the spiritual applications as they are made in the verse itself, starting with Ephesians 6:10-13, because there’s no way we can get through the whole verse today in one teaching. In the context of my message a couple of weeks ago on Matthew 12:29, Jesus is teaching us how to deal with the devil or demons. We are looking for the best way to defend ourselves against evil spiritual attacks. That’s why Ephesians 6 is so important because it gives us a methodology for battling spiritual opposition. This is not the only instruction we have in the New Testament about dealing with demonic assault, but it might be the most important. If we can successfully “put on the full armor of God” we can successfully survive any or all spiritual opposition, so it is important to follow these instructions as carefully as we can. They come for the Apostle Paul, who is speaking under the impulse and inspiration of God, so we can trust that it’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Let’s consider a few points. (more…)

Binding the Strong Man

November 9, 2009

Title: Binding the Strong Man

Text: Matthew 12:29

Date: October 25th, 2009

 

When Jesus came two thousand years ago to begin his work of salvation on earth for us, he didn’t come into a friendly or even neutral world. He came into a hostile environment, because Satan or “the god of this world” as the Bible describes him (John 12:31, 14:30,  2 Corinthians 4:4), had already laid claim to the planet earth and all its occupants. So Jesus was really invading enemy territory when he arrived in his incarnate, human form. But if this is so, how could Jesus go about his work of converting and leading people out of “darkness into his marvelous light” — as another biblical passage describes (1 Peter 2:9)? The answer is Jesus had to first deal with the Devil, defeat him, and then and only then could he free the spiritual captives from sin, death and damnation. That’s exactly what Matthew 12:29 is describing, “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.” I like how the King James Version puts it – “binds the strong man,” because it conveys the sense of seriousness involved in subduing Satan or Lucifer, that is, actually “binding” him fast so that he can’t actively have his way in the life of an individual. The ancient world was a very dark place – not that today’s secular, modern world isn’t a very dark place also – but ancient times were particularly dark because at that time there was no Christian truth and light present in society, or any Christian church heritage to refer to. We take it for granted that for 2000 years biblical Christian values have shaped Western civilization and American culture. We are seeing the rapid erosion of those biblical Christian values in our culture today, particularly in America with abortion and homosexual rights gaining power, but it’s nothing like it was in ancient times. At least today there is the memory of the Bible, of the church, of the Christian faith standards for right and wrong, of true and false. But in ancient times, in most nations, there was gross immorality and deep darkness; there was dark spiritual error as the normal state of affairs. The Devil and his demons had a field day, so to speak, in the world at that time. The Jewish nation was somewhat of an exception to the norm as far as spiritual truth and good, because God had taught it through the prophets of the Old Testament, but it too was operating in a state of spiritual darkness by the time Jesus arrived on the scene. Its religion had degenerated into a state of rule-keeping and very little spiritual insight and power. So when Jesus began his ministry in the land of Israel, he found the Devil and demons everywhere opposing him, both directly in one-on-one encounters and indirectly through evil opposition in the person of the Pharisees, Sadducees, Jewish scribes, and other leaders. So one of the first priorities of Jesus was to deal with or neutralize the threat of organized evil. He had to constantly “bind the strong man” in order to free the captive souls of humanity. That’s what I’d like to talk about today. What use do we have for this kind of teaching? It’s a reminder that there should be a priority to our struggle to do God’s will in our lives – we should deal with any spiritual opposition we find first before we try to carry out the will of God. This only makes sense. Let me explain. (more…)