“Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” (Ephesians 6:14)

Now that we are the Children of God, there are some changes we will face in our lives. Some of our family will shy away from us and may even choose not to associate with us anymore. There is no doubt that it’s painful and causes one to wonder how strong their love was. Some friends may even have the same reaction and will walk away also. New friends will come into your life; be bold and courageous along with patients. Some in your world circle will pause at the change in your character traits over time. Some will react positively and others negatively. Stay firm in your commitment to the Lord, and some will come back because of your sincere belief. Over time people will be drawn to you to understand the difference you have become from the standard way. All reaction to change in your life and life around you is building bricks of your testimony for the Lord. The best advice my Pastor gave me was to protect that testimony.

The verse we are looking at today is a part of Paul’s discourse, called God’s armor, in the letter to the Ephesians. Paul himself was in prison when he wrote this passage. When I look at the breastplate’s armor, I see it as a protection of the vital organs in the chest. Certainly, the heart is essential for one to live physically, and the metaphor here is the core of our being. You can call it the soul, the place where the conscience is found and is the place where all our inward thoughts affect our outward activity. Having a breastplate of righteousness, protecting our hearts will guide our innermost thoughts and transform our outward actions. If our core is guarded by our core bound in righteousness, we will have a strong defense from the evil one’s wiles.

Even when our family, friends, and associations are in line with our Christian life, still life will not be a leisurely walk in the park. Jesus told us this; in the beginning, the world rejected Him, and it will reject us also. We will come into contact with many who are passionate against Jesus as we are passionate about Jesus. I had no problem living as I did before Jesus came into my life, except it placed me deep in a pit, and I could find no way out except the mercy and grace of the Lord Jesus. The change I experienced has made it hard for me to understand why others reject a change for themselves. It makes it hard for me to understand how they can be against me when I am for their spiritual welfare. But Jesus told us it would be this way. “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

We will be attacked by the worldly ones for many reasons more that I can share, other than to say the root cause is we are in Satan’s domain. The natural man living in his sin-nature cannot understand the truth of God’s Word. If one has rejected God, then how can they understand His Word? The Gospel is foolishness to them. “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Our best offense is a good defense, which requires us to know our enemy. Satan holds the world tightly and keeps people who have rejected the truth trapped in their lust and desires for the pleasures of the world. I can understand that their thoughts of the afterlife are always mythical. To the Children of God, Satan’s focus is to make us look impotent in our faith to show our testimony as unreal. Satan is the adversary going after the Children of God. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Satan is a powerful spiritual force desiring to ripe a spirit away from God and will cause any physical and mental calamity he can. Satan is not a god but a fallen angel that wants to be a God like the Most High. That was his sin, pride, and for that, he was tossed out of God’s Kingdom and cast down to the earth. God created mankind as a physical being and breathed His Spirit into him. Satan hates God and therefore hates God’s humanity and desires to destroy humanity to hurt God in retaliation. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, laying a description of Satan upon them. “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

Satan is the father of deceit. As a serpent, Satan deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden, twisting God’s Words truth, and she and Adam ate the forbidden fruit. Satan may have thought he had the early victory, but in Genesis 3:15, God revealed the Gospel of Christ. Satan has been deceiving humanity since to this day and will till the Day of the Lord. Satan is fully capable of appearing as an angel of light. “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) Satan can disguise himself as a righteous one when, in reality, all his thoughts and actions are for evil and the destruction of God’s creation, including humanity. We all must test every spirit that comes preaching a spiritual doctrine that it lines up with truth and the full revelation of God. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

There are many Churches in the world today, and most claim Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords, but some have false teachers. If their teaching does not fit in the context of God’s Word, if it does not line up with apostolic teaching of the New Testament, and if it does not teach Jesus as “the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6), then you are in the wrong pew. Satan is crafty and will attack the Church at every opportunity. “Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:7-8)

Satan is a fallen angel, and greater than that, he was one of three archangels. When he fell, Satan took one-third of the heavenly host with him. God’s Heavenly Host of Angels is numbered as myriads. A myriad is a countless number, and I cannot say how many of Satan’s demons are in the world today. They are powerful spiritual forces arrayed against the Church of Jesus Christ. As humans, we cannot fight against spiritual forces, and the only power we have is prayer. Prayer is a more powerful tool than the angels; as we pray in the power of the Holy Spirit of God there is nothing that can stand against God’s answer. We have two defensive weapons against Satan, prayer and the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

The Christian is not fighting against Satan to gain a victory over him. It would be foolish to taunt or do battle against him. Left to our own abilities, we would be defeated. Our battle is not against Satan, as Jesus has already defeated him on the cross. Our most significant enemy death has been taken away by our Lord and Savior. “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)

When evil challenges, we can overcome, as an attack on us is an attack on Jesus who dwells within us, and our victory has already been won. “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) As Bond-Servants of Jesus, we do not save the lost souls; we lead them to the altar by our testimony. We live in like-mindedness of Jesus with longsuffering love for the people of God’s creation. We lift Jesus up before them by our lives in the prayer and hope they will be drawn to Him and find their way home. “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, October 29, 2020

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