Ephesians 6:13-17; The armor of God is the believer’s possession.
Thursday May 12, 2022
God is not going to stop the flaming missiles. They are going to hit us. God wants us strong in this world so that we can reveal Him and actually enjoy doing just that.
Paul wanted his churches to be strong in truth and righteousness. It is imperative for their survival and good impact. Today’s emphasis on limiting free speech, emphasis on race, political correctness, safe spaces, emphasis on gender (or lack of), lack of sound education in public schools and universities are all designed to do what the schemes of the devil have been doing for the last twenty centuries – dampen all noise about truth and the gospel of Jesus Christ, and some of the people who do it are made very rich and powerful.
The simplicity of devotion to Christ is replaced with programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. Occupation and pursuit of the activities of the world only leads to a shallow experience and a hollow worship of God, and rather than imitators of God, we become servile imitators of the world.
The person who has God as his treasure has all things in One.
Many ordinary treasures may be denied the one who has God as his treasure, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. If they go, there is no sense of loss, for, having God as his treasure, he has all satisfaction, all pleasure, and all delight. He can lose nothing, nor gain anything other than a closer walk with God.
A major aspect of the Christian life is the loss of all things and the gain of Christ. Christ’s first beatitude is “blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:3).
Before God made man, He prepared for the man and woman a world with useful and pleasant things for their sustenance and delight. They were things made for man’s use, external to him and subservient to him. God gave trees pleasing to the sight and good for food. He also gave man the woman, and to her, her husband; so close were they that Adam called them Ish and Ishah because she was taken from Ish. In man’s heart was God alone and the things, just things to be enjoyed. But then sin introduced complications and made those very gifts of God a potential source of ruin to the soul. Now, man’s nature is to possess. It covets with a deep passion.
Fallen man’s nature is to possess. It covets with a deep passion.
The things that God gave us to enjoy, even marriage and friendship, at our fall took the place of God and became our idols. At the fall we changed from God worshippers to possessors of things and that gave us a deep disease. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution.
The Lord addressed our nature to possess – Mat 16:24-25.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.”
We tolerate the self-life, the old-self, at our peril. The peril is not against our eternal life, but against us experiencing our eternal life. Self is the chief characteristic of possessiveness. Our chief virtue as Christians is to love, which is to give of ourselves to God and to others, and not to possess.
So, who are the poor in spirit? They are those who know that they have Christ and have given up the possession of all things in favor of Him. It is not to become poor. It is to never attach the pronouns my or mine to our things, our loved ones, and even our own spiritual gifts and talents – our own lives, in a way that we think of them as our possession. Then, ironically, they then really do become ours. They are ours on loan to us for a time by Christ and we deal with them and use them as Christ would have us.
I start with this important principle because the old self and its love of possessing prevents us from putting on the full armor of God. Two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time.
The believer is at the moment of faith regenerated into a new creature in Christ, and though he doesn’t know it at the time, he or she has lost the possession of all things and gained Christ. In gaining Christ, the believer has also gained the full armor of Christ (truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the Holy Spirit, and the word of God).
We are to pursue God, not God and ___________. With Him we have all things.
“For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
“The way to deeper knowledge of God is through the lonely valleys of soul poverty and abnegation of all things. The blessed ones who possess the kingdom (experience it in time) are they who have repudiated every external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing … The blessed poor are no longer slaves to the tyranny of things. The have broken the yoke of the oppressor; and this they have done not by fighting but by surrendering. Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things.” [AW Tozer, The Pursuit of God]
This is the life that is the shield of faith and a life that people will see as the life of a messenger from another world.
People will see us contentedly standing firm and being free from all the things that easily enslave them, while we and the Holy Spirit are convicting them with the gospel. A fraction of them will respond, but, like our Lord’s power and authority in teaching, everyone will see it.
The shield Paul refers to is the Roman one that is approximately two feet wide by four feet high and semicylindrical in shape. The convex shape was made of two or three layers of wood glued together, over which could be put a layer of canvas and then of leather, which might be painted. Iron or bronze bands wrapped around the edges. The shield was soaked in water before battle so that flaming missiles would not ignite it.
Trajan’s column and the tortoise formation
The Roman soldiers used their shields not only to defend their person, but also in a maneuver known as the tortoise that enabled them to get close to a city’s walls or gates without injury. The unit stood in a square, and those in the middle put their shields over their heads, while the men on the outside used the shields to guard their bodies. Then, like a turtle in a shell, they moved close to their target without injury from the many missiles thrown at them.
We are more protected when many of us lock shields together.