And having done all, to stand!

What does ‘having done all’ mean?

The Lord calls us to be overcomers; overcomers of sin. But what does this mean, really?

Once saved, our main job on this earth is to overcome all sin in mind and body. It should be the aim of every Christian, and it can be done.

Romans 12:1 states, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

Spiritual life is a continual sacrifice toward holiness while we reside in the land of the living. It is not a time for sensual existence — living for oneself.

Over the course of our life, we sacrifice all our desires; not on an altar unto death as for lambs and bulls, but an altar unto life as for the slaughter of our earthly cravings.

For the death of our human longings and passions must occur for us to get closer to the heart of the living God. Nevertheless, if that is our earnest destination, losing human desires will be our aim anyhow.

We enter internal battles to overcome sensual living; and they are battles, but ones we can win, if we are wholehearted. God has a plan and a place for us, and we must aim for that victor’s dais.

If you have read through the book of Judges, you will see that many battles took place, with God’s judges being the victors.  However, we read between the lines and see within each Judge the same battles against earthly things needed to go on and were going on.

One of the judges, Samson, the strongest man alive, put himself in a situation and was overcome spiritually; eventually being captured, weakened and blinded. His captors put out his eyes, so he could not see. However, he was not blinded for no reason.

It was God-allowed to show all who came after him, that even the strongest man alive, someone we all admire and all men would like to be, could be blind to the fact that he could fall like any man to the wiles of the devil.  The continual pestering of sin, in this case Delilah the prostitute, crying for days on end and asking for the secret of his strength, can wear us all down if we do not see it for what it is. Samson would not see his fault line and rectify it.

Only during the time in prison with no sight, was he able to reflect on that life defining choice. It is far better to reflect while we are whole and entire.

To put a deeper twist on it, the belligerent philistines, puppets of Satan, plucked out the sight of righteousness, put it in prison and bound it in stocks. They shut it down along with all righteous judgements.

On a larger scale, this is what happens to parliaments around the world whenever a form of righteousness gets in power.

The question is, in your own life, do you feel that has ever happened to the righteousness within you?  Do you feel just like this when you fall in a battle? When your desire for this life has weakened your strength to overcome the enemy at that time, and you have lost that battle?

This is a question God puts to us all about ourselves.

In the book of Romans, there are some challenges of a different kind.

If we are called to do ‘all’, then we are called to include ‘all’. For, if we try and ‘stand’ and have knowledge of spots in our garments, we will not stand tall or for very long.

Let’s look at chapter 14. Within that combination of scenarios lies some tests for us.

Just because we are in times of Grace, that does not remove the law, it simply helps us learn how to love it and keep it in our hearts, providing time to grow into these amazing principles.

Overcoming doubt – about what we stand for.

In this chapter, the Lord states that if we have a difficulty with eating certain meats, or meat at all for that matter, or prefer certain holy days, then that is the status of our heart and our understanding of scripture at that time. Therefore, at that time, if we eat those meats or do not hold those holy days sacred, then that is sin….to us.

It is then up to us to satisfy ourselves, by diligently searching out knowledge, that we are performing exactly what scripture tells us.

For instance, if we think pork is unclean and shouldn’t be eaten, then that is the state of our understanding. Our job is to then look through scripture (and not just the verses that support our current position) and earnestly pray about the topic, to ensure beyond reasonable doubt that that is the case for us. Then, when that is done, and we have not been convinced otherwise, pork is off our menu, like shellfish and other unclean foods.

Romans 14:23 “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

Likewise, if we consider a holy day, such as a Saturday or Sunday, as a spiritual day of rest, recuperation and time with God, then it is our duty to search scripture (and, again, not just the verses that support the position we want) and pray, and be convinced of the outcome. If then we think it is a holy day, then we must keep that day as firmly as it is written in scripture, otherwise it is sin to us.

On the other hand, if we are not entirely convinced it is meant to be kept, but feel a type of guilt if we don’t keep it, our job is to search scripture and pray, to obtain what we believe to be the truth, then keep that.

It is the same if we think seven days are holy, e.g. we have entered into that place of rest and peace with God for the entire week and given our whole lives over to rest in that peace, our job is then to ensure we maintain that rest and peace, and not backslide to live a life of anxiety for a few days and peace for the others, fooling ourselves.

That then becomes sin, as we have made a pact with the Lord but are not living up to it, and may not have realised that that is what we have done. Living a sloppy spiritual life is sin.

We must appreciate that if something is determined to be sin by God, it is sin. If we ourselves merely determine it is sin or not sin by doing some careless research, then that is sin in itself.

The passage containing our title line, And having done all, to stand, is preceded by some family and business behaviours (Eph 6:1-9) that the Apostle Paul would like us to adopt.

Following that, we come to the crux of how we stand according to this passage.

Ephesians 6: 10-18.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

There are keys in these verses which open for us a world of abilities to fight the good fight, and win.

What is ‘all’?

As children, our parents often told us to wash the dishes as it’s our turn tonight, saying, “and make sure you do them all”.

So, mum leaves the kitchen and returns 20 minutes later to check on our progress, only to find the basic dishes are done but pots and pans are left undone in a neat pile on the sink.  Something was obviously lost in interpretation, as ‘all’ from the parent clearly did not mean ‘all’ to the children.

Likewise, when we ask children to clean their rooms, and we inspect a short while later, only to find the bed is neatly made, but, everything else has been jammed under the bed. Again, ‘all’ was misinterpreted.

When the Lord our parent talks about ‘all’ in regard to the Armour of God, he really means ‘all’, because it’s in relation to standing strong in times of temptation.

Every earnest Christian wants to stand true and tall when temptation, spiritual battles and hardship comes, but there are things the Lord is telling us we must do to help us stand.

Because we are in this human life, there are challenges that will come against us. For instance, we get into arguments, we see things we should not see, we say things we should not say, and we meet people we wished we hadn’t; and things happen; and we often wonder how they happen.

It would be fantastic, once we become Born Again, to stand strong every minute of our life after that time: but we know from experience that we don’t!

Sometimes we fall!

What the Lord is suggesting is that there is a secret to standing, although it is not so secret having been written 2000 years ago.

Firstly, we are all called to be warriors. Although, it seems strange to follow a God of love and be called to war.  But we need to be warriors, as there are two kingdoms ever fighting against each other, and we have transacted from one to the other, and the first king want us back.

In Romans 12:1, the Lord asks us to hand over our bodies to become living sacrifices, relinquishing control and giving them to him. Which means we do that whilst we are in this living realm, whilst we are in this life. So, we are told to be warriors, not chickens.

As we read through the bible, we see a lot of God’s people have been called to be warriors. When the children of Israel came out of Egypt, after experiencing hell for hundreds of years, they thought, great, fantastic, we’ll grab our stuff and get ready for the trumpet blast, then march on to freedom and peace.

They marched out of Egypt toward the Red Sea and what they thought was peace; but when they looked behind themselves they could see a large cloud of dust following them. Pharoah had chosen 600 chariots of war to pursue them and punish them for having the audacity to depart from under his control.

This is how Satan views us today. He hates the fact that we have come out from under his regime. He hates it. That’s who we are battling today.

Upon that glance, the Israelites’ peace turned to terror, as they feared the worst. This was their first battle. They thought they came out to the desert for peace. They thought their departure from the brutality of Egypt was the final battle and end of their persecution. It was merely the beginning of a new type of battle.

We are only called to be warriors because we have an enemy. Once we are in heaven, we will have no more battles, as the final battle is against death on this side of our oxygen wall.  It is just in this life. So, we have to be prepared, and we have to do those things which the Lord tells us to do. He is so keen to get us to understand.

Satan is not immortal

Satan is not immortal. He might appear immortal sometimes when we fall, due to the temptations, however, he is not immortal.

Matt 25:41, Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

So, Satan has a very hot resting place, reserved for him by God himself. With that in mind, it is up to us to see our life through in a valiant manner.

“The power of his might”

If we have known and read about the Armour of God for so many years, how come we still fall?   Because we actually don’t know it!

Let’s look at each piece of armour individually.

Firstly, there is a system to this part of Paul’s letter. It commences with an encouragement, which is just what we all need when it comes to standing in battle.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.”

Occasionally we fall, and as we fall we tend to grab onto our might. Sometimes it’s hard to find out what the Lord’s might is and how to connect with his power. It can be difficult; but this comes from spending too much time in our human realm and not long enough in God’s realm. To consistently overcome we must be firmly attached to him, like a branch to a vine, clearly of the same rootstock. This helps us see our victory.

We can spend much time reading and praying, and wondering why we still don’t have success. It is because we do not combine it with belief. We read the bible hoping it will miraculously give us belief, not understanding that the belief comes from a decision we make. The metamorphosis take place over time after that clear decision to believe and follow has been made by us.

All warriors and athletes are called to visualise, which is an important part of their training to overcome psychological weaknesses and potential failures prior to a contest. For the Christian, we are to use identical principles.

Prov 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:…”

There has been some concern about visualisation, in the sense that it could be ungodly. This comes from the actual term, combined with some unfamiliarity of what it is.  The fact is, if we visualise failure in anything we do how can we ever achieve success. It is necessary for overcoming, and is simply a mental picture. We need to visualise the power of the Lord. We need to recognise AND acknowledge in our hearts and minds that God is above everything, and that he has the power; and that we are on his side.

If we are called to be strong in our bodies, what do we do?  We go to gym and lift heavy weights and eat accordingly, and we get to have a good physique.

If we are called to be strong in the mind, we read books and other material, and exercise our minds, absorbing all we can. We educate ourselves. We are never seen without some reading material in our hands.

So, when it comes to being strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, what do you think we need to be doing?

We need to be praising in victory and reading his precious Word; particularly the scriptures on overcoming. It means we should be going over the stories of all the battles and victories, and ‘thinking victory’ in our minds. That is the Lord’s encouragement.

When we look at scripture, it is full of encouragement, because God knows we have a battle before us. He knows that. He knows that a human life containing a godly spirit is a battleground, from the time we give ourselves over to him, until such time as we overcome.

In a very short time after God dispensed with Pharaoh’s chariots of hell, the Israelites found themselves without peace for a second time. However, the reason was the same; not having the faith to rest in the power of God; something necessary for all overcomers.

They were now blaming Moses and God for bringing them out into a desert place to die of starvation and dehydration. “Where is the food?” “Where is the water?”

Thankfully, there were two shining-light families that really saw the upcoming success, and who lapped up the victory, who ‘thought’ victory. The rest of them, the other 83%, kept getting depressed every step of the way. There was always a problem.

God gave them 40 years of punishment for this attitude. Because, when the original 12 spies went into the ‘promised’ land a short while after the Red Sea experience, ten of them returned with a negative report. It wasn’t a true report, it wasn’t a fact!  They went over in the strength of their human selves.

We know when we go up against Satan in our human strength, we see him bigger than he is, just like the faithless 83%!  Nevertheless, two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, went over in the power of the Lord and the power of his might; and they looked at the might of the giants of the land and found them small compared to the might of the Lord.

The negative mess we often find going on in our lives is also small when we challenge it in the power of the Lord; when we spy out the land — do an exercise on what humanness needs to be removed from us. What that land means today for us is the rest our lives — the rest of the time we have on this earth.

We look at it as a conquering exercise. We think of what we can do to give the holy spirit greater access into our life, into our soul, into our idiosyncrasies, into our weaknesses, into our failures, and lay ourselves down before him.

The Command: “Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil

When our God of peace instructs us to put on armour, it seems like a dichotomy. It looks at odds with itself — peace and armour?  Yet, when a country is well armed and ever-prepared for battle, few will challenge it. It is the same with us and our personal battles. When we adorn ourselves daily, hourly, minutely, with God’s armour, the challenges get less and less.

It has been said many times that there is no armour for the rear of the body.  This is primarily to ensure we don’t run away from the battle without receiving injury. Being shot in the back in times of war was something of which to be ashamed; and when the Lord, our commander who has fought the same battles and won, is instructing and encouraging us to fight the good fight, we are not supporting the bigger picture, that of an overcoming church and body of Christ, if we run.

We are commanded to engage the enemy. All through scripture, the Lord is telling us about what we DO NOT RECEIVE if we run.

For instance, 1 Corinthians 3, tells us that our eventual spiritual building will be burnt to the ground as if a bushfire had raged through it, if we run from the truth and build our own type of spiritual house.  Yes, this a different type of war, but having an ear to hear the truth is still war and requires the armour.  We scrape through with basic salvation, like a new baby Christian, but with no distinguishing signs of effort, nothing praiseworthy, nothing to glory in, nothing that would associate us as warriors of Christ, nothing to say we have actually followed him very far at all.

When we are a warrior, it is a requirement to return to the stories of Israel and its battles, as we see they only won battles when they were clean; they only won battles when they recognised and acknowledged their living saviour as the true chief warrior.

We are at war because the devil has wiles. He has a thousand ways he can trip us up and at times he seems to use every strategy against us at one time. You know, when we get to the stage of saying, “how could I possibly have done this again”, but I did! We feel as if we have failed God again.

We have to acknowledge that Satan works on our weaknesses and knows them intimately, so, it is very important for us to put on this armour simply to get through our Christian life every day — an overcomer’s day.

A Christian and an Overcomer are not two classes of believers. From the time of our spiritual birth we are called in scripture to adopt an overcomer’s approach.  We are to recognise that the whole armour is needed, because there are so many places under that armour where we are weak.

It is interesting that there is no armour for our mouth, being the origin of most of our community and family disruptions, or our eyes, also being regular point of weakness. Yet, when the armour is set up on us in the right manner and for the right purpose, as God has instructed, we find our mouths will only release sweet water not bitter, love instead of dissention, wisdom instead foolishness, and joy instead of downheartedness; and our decisions, our judgements or choices, are found to be righteous and not according to what we initially see.

James 3:11, “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?”

John 7:24, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment

The war we are fighting is unlike anything else on this earth. This is the strangest battle in the history of the world.

Wars as we know them are generally about land or what is in the land, such as minerals. Someone will have possession of that land, and other people who want it use force to take it, or are defeated in the attempt. One commander has control of the land, whilst the other commander doesn’t, yet!  These wars are simple and easy to understand.

What is different with our everyday battles — these odd contests we seem to have against ourselves —is that the enemy commander appears to have control of all our own senses. It is more like a peculiar internal coup than a war.  It would be a great plot for a novel.

In our war, we clinically call our bodies, minds and hearts the ‘territory’, yet in reality, they our senses. Firstly, our inner senses — our deeper stuff of thoughts and feelings (emotions), then our bodily senses, such as our sight, our touch, our taste, our hearing, and our sense of smell.

When we get saved and commence our walk of holiness, trying to bring these senses under the control of the Holy Spirit, we begin to see the bizarreness involved here, as these senses are so powerful that any one of them can be used mightily for good or evil; and yet, they are parts of our own makeup.

It is a war against ourselves, and it is the most difficult battle of all. Hence, God said, greater is he who can rule his own spirit than he who can take a city (or country). We only appreciate this comment when we have failed a number of times to overcome in an area of our life, and realise the seriousness of the coup.

In our coup, it is the evil commander who has control of our ‘city’, and the good commander is the one bringing eternal peace and prosperity to it, if he can win. The evil commander who has initial control of our ‘city’, oddly wants it destroyed through sin. He firstly wants it to be a place of filth, depravity and disease, and then he wants us to finally die outside Christ, as quickly as he can get us to hell. On the other hand, the good commander is fighting to bring cleanliness, righteousness and a holy attitude to it, and make us live like never before.

Sin and pain

If sin were a great bodily pain, a severe pain we felt all day every day, we would render ourselves over to the Holy Spirit immediately and never return to sin. Yet sin presents itself with such sweetness, like a Trojan horse delivering a bunch of flowers. Often, before we have realised it is there, it is inside our being and destroying us from the inside.

Sin does not signal a warning like a sprained ankle, which, when we feel the pain we immediately do something to alleviate that pain. This is the Trojan horse effect of sin. Sin appears as if it is the right thing to do at the time. It cunningly disguises itself as a medication or solution to a problem, regardless of what type of sin or fault. When the medication wears off, the pain comes later in the form of guilt, after we have sinned or gone outside the Lord’s boundaries.

This Trojan horse can turn up on our doorstep many times in one day, and in many forms. As the Lord says, don’t boast of tomorrow, as each day has enough trouble of its own to keep us busy as warriors.

So, we see the need for a warrior’s vigilance in our lives. Our job is to stand on the watchtower over our own lives, and try and see the enemy coming from afar. This means we look at ‘tomorrow’ before we go to bed the previous night, and work out our next day, strategising where the enemy might be able Trojan horse us —where he might try and trip us up.

Once upon a time I heard a story of a committed Christian who is also department manager. He was resting at home with a broken ankle. Life was going well for him…until the Tax Office contacted his employer while he was away, asking very specific questions about his employment.

They wanted to verify some claims he had made, such as for his home office, home phone, personal car, and whether it was a company requirement to wear a uniform. You see, he had claimed for all these things when he already had them at work. He was tempted by the Trojan horse, and took the bait.

From there, the company’s initial response was to tell the truth. But then the broken-ankled manager rang the company employee who responded to the Tax Office questions and screamed at her with verbal abuse; then rang his boss. Suddenly, the company changed its response, delivering a modified version. It got involved in the lie, and lied for him trying to assist a valued employee.  They wouldn’t have done the same for every employee, but they did for this one. This made them accomplices in the lie. They were complicit in the apparent deceit. The Tax Office was only beginning to investigate this claim when I heard the story, but it was clear they do not believe his claims or the company’s modified verification.  Due to this modification, the company could easily have been prosecuted if it were found that the claims are false.

On hearing this, I recalled two poems I heard many years ago:

O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive” 

To err is human, but this you must learn, don’t be human on your tax return

I can here you now, tut, tut, tutting, and saying, “that wouldn’t have happened to me”. However, let’s not judge the department manager or the company boss like the pharisees would judge, as there is a trap laid for all of us in areas we are not so strong, and it is simply another reminder of what could happen to us if we let our guard down and walk outside the Lord’s boundaries.

The warrior is to be exemplary in these types of dealings, and this warrior wasn’t. This warrior fell. We are all guilty of some weakness. This was one of his areas of weakness, the trap had been laid, and Satan was waiting.

Ephesians 5:3, “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;”

The deceit of both the department manager and the company had now been named among both the saints and non-believers, and they will ever been remembered by some for this, regardless of what honour the might have bestowed upon them in the future.

Seeing through Satan’s plan

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but

1          against principalities

2          against powers

3          against the rulers of the darkness of this world

4          against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Four is the number for solidity (a chair or table has four legs, there are four tyres on a car, we have four unchanging seasons every year, etc), and we see whom we wrestle against has a very solid foothold over the wickedness of this world. Therefore, not only do we need to deal with our own matters in this life, but also of those who affect us.

Sometimes we see wrong people in high places. We see countries that are ruled by despots; we see people in our own governments that seem to be working against what God has ordained or is good for the country, and it is upsetting. However, we must realise we do not wrestle again flesh and blood — the people in these positions.

That is why so many of the martyrs could say — like Stephen when he was stoned to death — ‘lay this charge not at their feet Lord but forgive them.’  Stephen understood the principalities and powers at work that took charge of the Pharisees and others who stoned him.

We, like Stephen, need to maintain the knowledge of where this battle originates. We need to be on our knees with a healthy prayer life, being able to pour out our hearts to God in our secret place. It is so important to living a spiritual life and so important to our overcoming, because it keep us in touch, it keeps us intimate with the living saviour.

We must understand that there is an evil force at work above the guy down the road who persecutes us, or the Premier or Prime Minister of the day who brings in wrong policies, or the policeman of the day who lies on his statements, or the judge who didn’t do right.

Grasping these issues is part of the combat for which we are to be prepared. It is not against ordinary human beings. We must see that the fight is bigger than that, so we can extricate that anger, bitterness and hatred for people who do us wrong from our hearts and focus the fight on where it is meant to be. Then we pray against those principalities and powers that are in the realm we cannot see, and engage the battle in the right theatre.

Satan loves the fact that he can remain hidden pulling the strings, while we human beings fight against each other, and sometimes to the death, with no idea that he is plotting and controlling the brutality and carnage from his hidden realm.

The Result: that ye may be able to withstand in that evil day !

Sometimes we think that the evil day is up ahead, but we know that the evil day is exactly the day where you are going to be tempted. That is the evil day. That is the day of temptation.

Standing like a warrior is different to everyday life. When you see the guards outside Buckingham Palace, standing to attention for their entire shift, marching vigilantly up and down, or standing at the box. They represent someone who is alert and protective, not slothful. They do all to stand, and then they do it again the next day.

They are superbly trained in being able to stand and be diligent, despite the sometimes crippling elements of the day, the hot uniform, the bearskin hat. Every ten minutes or so, they walk up and down in front of his sentry box. They are alert. Do they have feelings about the uncomfortable uniform or the huge hat, or the onlookers who constantly take photos? Of course, they do, but they are trained to deny feelings — to overcome them — until their shift is over.

Our training comes in the form of reading and hearing sound doctrine, not unsound doctrine, of which there is much, and learning to become obedient to it whilst denying ourselves, as the Queen’s warriors do.

There are plenty of things we can do to overcome the weaknesses that we have; that desire to strike back when we have been hurt; the desire to argue when we should show peace; the desire to look at things that are not meant for a Christians eyes; and all those desires and lusts that come upon us as human beings. If we can just have enough strength to call upon the living saviour in our time of trouble we will win that battle. If you do that enough times, it is written that Satan will flee from you!

So, there is a time when this lust will cease, when these desires will cease, if we stand strong enough for long enough!

Quite often, that is not a long time. The Lord has given us that promise. It is not as if we need to feel we will fall into temptation or remain a failure for the rest of our lives in a particularly weak area. On the contrary, the Lord has given us a promise and the armour that goes with it, and he has given us a timeframe, and therefore we have an escape route.

There are many evil days ahead for the Christian. We know this because we have read it in our bible, which was written 2000 years ago. We think we are in the end days, but 2000 years ago, in the time of Christ and after his death, those followers of Christ thought the same.

For the 1200 years, until the reformation, Europe didn’t have a bible. They didn’t have a free word of God. Every bible was either hidden or destroyed by the Roman priests, and the ordinary believer needed to go to the priest for the understanding of biblical things. They couldn’t simply open a bible in their lounge rooms and have a bible study, like we today. There was no bible! They were dark days.

Furthermore, at the times following the death of Christ, Christians were being slaughtered for fun. Caesar (the president or Prime Minister of that era) would persecute them by burning some of them alive, and it seemed to be a game of who can think up the worst manner of death for them, then fulfil it.

In our day, there are troubles which come upon the believer, and that trouble has come from the time Adam and Eve were removed from the garden and Satan coerced Cain to kill his brother. Therefore, it is sound wisdom for us to recognise the full value of the armour, and adorn ourselves with it daily in a very real way, and then ‘standing’ in the heat of battle.

The Individual Parts: Loins girt about with truth

When I was 15 I practiced Karate. It was then I learned that a lot of our strength to throw people, to counteract, to throw punching and other moves, came from the loins area, around the hips and core.

The Bible references two types of loins. One type is the source of strength of a warrior, as above, but the other relates to sexual issues. It is the second type I want to focus on here.

In Strongs concordance G3751, loins refer to the hips but also to ‘procreative power’.

Luke 12:34-36, “for where your treasure is, there your heart be also. Let your loins be girded about and lights burning

So, when we are talking about our ‘loins being girt about with truth’, the subject is about truth on the inward parts; our sexual thoughts covered by truth.

In some bible versions, this principle is misinterpreted as the ‘’belt of truth’. It would seem strange to have our loins girded about with a belt and our lights burning, wouldn’t it? The phrase would then appear ridiculous. It would be like having a shoulder bag on and our lights burning, or a pair of shoes on and your light burning; but when the Lord is talking about procreative power, he is referring to sexual thoughts which may come into our minds whilst we are ministering. I am not referring only to sexual perversions and a wayward sexual mind, but even to sexual thoughts within marriage. There is no room for entertaining sexual thoughts of your wife or husband when your mind should be entirely on and for the Lord.  Those thoughts that should be consigned to the appropriate time and place.

How can you pray for someone else when your mind is on yourself? How can you counsel someone while your mind is in the bedroom? How can you pray for wisdom when dealing with others’ issues when, at that time, your mind is not fully engaged and in tune with the Lord to receive that wisdom? In instances such as these, it is like being on the phone to the Lord, then hanging up abruptly, as you commence a conversation with your sexual self. It does not work, and neither should it. Satan will be trying hard at this stage to throw our minds off the Lord, and we need to be aware of that.

The Old Testament High Priest wore nine garments. The very first garment to be put on was a pair of breeches, which basically went from the belly-button to the lower thigh.

Exodus 28:42,”and thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness, from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach”.

The High Priests were not allowed to minister if they were not wearing the breeches. It was a physical covering which represented the covering over of sexual thoughts. A priest who dared to minister without this hidden garment was to die, slain by God himself; which gives us an idea of the weight of this atrocity from God’s perspective. In our situation, we never know when we will be called upon to minister, and therefore, like a good warrior, we should be prepared in season and out of season.

Ex 20, “though shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife”. The High Priest should be exemplary in this principle at all times, not simply when ministering, and we are called to that level, not something lower.

Also, Matt 5, where Christ warned us not to burn with lust on the inside, where it can’t be seen. Christ said, If you have thought it, then you have done it.

That is because we, as priests, are to have a pure mind without spot. This means no spots or weepings, as in the case of a leper’s sore. We are instructed by Christ, as of one who walked that path before us and knowing what is required, to have that spiritual loin cloth on and our loins girt about with truth, as he did.

The sacrificial lambs of the Old Testament had their legs and inward parts washed prior to being offered. Doesn’t this tell us something?

The individual Parts: The Breastplate of Righteousness

The breastplate shields the heart. It covers it completely. In the Old Testament, the High Priest wore a breastplate which did the same. Although, that one had 12 precious jewels embedded, representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Each gem had the name of one of the sons of Jacob engraved on it.

Being practically indestructible (or everlasting), it seems to carry the meaning of an everlasting ministry of bringing these names before God. This is also one of our roles in the New Testament priesthood. God sees these names engraved on our hearts, knowing our prayers and heart’s desire is toward God’s Israel.

In these days where much of the media and United Nations appears to hate Israel and favour their enemies, and many of those in ‘left wing Christianity’ think and speak the same, God wants to see his ardent followers on the side of His precious Israel.

Matthew 5:10, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God”.

Sometimes we can think we put the Breastplate of Righteous on, and from that point we don’t experience any persecution. However, if we stand for righteousness, we will always be persecuted due to the human desires of those that aren’t saved, and even due to other christians who do not understand the righteousness God desires. Little by little it is being eroded, and we seem to be coming to a time when wrong is considered righteous, and righteousness is outlawed.

Nevertheless, we press on.

Matthew 5:6 states, “Blessed are those which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled”. When we are “filled”, means we are now talking about a warrior filled with the Holy Spirit. We are talking about strength.

Around the Tabernacle in the Old Testament there was a white sheet. In the Bible, white represents righteousness, so we see that heart of the children of Israel, deep within the compound of the Tabernacle building, represented by the Holy of Holies, was surrounded by white righteousness. So, we see the Breastplate of Righteousness mentioned in Ephesians does the same for us today, and has some hidden and wonderful significance when we look through our scriptures.

However, the heart hides many things, and we see a desperate need for that righteousness; not to cover wrong things up, but to cleanse. A heart can hide our real feelings, our real intentions, because it is hidden. We can cheerfully say hello to someone and yet hate or despise them at the same time, can’t we?

When our boss asks us if we stole that item off the shelf, and we look him in the eye and say, No. We can hide that we did. It hides our real weaknesses. Yet, if we are seeking true righteousness, then those weaknesses will be turned into strengths.

Deuteronomy 4:29, “But if from thence thou shall seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, IF thou seek him with all thine heart and with all thy soul.” 

So, when we find him, that is the time of the filling, and we find we now have the ability to stand.

Righteousness is vital, not simply as a ‘spiritual garment’, but as a true representation of what is in our hearts.

The Individual Parts: And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace

Again, it seems odd that, on one hand, the Lord is calling us to be warriors but, at the same time, he is calling us to peace.

When I first think of warriors, I think of that movie, 300, of the Spartans and their battle at Thermopylae, and the brutality of a real war. Peculiarly, we glorify war until we have been involved in one. Then there is no glorification anymore.

When we read in Pilgrim’s Progress, about some of the battles the Pilgrim had as he walked on his spiritual journey, and how defeated he seemed to be when he realised he had been duped again, beckoned on by others to venture down dead-end roads to hell. Neglecting to shod ourselves with peace is similar to the Pilgrim’s story, as anger and anxiousness are dead-end roads. This is why the Lord instructs us not to be anxious and not to let unnecessary anger abide within.

It is a maturity to be able to walk in peace when there is war around us. We cannot have peace in our hearts if we do not believe that God is reigning over every part of our lives. Even when we have messed up, God can still turn that mess around and make good of it, if he sees a change in our heart.  Yes, just like the prodigal son!

He illuminates this in the book of Daniel, in the Old Testament, that when Daniel began to chasten himself, God was already answering his prayers. It is that simple to get ourselves back in favour with God and working with him instead of against him. Meekness is a character quality, and it is not weakness, and so important for that blessed relationship. It is like have fire contained in a firebox; it is power harnessed. There is no need to yell. We display peace. A continued identity of peace allows other people around us to have peace, doesn’t it?

When a friendly dog comes up to us wagging his tail, we can’t help patting it and enjoying its company. Yet, when we come across a dog that is snarly, we don’t want to go anywhere near it. That is the same with human beings.

When we are at peace, people see us as the friendly dog, and they are always happy to see us. On the other hand, if we represent a snarly dog, where other’s do not know whether we will lick or bite, we do not represent Christ. Can you imagine the disciples ever saying about Jesus, “I wonder what mood he is in today?”

Matthew 5:9, it is written, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God”, his offspring.

The Lord is calling us to have the gospel of peace in our hearts. So, when we walk, we are not walking with swords of belligerence drawn ready for an argument, we are not looking for a battle, we are not interested in verbal slanging matches, we are walking in persuasive peace.

In the book of Proverbs, it says a soft answer turns away wrath, so if we find ourselves on the cusp of an argument that we cannot get out of, quite often a soft answer will create the peace required to lower the steam in our environment.

The Individual Parts: Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked

When we think of a shield we mostly think of metal, or perhaps the Nguni shields of the Zulu, made from cow or ox hide. However, the shield the Lord is suggesting we arm ourselves with and use will quench fiery darts or arrows. How does metal quench?

Again, we see this strange phraseology of the Lord. Shields are not made to quench, but to withstand blows from an immediate enemy, either in hand-to-hand combat or from the raining of arrows from afar. In a typical battle where warriors would use arrows and shields, the archers are usually distant, relying heavily on that distance to defeat or reduce the capacity of the shield holders, without being injured or killed themselves.

We see from movies how important the shield is in a battle. It can be swung around to defend from wherever the heat of battle is coming from. However, once dropped, the warrior is immediately exposed to all sorts of injuries, and possibly death, from many angles. It is the same for a Christian.

Of course, one does not become expert in wielding a shield overnight, even a shield of Faith. It takes training. The more training we get the better defenders of ourselves and others we become. To commence training, we simply need to pick the shield up and start using it. The more we use it the more proficient we become as warriors, and the less Satan can pick us off.  How do we actually use this spiritual shield? How do we fight against this spiritual enemy that seems to know us better than we know ourselves? planning! We use the 5 P’s of industry: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

When you fall in battle, do not feel bad about yourself, simply get up and keep marching forward. You will feel wounded for a time, but keep going and heal.

When we fall in battle, we simply get duped. Satan knows and understands our patterns, so he ambushes us with a thought (fiery dart) at the right time. You might think, that is too simple, that we would be able to see it.  Well, we don’t see it because we Christians, like other people, are drenched in habits. These are the thinkings and doings of a repetitive nature.

Like a robber, Satan just waits for us to venture down the same old pathways of thought and action, and, most times, he robs us at the same spot every time, and we are not awake to the robbery until much later. Those pathways represent the way we habitually think and act when certain matters present themselves before us. Therefore, the more our habits resemble those of our Saviour, the less likely we are to be duped.

If you are being attacked often and falling, start developing habits like Christ had. Read in the Gospels about what he did on a daily basis and begin doing likewise. You will be amazed at the strength you get in a short time. Then make that your repetitive nature.

Water quenches fiery darts! So, here we see the water of the Word of Ephesians 5 coming into our image of defence. If we have developed habits of not reading our Bible and/or not believing what it states, then we find we are weak when the times for strength is needed. If we do not believe God in both the good times and the hard times, we remain weak. If we do not let the Word wash out our stains and dirt from our daily journey and renew our strength ready for the night time and next day, we remain weak.

The Holy Spirit can extinguish anything that shouldn’t be alight in our hearts and minds; that means, any and every fiery dart of the wicked. The more understanding of the Holy Spirit we have, and the more we let him into those hidden areas of our life, the less anxious we will be in hard times.  Faith (and trust) comes by hearing and following the word of God.

We take that shield of faith, and trust the Lord in whatever he is doing in our lives; we need to trust that he is the ruler over our life and give him that position and opportunity. As Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him”. Can we say that? I know Christians who have not been able to say that. I’ve heard of stories of people in airplanes; one minute they’re journeying merrily across the sky, next minute the plane is hurtling down toward the earth, and all these merry people having fun have turned on God, swearing and cursing him because they are now going to die.

In times like that, the Christian should be the most peaceful in that airplane whether they die or not die; whether saved from the wreck, or not. We should take that shield of faith against everything that will come up against us, especially fear.

Faith and Trust are co-joined, closer than a husband and wife. One goes where the other goes. We cannot say we have faith when, in times of trouble we do not trust that God will see us through. In that instance, we sever Faith from Trust in our hearts.

What God has brought together let no man put asunder; yet, our unbelief does just that!

We can and should trust the Lord…in our hearts. Sometimes we don’t trust him because we simply lack the ability to trust, because we are too busy looking at our current circumstances.

If we can look far beyond those circumstances. to where the Lord is taking us, we can have trust in him to the degree that, whatever the problem is, he has the answer. He wants us to trustingly follow his son.

The individual parts: Take the helmet of salvation

This helmet obviously covers our mind. Which means everything we think must come under obedience to Christ.

When Joshua took over the promised land, the Lord said to him, ‘little by little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land:

So, once saved, once we have given our lives to Christ and have the Holy Spirit within us, the Holy Spirit’s job is then to drive out all wickedness in our thoughts and actions and bring them unto the obedience of Christ. This may seem like a simple thing for someone so powerful as the Holy Spirit, however, he can only do that as we hand over authority to him, and not take it back from time to time. We are in charge of allowing the change to happen.

Like Joshua in the promised land, the Holy Spirit can only do that within us little by little.  What’s one reason for this? We know how hard it is just to keep our mouths shut when we want to get angry and say the wrong things on the odd occasion, so how difficult is it for him to take over every thought and word that comes out of our mouths all day and night?

However, it is not impossible. With humans it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. If we’re a bit feisty, or come from an argumentative or ‘fisticuffs’ culture, or any background that has defied Christ in the past, we just need to keep stepping toward that answer; keep stepping toward God, who is waiting there for us. That is all we need to do, keep stepping forward one step at a time. Learn and apply, learn and apply.

When the prodigal son returned home from his pigswill lifestyle; back to the father who was waiting there for him in love and hope every single day; all he did was put one step in front of the other until he made it home. All that time, he had many thoughts swirling around in his head, but he never lost the direction in which he was heading. When the Lord is calling us to stand, that is all we need to do; one decision at a time, in the right direction, until we get that rebellious nature out of our lives. Praise the Lord for the things that he does!

On the Tabernacle of the Old Testament, the external posts were made of brass, which refers to our human judgements. There were 60 brass posts holding up that white surrounding curtain. As we know, white stand for righteousness. But, on top of each brass post was a silver cap. Why wouldn’t the Lord put a brass cap on a brass post?

The Lord put those silver caps on for a reason. He wanted them to stand out as some sort of beacon. He wanted a statement to be made very clear to all who saw them. Also, these posts had small silver attachments (called hooks and fillets) near the top of the posts which are significant to holding up the curtains.

When we look at it, these posts are like our judgements, or decisions. They hold up our righteousness every day. On the other hand, without them, the righteousness in our decisions falls. We understand this principle from our own experience and the importance of the choices we make.

The concept here is that our thoughts (and following words and actions) should come under obedience to the word of Christ. In our lives under Jesus Christ, these redemptive-silver hooks and fillets should be strong and securely attached to all our decisions. When this occurs, our righteousness is consistent, and we become a beacon of strong, balanced and dependable hope and guidance for others.

The Individual Parts: The Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God

Years ago, Christians used to memorise bible verses, as it was a normal part of a Christian life. On the whole, we don’t do it a lot these days, and neither do we Christians indulge in deep bible reading, which was also a part of a believer’s life. Some ministers of the gospel now use jelly for sermons. It is not good food. Therefore, it is always encouraging when we find people say, “now, you get into your ‘Word’ and find it out for yourself.”

This structured part of a believer’s life is vital, because the Sword of the Spirit is the word of God, and you don’t know the word of God then you are fighting the ruler of the darkness of this world with a little sword as useless as a kitchen knife, and it doesn’t work.

Sometimes, when we have a battle, and we’ve won the battle, and we are on top of that mountain of victory, instead of going from there back into the war room or armoury to sharpen our sword for the next battle, we actually put it down and bask in our triumph. Right then and there, Satan comes in and he blind-side’s us. Have you ever found that? I have noticed that in my life. After every victory, there is a challenge immediately. So, we need to see the Christian’s battles are not as a beginning and a finish, but a beginning, a middle, then another beginning, as suggested by the iconic Australian runner, Steve Moneghetti, which is how he viewed his running life. One run after the next.

Our battles are similar. We get to a stage where we just enjoy doing that.

The individual parts: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Now, supplication in the spirit does not reflect two-minute prayers, although, there are times for those. We are trying to move things in the spirit world and alter a current situation, whether for ourselves or others. It is therefore necessary to think the issue through prior to offering our prayers.

Eccles 5:2 states, “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” 

Therefore, in supplication, we approach the throne of God intelligently and with the respect due our King and God.

Other times we should be praying and praising in the spirit all day. For instance, at work, we can do this under our breath quietly to ourselves, mumbling away to God. Other’s might think we are talking to ourselves, but we’re not. We can talk to the living saviour, as he is right beside us. He is closer than a brother.

Do you recall that movie, War Room? That was ‘supplication’. We were shown the woman’s War Room, and saw the wall covered in petitions for people and herself. That is the supplication spoken of as a tool in our armoury!

‘Watching’ shows the alertness of the good warrior within us. Strong’s Concordance (G69) interprets it using the word, “sleepless”. This gives us an idea of the vigilance required on our ‘watch’. We go back to those soldiers surrounding Buckingham Palace, and see they are always on the alert. They appear to be looking one direction, but they are trained in peripheral vision, and they watch with all perseverance.

We’re called likewise, to watch with all perseverance and supplication — for all saints. So, we see that our backs that have no armour are being protected by our brother’s and sister’s in Christ through their supplication. The word does not say to watch with all perseverance and supplication for ourselves. It says, “for all saints”. It is the old adage of watching another’s back. It happens in war, football, and life, and anywhere true co-warriors and friends are found.

My job is to watch your back, and your job is to watch mine. We’re meant to be raising up petitions to the living saviour on behalf of others who are on our prayer list, as well as those who pop into our lives for a very short time.

Summary – Finale  

Every Christian is called to be a warrior. Nobody comes to the Lord and gets a free ride. We are not our own, and we are in the battle as soon as we begin our first repentance. The first attack may come from our unsaved family, who do not understand what we have just done.

During the course of our life we are meant to go through many experiences, just like our Saviour, Jesus, so we can then truly say, “I know how you feel, keep going”. God almighty has proclaimed the way forward, and it is a way of hardship and endurance, but with joy of we can acknowledge the benefits of the trial. All good leaders have walked the path before those that come after. Only thieves and robbers ask others to do what they haven’t. Shepherd leaders go through the gate first.

Scripture states, the desert shall blossom like a rose, therefore, difficult times are inescapable before the blossom. Sometimes we will be dejected, despising, hated, and rejected. We will experience disease and even deaths of loved ones, and yet, we are still called to rise up, to stand in the face of all that.

To get through these beleaguering’s, our armour is the best defence we have. It is God ordained, being developed and presented to us by His Majesty through the Holy Ghost. It works!

There is a war phrase which says that attack is the best form of defence. As children of the living God, we shouldn’t be fearing the enemy, we should be taking that sword out and swing it. Attack!

Often, the best thing we can do is commence praising the Lord out loud and thanking him for the upcoming victory, even though we don’t feel like it at that time. This type of response attacks the enemy who hates us having any victory, and hates even more the praises for him who he is trying to replace!

We should be able to swing the battle, because the blood of Jesus creates that ability to overcome in every situation. The Lord is on our side and goes before us in the battle, but we must STAND.

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