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Part Three

The Believer’s Armor and the Spiritual Battle

Ephesians 6:11; “Wile” #2

God’s word exhorts us to be “...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). We are to keep our eyes on Jesus and not to become unwisely preoccupied with Satan and his kingdom. It would also be foolish to adopt the other extreme and not become knowledgeable about the enemy whom we are sure to encounter. In II Cor. 2:11, Paul encourages us by his example to not let Satan “get an advantage of us” and to be “not ignorant of his devices.” It is wise to know something of the enemy.

According to John 8:44, Satan was a murderer from the beginning and he is the father of lies. I Peter 5:8; He is like a lion, walking about seeking whom he may devour. Rev. 12:10; He accuses the brethren before God, day and night. He is not to be considered an all-around nice guy or passed off as a fairy tale. Ephesians 6, tells us that we are fighting not only a spiritual battle, but also an actual one.

Wile #2. Satan tries to make it difficult for us to live the Christian life. The following are 3 of the ways in which this goal is attempted.

1. Through Persecution: While vindicating his apostleship to the Corinthian church (II Cor. 11:23-28), Paul reiterates some of the persecutions which he endured (II Cor. 11:23-28) for the gospel’s sake (I Cor. 9:23). He said that he was willing to “...suffer all things lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ” (I Cor. 9:12). His attitude toward the price he paid by his suffering is summed up in Romans 8:18; “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.”

We have yet to suffer the persecution that characterized the early church or even the church in some countries today. In spite of this relative ease, we frequently sell out, or chicken out at the least hint of mild persecution. History tells us that when there is persecution, the true church grows (Acts 8:1-4).

We are told in I Peter 4:12,13, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

The night before Jesus’ crucifixion, He left His disciples with the exhortation to bear fruit (John 15:1-16), a warning about future persecution, 14:18-25), and the promise of the Comforter, God’s Holy Spirit, who would come to be with them and to dwell in them (15:26-16:15). In regard to the upcoming persecution He stated, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you... ye are not of the world... therefore the world hateth you... The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:18-20).

Some of the most difficult persecution to endure is that from those we love, whether it be family or fellow-believers. Jesus knows the feeling as He was rejected by His own people (John 1:11), and He lamented over Jerusalem who rejected Him (Matt. 23:37). Sometimes taking a loving stand for Christ will result in mockery or rejection from family. Salvation is very costly, but is free to the believer (Eph 2:8,9; Rom 5:8; 6:23). True discipleship is costly for the disciple (John 15:8; Matt. 16:24). He must love Jesus more than anyone else (Luke 14:26; Matt. 10:37; John 21:15-17).

A wife need not fear when her husband puts Christ first in his life. As he loves and obeys Christ in the Biblical manner (II John 6a), he will also love and honor his wife in a Godly manner (Eph. 5:25; I Pet. 3:7). If we have not endured persecution for the sake of Christ, perhaps we have not taken a consistent enough stand for Him. (This statement is not meant to encourage ungodly actions on our part  which would bring persecution) (I Pet. 4:15).

2. Through Peer Pressure: Following the raising of Lazarus from the dead, many of the Jews believed on Jesus (John 11:45, 12:11), along with many of the chief rulers. John 12:42, presents a sad commentary concerning them and their wimpy character as men and rulers: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.” I wonder what they think of their decision now.

We seem to be so starved for acceptance by our peers that we seek to pay almost any price to be conformed to the world system in which live. Romans 12:1,2, tells us not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We make daily decisions.  It takes courage to stand up for Christ when we are swimming against the current, but God tells us to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” As we are faithful, He provides the power to be used. Not only will we be blessed, but God will get the glory.

The One whose acceptance we should seek is the One Who bought and paid for us (I Pet. 1:18; I Cor. 6:19,20). Positionally, we are already accepted through Christ (Eph. 1:6). Eternal life is a gift but we can earn rewards in addition to that. The acceptance of our labors in relation to rewards is based on our faithfulness (II Cor. 5:9,10; Rom. 12:1,2).

The Apostle Paul had been faithful to his Savior and was able to make these closing remarks to a fellow believer, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” II Tim. 4:6-8). All the laud of man during a lifetime will pale in comparison to the eternal value of “Well done, thou good and faithful servant...” (Matt. 25:21).

3. Through Peaceful Preoccupation: Hebrews 12:1, tells us that we are to lay aside not only our sin which besets us, but to also lay aside every weight. We tend to put a lot of effort into nice but unproductive pursuits. We major in minor things. If the Titanic is sinking, let us not worry about installing new curtains. Let us save the people. Do not get sidetracked from our goal. Satan’s ministers are ministers of righteousness (II Cor. 11:15), He deceives the unsaved by presenting a “good works” salvation which cannot save. He deceives some believers by presenting good-sounding efforts that feel good and look good but are not really based upon obedience to God.

I believe that some of the modern-day tongues movement fits into this category. Some of the people involved in this activity are sincere believers and feel that they are truly worshiping God. The Bible is clear that most of what we see of “speaking in tongues” today does not coincide with the Bible description (i.e. a known language, Acts 2:6-11). Satan cannot make a saved person become unsaved but he can influence him to become unproductive. He is content if a believer thinks he is worshiping or obeying God as long as he actually is not. Do not be deceived. We must judge our actions and experience by God’s word, not vice versa.  

The Parable of the Sower tells of a segment of believers who, “heard the word; and the care of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, chokes the word, and he becometh unfruitful” Matt. 13:22). They claimed some good-sounding excuses for not being fruitful. God’s requirement for His servants is not “excuses.” It is “faithfulness” I Cor. 4:2).

In some ways America is a more difficult place to live an obedient Christian life than in countries where there is active persecution. The general attitude is that Christianity that is not too radical or intrusive is OK. In some cultures a believer looks, acts, and smells better than the world. There is not a whole lot of external difference between an average believer and the normal nice average American (See Rev. 3:15,16). There should be a difference (II Cor. 6:17; John 13:35; I Thess. 5:22; If you were God looking for a faithful worker, would you hire yourself?

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