by Pastor Tim Burt
In Israel, all young men and women have to become part of the IDF—the Israel Defense Force, after school and before college. Israel is a nation surrounded by nations that hate them and this is a part of how they have survived as a nation. Their young adult men and woman are thoroughly trained in warfare because they have to be. Their enemies are always plotting to destroy them. In the Wall Street Journal, an article was written that said, “Last June, Palestinian television broadcast a sermon in a Gaza mosque in which the imam, Ibrahim Madi made the following statement: "God willing, this unjust state Israel will be erased…” This has been in some way by countless leaders over the years. It is for this very reason the Israelis have to be trained in warfare and constantly on alert. These are not empty threats.
Israel seems to know its natural enemies better than Christians know their spiritual enemies. As Christians, we should be aware of a very serious enemy in our lives. Like Israel, we are surrounded by enemies. Not enemies that we can see with our natural eyes, but demonic influences designed to destroy our lives. Jesus said that Satan's agenda was to kill, steal, and destroy. And we see evidence all around us!
Does that seem like an exaggeration? Think of the confusion, oppression, hatred, and violence this is in our country—a country viewed by most, as better than most. The Apostle Paul wanted to teach us how to deal with spiritual warfare and wrote this: Ephesians 6:10-13 NKJV, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you 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 heavenly places. Therefore take unto you the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
Demonic influences are real. They operate in the earth. That is what the Apostle Paul was saying when he said, “We don’t fight flesh and blood,” meaning don’t make people your enemies. He said, “…but principalities and powers and rulers of the darkness”—those are Satanic and demonic influences.
The devil isn’t something we have to be afraid. He is someone God wants us to be aware of. When we know God's word and are living for the Lord, we'll know how to discern the enemies efforts to come against us. That is the point of Paul’s teaching. We are to learn to discern and identify the devil’s attacks on our lives so... “…that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
I want to focus on one piece of that warfare today because it's an area that most Christians are attacked in and wrestle with—the area of guilt and condemnation. Paul taught in Ephesians 6:14-17 “... having put on the breastplate of righteousness…”
We are taught to “put on the breastplate of righteousness.” Pay attention. I want you to get this! This is a spiritual truth that is imperative to take hold of. Are you ready? You will never be good enough to do everything right and pleasing to God in your own efforts. God cares that we make every effort to live by the standard of His word. At the same time, He knows that without the power and help of the Holy Spirit, and without being freed from the condemnation and guilt we deserve, we would feel condemned and give up trying. Jesus did for us what we cannot do in ourselves. Jesus made our righteousness a gift. We are to wear it as a breastplate so that when the devil looks for our cracks and finds us falling short and tries to condemn us, we can stand tall on the promise of God's Word. Our righteousness—our right standing with God is a gift to us through Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV reveals this saying, “God made Jesus who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Satan uses our failures and imperfection as a weapon to shame us and make us feel condemned and to undermine our faith. He wants us to feel worthless and unworthy of God’s love. So let’s settle that now. You and I ARE unworthy of God’s love in our own efforts. But, it’s not about our righteousness. It’s about His righteousness within us. That is the meaning behind “putting on the breastplate of righteousness.” That spiritual truth is the basis for the spiritual weapons that defeats the condemning voice of Satan. Righteousness is a gift from the Lord! That should greatly enhance our love and appreciation of God’s love and what Jesus did for us! It protects our heart from the condemnation of our failures and Satan’s accusations. As 1 John 3:20 NKJV says, “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” He knows we are His righteousness because of His son Jesus. The question is, do we know it?
How do we answer Satan’s accusations? We respond, “Yes Satan you are right. I could have said that better. I could have acted kinder. I shouldn’t have done that but I repent before God right now. Thank you Heavenly Father for forgiving me and helping me to handle that better next time. I receive and thank you for your forgiveness. In Jesus name. Now Satan, shut up and flee. I am made right before God. I am the righteousness of God. You will never be right before God. I will spend eternity with Jesus. You are condemned to the lake of fire. I rebuke you in Jesus name. I praise the name of Jesus!”
Like Israel, we should know our enemy and how to defeat him. We should know his schemes to discourage and undermine who we are in Christ. We should wear the armor God has provided and defeat the enemy of our soul at every turn. When you do, you will continue to be a force for God and influence others for him... despite your shortcomings!
Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV) "No weapon formed
against you shall prosper, And every tongue which
rises against you in judgment You shall
condemn. This is the heritage of the servants
of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me," Says the LORD."
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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