Spiritual Warfare Pt4 Breastplate of Righteousness Pt2

Ephesians 6:10-14(HCSB) 10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest,

These passages exhorts believers to “put on the whole armor of God” in order to stand firm against the attacks of our enemy, Satan 2 Corinthians 10:3-5(HCSB)3 For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.

Ephesians 6:14(HCSB)14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest,

We are instructed to “put on” this armor, which implies that we do not automatically wear it all the time. Putting on the armor of God requires a decision on our part. To put on the breastplate of righteousness, we must first have the belt of truth firmly in place. Without truth, our righteousness will be based upon our own attempts to impress God. This leads to legalism or self-condemnation. We choose instead to acknowledge that, apart from Him, we can do nothing John 15:5(HCSB)5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. We see ourselves as “in Christ” and that, regardless of our failures, His righteousness has been credited to our account.

We are being saved from the Power of Sin

Sanctification-is a continual process that conforms us into the image of the Son of God. Sanctification follows justification. In justification our sins are completely forgiven in Christ. Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire. Jesus meets us where we are but His goal is to never leave us where He met us, We are to follow Him and strive for holiness AFTER He meets us where we are. 


True sanctification is impossible apart from the atoning work of Christ on the cross because only after our sins are forgiven can we begin to lead a holy life.

Sanctification is the same Greek word as holiness, “hagios,” meaning a separation. To sanctify means to be set apart for a holy use. God has set us apart for the purpose of sanctification not impurity (1 Thessalonians 4:7(ESV) For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.)

Sanctification, or in its verbal form, sanctify, literally means “to set apart” for special use or purpose, that is, to make holy or sacred. Therefore, sanctification refers to the state or process of being set apart, i.e. made holy.

Romans 13:11-14(HCSB) Besides this, knowing the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.

Someone who is a Christian for 10 years is no more justified than when the first became a believer. After Justification begins Sanctification which is basically the process of our dying to self, dying to self means that the things of the old life are put to death, most especially the sinful ways and lifestyles we once engaged in. Galatians 5:24 (ESV)“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires”. Where we once pursued selfish pleasures, we now pursue, with equal passion, those things that pleases God.

And being obedient to the word and the Spirit that we are daily changed, in God’s eyes we are considered righteous and accepted because of our faith in Jesus’ work on the cross.

Imparted righteousness is what God does in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit after justification, working in the Christian to enable and empower the process of sanctification. Sanctification – We are being saved from the Power of Sin (Process)Imputed

We “put it on” by seeking God and His righteousness above everything else. We make Him and His ways our dwelling place. We delight in His commands and desire for His ways to become our ways. When God reveals an area of change to us, we obey and allow Him to work in us. At the point where we say “no” to God, we open a little crack in the armor where Satan’s arrows can get through.

Where justification is a legal declaration that is instantaneous, sanctification is a process.  Where justification comes from outside of us, from God, sanctification comes from God within us by the work of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the Bible.  In other words, we contribute to sanctification through our efforts.  In contrast, we do not contribute to our justification through our efforts. Sanctification follows justification. In justification our sins are completely forgiven in Christ. Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire. True sanctification is impossible apart from the atoning work of Christ on the cross because only after our sins are forgiven can we begin to lead a holy life.

As we wear Christ’s breastplate of righteousness, we begin to develop a change of mind that produces a purity of heart that translates into a change of actions. Wearing this breastplate creates a lifestyle of putting into practice what we believe in our hearts. As our lives become conformed to the image of Christ our choices become more righteous, and these godly choices also protect us from further temptation and deception.

Then it is up to us; Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone, it is the God working His character in us. But it takes us to exert the fruits of the spirit.
Matthew 16:24 (ESV)Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Colossians 3:5 (ESV)Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Sanctification is the process of being set apart for God’s work and being conformed to the image of Christ.  This conforming to Christ involves the work of the person, but it is still God working in the believer to produce more of a godly character and life in the person who has already been justified.  Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone.  The justified person is actively involved in submitting to God’s will, resisting sin, seeking holiness, and working to be more godly.

Sanctification has no bearing on justification.  That is, even if we don’t live a perfect life, we are still justified.  Our salvation is not that fragile, we don’t LOSE it when we sin.

Romans 8:9–11 (ESV)You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you

Romans 8 tells us the Spirit will help us stop sinning and do the things that please God.  Now, the Holy Spirit can’t do all the work for us. We’re still responsible to do our part—especially to consistently read our Bibles and pray, asking the Spirit to show us the truth and teach us how to live. It’s important to remember that the Spirit will not prompt us to do anything that goes against Scripture. People sometimes justify their actions by saying, “My conscience told me … ” We need to make sure we’re listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, not the voice of our own desires. And we know which is which by checking this voice against the truth of God’s Word.

We need our breastplate of righteousness in place in order to gain the victory specified in 2 Corinthians 10:15(ESV)“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” When we quickly reject heretical ideas, idolatry, and the “counsel of the ungodly” (Psalm 1:1) and instead Hebrews 12:2(NASB)2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God., we keep our breastplate securely fastened.

True sanctification begins with renewing your mind. You must know the truth, plain and simple. There’s no premium on ignorance in sanctification. You’re not going to get there through some emotional or mystical experience. Spiritual growth won’t happen by osmosis—it requires the discipline of constantly putting God’s truth in your mind.

Hebrews 13:7(HCSB) Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited.

There are no shortcuts in sanctification—a lack of biblical knowledge will always stun your spiritual growth. Apart from the truth of Scripture, there simply is no mechanism to restrain your sinful flesh. Legalism can’t do it. Good Intentions can’t either. The only certain method for true spiritual growth starts with absorbing God’s eternal truth.

There is a difference between continuing to sin and continuing to live in sin. No one reaches sinless perfection in this life, but the redeemed Christian is being sanctified (made holy) day by day, sinning less and hating it more each time he fails. Yes, we still sin, but unwillingly and less and less frequently as we mature. Our new self hates the sin that still has a hold on us. The difference is that the new creation is no longer a slave to sin, as we formerly were. We are now freed from sin and it no longer has power over us. Now we are empowered by and for righteousness. We now have the choice to “let sin reign” or to count ourselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus”

Romans 6:11-12(HCSB)11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. Best of all, now we have the power to choose the latter.

Malachi 3:1-6(HCSB)“See, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to His temple, the Messenger of the covenant you desire—see, He is coming,” says the Lord of Hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire and like cleansing lye. He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord as in days of old and years gone by. “I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the widow and the fatherless, and cheat the wage earner; and against those who deny justice to the foreigner. They do not fear Me,” says the Lord of Hosts. “Because I, Yahweh, have not changed, you descendants of Jacob have not been destroyed.

It does not say in verse 2 that he is like a forest fire, or like an incinerator’s fire. It says that he is like a refiner’s fire. A forest fire destroys indiscriminately. An incinerator consumes completely. But verse 6 says, “ I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.”

He is a refiner’s fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner’s fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner’s fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner’s fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner’s fire.

It does say FIRE. And therefore purity and holiness will always be a dreadful thing. There will always be a proper “fear and trembling” in the process of becoming pure. We learn it from the time we are little children: never play with fire! And it’s a good lesson! Therefore, Christianity is never a play thing. And the passion for purity is never flippant. He is like fire and fire is serious. You don’t fool around with it.

But it does say, he is like a REFINER’S fire. And therefore this is not merely a word of warning, but a tremendous word of hope. The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction.

The most important thing to say is that it is a life of confidence in God. And the foundation of our confidence is this promise: The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction. Which simply means that life in the refiner’s fire is a life of trust in the unchanging, purifying love of God.

1 Peter 4:12(HCSB)12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal[a] comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. 13 Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory.

God is more concerned with your character than He is with your comfort.

God is more concerned with your holiness than He is with your happiness.

God is more concerned with you as a person than He is with your possessions.

God is getting you ready to live with Him forever. He is getting you ready to accept His inheritance.

Proverbs 17:3(NLT)Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.

How HOT does the fire have to get?? As HOT as we let it.
God doesn’t care about your reputation; He cares about your Character.

For Godly character to be in us HE has to work our fleshly character out of us. God doesn’t change our personality, He changes our character.

Character is what you are behind closed doors, when no one is watching, when your all alone, when you don’t have to wear the “mask” in front of people.

Character in the believer is a consistent manifestation of Jesus in his life. It is the purity of heart that God gives becoming purity in action. God sometimes uses trials to strengthen character:
Romans 5:3-5 (HCSB)And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Advertisements

Spiritual Warfare Pt 3 Breastplate of Righteousness

Ephesians 6:10-14(HCSB) 10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest,

These passages exhorts believers to “put on the whole armor of God” in order to stand firm against the attacks of our enemy, Satan 2 Corinthians 10:3-5(HCSB)3 For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.

Ephesians 6:14(HCSB)14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest,.”

The imagery is of an armed Roman or Israelite soldier, prepared for battle. A typical armed soldier wore a breastplate made of bronze or chain mail. It covered the vital organs, namely, the heart, and was fitted with loops or buckles that attached it to a thick belt. If the belt was loosened, the breastplate slipped right off. When Paul compares the armor of God with military gear, each piece represents a part of God’s strength that He extends to us when we become His children. The breastplate of righteousness refers to the righteousness purchased for us by Jesus at the cross 2 Corinthians 5:21(HCSB)21 He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

At salvation, a “breastplate” is issued to each repentant sinner. It is specially designed by God to protect our heart and soul from evil and deception. Our own righteous acts are no match for Satan’s attacks. Isaiah 64:6(NET)We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight. We all wither like a leaf; our sins carry us away like the wind.. The breastplate of righteousness has Christ’s name on it, as though He said, “Your righteousness isn’t sufficient enough to protect you, Here wear mine.”

We are separated from God. Sin caused man’s separation from God, however God Loves us so much, that He provides the Way back into fellowship with Him through Jesus Christ. His steadfast loving kindness leads us to repentance, His grace, and mercy, forgives us of all our sins, even though none of us deserves it. No one can earn forgiveness, and reconciliation to God, it is a free gift, to those who believe, and accept it by Faith.

   

The original sin of Adam and Eve brought devastation to all mankind and separation from God. All men and women are born with the same sin nature in their spirit. We all have impure spirits and we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Isaiah 59:2(HCSB) But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen.
Romans 5:8 (HCSB) But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

Imputed righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus credited to the Christian, enabling the Christian to be justified. Justification – We are saved from the PENALTY of Sin. (Instant) Imparted

Imparted righteousness is what God does in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit after justification, working in the Christian to enable and empower the process of sanctification. Sanctification – We are being saved from the Power of Sin (Process)Imputed

Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Biblical salvation refers to our deliverance from the consequence of sin and therefore involves justification from sin.

 

What does the term “Justified” mean? The Bible meaning of the word is to be totally blameless and totally guiltless–to be able to stand before God clean and pure in every way. A play on the word helps us to understand its meaning. If I am Justified, it is Just-as-if-I’d never sinned, and Just-as-if-I’d always been holy and done the right things.

Our Father, however, has devised a plan and made a way for us to stand righteous before Him. He has sent His own Son as a Sacrifice on our behalf, and those who believe in Him shall have everlasting life, and shall be seen as righteous in God’s sight.

Romans 3:21-24(HCSB)21 But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets 22 —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

This righteousness we receive is imputed righteousness–that is a theological term which means removing the guilt and penalty of sin while at the same time declaring a sinner righteous through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. God legally declares us to be righteous because of Christ’s work on the cross.

This is Justification, to stand before God with all debts paid, and clothed in the righteousness of His only Son, Jesus Christ. To be able know that you have “peace with God”–there is no more war between you and the Almighty.

Romans 5:1(HCSB) Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Taken together, the concepts of Grace and Justification by Faith show the uniqueness of the Christian doctrine of Salvation. The message of Grace is God Saves Sinners. It is His Plan, it was His Son who died and rose again, it is His Spirit who enlivens the preaching and witness of believers to awaken sinners to their need of salvation and lead them to faith in Christ.

God’s grace is the determining factor in our salvation, even to include His working in our lives to develop a lifestyle consistent with salvation. Ephesians 2:8-10 (HCSB) 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

The grace of God is so simple, and so profound that most of the greatest minds don’t fully understand it. It stands in opposition to the ideas that most of us have about earning our way in the world, about people getting what they deserve, about “fairness,” and about the independence of human beings.

The meaning of grace behind that simple explanation is one of the most hated teachings in the world because it so totally undermines and removes all traces of human pride.

Ephesians 1:4-5(HCSB)4 For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5 He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will,

When Adam sinned it didn’t throw a wrench in God’s plan, He didn’t say”Wow I didn’t see that coming, now I have to devise a different plan for man, Wow that really threw me off.” He knew since before the foundation of the earth, who He would call into His army.

Romans 9:14-18(HCSB)14 What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! 15 For He tells Moses:I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.16 So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture tells Pharaoh: I raised you up for this reason so that I may display My power in you and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth.18 So then, He shows mercy to those He wants to, and He hardens those He wants to harden.

The Doctrine of Grace teaches that we are totally unable to save ourselves, to help in our salvation, to do anything to merit all or any part of our salvation, or to keep our salvation. We are saved totally as an act of God’s will, and we do not deserve it in any way. This is the most important first principle in understanding Grace–no one in the entire human race deserves any consideration from God, we are all rebels and sinners, and we all deserve Hell. Except for His own redemption plan, God could rightfully have sent the entire human race to eternal punishment long ago! The description Paul gives of believers before salvation fits the entire human race if they are without Christ:

Ephesians 2:1-3 (HCSB) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 

So if we were dead as the scriptures say, then what can a dead man do to save himself? Absolutely nothing. The dead man did nothing to earn being made alive. He was just lying there dead. He didn’t sign a release form saying, “Go ahead and bring me back to life.” He didn’t agree to it; he didn’t consent to it; he did nothing to earn being made alive, nothing to earn being rescued or saved from death. This is what God has done for you in Christ Jesus, giving you life you did not deserve.

In spite of us deserving wrath, however, God has exercised His Grace toward us in Christ.

Ephesians 2:4-10 (HCSB) 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Comparing two similar theological terms will help refine the definition of grace: grace and mercy . These terms are not interchangeable. Both seem to contain elements of God’s bestowing or granting something not earned, but they are not the same. In Ephesians 2:4, Paul describes God as being rich “in mercy.” The word mercy is usually defined as “punishment withheld (or, wrath withheld),” but mercy means more than that in Ephesians 2. In Ephesians 2:4, Paul says God looked at our pitiful condition, looked at our life characterized by “trespasses and sins,” and driven by his love, he withheld the punishment. So mercy in Ephesians 2 includes the ideas that God sees our pitiful condition, our misery and distress, that we were characterized by “trespasses” and that He loves us. That is the emphasis of mercy. Grace is not the withholding of punishment; that is mercy.

What is the meaning of Grace? Grace focuses on the forgiveness needed because of the current state we are in. It is a gift that is not earned, but it is more than that. We didn’t simply live in a way not to earn salvation; we lived in a way characterized by fighting, kicking, and screaming against receiving the gift.

Even our best efforts fall far short of the righteousness required by God Romans 3:23(HCSB)23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.). That’s why Scripture says that no one seeks God.
Romans 3:10-11(HCSB)10 as it is written:There is no one righteous, not even one.11 There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. We seek fulfillment. We seek pleasure. We seek escape from pain. But the pure motivation of seeking after God for Himself is a gift from God. We are not saved because we had the wisdom and insight to exercise our own faith and trust God. No one wakes up one day and, on his own, decides to seek God. That would be a salvation by our own works, and Scripture is clear we are saved only by the grace and mercy of God.Titus 3:5(HCSB)He saved us— not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 11:6(HCSB)6 Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.

We are saved when God touches our hearts and prompts us to use the faith He gives to receive His gift of salvation.That is how our lives were characterized. God’s grace is absolutely overwhelming. The idea that we did anything to merit or earn salvation, the idea that we mustered up repentance or faith within ourselves, the idea that we worked with God in our salvation, is totally at odds with what grace truly is. And Paul drives this point home in Ephesians 2:9(HCSB)“Not from works, so that no one can boast.” It’s not of us; it’s not by us; it’s not for us! God is the initiator and the preserver of our salvation.

We were dead spiritually; we were fit for nothing but wrath; we were rebels and in bondage to sin and Satan. In the midst of that condition, God saved us. We exercised faith, which is itself a gift of God.

John 6:44-47(HCSB)44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to Me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except the One who is from God. He has seen the Father. 47 “I assure you: Anyone who believes has eternal life.

John 6:37-40(HCSB)37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

1 Peter 2:9(HCSB)But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

John 6:44(HCSB)44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Ephesians 1:11(HCSB)11 We have also received an inheritance[a] in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will,

Romans 8:29(HCSB)29 For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.

Romans 8:30(HCSB)30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

John 15:16(HCSB)16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.

John 6:37(HCSB)37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.

Deuteronomy 7:6(HCSB)6 For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be His own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.

John 10:4(HCSB)4 When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.

Matthew 22:14(HCSB)14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Deuteronomy 14:2(HCSB)2 for you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord has chosen you to be His own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.

2 Thessalonians 2:13(HCSB)13 But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

God is referred to as a potter and we humans are clay. Isaiah 64:8 says : “We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” A potter designs a pot according to its use. He chooses its size and its shape, its color according to his plan. God as a potter created us vessels according to His plan, and His desire.
Romans 9:19-23(HCSB)“19 You will say to me, therefore, “Why then does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?” 20 But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 Or has the potter no right over the clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor? 22 And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction? 23 And what if He did this to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory—

The Bible makes plain that the mysterious supernatural experience called the New Birth is an act of God.

John 3:3-8(HCSB)3 Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”4 “But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”5 Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

You did not and cannot contribute anything to your new birth, you contribute as much to your spiritual birth as you did your natural birth.

We are instructed to “put on” this armor, which implies that we do not automatically wear it all the time. Putting on the armor of God requires a decision on our part. To put on the breastplate of righteousness, we must first have the belt of truth firmly in place. Without truth, our righteousness will be based upon our own attempts to impress God. This leads to legalism or self-condemnation. We choose instead to acknowledge that, apart from Him, we can do nothing John 15:5(HCSB)5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. We see ourselves as “in Christ” and that, regardless of our failures, His righteousness has been credited to our account.

Romans 13:11-14(HCSB) Besides this, knowing the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.

Someone who is a Christian for 10 years is no more justified than when the first became a believer. After Justification begins Sanctification which is basically the process of our dying to self, dying to self means that the things of the old life are put to death, most especially the sinful ways and lifestyles we once engaged in. Galatians 5:24 (ESV)“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires”. Where we once pursued selfish pleasures, we now pursue, with equal passion, those things that pleases God.

And being obedient to the word and the Spirit that we are daily changed, in God’s eyes we are considered righteous and accepted because of our faith in Jesus’ work on the cross.

Imparted righteousness is what God does in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit after justification, working in the Christian to enable and empower the process of sanctification. Sanctification – We are being saved from the Power of Sin (Process)Imputed

We “put it on” by seeking God and His righteousness above everything else. We make Him and His ways our dwelling place. We delight in His commands and desire for His ways to become our ways. When God reveals an area of change to us, we obey and allow Him to work in us. At the point where we say “no” to God, we open a little crack in the armor where Satan’s arrows can get through.

Where justification is a legal declaration that is instantaneous, sanctification is a process.  Where justification comes from outside of us, from God, sanctification comes from God within us by the work of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the Bible.  In other words, we contribute to sanctification through our efforts.  In contrast, we do not contribute to our justification through our efforts. Sanctification follows justification. In justification our sins are completely forgiven in Christ. Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire. True sanctification is impossible apart from the atoning work of Christ on the cross because only after our sins are forgiven can we begin to lead a holy life.

As we wear Christ’s breastplate of righteousness, we begin to develop a change of mind that produces a purity of heart that translates into a change of actions. Wearing this breastplate creates a lifestyle of putting into practice what we believe in our hearts. As our lives become conformed to the image of Christ our choices become more righteous, and these godly choices also protect us from further temptation and deception.

Then it is up to us; Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone, it is the God working His character in us. But it takes us to exert the fruits of the spirit.
Matthew 16:24 (ESV)Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Colossians 3:5 (ESV)Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Sanctification is the process of being set apart for God’s work and being conformed to the image of Christ.  This conforming to Christ involves the work of the person, but it is still God working in the believer to produce more of a godly character and life in the person who has already been justified.  Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone.  The justified person is actively involved in submitting to God’s will, resisting sin, seeking holiness, and working to be more godly.

Sanctification has no bearing on justification.  That is, even if we don’t live a perfect life, we are still justified.  Our salvation is not that fragile, we don’t LOSE it when we sin.

Romans 8:9–11 (ESV)You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you

Romans 8 tells us the Spirit will help us stop sinning and do the things that please God.  Now, the Holy Spirit can’t do all the work for us. We’re still responsible to do our part—especially to consistently read our Bibles and pray, asking the Spirit to show us the truth and teach us how to live. It’s important to remember that the Spirit will not prompt us to do anything that goes against Scripture. People sometimes justify their actions by saying, “My conscience told me … ” We need to make sure we’re listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, not the voice of our own desires. And we know which is which by checking this voice against the truth of God’s Word.

We need our breastplate of righteousness in place in order to gain the victory specified in 2 Corinthians 10:15(ESV)“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” When we quickly reject heretical ideas, idolatry, and the “counsel of the ungodly” (Psalm 1:1) and instead Hebrews 12:2(NASB)fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God., we keep our breastplate securely fastened.

Spiritual Warfare Pt 2 Belt of Truth

You live differently in times of war than in times of peace. You are more alert, more intentional, you don’t play as many games. You have to know that there is a real enemy out there and his intention is to kill you, destroy you and your family, your loved ones, your sons and daughters. As a Christian we are enlisted into the Army of the Lord the minute we become saved. Our duties as a recruit is to please the recruiter. 2 Timothy 2:3-4(ESV)Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.  To often I see Christians getting entangled with the temporal things of this world and not getting involved in the eternal things of the Heavenly Realm.
Colossians 3:1-2(ESV)If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 

We are new creations with new desires, with a new mind, with a new purpose in life. That purpose is to first Worship the creator, Our Father in heaven.

John 4:22-23(ESV)23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

True worship, says Jesus, is in spirit and truth. The “truth” part is plain enough — and with the coming of Jesus (“the hour is coming, and is now here”) that truth centers on his person and work, the one who is himself “the Truth” John 14:6(ESV)Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. and the message about his saving accomplishments for us, which is “the word of the truth, the gospel” Colossians 1:5(ESV)because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, and “the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” Ephesians 1:13(ESV)13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,. It is this “word of truth” by which we’re given new birth James 1:18(ESV)18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures., this “word of truth” that 2 Timothy 2:15(ESV)15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. This “Word of Truth”that Christian workers endeavor to handle right, and this truth that anchors and saturates worship that is deemed truly Christian.

As soldiers in the Army of God we  have a mission,
Matthew 28:19-20(ESV)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 

We also have a mandate to Love our neighbor, Matthew 22:39(HCSB)39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself, pray for those who persecute us Matthew 5:44(ESV)44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, and be holy as He is holy.

1 Peter 1:14-16(ESV)14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

We also have a helper which is the Holy Spirit and the armor to withstand the tactics of Satan.If I don’t believe the Word of God, why should you believe it? If we don’t believe it, why should the world believe us?

Ephesians 6:13–18(HCSB)13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore,with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest,15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.16 In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

This is a description of the spiritual armor God gives us. We are to stand firm with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and by praying in the Spirit. What do these pieces of spiritual armor represent in spiritual warfare? We are to know the truth, believe the truth, and speak the truth. We are to rest in the fact that we are declared righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We are to proclaim the gospel no matter how much resistance we face. We are not to waver in our faith, trusting God’s promises no matter how strongly we are attacked. Our ultimate defense is the assurance we have of our salvation, an assurance that no spiritual force can take away. Our offensive weapon is the Word of God, not our own opinions and feelings.

Truth is far more than facts. It’s not just something we act upon. It acts upon us. We can’t change the truth, but the truth can change us. It sanctifies (sets us apart) from the falsehoods woven into our sin natures. As Christ the living Word is truth, so his written word is truth. Though heaven and earth will pass away, God’s truth never will.

The first part of the armor is the belt of truth. God never intended His people to worship Him apart from the use of their minds. Real spirituality begins with a precise understanding of truth. Yet much of contemporary Christianity is heading down the paths of mystical experience and fantasy. We don’t battle Satan with magic words and imaginary forces; we rely on the power of His truth as it brings even our thoughts captive to our Lord. That is genuine and ultimate victory over satanic forces. No matter how Satan attacks, the solution is the same. We stand in the truth. We don’t need to learn hidden strategies to fight Satan. God’s truth is the supreme weapon against the father of lies. John 8:44(HCSB)You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. Only when we know the truth and commit ourselves to obey it will we stand strong.

The belt—known as the cingulum or balteus—held the Roman soldier’s scabbard and sword. The belt provided a place to house the sword and carry it into battle effectively. The spiritual sword is the Bible, the Word of God.

The belt holds together all other pieces of our armor, and therefore is first mentioned. Similarly, without truth holding us, a Christian is unprepared. It was the belt that held the scabbard, without which there would be no place to put a sword. Imagine an overzealous soldier, fired up and charging out into battle—but without his belt, and consequently without a weapon!

In battle they would take the four corners of the tunic, and fold it up underneath the belt to keep their legs free and to keep from getting tangled.

Paul, by phrasing the first piece of spiritual armor in this way, is referring to that practice of getting the robe up out of your way. Which was important in battle.

In biblical times men wore tunics which was like a robe, they still do this in countries in the Middle East where men wear robes instead of pants. When these men needed to run, or to do some sort of manual labor, they would bend over, take the back edge of their robe, and fold it up into the front of their belt. It was a quick and convenient way to turn a robe into a pair of shorts. The point was that it got the robe up out of the way, so that the person could run faster or work better without having the robe get in the way. So with this in mind, we can see why Paul, although talking about a belt which is worn around the waste, tells us to gird up the loins. He has in mind both the belt, and getting the robe out of the way for movement.

The belt also had other purposes beyond just girding up the loins. It also kept the breastplate tight and secure around the soldier, and kept it from banging against his chest when in battle, and the belt also held a sheath for his sword or dagger.

So if a soldier got rid of his belt, his breastplate wouldn’t be secure, his tunic would trip him up, his sword would drop to the ground. In short, he wouldn’t be much good in battle.

Because of all of these things, the belt was one of the most important pieces of the soldier’s armor. To stand strong in this battle, we must know the truth, and live by the truth. Only in this way will the rest of our armor stay on, and only in this way will we be protected in this battle. This is because the belt of the truth keeps the breastplate tight, it keeps the tunic up and out of your way so you don’t get tripped up or slowed down. It provides you with a place to keep your sword. Without truth, we are easily tripped up by Satan’s lies. Lies, no matter how big or how small, are the things that destroy lives and relationships and futures. One little lie was what Satan used in the garden of Eden to destroy the future of all mankind. You cannot afford to have areas of deception in your life, just as, with a belt, you cannot afford to have a broken belt, or a belt with weaknesses. Truth, like a belt, to be effective, must be able to completely surround you—front, back, right and left, and must be strong enough to hold everything together.

If the belt was not in place you would always be in danger of tripping over your own clothing.  So if the truth is not in place then your in danger danger of tripping over your own opinions, And, for a soldier, if the belt was not in place, you also would not be able to get ready for battle. The belt needs to be trustworthy otherwise the rest of the armor is useless. That is the significance of the belt in a literal sense. But let’s remember what Paul is doing here. This is not a commentary on military fashion items. Ephesians 6:14a is talking about a belt which has spiritual significance. When it comes to understanding the spiritual significance of this piece of equipment we see that trustworthiness and dependability is the key.

Spiritual warfare starts with knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

Sanctification:  The belt of truth sets us apart from people who don’t follow God.   Jesus prayed that God would sanctify us by the truth John 17:17(HCSB)Sanctify them by the truth;Your word is truth.  To sanctify means to set apart for a special purpose and to purify.  The truth helps us stay on mission for God and avoid falling back into sin’s corruption.

Guidance: The Holy Spirit uses the truth to guide us in whatever circumstances we’re in. John wrote John 16:13 (HCSB)13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. Just as communications are crucial on the physical battlefield, so is the Holy Spirit’s guidance via truth on the spiritual battlefield.

Intelligence & Discernment:  Intelligence data and its interpretation (i.e. discernment) can play a critical role in the outcome of military conflicts.  God’s word reveals truth that helps us decisively recognize the devil’s lies in spiritual conflicts. Hebrews 4:12 (HCSB)12 For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.  Armed with the truth of the word, we’ll recognize the devil’s lies for what they are.

Battle readiness:  Belts were used in Bible times to secure loose garments so that a person could run and/or fight effectively (1 Kings 18:46, 2 Kings 4:29).  The belts also provided a place to attach weapons (2 Samuel 20:8).  When the enemy attacks us we may have to move quickly and use our spiritual weapons (Praise, Prayer, Sword of the Spirit, etc.) “on the run.”  The belt of truth enables us to move quickly and confidently without tripping into lies or losing our weapons

John 8:31-32(HCSB)31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

True disciples of Jesus believe that He speaks the truth about God and the Scriptures. They also know that He is who He claims to be.

Verse 32 begins with, “Then you will know the truth.” “You” refers to those who are true disciples of Jesus. True disciples will know the truth. More than that, their eyes are opened to a greater understanding of the truth.

Jesus is the Truth John 14:6(HCSB) 6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. Knowing the Truth will set one at liberty—free from sin, free from condemnation, and free from death Romans 6:22(HCSB)22 But now, since you have been liberated from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification[a]—and the end is eternal life!;

Romans 8:1–2(HCSB)Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Jesus came to proclaim liberty to the captives Luke 4:18(HCSB)The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed,19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. 

1 Peter 2:16 (ESV)16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

John 17:17(HCSB)Sanctify them by the truth;Your word is truth.

Jesus, praying to the Father, gives a clear and straightforward definition of truth: God’s Word. The Holy Bible (Scripture—the word of truth) was given by inspiration of God.

2 Timothy 3:16(HCSB)16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness. The Greek expression translated “inspiration of God” literally means “God-breathed”! He actively and fully inspired the Bible to reveal His truth to us. His promises, His commands, His word—they are all truth, plain and simple.

A belt encompasses the waist. Does our conviction to the truth encompass us? As the above scripture notes, truth must be bound around us and written on our hearts—our conviction must reach beyond an outward show.

The belt used in Roman armor, as we have learned, provided a place for the soldier’s sword. Our sword—the sword of the Spirit—likewise needs a sheath. Truth is vital because, like a Roman soldier’s belt, it allows us to carry the sword of the Spirit and use it effectively.

The world we live in teaches that truth is what we make it—that good and bad are relative and that there are no absolutes, only equally valid opinions. But the Bible teaches that truth is God’s Word—that good and bad are defined by Him and that there are eternal and unchangeable absolutes, uninfluenced by opinions.

Paul wrote to the Romans telling them to “not be conformed to this world.” Part of that means not buying into a system of belief that says absolute truth is a myth. As Christians, we know both that there is truth and that it is absolute.

2 Timothy 2:15(HCSB)15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.

Imagine a belt with a segment missing. No matter how tiny the sliver that isn’t there, the belt is still useless. To do its job, it must be one continuous, unbroken piece.Now imagine living a way of life you don’t completely agree with. Maybe it doesn’t seem like a big deal—after all, what are a couple minor points that you’re not sure about?

They are everything. To try to live God’s way without total belief in its validity is like trying to hold your sword up with a belt that isn’t continuous. Neither will work. Our trust in God and His Word must be solid, without break, or else we will quickly find ourselves without a weapon. No matter how effective the rest of our armor is, we are useless without our sword. We need to be rightly dividing the word of truth—knowing what we believe, and why.

Putting on the belt of truth is putting on the truth of the Bible. Getting it close by. Understanding what it says. Knowing what it teaches. The reason many Christians today are ineffective in their Christian life and in spiritual warfare is because they have not committed themselves fully to the Word of God, which alone is sufficient to prepare them for every situation in life. The content of God’s truth is absolutely essential for the believer in his battle against the schemes of Satan.

The Christian’s belt is truth. The primary thing about Christianity is not that we feel better from routine religion but that the message is true. If it isn’t true it is meaningless. Christianity isn’t true because it works for me. Because Christianity is true it works mightily to change lives. It tells me what life is all about, who God is, what the good life is, and what lies after death. It gives rational answers to ultimate question. We must never stop telling people that the Christian faith is true. Its truthfulness is the belt which holds together everything else. It tempers the zeal and fuels it. It is the foundation for our joy and peace; it tells us what our response should be and motivates us in all our activities. If you know little about what the Scripture teaches you are extremely vulnerable. A soldier cannot fight properly with his armor and underclothes swinging in the wind or his trousers falling to his ankles. He’d be dead before he could swing a single blow.

In the spiritual battle God needs soldiers who are properly equipped to fight the battle. Which raises a very significant question. How trustworthy and dependable are you as you seek to be a soldier for God? It is a significant question, but it isn’t always a comfortable question,And we should be people who read and study the Word of God. But if all we are doing is gathering knowledge without also being willing to be engaged in the spiritual battle, then we are not really acting as trustworthy and dependable soldiers.

As we examine the belt of truth we are being asked to examine our commitment to kingdom work. And that raises the question:- How trustworthy and dependable are you as you seek to be a soldier for God?

Spiritual Warfare

There are two primary errors when it comes to spiritual warfare—over-emphasis and under-emphasis. Some blame every sin, every conflict, and every problem on demons that need to be cast out. Others completely ignore the spiritual realm and the fact that the Bible tells us our battle is against spiritual powers. There is an invisible spiritual world, and there is an invisible spiritual war. Somehow most Christians especially in America and now we are stating to export this false teaching that Christianity is anything but war. Most churches do not even preach on spiritual warfare even though the bible explicitly states it numerous times. We have bought into a christianity where you can have your life and sprinkle some Jesus on top and totally ignore the warfare. We are not on a cruise ship, we are on a battleship, we cannot trade in our weapons of warfare for sipping drinks with little umbrellas in it by the pool.
2 Timothy 2:3-4(HCSB)3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter.

As soon as we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are drawn into a spiritual battle. It is a battle where eternal death or eternal life is at stake. It is a battle with one who is 100% committed to drawing us away from God. It is a battle that calls us to make the spiritually lost a priority as we stand in unity with Jesus. Is this the battle that we are winning? Are we truly concerned that there are real people that will die and go to Hell? Are we concerned with it? Do we know that we are in a battle, even though it is invisible and spiritual it is real and it is eternal.

There are three enemies that we deal with and have to discern which they are so we can engage them in battle correctly. The World, The devil and the Flesh.

Ephesians 2:1-3(HCSB)And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world,(the World) according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens(The Devil), the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.(The Flesh)

The basic strategy for our warfare:

Crucify our flesh. Romans 8:12-14(HCSB)12 So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.14 All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.

Hate the world system. 1 John 2:15-17(HCSB)15 Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.

Stand against the devil. Ephesians 6:10–18(HCSB)10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.16  In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

But the key to successful spiritual warfare is finding the biblical balance. Jesus sometimes cast demons out of people; other times He healed people with no mention of the demonic,sometimes we have to separate ourselves from the world,and othertimes we have to as the apostle Paul instructs Christians to wage war against the sin in themselves. Romans 6:1-13(HCSB)What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims.8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, 9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in light of the fact that He lives, He lives to God. 11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. 13 And do not offer any parts[i] of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. 14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.

There’s four facts that, before we talk about this, you absolutely need to know.

Fact No. 1:  God has defeated Satan. The bell just din’t ring yet. He has delivered us from sin’s penalty, and power, and ultimately will deliver us from sin’s very presence. In the meantime, we’re involved in guerrilla warfare with demonic forces.

Fact No. 2:  As believers, we have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light with all the rights and privileges and position that being a child of God involves.

Fact No. 3:  The spiritual battle that we fight involves a responsibility on our part to put on the spiritual protection that God has provided for us.  We can and we will resist the enemy’s attempts to deceive, accuse, and cast out when we stand firm by what?  First, being honest with God about ourselves and others: This is the prerequisite to all spiritual battle.  Second, responding to the truth that God shows us about His will for our lives which includes righteous living.  And third, a clear understanding of the Gospel and taking opportunity to readily share it by evangelism.

Fact No. 4:  The vast or great majority of all spiritual warfare never need go beyond the regular practice of living out your position in Christ by faith.  What we’re talking about now is not necessarily the norm.  Our practice of Paul’s metaphor, the spiritual armor, protects us from Satan’s ongoing attempts to break our fellowship with Jesus and, as a result, greatly minimizes any impact of the enemy.

Ephesians 6:10–12(HCSB) 10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This text teaches some crucial truths: we can only stand strong in the Lord’s power, it is God’s armor that protects us, and our battle is ultimately against spiritual forces of evil in the world.

Some suggest all we need to do is bind Satan-and just say, “Satan, I bind you,” and he is caught. They cite Matthew 12:29(HCSB)29 How can someone enter a strong man’s house and steal his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.,

But Jesus was dispelling the Pharisees’ foolish accusation that He worked under Satan’s power (Matthew12:27-28), not relating a scenario whereby believers could “bind” Satan. He used the illustration of a thief, who, planning to rob a strong man’s house while the man was there, would first have to bind him or risk being arrested and beaten. Jesus’ point was that He had demonstrated to the Pharisees and all Israel His power over Satan and the kingdom of evil. Only God has the power and authority to enter the very house of Satan, successfully bind him, and carry off his property. Even Paul was hindered by Satan

1 Thessalonians 2:18(HCSB)18 So we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us. Are we to assume he didn’t know the correct formula?

There is no magic phrase or mantra we can say that will bind Satan, but God has not left us without a divine strategy for dealing with him. God’s strategy centers on objective truth, not subjective experience. It begins with sound doctrine, not mystical technique. Yet ironically, those who talk most about warfare against Satan often minimize the importance of doctrine.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5(HCSB)3 For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.

A word of caution concerning spiritual warfare is in order. Nowhere in Scripture are we instructed to speak to demons or to Satan. The name of Jesus is not a magic incantation that causes demons to flee from before us. The seven sons of Sceva are an example of what can happen when people presume an authority they have not been given Acts 19:13–16(HCSB)13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists attempted to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I command you by the Jesus that Paul preaches!” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 The evil spirit answered them, “I know Jesus, and I recognize Paul—but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them all, and prevailed against them, so that they ran out of that house naked and wounded.

Even Michael the archangel did not rebuke Satan in his own power but said Jude 1:9(HCSB)9 Yet Michael the archangel, when he was disputing with the Devil in a debate about Moses’ body, did not dare bring an abusive condemnation against him but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”.

When we start talking to the devil, we run the risk of being led astray as Eve was. Genesis 3:1–7(HCSB)Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. Our focus should be on God, not demons; we speak to Him, not them.

Ephesians 6:13–18 is a description of the spiritual armor God gives us. We are to stand firm with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and by praying in the Spirit. What do these pieces of spiritual armor represent in spiritual warfare? We are to know the truth, believe the truth, and speak the truth. We are to rest in the fact that we are declared righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We are to proclaim the gospel no matter how much resistance we face. We are not to waver in our faith, trusting God’s promises no matter how strongly we are attacked. Our ultimate defense is the assurance we have of our salvation, an assurance that no spiritual force can take away. Our offensive weapon is the Word of God, not our own opinions and feelings. And we are to pray in the power and will of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 13:13-14(HCSB)13 Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.

Jesus is our ultimate example of resisting temptation in spiritual warfare. Observe how Jesus handled direct attacks from Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1–11). Each temptation was combatted with the words “it is written.” The Word of the living God is the most powerful weapon against the temptations of the devil. Psalm 119:11(HCSB)I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.

The first part of the armor is the belt of truth. God never intended His people to worship Him apart from the use of their minds. Real spirituality begins with a precise understanding of truth. Yet much of contemporary Christianity is heading down the paths of mystical experience and fantasy.

We don’t battle Satan with magic words and imaginary forces; we rely on the power of His truth as it brings even our thoughts captive to our Lord. That is genuine and ultimate victory over satanic forces.

No matter how Satan attacks, the solution is the same. We stand in the truth. We don’t need to learn hidden strategies to fight Satan. God’s truth is the supreme weapon against the father of lies. John 8:44(HCSB)You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. Only when we know the truth and commit ourselves to obey it will we stand strong.

Marriage is War with Benefits

Getting married is easy, a 50 year Anniversary is not. To be married to someone for 50 years takes work.  .

For it to work takes 3 people: Jesus, Husband,& Wife. Jesus HAS to be the center of the relationship. and the closer the two move toward Christ the closer they get to one another. The Bible starts with a wedding, and it quickly moves to a war. The story of Genesis is that our first parents are married, and immediately Satan, the enemy of God, shows up, and he moves his war from heaven to earth, and from assaulting God and the angels to assaulting a husband and wife.

If your idea of marriage is that it is always happy, frolicking in the daisies, roses by the bedside, never arguing always getting along. Always “Yes baby whatever you want” it’s probably because you watch too much tv and believe what you’re watching or the people in your life haven’t been really honest with you. Imagine if you were a war veteran and you found out that a friend was just called into active duty. He’s getting a pay raise because of it (benefits increase) and he’s excited to fight for someone.But he has never been to war and doesn’t know about the harsh realities of it. Do you tell him congratulations or do you sit him down and try to prepare him for the reality of war? The veteran should tell the recruit the truth because he cares about his friend. It’s irresponsible to only talk about the positives in marriage and never get warned about the war.

The truth is that marriage is war. A spiritual battle rages between the enemy of God and his people, and God and His people. And for those of us who are Christian, our marriages are on the frontline of that battle, and the closer you move toward ministry, it intensifies, because Satan absolutely hates God. He hates God’s people, and he particularly hates marriage, and he hates Christian marriage, because Christian marriage is a portrait of the gospel. According to the Bible, marriage is a portrait and a picture of something far greater. The Bible tells us that marriage is a portrait and a symbol of Jesus’ love for the church. So marriage is a pretty big deal, beings that we are the Bride of Christ(The Church) He is the bridegroom coming back for a spotless bride and then there will be a wedding feast!! Ephesians 5, where it says that Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to present her to himself as a radiant bride without blemish or spot. The history culminates in Revelation 19 near the end of the Bible with a wedding. Many parables Jesus taught were surrounding a wedding, His first miracle was at a wedding.

Paul says in Ephesians 5:22-33(HCSB)22 Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, 23 for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. 27 He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 since we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.
Paul is saying here that husbands should love their wives like Christ loves the church. And so he’s saying that a husband and wife, in loving union, communion, and covenant are kind of like the relationship that Jesus has with the church; that as Jesus leads the church lovingly, and humbly, and sacrificially, so men are to lovingly, humbly, sacrificially lead their families. And as wives respect their husbands, they are showing something of the respect that the church has, or at least should have, for the Lord Jesus Christ, as the head of the church.

Women are called to be submissive to their husbands
Colossians 3:18-19(HCSB)18 Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.19 Husbands, love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them.

Men we are called to Love our wives and Women you are called to obey and respect your husbands there is no variable in this. There is no what if I don’t like him?, what if he is a jerk? Nope, no variables respect your husband. But what exactly is love?
1 Corinthians 13:4-7(HCSB)Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, 5 does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

In the covenant of marriage, Jesus Christ is the capital-H Head. The Head of your marriage is Jesus, and the lowercase-h head is the husband, and the husband is to be part of the church, and learning about Jesus, and seeing how Jesus loves and serves and sanctifies the church. And then he’s supposed to take those examples from Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, be something like Jesus to his wife, so that she’s cherished, and she’s nurtured, and she’s loved, and she’s pursued, and she’s forgiven, so that she grows in godliness and grace and gloriousness, that the woman is the glory of the man, that she reflects his investment. As a church matures and grows, it reflects the service and the sacrifice of Jesus. So it is with the woman. As she grows, and flourishes, and as her children grow and flourish, it shows the service and sacrifice of her husband and her Lord.

Here’s the bottom line, guys. You need to love her like Christ loved the church. You need to take responsibility like Jesus took responsibility. You need to pursue her. You need to invest in her. You need to care for her. You need to cherish her and nourish her with the grace that God gives you.

So Satan attacks marriages, because marriages are an illustration of the gospel; and if Satan can destroy a Christian marriage, especially a ministry marriage—those couples that are seeking to honor and serve God with their gifts in the marketplace, home, or ministry—then he knows that he can affect generations. He can have their children, and their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren.
The marriage is 100% and 100%. It takes a lot to begin to live together as one. Realize this, Satan didn’t even show up to attack Adam and Eve until they were married. And for some of us, we have this naive notion that if we just get married, then our trials, and our troubles, and our temptations will go away. No, that’s when our enemy comes, and the battle will intensify. The storyline of the Bible is from a wedding to a war, and there’s been a war from the beginning surrounding marriage, especially the marriage of God’s people.

Marriage is also two things.It’s covenant and consummation, according to God’s Word. So first of all, covenant, you’ll find it in Malachi 2. “The LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth.” He’s speaking to the men here. “She is your companion and your wife by Covenant.”

Now, this is the big debate in our day is, is marriage a civil contract, or is it a biblical covenant? A civil contract is really just between two people. It’s more of a business arrangement; it’s a legal arrangement. It’s like two business partners merging into one firm. It’s civil. The Christian understanding, the biblical understanding, is that it is not merely civil but covenantal—meaning, it’s not just two people. It’s two people in God who oversees the covenant. I want to be very clear: that which is civil is civil and that which is covenantal is covenantal. And our view of marriage is entirely guided by Scriptures. And it doesn’t matter what vote is taken or what the politicians or the Supreme Court determine; ultimately, what we care about is what God has said. So it covenantal. This means that it is permanent, that it is exclusive, and that it is sacred.

Marriage is covenantal and it includes consummation. Two people who are sleeping together are not married because they don’t have the covenantal aspect—all they have is the consummation aspect. Two people who are really good friends and love one another and spend time together, but have not entered into covenant and consummated it, are not married.

This is why it’s covenant and it’s consummation: it speaks of this in Genesis 2:24(HCSB)A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife”—there’s the covenant—“and the two shall become one flesh.” there’s the consummation.

Christians think differently about everything, not just this thing. We believe we’re made male and female in the image and likeness of God, that marriage is not just civil and contractual, it is covenantal, it is for one man and one woman, and it is defined by covenant in the presence of God and consummation between the husband and the wife. Some translations say cleave, This word has two ideas behind it. One is to be “glued” to his wife, a picture of how tight the marriage bond is to be. The other aspect is to “pursue hard after” the wife. This “pursuing hard after” is to go beyond the courtship leading to marriage, and is to continue throughout the marriage. The fleshly tendency is to “do what feels good to me” rather than to consider what will benefit the spouse. And this self-centeredness is the rut that marriages commonly fall into once the “honeymoon is over.” Instead of each spouse dwelling upon how his or her own needs are not being met, he or she is to remain focused on meeting the needs of the spouse.

You Were Created To Be One

Husbands and wives: you were created to be one. That’s the way God set it up and that’s the way it should be. So why does it sometimes feel like you’re far, far away from that ideal? Intimacy can suffer when we get away from our God-ordained status of drawing together. Often when we hear the words “intimacy” and “marriage” together, we think the conversation is going to be about sex. And yes, sex is important for building intimacy! But it’s not the only aspect of true marital intimacy. Emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, financially, and in every other way, the couple is to become one. Even as one part of the body cares for the other body parts (the stomach digests food for the body, the brain directs the body for the good of the whole, the hands work for the sake of the body, etc.), so each partner in the marriage is to care for the other. Each partner is no longer to see money earned as “my” money; but rather as “our” money. Ephesians 5 gives the application of this “oneness” to the role of the husband and to the wife, respectively. Ephesians 5:21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Sex Plays A Role In Intimacy

Marital intimacy means so much more than just sex. But it does include sex. Because physical intimacy is key to maintaining a long-lasting, deep intimacy with your spouse. Sex isn’t intended to be some sort of obligation or “marital duty;” sex is intended to be a wonderful moment of pleasure and enjoyment! In marriage, the act of sex is one of the most expressive, vulnerable, and wordless ways you can create intimacy, as you and your spouse truly enjoy one another’s company, which is something that today’s readings express wonderfully. So make some time together with your spouse today. Deepen your intimacy physically with one another. It’s biblical!

Sex is renewing a covenant. The original purpose of sex was to “become one  flesh,” meaning a complete personal union. Sex creates deep intimacy, oneness, and communion between two people Genesis 2:24(HCSB)24 This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh;. In the Bible oneness is not simply a matter of emotion but is always the creation of a martial covenant. In the world view, sex is self-expression; in the biblical view, sex is self-giving.

1 Corinthians 7:3-5(HCSB) A husband should fulfill his marital responsibility to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. 4 A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another sexually—except when you agree for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

God created sex, He created it for us to enjoy, He created male and female with body parts to enjoy one another. Sex becomes “bad” when it is done outside of the covenant of marriage.

God gave us Married people the gift of sex. There are two gifts after Salvation that God gave us for pleasure, Sex & Taste buds.

There are scriptures that speak about sex for pleasure, there is a whole book written called Song of Solomon.
Proverbs 5:15 (HCSB)Drink water from your own cistern,water flowing from your own well. 16 Should your springs flow in the streets, streams of water in the public squares? 17 They should be for you alone and not for you to share with strangers.18 Let your fountain be blessed, and take pleasure in the wife of your youth. 19  A loving doe, a graceful fawn—let her breasts always satisfy you;be lost in her love forever.

The bible says multiple times in Song of Solomon not to “Awaken love “ before it’s time.

Song of Solomon compares waiting for marriage to guarding a vineyard. In the springtime of the year, when flowers are in bloom and all nature is telling you to go forth, be fruitful and multiply, the woman warns us of the little foxes that can damage the fragile blossoms of the vineyard, with serious long-term consequences for its fruitfulness Song of Solomon 2:15(HCSB)Catch the foxes for us—the little foxes that ruin the vineyards—for our vineyards are in bloom.. She reminds us that the farmer who invests his energy in protecting the integrity of the vineyard will not regret it later, even though the benefits of this painful perseverance won’t be reaped until the time is fully ripe.

Vineyard tending is a long, patient process of waiting and watching in which one failure doesn’t bring the whole endeavor to nothing. The farmer who fails doesn’t have to give up the vineyard as damaged goods. He can repent and rebuild the broken wall tear out the weeds and start again to watch and wait. Equally, while keeping the walls and weeding is important in vineyard tending, it is not the only thing. It’s about taking care of tender blossoms. Tending your sexual vineyard is therefore not simply about actual physical sexual intercourse; it is about protecting your mind from habitual lust, romantic fantasy, and pornography, all of which can have long-term damaging effects. You can have a vineyard whose walls are still intact but whose blossoms have been trampled into the muddy dirt in other ways.

The Bible is full of covenant renewal ceremonies. When God enters into a personal relationship with someone, he is not so unrealistic as to think that mere emotion can serve as the basis for it. He knows that human emotions come and go and that there needs to be something binding to provide consistency and endurance. So God requires a binding, public, legal covenant as the infrastructure for intimacy. It is far easier to be vulnerable to someone who has bindingly promised to be exclusively faithful to you than to someone who is under no obligation to stay with you for more than one night. Thus God demands covenants. But even that is not enough. He regularly gets his people together to reread the terms of the covenant, remember the history of his acts of grace in their lives, and recommit themselves through renewal of the covenant. The ultimate covenant renewal ceremony is the Lord’s Supper. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper renews the covenant made at baptism; through the breaking of bread and the pouring out of wine it reenacts the selfless sacrifice of Jesus to us. In addition, in the receiving and eating of the sacrament it reenacts the giving of ourselves to Jesus. We reenact the total commitment and oneness we have in Christ as a way of renewing and deepening that oneness.

In the same way, marriage is a covenant, one that creates a place of security for vulnerability. But though covenant is necessary for sex, sex is also necessary for covenant. The covenant will grow stale unless we continually revisit and reenact it. Sex is a covenant renewal ceremony for marriage, the physical reenactment of the inseparable oneness in all other areas—economic, legal, personal, psychological—created by the marriage covenant. Sex renews and revitalizes the marriage covenant.

God has built this great gift to bring a couple together. Dr. Stephen Arterburn says it this way: “Sexual pleasure is one of the most intense human experiences. Physically speaking, when a man and woman are together,” he says that, “a chemical is released into the brain called an opioid.” That means opium-like. He goes on to say, “Apart from a heroin-induced experience, nothing is more physically pleasurable. This is a wonderful thing in a committed marriage relationship, because it helps bond two people together and bring joy to living together and building a relationship.” It brings oneness.

See, so when God tells you to be faithful to your spouse, to practice chastity before marriage, to enjoy fidelity within marriage, what he’s saying is, “I want the best for you. I want you to be one with your spouse. I want you to be connected theologically. I want you to be connected emotionally. I want you to be connected mentally. I want you to be connected financially. I want you to be connected biologically. I want you to increasingly grow to be one.”

Marriage is far more than just a man and a woman. When it is covenantal, it includes the Lord Jesus, a portrait of the church and the eternal kingdom of God. And it is for those people who are in the New Covenant with Jesus—they’re in saving relationship with Jesus Christ. And the consummation is not sexual, but it is spiritual, where after the resurrection of the dead and all things are made new, just like a bride would go to live with her husband, so God’s people will go to his kingdom, the place that Jesus is preparing for us right now.

the Churches in Revelation, Thyatira the Corrupt Church

Revelation 2:18-29(HCSB)18 “Write to the angel of the church in Thyatira:

“The Son of God, the One whose eyes are like a fiery flame and whose feet are like fine bronze, says: 19 I know your works—your love, faithfulness, service, and endurance. Your last works are greater than the first. 20 But I have this against you: You tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and teaches and deceives My slaves to commit sexual immorality and to eat meat sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Look! I will throw her into a sickbed and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her practices. 23 I will kill her children with the plague. Then all the churches will know that I am the One who examines minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who haven’t known the deep things of Satan—as they say—I do not put any other burden on you. 25 But hold on to what you have until I come. 26 The one who is victorious and keeps My works to the end: I will give him authority over the nations— 27 and he will shepherd them with an iron scepter; he will shatter them like pottery— just as I have received this from My Father. 28 I will also give him the morning star.29 “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. 

G. K. Chesterton said, “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” Some would say Christians are intolerant, and some Christians would say that others are intolerant of us.

Tolerance is an assumed virtue. If you don’t hold to an open, tolerant view, where you agree with, and support, and embrace everyone and everything, then you’re bigoted. You’re narrow minded. You’re discriminatory. You’re prejudiced. You’re outdated. Tolerance is a cancer that enters a church and causes it then to be some a corrupt church. And this church was corrupted.

He says, “But this I have against you, you tolerate that woman Jezebel,” he says, “who calls herself a prophetess.” A spiritual leader that God didn’t appoint, but she appointed herself. “And is teaching and is seducing my servants to practice,” “Sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.”

Here’s the doctrinal correction. He says, “You tolerate that woman Jezebel.” Now, Jezebel is a type of person, like a Judas, a traitor. The actual woman Jezebel lived a long time prior to this in the Old Testament, in the days of Elijah. And she was a very powerful woman.

1 Kings 16:30-33(HCSB)30 But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight more than all who were before him. 31 Then, as if following the sin of Jeroboam son of Nebat were a trivial matter, he married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and then proceeded to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he had built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him. Ahab and Jezebel’s reign over Israel is one of the saddest chapters in the history of God’s people.

Jezebel rises when there is an Ahab, an Ahab is a man who is a weak leader, who has a laxed view on sin, seduced by women. Who gives in to sexual immorality, who is most often in sexual immorality himself.  Ahab’s lax view on sin in the people led to the rise of Jezebel. Biblically speaking, Jezebel would have had no influence on Israel without Ahab. Every ‘Jezebel’ needs an ‘Ahab’ both to establish credibility and to give in to their need to exercise dominion.

Jezebel’s story is found in 1 and 2 Kings. She was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Tyre/Sidon and priest of the cult of Baal, a cruel, sensuous and revolting false god whose worship involved sexual degradation and lewdness. Ahab, king of Israel, married Jezebel and led the nation into Baal worship

So she starts the Baal worship, What it is, is it’s a compromised faith, it’s a hyphenated faith, it’s a diluted faith, it’s a compromised faith. It’s a “both/and,” when Jesus says, “Either/or.” See false religion always adds to the gospel, It says “Jesus is not enough, His work on the cross isn’t enough, His blood isn’t enough. I say Jesus + Nothing = Salvation.

False Religions/Demonations, (Not denominations) ALWAYS add to the saving work of Jesus. You need Jesus and works, Jesus and speaking in tongues, Jesus and baptism, Jesus and Penance, Jesus and Purgatory, Jesus and living Holy.

Now, there’s a woman like that in the church at Thyatira many years later. We don’t know if she started off as an official leader in the church, we don’t know if it just the spirit of Jezebel at work in the church. What we do know, she’s very influential, she’s very powerful. She is causing division. She’s becoming very powerful, very influential. Jesus was most likely referring to a woman in the church who influenced it the same way Jezebel influenced Israel into idolatry and sexual immorality, Jesus declares to the Thyatirans that she is not to be tolerated. Whoever this woman was, like Jezebel, she refused to repent of her immorality and her false teaching, and her fate was sealed. The Lord Jesus cast her onto a sick bed, along with those who committed idolatry with her. The end for those who succumb to a Jezebel spirit is always death and destruction, both in the physical and the spiritual sense.

The Greek word here for Jezebel is a synonym for a false teacher. She clearly represents false doctrines. Jesus clears it up by continuing, “…who do not hold this teaching…” Revelation 2:24(HCSB)24 I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who haven’t known the deep things of Satan—as they say—I do not put any other burden on you.

Here is a group of God’s people, full of good works and charity, having a form of faith and patience. With all that is good and commendable, there is something very dangerous going on, something so seductive that Christ warns He will send judgement and make them an example to all the churches. Certain members of the church were selling out to Satan. Their good works, charity, service, faith and patience were overshadowed by a seduction of false doctrine. They were under the spell of a false teaching, a teaching that came disguised as the true Word but was in fact evil.

We can call this a doctrine of demons. Jesus made Jezebel’s name synonymous with false doctrine. It is a doctrine which teaches that something evil can be good, that the profane can be pure. There are multitudes of pastors, teachers preachers and evangelists completely under the seductive spell of this Jezebel doctrine. These seduced teachers are in turn producing “children of seduction”. They teach fornication and the consumption of the food of idols – this is spiritual fornication. This is eating the demonic food of doctrines that excuse sin. It is dangerous to sit under the wrong teaching. False doctrine can damn you more easily than all the lusts and sins of the flesh. False preachers and teachers are sending more people to hell than any other thing on earth. Multitudes of blind, misled Christians are singing and praising the Lord in churches enslaved by false doctrine. Thousands are sitting under teachers who are pouring out the doctrine of demons – and they come away saying, “Wasn’t that wonderful”? Wasn’t that fantastic? I feel so encouraged and empowered, I don’t feel convicted at all!! Pastor so and so he never preaches a sermon that makes you feel convicted.

Christ does not take this matter lightly.He calls Pastors and Elders to warn, to expose and to save His people and His servants from this terrible seduction. We had better get serious about it. It is serious where you go to church. It is serious who you are listening to. The teaching that has your heart has your eternity.

God’s people are selling out to Satan on every side by giving themselves into the hands of false teachers and pushers of false doctrines. One of the main jobs of the Pastor is warn the sheep of wolves,of false teaching. Paul has a word to those who are pastors and who aspire to be a pastor. If you cannot or will not “refute those who contradict” then you should not be a pastor. God does not want shepherds to be belligerent and walking around all the time with a theological chip on their shoulder. But if you are the kind of person who always shrinks back from conflict—either because you’re afraid or because you don’t want to risk offending people or risk your chance at gathering a megachurch—if you always shrink back from the conflict that sound doctrine brings, then you are not qualified to be a pastor. As long as false teaching exists in the world, you must be willing to meet this challenge if you are to be a pastor.

Confronting false teachers is not the responsibility of the pastor alone.

Titus 1:9(HCSB) holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.

Titus 3:10-11(HCSB)10 Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned.

What are churches to do when false teachers from outside a congregation exert an influence within the congregation? The apostle John addresses such a scenario in 2 John and 3 John. He says that 2 John 1:7-9(HCSB)7 Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves so you don’t lose what we have worked for, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son. John says that the congregation has a responsibility to refuse all support for such teachers. Moreover, the congregation must not behave in any way that might indicate endorsement of their false teaching. 2 John 1:10-11(HCSB)10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home, and don’t say, “Welcome,” to him; 11 for the one who says, “Welcome,” to him shares in his evil works. 

The only teachers whom the church supports are those whose teaching is in accordance with the standard of divine truth. For all others, we must be clear about our rejection of their dangerous teaching. This not only applies to those whom we give our money. It also applies to those Christians that we would be willing to extend the hand of fellowship to outside of our church. We must be careful not to imply through our associations with false denominations and religions affirmation of false teachers.

Is your teacher rebuking with authority, speaking and exhorting you to forsake sin and to lay down all idols as he is instructed in Titus 2? Are you learning to hate sin passionately? Or do you leave church, still not deeply convicted? Can you go out clinging to pet sins?

So many people are saying, “Our pastor says, “I’m not here to preach against sin; I’m here to lift up Jesus.” Or, “None of that condemnation preaching from this pulpit – I’m here to lift the fear and depression in my people.” Even with preachers there are two extremes. Some scream a hard legalistic gospel without love, one of works; while others preach against sin like cowards, taking it all back in the end of the same message.

The doctrine of Christ is a doctrine of godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 6:3-4(HCSB)3 If anyone teaches other doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, 4 he is conceited, understanding nothing, but has a sick interest in disputes and arguments over words. From these come envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions. The preaching of Christ’s doctrine will bless, strengthen and encourage you, but it will also convict you so deeply you cannot sit under it and still cling to a secret lust.

The mark of a Christian seduced by Jezebel is that he is always seeking some new, different, strange teaching. The Bible warns, Hebrews 13:9(HCSB)9 Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited. Do not be driven to this and that, taken from place to place. This is not speaking of those rare times a mature believer goes to hear a true man of God preach Christ and repentance. This speaks of running from place to place, seminar to convention, church to church, miracle meeting after healing meeting, having no roots. Their ears are always itching to hear something new, something sensational, something entertaining, something pleasing to their flesh. They are pleasure seekers riding the winds of doctrines. People like this usually do not stay at a church that refuses to scratch itching ears. They want to be stroked, not rebuked. So they run back to their teachers – the sooth-sayers, the happy positive-thinkers when they hear a message that convicts.

Jezebel represents false doctrine and Ahab is its victim. The Bible states that it was not enough that Ahab had a heart bent toward sin, idolatry and compromise. He brings into his life a satanic influence that will confirm him in his sin. 1 Kings 21:25(HCSB)25 Still, there was no one like Ahab, who devoted himself to do what was evil in the Lord’s sight, because his wife Jezebel incited him.

The message is that the tendency of Christians who hold to secret sin and lust is to embrace and become married to a false doctrine which will only excite and confirm them in their sins. The last thing Ahab needed was a Jezebel. She brought out the worst in him, magnified it and destroyed him. So it is with false doctrine. If there is any sin, lust or worldliness in you, the last thing you need is a doctrine that will bring out your worst. When David sinned with Bathsheba, he did not need a false prophet with a soothing message to tell him how much God loved him. He needed the uncompromising prophet Nathan, with a pointed finger, crying out, “You are the man”. Those who preach the doctrine of Christ show the people the difference between the evil and the good. There is no mixture from their lips. Ezekiel 44:23(HCSB)23 They must teach My people the difference between the holy and the common, and explain to them the difference between the clean and the unclean.

Ezekiel denounces these false prophets who enrich themselves by bringing a message excusing sin. Ezekiel 11:25-28(HCSB) The conspiracy of her prophets within her is like a roaring lion tearing its prey: they devour people, seize wealth and valuables, and multiply the widows within her. 26 Her priests do violence to My instruction and profane My holy things. They make no distinction between the holy and the common, and they do not explain the difference between the clean and the unclean. They disregard My Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.27 “Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey, shedding blood, and destroying lives in order to make profit dishonestly. 28 Her prophets plaster with whitewash for them by seeing false visions and lying divinations, and they say, ‘This is what the Lord God says,’ when the Lord has not spoken.

As a result, we have whole churches full of mixed up people who cannot even recognize evil when they see it. When the truth is told to them they call it a lie and believe the false prophets over the bible teaching prophets. False teaching are more popular than truth teachings now a days.

Here Jezebel is teaching things, but the reason that she’s popular is not because her teaching is so biblical, but because it allows sexual sin.

So this would be like in our day, someone becomes very popular because they say, “You could be a faithful Christian and a porn addict. You could be a faithful Christian and an adulterer. You could be a faithful Christian and a fornicator. And you can have both, and God doesn’t judge, and we shouldn’t judge, and we should be tolerant and diverse. And Jesus loves you, and we love you. And who are we to judge?” Jesus says, “This I have against you, you tolerate that.”

Let’s not change the Word of God, let’s allow the Word of God to change us.

There is a price to be paid for faithfulness to the God of the Bible. Back then their were these idol cults, these prestigious clubs that you paid a price to be part of.  So this woman comes along and says, “You can have both. You don’t need to pick and choose between faithfulness to Jesus, and comfort and convenience. You can have comfort and convenience and Christ.” And a lot of people raise their hand and say, “That sounds great. So I’ll worship Jesus and false demon gods. I’ll give money to my idols and the church. I’ll go to church and hear about sexual purity, but then if the idols has a crazy event, you know, nobody’s perfect.

It’s a sin for Christians to be more tolerant than Christ. He says, “But this I have against you, you tolerate.” Some of you are more tolerant than Jesus. Hey, bottom line, not everybody is going to heaven. Bottom line, not all religions lead to the same path. Bottom line, not all saviors can save. Bottom line, not all sacred books say the same thing or tell the truth.

Ok so how about legal tolerance in culture? Should we practice legal tolerance in culture? Meaning, we believe Muslims have the right to worship, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Buddhists, Baha’is, atheists, agnostics. It’s not that we agree with it, but that we’ll tolerate it.

Should we have legal tolerance of other views, other religions, other ideologies, other perspectives? Yes, we should, because Christianity is not a religion, not a belief system that is imposed. It’s about loving Jesus Christ. You can’t simply pass a law that says everybody love Jesus. It doesn’t work like that.

So, we don’t impose Christian faith, but we propose Christian faith. “We’d like to talk to you about Jesus. He loves you. We want you to love him.” So we don’t think that we can in any way impose faith by making Christianity the legal religion, and then making other beliefs illegal the way Muslim countries do it.

Number two, how about social tolerance in community? Meaning you have a family member that disagrees with you, you have a friend that disagrees with you, you have a coworker or a neighbor that disagrees with you. They hold to another religion, spirituality, ideology. They’re an atheist, they’re an agnostic, they’re something else. Should we tolerate them socially and personally? Totally.

Jesus tells us to love our neighbor. He doesn’t say agree with them. They don’t agree with us. They’re very intolerant of our intolerance. But yes, you should love, serve, be good friends with, neighbors to people of other beliefs, and ideologies, and religions, and perspectives. Absolutely, because Jesus says, “Love your neighbor.” So yes, we should practice social tolerance in our community.

Number three, how about theological tolerance in the church?In Church there are some who believe in a pre-trib rapture and some who don’t. Some who say you have to sing hymns and some who say you have to sing contemporary.  And there are all kinds of open handed, secondary issues, that, yeah, we just tolerate a little difference. We could talk about it, but we’re not going to declare war over it. These are distinctions, they’re not divisions.

We need to be that kind of community that loves, and serves, and tolerates, and brings along fellow brothers and sisters, and reconsiders ideas, and learns to live together peaceably.

How about beyond our local church partnering with other churches? Should we tolerate other churches? Yes. They may disagree with us on certain open handed issues. But they really do love Jesus, believe the Bible, they are family, we’ll be with them in the kingdom of God. So, yeah, we need to be friendly and, for the sake of evangelism, partner that people might meet Jesus. And lovingly have a discussion about some of the things we disagree about. But that’s not war. This is just dialogue between brothers and sisters. But we do not tolerate heretical beliefs and partner with those churches who teach them.

Number four, how about heretical tolerance in the church? See, there are certain beliefs that are national borders, others that are state borders. The Bible is God’s Word. Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus lived without sin, died on the cross in our place, rose as our Savior. The Bible is the Word of God. Those kinds of things are closed handed issues. Open Handed Issues: are you Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, Reformed? We should get along across the open handed issues, but we still have to protect the close handed issues.

Somebody comes along, and they’re teaching heresy. They’re claiming to be a Christian, we’re not talking about Christians, they’re claiming to be Christians, and they’re doing what this woman is doing. Teaching false doctrine, encouraging false thinking and behaving. “No, we don’t tolerate that.”

Because here’s what the Bible says, “Sheep, shepherds, wolves.” The people are like sheep. The pastors are to be shepherds. Jesus is the chief shepherd. And Satan sends in wolves. Spiritual leaders who are powerful, influential, winsome, and evil. It would be very unloving to the sheep to tolerate the wolves. And some will say, “Boy, man, he gets a little fired up when talking about wolves.” Yeah, shepherds tend to get fired up with wolves. Right, when there are wolves, shepherds shoot the wolves, they point out the wolves, they take their staff and hit the wolves because they love the sheep. “That teaching is not biblical. That’s not right. You are teaching heresy, you are taking scripture out of context,You can’t just use these people. You can’t just lead them astray.

Do we allow wolves? No. Again, non-Christians aren’t wolves. What we’re talking about is those who say they’re Christians, and then lead people away from Christianity. That’s exactly what’s going on at Thyatira. He says, “But this I hold against you. Not only are you good at loving and helping, but you’re good at loving and helping wolves. Keep loving and helping, but stop doing it to wolves.” Anytime a shepherd allows wolves, they really don’t love the sheep. They really don’t love the sheep.

Now, let me say this, Christianity begins with tolerance and moves to repentance. Meaning, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, what you’ve done, come to Jesus just like you are. And he’s going to change you. So it begins with tolerance and it moves to repentance. Jesus says, “Come to me. And you’re going to change.” So the issue is, can we welcome people? Absolutely, we welcome them to change.

Christianity starts with tolerance, come as you are, and then Jesus says, “I’m going to change you.” And if we never call people to repentance, if we never say, “The way you’re thinking is wrong, the way you’re acting is wrong, the lifestyle you’ve chosen, the identity you’ve embraced, the actions that you celebrate are ones you should be mourning,” then we’re no longer Christians. We’re no longer faithful. We’re cult leaders, we’re heretics, we’re apostate. Meanwhile, those in culture will cheer us, and Jesus would rebuke us and say, “But this I have against you, you tolerate.”

You can repent, and if you do, you’ll be rewarded. It’s not too late. You can say, “Yeah, I’m wrong. I got to change. Jesus help me. Forgive my sin. Change me from the inside out. You can repent right now. You could say, “I’m a sinner. I need Jesus. What I’m thinking is wrong. Who I’m listening to is wrong. The books I’m reading are wrong. The arguments I have are wrong. Because my heart is wrong. Because I want to do whatever I want to do. And Jesus loves me enough to tell me to stop.”

Or there could be justice in judgment. He talks about this. He talks about sexual sin leads to sickness. Spiritual adultery leads to death and war with God. That’s the language and imagery. In that day it was customary, when two nations would go to war, the king would assemble his people, he’d take a vase or a jar made out of, let’s say, clay. He would write the name of the opposing king and kingdom on it, and as an act, publicly, of a declaration of war, he would slam it on the ground and it would shatter into a million pieces. And that meant, we’re off to war. Sin is declaring war on God. And here Jesus is saying, “If you don’t repent, I’m writing your name, and we’re going to war.” This is very serious.