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Category Archives: Spiritual Warfare

God’s Armor – The Shield of Faith

In talking about God’s Armor, the next piece we’ll see is the Shield of Faith.  That’s probably one of the most preached about in our generation.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Ephesians 6:16

There are some assumptions being made in this verse.  Paul says that this is in addition to the pieces already talked about. This assumes that you’re already standing firm in the Word, walking in righteousness, and prepared to do God’s will.

We can stand firm in just these.  What we have to realize is that when we take up the shield, we’re going from defense to offense in the spiritual battle.  Up until this point, your goal is to keep the enemy from harming you.

You add the shield so that you can now defeat the enemy.  You take up the Shield of Faith because you’re now going into the part of the battle where the arrows are flying.

Please understand that I’m not talking about saving faith.  You’ve already trusted Christ for that.  I’m also not talking about faith in the promises of God.  I’m looking at using faith in the middle of the battle as a shield.

It’s your protection against the flaming arrows of the evil one.  This means that there’s more than just one arrow headed in your direction.

That brings me to the word, shield, itself.  The Greek word used in this verse is not the little one that looks like a trashcan cover.  Get that picture out of your mind, even though most of the illustrations for the Christian armor look like that.

The word Paul uses comes from the word door.  That’s because this shield is as big as a door.  The soldier could hide behind it and be totally protected from these arrows as long as he stayed there.

That tells me that faith protects my whole life.  So far, the armor has protected my mind, my heart, and my will.  This piece protects everything else.

This shield protects me from evil.  What kind of evil?  I’m talking about the random evil that’s flying in the front lines.  The archers on the wall loose a volley of arrows against those who are advancing.  These are simply flying to take out whoever they can hit.

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day…
Psalms 91:5

If the enemy can hit our flesh with evil, then our flesh will take us out of the fight.  We’ll end up battling our own sin nature instead of defeating the devil’s kingdom.

However, there’s one more purpose of the shield other than for protection.  In the Roman army, everybody’s shield was painted differently.  They did this because your shield identified your family.  Members of the same family had the same design on their shields.

But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house.  And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.
Hebrews 3:6

The fact is that we’re now in God’s family.  This verse tells us that we can show it by our outspokenness.  When we walk in faith, we can boldly declare our expectation in Christ.  In that way, we show what family we belong to.

This is the shield that protects us from evil.  In my next post, I’ll talk about how to use and apply this piece of armor.

Question: How has God shielded you from the enemy’s attacks?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2019 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Spiritual Warfare

 

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God’s Armor – Using the Shoes of Readiness

In my last post, I talked about what the shoes protect.  They keep our endurance to complete God’s will in our lives.  Today I want to talk about how to use this piece of armor.

We’re told in Ephesians 6:15, that this readiness comes from the Gospel of Peace.  The Apostle explained this Gospel right in this same letter.  You may want to read Ephesians 2:11-22 before continuing with this post.

In the second chapter of Ephesians, Paul shows us that the Gentiles were far from God, while the Jews were in His family.  However, when Christ came, He destroyed all the barriers.

Formerly there were three parties at war: God, Gentiles, and the Jews.  Through His death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus reconciled all people to Himself.  We are all members of one body.  We all have unlimited access to God.

Paul concludes that chapter by stating the point of the Gospel of Peace.

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Ephesians 2:21-22

Now, everyone who bows their knee to Christ has a place in this Temple.  We are being built into a dwelling place for God.

What we’re told to do takes effort.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:3

We’re told here to guard the oneness of the Spirit in the bond, or literally, the ligament of peace.  Contrary to what many say, peace is not just some calming factor.  It’s the glue, the unifying factor, in the body of Christ.

This tells me that I put on my Shoes of Readiness by connecting to the body of Christ.  In talking about the reason for the five-fold ministry gifts, the Apostle Paul explains it.

…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…
Ephesians 4:12

This is why we connect with the body of Christ.  By connecting, I learn to serve.

I know that right now many don’t go to church meetings.  Maybe they’ve been hurt in the past.  Or it could be the proliferation of TV and online preachers.

There’s a question that some ask.  “Can’t I be a Christian and never go to a church?”  The answer to that is yes, but it’s not all about you.  Apart from a local church, you can never be prepared for works of service that build up the body of Christ.

Of course, there are a lot of believers who attend church yet aren’t connected.  That puts you in the same condition.  You’re shoeless.

As a matter of fact, the above verse continues to say…

…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:13

It’s all about the body of Christ as a whole operating on the level of Christ.  That’s not going to happen without us all being connected.  The church needs to arise in this generation.

That’s how you put on the shoes of readiness.  You can’t move forward unless you find your connection.  If you’re not connected to a local body of believers, then you’re trying to walk without shoes.

It’s my connection to a local church that fleshes out the Gospel of Peace.  Then, from that connection, my spiritual feet can be protected as I move forward in God’s will.

Question: What are your connections in the body of Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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God’s Armor – The Shoes of Readiness

As I continue with my series on the Armor of God, today we’ll look at the shoes.

…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Ephesians 6:15

It’s obvious that this piece of armor protects our feet.  The question is; what are our spiritual feet?

Simply put, we walk with our feet.  This includes three aspects.  Direction…we point our feet where we want to go.  Speed…this could be determined by a number of factors.  Endurance…as a hiker I know that I can only walk as long as my feet are able.

So to answer my question I need to understand what it is that determines my direction, speed, and endurance in my spiritual walk.  In life, it’s my will that brings all of these things into focus.

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.
Psalms 18:32-33

God perfects the way before me, but I still have to set my will to walk it out.  My will determines my direction, speed, and endurance.  This is important for us to know.

Knowing this, we’re told that something needs to be fitted on our spiritual feet.  The word, fitted, in the verse from Ephesians literally means an under binding.

That’s because my will is where I come in contact with the world.  It’s just like in the natural; my shoes protect my feet as they contact the earth.  When I live for Christ, my will comes in direct opposition to that of the world.

It’s in this place of contact that your endurance can get worn down.  If you don’t wear shoes, or don’t wear the right shoes, the earth determines how you walk.  With the right shoes, you determine your walk.

Like I’ve said, I’m a hiker.  I have a good set of hiking boots.  I’ve gone out for day hikes with friends who only had a pair of flimsy sneakers.  I laughed as they slowly picked their way so as not to step in mud or on a sharp rock.  But I was able to move straight forward because my feet were properly protected.

As I look at the armor, I notice that there’s a specific order to put it on.  It starts with the mind (The belt), then moves to the heart (The breastplate), and now we prepare our will.

That answers a question that many ask.  How do I know God’s will for my life?  Once you protect your mind and your heart, you’re ready to hear God’s will.  There’s a divine order to it.

Having said all of this, I think the keyword is readiness, the preparedness to do God’s will.  We must realize, even before we know God’s will for us, that it’s going to be the opposite of what the world desires.  Unless we’re prepared to protect it, our day to day life will wear it down.

Any believer can start doing God’s will.  Only those who can endure to the end can finish what they started.  We need the preparation that can only come from the Gospel of Peace.

We sometimes get the idea that everything’s okay.  “When something comes up, I’ll do the right thing.”  NO!  You won’t unless you’ve prepared yourself for that evil day.

The fact is that if you don’t prepare beforehand, you won’t choose God’s will when you’re under extreme pressure.  The Lord has provided a way for us to walk in victory, but we have to put the armor on.

At one point in Paul’s ministry, he knew God’s will for him was to go to Jerusalem.  All along the way, prophecies came forth warning that he would be arrested.  The church people pleaded with him not to go.

Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Acts 21:13

We need that same preparation.  No matter what comes our way, we’re ready to follow through and complete God’s will for our lives.

Question: What’s the next step in God’s plan for your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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God’s Armor – Using the Breastplate of Righteousness

In my last post, I showed how the Breastplate of Righteousness was given to us to protect our hearts.  That’s the good ground of our life.  It’s where we plant the good seed of the Word of God.

In Scripture, we’re told to put on the full armor of God.  That means it’s a choice I have to make.  The first thing we need to understand is what this righteousness is.

In the Bible, we’re told about two kinds of righteousness and both of them are important.  First, there’s the position of righteousness.  That means I’m declared righteous simply because I’m in Christ and He’s my righteousness.

Because of this position of righteousness, I can go into the presence of God whenever I want.  Whether I need forgiveness, or simply want to praise and worship the Father, I have 24/7 access to God’s throne.

I praise God for the position of righteousness that we’ve been granted in Christ.  However, that’s not the righteousness that protects our ground.  The breastplate speaks of the walk of righteousness.

How does the walk of righteousness protect my heart?  In the natural, Scripture talks about the enemies that invaded Israel and ruined their fields.  Fire, drought, foxes, stones, salt, weeds, locust, and hail were all causes of crop failure.

In our walk with God, we’re warned to be careful not to form intimate relationships with unbelievers.  We’re told that bad companionships corrupt good character (1 Corinthians 15:33).  By becoming intimate with the world you’re opening up yourself for a broken heart – rocky, stony soil.

When your walk is not right before God, you have an open, unprotected heart.  If you remember, a few posts ago I showed that the armor wasn’t Paul’s invention.  There’s a word picture of God wearing His armor in the Old Testament.

Knowing this, Paul described what the breastplate consists of.

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
1 Thessalonians 5:8

The first thing Paul talks about here is self-control.  You may not want to hear this, but it takes self-control to put on the breastplate.

The word, self-control, in this verse, is not the same as the fruit of the spirit.  This Greek word means to be sober, not drunk.  We can’t be so intoxicated with the world that we miss God’s best.

Then, Paul gives us a closer look at this breastplate.  He tells us that it’s comprised of a combination of faith and love.  Walking in faith and love is the completion of your righteousness before God.

It should be obvious how this works.  I must choose to trust God.  I must choose to love God.  This is a daily choice, to walk in righteousness.  It’s a faith-love walk.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Galatians 5:6

In the New Covenant, circumcision is all about the rules of men.  The reality is that in Christ rules don’t count for anything.  Only a walk of righteousness matters.

This verse talks about being in Christ Jesus.  That’s where you have to be to use the armor.  This passage literally says that in Christ…the only thing that has force is faith, energized and made effective, through love.

How does this protect my heart?  When you walk in the combination of faith and love, you’re placing a “force field” of righteousness around your heart.  Your ground is protected, and you can expect your spiritual seed to grow unhindered by the enemy.

Question: What evidence do you see of faith and love working together in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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God’s Armor – The Breastplate of Righteousness

I’m now in a series where I’m going through the Armor of God in detail.  We’ve already seen how the Belt of Truth protects your store of spiritual seed.  Today we’ll move on to the breastplate.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…
Ephesians 6:14

The first thing we need to recognize is the placement of this piece of armor.  It should be obvious that this breastplate protects your heart.  That’s an important point.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Proverbs 4:23

Scripture tells us that the most important thing to guard is your heart.  It’s where your life springs from.  Why is that?  And if life flows from the heart, where does that life come from?

If we read the few verses preceding this one, we’ll get the answer.

My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.  Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.
Proverbs 4:20-22

It’s clear that everything I need for life and godliness springs from my heart.  That even includes healing for my body.  But that’s all based upon the assumption that I’m placing God’s Word in my heart.

We need to get the seeds from the storehouse (our mind) and plant them into our hearts.  Jesus taught the same thing to His disciples.  We find it in the parable of the sower.

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
Luke 8:15

Without question, your heart is the good soil of your life.  Whatever you plant in it will grow and bear fruit.  The real question is; are you planting wheat or milkweed?

When we come to Christ, our life is a mess.  The Lord comes in and the Holy Spirit begins the process of cleaning us up.

The good soil of my heart is cleared of weeds.  Through repentance, I turn the soil over regularly.  Soon I have a heart of rich, nutrient-filled ground.  It’s ready for planting.

The problem is that you can only plant what’s readily available.  That’s why in my last post I talked about the importance of filtering what we place in our minds.  Too often we allow the enemy to plant his seeds in our soil.

Then we get into the cycle of planting, letting the weeds grow, pulling them up, and then starting again.  Instead, we should be getting God’s Word planted in our hearts.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalms 37:4

Most people don’t understand what this verse is really saying.  It’s NOT saying that if you delight in the Lord, He’ll give you whatever you want.  It DOES say that if you delight in Him, He’ll put His desires into your heart.

As we place God’s Word in our hearts, His desires spring up.  Then, we’ll bear the fruit of that Word.

That’s why we need to protect our good ground.  This is where the Breastplate of righteousness comes in.  In my next post, I’ll talk about how to use the breastplate to protect your ground.
Question: What have you planted in your heart that you desire to see bear fruit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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God’s Armor – Using the Belt of Truth

In my last post, I showed that the Belt of Truth was the piece of armor that protects our minds.  When we memorize Scripture, that seed is stored in our mind.  We want it protected so that it can be planted to produce a good crop for the Lord.

How do I use this piece of armor?  Paul talked about our spiritual weaponry in his second letter to the Corinthian church.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5

In this battle to protect the seed, I need to make my thoughts obedient to Christ.  That’s the goal.  I don’t want weeds affecting my harvest.

Jesus warned His disciples about the same things.

“Be careful,” Jesus said to them.  “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Matthew 16:6

We need to watch what we let into our minds – the things that we dwell on and rehearse.  We can’t just swallow everything.  There’s a lot of religious talk out there that sounds good.  The real question is; does it line up with God’s Word?

The fact is, the more of God’s Word that we desire, the more the enemy will try to water it down.  Guarding this is the most important thing you can do if you want a fruitful life.

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care.  Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.  Grace be with you.
1 Timothy 6:20-21

Paul warned his spiritual son, Timothy, that he needed to guard the Word that had been deposited in him.  Paul literally tells him to avoid those who have crossed the line with their empty words and conflicting theories of how they think God should do things.

The Greek people had a word that they used for this kind of person.  It meant someone who just babbled on and on.  The idiom they used literally translates as a seed-picker.

Are you letting the “seed-pickers” into your life?  You need to be buckling the Belt of Truth around the loins of your mind.  Let God’s Word be a filter to stop the wrong things from getting in.

When we hear something that could affect how we serve God; it should cause a question to rise up.  Is this truth, or is it someone’s opinion?  I don’t want to be found trying to please God based on an opinion.

Please understand that I’m not talking about stray thoughts.  We all have them and there’s not much we can do about them.  But those are thoughts that are not stored yet.  I’m talking about the ones that we continue to dwell on.  They need to be passed through the filter of the Word.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32

I’ve heard people quote this verse many times…usually out of context.  Jesus was speaking to believers here.  He explains to them that if they dwell, live in, His Word, they are truly His disciples.

As Christ’s followers, it’s only as we remain in His Word that we will know the truth.  And it’s that truth that will set us free.

The more we immerse ourselves in God’s Word, the more freedom we can walk in.  We will also have a great supply of spiritual seed to plant for the increase of God’s kingdom.

Question: How do you guard what’s stored in your mind?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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God’s Armor – The Belt of Truth

Our Supply in GodNow that I’ve talked about the spiritual battle that we face, we need to know how to prepare.  To do this, the Lord has given us access to His personal set of armor.  It will take me a number of posts to cover them in detail.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…
Ephesians 6:14a

The first piece of armor that we’re given is the Belt of Truth.  We’re told that it needs to be buckled around our waist.  Literally, the belt is buckled around our loins.

In Scripture, our loins speak about our seed.  Not to be too graphic, but that’s where our reproductive organs reside.  Our seed needs to be protected.

We’re told throughout the Bible that we need to be bearing fruit.  That’s not going to happen without a good supply of seed.

First, I want to deal with some misconceptions concerning our seed.  Some think that a few bad seeds mixed in don’t matter.  That’s not true.  Weeds grow and spread without any help at all.

Another wrong thought is that anything that we plant will grow.  That’s not true either.  Galatians 6:7-9 explains that you reap what you sow IF you don’t give up.  It also matters where you sow your seed.  They need to be planted in good soil.

With that understanding, we can talk about the seed that we want to see grow in our lives.  How do we protect our precious, spiritual seed?

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:13

Peter understood this concept.  In this verse, the phrase, prepare your minds for action literally reads, gird the loins of your mind.  Spiritually speaking, your loins, the storehouse of your seed, is your mind.

The reason for this is because your mind should be where you’re placing the truth.  Every time you memorize Scripture, you’re placing good seeds in your storehouse.

The real question then becomes; how well do you protect your seed?  It’s really easy to complain when nothing seems to be growing.  We need to keep our seed from being nullified.

Jesus communicated this in His prayer to the Father.  He wanted the disciples, and us, to bear much fruit.

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:17

We’re talking about the truth of God’s Word, not man’s word.  The only way to protect your seed is to walk in the truth of God.

When we walk in doubt, fear, presumption, hearsay, or our own habits, we nullify God’s Word in us.  We need to operate in the truth – “Thus sayeth the Lord.”  Our goal should be, “I’m doing this because God said…”

We get into trouble because many times we plant a lot of unprotected seed.  We need to learn the lesson from airport security.  “Has your suitcase been away from your control?”

Please understand that this is not just a prayer you make in the morning.  You can’t just confess the Belt of Truth when you get up, and then feed the spiritual pigeons the rest of the day.

We have to protect our seed if we want to see it grow.  That means allowing the truth of God’s Word to saturate all that we do.

In my next post, I’ll talk about how to actually use the Belt of Truth in our daily lives.

Question: How much of God’s Word have you stored in your mind?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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