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God’s Armor – Using the Shield of Faith

In my last post, we saw that the Shield of Faith is the first of the offensive weaponry given to us.  It protects our whole life against the fiery trials of evil.  It also identifies me as a member of God’s family.

Today I want to talk specifically about how to use your faith in the midst of the spiritual battles you face.  Let me first warn you, because I’m going to say some things that you may not agree with.  Stick with me and see where I’m headed.

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”  With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak…
2 Corinthians 4:13

There are many places in Scripture where we’re told to speak out our faith.  This is important in using the shield.  To use faith as a shield, I must speak what I believe.

Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
1 Timothy 6:12

Paul talks about the fight of faith.  It’s a shield fight.  It can fend off the enemy when he first attacks.  It’s all about having a good confession.

Wait a minute!  Let me explain to you what I mean by “a good confession.”  First of all, that word, confession, in the Greek means to speak the same as.  This means that I confess the Word of God.

But be careful.  I’m not saying to mindlessly repeat something over and over again.  God’s Word is not some sort of magical spell.  You can’t just repeat some words and get what you want.

The key is in the verse from Corinthians.  I speak what I believe.  If I don’t believe what I’m speaking, I get no results.

Think about when Jesus was confronted by the devil in the wilderness.  The Lord was not victorious because He quoted the Scripture.  He won the battle because He believed the Scripture that He spoke.

The point is that I can’t simply have God’s Word in my head.  I need to get it into my heart.

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.  Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
Hebrews 13:7

We’re told here to imitate the faith of godly leaders.  They spoke the Word.  But more than that, because they believed it, they lived it.  It was a faith that could be seen and copied.

By spending time in God’s Word – reading, memorizing, speaking, and meditating on it – my heart begins to have faith in that Word.  Then, in the middle of a spiritual battle, the Holy Spirit is able to use that Word as a shield to protect my life.

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

As I said in my last post, faith shows that you belong to the family of God.  The word, hope, in this verse actually means expectation.  What do you expect God to do in your life?  It’s time to start boasting about it.

We need to take our trust for God’s Word out into the open.  People need to see the faith that’s in our hearts.  When I speak my faith, evil will have a hard time sticking to me.  My life will start to line up with the Word of God.

Question: What are you expecting from God in the near future?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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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 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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The Reason for Perseverance

Sometimes it seems difficult to serve Christ.  That’s especially true in the parts of the world where Christians are persecuted.  Why do we persevere through the trials?

We’re continuing to look at First Corinthians. Paul is teaching about the truth of the resurrection.  He’s writing to some believers who think that the concept of resurrection is only a suggested teaching.

Paul rebukes them and explained that belief in our future resurrection is non-optional.  Without the resurrection, there’s no salvation.

He now talks about how it relates to us.

Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead?  If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?
1 Corinthians 15:29

This probably refers to a local tradition they had in the early church.  If someone was saved in prison and was martyred before they could be baptized, someone would be baptized for them.  In this way, they could publically proclaim that this person was saved before they died.

But how does looking forward to the resurrection affect us?

And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour?  I die every day — I mean that, brothers — just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.  If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained?  If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
1 Corinthians 15:30-32

Paul walked a very difficult road in his service to Christ.  It involved persecution again and again.  It was his view of the resurrection that kept him going.

That’s why he asks the important question.  Why go through this type of suffering if there’s no resurrection?

No resurrection means that there’s no eternal life.  That would mean this life is the only thing we’d experience.  If that was the case, there would be no reason to endure hardship for the Lord.  Without eternal life to look forward to, our goal should be to go for everything the world has to offer.

The fact is that eternal life is real.  We will rise again when Christ returns to the earth.  This present world is not all that there is.  We can give all for Jesus, knowing that our future glory is something to look forward to.

The apostle gives those who don’t believe in the resurrection a final rebuke.

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God — I say this to your shame.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34

It all comes down to who you’re trying to impress.  If you spend all of your free time with unbelievers and you want to please them, then your character will suffer.  Their attitudes will start to affect you.

The ones that Paul was writing to actually got to the point where they felt that the Resurrection Day was unimportant.  Their walk with the Lord suffered because they were living for the world.  We can’t allow that to happen to us.

You need to take stock of your friendships.  What effect are they having on you?  Are you in fellowship with other believers, or do you mostly want friendship with the world?

Keep your focus on the eternal.  That’s what will give you the foundation for perseverance in Christ.

Question: How important is the future resurrection to you?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2019 in Ministry, Return of Christ, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Too Far for the Sake of Relevance

I’m continuing to look at First Corinthians, chapter 15.  Paul is talking about the concept of resurrection.  He started by reminding them of his Gospel message.  This is, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he then appeared to many credible witnesses.

Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
1 Corinthians 15:11

This is the foundation of faith that the Corinthian church was established upon.  Unfortunately, they were now trying to become more acceptable to the society around them.  Belief in someone rising from the dead was a little far out.

Greek society prided themselves on their intellect and knowledge.  It’s a lot like where I live, in the Boston area, where there’s a college or university everywhere you look.

Because they wanted to be “relevant”, they downplayed the resurrection.  Sometimes even telling people they could become a Christian without believing in it.  They were probably well-meaning and though that once they came in the door, someday they’d “see the light.”

What does Paul think about this?

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
1 Corinthians 15:12-14

Paul is very clear.  There’s no salvation without the resurrection.  If God isn’t powerful enough to raise the dead, then what was the purpose of the cross?  What Christ did on the cross is meaningless without the resurrection.

More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.  But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:15-17

Changing the truth of God’s Word in order to make it more palatable to society only removes the very heart of the message.  It’s no longer the Gospel.

Many in our generation need to understand this truth.  The Scripture says what it says.  It will offend some people.  We can’t change that.

This being said, we can change the way we handle it.  We can be more loving and less judgmental.  When Jesus ministered, He found a way to show God’s love without compromising truth.

We need to take stock of our message.  Does it line up with Scripture?  Once you leave the clear path of truth, the doctrines of faith begin to fall like dominoes.

Paul shows these Christians the end result of a belief in no resurrection.

Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
1 Corinthians 15:18-19

The bottom line is to never compromise the truth of the Word to win people to Christ.  You can change the method, but not the message.

Question: What was the message that you believed when you were saved?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2019 in Faith, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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Manifesting the Holy Spirit (Part 1)

In my last post, I talked about the differences in the way God works in each of us.  One of those was the manifestation – the appearance – of the Holy Spirit.  He works differently in each of us, personally.

Today I want to begin explaining the different ways that the Spirit of God shows Himself in us.

To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10

That’s quite a list.  I want to take some time to explain what each of these is.  Unfortunately, there are many who don’t believe that the Holy Spirit still functions in all of these.  As far as I can see, none of the manifestations come with an expiration date.

The first thing we need to know is that these are not either/or.  If the Holy Spirit chooses, He can work them all in the same person.  Christ actually walked in all of these except tongues and interpretation.  It’s up to the Spirit to decide what’s needed at the time.

We also need to see that these are supernatural manifestations.  They point to the clear fact that God is working through you.  They’re not something that you have the power to do on your own.

The Message of Wisdom.  Wisdom is the ability to use the knowledge that you have to solve a problem.  This is supernatural wisdom that God imparts to you when needed.  So you could say that it’s a supernatural problem-solving ability.

This should be a common manifestation in the lives of God’s people.  I know that in my life there were many times that God showed up like this in my job as an Electrical Engineer.  My fellow workers knew my testimony, and they knew that because of this, I could come up with answers when no one else could.

Never think that it’s some flaky thing that makes you look and act weird.  On the contrary, the gift should highlight the power of God and draw people to Christ.

The Message of Knowledge.  This one is like the message of wisdom, but it’s a supernatural impartation of God’s knowledge.  Knowledge is simply facts.  When God uses this, you know things that you wouldn’t have known by any natural means.

It could be facts about people, places or things.  When you know something that you have no way of knowing, it points to a source beyond yourself.

Many times I’ve heard believers say, “It was like a voice on the inside said…”  Then they either say that they wished they’d listened to it, or they’re glad they did listen.

We need to spend more time in the Lord’s presence so that we can be sensitive to His voice.  I believe that God wants to speak more often than we’re in a position to hear.

Faith.  Too often we don’t understand this one.  It’s not talking about the normal faith in God that we have toward His Word.  This is a supernatural faith that God imparts to us when we need it.

This is especially true of believers who are facing persecution or a severe trial.  When there’s absolutely no way out, a supernatural, incomprehensible faith rises up on the inside of you.  You have no explanation as to why you have peace and trust during the situation in which you find yourself.

This causes the people around you to question what makes you so different.  The answer should draw them to Christ.

In my next post, I’ll continue my look at these important works of the Holy Spirit in us.

Questions: Has the Holy Spirit worked these in you?  How and when have you experienced them?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Unworthy?

I’m continuing my look at Paul’s teaching about the Lord’s Supper to the Corinthian church.  As we’ve already seen, this celebration in the church is more than just a mindless tradition.  It’s not just an act we do to fill the time.

There’s a power that’s released in us as we proclaim what Christ has accomplished through His death.  Through the participation in the Communion table, we embrace what Christ obtained for us on the cross.

That’s why we have to watch our attitudes as we receive the elements.

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.
1 Corinthians 11:27-28

I’ve seen these verses used to beat up God’s people.  It’s important that we understand what Paul’s saying here.

The word, unworthy, means to be unfit.  In the context of this chapter of the Bible, we see a group of people who viewed the meal as an opportunity to exalt themselves.  That’s being unfit.  The Lord’s Supper is not about me, it’s about Christ.

We are to come to the table humbly, with the understanding that I have nothing to offer God.  He has everything I need.  If that’s not my attitude, then I’m “guilty of the body and blood…”  But what does that mean?

It means guilty in the sense that something wrong was done and now I’m obligated to make it right.  In other words, if I steal something from you, I’m now indebted to you.  If I claim that Christ is the Source of my life and He’s not, then God will work to bring me there.

Part of coming to the Lord’s Table with the right attitude is to examine myself.  That literally means to test and approve myself.

Unfortunately, there are some churches do the testing for you.  They let you know whether they think you’re worthy or not to receive the Communion elements.  That’s not God’s will.  He wants us all to examine ourselves.

What do I have to do?  Do I check under all the rugs?  Search for any little hidden sin that I might not have repented over?  I don’t believe that’s what’s being talked about here.

There’s only one place in Scripture that uses that same word to tell us what to examine.  It’s found in a letter that Paul wrote to this same church.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you– unless, of course, you fail the test?
2 Corinthians 13:5

We must examine and approve our faith.  Are we truly trusting God with our lives?  Are we in the faith?

In order to receive the communion elements in a way that’s worthy, we need to be looking to Christ in faith.  We see Him as the one who has already purchased all we need for life and godliness.

It’s not about me striving to be good enough.  It’s about me yielding my life to Him and letting the Holy Spirit bring me to where I need to be.

Question: What have you received from Christ that you couldn’t obtain on your own?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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