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Are You Armed?

SwordI’ve been talking about the spiritual battle that we’re involved in. The problems we face and the people who annoy us are not the issue. The real fight is with the unseen world around us.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Ephesians 6:11

We’re told to put on the armor. I’ve heard many believers talk about it, but do we understand what this means? Do we even know what the armor really is?

First and foremost we need to realize that this is the armor of God. It’s not my armor; it belongs to God. Actually, it’s God’s personal suit of armor. It was talked about back in the Old Testament.

At one point Isaiah got a prophetic picture of God getting himself ready for battle.

He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
Isaiah 59:17

Because of the Lord’s outer garments, Isaiah could only see the helmet and breastplate. But that’s enough to know who the armor belongs to. The point is this – it’s not made to fit us, but God. That’s why being in Christ is so important.

The fact is that we are told to put on the full armor of God. If I have to put it on, then I’m not automatically fully clothed. Putting on the armor is something I need to do.

I also believe that “confessing the armor on” or “praying it on” is not enough. While I do believe in confessing and praying the Word of God, there’s more involved here.

For instance, if you’re not walking in faith, you haven’t picked up your shield no matter how many time you confess that you’re holding it. The same with truth. If you’re not walking in the truth of the Word of God, then no amount of praying will put the belt on you.

In order to be protected, we need to be using the armor daily. We need to be walking in truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. Only through practice can a warrior get good at using his armor and weaponry.

There are no overnight successes. We either use it or there’s no victory for us. The devil is playing for keeps. He’s not going to back down simply because we claim to have armor.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8-9

The enemy’s looking for an easy victim. Not one that’s fully armed. This verse literally says that he’s looking for someone he can gulp down in one bite.

Given the choice, do you think he’d rather take on a naked believer thinking that their armed or a spiritual warrior fully clothed and trained for battle? The answer is clear. Don’t be a meal for the enemy’s kingdom.

Take your stand in the full armor of God.

Question: What’s the greatest challenge that you’re facing right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on October 3, 2014 in Power of God, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Healing 101 – Where Does Sickness Come From? #Christthehealer

MissIn my last post I showed that sickness is not a part of the curse and therefore, not authored by God.  If that’s the case, then where did sickness and disease come from?

Before the fall, Adam and Eve could not get sick or die.  Sickness and disease were never in God’s plan for mankind.

It didn’t come from Satan either.  He can’t create anything.  The enemy can only use sickness if it serves his purposes.

Where did sickness and disease come from?

Think about it – when Adam chose to walk the path of sin, all of creation fell from the perfection of God’s original plan.  Humans, plants, and animals all fell into imperfection (Missing the mark).  Sickness was birthed as a direct result of that fall.

It turns out that all disease can be fit into one of three categories:

1. Animal Attacks – All viruses and bacteria are microscopic animals.  God never intended for them to attack the human body.  But because of sin entering the world, they have missed the mark of God’s perfect will.

2. Genetic Imperfections – Many diseases are passed down from generation to generation.  They’re not a part of God’s original plan, but because our DNA is now imperfect, there are genetic sicknesses.

3. Mistreatment of the Body – It’s a fact that alcoholism, drug addiction, smoking, gluttony, and sexual sins can cause or pass along many deadly diseases.  It’s beyond question that these actions miss the mark of how God wants us to treat our bodies.  There are also things that we do to hurt our bodies that we don’t even know we’re doing.

It’s clear that all sickness misses the mark of God’s perfect health.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

How perfect is God?  Does He get sick?  That may seem like a preposterous question, but if He can’t be touched by sickness, why would He ever want us to be sick?  It was never a part of His plan for creation.

Sickness and disease came upon the earth as a part of the total package of sin.  When Adam chose to miss the mark of God’s glory, he embraced all that sin had to offer.  We usually only think about the evil side of sin – things like adultery, lies, and murder.  Remember, Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil!

God created Adam perfect.  He had a perfect memory.  His DNA was perfect.  Everything about him was perfect.  The “sin package” changed all that.  Now, because of the “sin nature”, we forget things, get sick, and do evil, as well as a host of other symptoms.

Sickness is a part of the sin package.

BE CAREFUL!  I did not say that every sickness is caused by some sin committed by the person.  The disciples thought that and were rebuked by Jesus.  Sickness and disease are not caused by the sins we commit, but are a manifestation of the sin nature that Adam embraced.

As I close this post, let me summarize.  Sickness was not given as a part of the curse.  Rather it entered the world through sin.  Now mankind has inherited the tendency to “miss the mark” of the perfect health that God had created Adam to enjoy.

In my next post we will begin to look at the association between sickness and sin throughout both the Old and New Testaments.

Question: What happens when we want to keep part of the sin package (like greed) and get rid of other parts (like sickness)?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Healing

 

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Have You been Bought Off?

PeopleWe call Satan “the enemy.”  But in many cases, it looks like regular church people have accepted payment from him to ignore the work of God.  Are you one of these individuals?

God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you
Romans 1:9-10

In this verse, the word serve literally means to serve as a hired menial.  So Paul is saying that he considers himself hired by God for a purpose.  He understands that there’s a payment, a reward that he will receive from God for a job well done.

How do we handle this?  In our modern American culture there’s not a lot of job loyalty anymore.  People are constantly keeping their resumes tuned up in case a better position opens up in another company.  It’s unfortunate, but this same mindset has spilled over into the church.

Satan tries to capitalize on this thinking.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Matthew 4:8-10

In this verse we see Satan trying to give Christ a better offer.  It was promised that the Messiah would one day rule over all the kingdoms of the world.  But by God’s way, the Lord would have to suffer and die in agony to receive it.

Satan is giving Christ the chance to bypass all the pain.  By a simple act of devotion, He could receive the reward without the pain of the cross.  I’m so glad that Jesus saw through the deception, and carried out God’s plan as it was meant to be done.

Satan tries to buy us off all the time.  He holds out to us all the pleasures, entertainments, and activities of the world.  He tells us to just play with these toys for a little while.

“They’re not sinful, and nobody will be hurt by them.”

But there’s a price that’s being paid.  The work of the kingdom is being ignored by a large segment of believers.  There are souls not being saved, prisoners not being set free, and lives not being healed.  There’s a calling that only you can fulfill.

If you’re looking for a better offer, Satan will give it to you; he just won’t follow through with it.  It’s time for the church of Christ to rise to its feet.  We must throw off the distractions of the world and complete the assignments that we were call to do.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,
Hebrews 12:28

Our wages from the Lord are well worth what we are called to do.  We are hired by God for a purpose.  Let’s give all and do great things for God!

Questions: How has the enemy tried to buy your time?  How have you answered his offer?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2013 in Ministry, The Church

 

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Do You Know the Enemy’s Power Source?

BatteryIn my last post I talked about power and authority.  Power is the ability to produce change.  Authority is the permission to use power.

Jesus told us that we had authority over all the power of the enemy.  This causes me to question our current church experience.  If what the Lord said is true, then why does the enemy seem to be winning?

To understand this you must realize that just like electricity, there are two forms of spiritual power.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

These were some of the last words of Jesus before He was taken up into Heaven.  We must realize that our power comes from God Himself through the Holy Spirit in us.  This means that the two sources of spiritual power are the Holy Spirit and sin.

This is a very important fact to know if we’re to grow in our spiritual walk.  Our goal should be to only receive our power from the Holy Spirit.

We must be certain that we’re not powered by the same thing that powers the enemy’s kingdom.  To have this assurance, we need to ask a very important question.  If sin is a power source, then what is the power of sin?

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:56-57

That should be an eye opener.  Most Christians have no idea that the power of sin is the law. We seem to have missed this fact even though it’s plainly taught in the Scripture.  This means that without the law, sin would have no power.

As a matter of fact, Satan’s power is derived totally from sin.  So if there were no law, then the enemy would have no power.  Everything that Satan is able to do is powered by the law.  Whether you realize this or not, every accusation and attack that he makes is all based upon the law.  The problem we have is that just knowing this truth isn’t enough to defeat him.

Like AC and DC, both forms are very powerful.  AC is the type of electricity that powers your house.  DC is the type that starts your car in the morning as well as supplying power for the lightning we see in a thunderstorm.  In the same way, the two forms of spiritual power can be very potent.

We, as believers, need to understand the differences so that we’ll not fall into the trap of trying to use the enemy’s power to defeat sin in our lives.

Question: How do we sometimes try to use our sinful nature to defeat sin in our lives?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2013 in Power of God, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Scripture, the Truth, and the Word of God

We live in an age where people are using the Bible to support what they’re doing or teaching.  How do I know if I’m truly hearing God’s Word?  Just because someone quotes the Scripture – is it really God’s Word they’re proclaiming?

In my last post we saw that Jesus didn’t accept the scriptural declaration of the devil.  He knew that the enemy was not speaking God’s Word to Him.

BibleHere is a surprising fact you may not know.  Throughout the entire Bible, the Scripture never calls itself the Word of God.  That’s something we have done.

At this point you’re probably ready to stone me as a heretic.  Please wait.  I’m not saying that the Bible is not the Word of God. All I’m saying is that the Bible doesn’t call itself the Word of God.

There is an important reason for that, which Christ Himself will testify to.  You need to let His words speak to you to understand the true nature of Scripture and the Word of God.

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

Jesus is very clear in this passage.  God’s Word is not just truthful.  It doesn’t only contain truth.  It is, by its very nature, TRUTH.

What about Christ the Living Word?  Didn’t He say, “I am the Way, THE TRUTH, and the Life.”?  There’s no getting around it – God’s Word is truth.

It’s unfortunate, but people can take the words of Scripture and twist them around for their own ends.  That’s why we need a daily walk with the Holy Spirit.  There’s a reason He’s called the Spirit of Truth.  The Spirit of God gives us the discernment we need when reading or hearing the Scripture.

Christ needed to discern the “word” He heard from the devil.  He was mature enough to see that even though Satan was quoting Scripture, his intent was evil.  In that case, the verse that the devil spoke was not the Word of God to Jesus.

We’re running into the same type of problems in the church today.  It grieves me that there are ministers whose only reason for studying the Bible, is to find passages that will convince you to put your money into their wallets.  They’ll tell you, based upon a Bible verse, that you will be blessed if you send them an offering of your month’s salary.

They’ll tell you that it’s God’s Word to you that if you’ll send them the money, then you’ll be out of debt and in a new house by the end of the year.  Of course, when it doesn’t come to pass you’ll blame God.  “I stood on God’s Word and He failed to keep it.”

Unfortunately, it was not God’s Word that failed.  What happened was that some preacher’s faulty use of the Scripture failed.  Then again, it got him the money he wanted, so it didn’t fail to bring in what he was after – your money.

Question: Have you ever seen the Scripture used to promote a lie?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Word of God

 

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The Devil and the Word of God

TowerIn my last post I talked about the lies of the devil.  We saw that, according to Jesus, the enemy cannot hold the truth neither is there any truth in him at all.

Understanding this gives us insight into how the devil operates.  He speaks lies, sometimes by making true statements.  We need to understand this as we look at an encounter between Christ and the devil.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Matthew 4:5-6

This verse is important in understanding the relationship between the Bible and the Word of God.  Here we see the devil quoting the Bible correctly.  He even used it in context.  The verse is from Psalm 91 which we all know is about the protection of God for the Messiah and us.

Now, it’s time for the tough question.  In quoting the Bible, was Satan speaking the Word of God to Jesus?  Be very careful how you answer this.  It’s the basis for understanding how the Word of God works in us.

Jesus clearly taught that Satan could not hold the truth neither was there any truth in him at all, yet it is clear that he has the Bible memorized.  We know that the devil only quotes the Scripture when it suits his purpose to try and deceive us.  His use of Scripture is actually a lie – according to Christ Himself.

As I said previously, we get so caught up asking the wrong questions.  We should be asking, what exactly is the Word of God to me?  I need a Word from heaven.  How do I know what that Word is?  When Jesus heard the Scripture from the mouth of Satan, He totally rejected it as a lie meant to trip Him up in His walk with the Father.

Then what is the Scripture?  It is the written record of the Word of God, given to various people, at different times, under different circumstances and for many purposes.  I have to ask, is what I’m reading God’s Word to me?  The answer to that is both yes and no.

There are some scriptures that have nothing to do with me or what I’m going through.  There are others that the Holy Spirit can use to speak to me.  That’s the key.  What is the Holy Spirit saying to me?  Very often He will use Scripture to speak to believers.

But you must also understand that Satan will use Scripture as well.  That’s why it’s so very important that we learn to discern the voice of the Spirit.  The Bible is a spiritual book and must be read prayerfully.

Question: How has God spoken to you through the pages of Scripture?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Word of God

 

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Recognizing the Truth and the Lie

AppleThe Word of God is Truth.  Do we really understand how absolute this truth is?

The opposite of truth is lie.  Being able to recognize the lie is an important part of serving God.

Christ could see through the lies of the enemy and did so on many occasions.  Once, when upset by the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, Jesus said the following.

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
John 8:44

Here Jesus clearly teaches about the devil and his relationship to the truth.  Is there a little bit of truth in the devil?  Absolutely not!  “He does not hold to the truth, for there is no truth in him.”

While studying this, I was convicted and had to repent of some things that I never thought of as sin.  Satan makes true statements from time to time if it suits his purposes.  But, according to this verse, saying true statements and speaking the truth are two different things in the Lord’s eyes.

The above passage implies that if you make a true statement, in order to get someone to believe a lie, then you are in fact lying.  That’s what got to me.

For instance, if I was heading out of the house on an errand, my wife might say to me, “Honey, there are some important bills that need to be mailed.”

Being the wonderful husband that I am, I would tell her that I’d be glad to do it.  So, with the best of intentions, I take the letters.  I go through the day and complete my errands without ever giving the letters a second thought.

Then when I arrive home, the first thing my wife asks is, “Did you mail my letters for me?”

Not wanting to get in trouble I reply, “Oh, I took those with me first thing this morning.”  My hope is that my true statement would lead her to believe that I had mailed the letters, when in fact I hadn’t.  I always thought I was speaking truth – at least in part.

According to Jesus, this isn’t the case.  The devil uses true statements to get us to believe lies.  Jesus said that he cannot hold the truth and there is NO truth in him.  So that when Satan speaks it’s a lie, even if his statement happens to be true at the moment.  Because of this, I had to repent of all the true statements I’ve made, trying to cover my tracks.

Of course my wife can usually see through it and immediately says, “I didn’t ask if you took the letters, I asked if you had mailed the letters.”  So, in most cases, I was caught anyway.  But the fact is that making true statements with the intent to deceive is the same as telling a lie.

Question: Have you ever experienced this type of lie?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Word of God

 

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