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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 Spirit-Fruit: Self-Control

In today’s post, I’m looking at the last of the Fruit of the Spirit.  They’re found in Galatians 5:22-23.

When we talk about self-control, we usually end up referring to a person’s will-power.  I’m happy to say that your will-power has nothing to do with this fruit.  The Holy Spirit wants to produce something in you that’s way beyond your ability.

The Greek word that’s translated as self-control, in speaking of the fruit, is a word that literally means an inner strength.  It’s not about your flesh trying to control itself from the outside.  True change only takes place when we strengthen the inner man.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9:25

The word for having the fruit of self-control is translated goes into strict training in this verse.  We all have an inner drive to accomplish something with our lives.  It doesn’t matter whether the purpose is good or not, all of us are driven people.

When we come to Christ, our goal should be to please Him and complete His assignment for our lives.  That may or may not be very high on our list of drives.  Spending time with the Holy Spirit allows Him to increase the drive to fulfill our destiny in Christ.

That’s why will-power has nothing to do with it.  An athlete’s drive to win the Olympics will override any desire to pig-out on chocolate.  The greater my desire for the finish line, the more self-control I can exercise.

As the Holy Spirit increases our desire to defeat the enemy, our inner strength to stay on course grows as well.  Yes, it’s victory in the spiritual battle that’s the ultimate prize for us.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Ephesians 6:10

This verse has a lot to say to us.  It uses three different words for power.  First, be strong in the Lord means to let Him endue you with His power.

Then Paul says that this power will strengthen us (the fruit) with God’s ability.  Wow!  That’s a mouthful.  But the bottom line is that God doesn’t want us relying on our own will-power to serve Him.  By the power of the Spirit, He wants to bring our inner strength up to the level of His ability.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance…
Colossians 1:10-11a

This verse says it all.  The only way to live a life worthy of the Lord, please Him in every way, and bear fruit is to be strengthened with all power by the Lord’s might.

Stop trying to fight your battle against sin on your own.  Let the Holy Spirit work His power in you.  With the Lord’s ability, you can overcome any obstacle.

Spend time in the Spirit and let the Lord cultivate the fruit of self-control in you.  It’s well worth the spiritual investment.

Question: What was a recent time that you saw God’s self-control operating through you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Choosing to Understand

Music SmokeWe live in a society where we have all but given up on understanding.  In many schools we’re taught how we need to think.  Don’t ask why, just agree.

We now have a generation of people who voice opinions, but don’t know why they have them.  The media is constantly telling us what we need to wear, listen to, and watch.  After all, “This is what everybody thinks.”

Scripture gives us a different perspective.

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.  Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Proverbs 4:7

As believers, we are told to seek wisdom and understanding.  We don’t just blindly follow the crowd.  There is a reason we are on the earth and it’s our job to find out why.

God has a plan for everyone’s life.  We’re not just random.  Life has meaning.  The problem is that most people are afraid to find out the meaning of life.  They would rather just “go with the flow.”

The issue is that wisdom and understanding will cost you something.  They bring responsibility with them and that’s what we’re really afraid of.

If we don’t understand, then we are not responsible for what we do.  That’s the key.  Understanding and the resulting responsibility requires self-control.

That’s the reason that many people choose atheism.  If there is a God, then I’m responsible to live under that understanding.  My actions will have to be controlled.

But there’s even more to it than that.

Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
2 Timothy 2:7

Paul literally tells Timothy to apply your mind to understand.  Understanding takes initiative – it doesn’t just fall out of the sky.

The good news is that if we take this first step, then the Lord will give you the next level of understanding.  The word insight that Paul uses is the Greek word suneisis.  It means to put together.

The fact is that understanding puts truth together.  We have to do this with many truths if we are to live a fulfilled life.

For instance – there is a God, He will judge the world, and I will live forever someplace.  These are all truths that are important all by themselves.  But when I put them together by wisdom and understanding they take on a whole new level of importance.  Now my choices are more limited than when I thought there were no consequences.

That’s why understanding is the foundation of coming to Christ.  We have to put together our need and His provision.  Then I have to bring my actions – and faith – into line with my understanding.

Question: Do you actively seek wisdom and understanding from the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2013 in Encouragement, Prayer

 

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