Stand Having Girded Your Waist with Truth

Ephesians 6:14 (NKJV) 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

This week we are continuing to look at Ephesians 6. We have come to verse 14 where Paul exhorts us to stand with our armor in place. Yesterday we tied verse 13 and verse 14 together. In verse 13, we find that the words withstand and stand lead us to a conclusion as to the meaning of the verse that is different than what I had before. Instead of these words meaning we simply had to “hold out” against the devil until God did something to help us, they mean just the opposite.

Withstand means to resist. Paul is telling us to put on our armor and resist the devil when he comes against us. The result of our resistance will be that we are left standing. This does not mean we are left battered and beaten but intact, in our place and strong. Verse 14 begins with “stand therefore”. This ties the two together. The picture is of the Roman battle strategy.

Rome would form their lines with shields making a wall. The enemy would attack against that wall and the Romans would withstand them stabbing through the line with their short swords. Finally, the enemy would tire and the Romans would move forward. They would then stand again and the process would continue until the other army was driven from the field and defeated. That is the picture Paul wants us to see.

When we stand against the devil and resist him, we will win skirmishes that leave us in victory. However, that does not mean the battle is over. We must reform our line, get our armor in place and be ready to withstand the attacks again. In this way, we will overcome the enemy just as the Roman army overcame theirs.

There is one more important element I want to remind you of before we move on. This tactic would not work if the Roman soldier were alone. No matter how strong the individual soldier is, it took the army working together. The soldier could not be part of the universal Roman army; he needed to know his unit. We need to be part of a local expression of the body of Christ, a local church. We need to know our place in that church so we can fight together and help each other win the victory.

In verse14, Paul begins to describe our armor and tell us how it works. The first piece he says we must put on is the belt or girdle of truth. A belt or sash was a very important part of ancient clothing. In the case of the Roman soldier it had some important functions in the makeup of the armor. First, it held the rest of the armor, especially the breastplate, in place. This is similar to how we use belts today; especially men.

Women have a higher waist and wider hips than men do. Now, do not think I am being chauvinistic. This physical characteristic goes to the fact that women give birth. The male body’s narrower hips mean that a garment with a waist tends to fall down if it is not securely fastened. Women may wear a belt for decoration but men wear them so their pants do not fall down.

One way captors keep their prisoners from trying to escape is to take their belts. It is hard to resist or to run away when you are holding your pants up with one hand. In a similar way, the belt of the Roman soldier held the other elements securely in place. He could move freely and fight effectively only if the belt was doing its job.

The second function of the Roman belt was to provide a place to hang his weapons and other tools on. He could not go into battle carrying his sword, dagger, water bottle, and whatever else he might need in his hands. Instead, he hung them on his belt so they were out of the way but ready when he needed them.

We have some carpenters in our church and they use tool belts. Some of them are quite heavy with all kinds of tools. When the carpenter needs one of his tools he simply puts the one he is using in its place in the belt and picks up the one he needs. The Roman soldier’s belt filled this same function in his day.

A third function of the belt extended beyond the military uses. In that day, long flowing robes were frequently worn. If you were going to work or fight these robes would get in the way. You could not run without tripping over them. If you were in battle, the robes would get in the way of your fellow soldiers. If you were walking through the woods or any close conditions, the robes would snag on things and hold you back. The solution was not to have different kinds of cloths for work and other uses. Even if they had fine clothes and everyday clothes, they were of the same type. The solution to this problem involved the belt.

When the ancient man was preparing for some kind of strenuous exercise, he “girded his loins.” He would take the back hem of his garment and pull it through his legs. He would then tuck the hem in his belt. This turned his flowing robe into a type of pantaloon. This would enable him to move more freely and keep him from being entangled in his environment.

The final use of the belt involved protection. It is common today in movies for one of the main characters to be a petit woman who is proficient in martial arts. She takes on the male martial artists and defeats them all. The truth is that a man with the same training will usually defeat a woman of equal skill. The reason is that male bone and muscle density is higher than a females. Men are stronger and harder to hurt. Once again, do not get mad at me, it is a matter of biology.

There is one way a women or even a child can bring down a man far stronger than they are. The groin is an area of great weakness. One strong blow there and the biggest man will have to stop and recover. This area must be protected in battle. The belt contained protection for the groin much as athletes wear such protection today.

The need for protection goes beyond just protection against blows. The male is also vulnerable to strain if that area is not supported. Again, we have an athletic equivalent today. The ancients would bind the cloth of their garment tightly around their groin to provide protection against strain whenever they were going to do something that required great effort.

The soldier as well as the common man understood how important his belt was to the success of his work. What is the belt that is part of the armor of God? Paul says the belt is truth. More tomorrow.

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Stand Therefore

Ephesians 6:13-14 (NKJV) 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

This month we have been studying Ephesians 6 and the full armor of God. 2013 is a year of God’s great favor for his people, and favor flows to strength. Ephesians 6 exhorts us to “be strong in the Lord and the power of his might.” Paul tells us we can do that be putting on the full armor of God. This armor will protect us from the “wiles of the devil.” Wiles means plans or strategies. It is very important for us to remember that the devil’s favorite weapons are subtlety and deception. He is very skilled with these weapons.

As I was preparing for Sunday morning in our church, I felt the Lord spoke something to me that I want to pass along to you. As we go through life, there are many kinds of trials we must face. There are many causes for the trials of life, but in all of them, the devil is an active participant. He will use deception and subtlety to defeat you if possible. Look at what you are dealing with now. Ask the lord about it. Things are not always what they seem to be. If you ask the Lord, he will give you insight so that you will know what is happening and what the real solution to the problem is.

Last week we concentrated on verse 13 that told us the armor of God enables us to withstand or resist the devil. This involves offensive resistance and defensive protection, both of which are provided by the full armor of God. We found that the words withstand and stand do not carry the same meaning. While withstand means resist, stand speaks to the result of our resistance. That result of resisting the devil is that we are left standing intact, in our place and strong.

This leads us to verse 14. The sequence of words in these two verses has always left me with a particular impression of what Paul was telling us. I did not even see the word “withstand” but simply read, “stand.” I was reading verses 13 and 14 this way. “The armor will allow you to hold out (stand) against the devil in the evil day. When you have done everything you can do, you have to keep holding out (standing.) After you held out against the devil for a while longer, you had to hold out (stand) “therefore.”

Many of us feel this way a great deal of the time. We have been standing and believing God to do something about our situation. We feel as though we have been standing forever and yet we must keep standing. There is truth to this. We must be willing to stay in the battle and not quit. We must be willing to trust God as long as we have to in order to see the victory. However, that is not what this verse is saying. If we read this verse the way I have read it in the past, the devil can use that to sap our hope and, if he does not defeat us completely, he can keep us stalemated.

What is this verse telling us? We must understand that Paul is referring to the Roman battle armor. Everything in this scripture relates to the military of that day. I enjoy military history and I have done some reading about the Roman Army. In their day, they were almost invincible. One of their favorite tactics was to form a battle line and let the enemy attack them. They would use their shields hooked together as a wall. They used a short sword that enabled them to stab through their shield wall into the attacking enemy.

They would allow the enemy to attack until they sensed he tired and then they would advance in unison. Once they had taken a certain amount of ground, they would reform the line and the process would begin again. Eventually the Romans would sense that the enemy had broken and would pursue and destroy their foe completely.

That is the picture in Ephesians 6:13-14. We form a line against the devil. When the “evil day” of attack comes, we withstand the attack. We use the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, to stab at our enemy as he tries to overcome us. We use the shield of faith to stop all attacks he brings against us. Eventually we move forward and win the skirmish. At that point, we are “standing” intact, in place and strong.

Verse 14 begins with the word “therefore.” That word ties verse 14 to verse 13. We have won the skirmish but to win the whole battle we must reform. We must not put down our weapons. The enemy is still there. We must stand ready for the next attack. We must stand with our weapons at the ready. We have taken ground but that does not mean we can simply put down our weapons and relax.

This is what often happens to us when we win a skirmish. I have been a pastor for nearly 35 years and I have seen this repeated far too often. A person wins a major skirmish against temptation or trials. They get excited but they think that is the end. They lay down their weapons and relax their defense. Soon the enemy comes again and they are not ready. They are driven back and often their condition is worse than it was before. Paul wants us to be like the Roman army. We must continue to stand in our place in the battle line until the whole battle is won. In truth we must stay ready until we go home to heaven or until the Lord comes.

It may seem that this means we never get to rest. That is not true. There was another aspect of Roman army tactics that also applies to us. The Romans fought in ranks as much as 10 soldiers deep. They never sent all their troops to the front lines at once. Those in the front of the line would fight for about 20 minutes. Then they would peel off and the second rank would take up the battle. The first rank would go to the back of the line to rest. Using this method each soldier only fought about 20 minutes in 3 hours. The enemy was always contending with fresh troops.

If we are going to fight in the style implied by Paul’s illustration, it is very important that we realize we cannot do it alone. We must fight together as the body of Christ. We must know what our unit is and what our place is in that unit. It is not enough to be part of the universal body of Christ any more than it was enough to be part of the universal Roman army. Each unit had a role and a place in the line. They could not use this rotation battle method if they did not know where they belonged.

You are part of the universal church. You must also be part of a local church. As such, we fight together. When one of us is in a battle, we are all in the battle. When one tire there are others that can take his place in the line until he recovers. If we remember this and find our local unit, we will have the rest we need and the help we need to win both the skirmishes and the battles. In the end we will stand victoriously before the Lord.

If we try to fight alone, we will fail. We will tire and there will be no one to stand with us and for us. I encourage you if you are not part of a local church to find your unit. We need you in the battle. We need you in your place. When our unit withstands the enemy and is left standing, we need every soldier to reform the ranks and be found standing with their armor in place ready for the next attack and eventual victory.

Withstanding Leads to Standing

Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV) 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

This week we have been looking at what it means to withstand the devil “in the evil day.” Since Paul is using military terminology in this section of scripture we can say that the evil day is the day when the enemy attacks. There are always evil days because the devil is always looking for ways to hinder and attack us. However, there are also days when the church as a whole is under attack. These periods in history represent times of extreme attack on the church. They also are times of opportunity for great victory for those who will stand on the Word of God. I believe we live in such and evil day.

Whether we are talking about the normal dynamic of living Christianity in an evil world or attacks against the church as a whole, the answer is the same. We must withstand the enemy. Another way to say the same thing is that we must resist the enemy. Resistance can be viewed as primarily defensive and almost passive in nature. The idea we tend to get is that we are holding out against the devil until something good happens. That is not what this verse is saying.

Resistance is not just defensive and passive. It is also offensive and active. The full armor of God does not just enable us to “hold out” against the enemy. The full armor of God is meant to enable us to go on the offensive against the devil. We not only are safe against his attacks but we can and must drive him out of our lives and rescue others from his grasp.

To understand this verse fully we need to realize that the words “withstand” and “stand” are not the variations on the same idea. That is how I always read this verse. I thought Paul was saying that God gave me his full armor to hold out against Satan and when I had done all I could do I would have to keep holding out. Verse 14 begins with the same word, stand. The sense I always got from this was totally defensive. I had to stand against the attack of the enemy. When I had done everything I could, I had to keep standing. Then I had to stand some more.

The real meaning of Ephesians 6:13 is this. When we are in a battle with the enemy, we must use the armor of God to attack the devil while remaining defensively protected by the armor. Once we have completely done that we will be able to stand. However, the Greek word translated stand does not mean resist. It has a completely different connotation.

Thayer’s Bible Definitions says this word means to make firm, fix, or establish. It also means to cause a person or thing to keep his or its place. Finally, it carries the idea of being kept intact. This word does mean that we stand in the sense of keep our place, but it means so much more than that.

When the evil day comes to my life and I find myself under attack by the enemy, I must depend on the full armor of God that he has provided for me. If I have the armor in place, I will not be overcome by the attack. My vital spiritual organs will be protected as I carry out the battle. I must take the offensive aspects of my armor and begin to attack the enemy. I attack with the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. I speak it, pray it and act on the on it.

I also use the other aspects of the armor in an offensive way. In ancient combat, the shield was just as much offensive as defensive. I can wield my shield of faith against the devil. Even the helmet would be used in and offensive manner. Give the devil a head but with the helmet of salvation and see how he responds. Once I have done all to withstand I will be left standing.

The picture is not that I must continue to hold out against the enemy. The picture is that once I have “done all” I will have won. I will be in my place as a believer. I will be more firm and fixed in my Christian experience than before the battle. I will not be destroyed I will be intact. I will be whole and I will be victorious.

Let us look at one more scripture.

James 1:2-4 (NKJV) 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Once again, we get the feeling from this verse that we must simply endure the various trials and trust that we will not give in to the pressure. However, if you look at verse 4, the result is just what we are seeing in Ephesians 6:13. I do not believe the Lord expects us to be passive in our trials. Patience means consistency. That points to the defensive aspect of resisting. Patience causes us to be “perfect and entire lacking nothing.”

We all face trials in life. There will be evil days when the devil comes against us. If we withstand in the evil day, we will be left standing fully in our place, fixed and established. We will not be destroyed but we will be completely intact. Letting patience work in the situation will leave us perfectly where we should be, complete in our relationship and lacking nothing.

Do not fear the evil day or the trials that come against you. You have the mighty armor of God. This armor is able withstand any attack and leave you standing over your enemy in complete victory. Remember, where there are no battles there are no victories. When your weapons are far greater than your enemy’s are, you cannot help but be victorious every time. You just need to put them on, pick them up and use them.

How to Withstand theEnemy

Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV) 13  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

This week we are continuing in our study of how to walk in a position of strength against the devil.  Favor flows to strength and God has given us what we need to be “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”  One of the things that will keep us strong is the armor that God has provided to give us both defensive protection and offensive power against our foe. 

As we move to verse 13 of Ephesians chapter 6, we have seen that the armor is there to help us withstand the enemy in the evil day.  The evil day is the day of attack.  There are times when the enemy is not actively involved in attacking us.  He is always present and the bad things that come to us are part of his nature, but he is not always actively attacking us.  The evil day is the day when he is active.  In that day, we must be ready to take up the armor of God and withstand him. 

I have always read this verse with a particular mindset.  The use of the word “withstand” contributes to that.  The image this word puts in my mind is strictly defensive.  However, another word is used in many translations.  That word is resist.  The armor of God helps us resist the enemy in the evil day.

Although resisting the enemy can be seen as a defensive maneuver, we have some examples in recent history where that word means much more.  In France just before the allied invasion of Normandy, there was a movement known as the “resistance.”  The resistance movement had two goals.  First, they resisted the Nazis mindset and culture.  They refused to give in to the hatred and racial extremism that the Nazis stood for.  They resisted the takeover of their culture by not giving in to the enemy’s ways. 

There was another aspect to the French resistance.  Not only did they resist passively, they also resisted actively.  They were involved in sabotage and espionage.  They blew up communication lines and sabotaged supplies.  They were actively involved in the offensive war against Germany.  Their efforts prepared the way for the success of the invasion of Europe.

The word “withstand” in this verse carries the same meaning.  I always pictured this verse to be saying that we just needed to hold out against the devil.  The latter part of the verse says that once we have done all we should stand.  The picture in my mind was that we should stand as long as we could and when we could do nothing else, we just had to keep holding on.  That is not the picture Paul is painting at all. 

When the evil day comes, we must withstand the attacks of the enemy.  We must not allow ourselves to compromise the truth.  We must actively continue to pray, to worship and to live according to the standards of the bible.  One of the attacks facing the church today is the idea that we do not have to be so extreme about right living.  Jesus died for our sins.  They are forgiven.  We no longer need to repent of anything. 

There is truth in those statements.  Jesus did die for our sins.  We do not have to repent of every sin we have ever committed in order to be saved.  We do have to repent of the sin of unbelief.  We do have to turn, or repent, from our way to God’s way.  Salvation involves two very important decisions.  I must receive the sacrifice of Jesus as the payment for my sin.  I must also receive Jesus as the Lord of my life.  Lord means “absolute ruler.”  If he is my Lord, I must live according to his ways.  If I fail to do that all the time, I am not saved.  If I fall and fail to do that at times in the course of my life, I must repent, confess my sin to God and he will then forgive and restore me to righteousness.  If I do not repent, the sin stays with me as an infection and open door to death.  (1 John 1:8-10)

I must resist this temptation to compromise.  I must resist the temptation to give up and accept a weak, defeated position in my life.  However to withstand does not mean just defensive resistance.  I must go on the offensive.  I must meditate on the promises of God.  I must speak the Word of God by faith.  I must not just resist temptation to compromise; I must actively walk in the principles of God.  James 4:7 tells us that if we resist the devil he will flee from us.  If we do not resist he will not flee and we will be defeated.

How do we actively resist?  Many scriptures tell us how to resist the devil in an active way.  Let me cite two.  Ephesians 4:27 says that we must make no place for the enemy in our lives.  We actively resist the devil when we deprive him of the places he uses to bring compromise.  The more we fill our lives with the things of God the less room there is for him to act.  Look at Hebrews 12:1.

Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV) 1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Every one of us has areas in our lives that fall into the above categories.  There are sins to which we tend to fall prey.  There are also things that are not necessarily sins, but they are weights that hold us back.  We resist the devil when we identify these things and actively oppose them.  We allow no place for them to operate.

We have looked at 1 Peter 5:8, but let us also consider verse 9.

1 Peter 5:8-9 (NKJV) 8  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

Our adversary is like a lion, but if we resist him, he will flee from us.  Peter tells us to resist him in two basic ways.  First, we must be steadfast in the faith.  The word steadfast means to be unwavering, unfaltering, resolute, and persistent.  We must be all of these things where our faith in God is concerned.  Faith involves inwardly meditating on the Word of God and actively applying it to our circumstances.  We must do so unwaveringly, unfalteringly, resolutely and persistently.  When we do that, the devil will flee from us.

Second, Peter reminds the readers that they are not alone.  One of the devil’s favorite tactics is to make us feel that we are the only ones going through trials.  Peter reminds his readers that people all over the world are dealing with the same things.  You are not alone.  Believers all over the world are facing what you face.  It has been faced in the past and overcome.  You are not alone and you are not the only one.

The prophet Elijah gave in to this tactic when he was hiding in the cave.  In 1 Kings 19 we find the great prophet feeling defeated and worthless.  He had just won a great victory, but he could not see it.  The reason he was so overwhelmed is that he thought he was the only one who was standing for the Lord.  God tells him that there are 7000 others who are standing just as strong as he is standing. 

Do not give in to this tactic.  Jesus is with you.  The church is with you and together you will have victory.

We live in an historic evil day.  Days of attack can be very frightening.  They are also full of opportunity for those who have the weapons capable of both defensive and offensive resistance.  You have those weapons.  Use them today and see what the Lord will do.

Withstand in the Evil Day

Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV) 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

This year we are studying the affect of favor on our lives. I believe God wants to give us supernatural favor with the right people at the right time in 2013. One of the elements that lead to favor is strength. I believe we need to realize that we, as the church of Jesus Christ, are in a position of strength and not weakness. We may not be strong in the natural, but we are strong where it really counts. We are strong in the spirit.

This month we have been looking at one of the things God has provided to enable us to walk in that strength. He has given us the full or whole armor of God. So far, we have looked at verses 10-12 of Ephesians 6. We are to stand in the power of the Lord’s might. We do so by putting on the whole armor of God so we can stand against the wiles of the devil.

The wiles of the devil are the plans and schemes he uses to deceive us. According to Peter, our adversary is like a roaring lion. This lion, like all cats, does not just attack his prey with frontal assaults. He stalks us and looks for just the right time to ambush us. His most important weapon is deceit. If he can deceive us, he can consume us. One function of the armor of God is to protect us from the deceit and ambush tactics of the devil.

In verse 12, we learn that the enemy we must focus on is not made of flesh and blood. There are differing levels of demonic activity that Satan uses to carry out his ambush attacks against us. It is hard for us to grasp that there is an invisible world at work behind the visible one and that there are real beings that carry out real activity in that invisible world, but it is true. If we focus on flesh and blood as our enemy, we will fight the wrong battles with the wrong weapons and tactics. When we understand who and what the real enemy is, we fight with the right weapons and victory is inevitable.

This week I want to look at Ephesians 10:13. In this verse, Paul exhorts us to put on the armor so that we may “withstand in the evil day.” What is the “evil day” of which Paul speaks?

We must remember that Paul is speaking here from a military standpoint. In this context, the term “evil day” refers to the day of attack. I have been reading some books about the British in World War II. There was a great deal of sentiment in Great Britain both for and against Nazis Germany during the 1930s. The labor movement and communism were gaining momentum in Europe and many felt that the conservative Nazis party was a better answer to world conditions than the left wing socialists were. However, once the true nature of Hitler and the Nazis was revealed, there was no question that war was coming.

With the invasion of Poland by Nazis Germany, England declared war. The first months of the war were uneventful. A state of war existed, but there was no military contact between the two countries. Instead of the famous Nazis “blitzkrieg” the papers called it the “sits-Krieg” and the “phony war.” This did not last very long. Soon Londoners experienced the first German air raids and the war was no longer phony but very real. That day was the “evil day” Paul refers to in this verse.

The evil day is the day when the attack we know must come from our adversary finally does come. We are at war with the devil. The thing we fight for is not territory or even ideology. We fight for the souls of people. God desires that all men be saved.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NKJV) 1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

There are times in our Christian walk that we do not experience attacks from our enemy, but there will always be “evil days” we must face. Personally, the devil hates every believer and especially those who will stand for the things of God. If we are bold enough to obey the great commission, we will find ourselves under attack. We will have “evil days.”

The attack may be in our health, our finances, our emotions or our relationships. No area of life is out of bounds to the devil. When the evil day comes, Paul tells us that the full armor of God will enable us to withstand the devil.

Although there are always “evil days” to contend with, there are some days that are more significant than others are. Just as in natural warfare where certain battles have a greater impact on the war as a whole, there are “evil days” when the attacks of the devil carry higher stakes than at other times. The first days of the church were such a time.

The church in the first chapters of the book of Acts was an outlaw cult whose leader had been arrested, tried and executed. There were 120 people gathered in Jerusalem waiting for the promise that Jesus said he was going to send. After the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 believers in the upper room, they began to preach the gospel with great power and effectiveness. The devil knew that he had to destroy them now or he might never have the opportunity. The “evil day” of attack against the church was upon them.

A strange thing happened under this attack. The church was not destroyed but thrived. In the end, the church won. This 120 poor, uneducated group of believers became so powerful that they were eventually able to overthrow the most powerful empire ever to exist. In the end, Rome became a Christian empire.

The acceptance that the church gained under the Emperor Constantine led to a period of peace for the church of Jesus. However, the devil had not given up. He simply changed tactics. He resorted to his strength and instead of persecution resorted to deceit, corruption and compromise. By the time the 1500’s came around, the church no longer resembled the powerful entity that Jesus left on the earth. Only corruption and false doctrine remained. This was an “evil day” in the history of the world. So evil in fact that it is referred to as the “Dark Ages.”

There were people who decided to don the full armor of God in that evil day and withstand the devil. A man named Martin Luther led them. The battle was very great but, once again, the church prevailed and Christianity won. The greatest culture in the history of the world developed as the Reformation in Europe led to the Renaissance.

Today, we face another historic evil day. The church is under attack once again. Satan has unleashed both of the tactics he has at his disposal. This is a day of great persecution. In many parts of the world people suffer physically for their Christian faith. Persecution also takes the form of social and cultural attacks that tell the church we should not be involved in the public life of our nations.

However, the second tactic historically used by the devil is even more dangerous. We see corruption and false doctrine creeping into the church. There is compromise and acceptance of “less than biblical” standards in the name of church growth. This is both distressing and exciting to me at the same time. The full armor of God has lost none of its power. We may live in an evil day, but there are those who will don the armor of God today just as they always have and Christianity will once again vanquish the enemy. In every such past encounter, the church has arisen stronger than before and I know that is what will happen this time as well.

Intimidation 2

1 Kings 19:1-4 ( NKJV ) And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.”  And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.  But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

Yesterday we began to look at one of the avenues the devil uses to bring fear into our lives.  That avenue is intimidation.  We talked about Elijah, one of the most heroic characters in the Old Testament.  Elijah challenged the King of Israel, defeated 850 false prophets in a contest of faith and restored the knowledge of the true God to the people of Israel.  By the end of 1 Kings 18 Elijah has demonstrated his authority over the King because the king is obeying him.  He has authority over the false religion and with the people of Israel.  In the first verse of 1 Kings 18 he is given the word of the Lord so he has the authority of God as well.  At this point, he has absolute control over the country.  One word from him and the people will respond.  This is demonstrated by the fact that the people seized the false prophets and killed them at his word.

In the next chapter the Queen, Jezebel, threatens him.  She vows to kill him by the next day.  My question is, how?  She has no more authority.  Elijah has it all.  If he could command her prophets to be seized he could command she be seized.  Her threat was empty.  Why did he run away?  Because of the power of intimidation.  She had no real power but she knew how to project fear and she used that against Elijah.  We need to understand that intimidation has both a natural and a supernatural component.  Jezebel had the power of the devil on her side and she used it to convince Elijah that she could do what she really could not. 

You might ask, “Was her threat really empty?”  My answer is that she did not kill him.  I do not believe it is because he hid.  He was in the open many times after this, but Jezebel never took his life.  She was attempting to intimidate him and she succeeded!

Intimidation caused Elijah to abdicate the authority he had just gained.  He was in control, but because Jezebel was strong in the way she said what she said, he failed to rise up against her and use his authority.  She could do nothing, but he gave her power by running away.  Once the power of intimidation takes hold, we begin to buckle under the weight of it.  Notice Elijah’s statement in verse 4, “And he prayed that he might die, and said, ;It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!’”

What a lie.  He had just won one of the greatest faith battles in history.  He had restored the faith of Israel, at least for the moment.  He had gained great power and then used it to bring rain so the land would not be destroyed.  He was a great success not a failure.  His fathers had lead Israel astray.  He had restored her.  Under the power of intimidation, he could not see the truth. 

If you are a Christian today, you have authority over the enemy.  He is a defeated foe.  Jesus won a great victory over him and then told us to go into the world and preach the gospel.  He gave us his Name which carries the weight of heaven.  He gave us his Word which is filled with the power of God and finally He gave us his spirit to live in us.  It is one thing to be intimidated by a foe that can defeat you, but the words of the bible are true.  He who is in you really is greater than he who is in the world.  You really are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus.  When the devil rises up in intimidation, you rise up against him with the Word and the Spirit and declare, “I will not be intimidated and I will not fear.”

Intimidation

1 Kings 19:1-4 ( NKJV )
And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.”  And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.  But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

We have been looking at 1 John 4:17-18.  This verse declares, “As He (Jesus) is so are we in this world.”  The implications of this statement are far reaching.  He is victorious, healed, and delivered from all His enemies.  If we are “as He is” in this world, we can be the same.  We have discovered, however that there are conditions that must be fulfilled for this to be our present reality.  One is we must be free from fear.

In looking at fear there is a component the devil uses to open the door to fear in our lives.  Let’s look at a very famous and even courageous Old Testament character.  He name was Elijah. 

Three years before the time spoken of in the above verse, Elijah had marched into the presence of King Ahab of Israel and announced that there would be no rain until he said so.  This was quite an announcement and I wonder if there might have been a few snickers in the Kings court at the time.  Three years later, however there had been no rain in the land.  No one was laughing now.

In chapter 18 Elijah appears on the scene once again.  In verse 1 it says that the Word of the Lord came to him telling him to go to the king.  The first thing we must note is that Elijah had the authority of God on his side.  He obeys and presents himself to King Ahab.  Ahab had initiated a multinational manhunt for Elijah with the express purpose of killing him.  Elijah is not intimidated by Ahab’s threats and confronts the king.  He tells Ahab that he and his family were the problem with Israel.  This is not a fearful man.

He tells the king to call all Israel to him.  The king obeys.  This displays that he now has control over the authority of the king.  He initiates a contest between himself and the 850 false prophets who have been leading the people to other gods.  He says, “If Baal is god we will serve him but if Jehovah is God we will serve him.”  The people agree to the contest.

Elijah mocks the false prophets.  They call out all day and Baal does nothing.  He then rebuilds the alter of God, sets up the sacrifice and at the time of the evening sacrifice according to the law, prays.  Before he prays he commands the sacrifice be soaked 3 times until everything was drenched and the trench around the alter was filled with water.  After his short prayer God answers by fire and the people cry out, “The Lord He is God.  The Lord He is God!”  He now has the authority of all the people of Israel.  He commands them to seize the false prophets and kills them all. 

Elijah has shown great courage.  He was not intimidated by the King or the whole nation.  He has fearlessly carried out the Word of God and cleansed Israel of 850 false prophets.  In the process he clearly shows the people who God really is.  Finally he prays and rain once again falls on the land.  After all this we read the above verse.  Queen Jezebel threatens his life and he runs away.  He had all the authority he needed to command she join the prophets he had just killed.  What was the power that inspired fear in this mighty man of God?  Intimidation. 

Tomorrow we will look at this force more closely and begin to discuss how we can overcome it.  If we can recognize and overcome intimidation it will close a door to the devil in our lives.