Greetings From Northern Ireland

We have the Privilege of spending this week in a conference with Pastors Trevor and Sandy Clark in Carrickfergus Northern Ireland.  As is usually the case when we travel, it will be difficult for me to get the time to post daily.

I want to encourage the people at Living Word Christian Center in Greene, NY to look back at what the Lord was saying to us a year ago.  You can do that by clicking on May of 2012.  I believe what God says to us is meant to be maintained, so looking back would be a very important thing to do.

For those who have been reading who are not part of our local church, I encourage you to search the history for any topic you might be interested in learning about.  It is quite probable that there will be some posts that deal with the area you are interested in. 

Finally, pray for us as we minister in this great country and for this great church.  We expect great things in the Lord.

The Sword of the Spirit: The Word of God

Ephesians 6:17 (NKJV) 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

We have come to the last piece of armor in the Ephesian arsenal. We have looked at the parts that we wear on our body. These provide static protection against the “wiles” of the devil.” We have the shield of faith, which gives s dynamic protection against the fiery darts of the wicked one. Whereas the worn armor protects where it is placed, the shield can move to meet the enemy attack from any direction. It is “over” the armor reinforcing it. As the armor protects us, the shield protects and empowers the armor.

The shield is faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. (Heb. 11:6) We walk by faith and we live by faith. We know God by faith. Everything we do that is in any way related to our Christian life must be by faith in God. This is the “above all” shield that God has built into our salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

We are saved through faith, which is the gift of God. Grace is already by definition a gift. I believe it is clear that the gift given at salvation is faith. How does this gift come to us so that we may receive salvation?

Romans 10 17 (NKJV)
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

This verse makes it clear that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. In context, this verse is talking about the preaching of the gospel. Faith to receive salvation comes when someone preaches the Word of God concerning salvation to us. When we receive that word, faith is born in our heart and grace produces the new birth making us “new creatures in Christ Jesus.” (2 Cor. 5:17) The faith or the capacity for faith becomes a permanent gift in the heart of the believer.

If the shield is above all the armor and the shield is faith, than the word of God is even more important than faith. Without the Word of God, there can be no faith. In truth, they work together, along with the rest of the armor, to bring us victory in life. The Word of God is where we learn what truth is. It is where we find peace. It is the guarantee that we are the righteousness of God. Faith in God flows from the Word of God just as energy and strength flow from natural food. You cannot have any part of the armor without the Word and the armor is the outworking of the Word in our lives.

Paul says that the Word of God as part of the spiritual warriors “kit” is the part that provides the offensive capability. Certainly, the Word of God is also valuable in defense. We use the sword of the spirit to “parry” the thrusts of the enemy. When he brings accusation or temptation, we take the sword of the spirit and ward off his blows. However, it is on offense that the Word is truly affective.

Many verses give us insight into the offensive power of the Word of God. We will look at just a few.

Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV) 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

To expand completely upon this verse is another message however; it is easy to see the power in the words we speak. Both death and life reside potentially in our words. If our own words have such power, what power can we wield if we fill our mouths with the sword of the Spirit? When we speak God’s own words, they become a sword in our hands that will cut the enemy to the quick. He cannot stand against the sword of the spirit wielded behind the shield of faith

Hebrews 4:12 tells us this sword is alive and powerful. It is sharp enough to divide soul and spirit. Nothing the enemy can do can stand against the sword of the spirit. Poverty cannot stand against it for “my God shall supply all my needs according to his riches in glory.” (Phil. 4:19) Sickness has no defense against the combination of Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24.

How can depression stand against the knowledge that the joy of the Lord is my strength? (Neh. 8:10) Loneliness has no chance when we fill our mouths with the great truth from Hebrews 13:5 where he tells us he will never leave us or forsake us. We could go on and on but I think you get the point. The word of God in the heart and mouth of a believer is a sword that will devastate the powers of darkness. However, it is even more than that.

Satan is a destroyer. His weapons are only destructive. Our great offensive weapon is not destructive except to darkness and evil. It is hard for us to understand this concept, but our weapon wins battles by being creative instead of destructive.

Hebrews 11:3 (NKJV)
3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

It is the creative power of the Word of God that produced all we see. It is this same creative power that we have in our hands when we wield the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. We do not defeat the enemy by destroying people leaving ruins behind us. We defeat the devil by creating new lives and building faith structures that displace the destructive power of the evil one. This is the real power of our sword.

Let me quote one more scripture about the offensive power of the Word of God.

Psalm 103:20 (NKJV) 20 Bless the LORD, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word.

Satan began as an angel. Angels are created beings whose sole purpose is to do the Word of the Lord. That is built into their structure. To put this thought into computer age language, it is their basic programming. Satan and those who followed him overrode that programming, but it is still a part of them. They are in rebellion to the Word of God and refuse to obey it but I believe they still feel it.

This is my own opinion that I think this scripture supports, so you may feel free to reject it, but I believe the devil feels the effect of the Word of God when it is spoken to him. The demonic kingdom hates the Word of God, but it is by the Word of God that they were defeated in heaven. It was the Word of God in the mouth of Jesus of Nazareth that overcame them at every turn in the gospels. When they are faced with the Word of God in the heart and mouth of a believing Christian, they must obey it. They have no choice. It is their basic programming.

Take this offensive weapon. Put it in your heart through meditation of the Word of God. When you do, faith will rise. The shield will be formed over you. Then put that Word of Faith into your mouth and by the creative power of the Word begin to pull down the strongholds of the devil replacing them with things built from faith in the God. The devil will obey the Word of God. He has no choice and you will win powerful victories for yourself, your family, your community and your world.

The Shield of Faith

Ephesians 6:16 (NKJV) 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

Yesterday we looked at the shield and sword used by the Roman legionary soldiers in Paul’s day. We found that they were ideally suited to the style of combat used by the Roman army. The shield was not the small round shield sometimes used by the Romans, but instead it was the “door” shaped oval shield that covered the whole soldier. They would use these shields together to form walls of protection that the enemy could not penetrate.

The shield covered and enhanced the rest of the armor. The armor was a static defensive system. Without the shield and the sword, the static armor would not be sufficient to protect the soldier in battle. The shield and the armor working together became an active system that was able to deal with anything the enemy brought against them.

The sword was also suited to the strategy used by the legions. It was not long and elegant. It was short with a wide pointed blade. It was made for stabbing and could be used from behind the shield. As the legionaries went into battle, either they would stand or advance behind their shield wall stabbing with the short sword as the enemy came in contact with them.

Our sword and shield work in the same way as the Roman sword and shield. They are made for close quarters combat. They are designed to deal with the enemy in front of us while the soldier next to us deals with the one to our left or right. They allow the Christian soldier to stay protected behind the shield while still doing tremendous damage to the enemy with the sword.

The Roman shield was made of particular materials. Barnes commentary describes it this way. “The shield was usually made of light wood, or a rim of brass, and covered with several folds or thicknesses of stout hide, which was preserved by frequent anointing. It was held by the left arm, and was secured by straps, through which the arm passed. The outer surface of the shield was made more or less rounding from the centre to the edge, and was polished smooth, or anointed with oil, so that arrows or darts would glance off, or rebound.”

The Roman shield was both lightweight and strong. It was curved in shape and it was “anointed” with oil to make it more able to deflect the weapons of the enemy. It was made of many layers of material adding to its strength. Our shield is very similar. Our shield is made of faith in God.

Just as the Roman shield covered the static armor, faith covers the other elements of our armor. It is “above all” the rest. Truth, righteousness, the preparation of the gospel and salvation are powerful protection against the weapons of the enemy. However, these things alone are not enough to keep us safe in battle. We need faith to reinforce them. Faith strengthens them. Faith makes them effective.

It is a powerful thing to understand that I am the righteousness of God in Christ, but this will never be an effective reality in my life if I do not believe it. Faith takes it from the realm of theory and philosophy to reality. Faith and righteousness working together cannot be defeated. The same is true of all the armor of God.

Truth must be accepted and acted on by faith. We are saved by grace through faith in God. Our shoes are the preparation of the gospel of peace. We must have faith to prepare our hearts in prayer and study of the word. The gospel is both preached and received by faith. Peace comes from an abiding faith in God’s love and care for us. Every element of the Armor of God must be permeated by faith in order to be effective.

Just as the Roman shield was active as opposed to the static nature of the rest of his armor, so our shield is active while our armor is static. The belt, breastplate, shoes and helmet go on the various areas of our bodies and they protect those areas. Once in place we only need to maintain them. However, they can only deal with the areas they were meant to protect. There are times when the enemy attacks us in ways and from directions that the armor is not able to deal with. The enemy will find the weak spots in our armor and attack there. When we have our shield of faith in place, we can reinforce whatever direction the enemy attacks.

Faith works in any area and from any direction. If we tend to be weak in the area of motivation, faith can come to the aid of our shoes. We choose to walk by faith in the love of God even if we d not feel it. Sometimes the enemy tries to compromise our breastplate by bringing up past sins. We know we were wrong then, but we raise our shield of faith and remind the devil that our righteousness is not based upon how we feel or what we did or did not do in the past. We are right with God because we believe what Jesus did for us.

I am not saved because I feel saved or even because I act saved. I act saved because I receive the reality of the new birth by Faith. When the devil tries to tempt me with sin, I stand by faith in my salvation identity. When the devil tries to compromise integrity or character, which is my belt, I raise my shield of faith and choose to resist the temptation to be untruthful. I move my shield to block the enemy at every turn in the battle.

The center of the shield opposite from the arm straps was made of metal. It was usually a roundish knob. This gave the shield an offensive capability. Not only could I block the enemy, but I could take the shield and deal him a major blow as well. Faith is the same. Our shield has an offensive capability that the enemy cannot resist. Once you block his blows begin to move forward by faith and you will use the shield as a battering ram against him.

In the description of the Roman shield from Barnes’ commentary, we found that the shield was anointed with oil. It had to be continually anointed to stay in shape. The oil helped the shield deflect the blows of the enemy. I have also heard that the treatment on the shield had a dampening effect on the fiery arrows that were often used in battle. We see in Paul’s description of the shield of faith that it also has thing capability.

Paul tells us that our shield is able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Our enemy is wicked. He hates us. He will use any means he can to defeat us. His darts are personal attacks that burn into our soul and tempt our flesh. They are directed at our most vulnerable areas. They target our past wounds and areas where sin is close to the surface. Our shield is able to quench all of these “fiery darts.” There is not one that can penetrate our shield effectively.

For our shield to stay effective, it must be anointed. This is not a onetime process but something we must do daily. Our shield is anointed with the Holy Spirit. Faith in God is not an impersonal thing. It is a living reality born of an active relationship with the Lord. How do we anoint our shield of faith with the oil of the Spirit?

We keep our faith fresh and effective by spending time with the Lord in whom we have believed. If faith flows from relationship, we must cultivate and practice relationship with Jesus and the Father. We must pray, worship and study his Word. We must spend time in his presence. Then our faith will maintain its effectiveness. When the enemy comes against us, our shield will be ready to quench all his fiery darts from whatever direction they come. The weak areas and gaps in our armor will be covered and we will be ready to attack the enemy and win the victories of life.

The Sword and the Shield

Ephesians 6:16-17 (NKJV)
16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

This week we will finish our study of the full armor of God as described by Paul in Ephesians 6. We have looked at the belt of truth, the shield of righteousness, the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace and the helmet of salvation. There are two things that all of these elements have in common. They are worn on the body and they are static in nature.

When the Roman soldier put on his armor that was all he could do with it. The pieces of the armor protected him in the way they were designed to and that was all. No soldier would go into battle with his armor on and nothing else. Battle is fluid and static defenses can always be defeated. In addition, the soldier would have nothing to fight back with if all he took into battle were the components of armor he wore on his body.

In modern warfare, noncombatants wear helmets and military body armor. They are in the battle but not part of the battle. The fact that they do not carry guns makes them vulnerable even though they have the same protection as the soldier. Without the capability to fight back, they are not really soldiers and they are a liability on the battlefield.

The Roman soldier’s static defensive armor was very good, but he was not a soldier without a sword and shield in his hands. Then and only then would he be confident on the battlefield. In the same way, we must have our sword and shield if we are going to face the battles of life with confidence that we can be victorious.

In verse 16, Paul says that we should take the shield of faith “above all.” Barnes commentary says, “Not above all in point of importance or value, but over all, as a soldier holds his shield to defend himself.” There are two words for shield in the Roman world. On describes the small round shield that you may see in “gladiator movies.” This is not the word used in Ephesians 6.

The second word, which Paul uses here, is derived from the word for door. It is a “door shaped” shield. It was oblong with rounded corners. It was large enough that the soldier could protect most of his body with it. One of the formations used by the Romans was the turtle. They would literally cover the whole unit with these door shaped shields. Those on the interior of the formation holding theirs above them while those on the outside covered the outside of the formation. This created a nearly impenetrable wall.

The shield was a dynamic defensive weapon. It could be moved so it could counter threats from any angle or direction. An enemy might be able to penetrate the helmet or the breastplate, but when the shield is added, it makes it much more difficult. An arrow or spear might get through one, but not both. The enemy’s blow might come from a direction where the rest of the armor was vulnerable, but the shield could counter because it was moved easily.

Not only did the soldier need a dynamic shield to help counter the enemy attack, he needed a dynamic weapon with which he could carry the battle to the enemy. For the Roman legionary that was the “gladius.” This was a short, wide bladed sword that looked, in many ways, like an oversized dagger. When we think of swords, we often think of the slim and elegant rapier or the powerful claymore swords of northern Europe. Both of these designs were far superior to the short gladius in open, one on one battle. Later in the Roman Empire, when the soldiers were not as well trained and the tactics and terrain changed, the Romans switched to a longer sword. However, in Paul’s day the Roman legions were still the real power in the world and the gladius was a major reason why.

The gladius is a stabbing weapon. It could slash when necessary, but its main purpose was to thrust out from behind the shield into the man in front of the soldier. It was a close up weapon. It was made for one on one combat, but not individual combat. By that, I mean the legionary only concerned himself with the man in front of him but that was because there were many legionaries fighting in concert.

You can picture how the sword and shield worked together in battle. The shields created a wall that the soldiers remained protected behind as they used their short but powerful swords to stab between the shields in the wall. The enemy’s long swords did them no good because they could not defeat the combination of shield and armor. As they threw themselves against the wall, it was like running into a massive porcupine. The “quills” made of thousands of gladius swords would cut into the enemy until he fell back. The porcupine would pursue until the enemy fled. At that point, they were defeated and the length of the sword was irrelevant.

It is important to note that if the Romans simply charged into the enemy their sword and shield would have been at a disadvantage. The shield was too big and the sword too small to defeat the enemy in the open. The smaller shields and longer swords would give the edge to the other side. Their weapons were perfectly suited to the tactics.

As we look at our sword and our shield, we need to realize that the same if true of them. They were never meant for use by “lone ranger” Christians. They are meant to be used by people who are part of a covenant army working together against the enemy. I can only deal with what is in front of me. I must trust my brother or sister to deal with the enemy to my left or right. I know that there are other “legions” that are coming behind me and on my flanks. Our sword and shield are perfectly suited to the tactics given by the Lord to the church.

Pick up the sword and shield today. Do not go into battle partially protected. There are no noncombatants in this war. Everyone is called to defeat the enemy of our souls, the devil. However, none of us can do it alone. We must be part of a team. That is the way our weapons are designed to be used and that is the only way we can win the battle.

Hearing and Seeing Through “I am saved!”

Colossians 1:27 (NKJV) 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

As we have studied the helmet of salvation, we have learned a number of things. We have come to understand that helmet protects our vital relationship with the head of the church, Jesus Christ. We learned that the helmet protects many important functions that are particularly important if we are going to be successful in spiritual warfare. Finally, we learned that the helmet of salvation helps keep us focused on the battle in front of us so that peripheral issues that are of little or no consequence do not defeat us.

We then looked at how to put on the helmet of salvation. We do so by cultivating an awareness of our identity as people who are saved. We may be many things, but above all of them, we are saved. When that becomes my preeminent identity, I will have victory in life.

Yesterday we focused on the need to evaluate life through this identity. We need to look at every circumstance and challenge of life through the reality of the fact that we are saved. The New Birth touches every area of life. If I am saved then God is involved in my life. Paul said it this way.

Romans 8:31 (NKJV) 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

If I am saved, God is for me. If God is for me then who can prosper against me. The more I meditate in the Word of God concerning my salvation identity the more I will wear the helmet. The more I confess my identity the more I will believe it. The more time I spend in the presence of the Lord of my identity, the more real it will become to me and the more I will walk in the conscious awareness of my salvation.

In our study of the Roman helmet we realized that our senses were also protected by the helmet. The seat of the senses is the brain. You cannot fight what you cannot see. If you cannot hear, you will be vulnerable to deception and you will not be able to communicate in battle. We need our senses functioning properly to win spiritual battles as well.

Today’s scripture says that God wants to “make known to us” certain things. This implies that he wants us to see and hear through the reality of our salvation relationship. I need to see through my salvation. There is an Old Testament story that illustrates this very well.

2 Kings 6:15-17 (NKJV) 15 And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

The Israelites were at war with the Syrians. The King of Syria could not understand how the Israelites always knew his battle plans. His servants told him that there was a prophet in Israel named Elisha who told all of his plans to the Israelite king. In response, the Syrian sent a detachment from his army to kill Elisha.

When Elisha’s servant went out that morning, he was greeted by a hillside full of enemy soldiers. He saw only through the eyes of his experience. He was a servant. That was his identity. He ran back in the house to let Elisha know what dire straits they were in. Elisha comes out and looks at the same hillside full of the same enemy soldiers but makes this startling statement. “Why are you worried? There are more with us than with them.”

Elisha did not see through a servant’s identity. Elisha was a prophet of God. He saw through his covenant relationship. He knew that God would not allow him to be killed or captured. I do not know if Elisha actually saw the angelic army with his physical eyes or simply with the eyes of faith. Either way, he knew that there were forces with him that the servant could not see.

When we learn to see through salvation, we will know that what we see in the natural is subject to the reality of our salvation. God is with me. If there is an army against me, I am not alone. I have an overwhelming force behind me. It does not matter if the enemy brings an actual army as in Elisha’s day or an army of sickness, debt or circumstances. When I see through “I am saved”, there is more power with me than against me.

We also need to hear with the ears of salvation. Elisha’s mentor, Elijah, gives us an example of this.

1 Kings 18:41 (NKJV) 41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”

We know the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. It had not rained in Israel for 7 years because of a judgment of God spoken by the prophet to the wicked king, Ahab. The Lord revealed to Elijah that it was time for it to rain again. However, Elijah first had to cleanse the land of the false prophets and their false gods.

Having done so through a mighty battle, Elijah sets himself to pray for the promised rain. He prays seven times and each time sends his servant to see if there is any rain on the horizon. Six times the servant comes back and tells Elijah that he sees nothing. The seventh time the servant returns to tell the prophet that he sees a small cloud the size of a man’s hand.

Elijah goes to the king and tells him to hurry and get back to the city. There is going to be a tremendous storm. If the king does not hurry, he will not be able to get home. How does Elijah know it is going to rain so much? There is just a small cloud far off. Elijah knows because he hears through his prophetic anointing and his covenant relationship with the Lord. Despite contrary evidence, Elijah hears the sound of an abundance of rain.

We need to hear through our “saved” identity. When bad news comes, we need to hear it through our salvation helmet. That helmet says the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) God is with us because of salvation and we need to hear through that reality. Criticism does not sound the same when you know that you are in right relationship with God. Accusation carries little weight when the judge is your Father.

I am reminded of the extraordinary communication and information capabilities built in to the equipment given to our modern day warriors. Each helmet has communications built into it. Soldiers can hear from headquarters right through their helmet. They can speak through communication devices much like civilian “Bluetooth” headsets used with cell phones. There are even small “displays that can give the soldier a picture of the battlefield from a Birdseye view. This keeps them in constant communication with the information they need to be successful.

We have communications built into our helmet as well. We can hear what God hears. We can see as the Lord sees. We can hear his instruction and encouragement as we face the fight. Our helmet of salvation is a powerful piece of military hardware that the Lord expects us to wear so we will be protected and directed in the battle.

Do not neglect to put this helmet on. Think about your salvation identity. Believe that it is real. Walk in that reality until wearing and using the helmet becomes second nature. You will find that you will walk in more victory than ever before.

Evaluating Life Through “I AM Saved”

Romans 8:35-39 (NKJV) 35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36  As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This week we have been looking at the helmet of salvation. This is the piece of the full armor of God that protects our head. Physically we know that a person cannot live without a head. Any injury to the brain is very often catastrophic even if it is not fatal. Spiritually we cannot live without maintaining the vital connection to our head, Jesus Christ.

Physically there are functions centered in the brain that we cannot function without especially in battle. We must be able to evaluate information, see and hear the enemy and communicate with other soldiers. Spiritually we must be able to do all of these things from a spiritual perspective. We need our thinking and senses functioning spiritually to win spiritual battles.

Yesterday we focused on how we put on the helmet of salvation. Our helmet is perfect. It has the ability to protect us from anything the enemy can bring against us. It cannot protect us at all unless we wear it. I believe we put on the helmet of salvation by accepting salvation as our identity. I am saved. Any other identity must be subject to my salvation identity. Some identities we carry are good. Many, such as those that develop because of trauma, are destructive. All of them must be subject to “I am saved.”

I must consciously put on my salvation identity. I must meditate in the Word of God concerning my salvation. I need to spend time in prayer with the Lord of my salvation. I must confess my salvation. The bible tells us in Romans 10:9-10 that the confession of the Lordship of Jesus is integral to my initial salvation but it does not stop there. I am what I confess and I confess what I am. The more I speak my salvation the more I put on the helmet of salvation.

Once my helmet is in place, there are some things that I will be able to do that I cannot do without it. Conversely, cultivating these things will help me put the helmet on. These things are especially important when we are engaged in warfare with our enemy the devil. Keep in mind that the challenges of life are part of that warfare even if the devil is not their direct cause.

We have listed some important things that are centered in the “head” of the Roman warrior. They are also part of our spiritual warfare. The first is the evaluation of information. A great deal depends on how we evaluate the circumstances and conditions of life around us. We are all familiar with the “glass half full vs. glass half empty” scenario. Two people will look at the same evidence and one will be optimistic and the other pessimistic. What I am talking about is similar but much more far-reaching.

A soldier is trained to evaluation information as a soldier. A good soldier can look at a situation that would cause a civilian to be overcome with fear. The soldier will see an opportunity for victory because he is trained to evaluate situation according to military principles. In the same way, we must learn to evaluate circumstances through our salvation identity. This is what we read concerning Paul in today’s scripture.

These verses contain nothing but bad things. If we were in Paul’s shoes we might conclude that God did not love us or that he was angry with us. We might think that we were about to be completely defeated in the battle. All of the evidence in this paragraph would tell us Paul was a defeated failure. Paul comes to a different conclusion. His conclusion is almost startling. This list of bad things leads Paul to the conclusion that he is “more than a conqueror.”

Earlier in this chapter we see why Paul came to the conclusions he did.

Romans 8:31-33 (NKJV) 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Paul saw God as with him. Why did he come to that conclusion? He came to it because he knew that it was God who justified. He was saved! He evaluated all information through his salvation identity. Hunger, nakedness, rejection and shipwreck could not separate him from the love that saved him.

I have many challenges in my life just as you do. There are days when I forget to put on my helmet. I forget what my true identity is. I see the evidence and I evaluate it based on my capabilities and resources in the natural. When I do that, I am defeated before I begin the battle. I will not fight. I will give in to depression and complaining.

When I face the challenges of life with my helmet securely in place, they look very different. I am not limited to my ability. I am not facing them alone. I am part of an army who has the authority of the commander and chief behind them. I have the power of the government of Heaven to help me. I have been given the Name of Jesus to use in my battles. Alone I am defeated. As one vitally joined to almighty God by the covenant of salvation, I am more than a conqueror through him who loves me.

Put on your helmet and look at your life through your salvation identity. You are not weak you are strong. You are not a sinner you are saved by grace. You are not alone because the commander and chief of the army will never leave you nor forsake you. You may be many things. However above all else, if you are a Christian, you are saved!

Putting on the Helmet of Salvation

Ephesians 6:17 (NKJV) 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

This week we are looking at the final piece of the full armor of God that we must put on. The last two pieces, the sword of the spirit and the shield of faith we carry. The helmet of salvation protects the most vital part of our spiritual anatomy. In the natural, we know that people have survived as paraplegics yet because their brain still functions they can live productive lives.

We have noted that in both the natural and spiritual realms connection of the head to the body is imperative to life. In the natural it goes without saying that one cannot live without a head! In the spirit, our head is Jesus Christ. A Christian has no real life if their connection to the head of the church is lost.

We have also seen that some capabilities that are vital in battle center in the head and the mind. We process information through our minds. Our minds are the center of our senses. If we are going to be successful in natural battle, we have to be able to gather and evaluate information. In the spirit we must be able to do the same thing but from a spiritual perspective. To do this we must maintain connection with our head, Jesus Christ.

Finally, we saw that the Roman helmet helped the soldier focus in battle. The helmet of salvation helps us focus in our spiritual battles. We are usually defeated by things that have little to do with the trial we are currently facing. The devil loves to distract us so we cannot bring the weapons of our warfare to bear against the real problem.

The helmet protects all of these things. Over the years, helmets have been made out of different materials. There are leather helmets. The roman era helmets were brass or bronze. In the two world wars of the twentieth century they were made of steel. Today they are made of things like Kevlar. This makes them much more capable of protecting the wearer against modern weapons. However, no matter how strong the natural helmet may be it can never protect against all of the potential threats it may face. This is not true of our spiritual helmet.

Our spiritual helmet is made out of the most powerful material available. This material is perfectly suited to protect our “head” spiritually. It is able to protect us against all that the enemy can bring against us. The only way our helmet can fail is if we do not put it on. As long as we wear our helmet, we are safe. This wonderful material that makes up our helmet is salvation in Christ Jesus.

The Greek word translated salvation in this scripture is the word sōtērion. Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines this word as “all the blessings of God bestowed upon man in Christ Jesus.” It is an all-inclusive word that implies everything from healing and protection to the state of relationship with God that enables the believer to live eternally with the Lord. Sōtērion is the material from which our helmet is made.

How do I put on this helmet of salvation? I believe one of the most important things we must realize to be successful in our Christian walk is who we really are. People have identities. Those identities define how they live life.

Some people’s identity is determined by what they do. For instance a doctor does not “do” doctor. He is a doctor. Some people are defined by their wealth or lack of wealth. A person “is” rich or they “are” poor. A person’s identity is often determined by life experience. A person may be a victim or a victor depending on how they have handled the trials of life.

If these identities are simply how others see us, it may not be a problem. However, when we take our identity from something outward whether good or bad, it is a problem. That identity becomes our helmet and it usually isolates us and makes us more vulnerable, not less.

We have found that the Greek word for helmet means to encircle the head. Our identity encircles our thinking, our emotions, our reactions and our relationship with the head of the Church, Jesus Christ. If you have had a difficult time in some area and you let that define you, it will affect how you evaluate information and how your senses function. It will determine your emotional responses and your ability to walk in faith, love and holiness.

Since the only thing that can render the helmet of Salvation ineffective is not putting it on, I ask again, how do we put on the helmet of salvation. We put it on by taking salvation as our identity. When asked about his or her spiritual condition, a Christian might say, “I am born again.” “I am a Christian.” is also acceptable. There is another response that I used to hear more than I do now. “I am saved!”

We do not have “saved.” Saved is not a theological or philosophical position. Saved is not a process by which I am able to live forever. When I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I became a new creature in Christ. I was saved at that encounter. Now I am saved. That is my identity. All other identities are subject to that.

That is not to say that all other identities are wrong. I am a husband. That is an identity to me. I am a father and grandfather. I cherish those identities. I am a minister of the Gospel. That is an identity I take seriously and it certainly defines a great part of whom I am. However, if any of these identities become more important than my identity as “saved” I will not have my helmet securely in place.

Let me use marriage as an example. It used to mean something when a man was confronted with temptation from a woman and he said to her, “I am a married man!” That statement was enough to say that he was not going to fall for the temptation. The door was closed because his identity was “married man.”

Marriage is not just something I did it is something I became. I do not have married I am married. I am marred until the day I die. When I am tempted and my flesh wants to give in, I put a stop to that immediately. “I am married.” That is the end of the discussion. The temptation has nowhere to land because I immediately override it with my identity or “helmet” of marriage.

The same process and principle applies to salvation. I must accept that salvation is my identity. All other identities and desires are subject to that. When the devil says I am a victim I put on my helmet and say, “I am not a victim I am saved!” When the devil tries to tell me I am still a sinner, I tell him, “No I am not I am saved!” In any trial or challenge of life, I will be protected as long as I keep the helmet of salvation in place. I AM SAVED!

The Helmet of Salvation

Ephesians 6:17 (NKJV)
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

This week I want to look at another piece of the full armor of God from Ephesians 6. Paul gives us the illustration of a set of Roman armor to describe the things God has made available to us to protect us and keep us strong as we navigate through life. To this point, I have looked at the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and the shoes made of the preparation of the gospel of peace. Today I want to begin looking at the helmet of salvation.

As with the other pieces of our spiritual armor we must understand its Roman counterpart to grasp what Paul is trying to tell us. The Roman helmet was made of brass or bronze. Its function was simple. It was to give the head of the soldier as much protection as possible. There are many vital organs in the body. Injury to some is survivable while injury to things such as the heart and liver is not. Today, most of these organs can be transplanted. There is one organ without which there can be no life. This organ cannot be transplanted. If it were, the person would not be the same person any longer. That organ is the brain. The brain is located in the head. The Helmet protected the head.

The Greek word used here for helmet is perikephalaia. The literal meaning of this word is to encircle the head. If you look at pictures of the Roman helmet that is exactly what it does. There is the metal “hat” which sits on the head. There are pieces that hang down in front of and behind the ear. There is a piece that protrudes from the back to protect the back of the neck. The helmet encircles the head of the soldier.

It is no mystery how the helmet does its job. It protects from blows to the head. Without a functioning head, the soldier cannot survive. If the head is damaged even temporarily, the soldier will be dazed and unable to fight. Either he will be out of the fight or due to the injury, or he will be easily killed. Protection of the head in any kind of warfare is vital. Our spiritual warfare is no exception.

Besides the fact that without the head there can be no life, injury to the head will compromise some other important things. The head is the seat of reason. It is where the soldier evaluates the information given to him on the battlefield. A soldier is trained to evaluate things differently than a civilian. To a civilian a threat is a threat. To a soldier the threat must be evaluated according to what it will take to eliminate it. Running away is not an option. The soldier looks at the threat, determines the resources he has to deal with the threat and takes action.

The head is also the seat of the senses used to gather information. If a soldier is injured in the head, his eyesight may be compromised. A soldier cannot fight what he cannot see. Hearing is important to the soldier. He may be able to fight if he cannot hear, but he will have a difficult time identifying where a threat is coming from. This will make him very vulnerable. He will not be able to hear orders, which will greatly hinder his military effectiveness. Even the sense of smell is important for gathering information on the field. Compromise of any of these senses could be fatal. The helmet protected the seat of the senses.

There was another function to the Roman helmet. Although they did not do away with all peripheral vision, it had the effect of keeping the soldier focused on the battle in front of him. If you are fighting alone peripheral vision is very important, but when you are part of a battle line with soldiers on either side of you peripheral vision is much less important. The soldier to your left takes care of that side and the one to your right deals with any threat coming from there. The soldier need only concern himself with the battle in front of him. The helmet helped keep him from being defeated by the distractions around him.

The spiritual helmet in the armor of God provides protection for the same things that the Roman helmet did. First, it does not just protect our individual head. It protects our connection to the head of the church. Jesus. Jesus is my life.

Colossians 3:2-3 (NKJV) 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Notice this scripture does not tell us to set our minds on the things above so that our life can be hidden with Christ is God. It says we should set our minds on these things because our life is hidden with Christ in God. Once you are born again, you have no life outside of the Lord. He is our life and separation from him means death in the spirit. We may still be breathing. We may still be bound for heaven, but we are not really alive if our connection to our “head” is compromised.

If we think of our personal physical head, we realize that the same functions that the Roman soldier had to protect also exist in the spirit. Our mind is the tool we use to evaluate the information that confronts us as we live life in the Lord. We must train our mind to evaluate information according our position in the army of God. If our “head” is compromised, we will not be able to evaluate information properly and we will not be successful I battle.

Romans 12:2 (NKJV) 2  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Our mind is the seat of our spiritual senses as well as our physical senses. We need to learn to hear and see according to the spirit. If these gates of information are compromised, our ability to fight will be compromised.

Finally, we must stay focused in our life’s battles. Things that happen in the periphery of life defeat most Christians. Things that are irrelevant or that we cannot do anything to change distract us. The devil loves to get us focused on the wrong thing so he can keep us from applying the weapons of our warfare to the things that really matter. Our helmet will keep us focused on what is important.

Joshua 1:7 (NKJV) 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.

Our helmet is fully capable of protecting all of these vital areas in our spiritual life. What is this helmet made of and how do we put it on so we are protected in battle? We will look at these things tomorrow.

What do our Shoes do for us

Ephesians 6:15 (NKJV) 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Yesterday we looked at the third piece of the armor of God described by Paul in Ephesians 6. Paul tells the Christian soldier that his feet should be shod with the “preparation of the gospel of peace.” Yesterday we looked at the natural battle sandals worn by the Roman army. Today we will look at how this relates to the shoes Paul tells us to put in today’s verse.

The Roman sandals were a key to their success in battle. They were thick soled in order to protect the soldier’s feet from traps, the debris of battle and the course terrain they had to walk over to get to the battleground. They had spikes in the soles to give them outstanding traction so they could stand against the attacks of the enemy and keep their footing on slippery ground. It also gave them the traction necessary to drive the enemy back when they went on the offensive. Along with the thick soled, studded sandals were metal leggings called greaves. These protected the Roman soldier from direct attacks from by the enemy.

We found that the New Testament epistles contained many references to our Christian life that used the term “walk.” Our Christian walk is the outward manifestation of our inward life. We are born again in our spirit. We are renewing our mind by the word of God. How that translates to our life before people is our walk. The devil is out to destroy our walk.

If a soldier’s legs or feet can be disabled, he is out of the battle even if he lives. You can still be a Christian who will go to heaven, but if the devil can corrupt your walk, you will be of no use to the kingdom of God. A believer who does not remain victorious in his walk before the world cannot win the lost, minister to the church or fulfill his or her destiny. Your walk is very important and God has given you shoes to protect it.

Our battle shoes do the same things that the Roman battle sandals did. They are thick enough to protect us from the traps the enemy sets for us. Satan’s main weapon is deception. No Christian can avoid all the traps the enemy sets for him. However, if we have our sandals on, even if we step on a trap it will not injure us and compromise our walk in the lord.

When we fight the good fight of faith, some debris is left on the battlefield. We have to walk over that debris. When our shoes are in place, we will not step on the debris of battle and cut up our feet. We will be able to walk right through the debris and keep on fighting.

We will also be able to navigate the terrain we must walk over as we live our Christian life. The world can be a rough place. Have you ever tried to walk barefoot over gravel? Have you ever walked barefoot on the sands at the beach in the afternoon? The gravel pokes into your feet and the sand burns. It is very difficult to get where you need to go over that kind of terrain if you are barefoot. If you put on a good pair of shoes, it is no problem at all. We have to walk over and through some treacherous and dangerous terrain if we are going to live for Jesus. If we do not take the time to put on our shoes, we are going to have difficulty even getting to the battle.

Once we are in the battle, the devil is going to takes some swipes at your walk with his weapons. God has given us “greaves” to protect us when the devil attacks our walk. I just heard how someone who left our church years ago was still accusing us of misusing money. That was not the case. They really had to know that was not the case. They chose to believe a lie and fifteen years later the devil was still using them to try to attack our walk. We had our shoes on then and we have them on now. The attacks of the devil simply glance off of our greaves. It is unsettling to hear such a lie from so long ago, but it never had any real affect on our church and it has no affect on me personally now. Thank God for our shoes!

Our battle sandals have spikes in the bottom just like the Roman sandals. We will look more closely at what these shoe are made of tomorrow, but there is one thing I want to mention now. What is it that enables us to stand through any battle? What is it that gives us the traction to maintain our footing over slippery ground? What is it that also gives us the traction to push the enemy back in our lives? Peace is what makes up the spikes in our sandals.

I have been in the ministry for more than 35 years. I have dealt with more marriages than I can count. I have prayed with families going through tremendous difficulties but there was peace between the husband and wife. They were able to stand through any problem. There were times of stress and worry. There were failures and successes, but as long as they had peace, they would win in the end.

I have dealt with marriages where there was no peace between the husband and wife. The least little problem would put them into a tailspin. Where there is no peace we cannot stand. If we have peace, either inwardly or between people, there is no battle we cannot win. There is no problem we cannot overcome. There is no devil that can defeat someone who has the peace of God in his or her heart.

I want to focus on one other thing before we close for today. Our feet represent our walk. They are also what give us motivation. Paul calls these shoes “the preparation of the gospel of peace.” What is the heart of the gospel? I think John 3:16 gives us a clear answer to that question.

John 3:16 (NKJV) 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Love is the heart of the Gospel and love should be the motivation for everything we do. One aspect of having our feet shod properly is to cultivate love as the primary motivation of our lives. When we are moved by compassion as Jesus was before the multitude, our walk will be protected from anything the enemy can bring against us. 1 John 4:18-19 show us this truth.

1 John 4:18-19 (NKJV) 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.

Where there is no fear the attack of the devil cannot prosper. Where there is no fear there is peace. We must put on the shoes of love over our motivation. If we do that, nothing will overcome us. There will be no trap that will destroy us. There will be no debris or terrain that can keep us from defeating our enemy.

Do not try to enter the battle barefoot. Put on the shoes God has provided and you will have victory in every battle life or the devil brings your way.

The Battle Shoes of God’s Armor

Ephesians 6:15 (NKJV) 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

God has provided access to some powerful weapons so that the believer may be “strong in the Lord and the power of his might.” This strength creates an atmosphere where favor flows to the Christian by the hand of God. We have studied two elements of the armor, the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. Now we need to look at the footwear we must put on before we enter the fray.

The Apostle Paul uses the battle armor of the Roman Soldier as his pattern for the armor God provides his people. One of the key elements of the Roman armor was their footwear. We would not think of shoes as being important to the soldier. We might focus on the sword or the shield as being more important. The breastplate and the helmet would seem to protect more vital areas than the shoes. However, we must remember that the army in Roman days was primarily infantry. If an infantry soldier cannot march or stand, he is useless. Injure the feet or legs and the infantry soldier is out of the fight.

One of the most troublesome problems in WWII was something called “trench foot.” Although the soldiers were sometimes transported in vehicles, they were still infantry. They usually got to the battle on foot. The boots in WWII were leather. They were not waterproof. In rainy and snowy conditions, they got wet and stayed wet. The soldiers could not just take them off and dry them out. They were in battle and the threat was continual. As a result, the men’s feet would often become frostbitten and gangrenous. Once that happened the soldier was effectively out of the battle.

In modern warfare, a soldier who is unable to stand might still be able to fire his weapon. The Roman infantry did not fight with rifles and machine guns. They used swords, shields and many other kinds of hand to hand weapons. If their legs were damaged, they could not wield the weapons available to them. They were out of the fight.

The Roman battle sandal was superior to that of any other army. It was high technology of its day. It consisted of two basic parts. The first was the part that covered the foot itself. The sole of the shoe was very thick and fitted with spikes or nails to increase traction.

The thickness of the sole provided protection from the traps set by the enemy. They would often hide spikes or other sharp objects along the way so that the soldier would step on them. If that happened the soldier’s foot would be injured. Infection might set in. The soldier thus injured was out of the battle.

Another hazard for the foot soldier was the debris of battle. Hand to hand combat of that day would leave the battlefield littered with all kinds of sharp objects. As the soldier pressed forward against the enemy, he had to be able to walk over this debris without injuring his feet. The Roman sandal provided the protection he needed.

Finally, the soldier had to march over all kinds of terrain. There might be rocks or other objects that he would have to negotiate that could cut his feet. If he did not have excellent footwear, he would be useless for battle by the time he got to the field. The Roman battle sandals were the best in the world for protecting the feet of the soldier.

The other thing these sandals provided was traction. The spikes or nails in the bottom of the shoes caused them to dig into the ground so that they would not slip and fall during the fight. One can only imagine what would happen to a soldier who fell to the ground during the kind of fighting they did. There would be large numbers in close proximity. To fall probably meant serious injury or death. The Roman shoes provided traction to keep them from slipping and falling in battle.

The traction was also important to the way they fought. I have talked before about the strategy of allowing the enemy to attack against the shield wall until they Romans felt them weaken. Then the Romans would push forward moving the line farther and farther into the enemy territory. Eventually the enemy would break and then the Romans would destroy them. The traction provided by the shoes gave them the leverage to stand against the enemy attacks as well as the leverage to push them back when they chose to do so.

The other component to the Roman battle shoes was called greaves. They were metal boots that covered the lower leg and the tops of the feet. Their purpose was to protect the soldier from the direct attack of the enemy against his legs and feet. Once again, we must understand that if an enemy could not be killed, the next best thing would be to injure his legs or feet. He might not be dead but he would be out of the fight.

The shoes in Paul’s list of armor provide the same things that the shoes in the Roman armor did. Just as the feet of the infantry soldier are vital to his success in battle, our spiritual “feet” are vital to our success in the Christian life. There is a word used between 40 and 50 times in the New Testament Epistles to describe our Christian life. That word is “walk.”

In many ways, we are infantry in the army of the Lord. Here are just a few examples. In Romans 6:4, it tells us we can walk in newness of life. In Romans 8:1 were are exhorted to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh. In Romans 13:13 we are to walk “properly” in the day and not in the lust of the flesh. 1 Corinthians 7:17 says we should walk in the things he has provided. Ephesian 2:2 says that we used to walk according to the course of this world and of the prince of the power of the air. Ephesians 4:1 says we should walk worthy of our calling in Christ. Finally, look at 1 John 1:6-7.

1 John 1:6-7 (NKJV) 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

If we walk in darkness, we do not have fellowship with the Lord, but if we walk in the light as he is in the light, his blood cleanses us from sin. The devil wants to hinder or destroy your walk. These are just a few of the verses that use this word to describe our Christian life. Why does God use this word?

The term walk in this context means the outward manifestation of the inward reality. I am born again. I am a new creature in Christ. I am going to live forever with heaven as my eternal home. That is a fact. The devil cannot change the reality of the new birth. However, if he can keep that inward reality from affecting the outward life, he can keep us from being effective in winning the lost and fulfilling our Godly destiny.

My walk is how my faith manifests in my outward life. If my walk is compromised, I am vulnerable. If my walk is destroyed, I am out of the fight. I will go to heaven, but I will not be a threat to the kingdom of darkness. The devil is after our walk.

Thank God, for the shoes he provides us for the journey. They are just as effective to the Christian as the Roman battle sandals were for the Roman army. God has provided something that will protect us from the traps of the enemy. They will protect us from the debris of life’s battles. They will protect us from the terrain we must navigate as we walk in this ungodly world. They will give us traction as we navigate life. Finally, they protect us from the targeted attacks of the enemy against our walk before men.

We need to learn about these shoes and make sure we have them on daily.