Monday, 4 June 2018

Going Deeper. ~ Ganeida

Ephesians 6:10 ~13 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put
on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

We have studied the passage on the Armour of God in detail when we considered our spiritual armour & spiritual warfare. However we are considering intimacy with God & so my emphasis is on a different way of considering this passage.

In Romans 13:14 Paul instructs us to ... put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts as Galatians 3:27 assures us For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  It is essentially a rephrasing of what Jesus Himself taught: "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. John 15:4~5  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. John 15:6

It couldn't be clearer.  If we don't abide we will dry up spiritually.  There will be no life in us.  It is the Christ~life in us [through His Holy Spirit] that identifies us as belonging to Christ.

So let's be very practical because the armour of God is not metaphorical.  What is this *belt of Truth* Paul speaks of? John tells us *Thy word is Truth* [John17:17] but he is simply repeating what every old testament scholar knew: The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting. [Psalm 119:160] When we immerse ourselves in the Word it does a number of things to us:
  • It sanctifies us [John 17:17]
  • It cleanses us [John 15:3]
  • It washes us [Ephesians 5:26]
  • It sets us free [John 8:32]
  • It teaches us how to obey God [1 Peter 1:22]
When we fail to do these things:
  • it robs us of our inheritance [Revelation 22:15]
  • It leads to death [1 Corinthians 10:8]
  • It enslaves us to sin [John 8:34]
  • It holds us in bondage to iniquity [Acts 8:23]
The Truth sets us free but God & His word are one So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. [John 8:36] All true freedom is found in Christ & the Truth will always bring us into greater knowledge & intimacy with Him.

So how about the breastplate of righteousness?  The breastplate was designed to protect all the vital organs, most specifically the heart. Remember that Hebrew thinking is concrete thinking so there will be a very practical application to this.
  • Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
  • Proverbs 23:19 Listen, my son, and be wise, and guide your heart on the right course
  • Deuteronomy 4:9 Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons
Here we have some very interesting results when we do what the word says: There is wisdom; there is life; there is generational influence.  The heart is the beginning place for everything For from within the hearts of men come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery... [Mark 7:21] & Luke 6:45 The good man brings good things out of the good treasure of his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil treasure of his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.

You see everything we allow into our lives influences us.  It will bring one of two things.  Either it will bring life or it will bring death. The breastplate is not some nebulous super spiritual thing.  It is a concrete instruction & I can say that because we are to consider the whole counsel of scripture! As soon as you ask: What is the breastplate meant to do? you get your answer from scripture. The Truth shows us the way. This is why it is so important: 

Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left. Isaiah 30:21 It not only guides us but Jesus clearly teaches it sanctifies us [John 17:17] so we have a twofold thing happening here.  We are made righteous through Christ & His Truth enables us to walk in righteousness.

We then have the gospel of peace. Ok, people.  All together: Peace means Shalom & shalom means nothing missing, nothing lost; the fullness of God's love & protection towards His people. The gospel was never meant to just be words.  It was always meant to be accompanied by Christ's life flowing out of us to others with healing, deliverance, protection...& as we discussed last week this flows from a place of intimacy. Here we are instructed to be ready to minister ~ & that is much more than simply being a missionary or sending a missionary out!  It is talking about a way of life that is rooted & sourced in Christ.

Our shield is faith & Romans 10:17 assures us: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Again we come back to the Word.  It is our one sure foundation for it is the Living Word of Christ.  Again we see that faith is not a nebulous thing.  It is anchored to an action.  We are to speak out the word of God.  We confess the Word.  We obey the Word.  We do what the Word says.  Faith is not simply belief.  In Hebrew thinking it must be tied to action & indeed James bears this out for he says: Faith without works is dead.

So too with the helmet of salvation. What does the helmet protect?  It protects the mind! We have already looked at Deuteronomy 4:9 but I will just hightlight this portion: ...keep your soul diligently... The soul is not our spirit.  It is our will, our thoughts, our emotions. So when we put on the helmet of salvation it is not a passive action.  It is not just something Jesus does for us.  We are meant to be active participants. What do we think about? What excites our emotions? What do we pursue with our will? To put on the helmet is to actively guard what we allow into our minds; what we actively seek out; what we allow to excite our emotions. Thus empowered by the Word the sword of the Spirit is already to hand.

Now you might think I have veered way of track discussing all these things  we are meant to do when I am supposed to be discussing intimacy with God but the two things cannot be separated. 

John 14:15 says If you love me you will keep my commands. Jesus ties love & obedience together so we cannot separate them. Love, agape, is sacrificial, selfless love. It is the love that picks up it's cross daily & follows.  It is the love that lays down it's life for another. It is the love that does not count the cost. It is reckless abandonment into the arms of the beloved. 

See, if we truly want deeper & deeper intimacy with God we have to do some housecleaning.  It is radical & it hurts until we realise that anything we have given up pales in the face of what we have gained. To keep in John 14:15  is tēreō & it means to keep a watch upon, to guard, to protect.  In other words our love should produce in us a jealous desire to guard our ways, to ensure we are doing nothing to displease God as did David who sang:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way. [Psalm 139]
Quite literally, when we put on the armour we are putting on Christ as Paul instructs us in Romans 13:14 ~ But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

We cannot be half~hearted about the matter for God Himself says:You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart [Jeremiah 29:13]

If we are only half living for God  but spending the greater portion of our time doing what pleases us we are never going to truly know God because intimacy grows out of knowing the other. You get to know the other by spending the time to get to know them & as you get to know God you realise there are choices that have to be made.  You can skim the surface of belief, buffeted about by every wind of doctrine, never really knowing who God says He is, hampered in your walk by lack, by uncertainty, by sickness or you can walk in assurance knowing that:
The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. [Psalm 16: 5~6]

The Lord is our Healer, our Redemption, our Salvation, our Provider... We will know with a deep assurance that we are never abandoned as orphans, never forsaken ~ that indeed we are engraved in the palms of His hands, His jewels, His treasure but Jesus warned us there is a cost ~ & to count the cost. The cost is much higher without Christ.  Intimacy brings us into a place of deep trust.  Haratio Spafford, having suffered the loss of his infant son, financial ruin & all 4 of his daughters drowned on a sea voyage was still able to pen these immortal words: 

Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say

It is well, it is well, with my soul...

Intimacy.  It is the key to living the abundant life in Christ.

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