USE THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD PURPOSEFULLY AND EFFECTIVELY
By Pastor Paulus Budiono
Sunday, December 2, 2018
When it comes to worship, Christians are typically overwhelmed with pride in their church as the place where the best annointment and worship take place. The question is: Why don’t outsiders step into the church?
How many people in Surabaya attend church to praise the Lord and worship Him? Bear in mind that if we do not take pleasure in praising and worshipping the Lord now, we will not be worthy of being in His Kingdom where praising Him day and night will never cease (Revelation 4: 8-9).
When a foreign guest is invited to the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, they are to adjust themselves to the Indonesian manners and culture. That way, they will receive a warm welcome to the palace. In the same way, if we wish to live in God’s Kingdom, we ought to get used to activities that commonly take place in His Kingdom. In doing so, we will feel at home once we are there.
The Bible provides us with a guideline on self-discipline. What are we supposed to do? We are to stay on guard as we are at war with the devil, principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6: 12). For this reason, we have no other choice but to take up the whole armor of God, protecting us from the crowns of our heads to the soles of our feet against the fiery arrows of the evil (vv. 13-17).
If we do live up to the Word of God, we can be living testimonies to those whose marriages hit bottom rock, whose children are rebellious against them and the list goes on and on. These people witness our lifestyles (sincere, not just for show) as we show victory in Christ. The Word of God is not just a matter of appeals. When applied on a daily basis, it has an enormous impact.
The Christians in Ephesus (filled with idolatry), for example, totaled 12 people. When the Apostle Paul visited their city, they had never heard of the Holy Spirit and John’s baptism. Following Paul’s explanation on water baptism, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 19: 1-7). Later they became salt and light to their hometown.
Who is capable of doing the battle? Children do not know how to use weapons, but adults do. Only grown-ups are qualified to go to war. After all, children are to be continually motivated to put on the armor of God. As they are growing to maturity, they never forget the sword of God. Don’t we realize that the evil spirits are fervently impairing the children’s senses via their gadgets?
With that in mind, raise the children in line with the teaching of the Word of God. That way, their thoughts and hearts will be the foundations of their love for the whole armor of God since they also face the devil and his collaborators. If we have no helmets on, we have no one to blame when the
devil’s weapon “slashes” our thoughts! Indeed, it is vital to protect ourselves from head to toe with the whole armor of God.
Please note that every weapon has its own use. Despite the whole armor, we may lose the war if we use the weapons in the wrong way or we do not know how to handle them. Therefore, we must use the whole armor of God in a purposeful and effective fashion. Take a look at the following examples:
No sooner had the Israelites left Egypt than the Amalekites attacked them in Rephidim. Standing on the hilltop, Moses watched the ongoing battle with God’s staff in his hand. Aaron and Hur were with Moses at the time. When Moses held up his hand, the Israelites prevailed. On the contrary, the Amalekites prevailed when he let down his hand. Knowing that Moses’ hands grew tired, Harun and Hur took a stone for Moses to sit on. In the meantime, they held up Moses’ arms on the left and right sides and his hands were steady until sundown. That’s how the Amalekites were defeated with the edge of the sword (Exodus 17: 8-13).
Do not blame the leader or pastor. Instead, pastor, elders, church council and congregation should work shoulder to shoulder to fight off the enemy for the sake of victory.
When approaching the Promised Land, the murmuring Israelites had no courage to enter Canaan because the ten spies’ fake news had impacted on their morale. And this aroused God’s fury. As a punishment, they had to wander across the wilderness for 40 years. The total of the years resembled the amount of days of the spy mission (40) – one day is equal to one year (Numbers 14: 33-34).
Upon hearing that, the Israelites got disheartened. The next morning, they planned to go up to the top of the mountain in their efforts to occupy Canaan. Because God was not with them, Moses told them to cancel their plan, but they insisted. Consequently, the Amalekites defeated them and the Canaanites occupied the hills. Please note this: Despite their weaponry, the Israelites lost the battle since God was not with them.
Let’s not “go off to war,” relying on our own will. Instead, let’s accept God’s “punishment” for our wrongdoings. Keep in mind that our whole armor provides no access to victory unless God is with us.
In the end, the Israelites lived in Canaan. They fought against the Philistines and lost the battle. Four thousand people lost their lives during the war. Thinking that the absence of the Ark of Covenant contributed to their defeat, they took the Ark with them from Silo. Hophni and Phinehas (the priest Eli’s sons) were with the Ark of Covenant. The thundering shouts of the Israelites from their campsites due to the presence of the Ark of Covenant scared the Philistines for a short while.
But what happened next? The Israelites were defeated again. Thirty thousand soldiers died in action. The Ark of God was seized and even Hophni and Phinehas got killed (1 Samuel 4: 1-11). It is note worthy that Hophni and Phinehas were wicked, playing down the sacrifices for the Lord (1 Samuel 2: 12-17). Besides, they committed adultery with the women who served at the entrance
to the Tent of the Meeting (v. 22). It was evidenced that a reckless lifestyle, especially without God, always suffers loss without doubt. Let’s never take any action without asking God or without involving Him in what we do!
King Saul was seated on his throne with his spear in his hand while David was playing his harp to cool him down. All of a sudden, overpowered by evil spirit, Saul threw his spear toward David as he wanted to pin David to the wall. He did it out of jealousy as he found out that David had defeated more enemies than he (1 Samuel 18: 1-11). Saul misused his weapon.
Make sure we do not use God’s armor in the wong way. Let’s make no room for jealousy because our enemies are not humans (neither parents nor children in-law), but rather the devil and evil spirits.
Ahab, the king of Israel, went to war in disguise against Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah. King Aram instructed his troops to fight against the king of Israel (Ahab) only. The commanders of the troops wanted to attack King Ahab, but they got it wrong. It was king Joshaphat. Without warning, someone shot his arrow at random. Strangely, the arrow struck king Ahab between the joints of his armor. This arrow caused his death a few hours later (1 Kings 22: 30-37). An arrow has an “eye” that strikes anyone who pretends or lies.
Let’s guard our hearts so as not to keep lying to anyone (husband, wife, friends and others). On the contrary, let’s be honest in the heart because God deals with the battles we face. Either pretense or lack of seriousness during the battle wreaks havoc on the victory we are looking forward to.
Peter felt awesome because he managed to precisely answer Jesus’ question (Matthew 16: 15-17). At the point Jesus was being arrested, Peter impulsively drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant (John 18: 10). Was Jesus pleased with His disciple’s defensive action? By no means. He told Peter to put his sword back into the sheath (v. 11).
Peter emotionally tried to defend the Lord but he was the one who denied his Master (John 18: 15-27). Having been filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter began to train himself in using the sword of God. He adviced us to use the sword with care and fight off the devil with rock-solid faith. That way, he will flee from us (1 Peter 5: 8-9).
Our failures in life require our more serious trainings, particularly when it comes to spiritual matters. The spirit of rebellion is indeed invisible, but we must pull it down (2 Corinthians 10: 2-5).
In fact, the Bible has reminded us not to give the devil a chance (Ephesians 4: 27). This means that we used to give him place until we died in sin due to our obedience to the principalities in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2: 1-3). Being a new man, do not let the evil spirits knock us down again as they are always trying to persuade us time and again.
There are blessed couples. However, they did not seriously walk in the Lord. As a result, they finally committed adultery. Don’t we come across such married couples in life? It is evident that the devil is doing his very best to wreak havoc on married lives.
We must be “well-trained warriors.” Why do powerful countires fear a tiny one like Israel? Because Israel has professionally-trained soldiers who stay on guard every time. They have been brainwashed to nurture a high-level of nationalism and strong solidarity. A leader is supposed to be a model. He is expected not only to give instructions but also to sacrifice for the sake of his men. The unity of Israel is rock solid because of their faith in God.
Do we care for the lost and unshepherded “souls”? Are we so busy serving the Lord that we ignore our family members or friends who do not know the Lord or have turned their backs on Him?
By the blood of the Lamb, we have obtained victory over the devil (Revelation 12: 7-11). Weren’t the Israelite first-born spared from death by the blood of the lamb put on the two side posts and top of the door frame (Exodus 12: 7, 13)?
Have our hearts been streaked with and sanctified by the blood of Christ? The devil keyed up Peter and Jesus rebuked him (Matthew 16: 21-23). The devil also worked up Judas’ thoughts in such a way that he did not believe that Jesus was the living bread and that His flesh and blood were food and drink which gave eternal life. Jesus gave Judas a pice of bread after He had dipped it into the cup. At that point, Judas was possessed by the devil. Then Jesus said, “What you do, do quickly“ (John 13: 21, 26-27).
Be alert! Never turn down the Word of God even for a split of a second! If we reject His Word today, we will distrust His commands more and more. Instead, let’s honor and hold up the sacrifice of Jesus through His death on the cross. On top of that, let’s take up the whole armor of God and use it effectively so that we may gain victory together with Him. Amen.