Temptation. There is no escaping it. But know this–it can have an help you to deepen and grow spiritually, causing you to cling that much tighter to the Lord Himself.
It’s been said, “Christians are a lot like teabags. You don’t know what they are made of until you put them in hot water.”
Perhaps you in the “hot water” of temptation right now. God has given you a weapon to use, and it’s called the Bible.
Jesus was tempted
When Jesus faced His temptation in the wilderness, He gave us an example to follow, a template to apply.
Being God, He could have sent Satan away or even removed Himself from the place where the enemy was. Instead, He faced Satan as a man and stood on ground that we too can occupy.
When tempted, each time Jesus quoted the Scripture. We read in Luke 4:12, “And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It is written, “You shall not tempt the LORD your God.”‘”
It is written
You need to know and quote Scripture when you are tempted. The psalmist wrote, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word” (Psalm 119:9) and “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!” (Psalm 119:11)
It’s good to carry a Bible in your briefcase, backpack, or purse. But the best place to carry the Word of God is in your heart!
Why? Because Satan can quote Scripture to you too!
Satan entices you, trips you up, and then tells you “God will not forgive you!” We pull out the sword and reply, “It is written, ‘If we confess our sin . . . ” (1 John 1:9).
Satan whispers in your ear, “You’ve sinned, and now God condemns you!” We can come back with, “It is written, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation” (Romans 8:1).
The devil tells us, “You’re not going to make it. I’ll get you. You’ll fall again!” You reply, “It is written, ‘And I will give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
You can also say, “Being confident of this very thing that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Even when tragedy hits
Perhaps when tragedy hits, the enemy will say, “Your life is over, and ruined. God has abandoned you.”
You come back with God’s Word! It is written, “He causes all things to work together for good to those that love Him” (Romans 8:28).
When a loved one dies, the enemy says, “That’s it. They are gone. Death is the end!” You reply, “It is written that to be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord” (see 2 Corinthians 5:8). Jesus also said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25).
I encourage you to memorize and use the Word of God when being tempted. It will make all the difference.
On Thursday night in O.C., I am giving the first part of a two-part message on the topic of effectively sharing our faith.
We have all had experiences where we have done it ineffectively, right? I know I have.
So if you are in the O.C. area, I hope you can come. If not, it will be posted online in HD in a few days.
Now, to our topic today . . . temptation.
Have you ever been minding your own business, when “wham!”, you are hit with a heavy-duty temptation. It might be an evil thought, a lustful one, or even doubt.
You wonder, where did that come from? Answer: the devil.
Yes, we play a part in our own temptation, but there is clearly an enemy who comes with his enticments. He knows how to “package his wares” and make bad things look good. That’s because “things forbidden have a certain charm.”
After the dove
It is important to know that temptation and attack often come after times of great blessing.
It was after a time of great blessing in the life of Jesus that He was tempted by Satan. Jesus had just been baptized by His cousin John the Baptist. The Holy Spirit had descended on Him in the form of a dove, and the Heavenly Father proudly said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
But Luke’s Gospel tells us, “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil” (Luke 4:1-2).
It was after the dove that the devil came. After the blessing comes the trial. The two often go hand in hand.
After God speaks
Times of attack often come after “mountaintop” experiences.
We read of when Jesus was on the mountaintop with Moses and Elijah. Once again, God spoke, “This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him!”
As they descended from the mountain, a man with a demon-possessed child is waiting. Whenever God speaks, the Devil will be there to oppose.
So what is the solution? It is to be aware of this truth, and always keep your guard up. Then the next time those “flaming arrows” of temptation come your way, you will know to put up your shield!
Sometimes we wonder why we sin. This is especially hard if we think we are basically good and “the answer is within.”
The fact is, the problem is within. For all practical purposes, we have ourselves to thank when we give into temptation. Jesus told us, “From Within, out of the heart of man, is what defiles the man” (Mark 7:21-23).
Where is the logic in that?
That brings me to the fable of the scorpion and the tortoise.
One day, a scorpion who wanted to cross a pond. As you may know, scorpions can’t really swim. He found a rather unsuspecting tortoise and asked if he would give him a lift.
The tortoise exclaimed, “Are you joking? You’ll sting me while I’m swimming and I’ll drown.”
“My dear tortoise,” laughed the scorpion, “If I were to sting you, you would drown and I’d go down with you! Now where is the logic in that?”
“You’ve got a point there,” reasoned the tortoise. “Hop on.”
Resigned to his fate
The scorpion climbed aboard and the tortoise set off into the water. Halfway across the pond, the scorpion carefully aimed his powerful stinger and gave that tortoise everything he had.
As they both sank to the bottom, the tortoise, resigned to his fate, turned to the scorpion and said, “Do you mind if I ask you something? You said there is no logic in you stinging me. So why did you do it?”
“It has nothing to do with logic,” the drowning scorpion replied. “It’s just my nature!”
In a sense, that is a very accurate way of defining temptation. When we get tempted and when we give into it, we like to conveniently place the blame on someone or something else.
I’ve heard people say, “Get behind me, Satan . . . and push!” The fact is, “It’s just our nature!”
So be aware of that today. Satan needs our cooperation in this area before we give in to his temptation. Where there is no desire on our part, then there is no temptation.
As it’s been said, “It takes two to make a successful temptation, and you are one of the two.”
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. (James 1:14-15)
You may have read that headline and thought, “Poor Greg has become delusional! Doesn’t he realize that Friday, July 24, 2009, is the anniversary of his son Christopher’s death?”
Yes, I am more aware of that than you will ever know. I think about it every day, every hour, sometimes every few minutes. It never escapes me nor does the painful grief that accompanies it.
Grief is like a blanket that covers everything in your life when a loved one has died. Nothing is the same, everything is different.
I have plumbed the depths of the pain of sorrow, and have doubled over in pain from the power and reality of it more times then I can count.
So, as you can see, I am very aware that my son is gone. I am also aware that his body is in a grave.
However . . .
The Lord is there
Having said all of this, I must also testify to the grace of God in such circumstances.
When Paul complained of his “thorn in the flesh,” which was some kind of physical malady aggravated by the devil, God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you.” In effect, Jesus was saying, “Paul, you have me. I am there with you” (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
And the Lord has been there for me as well. He has also been here for our family, bringing His peace and calm in the midst of this deep valley we have been walking through. As David said, “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me” (Psalm 23:4 AMPLIFIED).
We are not alone, as I have heard from so very many who have also lost loved ones, including children, since Christopher’s passing. More importantly, the Lord Himself has been there with us each step of the way.
When a loved one dies, especially your child, it is absolutely devastating. They were such a vital part of your life. You depended on them, and they on you. So when they are suddenly gone, it’s like part of you is gone as well.
The fact is, I would trade places with Christopher without hesitation and leave him here on this earth to love his wife, mom, brother, and, of course, his beloved daughters.
That choice has not been given to me. But another choice has—the choice of how I am going to react to this.
Will I merely react emotionally to it, and live permanently under the cloud of grief, pain, and sometimes even despair? Or will I listen to what the Bible says about this and perhaps gain a new perspective?
Though I have spent plenty of time with the former, I work at living by the latter.
My son is alive
How could that be? Let me state it another way . . . my son is alive in another place.
It’s not that he merely “was,” but he is! He is more alive than he has ever been, in the presence of Jesus Christ in heaven.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26 NKJV).
Jesus then said “Do you believe this?” Not everyone does, of course.
Did you know that this statement was made in front of a tomb? You can have no harsher reality than that. Nothing could be more real than the death of Lazarus.
Jesus was saying Lazarus was alive, not just because he would be raised from the dead momentarily, but because death for the believer is not the end. It is just a change of residence.
He is the God of the living
One day, a group of religious leaders, called the Sadducees, came to Jesus with a trick question.
The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. In other words, they did not believe in life beyond the grave.
Maybe that’s where they got the name Sadducee. They were “Sad, you see?”
They challenged the idea of the dead living and Jesus responded:
But now, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead—haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” So he is the God of the living, not the dead. (Matthew 22:31-32 NLT)
When someone dies, we often speak of them in the past tense—“Christopher was my son”—and that is true. But when someone is still alive, you speak of them in the present-tense—“Christopher is my son.”
God said, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” not “I was God of Abraham, etc.” That is because when Jesus said that, He knew that these great patriarchs were still alive, not on Earth but in heaven.
Therefore, we can and should speak of our loved ones who have gone to heaven in the present tense, because they are very much alive.
No, I cannot speak to my son right now, nor can he speak to me, but I will soon enough. I cannot hug him or tell him I love him or remind him to do something like I could when he walked with us here in life on earth.
But one day I will see him again. I don’t just feel it. I know it.
Christopher David Laurie is my son, and he is alive.
And so are your loved ones who put their faith in Christ and have gone before you. You have God’s word on it.
As you may know, this Friday, July 24, will mark the one-year anniversary of the passing of our firstborn son, Christopher, to heaven. I appreciate all of your prayers, and I plan on writing about this in a day or so.
Here is an interview that my son Jonathan and I recently did with Dan Wooding of the ASSIST News Service. It sums up where we are at during at this time in our lives.
The agony and joy of Greg Laurie
He talks about the tragic death of his son Christopher; his younger son, Jonathan, shares movingly about how he recommitted his life to Christ because of the death of his brother.
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
SANTA ANA, CA (ANS) — Thursday, July 24, 2008 was the most devastating day of Greg Laurie’s life. The unimaginable happened when his son Christopher, 33, was killed in a tragic car accident on the 91 freeway on his way to work as art director of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, where Greg is the senior pastor.
Now, almost a year from the tragedy, Greg Laurie agreed to talk about his heartbreak and his younger son, Jonathan Laurie, revealed how the car accident that took his brother transformed his life – for good!
Both father and son came into the studios of Southern California’s KWVE 107.9 FM to talk with me for my Front Page Radio program.
I began by asking Greg to relive that terrible moment when he found out about the accident.
“It’s been almost a year now, Dan, and it was the most devastating experience of my life,” he said. “In fact, of all the bad experiences I’ve had — and I’ve had a few – none came even come close to what this was like. It’s the news no parent ever wants to hear you never expect to hear it.”
How did he first hear about the accident?
Greg said, “It was really strange the way I found out. My wife was leading a Bible study for Christopher’s wife Brittany and her mom. I was babysitting my granddaughter Stella. Brittany mentioned that she’d called Christopher and he’d not responded. Then I got a call from the church. They were asking, ‘Where’s Christopher?’
“So I called him and he didn’t answer; I then sent a text to him saying, ‘Where are you?’ Again, he didn’t answer. Then, from that point on, we started making calls to try and find out where he had gone. After about 45 minutes, we knew something was not right, we didn’t know what.
“Obviously we were praying; we were concerned and worried. Then, Don McClure, a pastor friend, showed up at my house and said, ‘Christopher’s been in an accident.” But he wouldn’t tell me the extent of it. I was told that some of the pastors from our church were going to come and talk to me. At this point I knew it was bad, but I was still hoping that it was not fatal.”
Greg said that when the pastors from his church arrived, one of them told him, “Christopher is with the Lord!”
Greg closed his eyes and told me, “When I heard that, it was like time stood still and the air was sucked out of the room. I couldn’t comprehend what I had just heard, and it really was, in many ways, incomprehensible. It was so hard.
“I have to say that although it was devastating and crushing, and I fell to the ground weeping, the Lord was there with me. I sensed His presence and His peace and I have never, for a moment, doubted that Christopher’s in heaven.”
I then asked Greg how his wife Cathe responded to the shocking news.
“She wept and she may have screamed. I don’t remember,” he said. “Brittany was crying also, as we all got the news at the same time. We were all crying. But we were also praying at the same time, saying things like, ‘Oh Lord, we look to you. We call on you.’”
Greg went on to say, “How could anyone survive such news if they didn’t know God? I can’t imagine trying to deal with this: without one’s faith in Christ; without the presence of the Lord; without Christian friends surrounding you and praying; knowing what to say and, hopefully, knowing what not to say,” he said. “We were surrounded by some wonderful godly people that helped us through those first few moments, those first few hours and the first few days.”
I told Greg that for anyone, this was so traumatic, but because he was so well-known in Southern California and across the world, this must have made it even more difficult to cope with. I wondered if he had thought about just giving up and retreating from the world for the time being.
“Well, you know one thinks about retreating but, really, you want to be around the people you love. You want to hear their words of reassurance,” said Greg. “I was surprised at how public it was, not only in the Christian community, but it was on the front page of the local newspaper with the headline, ‘Son of evangelist killed.’ To read those words in print, though you know it’s true, and see a photograph of your son — that was really painful.
“Then people were talking about it and it was on the radio and TV news. Of course, it was an auto accident, so it was a very horrific thing.”
Greg said that despite it all, it began changing his attitude to people.
“I gained a new compassion for people who have lost children,” he said. “When a celebrity dies, everyone talks about it and people opine on it. But, I’ll tell you that every one of these people that die have a mom and a dad and they have a family. It’s devastating for them. I looked at the way some people spoke about it — so matter of factly — and I had to say to myself, ‘You know, that’s my son they’re talking about.’
“But then there were many believers that said such sweet things. My blog site was inundated with messages. I had some 15,000 messages on my blog. I, frankly, have never read all of them, but I’ve read many of them and they were very comforting to me. I still go back to them and read them and they have encouraged me along with the prayers that people offered.
“Here it is, almost a year later, and I’d like to say its all better, Dan. I feel fantastic and you know there are moments when everything aligns in my mind and my heart. I think that Christopher’s in heaven and he’s happier than he’s ever been and that I’m going to see him again. It’s glorious and I have peace and even a bit of joy. Then, five minutes later, a memory is triggered by something and the pain of missing him comes right back.
“Last night, I had dreams about him again and in them I’m having conversations with him. Usually, in my dreams, I’m with him and then he’s suddenly gone. He disappears. In one dream I had, while I was talking to him, I reached out to and he disappeared. So you can’t stop your subconscious from processing these things. It is still very painful but the Lord has been with us. We have the Lord, we have our friends, we have our faith, we have our hope for the future of reunion, we have our memories of yesterday and we have today. And today, we want to try to the best of our ability to glorify God through this and try to minister to others who are hurting.
“I’ve come into contact with many people who have lost loved ones, especially children, who’ve reached out to me. When I meet someone who’s lost a child, I stop what I’m doing and I take time for them. I listen a lot more than I used to. I used to be quicker on the draw with a verse or two. I still will share verses and encouraging words, but I’m quicker to listen and slower to speak when someone comes and tells me of their pain.”
Sitting next to his father and listening intently to the interview, was Jonathan Laurie, Christopher’s younger brother. So I asked him where he was when he first heard the news about the accident.
“I was working for a plating aerospace company in Santa Ana when my foreman came over to me and asked me how I was doing,” he recalled. “At that point, I didn’t know what had happened to Christopher, but apparently it was already going around on the channels. I didn’t have my phone with me at the time so I hadn’t heard anything. He left me alone for a few minutes with a Christian police officer friend who I knew quite well and who was a Christian man and he said, ‘You need to go home to see your parents.’ That’s when I knew something had gone wrong. When I got access to my cell phone, that’s when I began receiving text messages and phone calls. I just refrained until I got home. Actually, Don McClure, the same person informed me that told my Dad. He said that my brother ‘was with the Lord.’
“I went into shock immediately. I couldn’t comprehend it, or believe it. It took me probably an hour or so for it to really start to click — that this actually happened. It was almost like I went into a dream state. It was so surreal.”
I asked Jonathan to recall the last time he saw his brother.
“My last vivid memory of him was last Fourth of July,” he said. “We were in Montana and it was probably one of the best family vacations that I can remember.
“We were quite distant in age but, as we grew older, that gap began to close. The older I became, the closer I grew to him. We grew as friends and brothers. He was always looking out for my best interests. He kept me accountable a number of times.
“He kept his eye on me. You may think that being raised in a pastor’s home would make us instant Christians and followers of Christ. You know we always did have that faith in Jesus and we always believed in Jesus, but there was a time when I rebelled and there was a time when Christopher rebelled.
“He knew where I was at as he’d lived a similar lifestyle. He was just kind of living as a ‘prodigal son’ running from his Christianity for a short time. But we both always wanted to end up back there. It was just a matter of what it was going to take.
“Up until the time that he went home to be with the Lord, he had actually been very encouraging of me: to get my life right; to quit living this double life; to stop partying and doing all that lifestyle entails. In fact, the night before his death, I was out with friends, doing the party thing; smoking and drinking. That night I really thought about how I wanted to go see my brother the next morning and talk to him about how miserable I was. I told had him previously that I wanted to get back there and he’d asked me, ‘Well, what it is going to take?’ That next morning, I got my answer. Christopher going home to be with the Lord was my wake up call.”
Jonathan went on to say, “When I got the news at home. I just sat on my bed and looked at pictures of him. After I began to comprehend what had happened, I just began to weep. Then I went through my room and just ravaged it, grabbing all the stuff I knew that was bringing me down. I held it all in my hands, prayed to the Lord, and I said, ‘God, you know that I’ve proven to you and myself that I’m incapable of doing this on my own. I can’t stop using this stuff on my own strength so you’re going to have to help me, but I want to do this.’
“He’s been faithful to do that since I prayed that prayer and He’s been faithful to help me stay clean. I’m walking with the Lord now and I know that I honor my brother’s advice. That’s the best thing I think I can do for Christopher in heaven.”
Greg Laurie was close to tears as his son told his story.
“It is a great blessing and I have to tell you, Dan, that Jonathan has shared this testimony all over in our crusades that we’ve held in different places this last year,” said Greg. “He’s stood up in front of thousands of people and Jonathan was never that kind of a person that would want to get in front of a crowd and talk. Some people like attention but he was never that way. He was more of a quiet, soft spoken, young man. But because of this thing that has happened to him and what the Lord has done in his life, he’s gotten up boldly.
“We were just in Pennsylvania at something called the Creation Festival, a Christian event that’s been going on for over 30 years. I was speaking and I brought Jonathan out to give his testimony. He gave it before 70,000 and I’ll tell you what — those kids started listening. When he talked about the compromised life, there are just a lot of kids raised in Christian homes who know what’s right, but aren’t living it, and they’re in that miserable no man’s land.
“When one of them, like Jonathan, speaks and talks about how the Lord’s gotten a hold of him, there’s an authenticity. Not that the adults don’t have it, but they think, ‘Well, you’re an adult.’ But when it’s a fellow kid, a peer speaks, it means so much more to them.
“This is one of the good things that have come of this tragedy. There’s still a lot of pain and there’s a lot of heartache, but God promise is to work ‘all things together for good’ is true. We have seen how the Lord has brought glory to his name through Jonathan’s testimony and also through Brittany, Christopher’s wife’s testimony. We’ve all felt a greater determination to serve the Lord with even more intensity than we had before.”
“I’ve determined not to put a happy face on it, meaning I want to be real. I want to be honest. I want to be truthful about the difficulty, but I also want to be honoring to the Lord and tell people how He’s sustained us through this and how I still depend upon Him every day to make it through.”
Greg then shared the good news, that late last year, Brittany gave birth to Lucy Christopher Laurie, who joins Stella, the other daughter.
“Stella is going on to her third birthday and if a father ever doted on a daughter it was Christopher,” he said. “He was a great daddy, but he did not live to see little Lucy born, at least on earth. One wonders what people know in heaven. I think it’s entirely possible that he’s fully aware of Lucy there in heaven. But he missed the birth here on earth. She’s growing and she’s just a sweetheart, one of the happiest little babies I’ve ever seen. They’re both just sweet hearts. I love them both.”
Greg is now preparing for his latest Harvest Crusade, which have drawn nearly 3 million people to ballparks and arenas across the Southland since 1990, and will mark 20 years in Southern California with its annual evangelistic outreach at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, August 14–16.
Shortly after Christopher’s death, Greg somehow preached each night at Angel Stadium last year surrounded on stage by the designs of Christopher.
“He was the lead designer in our graphics department at Harvest and he’d done the entire campaign,” he said. “So I stood on a stage that was designed by him, surrounded by art that he’d done. Even our crusade campaign this year is sort of built off the template of what he’d designed the year before.
“When I see his art around me, it inspires me. One thing Christopher uniquely implemented in the campaign last year was an animated arrow going up to heaven. There were these little arrows constantly going up and so we kept that arrow in a lot of the design that we’ve done because it just reminds us of where Christopher is and that we are to keep ‘looking up’. As the Scripture says, ‘We are to be heavenly minded. Set your minds on things above,’ Paul says in Colossians 3, ‘not on the things of the earth.” Another way to translate that is to keep thinking heaven. I think we all need to think more about heaven because we’re all headed there as followers of Jesus.”
Over the last few posts, I have been writing about the spiritual war we are all engaged in.
Before I finish this series of posts, I wanted to let you know that I am speaking tonight at the National Worship Leader Conference in Leawood, Kansas.
I will be joined by artists like Mac Powell of Third Day, David Crowder, and Michael W. Smith, as well as other speakers. I would appreciate your prayers.
For more information on the conference, click here.
The battle never stops
Now, back to the battle.
Like it or not, the moment you commit your life to Jesus Christ you are engaged in a spiritual battle. The believer may be known by his inward warfare as well as by his inward peace.
This battle is not between flesh and blood, but with a very real opponent called the devil.
We have looked at the various pieces of armor we are to wear as we face our opponent, including the utility belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and, of course, the gospel shoes.
Those are all primarily defensive weapons. In other words, you don’t attack your enemy with your sandal, breastplate, or helmet. You need another weapon for that.
Unsheath your sword!
Paul calls the one piece of offensive weaponry God has given us the sword of the Spirit, or the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
Many believers have all their armor in place, but they never use their sword. They leave it in the sheath. They talk about it, and brag about how sharp it is, but they never actually utilize the sword in spiritual battle.
The devil knows all too well the power and authority of the Bible and he will try to keep you from it at all costs.
Keep this in mind: Whether we know the value of our sword or not, Satan does. He will do everything he can to see that we keep our swords sheathed or that we don’t put them on in the first place.
The power of memorization
The enemy will certainly try to keep you from memorizing the Word of God.
Why? Because the Psalmist says, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). The devil has felt its sting and authority.
It’s good to carry a Bible in your briefcase or purse, but the best place to carry the Word of God is in your heart.
How sharp is your sword?
I ask you now, what shape is your sword in?
Is it polished from daily use as you study the Scripture on a regular basis, and sharpened on the anvil of experience as you have applied and obeyed it’s truth in your life? Or is it rusty from lack of preparation or dulled by disobedience?
It’s been said “A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”
If we neglect the study of the Scripture, our spiritual life will ultimately unravel because everything we need to know about God is taught in the Bible. And if it can’t be found in the pages of Scripture, you don’t need it.
You can win in this spiritual battle. Not by running away, but rather by putting on the whole armor of God and unsheathing your sword, which is the Word of God, and using it.
I encourage you to do that today.
Hey everyone! Did you happen to notice our new Web site is up?
Sooo . . . what do you think? Let me know your thoughts.
As we wrap up this series on the spiritual armor we wear to fight a spiritual war, we only have two pieces left—the helmet and our one offensive weapon, the sword (more on that Monday).
Paul tells us we are to take “the helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17).
In a war, the two most sought-after and vulnerable targets on the ancient battlefield were the heart and head. With our heart and other vital organs ably protected by the breastplate of righteousness, the enemy will try to strike the head. One well-placed blow here and the battle is over.
What does it mean to wear the helmet of salvation?
It would seem to me that the apostle is telling us to watch our thoughts in general. Most temptation comes through the gateway of the mind and imagination.
This is why Paul tells us, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your mind may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
Smashing warped philosophies
When those “flaming arrows” of ungodly thoughts come, we need to have our guard up.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5-6:
“We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity” (THE MESSAGE).
Watch your thoughts!
So watch what you allow into your thought life. Our minds, thoughts, and imaginations must be protected. Proverbs 23:7 reminds us, “As a man thinks, so is he.”
Satan recognizes the value of first getting a foothold in the realm of the thoughts and imagination, as this will “prepare the way” for that thought to translate into action! As it’s been said:
Sow a thought and reap an act.
Sow an act and reap a habit.
Sow a habit and reap a character.
Sow a character and reap a destiny.
So think “heavenly thoughts” this weekend!
This and that
You may want to check out my weekend column at WorldNetDaily. To read that, click here.
Also, here is my weekend devotion.
As we fight the spiritual battle, we need spiritual weaponry. We have looked at the utility belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and proper footwear.
Now let’s consider our shield. The apostle Paul writes, “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16).
The words “above all” mean that faith is of paramount importance. The other armor won’t function apart from faith.
The shield that the Roman soldier would use was made of wood and then covered with cloth and leather. They were large, rectangular objects about 4 feet high and 2 feet wide (basically the size of a door). By crouching behind it, the soldier could completely hide himself.
The term “Fiery Darts” that Paul uses refers to one of the most commonly-used enemy tactics of his day.
Prior to an actual face-to-face engagement with the enemy, a warrior would often encounter a barrage of flaming arrows coming from all directions. Their sole purpose was to demoralize and confuse him.
Our modern equivalent might be guided missiles or rockets.
The Roman soldier had to hold up his shield to protect himself from those fiery arrows. Sometimes, he would dip his shield in water so the fire-tipped arrows would be extinguished when they struck the shield.
Watch your thoughts
Satan has his “flaming arrows,” or “guided missiles,” that he shoots our way too. They are swift and silent and we receive no advance warning of their arrival. You can wake up in the morning, and the enemy will hit you with a flaming arrow before your feet even hit the floor.
It might be an impure thought or a thought of complete despair. You may be gripped with intense fear and terror: “What if this happens, or if that happens?”
It might be a thought of hatred toward someone. It might even be a blasphemous thought or a thought of doubt.
When do these “flaming arrows” come?
Answer: at strategic times, like when you decide to read the Bible.
Isn’t it amazing that you can open the newspaper and maintain your full ability to concentrate with no distractions? You can get through the whole thing, the want ads, the comics, and all the advertisements with no disruption whatsoever.
Or you may watch some mindless TV program and you’ll get through it with no phone calls, no distractions, no problems.
Now try opening the Bible and watch as “all hell breaks loose” and those flaming arrows start flying!
It might be an inability to concentrate. It might be a hundred and one things you should be doing that come to mind. They aren’t necessarily evil thoughts per se, just things like: “Oh boy! I forgot to go do this” or “I’ve got to pick up the cleaning, return that phone call, etc.”
The devil hates the Bible
Listen, the enemy’s primary objective is to keep you from the Word of God.
Sometimes people will ask me to sign their Bibles. When I do, I will often write, “Sin will keep you from this Book, or this Book will keep you from sin.” The enemy will try to keep you from reading your Bible.
These “guided missiles” will also come during times of trial and hardship. Satan will whisper in your ear, “God has abandoned you. He’s left you. He doesn’t love you!”
I’ve been hit with a few arrows like you
I know about this personally and so do many of you. It is then that I hold up the shield of faith.
Here, faith means the ability to quickly apply what we believe so as to repel everything the devil does or attempts to do to us.
My relationship with God is not built on fleeting emotions or feelings, but on faith in what He has said to me in His Word. Faith, or the “shield of faith,” is turning to God and His Word in time of attack, and not focusing on our fluctuating feelings or emotions.
Scripture does not say, “Resist Satan steadfast in your emotions, feelings, etc.,” but rather, “Resist him, steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9).
So use your shield today! It could make all the difference.
Tonight in Orange County, I will be speaking on the topic of “How to Resist Temptation.” It all starts at 7:00 P.M.
For more information, click here.
Now, back to our topic, the spiritual battle.
It is essential in the Christian life that we not only hold, but also gain ground. This is done with proper footwear, which was as important to a Roman soldier’s armor as the shield and breastplate.
After telling us about the utility belt and breastplate, Paul says that you should have “your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15 KJV).
Three qualities of good shoes
When we go look at shoes, we might put style at the top of the list. Hands down, my favorite shoe is the Converse Chuck Taylor. I pretty much live in them, despite the fact that they have little to no arch support.
On the other hand, the shoes of the Roman soldier had to be functional. They would have three qualities:
- They had to have good grip, giving traction and solid footing
- They also had to be tough to protect the foot from spikes or sharp rocks
- Finally, they needed to be light, giving the soldier the mobility to cross 100 yards of open field in a minute.
Be on duty at all times
But what exactly is this referring to in the spiritual battle?
In the original Greek, the word “preparation” used in Ephesians 6:15 can be defined as “firm-footing, a strong foundation.”
This is why I have been teaching this series on Thursdays and Sundays called Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know. So you will know what you believe as a Christian, giving you “firm-footedness.”
This word “preparation” could also be translated as “readiness.” The idea here is to be ready at all times to share the gospel.
Scripture tells us that we as believers “should be on duty at all times.” You never know when an opportunity will arise for you to share the gospel with someone.
Be ready to move at a moment’s notice
Again, it’s the idea of being ready and willing to move at a moment’s notice, for those opportunities to share the gospel often come when we least expect them.
This is how we gain ground for the Kingdom of God.
When is the last time you looked for an opportunities to share the gospel? When is the last time you prayed for an unsaved person by name to come to Christ? When is the last time you personally brought a non-believer to church with you?
Remember, the primary way that God reaches people is through people. People like you and me.
Paul writes in Romans 10:13-15:
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (NIV)
Ask the Lord for an opportunity to share the gospel with someone today!