Sunday, November 17, 2013

Keys To Spiritual Survival – The Armor of God

ray-gano-medIn the past few articles we have learned about applying the Third Party Rule (Proverbs 3:5-6) in our lives. We have discussed “Living in God’s Grace” and “Living in God’s Sovereignty.”

In this article I want to talk about how to start bringing these things together so that you can be effective and be able to stand against the wiles of the enemy.

As I have been saying, we are living in the last days of the last days. Now more than ever we need to cleave to God, His Word; His Ways and live a life holy and acceptable unto Him.

But so many people who are good bible believing Christians have forgotten how to do these things or have been attending churches that refuse to teach the true tenants of the faith.

This is why I feel it is important that we wear the armor of God daily, and make a concerted effort to truly wear these tools of war and understand why it is important to wear these daily.
So what does it mean to wear the armor of God?
Men Beating Each Other Silly with Swords

Here is a little story that some of you may have heard before.
Back in my college days I used to be involved with group that is called the SCA, also known as the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Those involved would role play as if they were living in the King Arthur days. They would wear armor of all sorts and go bash each other over the head with rattan swords.

What is interesting is that today it is actually seen as an official form of martial art.Well, I was one of those guys who enjoyed beating each other senseless. Now to be honest I was getting beaten on more than I was beating on others.

At one of these events I happened upon one of the well-known "knights" and struck up a conversation. One thing led to another and he let me hang out with him for the weekend, kind of being his "squire."

In these circles this was seen as pretty cool, especially if your knight was well known. Mine, he was well

This guy was really into the SCA, he owned a complete set of full plate armor. In fact he built it himself and was actually world renown for his ancient armor work. Rumor had it that he has even worked on some of the armor that is in the tower of London. Yep, he was that good.

Well, I got a chance to try on his armor. It was about 50-60 lbs of steel wrapped all over my body from head to toe. Wow… it was pretty cool.
Now this is what was interesting; here I am standing in his armor and he comes over and barely pushes me with his index finger.

I just about fell over backwards because I was not used to wearing so much weight let alone know how to fight in it. He laughed and kept me from falling over backwards.

In that short moment he taught me a very valuable lesson that still sticks with me today.
What I learned was that it was different for him because when he was out on the "battle field" he was running and jumping and hitting people with his sword, bashing people with his shield, going full bore. He was also often the winner of the tournaments and have been made "king" of the local SCA group several times. This is a very high position in the SCA and it also meant that you were a true warrior.

Me, it was all I could do to just to keep standing up.

So why could he run around in this armor and I barely was able to stand?

Several things.

1 - He literally wore his armor every day in one form or another, so it became a part of him.

2 - Because he and his armor were one, this "trained" his body. This in turn conditioned him and he was always ready for the fight.

I tell this story because the armor of God needs to be seen the same way. It is not something that you just "throw on" and then think you are going to go out and do battle.

You need to consciously train and live in the armor daily.

Why? So when that evil day does come, you have done all that you can to train...and having done all, then stand and fight.

If we are not wearing the armor daily, how does our “spiritual muscles” strengthen? If we are not used to wearing it and the armor becomes like a second skin, how long will we last in battle when that evil day comes?

By not actively wearing the armor daily we will fail.

Failing Due To The Lack of Training

Archilochus who was an early Greek poet as well as a warrior stated the following…

We do not rise to the level of our expectations.

We fall to the level of our training.


How often do we watch these action adventure movies and get caught up in them?

We watch the good guy chase down the bad guy, the fight ensues and the good guy stomps the bad guy into the ground. He then picks him up, cuffs him and hauls him away.

If you were put in the position where you had to fight for your life, how long could you fight?
2-3 minutes?

How about 3-5 seconds?

A battle for one’s life often lasts a minute, most likely less because the person who is attacking is usually better trained and has the endurance to last the entire fight.

The common man, well they can barely last 10 maybe 20 seconds tops before he gives out and is exhausted.

Yes we watch these movies and say we can do that.

Sure we may play fight in our mind and run different situations through our head.

But unless you physically train, you will always fall to the level of your training.
The same goes for spiritual battles.

Unless you train consciously utilizing the armor of God daily, you will also fail and fall to the level you have trained at.

Ephesians 6:13 (KJV) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

The armor will not protect us as much as it should have because even though we are wearing it, our effectiveness in it is greatly minimized.

We have to actively train in God’s armor, pushing those spiritual muscles daily.

The Pieces of God’s Armor

Ephesians 6:14-18 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

I want to help explain what each piece of the armor does both in the real world and the spiritual world.
Starting with the head and working our way down…
The Helmet of Salvation
the helmet of salvationThe helmet was the most noticeable piece of armor. In many cases was ornate, etched and often decorated with a plume with brightly dyed feathers or colored horsehair. The helmet was one of the most critical pieces of armor, it protected the brain. It was designed to protect the wearer from blows with a sword, a war hammer or battle ax. A good helmet would not allow these weapons to pierce it but if designed properly, it would deflect these blows giving the soldier maximum protection.
Why do we wear the the Helmet of Salvation?
Simple, to protect our brain. There is an old computer saying, “G I G O” Garbage In – Garbage Out.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
We are to meditate on the Word of God, renewing our minds daily.
In Deuteronomy chapter 6 we read what is often referred to as the Shema.
Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
So our helmet of salvation helps protect our brains, the very places we think and contemplate. Without the helmet, we are vulnerable to the deadly blows of the enemy that will in turn, effect the brain’s thinking and reasoning power.
Have you ever noticed that when you are in the word of God daily that you find it easier to not “sin”?
Sure we all sin, but when we are in His Word and renewing our minds, we are more conscious of what it is we are doing and often choose not to disobey Him. That is the helmet of salvation at work. It is protecting your brain so that you can then in turn make proper and right decisions for God, and not fall for sin.

The Breastplate of Righteousness
breastplate of righteousnessThe Breastplate was really often work of art. Each breastplate was custom made for the soldier that wore it. Often a casting was made of the man’s torso. This casting then allowed the armorer to make a breastplate that would be a perfect fit to the one who would wear it.
Breastplates often had the coat of arms or royal crest with which the knight gave his allegiance too. At times there were additional decorations telling about the warrior and polished to a brilliant mirror finish that was blinding in the sunshine.
Despite the beauty and craftsmanship, the breastplate was very functional piece of armor protecting the heart, lungs and other vital organs from penetration through its metal shell.
It was also the main piece which the back, shoulders and arm pieces of armor often hung and were attached too. It was the main support for the pieces that did battle. It literally assisted in holding up the weight of the other pieces.
In the spiritual it is righteousness that helps us stand. In fact the word righteousness simply means, “Right standing before God.”
Now what is interesting is that in legal terms it means “being found innocent.”
In Isaiah 59, the chapter in Isaiah that prophecies the Messiah, we read the following…
Isaiah 59:17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate. 
Many Christians do not live like they have been made righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ. The majority Christians today walk around in constant guilt and condemnation, feeling like failures and not ‘worthy’ to serve God, or worse to receive His wonderful blessings from Him.
The devil is constantly bombarding us with fiery darts and missiles of lies and accusations always reminding us of past sins we have committed.
Without the breastplate of righteousness, these missiles will impact us and penetrate our heart.
Psalms 37:17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.  
Proverbs 10:30 The righteous shall never be removed: 

The Belt of Truth – Having your loins girt about with truth
the belt of truthThe belt is not the most noticeable piece of the armor, however, it is actually the central piece that holds all the rest securely in place and provides for every need during battle.
The belt was broad and made of sturdy leather. From it hung an overlapping skirt of leather straps which on the inside surface were armored with small rectangular pieces of metal held in place by decorative rivets which showed on the outside. It was these straps / apron that protected the loin.
The belt also had specialized hooks and holders on which to secure the scabbard that contained the sword at the proper angle, the quiver which held lances, and an apparatus on which to rest the large battle shield. Also, on the belt were clips with which to hold the breastplate in its proper place. It also held pouches the soldier’s supplies like bread, oil and water, an extra knife, coin purse, etc.
Srcipture says…
John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
2 Corinthians 6:7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
Just as the belt is central to the armor of God, the written Word of God, the absolute truth of the Bible is central to all that pertains to spiritual warfare.
If one has a weak belt, then the armor will not hold together in the time of need, that critical part of the battle. If your belt is weak and breaks, you lose all your armor and become vulnerable on the battle field. This is why the belt was thick, and well-oiled and well cared for. It was also the one piece of armor that was worn both on and off the battlefield. It is what equipped him for day to day life as well as life on the battle field.
1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: 
Today it is critical that we adhere to the absolute truth of God’s Word. It is what holds all of what we are as Christians together. If we are wavering in the truth, we do not believe in absolute truth, or we lack the truth in our hearts, then when that day comes our belt of truth will fail us and we will lose the armor with which we wear.
This is why truth and standing on the truth with all your heart is so vital.
Think about this for a moment.
The Truth is Incorruptible. 
The Truth is Indestructible.  
The Truth tells us who we are, what we have and what we can do. 
John 17:17 Jesus says, “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth.”
John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 

The Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace
shoes-peaceThe Shoes of the warrior were no normal footwear. Every military gives great care to supply the soldiers with the best and most appropriate footwear they are able for the assignment the soldier is given.
The warriors shoes / boots usually consisted of an elaborately cut and laced leather. the soles had layers of metal and leather with ‘hob nail’ spikes or cleats often extending one-half inch, to in some cases ‘inches,’ from the sole so that the soldier could plant his foot into the ground thus preventing him from being moved.
Some shoes had toe spikes and or built-in spurs with which to do damage to the enemy. The uppers of the sandals were often armored by small overlapping pieces of metal riveted to the leather straps.
In addition, attached to the uppers of the sandal were removable metal or leather greaves that extended up over the kneecap protecting the knees, shins and ankles.
Before you go somewhere today, you have to equip yourself for the occasion. You take into consideration the place you are going, the climate as well as the terrain.
If we do not have good shoes or the right shoes, we will tire out and most likely not get to where we were planning on going.
This is why armies for generations to present realize that shoes were critical. Armies move by foot and if those feet are not well protected, well cared for, and properly fitted, the army is not going to get very far.
The battle was lost before the army could even get to the battle field.
As Christian warriors do you know our mission that all of us have been called to?
Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
This is one of the reasons why I Iove the KJV bible. In the modern versions the word YOU is used here in place of YE.
When YOU is used, people have a way out or an excuse to say that Christ was just talking to the disciples here. The responsibility of sharing the gospel is shirked because of the modern versions.
Where by using the word YE as is used in the KJV, it is a direct command. A command by Jesus Christ himself not only to the disciples, but also directed directly at us as well.
YE is addressing anyone who is reading or hearing this command. YE also makes it a command because Christ is addressing us personally.
So when we are called to GO YE to all nations, that means put on your shoes and go. We are called to take the gospel of peace of The Lord Jesus Christ to all the world.
If we ware ill equipped and have not put on the proper shoes, how far do you think we will be able to get?
The Shield of Faith
I love the following verse…
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
There are three types of common shields used by warriors.
First, a small disc held in the offhand often 6” inches in diameter to 16” inches in diameter. This type of shield was called a “Buckler” and often used in close quarter combat, duels, etc.
The next was an actual shield and was approximately 24”-36” inches diameter round, this was not only used in defense, but at times in offense. Going in first with the shield, the opposing force would hit the shield. The shield would flip up where the edge was then facing the oponent. The warrior would use the extended edge of the shield to then “trap” the opponent and allow the warrior to freely attack the person by using the sword that was now hidden under the shield that trapped the opponent.
viking axe combat video 
The final shield was a large rectangular shield approximately 60”x30” in size. This rectangular shield called a “thureos” (thoo-reh-os) in Greek literally meant “a door,” because it looked like the soldier was carrying a full sized door that was leather covered.
The warrior could stand safely behind this large shield thus protecting him from the arrows and such being hurled at him.
A good shield was made of six layers of thick animal hide specially tanned and woven together making them as tough and durable as metal yet relatively light weight. The leather shields could be soaked in water before battle so that in the event the enemy would rain fiery projectiles on them, the fire would be extinguished on impact.
So why is it called The Shield of Faith?
Along with being large and relatively light, it also had the ability to hook together with other shields and create a wall with which the army was protected. This tactic was often referred to as the “Roman Turtle.”
The Thureos or “Door Sheild” in the “Turtle Formation”
In this position, the army was protected from all sides as well as above. The negative is that the army could not see where they were going. So they depended greatly on the captain who was behind them and riding a horse to direct their steps and tell them to go here, go there, turn left, turn right.
See if they broke the shield wall, arrows, spears, fiery darts were able to penetrate and would injure or kill those who standing inside the turtle formation.
The soldier had to trust and obey the captain and walked in blind faith listening only to the commands the captain gave and nothing else.
The very survivability of the entire group of soldiers depended on all the soldiers trusting and obeying the orders of the captain at the time the orders are given.
Failure to do so would compromise the entire unit’s safety. Injury and death was the result of not acting immediately on the orders of the captain.
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
When our captain who is Christ Jesus speaks, we are to obey.
How does God speak to us? It is through His Word, the Word of God; the Bible.
Our faith grows by hearing God’s Word spoken into our hearts. This is why it is so critical that we have good preachers and teachers who preach from God’s Word. Expository teaching, taking the bible verse by verse is the best way to learn God’s Word.
This is why so many Christians are weak in their faith, they lack solid pastors who are teaching their congregations chapter and verse. Expanding on God’s Word and going into the “meat” of the Word and not staying only with the “milk.”
Babies require milk, but warriors require meat. It is the meat of the Word that strengthens our faith in His Word, Law, Commands, and proper living.
We follow Christ in blind faith allowing Him to direct our paths and lean not on our own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5-6 – The Third Party Rule)

The Sword of the Spirit - The Word of God
sword of the spiritThe sword is the primary weapon of the warrior and was greatly feared. A true sword master could take on 5+ men at once and dispatch all of them in a short amount of time. In the hand of someone who is educated the lightweight and well balanced double edged sword was quick and deadly.
The razor sharpened edges of the broad blade was made to cut and slice. The tapered point was designed to easily penetrate and disembowel the enemy. It was well known that if true warrior ever would unsheathed his sword -- he would use it.
The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.
2 Timothy 3:16 -17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
The more we have God’s Word in our hearts the more of a “master of the sword” we become. The better we know our personal bible, the more of a master of the sword we become.
In fact, remember in Sunday school having “Sword Drills”?
The students would have the bible flat on the table and hands in the air, the teacher would call out a verse and the first one to the verse got to read it.
1-sword-drillsIf you were really good, the teacher would take the better students and let them hold the bible between their two flat hands and the thumbs on the pages. Then the verse was called out and the first one to get to the verse won the round.
This is being a Master of the Sword / The Word. Not only do you know your scripture, you know where to find it and how to get to it quickly. You are able to flip to a verse and in many cases just open up your bible and be just a few pages off.
You as a sword master know how to apply scripture, where to apply scripture and teach others how to find, use and apply scripture. You are a master of The Sword of God, His Word.
One thing, the sword of the spirit is a double edged weapon and it will cut both ways. So you can use it for good as well and use it to hurt people. We see this take place a lot in today’s world. The sword being improperly used to hurt, manipulate and force people through coercion. This is using the sword for error, not for good.

We Are Warriors For The Lord

It is our duty and assignment is to stand in the gap shoulder to shoulder with the other soldiers of the Lord as He places us.
We are to resist every attack of the devil. Holding the ground, refusing to be moved, healing the oppressed and destroying every work of the devil.
We are warriors for the Lord.
Scripture says…
Psalms 144:1 Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.
But alone we are just single fighters. It is when we are together that we are able to charge the gates of hell.
This is why it is so important to be in fellowship with other Christian warriors who love the Lord. When we do this it helps us keep our spiritual batteries charged to the fullest level. We are able to pray for each other, learn from each other, encourage each other.
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
Iron sharpens iron and when we become accountable not only to God, but to other warriors, we then become better warriors for the Lord we serve.

Many of you know that we are living in the last days of the last days. We are sitting upon the razor's edge. Now more than ever we need to keep the batteries charged at full, the powder dry and ready for the fight.

We do not know when we will be called upon to fight, but when we do, we want to be completely ready, and not caught at our lowest level of training.
If you do not train and wear the armor of God daily you will lose the battle and become a casualty of the battlefield.
The enemy, when he comes, he will most likely ambush us. So when the fight comes to us, and it will, there will be no time to "put on" the armor. By that time it will be to late. If we do not have the armor on at the time of the ambush, we will become just another casualty of war.
So I challenge you brothers and sisters in the Lord always be ready for the fight.
The fight will come to you for our enemy prowls in the shadows like a ravaging lion waiting to pounce on us when we are not looking.
What do we need to ensure? And having done all – To Stand.
Ephesians 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.



By Ray Gano