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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.timeintheword.org

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Phillip's Phunnies: Church and State

A merry heart does good, like medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Special thanks to Lance for bringing these to my attention.

When Church is like Football

Quarterback Sneak - Church members quietly leaving during the invitation.

Draw Play - What many children do with the bulletin during worship.

Halftime - The period between Sunday school and worship when many choose to leave.

Benchwarmer - Those who do not sing, pray, work, or do anything but sit.

Backfield-in-Motion - Making a trip to the back (restroom or water fountain) during the service.

Staying in the Pocket - What happens to a lot of money that should be given to the Lord's work.

Two-minute Warning - The point at which you realize the sermon is almost over and begin to gather up your children and belongings.

Instant Replay - The preacher loses his notes and falls back on last week's illustrations.

Sudden Death - What happens to the attention span of the congregation if the preacher goes "overtime."

Trap - You're called on to pray and are asleep.

End Run - Getting out of church quick, without speaking to any guest or fellow member.

Flex Defense - The ability to allow absolutely nothing said during the sermon to affect your life.

Halfback Option - The decision of 50% of the congregation not to return for the evening service.

Blitz - The rush for the restaurants following the closing prayer.

The True State of Government

A major research institution (MRI) has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest chemical element yet known to science. The new element has been tentatively named Governmentium.

Governmentium has 1 neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would normally take less than a second.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of three years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause some morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to speculate that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as Critical Morass.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

The Belt of Truth

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement


Verse of the Day - Ephesians 6:14
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

Daily Scripture Reading - Genesis 3

Puritan Catechism
Question #54 - What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?

Answer - The reason annexed to the fifth commandment is, a promise of long life and prosperity — as far as it shall serve for God's glory, and their own good — to all such as keep this commandment (Eph. 6:2-3).

Devotional Thoughts
As we have taken a look at why we have been given the whole armor of God, and why we are commanded to wear it and use it, we will now begin to look at this armor piece by piece. What is the armor we have been given? How does the armor function, or better asked, how do we use it effectively?

The first piece of armor is really not viewed as armor. It is a belt. But why is the first piece of armor mentioned a belt? Simply put, because without a belt everything else falls apart!

Paul would have been referencing the armor of a Roman soldier to illustrate this spiritual truth and we learn that the physical and spiritual reality are amazingly similar. For the soldier, who wore a loose fitting outer tunic, when it came time to fight, those loose ends and the flowing material of this garment would be a hindrance or even give the enemy something to exploit and grab a hold of. So the tunic was pulled up and tucked into the belt. This leather belt around the waist gave him a place to tie it all up. In fact, as we examine the armor we will learn that most every other piece was linked to the belt in some way.

Looking outside of a military application, we see this used to reference those who wore robes when they had hard work or had to run, they would "gird up their loins", meaning that they pulled the ends of the robe up and either tied them around the waist or tucked them into a belt so as to be able to work or run without being tripped up.

Spiritually speaking we are told in 1 Peter 1:13 to "gird up the loins of your mind", that is, to pull in all the loose ends of our thinking, to reign in a wandering mind so that we might be ready and able to think clearly and discern wisely as we make decisions. It is a willful removal of those things that would otherwise confuse and confound us so that we might think what we ought to think (Phil 4:8).

So what is this belt? What is it that we are to use to gird up our loins/mind so that we might be able and ready to think, work, or fight without hindrance or confusion? It is called the belt of truth. More than just truthful content this refers to truthfulness. We gird up our minds with truthfulness. It is an attitude of being true and an action of seeking out and holding to truth. It is at the same time a rejection of lies and dishonesty.

So what is this truth? It is the pure, infallible, inerrant, and inspired Word of God. It is His truth. It is not only things that are true, as in true facts and figures. It is pure truth. Remember, we are to use this armor to stand against the schemes of the devil. How can we even recognize those schemes unless we know the truth of God's Word? If we do not know the truth we will not know the counterfeit or the lie.

In seeing that it is God's Word that is the foundation of our armor in this belt of truth, it is that which holds all of the rest of our armor together. We see that the Bible is the very Words of God and as 2 Timothy 3 tells us, it is "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." The Bible is not a mere book. It is alive and active (Heb.4:12), eternal (Isa.40:8; Mat.24:35), perfect (Psalm 19:7), pure (Prov 30:5), and it is truth (John 17:17).

Is it any wonder then that in order to achieve a victory over us the devil would first attack the Word of God? Think about the temptation in the garden. His first question was "Did God really say?" As he tempted Eve he started by calling the Word of God into question. He persuaded Adam and Eve to doubt God's Word (Gen 3:1), to deny God's Word (Gen 3:4-5), and then to disobey God's Word (Gen 3:6).

Throughout history we see attempts by heretics and false teachers to deny the truthfulness of the Word of God. Whether it is liberalism in its many manifestations, legalism, antinomianism, or any of the other many -isms and heresies that keep popping up we see at the root of each an attack on the Word of God. Satan knows that if we take the belt off we have nothing to prevent obstacles or provide stability as we fight. In fact, once the belt is off we are no longer fighting but are already conquered.

As we face liberalism in its many forms, the latest of which is the emergent church movement, we find at the very foundational levels of thinking and faith a rejection of the absolute truthfulness of the Word of God. The Word is removed or reduced and counterfeits and mystical substitutes are provided that may make us think and feel good but in reality once the truth is gone we have no way to know right from wrong and no basis to believe anything at all. Liberalism denies inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility. Liberalism denies miracles in favor of "scientific reason" which is actually neither. Liberalism denies the truth of the gospel and the exclusivity of salvation in Christ.

As many denominations have fallen to liberalism others have fought it off, but the danger for them is to take the Word for granted. Many who claim to uphold the truth of the Bible refuse to do what the Bible says - as if it is enough to have the Bible but a step too far to actually obey the Bible. These kinds of people will fight tooth and nail over tradition but all the while reserve the right to interpret the Bible for themselves, believing that whatever they think the Bible says is truth for them. This relativism reduces the Bible to a superstitious or ritualistic object to be waved while the church has no clue as to what it actually says or means. This too denies the absolute truthfulness of the Word of God.

How important is the Bible when it comes to putting on the whole armor of God? It is absolutely necessary. The breastplate and helmet are tied to it. It holds the sword. It keeps the tunic out of the way. It makes it possible for us to fight in close quarters, effectively and without getting tangled up. In other words, if we do not have the truth of God's Word then we have no armor at all.

There have been a few things that have happened recently that have demonstrated how we really do view the Word of God and its relevance to life and faith. I want to look at these examples today in order to give a warning. We must still fight for truth. We must hear and do the Word of God. We must gird our loins by putting on the belt of truth. Why?

Because these three examples are taken from mainstream evangelical churches that claim to believe the Bible:

The first example comes from a worship service my wife and I attended recently at a local church. It was absolutely idolatrous. The "special music" did not even mention God or Christ, it was not even a religious song or a song of worship, but an emotional song about daughters in trouble and how they could count on their mothers to stand with them through the hard times. Totally man centered (or woman centered I should say), and completely inappropriate for the worship of God. Then the pastor started his message by talking about the cultic roots of pagan practice and showing how many in our culture are involved in the same activities today. But he never once actually used the Word of God to make his point about right and wrong. His basis for determining what was right and wrong came from a movie he had seen, not from the pages of Scripture. And so the congregation was encouraged to take the lesson of this movie and take it to heart in order to know the truth about how to act and think in certain situations. The other problem with this approach was that the scene in the movie that he used to make his point was absolutely contrary to the Scriptures. How pathetic and infuriating. We left before the service ended.

The second example we experienced years ago. A pastor from a church in our area broadcast his services on the radio and we heard one day that he was preaching a new series of messages that were aimed at helping Christians understand their new nature in Christ. His text? Well, there was no Biblical text. He actually said that his congregation and those listening on the radio would not need their Bibles for the next several services, so they could be left at home! Then he proceeded to "preach" four passages taken from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein!! I am not making this up. In order to be "relevant" and in order to reach people with "the truth", he set the Bible aside and preached a work of literature that is science fiction.

The third left me shaking my head in disbelief as Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron decided to debate two atheists on television recently and proclaimed that they could prove the existence of God without the Bible or any appeal to faith. They could do it 100% scientifically they said. Now, these two brothers in the Lord were surely well meaning, and they both have good things to offer the church especially in teaching us how to evangelize and share our faith. But where they failed from the very start was where they removed the very foundation of the gospel by claiming that they could talk meaningfully about the gospel without the Bible.

The Word of God is His revelation of Himself to us. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17). It is the Word of God that the Spirit uses to convict us of our sin, to call us to new life in Christ and convert us! Look at Psalm 19:7-11. The Bible is the truth. It is effective. And without it there is NO GOSPEL! What is the point of trying to prove the existence of God if our goal in doing so is not to call sinners to repentance and faith in Christ?

As our own Confession of faith states:

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.

Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God so much that man is left without any excuse, they are not sufficient to provide that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary for salvation.

Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in diverse manners to reveal Himself, and to declare His will to His church;

- and afterward, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church, protecting it against the corruption of the flesh and the malice of Satan and the world,

- it pleased the Lord to commit His revealed Truth wholly to writing. Therefore the Holy Scriptures are most necessary, those former ways by which God revealed His will unto His people having now ceased.

From these examples we must ask the question, "What is wrong with the church when we think we can do anything without the Word of God as our basis?" Benjamin Keach sums this up nicely in his work The Travels of True Godliness as he defines true godliness. He writes:

Godliness consists in the right knowledge of divine truths, or the fundamental principles of the gospel. Secondly, Godliness is a holy conformity to these sacred and divine principles.

Keach warns us not to be deceived by false godliness but to be sure to receive the power of godliness, for godliness without power is no godliness at all. As a result we must not add to or take away from the Word of God, nor must we ever believe that God needs us to make it any more true or beautiful than it is.

The truth of God's Word is foundational to standing against the wiles of the devil. The belt of truth must be worn, used, and relied upon if we are to fight and overcome. If we take off the belt, we will not fight and we will not win. If we take off the belt we have nothing to believe and nothing for which to live or die. If we take off the belt, we will fall into sin.

Today, let us look around us and examine ways that we and others try to lay the belt of truth aside as an inconvenient or useless garment. And when we see these things let us commit even more stridently to put on the belt and keep it on, believing God and taking Him at His Word. The way we handle the truth, the way it is preached, heard, and obeyed tells us everything we need to know about our churches and our lives.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Useful Directions For Reading and Searching the Scriptures by Thomas Boston
God Has Spoken by John MacArthur

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship


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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Words of Truth and Reason

Many today think that Christians are mad, out of their minds, insane, or intellectual weaklings who must use blind faith as a crutch to face reality. But the truth is that the very creation itself declares the truth about Who God is and what He has done.

As Paul appears before King Agrippa he is accused by the Governor Festus of being mad. Paul's reply is that he is not mad but is speaking words of truth and reason.

Festus hopes that Agrippa will understand the issues which are causing the Jews to be so angry with Paul, as He himself is a King among the Jews. Yet Paul does not waste the opportunity to challenge the King and to proclaim the gospel. King Agrippa tells Paul that he is 'almost persuaded' to be a Christian. Are we 'almost Christians' like Agrippa?

This is the theme of Jonathan Hunt's message this morning, taken from Acts 26:28 and titled "Almost a Christian?".

In his evening message, continuing on in the series from Genesis, Jonathan demonstrates the truth that we can be persuaded to be a Christian and put all our trust in Christ because our God is a faithful, covenant keeping God. The message, "A New Beginning with a Faithful God" covers Genesis 8:1-9:17 and provides a survey of the aftermath of the flood, highlighting Noah's godly character, and God's unfailing covenant faithfulness.

God's Word is indeed the only reasonable account of life and death and gives us the only true reasons for hope in this life and the life to come.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

To Stand

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Ephesians 6:13
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Daily Scripture Reading - Jude

Puritan Catechism
Question #53 - What is required in the fifth commandment?

Answer - The fifth commandment requires the preserving the honour, and performing the duties belonging to every one in their various positions and relationships as superiors (Eph. 5:21-22; Eph. 6:1, 5; Rom. 13:1), inferiors (Eph. 6:9), or equals (Rom. 12:10).

Devotional Thoughts
At times I am amazed at just how complacent we in the church can become. Apathy reigns and as long as we are not bothered we do not bother anyone else. Of course, as we have all heard before, if we do not bother the devil he will not bother us. But wait a minute. Is this true? Of course not. We are at war. And our enemy is not flesh and blood. Our enemy is Satan and his demonic kingdom.

The truth is that we cannot live the Christian life complacently. We cannot be at ease. We cannot let our guard down. We must never assume that we are safe from temptation or sin. If we are lulled into a false assurance that we need not fight then we are about as helpful to the church as a watchman who is asleep.

We tend to think that the absence of conflict is peace. Is this really what it means to have peace? Peace is not the absence of conflict. Peace is found in victory. We have peace when we resist evil and when we overcome his schemes. Peace is that which passes all understanding when every emotion in our soul tells us we should be afraid. Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is living in the assurance that we have won through Christ Jesus.

The key then to keeping the faith and finishing the course is not taking the easy way out or trying to find a way around trials, tribulations, and torments. The key is found in resisting the devil. Over and over we have heard this - we must resist. We must fight. We must be strong willed and determined and confident and courageous. We must stand firm. This is how we participate in the victory already secured. We stand.

In this passage, as we hear the command to put on the whole armor of God, we find that we are to be using the armor God has given us so that we might "withstand in the evil day." To withstand is to resist. It is to make up our minds that we will not yield.

Why is it that so often we are stiff necked and stubborn when it comes to holding on to our sin or excusing our disobedience when instead we should stubbornly stand against all that is evil? Our resolve should not be firmly planted behind satisfying self - it should be a resolute determination to stand against all that is wicked.

Looking at our text we see that we are told to put on the armor so that we might "stand against the wiles of the devil" (vs. 11), "withstand in the evil day and having done all to stand" (vs. 13), so that we might "stand therefore" (vs. 14). Fighting here is not about taking ground or conquering territory. It is about standing our ground! We need not take more ground - Jesus has already taken it all! So what is left to do? Stand firm. Stand in defiant resistance, refusing to give ground or yield our mind, will, or emotions to the enemy.

The whole armor of God, as we will study each piece, has been given not so that we might fight an offensive, but that we might stand firm through the fighting and remain standing to the end of the war. Often we think of battle in offensive terms - taking an objective, invading and conquering, pushing forward. However, Jesus has already taken the objective! Just as His heel was bruised as He was nailed to the cross so the head of the serpent was crushed (Gen 3:15).

Many times we see those who would go on the offensive. They want to fight spectacular battles and expose the devil and his demons and route them from the field in people's lives. But we are getting ahead of ourselves if we think this way. We need to see that since the war has already been won we need not re-defeat the enemy. He is already defeated. What we need to do is stand against the attempts he makes to wound us as he himself is dying. Even Michael the Archangel, as he is engaged in warfare against Satan, does not rely on himself, his angelic power and might, to overcome the enemy. He proclaims boldly, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1:9), for it is the Lord who has defeated Satan - it is the Lord, not us, who binds the “strong man” and plunders his house (Matt 12:29).

Fighting defensively against Satan is really like killing a rattle snake. Chop his head off and he can still bite you and there is still venom in his fangs. So we need not chase the devil. We need not go looking for him. We need simply to resist him. Resistance is difficult. Think about it - when soldiers are on the offensive in battle that momentum propels them ahead. It is a different kind of battle though to dig in and hold your ground against the assaults of the enemy.

It is not a surprise then to see that the whole armor of God that we are given is defensive in nature. As we will see, there is no armor on our back!! If we turn and run away we are exposed to attack and to injury. Christ is on the offensive and our task in the battle is to remain on the defensive. Why is this the case? Because we need not go looking for the devil - he is already looking for us! Like a roaring lion.

When he roars we must decide whether we will flee, or stand and resist. We have been given the whole armor of God so that we might stand. If we flee that is indeed a lack of faith in the victory Christ has won and in the armor He has supplied. There is no need to fear the devil or to flee when he roars.

Let us not be afraid of the fight. And let us not be complacent and apathetic as if the absence of conflict is the same as victory and peace. Peace comes at a price. Thankfully, Jesus paid that price in full once for all so that now we can stand with this assurance, "The Lord knows those who are His" (2 Tim 2:19) and He will not leave or forsake us in the heat of battle.

As John Gill put it, our aim in the battle is to “keep your ground, do not desert the army, the church of Christ, nor his cause; continue in the station in which you are placed, keep your post, be upon your watch, stand upon your guard.” Having done all, we are told, we must stand.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Christ the Conqueror of Satan and How They Conquered the Dragon by Charles Spurgeon

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Rulers of Darkness

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Ephesians 6:12
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Daily Scripture Reading - Luke 10

Puritan Catechism
Question #53 - What is required in the fifth commandment?

Answer - The fifth commandment requires the preserving the honour, and performing the duties belonging to every one in their various positions and relationships as superiors (Eph. 5:21-22; Eph. 6:1, 5; Rom. 13:1), inferiors (Eph. 6:9), or equals (Rom. 12:10).

Devotional Thoughts
We are engaged in a conflict with eternal implications. This statement may seem shocking, or a little over the top, but the truth is that we are soldiers and we are engaged in a war. Of course the devil would have us believe that we are at peace - and that the true path to lasting unity is compromise. He especially loves it when we compromise on the truth of God's Word in our attempts to still the conflict of the raging battle being fought between the Kingdoms of Light and Darkness.

Our Enemy would rather that we ignored the war. You know the type. They proclaim "We Support Our Troops" but at the same time hold up signs that scream "Get Out Now!” and equate peace with love and war with hate. In the spiritual realm this is a daily reality. Satan tells us that we just need to all get along by setting aside any doctrinal differences. Doctrine, after all, divides, right?

How can we support the troops, i.e. edify the Body of Christ, and at the same time ignore the war that rages? We cannot, for to deny the war and to act the part of the pacifist is to abandon the Church in the heat of battle. The war is real. The enemies we fight are real. The victories and defeats we face are real. And the implications are indeed eternal.

More than failing to realize that we are engaged in a war, we also see a great danger in failing to recognize who the enemy is. In modern terms, this is a difficulty in the "war on terror." We see that it can be very difficult to fight an enemy that looks like the people amongst whom they hide! Terrorists wear no uniform and have allegiance to no state. They are hard to recognize as the enemy until it is too late.

So what happens when we are talking about the conflict between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan? What are the consequences of failing to recognize the enemy?

To help us see who it is that we fight against Paul reminds us "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood." The technical term he uses for this struggle is a term for hand-to-hand combat. We are not combating flesh and blood.

Listen, because this is important. How often do we forget that God says in His Word, "Vengeance is Mine. I will repay."? And so when we are persecuted or attacked verbally, emotionally, or physically for our faith we have as a first response the desire to fight back - to strike out against the person who has hurt us. That is another point of confusion brought on by the true enemy of our souls. We fall for the lie that we are fighting against lost men and women!

As a result then we use our words and actions to hurt them and drive them back - and then we wonder why the reject Christ so openly!! Have we forgotten that those who would engage us in this warfare and attack us are themselves in bondage to sin, slaves of unrighteousness, and children of their father the devil? This is what Jesus said to the Pharisees. In calling them a "brood of vipers" He was saying that they are the offspring of Satan - they are, as it were baby snakes, children of their father, the Devil.

But these people are not the enemy we are to engage in warfare. We should seek to rescue them - to preach and witness and love and encourage them. The Bible is so clear. Bless those who curse, pray for those who spitefully use, do good to those who hate. And yet our natural response is to fight. Then we see we are at war but we are fighting the wrong enemy! We think that those in bondage should be hated and reviled just as they hate and revile. But these are the very people we should be loving with an unconditional self sacrificing love.

The true enemy we are told here is not flesh and blood. It is not other people. It is those in the spiritual realm who comprise the Kingdom of Satan. These demonic powers are wielded by fallen angels - those who were cast out of heaven in the great rebellion of Lucifer against the Most High God. These are our enemies.

They are referred to as principalities, that is rulers. While God remains absolutely sovereign, He has allowed these fallen beings to have limited authority on this earth. They have been given this authority for a time and are willing to use it. They are also referred to as powers, reiterating this truth that there are realms of reality where they will come against us and we must be ready to identify them, stand, and fight. Another term used here identifies them as the "rulers of the darkness of this age." What age? This age where men are blinded to the truth and dead in sin. They rule the darkness!

How interesting then that Paul tells us earlier in Ephesians that before were called to new life in Christ we were "darkness" (Eph 5:8). He did not say we walked in darkness. He said we were darkness. Interesting then isn't it that these demonic powers "rule the darkness"?

These rulers of darkness are spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places - that is they are spiritual beings with great powers and great wickedness! They are the Devil and the demons. Here is the enemy. The one who has in his pride plotted against God from before the beginning. The one who was cast down to the earth and now seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. The one who desired to be worshipped by Christ as he tempted Him in the wilderness, and the one who wants nothing more than for you and me to forget the real enemy and the real war - to sit back in our apathy and drown in the pool of our own lukewarm devotion to a God of our own imagination.

So how do we fight this enemy? Now that we know who he is how do we defeat him? The religious nuts on TV would have us believe that we should shout and scream at the demons, casting them out, exorcising them in the name of Jesus. But the truth is that the battle plan that God has put in place for the defeat of the devil and the spoiling of his kingdom is much more simple than the theatrics of yelling at the demons hiding behind every bush and hitting people in the face with a Bible or an idolatrous crucifix!

How then do we wrestle against these rulers of the darkness? What method of attack do we use? How do we train? How do we win?

We will pick up there tomorrow. Until then, when we are tempted to sin remember that sin originates in our own fallen flesh and its desires (James 1:14). And when we are attacked or persecuted, remember that we do not fight against flesh and blood. Remember who the true enemy is. Pray that you might stand against him, resisting him and his demons so that he will flee.

He is a defeated foe. Not that that makes the war easy. But it does make the victory sure!

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Subjugation to Satan by AW Pink
Satan's Devices by George Whitefield

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Wiles of the Devil

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Ephesians 6:11
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Daily Scripture Reading - Luke 4

Puritan Catechism
Question #53 - What is required in the fifth commandment?

Answer - The fifth commandment requires the preserving the honour, and performing the duties belonging to every one in their various positions and relationships as superiors (Eph. 5:21-22; Eph. 6:1, 5; Rom. 13:1), inferiors (Eph. 6:9), or equals (Rom. 12:10).

Devotional Thoughts
We know that if we are to stand against the schemes of the devil and succeed at living the Christian life to the glory of God then we must put on the whole armor of God. As we progress in this study we will examine the various pieces that make up the whole armor of God, but before we get there we need to see that we are expected to put this armor on.

Paul tells us, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God." Finally. At the end of all we have learned from Ephesians, as a conclusion to the great truths Paul has been writing about, and as part of the application for the doctrinal points he has upheld, we are to use what we have learned by being strong in the Lord.

How can we do this? Put the armor on. This is how we are strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. It sounds rather elementary, but let us think about this. Would we think it was necessary to tell a soldier to dress for battle? Of course not, because he is a soldier. He knows when he goes to fight that he must be prepared. He must be wearing his battle armor and have his weapons and wits at the ready.

But there is the problem. We forget that we who are believers in Jesus Christ are soldiers! We are engaged in a conflict with eternal implications. There is the war between the spirit and the flesh (Gal 5:17). There is the battle for our will - doing what we want to do or instead doing what God would have us do. There is conflict, division, and casualties. We are at war.

Further we are in conflict with the rulers of darkness (as we will learn tomorrow). We are in a fight with the devil. He, as a roaring lion, is seeking those whom he may devour and we are to resist him. He tempts us, just as He did our Lord. He seeks to lure us away from the truth and to deceive us with his lies.

Our verse for the day tells us that with the armor of God we can stand against the wiles of the devil. The word translated "wiles" is the Greek word methodia, better known as methods. These are cunning, deceptive methods that the devil uses to attack us, discourage us, confuse us, and accuse us. In fact, as we mentioned him as a roaring lion, he is stalking his prey - hoping they will not pray!

The methods of our enemy include appealing to our fallen flesh through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. He plays and preys upon our desires, fueling them into areas where they do not belong, tempting us to depend upon ourselves instead of walking by faith. He also deceives by spreading false doctrine and giving false hope. And yet his demonic wisdom leads to destruction. He uses counterfeits. This is part of his deception. He lies about what is good, and substitutes what is evil.

These schemes involve using the works of the flesh to entice us into pursuing our own selfish wants and needs. Where God gives us as a fruit of the Spirit love, the devil offers adultery and fornication. Where God provides joy we find that the devil substitutes uncleanness and lewdness. These are literally a lack of restraint when it comes to attempting to satisfy self. We also find that as God gives us peace, the devil deceives us by leading us to believe that true peace is found in idolatry and sorcery, terms which are used to describe the worship of a false god and the use of drugs and other substances to alter our mind and our mood. With each fruit of the Spirit there is a counterfeit work of the flesh, yet these counterfeits never deliver what they promise. Sin in the end does not give us true or lasting fulfillment. In the end, sin kills us.

So how do we stand against these schemes of the devil? By taking advantage of God's power through putting on the armor He provides us. We must put on the whole armor, all of it.

Let us think back to the Old Testament where Israel was confronted again and again by the Philistines. Surely we all remember the account of David taking food to the front lines for his older brothers and there hearing the blaspheming of the giant Goliath. And as David responded in faith he wanted to stand for the Lord and His people. Before he did King Saul had this young shepherd boy adorned in his royal armor. And yet it did not fit. David found his defense in the power and might of the Lord, and the armor that was not his and did not fit would only serve to hinder him in the fight. As a result he rejected Saul's armor and went to fight and win the battle armed only with a sling and 5 smooth stones (1 Samuel 17).

Our application of course is that we must be ready to stand in the fight but we must not wear the armor of another man. We must put on the whole armor of God. It is His power, His might, and His armor. He has made it for us. And it fits! We cannot rely on the faith, doctrine, works, or life of a friend, teacher, parent, mentor, pastor, or spouse. We must stand before God and stand against the devil armed with what God gives us - not with what He gives others around us.

Perhaps the most important point to be made here is the most often overlooked. How often have we heard teachers and preachers tell us that we must get up every day and put on the spiritual armor? As if we take it off each night before we go to bed and so must put it back on every day. Now, I will say that it is not a wrong intention on the part of those who say this. We do need to be aware of the armor we have been given. We need to USE it. But as we look at this text it does not say that we are to keep putting the armor on, over and over. It says, "Put on the whole armor of God."

Now listen this - we do need to remember every day that we have been provided this armor so that we might stand against the wiles of the devil, but we do not need to put the armor on over and over. The phrase "put on" is permanent. It means, put it on once for all. This is the last suit of armor you will ever need!

As John MacArthur states in his commentary on Ephesians (p. 338):

It is not a uniform to wear only while playing a game and then to remove when the game is over. The armor of God is to be the Christian's lifelong companion.

The truth is we have been given this armor, but the question is, are we using it? As Paul taught us earlier in this epistle we are to put off the life we lived when we were alienated from God and dead in sin because when we were saved we put on a new man - we became a new creation in Christ (Eph 4:20-24). And as a new creation we have been given the whole armor of God so that we might stand firm in the fight that rages around us.

The sad truth is that there are so many Christians who are in the midst of battle and have no idea how to fight and no clue about the armor that God has given them. They flee the field of battle time after time in defeat because they fail to see what God has given them. And they have been deceived into believing that the difference between victory and defeat is a matter of their own faith. They have heard over and over that if they will just have enough faith then everything will be okay.

But the Bible tells us that the battle does not depend on our faith, our ability, our might, our cunning, or our intellect. The battle is the Lords. "'Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord." (Zech 4:6). We have been given the whole armor of God so that we might stand against the schemes of the devil. Let us understand then what it means to put it on once for all. For when we are armed by the Lord we have nothing in this world, or in the world to come, to fear.

Tomorrow we will learn just who it is we are fighting. Until then, have you put on the whole armor of God? If so, you are ready for battle, and you will be able to stand!

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Recovering a Right View of Sin by pastorway
Elements of a Strong Spiritual Life by John MacArthur

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship