During WWII, construction of Navy ships always included armor. Designers would build in ‘armor belts’ where ships would be most vulnerable. You would reinforce the areas right at the water line to defend against torpedoes. You would have extra thickness of steel on the horizontal, flat surfaces to protect against dropping bombs. On one Japanese warship, the designers poured concrete 3 feet thick under the steel exterior to prevent dive bombs from penetrating into the ship’s hull. Some US Battleships had steel that was 24 inches thick. If you were on a ship with that thick of armor, you would certainly ‘feel’ safe.
In my last post we started the discussion on tactics by drawing the analogy of a ship. A ship in the water is a good thing. But water in the ship is a bad thing. This is a picture of holiness. As long as a Christian is in the world, being salt and light, it is a good thing. But when the world is in a Christian and the Christian becomes so worldly that there is no difference between the behavior and character of a believer and that of a non-believer, then it is a bad thing. Jesus said, “if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men..”
We started with the premise that God never designed his people, his warriors to be without weapons. God has given us his Word and told us to hide it within our hearts. We are to memorize scripture and have verses at ‘the ready,’ useful for immediate deployment. It only takes a nanosecond to sin sexually. From the first look with the eyes, to when the brain registers the thought, lust for some can only be a fraction of a second away. We must have a weapon ready for immediate use to counter the flaming darts from the evil one.
Putting on the Armor
The second tactic is to use the armor that God has given to us. The primary and most common understanding of the armor is found in Ephesians 6:10-18,
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”
If you have been a believer for any length of time, you have probably heard sermons several times and read this passage. For the sake of brevity, notice how many pieces of the armor have to do with Truth and with Jesus. Jesus said in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth.” In John 14:6, He says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Over and again in scripture, many times the words Truth, Jesus, and the Word of God are almost interchangeable.
- Take the belt of Truth: or take the belt of Jesus. Take the belt of the Word of God
- Take the breastplate of Righteousness: Jesus is our Righteousness
- Take the shield of Faith: Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God
- Take the helmet: Jesus is our Salvation
God’s Promises as Weapons
I want to focus on a different aspect of our armor, which you don’t hear much about. These are the promises of God. Consider the following two passages of Scriptures:
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1, emphasis mine).
“Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” (2 Peter 1:3-4, emphasis mine).
Consider the word ‘promise.’ You can only trust a ‘promise’ if the person making the promise is trustworthy. There is no one more trustworthy in the entire universe than God. Psalms 12:6 says, “The words of the Lord are pure words.”
How does this connect with purity?
I had blown it ‘again.’ I had looked at porn, gratified myself and now guilt and shame flooded by soul. I had memorized 1 John 1:9, which says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness . . .” I felt so unclean. I felt like a failure. Satan was whispering in my ear that God was done with me. I felt so worthless. The sense of brokenness and uselessness was overwhelming. I confessed the sin again. A few hours later, I confessed it again. The next day, I confessed it again, then again. I was so haunted by my failure and sin that no matter how many times I confessed, I didn’t feel like I was forgiven.
I sought out an older mentor and explained to him my dilemma. He reminded me of the nature of God and the nature of a God-given promise. He challenged me to believe God’s word and to not believe my feelings. He told me that I needed to hold up each promise like a shield, claiming its power and authority. I needed to stop relying on my own sense of unworthiness and start relying on the trustworthiness of God. I was to use the promise like a club, rebuking Satan for his lies.
I followed his instructions. I started ‘claiming’ the promises of God. I found that there are promises for every aspect of the Christian life. There are promises for prayer: “Ask and you shall receive” . . . promises for eternal life . . . “He who believes in the Son has life, he who does not obey the Son shall not see life but the wrath of God rests on him” . . . promises for peace: “Thou dost keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusts in Thee.” These promises of God are no small things. The whole of the Christian life is based on the promises that God has given to us, his children.
Sustained by the Promises
Reconsider 2 Peter 1:3,4: It is through these exceeding great and precious promises that we can escape from the corruption of the world through lusts and become partakers of the divine nature. This divine nature is the very nature of God, the nature of being holy. Remember the command, “I am Holy. You shall be holy as I am holy.” The means by which we can obtain this practical holiness, or sanctification, is by knowing and believing and acting in faith on the promises of God.
Think again about 2 Corinthians 7:1: Since we have these promises let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and mind, making holiness perfect in the fear of the Lord.
Many times, I have tried and failed. Many times, despair and discouragement have placed a death grip on my soul. Then I remember the promises, “A righteous man falls seven times and gets up.” I remember another promise: “Morning by morning He awakens me for the Lord sustains me.” I remember that the only reason I am alive is that God is not finished with me yet. The only reason that I have the breath of life is that God is sustaining me. It gives me the courage to believe that I am forgiven and that God wants me to ‘get up’ again and to try again.
Jude 24 says, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before the glory of his presence with great joy.” What a promise! It gives hope and strength. It acts as a defensive shield, a piece of armor to hide behind when Satan throws his hurtful accusations and reminders of my sin. I pray that you would learn to identify, believe in, and claim these great promises of God.
Read Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7 of this series.