Tag Archive for righteousness

Overcoming the World: Part 9–The Armor of God

 

Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].  Ephesians 6:13 (AMP)

 

 

First and foremost, remember that the devil is a created being.  Though he would much like to tell you that he is equal with God, or even superior to Him, he isn’t.  Nevertheless, being spirit, he is more powerful than we are in our flesh by ourselves.  This is why we need to call on the power of the Lord to defend us.

 

In Ephesians 6: 14-17,  Paul uses the imagery of a Roman soldier by telling us to “put on the full armor of God,” meaning that we need to make use of every resource that God makes available to us to win this struggle.  These are the examples that he lists:

 

  1. The Belt of Truth. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know this is my biggie.  The first four tenets of the Truth Mission Statement lay this out.  Acknowledge Truth, recognize it for what it is, give credit to the Source of Truth, and never stop seeking it.
  2. The Breastplate of Righteousness. True righteousness is a right standing with God that is given by His grace, not earned through our efforts.  Knowledge of this righteousness that is imputed to us helps us to do the right thing and to keep our word, among other things.
  3. Feet fitted with the Gospel of Peace. A good pair of running shoes provides you with stability and speed.  So it is with the Gospel.  It is the foundation upon which you stand to face the enemy, and the Good News you take out into the world to foil his plans.
  4. Shield of Faith. Faith is more than just belief.  Even Satan believes in God; he has seen Him face to face!  It is only when you firmly rely on God and His strength that you are able to deflect the devil’s attacks.
  5. Helmet of Salvation. It’s your head the devil tries to get into.  Cover it with the knowledge that God has already accepted you and has no intention of giving you back.
  6. Sword of the Spirit. This is referring to scripture itself.  Hebrews 4:12 says: “For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  This is the double-edged sword that Revelation depicts coming from the mouth of Jesus at the Second Coming, when Satan is defeated forever.  Guess what?  You have access to that very same Word.  It is the most powerful offensive weapon you have in fighting against the devil.

 

With all of these items in place, now you’re ready to pray like you mean it.  That is what vanquishes Satan.  A person who prays while knowing the One being prayed to, knowing that He’s listening and most of all, knowing that He will honor that prayer with His protection—such a person is unstoppable in spiritual warfare.

 

So what is it that actually goes on in the spiritual realm when we pray?  Hard to say, as most of us can’t see it.  Some people do have that gift, but I am not one of them.

 

Author Frank Peretti burst onto the Christian Fiction scene in 1986 with his book This Present Darkness, which vividly addressed this very issue.  In the book, angels are constantly engaged in battles with demons over the souls of people.  Prayer is like a caffeine rush to the angels.  When people put on the armor of God and pray, the angels drive back the demons.  But when prayer falters, the demons have the upper hand.

 

Now I don’t know if that’s how it actually goes down (many theologians argue that it isn’t), but it’s a neat picture (and a highly entertaining read as well).

 

The important thing to remember is, like the soldier, we must always be on our guard.  Satan and his minions do not sleep.  Ever.  They’ll keep coming back, no matter how many times you pray them away.  This doesn’t mean your prayers aren’t effective or that God isn’t listening.  This is just what demons do.  It’s their nature.

 

(For some final words of encouragement, come back for the conclusion in Part 10—Be Still and Know.)

 

DN=: Part 8–Hate Speech

 

 

Be clearheaded. Keep alert. Your accuser, the devil, is on the prowl like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  (1 Peter 5:8 CEB)

 

All of humanity has a common enemy—Satan, the accuser.  The enemy’s primary goal has always been our destruction, but he has been busy developing some new tactics.

 

First to review, you’ll remember that in Part 3, we identified “righteousness” as being a right standing with God the Father, which is made possible only through a trusting relationship with His Son, Jesus.  Those with whom the enemy succeeds in denying this opportunity for righteousness will nevertheless still crave it.

 

However, since they have allowed themselves to be cut off from God’s saving grace, they are only able to manufacture a false perception of righteousness.  In their desperate attempt to elevate themselves in their own minds, they find themselves compelled to disparage others in order to make that possible.

 

The enemy facilitates this process by helping those under his influence categorize people into groups and label them.  Then he directs his unwitting followers to abuse the people in those groups by treating them unequally and criticizing them based on their differences.

 

Over time, these blanket condemnations become a habit, and hatred develops.  If left unchecked by correction, it is possible for this hatred to swell into an epidemic of ignorant bigotry.  This bigotry will then be projected toward the groups of people to whom they are trying to maintain their sense of superiority.

 

Combating this is a struggle we all share.  And it is indeed a daily struggle.  Seeing other people as individual human beings, instead of part of a labeled subset of humanity, requires a generous helping of both humility and critical thinking.

 

Knowing this, our enemy imparts his unwary abettors with a liberal dose of arrogance, which suppresses all traces of humility and artificially inflates their perception of their own intellect, eliminating the prospect of any critical thought taking place.

 

This is where the enemy plays to his greatest strength.  He advises his impressionable followers, “If you can’t convince ‘em, accuse ‘em!”

 

And this is how it plays out.

 

When one of these people attempts to engage a Truthseeker in debate, he quickly discovers the futility of this venture, since the primary objective for Truthseekers is to end arguments, not win them.  Since the arguer finds that he cannot claim the logical high ground, he will then attempt to lower the ground beneath his opponent by attacking his character.

 

But here is the twist!  Since unwarranted character assassination would make him guilty of judgmentalism, he must first deflect his own guilt by accusing the Truthseeker of being judgmental himself, thereby forcing him into a defensive position.  With any luck, the Truthseeker will take the bait, lower himself into the argument, and thus become that which he has already been accused of being.

 

On the other hand, a mature Truthseeker will not take the bait, but will simply hold fast to the Truth, and not change course.

 

When the arguer sees that his attempts at both logic and character assassination have failed, he plays the only card left in his deck by attacking Truth itself.

 

He does this by labeling the Truth “hate speech.”

 

DEFENSE OF TRUTH DN= HATE SPEECH

 

 

The irony of this concept of “hate speech” is that the people most commonly accused of hate speech are in actuality the ones most commonly on the receiving end of it.

 

For centuries upon centuries, Christians have put their trust in the eternal God, in his indisputable and unchanging Word in which He is revealed, and in His universal promises and plan for all of mankind.  In a world where people follow after every wind of change, no matter how ludicrous, we build our lives on the solid rock of eternal unchanging Truth, passing it down from generation to generation.

 

But instead of a fixed and eternal rock, our faith is now portrayed by our degenerate culture as an ignorant and hateful tradition.  We are even demonized for faithfully carrying out our most important responsibility as parents, the passing on of our faith to future generations, with the charge of “indoctrinating” our own children!

 

If parents should not be the ones most responsible for helping to frame the basic worldview and shaping the character of their own children, then who should?  The enemy has some ideas about that.

 

(And you’ll hear all about them if you come back for Part 9—Brainwashing.)

 

DN=: Part 3–Righteousness

One of the pitfalls of using churchy jargon is the proclivity for misunderstanding of these terms by those outside the church.  (For more on this topic, check out the Saved series.)  One of those commonly misunderstood words is “righteous.”

 

To be “righteous” is to have “right standing” with God.  This is not a status that can be achieved through human effort.  As Solomon pointed out, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. (Ecclesiastes 7:20 ESV).”

 

This concept is explained further in Romans 3:

 

What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.  As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
 All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”

 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.  (Romans 3:9-12, 19-26 NIV)

The passage above contains the word “justify” a couple of times.  Justificiation is the act of being made righteous by one who has the authority to do so.

 

In other words, since there is nothing we can do to make ourselves righteous, God makes us righteous through faith in Jesus.

 

When we were slaves to sin, we were lawbreakers and were therefore under the penalty of the law.  That penalty is death.  Jesus paid that penalty for us in order to pay our debt to God.  This is the “redemption” spoken of in the passage above.

 

The danger for Christians, having been made righteous by faith, is to forget that we had nothing to do with being forgiven.  Sure, we made the choice to follow Christ, but we are forgiven because HE says so, not because WE say so.

 

If we become too accustomed to our view from the mountaintop, and forget how we got there (by God throwing us down a rope, not by our climbing), it is all too tempting for us to look down on the people still “down in the valley.”

 

Basically, if you ever find yourself looking down on someone else from a position that you have not earned, you have crossed the line to self-righteousness.

 

RIGHTEOUSNESS DN= SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

For Christians, self-righteousness comes from the mistaken idea that we are somehow better than other human beings are because of our relationship with Jesus.  For a non-Christian, self-righteousness occurs when one must put another down in order to elevate oneself.

 

Since true righteousness comes from faith in Jesus alone, a person without that faith would have no means of being made righteous.  Since no one can earn the favor of God by good deeds, anyone who boasts in those deeds would be self-righteous as well.

 

Simply put, self-righteousness is unrighteousness.

 

(For more clarification of church jargon, come back for Part 4–Holy)