Christians - Lock & Load

(Some "tid-bit" information first. In it's original form it was not,"Lock & Load", but "load and lock". It was changed by Fess Parker and his associates when they did the TV series on Daniel Boone.)

“Just like ancient Rome”, was my first thought as I got off the airplane in one of the Southern states after 33 years of mission service in Puerto Rico. (For those who don’t know what happened to ancient Rome it destroyed itself by it’s own internal moral decay.) In my opinion, the United States is doing the same thing. My wife and I have been in the States for almost ten years, now, and nothing has changed my mind – in fact, it’s gotten worse. While there have been many positive changes in every area, along with that progress there have also been negative changes also in every area. These negative changes are so gradual that many Christians aren’t even aware of them. (That’s the way Satan works.) Unfortunately some Christian churches and individual Christians are guilty of falling into Satan’s trap without knowing it because of the subtiety of Satan. Just a couple of quick examples: when we left, if you took a hymn book you could find many hymns that dealt with the shed blood of Christ, but now there are very few hymns dealing with that theme. “Big deal”, you may say, but dealing with the shed blood of Christ is required by God as a fulfillment to gain eternal life. This requirement has not been rescinded. (Christ fulfilled this requirement of the Law, and He did not replace it.) To “water” that concept down and you have no justification for a person to be a Christian. What use to be a considered “sin” is now accepted into everyday life as normal. Living together is a good example. Another example: it’s nothing unusual for people to use crude language, even Christians. (That’s one of the first things I notice as I was getting off the airplane – a couple of young ladies in front of me could not complete a sentence without using crude language. Now you probably hear crude or swaring every day in normal conversations and it’s always on many of the social networks. This use of crude language and swearing as a normal means of communication in just one step towards self-destruction.

This problem of self-destruction is not new – the Apostle Paul deals with this problem in some of his letters to various churches in the 1st century. Paul was a man who spent time in prisons and since he knew the armor of the Roman soldier he used this experience as a prisoner when he wrote the letter to the Ephesians. Paul compares the amour of the military soldier to what the spiritual armor that should be used by the Christian. This comparison is found in Ephesians chapter 6, starting with verse 12 to the end of the chapter.

First he points out that the enemy must be known. In the case of the Christian, Satan is the enemy and the spiritual armor is what God has given us both to defend ourselves and to attack.

One of Satan’s main objectives in today’s spiritual warfare is to keep the Christian from being a positive witness for Christ. Doing this is easy for him. Just get Christians disagreeing among themselves. (As a missionary who solicited funds for our mission, this caused me to visit churches of different denominations. I’ve been in churches that if I didn’t use a black, King James translation of the Bible, it was a sin since that church’s opinion the King James translation was the only translation that was inspired of God.) Christians get to squabbling about the length of a person’s hair, what musical instruments - if any should be used. (There are some Christian groups that state using a musical instrument in church is a sin.) Satan can use these disagreements to his advantage by keeping a Christian or Christian churches focused on the wrong thing and forget Satan is the enemy.

Ephesians 6:12-13 (NASB77)

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, that you may be able to resist in the evil day.

Once the real enemy is discovered , the Christian must armor themselves. This armor of God is best presented in Ephesians chapter 6. The Apostle Paul writes about the girding oneself with truth.

Ephesians 6:14 (NASB77)

"Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth,….”

To the Roman soldier this was an important piece of defensive armor. On the belt was attached the sword, the dagger, darts & other pieces of needed weapons. Leather or metal strips were often attached to the front of the belt to protect the groin area. . If the tunic happened to get in way of the free movement of the Roman soldier’s legs, he would tuck his tunic under the belt so he wouldn’t trip.

Application to the Christian: the faith of the Christian is based on the truth. If the truth, as presented in the Bible and taken in the proper context and used is used correctly, the Christian doesn’t have to make apologies for what is stated in the Bible. If the Christian “editorializes” what the Bible states, and the non-Christian finds out this makes the non-Christian mistrust Christianity. Another problem the Christian may have is separating local cultural mores from Biblical teaching. There is nothing wrong with mores – but they are not to be confused as Scripture.

The Christian should always be honest, even if it hurts. (But be tactful)

The breastplate is the next piece of armor the Apostle Paul writes about.

Ephesians 6:14-15 (NASB77) “…. having put on the breastplate of righteousness….”

It was the purpose of the breastplate of the Roman Soldier to protect all

the vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, and other vital internal body parts.

Application to the Christian: It has to be understood that our righteousness is not ours at all, but something God has provided for us. Satan really likes to attack this area of the Christian – one way Satan likes to attack is to make the Christian appear “holier than thou” to the non-Christian. The device of Satan is to make the Christian so afraid of getting the reputation of being “holier than thou” or bragging, they refuse to use to gifts God has given them. Satan will also convince the Christian that it’s all right to participate non-Christian activities to show how “un-holier than thou” they are. If Satan can penetrate the breastplate of the spiritual armor, the Christian has become ineffective. Another method of attack of Satan is make the Christian think “meek” is the same as “weak”. These words have different meaning –“meek” means to be under the control of the master)

Paul than deals with the foot ware next.

Ephesians 6:15 (NASB77) "... and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;...."

The Roman soldier had special sandals that were worn for battle. Not only were they stronger in the way they were made, they were also hob-nailed. (A hob-nailed sandal is one that has studs in the heels. This gave the Roman soldier greater stability on soft ground.) While not quite the same, you can relate this concept of “hob-nail” if the think of football cleats, baseball spikes, or spikes that can be attached to bottom of shoes for walking on ice.) This battle sandal of the Roman soldier was also thicker then a “dress sandal”. Why? It was the practice of the enemy to put sharp sticks in the ground in hopes a soldier would step on one, damaging his feet so he couldn’t walk. The thick sandals helped protect the bottom of the feet.

Application for the Christian: this is one of the reason’s for attending church and other church functions. Attending these Christian functions puts “hob nails in the spiritual shoes. (Providing, of course, the church or any other Christian function presents the Bible in its proper context.)

Ephesians 6:16-17 (NASB77)

"... in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one."

The Roman soldiers shield was the only piece of armor that could be moved to get maxium protection. For example: if the enemy shot arrows, (that many times had tips that been set on fire), the Roman soldiers would come close together and put the shield over their heads, making a barrier and the arrows bounced off the shields. (The shields were usually rectangular in shape so this shape made it easier to form a barrier.) Some of the shields were composite materials of wood, covered with a layer of leather. The wood part of the shield could stop the arrow of the enemy from damaging the solider, and the leather part would extengish the fire of the arrow.

Christian function: This makes sense, because what may be a temptation for one person may not be a temptation for another, therefore, the spiritual shield can be placed so a person can receive the maximum protection from a temptation.. The shield is placed in such a position prevent the flaming arrows of temptation Satan uses. (Side note: a temptation is not a sin, even Christ was tempted, but it is the yielding to the temptation that is the sin.)

Next the Apostle writes about the helmet.

Ephesians 6:17 (KJV) "And take the helmet of salvation,...."

The helmet was used to not only protect the head; it also identified the rank of the person wearing it. Scripture points out the importance of the mind, which is in the head in the brain which is part of the head.

Romans 12:2 (NASB) "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. "

Matthew 22:37-39 (KJV) "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment."

Satan will try and distract and confuse the Christian if he can. This is why the helmet is so important, to protect the Christian so the correct decision can be made. A person can have all the other pieces of armor that are provided, but without wearing the helmet of salvation, it is of no spiritual value – the person may think they are a Christian, but they aren’t because they have never put on the helmet of salvation. Satan has “messed” with their mind.

Matthew 24:24 (NASB77) "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect."

Paul writes about one more piece of armor that a Christian needs to be an effective Christian soldier:

Ephesians 6:17 (NASB77) "... and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

Hebrews 4:12 (NASB77) "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

The sword of the Roman soldier was short and was sharp of both edges. This allowed the soldier to slash in all directions, and make a frontal attack with the point of the sword. Every Roman soldier kept his sword sharp and he practiced using it whenever possible.

Christian application: this is the only piece of offensive equipment given to the Christian. Without this piece of equipment and the knowledge of knowing how to use it properly, the Christian is of very little worth in a spiritual battle. (This is one of the primary reasons a person should attend Sunday school since this should be the educational arm of the church.)

The last part of Ephesians chapter 6 is very important to be a successful Christian in doing what God wants a person to do. Anyone who has served in the military or has a boss can agree that without someone in charge, confusion is about all that can be expected. A person must communicate with the leader to get their orders on who how to proceed on an operation so it has a successful conclusion.

Ephesians 6:18-19 (NASB77)

"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, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,...."

Christian application: Prayer is the most effective way to communicate with God. It can be done through reading of the Bible, (when taken in proper context), through the advice and teaching of others, being active in Christian functions, (such as going to church and Sunday School). While there are also other methods, in my opinion, these are the most important.

Putting on who whole amour of God is necessary for the Christian to be totally effective, and it must be put on every day.

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