VIDEO Faith That Defends

Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Ephesians 6:16

The more movies that depict battle scenes between ancient armies, the more we see defensive tactics whereby hundreds of shields are overlapped together to prevent the incursion of arrows. It’s an impressive site and illustrates the value of a shield. (See 1 Kings 22:34-36 where the lack of a shield resulted in death.)

No wonder Paul used the Roman shield to illustrate the power of faith to defend us against the “fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16). Why “fiery” darts? Because often arrow points would be dipped in pitch and set alight before being shot to set fire to whatever they struck. Roman soldiers would soak their leather shields in water to extinguish these fiery missiles when they landed. And why “faith”? How does faith extinguish Satan’s hellish attacks? Because Satan’s attacks are against the character of God—His words and works. When we have faith in God and His promises, as Jesus did when tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), we can extinguish Satan’s attacks.

How is your faith today? The stronger it is, the quicker Satan’s fiery attacks will be extinguished.

Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God. A. W. Tozer


The Armor of God: The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace and The Shield of Faith (Ephesians 6:15-16)

The Jesus Chair

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. John 8:31

When my friend Marge met Tami at a Bible study meeting, she noticed that they seemed to have little in common. But Marge befriended her, and she learned a valuable lesson from her new friend.

Tami had never been to a Bible study, and she was having a hard time understanding something the other women in the study talked about: that God communicated with them—something she’d never experienced.

She so desired to hear from God that she took action. Later, she told Marge. “I set aside an old wooden chair, and every time I study my Bible, I ask Jesus to come sit in it.” Then Tami explained that whenever a verse stood out to her, she would write out the verse in chalk on the chair. It’s become her special “Jesus chair,” and she’s filled it up with God’s messages to her directly from the Bible.

Marge says, “[The Jesus Chair] has changed [Tami’s] life. She’s growing spiritually because Scripture is becoming personal.”

While speaking to Jewish believers, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32). Let’s hold to His teaching, whether it means writing His words on a chair, memorizing them, or seeking to put them into action. The truth and wisdom of Christ’s messages help us grow in Him and set us free.

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

What can you do in a practical way to more regularly take in the wisdom found in the Bible? How does the Holy Spirit help you understand Scripture?

Help me, God, to connect with You more and more through the wisdom You’ve given me in the Bible. And then help me apply what I learn to help me grow more and more like Jesus.

Times of Temptation

1 Corinthians 10:6-13

We all struggle with temptation. In fact, even Jesus was tempted, but He resisted and never sinned. From this, it’s clear that experiencing temptation is not in itself a transgression. However, if we let the enticement take root in our thoughts, we are heading toward sin. Obviously, taking action on a wrong yearning is sinful, but Scripture tells us that entertaining the evil desire is as well (Col. 3:5).

So where does the urge to sin come from? The source is threefold: Temptation comes from our own lusts (James 1:14), the devil (Matt. 4:1), and the world system organized under Satan’s authority (1 John 5:19). Until Christ returns, mankind will live in its current fallen condition—and we will be tempted by self-indulgent pursuits and Satan’s ploys to turn us from the Lord. 

The tempting circumstances we encounter are not unique to us; others have faced similar situations. Although God doesn’t promise to rescue us from all temptations, He limits them and provides a way of escape so we can endure without yielding to sin. 

Whenever something is tempting you, draw near in submission to God and resist the devil (James 4:7-8). Then ask the Lord for the grace and strength to stand firm against sin.

The Incarnation of Christ

“Christ Jesus…being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:5-7)

“Great is the mystery of godliness,” Paul exclaimed as he summarized the incarnation (1 Timothy 3:16). No mere words, even those inspired by God Himself, can completely express what transpired when “the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14). There are, however, a few clues in this marvelous Philippians passage.

The choice of the Greek word morphê to express what Jesus possessed prior to His becoming the God-man is important. This “form” of God is not the Greek word that one would choose to express the visible or outward shape—that word would be schêmaMorphê emphasizes the character, the being, that makes the being what it is.

Interestingly, morphê is also used to tell us that Jesus took on the “form” of a servant: “[He] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). Jesus “voided” the morphê that He rightfully possessed as God and “received” (passive) the morphê of a servant or slave (doulos). Then, “in the likeness [homoiôma, similitude] of men” He came to be [ginomai, to come into existence].

We may never fully understand what transpired in the councils of Triune eternity. But this we can know and believe: Jesus became man for men, and He alone saved us from our sin and justly granted us eternal life. HMM III

The Unpardonable Sin

Mark 3:20-30

THREE of the Gospels (Matt. 12:22-45; Mark 3:20-30; Luke 11:14-36) relate the healing of the blind and dumb demoniac and the controversy that followed. While the people were much impressed, the Pharisees accused our Lord of being in league with the devil. His answer was withering: “If I am in league with Satan, then he is fighting himself. So then, by what power do your exorcists cast out demons?”

He then speaks of Himself as the “stronger man” who binds the devil. Either we are with Christ or against Him: “He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad.” There is no middle ground. Our Lord also gave the parable of the man who cleaned up his house, made a superficial reformation, but ended more demon-possessed than before. Christ, the stronger man, must take the devil’s place in our hearts. The Christian life is not a mere cleaning-up, it is the possessing and filling of the life by Christ Himself. Otherwise it ends worse than it began.

Jesus also declared that since words reveal the heart, they will justify or condemn us in the day of judgment. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. He gave them the sign of Jonah, signifying His death and resurrection. Remember that all depends upon His being raised from the dead. If He rose not, our preaching and faith are vain (1 Cor. 15:14-19).

But what has concerned readers most in this passage is our Lord’s statement about the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which has no forgiveness. Since words reveal the inner state, the blasphemy of the Pharisees in attributing Christ’s work to the devil revealed their inner condition, and it is that inner state, rather than any act, that is beyond forgiveness. The spoken blasphemy is but the expression of the condition of a heart that has become impervious to good—has so long hardened itself against the light and resisted the truth that it regards good as evil. It is possible to reach such a condition in which one is so calloused to the good that it no longer makes any impression. It is not so much that they could not be saved if they wanted to be, or that God refuses to save them, as that they do not want to be saved and manifest no interest whatever. Unfortunately, many people have worried themselves sick thinking they had committed this sin, when the very fact that they are concerned shows they are not in such a condition! The very mark of the unpardonable sin is utter indifference to the light and the pleadings of the Spirit. Those who are guilty are not worrying about it.

But there is here a warning not to resist too long the gospel call. Just as every day one goes barefoot the feet become more toughened, so it is with the soul that tramples daily the grace of God.

There is a time I know not when, a place I know not where,

Which marks the destiny of men to heaven or despair;

There is a line by us not seen which crosses every path,

The hidden boundary between God’s patience and His wrath.

How long may man go on in sin, how long will God forbear,

Where does hope end and where begin the confines of despair?

One answer from the sky is sent, ye who from God depart,

While it is called “today” repent and harden not your heart.

Paul’s Breastplate

“I told you I am He,” Jesus replied.—John 18:8

A feeling, which Satan can arouse in a heart that is unprotected by a spiritual breastplate, is that of a subtle form of discouragement, in which he draws our attention to what other Christians may be saying or thinking about us.

The Apostle Paul was a particular target of Satan in this respect, but see how he used the breastplate of righteousness as his spiritual defense. Paul’s background was anti-Christian, and he could never get completely away from that. He had been the most hostile persecutor of the church, and he must therefore have constantly run across families whose loved ones he had put to death. Perhaps there were many who doubted his claim to be an apostle. Some commentators claim that in 1 Corinthians 15:10, he was replying to such an accusation.

How does Paul react to this criticism? Does he succumb to discouragement? Does he say: “What’s the use of working my fingers to the bone for these unappreciative people? They don’t do anything but hurl recriminations in my face!” This is what the Devil would have liked him to do. But look at what he does. He says: “By God’s grace I am what I am” (1Co 15:10). Can you see what he is doing? He is using the breastplate of righteousness. He is saying, in other words: “I don’t need to do anything to protect myself; what I am is what Christ has made me. I am not standing in my own righteousness, I am standing in His.”

What a lesson this is in how to use the spiritual breastplate. You and I need to learn this lesson, too.

Prayer

O God, day by day I am catching little glimpses of what You are trying to teach me—that the more I depend on Your righteousness and the less I depend on my own, the better off I will be. Help me to learn it—and learn it completely. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 73:1-28; 2Co 5:7-21

What brought discouragement to the psalmist?

How did Paul encourage the Corinthians?

The Best Possible Start

Psalm 118:24

During the football game I am glued to the television on an afternoon to see

how my favorite team is doing. But the editor in me can’t help editing

what the commentators say. I don’t consciously do it; it’s just that they say the most ridiculous things—regularly.

I appreciate that they don’t have time to think about what they’re saying, but they often come out with the same old cliches. One of the reporters will say that a team has gotten off to the “best possible” start. It may be a touchdown after just five minutes. But that does not make it the best possible start. A touchdown after two minutes would have been even better.

Or they might suggest that a team being down by two touchdowns after 10 minutes is off to the “worst possible” start. Well, it’s not. They could, however unlikely, be down by three touchdowns after 10 minutes.

Sometimes it just isn’t possible to find the right words to describe what’s happening, not only on the football field, but also when something spectacular happens, or something affects us deeply. A commentator who saw the Hindenburg in flames above him knew all about that as he ran for his life.

Poets and hymn writers through the years have grappled to find the right way of expressing all kinds of moods and feelings—and they have done it with varying degrees of success.

When it comes to describing what it’s like to discover the love of God, many people have found it hard to put into words. Some might say it has to be experienced to be believed. One songwriter expresses it this way:

But what to those who find? Ah! This

Nor tongue nor pen can show;

The love of Jesus, what it is

None but His loved ones know.

One last thing. To wake up knowing you are in God’s love and care—whatever happens—does really give you the best possible start, every day.

Robert Street, It’s A New Day!