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Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Supernatural Battle - Part Two

You can find part one of this series at this link (click here).

Last week we looked at the supernatural evil that should be obvious from the evidence all around us. Now we turn our attention to supernatural protection, the supernatural armor and weapons given to us by the creator of things seen and unseen.

The Lord of Creation told His first century disciples something His 21st century disciples must forever embrace: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20)

It is in God alone – whom we know as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit –where all supernatural authority and power reside. It is from God alone that His matchless love and mercy and grace emanate toward us.

Perhaps one of the best-known passages of the New Testament dealing with this subject of the supernatural is in the sixth chapter of Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. It is here where the Holy Spirit makes clearest to us what are the defensive gear and offensive weapons God supplies to us.

It is the wisest and the safest followers of Christ who not only know about the armor, but who also practices with them. 

Starting with verse 10 of chapter six, Paul writes: “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 . . . .”

Look back at that first sentence: “Be strong in the Lord.”

Remember: We are not alone in our battle. Like the undetectable radio waves that surround us, we are also surrounded by undetectable supernatural and godly forces. Not only does the Holy Spirit live inside each follower of Christ, but unseen angels never leave our side.

Don’t gloss over that truth.

The psalmist tells us: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and rescues them (Psalm 34:7). Hebrews 1:14 assures us God’s angels are “ministering spirits sent out to render service to those who will inherit salvation” And again, Psalm 91:11  For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.”

Angels surround you. Right now, as you read this essay. As you walk through your day. As you sleep through the night. God’s supernatural angels never leave your side, their swords unsheathed, their eyes watchful, their ears attentive, each sent by our Father and creator of all things visible and invisible to protect us.

You might remember the story of Elisha and his servant in Dothan. The Syrian king was at war with Israel, and Elisha – the protégé of Elijah – was at the top of his list of enemies. When the king learned Elisha was staying in Dothan, he sent his army to surround the city. We pick up the story in 2 Kings 6:15 --

“Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

You are NOT ever alone. Despite your struggles and heartaches, God is in absolute control over your circumstances and mine. You never walk that so-called lonesome valley all by yourself.

So, trust Him. Carry your cross faithfully. Jesus suffered for you. Now He suffers with you in your trials.

Next, Paul tells us about the armor.

Just as no soldier approaches a field of battle in gym clothes, we dare not enter this battle thinking ANY of our own abilities and talents can ever prevail in this supernatural battle. Many of you will recognize these lyrics of Martin Luther’s hymn:

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing: Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He; Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same, And He must win the battle.

Christian, never rely on your own skills and talents to protect you in the supernatural battle. They will always prove useless and fruitless. And so Paul continues: “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth.”

The belt worn by the Roman soldier securely held in place his dagger and his breastplate – the leather or bronze cover that protected his vital organs. If he did not secure the belt close against his body, his weapon and the breastplate would fall away – leaving him defenseless against an aggressor.

That’s why Paul’s analogy of ‘girding our loins with truth’ is so instructive for us. Truth is the foundation of our faith. Truth – not philosophical truth. Not psychological truth. Not my truth. Not your truth.

God’s truth is the only foundation of our Christian faith. If we let truth slip away, if we compromise it, rationalize it, we open ourselves to deadly attack by our enemy.

I can’t tell you how many times during our lives together when I was under some sort of spiritual attack that Nancy helped me through the battle by quoting to me some relevant text of Scripture. Likewise, how often I helped her wend her way through her own spiritual battles by quoting to her God’s infallible and inerrant word.

Without the belt of truth that undergirds our faith we remain in mortal danger of the lurking evil. That’s why Paul wrote to the church at Colossae: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form . . .

The Greek word Paul used here for captive has the idea of being carried off as a prisoner of war.  And that is what happens to anyone who is seduced by humanistic explanations of the supernatural. They become a prisoner of war and lose their ability to stay in the fight.

It has been wisely repeated many times over: The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.  St. Jerome, translator of the Latin Vulgate, exhorted those with ears to hear: Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.  In other words, we can know Jesus only in so far as we know what the Scriptures and the historic teaching of the Church tell us about Jesus – and in so far as we humbly receive His truth.

The equation is so simple, a child can grasp it. The better you know the Scriptures, the better you know the truth. And that truth will set us free – free from fears and doubts and seductions – and yes, free from sin.

Don’t let anyone seduce you into thinking we can accurately know Jesus apart of His word. The heavens declare God’s glory, but only through His word can we ever accurately know the Word-Made-Flesh. That’s why the Holy Spirit, again speaking through the great apostle, tells us Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). 

As I close this first of several essays about our supernatural armor, I hope you will remember at least these four important points:

First: God is in absolute control of the battle AND the battlefield. God reigns with absolute authority over every created thing, seen and unseen.

Second: We are never, ever alone in this battle. The Holy Spirit lives within each believer, and His angels surround us. We are never alone – regardless of how it seems when life’s storms pummel us. Trust God to be true to His promises.

Third: Never rely on your own natural strengths, abilities, talents, wealth, or anything else of this world. There is nothing of this creation that can be effective against the supernatural. Put on God’s supernatural armor every day and keep it on throughout the day.

Fourth: Don’t be seduced into thinking we can accurately know Jesus apart of His word. Purposefully, intentionally, seek truth about God. Learn to love truth about God. And set yourself to live what God says is truth.

Next time we will continue our examination of the other parts of the Christian’s supernatural armor.

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