When we live our life under the proclamation of Christ in order to pursue the path that God has laid before us and to make persistent efforts to no longer stray carelessly into our own meanderings, we conscript ourselves into the ranks of the righteous. The same ranks as the heavenly hosts and legions of God. This proclamation is our assertion that we have not only discerned that there is a battle being waged but that we have chosen a side!
As I was told upon my baptism, we have now proclaimed that we are in the great battle and on the side of God. That we are now likely to face the enemies of God in whatever form they may take and with that, to take heart in the Lord and do not fear because; though we are in battle, the outcome is already determined and we have already won!
Having the salvation of Christ explained in this way should illicit a few responses from an individual who’s heart is changing or has changed for the Lord. It should be utterly exciting and fulfilling to have this knowledge. But it should also be quite scary to discern the scope of what your proclamation is actually saying. You’re saying “Bring it on!!”. You are signing up to go to the front lines. Sure, salvation in Christ is real and complete as soon as your heart invites Him but, once He is in there, he begins to deconstruct the place and rebuild that home into what it was meant to be. This process of rebuilding will have you walking through your life differently than you did before. It can often lead you to unimaginable seasons in your life that only God could provide for and that only faith can move you into. These steps into the unknown; this treading into deeper waters; this planting of roots near living waters; this pruning of the tree to bare spiritual fruit; this washing away of the old is a part of these front lines that we are to face in our service to the Lord.
But take heart in knowing that, in the Lord, we have a number of things that He has provided in order to guide and protect us. We have been given a shield, armor, a weapon and a mission. It is all lined out for us and becomes increasingly clearer as our hearts transform in rebirth.
We are shielded by our faith. It is a shield that has no limit to its strength and yet, can sometimes be broken by our own thoughts. It is an impenetrable protection for us if only we allow it to be. Our faith is the thing that can stand against anything and not take a scratch when it is wielded and trusted with our lives.
Our armor is the word of God. This is the Holy Bible. This is the book that teaches us how to protect the specific things in our lives and how to keep this new heart safe. This armor is as strong as we make it. It is as specifically tailored to each of us as we take the time to allow it to be. When we need to protect our bodies, our hearts, our minds, the armor that we must bare is the word of God and that is done through taking the time to know him and discern the way it lives and breathes for you. You must let the word flow through you and flow out of you. You must be a vessel and by doing this, you armor your whole being with protection unlike anything else.
Our weapon is our testimonies. Not just a testimony but all of them. All of the ways you have seen the Lord move. All of the old ways that you have been rescued from. Who you were, who you’ve become, who you’re becoming are all parts of the alloy that make up the metal that is your weapon. You see? Not one thing in this world can refute your experience with God.
They can refute scripture and the Bible. They can refute your understanding of the Bible and it’s meanings. They can not refute your personal experiences. They can not disprove your experience of God and how you have seen him move. In order to wield this weapon, we must embrace that we no longer have shame in who we were. We must embrace humility in our past. We must embrace accountability and fellowship in ourselves to strengthen the arms in which we wield our weapon. All of this must be embraced so that you can stand firm, without shame and share your testimonies with boldness. Each time you do, you are striking your weapon. Your discernment allows you to learn when and where to strike, how deep to cut, how hard to hit, or how gentle to be. This weapon can be unstoppable and unbreakable!
So with all of these, we are armed to the teeth and will be quite a force standing in the ranks of God’s army! So what is the mission then? The mission is not to defeat the enemy because, the word tells us that it is already done. Our mission is to go and make disciples for Christ and the way that we do that is by living our lives within this world fully suited up and prepared for battle. But know this, our two greatest laws are still what they have been since Christ. Love the Lord God with all of your heart, mind, and soul and; love your neighbor as yourself.
I want you to see the picture I am painting with these explanations because it is vital to drive the next points home. And though some of these may be difficult to face, acknowledging our shortcomings and facing them head on is how the Lord is able to act as our blacksmith for the sword, shield, and, armor we have.
You see, we face our enemy in this life and though that term is often misused and is a scapegoat for many of our own shortcomings; let’s not forget that, according to the word, an entire third of the hosts and legions over this world and the heavens fell with Lucifer. Do not mistake this enemy for stereotypical demons with red flaming pitchforks. These enemies are spirits and angels created by God and are those who sided with Lucifer in deciding that their own efforts deserved liberty, praise, and glory in place of the praise and glory that belonged to God. This should help to create the view of just how cunning and deceptive our foes can be. They are not mindless little minions that are usually depicted and inflamed in stories. They are much more than that and you have just stepped up to the front lines to face them in the name of God!
Though this battle is a universal one and we have conscripted ourselves in the name of God, our role is not to wage any war that we could relate to human warfare. Our role is to stand firm and bring as many other humans into our ranks as possible. Remember, the battle being waged is already won!
But think of yourselves as rescue lines, medics, lifelines, or any other role that is responsible for making sure that your army does not leave anyone behind. You are to go into the battlefield, see your brothers and sisters and keep them safe as you help them to suit up. Bring them back to the Lord!
At the risk of being long-winded here, I think I have painted the picture I need you to see before I can start to explain the nature of what needs to be said.
You have claimed your salvation, you have suited up with the shield, armor, and weapons of the Lord and you know what your mission is. You even know that you have already won! So…
Why are you acting in defense against your enemy? Why are you not boldly and vigilantly acting in offense? Why is it that we are so quick to pass off the cracks in our armor as an attack from this enemy to whom we have already defeated? It is absurd to hear how we are being attacked and being lead astray in this life when the reality is that our enemy doesn’t even stand a chance against us when we know our place.
I mentioned earlier that we need to allow God to be our Blacksmith. To be the one who reforges, strengthens, and repairs the damage and cracks in our armor, our shield, and who can sharpen our blades. You see? Living in this world for Christ will ALWAYS result in your suit of armor gaining damage. If not for our pride and arrogance, this would be of no concern because, we would have no issue in bringing it to God and allowing him to repair and strengthen it.
Let’s take a simple example and run with it a little bit. Let’s say that a man named Thacker came to Christ, committed his life to Him and suited up as his heart was transformed and began to walk into the front lines. Let’s say that Thacker was previously unfaithful to his wife and has since repented to her and to God, and has become a new man all in the name of Christ! It should be very easy to understand why Thacker would not want to share the details of who he was before because as a new man, he would find that his old self was behaving in a way that is now humiliating and embarrassing. He would fairly think that sharing those parts of himself with others would make him less credible to them and maybe he would seem like a hypocrite for his past. Because of this, Thacker only shares that he was lost in the depths of darkness and perversions and that Christ saved him. He would read the Bible and know how it empowers him through the world and he would establish his Faith in God to be his shield.
At first glance, Thacker would appear to be much like all other Christians and could approach those front lines. But, he would soon begin to find trouble because, as he engaged in battle by sharing a vague testimony that spares him embarrassing and humiliating potentials, he is not well heard and in this analogy, his sword would not be very sharp. Because his sword is not sharp, he reaches out to protect and find souls for God and they are seeming to slip from his grasp. There is something that is failing to connect him to his brothers and sisters on a personal level. This alone can begin to skew his understanding of the mission and his role. This can add complications to loving your neighbor as yourself when they do not appear to want to engage. But no bother, Thacker is still protected and wielding his shield. So, he carries on.
Continuing in the front lines in reality looks like Thacker being in the world. Being among his brothers and sisters who are lost and coming along side them to share his story and the love of Christ. But being in the world comes with risks of being corrupted or deceived if not well guarded. In this case, Thacker is guarded but, his past is still his. It hasn’t been released. As a sort of side effect to this, Thacker has not illuminated the parts of himself that lead him to those acts in the first place. Thacker is a new Man in Christ but, he has not let go of the shame and guilt that is responsible for keeping his story so vague to strangers and preventing him from really relating to and reaching those in a similar path. With that; Thacker finds himself in the world among other women who he considers beautiful. No big deal…
But Thacker, who hasn’t released himself, now has no one to go to in order to help him when he realizes that his glances have become stares and that his mind has begun wondering at the sight of a beautiful woman. Since he hasn’t shared or been open about his past, he is afraid to admit that he may be struggling. This is the first crack in the breast plate of his armor. At this point, releasing this all to God would result in God relieving Thacker of the burden of shame and guilt and in turn, strengthen his armor and sharpen his weapon. But instead, Thacker refuses to acknowledge that he has taken a hit. He refuses to check his armor and just assumes that the armor of God is as impenetrable as intended. So Thacker marches on with damaged armor and a dull blade. He continues to battle at the front lines and all the while, does not realize the crack in his armor has become a vulnerability and that his weapon is hardly piercing the skin of the enemy. His testimony is not reaching people as he expected, his righteousness has started to shift into self-righteousness and his pride has prevented him from seeing the damage he has taken. All of this in reality looks like a man with wondering eyes, proclaiming the name of Jesus and evangelizing but not sharing his own experience of his past and how God recreated him. He is unable to find confidence in fellowship that would help remove the scales from his eyes.
So, Thacker walks along the front lines unaware of his state of being when suddenly, a real and immediate attack comes in and lands a blow right where the crack in his armor is. It staggers him and as a result, his shield drops…
Thacker now has a significant wound and appears to be unarmed and unshielded. In reality, perhaps Thomas was able to be seduced by another woman and was unable to fight the temptation.
-I do not want to portray this as Thacker having permanently lost anything. Regardless of the circumstance and our life, all of us will find ourselves in a similar situation as Thacker but with various different sources of the cracks and dull blades. I use this example to highlight the process of how we tend to behave as human beings who still hold onto our pride and try to avoid humility and how we can be unaware of the detriment it is actually causing.-
Thacker is now left prone in battle and may feel hopeless or even unworthy to fight because of all this. It may be his own will, Gods will, or another brother in Christ who comes to him and says “Get up! Do not just settle to be prone and broken! You are chosen for this battle and though you have fallen, you only need to give it all over to God to be restored” this appeal empowers Thacker to get up and take himself to the feet of our Lord and cry out for His mercy. Because God is endless mercy, Thacker is able to be fully restored to fight again.
But let’s consider this: Thacker appealed for mercy at the feet of the lord with a severe flesh wound, broken armor, dull weapon, and a lost shield all caused by our enemy. Let us take a moment to praise God for the restoration he can give in this situation!
But, let’s also dissect this a little bit. Did Thacker suffer an attack from the enemy? Yes he did. Did it stagger him and lead to his disabling for a time? Yes.
Did it need to? No, it did not. You see, had Thacker ensured his weapon was sharpened and refined, he would have been enabled to fully and boldly share his testimony. With sharing the embarrassing or humiliating details, he may have received a small bit of unrighteous judgement but he would have also found fellowship with others who can walk with him. He would have been able to establish or join a sort of militia in his testimony and thus, have levels of accountability that could help him monitor his status. Then, once a crack was apparent, he would have had no shame in admitting that his eyes may be wondering, he would be encouraged to take it to God and have that crack repaired and it would have eliminated the vulnerability that later enabled him to be wounded.
Even if he had not sharpened his weapon, having humility to admit when he was stumbling could have led him to give the armor over to God and have it repaired before the vulnerability arose. Any way he could have chosen to give it over to God, He would have been there to act as blacksmith, healer, tailor, and comforter. Just as he did when Thacker finally did bring to Him.
Without the pride of himself and shame of his past, Thacker very likely would have endured the later attack and would not have been vulnerable. It very well could have been an attack that he shielded and never even became aware of the detriment he avoided. Consider that often, the small attacks we face can result in a staggering blow if we are not well suited for battle.
You see, often times, the attacks that hurt us are not because they are substantially strong or even detrimental but rather, they are focused and precisely honed into our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. So, when we do not acknowledge our faults or shortcomings in our faith and our walk, we stride with vulnerabilities and when attacks come, they seem to be abnormally strong. The result is that we continuously live in a defensive state about our faith and our life and we give power and credit to an enemy who is not even a worthy foe when we are properly tending to our protection in the Lord.
Here is the rebuke.
Stop living in a defensive state. Take care to tend to the sharpness of your weapon and the integrity of your armor. Do not let your pride walk you into battle with faulty armor because when you do, you will be struck in that blind weakness. Instead, be bold about who your are! Be bold about who you’ve become and glorify God for it! Do not let shame and pride dull your blade! Do not let your arrogance allow you to ignore the cracks in your armor and instead, take it all to God at the slightest sign or wear or damage. Take a position of offense and be diligent in your purpose!
But do not take this position of offense to mean that you are to be in offense to your brothers and sisters. Remember that you are to seek them in the name of the Lord and bring them to Christ. Rather, your offensive battle stance should be a paragon of our Lord and Savior and it should be a shining beacon to any who would come against you and therefore come against the Lord. But for any who wage this battle against those who have fallen, know this; your heart is the fulcrum of this whole situation. You must allow your heart to be rebuilt in Christ!
This new heart creates a new man and that is why you should have no shame and therefore not stray from humility! Your testimony in who you were before is a story of a man who is no longer with us. It is no longer relevant whether or not that man’s past is embarrassing or shameful because you have been forgiven and reborn as a new creation. So embrace that! Allow it to equip you in the manner in which the Lord has ordained for you! Know your worth, know whose you are, keep your shield fixed, bare your armor and wield your weapon because you are on the side of a battle won!
That doesn’t mean you cannot be hurt and that you cannot defect yourself or be defected through trial and turmoil.
Because of this truth, you must be ever Battle Ready!
Guest Discerning Dad
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