Chapter 16. Armor Of God Series

16.1. Injustices

Perspective

( Gen. 3:15 ; Matt. 5:10-12 ; Gal. 1:12-13 ; Col. 2:13-15 ) God’s people have been at war with the enemy since the fall. From this point on and for the rest of history, there is a vicious conflict between God and Satan, between those who follow God and those who reject Him. Central theme of Old Testament holy war is that God is present with His people as a warrior. Jesus came as the Divine warrior to rescue His people from the devil himself by waging the greatest war of all: the war against the devil. He did this not by killing but by dying. When Jesus died on the Cross, He incisively defeated Satan and all of his evil hordes.

Hope

( Matt. 24:30-31 ; Rev. 19:11-16 ) Before He died, Jesus told His disciples: that He would return in the future with a full display of power; that He will return to earth as a glorious warrior who will once and for all bring evil to a violent end.

( Eph. 6:10-18 ) Before He comes to end it all, we, in Him, are to stand and fight against the spiritual forces of evil. And that we will have victory only as we allow God to use us realizing that our strength comes only as we put on the ‘armor of God’.

( Matt. 7:5 ; Rom. 7:21-24 ; Rom. 8:18 ) Our Christian growth is a battle against Satan in our own hearts: for we have to battle against our own vicious and destructive thoughts, emotions and actions. The struggle between God and Satan is waged in our very hearts. This is a spiritual battle that is won not by physical but by spiritual weapons: prayer, faith and love. We use prayer as a weapon against our abusers by praying for their repentance. Faith is a deep trust in our Commander-in-Chief, Jesus Christ, who does the battling, which is already accomplished on the cross. And love: we are to love our enemies to the point we move into their lives to open the door of their repentance. Jesus defeated evil by dying on the cross. He shows that the road to victory is through love and sacrifice – not hate or greed.

Change

( Ps. 25:7 ; Jer. 31:34 ; Ps. 103:12 ; Matt. 6:9-15 ; Matt. 18:21-35 ) As Christians we are told to be like God, who does not remember sin but forgives wickedness. Likewise, we are to cancel the debt owed to us, and provide a door of opportunity for repentance and restoration of broken relationships.

( Luke 17:3-4 ) We are not to rebuke unless a sin has been committed, nor are we to forgive unless true repentance has occurred. Reconciliation is not to be withheld when repentance, that is, deep, heart changing acknowledgement of sin and a radical redirection of life takes place in the one being rebuked. Reconciliation is not to be extended to one who has not repented. Forgiveness involves a heart that cancels the debt, but does not lend new money until repentance occurs. Cheap forgiveness – peace at any cost – that sacrifices honesty, integrity and passion is not true forgiveness.

( Rom. 12:16-18 ; 2 Cor. 7:11 ) It is for joy that Paul tells Christians to be at peace with everyone, and develop a desire for beauty and harmony to reside within all of us to see reconciliation to all those who offended us. Our hatred of evil will produce a passion to live righteously in accord with restored relationships.

( Matt. 10:39 ; Luke 6:27-28 ; 2 Cor. 5:18-20 ) We want others to change for our pleasure , convenience and vindication which leads away from restoration. This only deals with the symptoms. God tells us to go beyond, to love our enemies, to do good to those who persecute us. We are to do good as God does to us. We were His enemies, but we were reconciled and commissioned to do as He did.

( Prov. 20:30 ) God’s love may demand change, brings consequences for a failure to change, withholds involvement until harmony is restored, and may hurt another for the sake of a greater good.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

1 Pet. 2:23

Devotion:

BSAF on Matt. 5:3,5,7,9,10,13,14 .

Put-Off/Put-On:

Select verses dealing with ‘vengeance’ particularly involving the characters of King Saul and Ahithophel, advisor to King David, both destroyed themselves with bitterness. Meditate on verses dealing with forgiveness until your heart is changed to enable you to see the other person through the eyes of God. Let God deal with the vengeance part, you deal with the forgiveness part to save your own soul. See verses James 1:19-21 ; Heb. 12:19-21 ; 1 Pet. 2:23 .

Reference: See [3][Allender1] and [4][Allender2] for further reading.

 

16.2. Revoking Revenge

Perspective

( Deut. 32:35 ; Rom. 12:17-21 ) Illicit revenge is making someone pay – Now! – for a real or perceived wrong without any desire for reconciliation. Vengeance is part of the character of God and is not in contradiction with His love and mercy. Revenge involves a desire for justice, to see ugliness destroyed, wrongs righted and beauty restored.

Hope

( Ps. 69:22-28 ; Rom. 2:20-21 ) Our goal is to conquer evil, and this is done by ‘doing good’. However, it is appropriate to pray for a person to be broken, humbled and brought low in order to see their evil destroyed. We pray for the death of arrogance and self-sufficiency.

( Matt. 7:1-5 ; Gal. 6:1 ; Jude 22-23 ) Don’t seek to destroy evil in others until you first seek to destroy evil in yourself. If someone slights or deceives you, then you imply that the same tendency to slight and to deceive is in you. We must live with the on-going work of removing our log without neglecting to remove the specks in the eyes of others. Thus, part of the answer to destroy evil is to do good by rebuking and restoring others after we judged ourselves.

( Luke 6:27-28 ) Evil cannot comprehend goodness for goodness offers life and evil death. Goodness is a force of power that is designed to surprise, supplant, and shame evil. To hate others is to reveal the sin that is in our own hearts. To love godly, one must hunger for restoration plus revoking revenge.

Change

( John 3:16 ; Eph. 4:29 ) We are to restore others as God has restored us. God gave us what we needed and not what we deserved. Likewise, bold love involves feeding those who have done us harm. To honor and worship God, and give glory to Him is for us to respond and meet the needs of others as God has done for us. We die to our own sense of revenge, to get beyond being offended, in order to destroy the evil that is in the other, and open the way for godly responses and actions.

( Luke 6:27-28 ; Rom. 12:9-21 ) Basically, you start doing ‘good’ simply by being thoughtful and kind, looking for ways to serve another, seeking ways to be of help to another in need. Love feels the pain of the offender’s sin and ugliness. To think ill of the person is to be guilty of the same offense-taking care of self and neglecting the other.

( Ps. 140:9-10 ; Rom. 12:20-21 ; Rom. 1:16 ) It takes strength to love and it takes grace of God to love tenderly. Giving love should be with a strength that does not fear the loss of the relationship. Our enemy is anyone who intentionally or unwittingly harms us for his gain. Doing good or heaping coals are means to bring the offender to a point of shame, to surprise our enemy and invite him to deal with his offense. Goodness exposes the nakedness and hunger of the enemy, and offers clothing and food: it shames the enemy and then offers the opportunity for restoration.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

James 1:2-4

Devotion:

BASF on Ps. 142 .

Put-Off/Put-On:

List your failures, your fleshly reactions to offenses of life, the hurts and pains as manifested by defensive coldness, harshness and withdrawal. On the basis of principles stated herein, devise a plan of biblical responses in which God is glorified and the old self put to death. Use Section A.4, “Victory Over Sin Worksheet” for this purpose. Review Rom. 12:9-21 and Section 9.2, “Sin, Self, Suffering” .

16.3. Responding to Difficult People

Perspective

( Rom. 1:16 ; Luke 9:23-24 ; Ps. 1:1-3 ) Doing good is accomplished by words and deeds-by praying and blessing, and by turning and giving. To bless is to give words of life that nourish the soul and deepen its desire for truth. The wisdom to do this must be developed to learn how to apply truth to the differing situations and people we encountered.

Study of God’s word is the only way and means to have wisdom. The godly skill to respond to life is mastered only after the expenditures of heart, soul and strength and mind to grow in ability and performance.

Hope

( James 1:5-8 ; Prov. 18:21 ) “How am I to use my tongue?”…”What should my attitude be to my neighbor?”… “How am I to deal with fools?”… These questions and others as when to hold my tongue and when to speak, how to avoid unnecessary conflicts and how to confront when necessary. To live shrewdly in a fallen world with love and integrity requires much wisdom: God is our source. In any and all situations take a long walk to talk with God, rehearse typical scenes, ponder out loud with God how to handle various relationships. This is prayer: the best way to invite God to use us and to teach us what it means to love boldly.

( 1 Pet. 2:23 ; Matt. 5:38-48 ) The Lord did not use contempt or intimidation to shame and frighten His accusers. Turning the other cheek is to thwart the enemy’s attempt to intimidate and shame by which he controls the situation. Kindness and generosity causes him to stumble because you did not fight or flight. Thus, a gift of grace exposes hatred and rage and invites the enemy to wrestle with his sin.

( Rom. 12:9 ; 1 Cor. 13:8 ; Rom. 8:1 ) Love conquers and love foils the evil person to win. Evil’s strength lies in their ability to dominate. The frustrations of their attempts will weaken their role. But one must be willing, without flinching, to face shame and hatred.

Change

( Heb. 12:1-2 ; 1 Pet. 4:1-2 ) God promises in due season we will yield a harvest of righteous fruit if we keep in mind God’s purposes in the midst of pain. If we desire to know God in the midst of suffering, growth will be our reward.

( 1 Cor. 5:5 ; 2 Thess. 3:14-15 ; Titus 3:10 ) If reconciliation is not possible due to an unrepentant heart, then separation from the individual may be in order. It is not loving to continue an evil relationship with a person who consistently and perniciously sins against you without some sign of repentance and change.

( 2 Chron. 20:12 ; Josh. 1:1-9 ; John 15:5 ) In all evil confrontation, the battle is the Lord’s Who will be with you, for it requires supernatural intervention. It is the mighty God who can change your heart as well as the evil person or the circumstances. Accordingly, you may pray the following:

1.         Pray that the eyes of all who surround these persons be opened to see the situation as it really is.

2.         Pray that their associates will be given ways to speak truth and light into the situation.

3.         Pray that any demonic power within these persons or within the situation manifest itself-that it may be clearly discerned and seen by all the people.

4.         Ask that what can be salvaged (in this situation and in the lives of your enemies) be saved, humbled, blessed by the Spirit of God.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

2 Chron. 20:17

Devotion:

BSAF on Rom. 12:9-21 .

Put-Off/Put-On:

You are to be influenced by the Holy Spirit in all of life’s activities, and not controlled by people or circumstances. Accordingly, select verses on the Holy Spirit, list areas where you are in bondage, meditate on verses that apply to the situation. Study the principles on this sheet, and visualize yourself confronting life in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit. Pray for the health, the wholeness of your enemies. Pray for the salvaging of all that is good, humbled, and true within them.

Note: The key is cleansing and purifying your memory of all offenses to allow the Holy Spirit to occupy the cleansed area and to empower and direct your biblical responses henceforth. Review Section 9.1, “Cleansing and Purifying the Soul” .

16.4. Assaults of Shame, Rage, Hatred

Perspective

( 1 Tim. 4:7-9 ; Heb. 12:5-11 ) Being conditioned by guilt, shame, fear and loneliness and seeking to alleviate the pain by things other than what God proposes, we need to discipline ourselves and restructure our attitudes and patterns of behavior. This to be done in accord to God’s standards by which we pursue a course of personal holiness. We are to worship God first, then we can have healthy relationships with others later.

Hope

( Prov. 1:7 ; Prov. 26:5 ; Col. 1:9-12 ) Knowledge of God provokes a personal response towards what is known and demands a change to whatever would keep deeper knowledge from taking root in the soul. Knowledge points to God and compels change. Realization that what you have been depending upon for security or satisfaction is false and empty and must be replaced. It takes time to fill the void, and we are no longer in control. But God is now in sole control over every area of our life. God’s word is to be rooted in our being gradually filling in the ruts of sin patterns and behavior, and to recreate a pattern of biblical responses to honor God and to please Him.

( Luke 18:18-25 ; John 4:1-30 ) Our hearts need to be exposed to show to ourselves the need for radical change, Jesus confronted both in tenderness (mercifully seeking the other to repent) and strength (not succumb to a challenge of being merciful and tender) and to sustain the pursuit regardless. Confront with a word what is matter-of-fact, strong and benevolent either with self or with others, with emphasis on the freedom of choice.

( 2 Cor. 7:11 ) True repentance will lead to feelings of indignity and anger at the past damage, a desire to make restitution, and a renewed longing for purity and godliness. Repentance without reversal is not repentance.

Change

( James 1:2-4 ; James 3:16 ; James 4:1-3 ) Envy seems to be one of the major causes of conflict and disorder in relationship. The demand of our soul is for satisfaction now or relief rather than to pursue spiritual growth in facing trials and tribulations. To work out our self-centeredness, we are to change our emphasis from self on to God and others.

The task of growth is to pursue real honesty about self, the world and God: no matter what. And not hide behind denial or deceit. Be aware of self defensive and self protective postures for this reveals the ‘old man’ covering himself, refusing to ask for help outside of himself – pride! This is what Adam and Eve did in the garden: they defended themselves by blame shifting rather than to confess and to repent. Accordingly, avoid excusing, justifying self and putting the blame on others.

( Prov. 14:15 ; Prov. 22:3 ; Prov. 27:12 ; 1 Pet. 4:8 ; Prov. 10:12 ) When we cover over sins of others, we make a conscious choice to wait, prayerfully and patiently, for the right moment to deal with an observable pattern of sin. Covering over sin is waiting for the right opportunity for interaction. We should cover over sin unless we are called by God to deal with it directly.

( 1 John 4:20 ) To the extent we face evil, foolishness and simple ways in others, we will see those ways in our own heart. Thus, open our hearts to the relief of forgiveness and the wonder of the meaning of the Cross.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

1 Pet. 4:8

Devotion:

BSAF on 1 Pet. 3:9-18 .

Put-Off/Put-On:

Review 1 Pet. 2,3,4 and 2 Pet. 1:3-11 . This is God’s approach to how we should view life, how to contend with evils of the world, people and circumstances. We must free ourselves of being a victim, and being empowered by the Presence of the Holy Spirit to be a blessing instead of a curse, ( Rom. 6:1-11 ). Accordingly, be renewed in the spirit of your mind and realize that you are a child of God, and not a victim of the world ( James 1:2-4 ).

Use Section A.9, “Contingency Plan” on a daily basis to keep self cleansed and to break self defensive and self protective patterns (excusing, justifying self and blaming others) incurred by slights, resentments, spites, grudges, annoyances, ill feeling, ill will, irritations and the like. If the offenses of life are taken for granted and not dealt with immediately, you will eventually forfeit the grace of God, and allow the noxious weed to grow and poison self and infect those with whom you associate ( Heb. 12:14-15 ).

16.5. Forgiving Enemies

Perspective

( Ps. 66:18-19 ; Luke 11:4-5 ) Repenting of sins, forgiving others their sins against us, and gaining deliverance in temptation, and from the evil one, all of this is central to Christianity. Without forgiveness or freedom from evil, we are subject to sickness of spirit, soul, and, eventually, body as well.

Repenting, forgiving others, and gaining deliverance in temptation are three vital petitions that are to be incorporated in our prayer life. Accordingly, failing to receive forgiveness, to forgiving others, and gaining the great virtue of self-acceptance are three great barriers to personal healing and wholeness.

Hope

( Luke 11:4-5 ; Ps. 139:23-24 ; Ps. 51:6 ; Ps. 32:1-2 ) As we pray as Christ has taught us, we trust Him to shine His light on any unconfessed sin in our lives so that we can repent of it instantly. We also ask Him to show us if we need to forgive others. By faith, we trust His radiance will shine into any space in our hearts and lives – inner or outer, conscious or unconscious – and free us to pursue holiness.

( Mark 11:25 ; Luke 23:34 ) We will benefit greatly by allowing the Lord to shine His light over our entire life. We can do this by taking our life in manageable segments, such as: seven year periods, or early childhood, grade-school years, junior-high years, and so on – and spread before the Lord any memory of our sin or our grievous reactions to the sin of another. In this way we root out unforgiveness, fully confess our sins and carefully receive God’s forgiveness.

Change

( James 1:13-15 ; 1 Pet. 5:8-9 ; Matt. 26:41 ; 1 Cor. 10:13-14 ) Satan is the author of temptation, not God. Satan stimulates our carnal desires which leads to sin and death. Many people, angry with father or mother or church or life and circumstances, transfer their anger to God. Problem of denial, unforgiveness, anger and unbelief need to be dealt with.

Also, we must watch out for worldly desires and things: for power, for pride, for material gains and possessions. We are to give thanks for gifts and things, but we must be watchful for the shift from thankfulness to an idolatrous dependence on things or people.

( 2 Tim. 4:18 ; 1 Pet. 1:5 ) We need to know when to work with God – listening to Him – in the midst of a spiritual battle and to act in the power of His love, righteousness and wisdom. Relying on God we will be ‘kept’ by the power of God. The Lord protects us from the evil that strikes. As it is both through others (human evil) and through demonic spirits that we normally strive by human effort. We are to practice His presence, together with listening prayer. This takes all wrongful striving out and releases our faith.

( Prov. 8:13 ; Rom. 12:9 ) We hate evil but we find grace to forgive those in the grip of evil. We begin by confessing specific sins against us. Hating evil while releasing the evil doer from unforgiveness on our part which means that we not remain under his or her power to destroy us. Instead we gain Christ’s strength to defeat and utterly overcome the effects of that evil on ourselves. We have the privilege in Christ of breaking the power these sins continue to have over us. However, the sinner is not released from his evil deeds, this can be done only by his or her personal repentance.

( Micah 7:6 ; Matt. 5:39 ; Rom. 12:9-21 ) If we are to be victorious in spiritual conflicts we must move forward not only in the knowledge of Christ’s presence with us, but in the gifts of the Holy Spirit as they operate through listening prayer. Speaking the truth in love born of God is the greater part of the gift of battle: the gift of divine love that comes from God’s life within us.

Remember: Christianity is God in the soul of man.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

1 Tim. 6:11-12

Devotion:

BSAF on Rom. 12:9-21 .

Put-Off/Put-On:

Whenever tempted to judge, criticize, gossip, when evil is being done, being sinned against at home, at church or in the world, speak the following Jesus’ Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us” for yourself and for others. You will be a blessing instead of a curse.

Meditate on the following: “Save, O Lord and have mercy upon those that envy and affront me and do me mischief, and let them not perish through me, a sinner”

Steps to take to forgive and to be forgiven:

1.         No matter what others have done to us, we are responsible only for how we acted. We are not responsible for what others do, but responsible for harboring bitterness and withholding forgiveness.

2.         It is our will that directs our actions, not our ‘feelings’. We must choose to forgive and release offenders to God, no longer be their judge.

Method to release offenders:

1.         Make a list of all who offended you.

2.         Beside each name, note the offense, what they did or fail to do, what they owe you.

3.         Visualize the sins cancelled by the Blood of Jesus. Cancel the debt and release them by destroying the list. ( 1 Pet. 2:24 ) Leave it up to God to deal with them.

4.         When thoughts of anger/bitterness come, exercise your authority over them, declare person forgiven, and refuse to thing on the events of the forgiven past. In time, these experiences will become distant memories without the hurt and pain.

Then John 10:10 will be yours.

Reference: See [20][Payne2] for further reading.

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