Wearing God’s Clothing

Last week I shared thoughts about Jesus being our everything.  Whatever we need — He is.  All that He has — we have, too.  When we begin that practice of placing our focus on Him,  peace begins to settle in the storms of our lives, but something else takes place, too.  It is this “something else” that we need to be aware of and take heed.

You see, the devil will not be pleased at your endeavors.  In fact, he will be outraged at your quest to focus on Jesus because he hates Jesus with a passion.  Therefore, we are warned to be careful of attacks from the devil.  James 4:7 reads, “So humble yourselves before God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  

This is a most helpful verse.  Let’s look at it carefully.  First, the dictionary definition of “humble” is this: “to show a modest estimate of one’s own importance.”  Therefore, in the light of this verse, we are instructed to focus, not on our own importance, but as we humble ourselves before God, we are reminded once again, that the focus is, in fact, God Himself.  In other words, our own importance is nothing compared to the greatness of God; and yet, even as we are nothing and He is everything, He loves us and longs to fill us daily with His own power and wisdom.

When we focus on that, what happens?  We find that it is indeed possible to resist the devil and his depressing thoughts and lies.  When we resist him, we are found to be steadfast in our faith in God’s care for us.  That’s a lovely thought but there is something else to remember.  Look at the verse again.  It says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  In other words, he will flee for that moment — but beware! He will return at a later time!

When the devil fails at keeping us from coming to accept Jesus as our salvation, the next thing he attempts is to keep us weak.  He doesn’t want our faith to grow strong.  He doesn’t want us focusing on God’s love for us.  He doesn’t want us to realize that God is our everything to get us through anything.  Therefore, he will keep coming back to tempt us, to lie to us, to get a foot into our door of peace in order to throw in his havoc.

We must resist the devil again and again.  What a tiring thought!  How do we accomplish this?  The answer is found in Ephesians 6:13, “Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil. so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.”  Isn’t that a wonderful verse?  What a terrific instruction, reminding us that if we dress in God’s armor, then the evil darts of Satan cannot penetrate; we will be left standing firm.

What is God’s armor?  That’s found in Ephesians 6:14-17.  They are:  the belt of truth, body armor of righteousness, shoes of peace, a shield of faith, a helmut of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the very Word of God.   Satan is strong but God is stronger.  Therefore, when we are dressed in the armor of God, Satan cannot win.

Remember the story of Jesus in the desert?  He was met by Satan who tempted him powerfully.  How did Jesus resist?  He skillfully used His sword of the Spirit — the Word of God.  What happened?  Satan had to flee.  He absolutely cannot stand against God’s Word.  That’s why it’s vital to our daily peace and joy to skillfully use the Word of God.  We must hide the words in our hearts.  We when do so, we will be ready to draw our swords and fight to victory when Satan attacks.

God’s Word is the only way to constant victory.  All other attempts pales in comparison.  May you dress for battle everyday and may you rejoice in every victory!

 

Who Are You Listening To?

A young woman asked to speak to me last week.  She began to share the hurt and sorrow she kept in her heart.  As she was pouring out her feelings, she made this comment, “I’m just a terrible person; I don’t even know why God loves me.”

Wonderfully, I explained to her, we don’t have to waste time trying to understand God’s deep and unchanging love for us.  He just loves us, bestows His hand of grace and mercy upon us, and is ready to be whatever we need, every single day of our lives.

From the moment we receive Jesus Christ into our lives, the Holy Spirit takes up residence, and begins making us into a new person.  We know that because the Scripture tells us in II Corinthians 5:17, “…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun.”  We still live in a fallen world, and we have an imperfect body, and a mind that is weak to temptation.  Even so, as we make the decision to give God free reign in our lives, then, slowly but surely, we begin to take on the family resemblance of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit in us, shows us our weaknesses, and points us to the strength of God.  The Holy Spirit empowers us to overcome — as we let Him.  Hence, we begin to take on the characteristics of Jesus.  We begin to talk like Him, to think like Him, to seek Father as He did, to love as He loves.  Of course, we trip along the way, but when we fall, we don’t have to stay down; the Holy Spirit leads us to awareness of failure and sin, and then to the joy of repentance and forgiveness.  It’s a joyful journey that molds us more and more into the image of Christ.

Now take heed — Satan is never pleased to see anyone walking in the ways of Jesus Christ.  He hates it, and will do anything to pull the rug of peace out from under our feet.  How does Satan do this?  First of all, let’s remind ourselves that, in Hebrew, the name Satan means, accuser.  Satan is that very thing — a terrible, hateful, lying, accuser.  He never stops whispering in our ears that we are weak, useless, and hopeless,  He tells us that we will never get any better than who we are today.  Satan tells us that we might as well give up, that we will never be as good as others.  His lies go on and on like the torture of constant water drops on the forehead.  It can drive you crazy with feelings of hopelessness, despair, and self rejection.

You see, Satan is everything opposite of God.

God is love.  Satan is hate.  God is goodness.  Satan is evil.  God desires to build you up.  Satan desires to tear you down.  God will always speak truth to you.  Satan will always lie.  God tells you to keep running and don’t give up.  Satan tells you, you’ll never finish the race so give up now.  God seeks to mold you into the lovely image of His own Son.  Satan seeks to snare you into a mind-trap of self loathing so that you are not a lovely image at all.

Satan is powerful; of that there is no argument, but remember this — God is all powerful.  God can never be tricked by Satan, or made weak by Satan.  Remember this, too – God is in us by His Holy Spirit.  Therefore, we have a powerful tool in resisting the evil tactics and lies of Satan — we have everything of God Himself available to us.  We have His strength, His courage, His wisdom, His peace,  and His resolve to press on.

Therefore,  dear brothers and sisters in Christ, if you discover that you have fallen into a trap of self-loathing, feeling like a terrible person, and wanting to quit — I encourage you to ask yourselves — who are you listening to?

If you have unwittingly been listening to Satan, then tell him, in the name of Jesus to get out of here.  He has to flee at the very name of Jesus. “Humble yourselves before God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come close to God, and God will come close to you.”  James 4:7-8  Of course, Satan will come skulking back at some point, so be aware, and then use your tool all over again to resist him.  Call upon the name of Jesus.  Speak the name of Jesus.  Ask the help of Jesus.  Everything of Him is available to us.  Isn’t that amazing?

Pay attention everyday, and know with certainty — who you are listening to.