Satan can relentlessly bombard our minds with impure thoughts, and if we chose to dwell on these thoughts, they would form an impure image in our minds. We will then feel pressure (i.e., lust) to satisfy this image via some form of sin (James 1:14,15). If we follow through in obedience to this temptation, we are actually performing an act of worship to that image (i.e., the idol) in our minds. Recall, we were commanded not to worship idols (1) due to the spiritual law that whatever we chose to worship, we fellowship and join with, resulting in becoming just like what we are worshipping over time (Exodus 20:4. Psalms 115:4-8). This is a wonderful law when we worship the only true God as it causes us to become increasingly like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18. 1 John 3:2). However, as we submit to the impure image or idol in our minds, then we are actually fellowshipping with and becoming like the demons that are tempting us! (Psalms 106:36,37. 1 Corinthians 10:19, 20).
Furthermore, by yielding to this sin, we will create a satanic foothold in our lives from which a satanic stronghold can develop over time (Ephesians 4:27. 2 Corinthians 10:4,5). Once a stronghold has developed, you will find yourself almost unable to stop thinking about the sin, and your lifestyle will change to support your stronghold. A sign that you have a stronghold in your life is that you have no peace, not doing the sin, and you have no peace once you have done it. Sadly, if you do not escape this stronghold, something will eventually die (e.g., a relationship, your career, your ministry, your wife, your children, you, etc.) (James 1:15. John 10:10. Romans 6:23).
So, what can we do to prevent satanic footholds from forming, thereby preventing satanic strongholds from developing in our lives? We can start by dressing for spiritual success! That is, we as Christians must put on the spiritual armor (1) of God so that we can withstand the weapons of our enemy Satan! (Ephesians 6:11) We do that by learning by (spiritual) heart the following fundamental or foundational teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as portrayed by the armor of God (Ephesians 4:24).
Remember, in school, we learned things by heart by first memorizing them with our brain but then persisted in saying them until we could quote them without even thinking about it (i.e., we learned it by (spiritual) heart (1)). We must do the same thing with scripture that addresses these fundamental teachings. Realize that the Apostle Paul was in prison in Rome (Ephesians 3:1;4:1;6:20) while teaching on this subject, so he used a Roman soldier’s armor as an object lesson to help us understand its importance (Ephesians 6:11-18).
Again, we put this armor on by learning by (spiritual) heart Bible verses that support our understanding of the following six armor pieces that represent foundational teachings of the Bible. Note that each of these pieces of armor is designed to neutralize Satan’s most successful strategy, which is causing us to fear rejection by God (Genesis 3:1-8), fear rejection (1) by others (which can lead to us preemptively reject them before they can reject us) and ultimately self-rejection. If you fear rejection by God, rejection by others, and ultimately reject yourself, then you are without God and without hope in the world and indeed very vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks (Ephesians 2:12. 1 Peter 5:8).
Rejected people, reject people, and easily feel rejected by others. Rejected people look for something to comfort this feeling of rejection, and Satan offers more sin (realize sin is what caused us to feel rejected in the first place!). While this may provide false comfort via temporary pleasure (Hebrews 11:25), it does not remove the feelings of rejection and make us whole. God alone can bring us true comfort that removes the feelings of rejection and makes us whole! (2 Corinthians 1:3,4)
Belt of Truth (Ephesians 6:14) The truth that holds everything together like a belt is that God is grace, mercy, and compassion, and He is for us and not against us (Exodus 34:6,7.Romans 8:31). That we are accepted not based on our performance but our FAITH in Jesus’ sinless performance (Ephesians 2:8,9). That we never have to hide from God when we sin but instead turn to Him to be cleansed of it (1 John 1:9). He is not holding out on us (i.e., not rejecting us) but has already given us everything He has, including Himself! (Romans 8:32.2 Peter 1:3,4). These things are always true, which means that they are TRUTH (Hebrews 13:8).
Breastplate of Righteousness (Ephesians 6:14. Isaiah 59:17) Our spiritual heart is protected knowing Jesus entered an exchange at the Cross of Calvary where He took our sin so that we might have His righteousness or right standing with God (i.e., we can stand right with God at His throne!) (2 Corinthians 5:21.Hebrews 4:16. 1 Thessalonians 5:8). This means we are as righteous as Jesus Christ is righteous! (1 Corinthians 1:30). This righteousness is not something we have earned but instead received by FAITH as a free gift (Romans 3:21-26;5:17;6:23). Consequently, we cannot lose this righteousness by our poor performance! Realize, when we sin, it is between Jesus and us and is none of Satan’s business! If we repent (i.e., realize that sin hurts our fellowship with God, change our mind to stop doing it with God’s help, and align with what God has said about it – that sin kills), then He is faithful to forgive the sin and to cleanse us from all the unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Nevertheless, the sin did not make us unrighteous, just like dirt that gets on sandaled feet does not make a freshly bathed body dirty – only the feet have dirt on them (John 13:10).
Sandals of the preparation that comes from the Gospel of Peace (Ephesians 6:15) We will not slip, trip or stumble due to wondering if God is angry with us because the war for mankind’s eternal fate is over! (Isaiah 54:8,9) God’s just wrath against sin has been fully satisfied having been released in full upon Jesus at the cross (Isaiah 53:4,5,10,11. Colossians 1:20). Consequently, the price for man’s sin has been paid in full by the God-Man Jesus Christ at the Cross of Calvary, thus canceling it (i.e., making it as if we never owed the debt!) (Colossians 2:13-15;1:13,14). We have peace with God, and the offer is available to all that will by FAITH accept it – the free gift of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ! (Acts 2:39. Ephesians 2:8,9. Romans 10:9,10,13)
Shield of Faith (Ephesians 6:16) The shield of FAITH stops the fiery thoughts of Satan that attempt to undermine our relationship with God. Note that all the other pieces of this armor are worn by FAITH, too. So how do we put it into use? When a fiery thought of the enemy comes, such as God is not pleased with you because you are not doing enough for Him (i.e., a works-based “condemnation” message), the shield goes up by doing what Jesus did when He was tempted by Satan (Luke 4:1-13). That is to say: “It is written” and finish with scripture that addresses the area of temptation. In this temptation, the following scriptures would work nicely to run off the tempter: Romans 8:1. Ephesians 2:8,9. Hebrews 11:6 ,etc. However, we must remember that to operate in faith, we must be living in the love of God (Galatians 5:6). That is because fear is the opposite of faith in God, and it is chased away by living in the love of God (1 John 4:18).
Helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:17. Isaiah 59:17) Our minds are protected and can be kept in perfect peace knowing that we can trust God to always be there for us (Isaiah 26:3. 1 Thessalonians 5:8). We know that nothing can separate us from God and that He desires to be with us forever! (Romans 8:38,39. Hebrews 13:5,6) That we never have to be anxious because God is more than enough for any and all situations and has already made provision for all of our needs in Christ Jesus! (Philippians 4:6,7,19) By not being anxious, we avoid the side effect of depression (Proverbs 12:25). Because God has saved us completely through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), we can always have hope no matter the darkness of our personal situation in life (1 Thessalonians 5:8). Furthermore, what we have hoped for becomes a reality when activated by faith (Hebrews 11:1).
Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), The sword of the Spirit, is wielded by saying the word of God – that the Holy Spirit prompts us to say – from our spiritual heart (Ephesians 6:18. Luke 12:12. Revelation 19:15). Note this is the “Sword of the Holy Spirit,” not our sword. That is, the Holy Spirit attacks the enemy of souls when we say from our spiritual heart the Word of God He brings to our remembrance (2 Corinthians 10:4,5. John 14:26). This is the same way we operated the shield of faith; however, the sword is an offensive weapon where the shield is defensive. The sword of the Spirit is sharper than any two-edged sword, and this double-edged sword is designed for stabbing the enemy to their death. (Judges 3:16-22. Hebrews 4:12,13)
In conclusion, to have the armor of God on, we must spend time studying and memorizing the Bible until we know it by (spiritual) heart (2 Timothy 2:15). An excellent way to learn scripture by (spiritual) heart is to say it over and over to God out loud in prayer! (Isaiah 55:10,11) Over time, we will find that this will change how we think and respond to the events in our lives (Romans 12:2). We will also cultivate our relationship with the Holy Spirit, and it is He who will cause us to live according to the Word of God and not the flesh (Ezekiel 36:27. Galatians 5:16. Isaiah 58:8). It is He who empowers the Word of God coming out of our spiritual hearts to rout the enemy! (James 4:7. Psalms 149:5-9. Romans 16:19,20) Lastly, we have also learned that we must walk in love and have hope activated by faith to wear the armor of God! (1 Corinthians 13:13)
ABCs of Overcoming Temptation series:
- The ABCs of Sinless Christian Living
- ABCs Part I: Avert Your Senses!
- ABCs Part II: Battle Lustful Thoughts
- ABCs Part III: Cling to Christ
- ABCs Part IV: S.W.A.T
(Peace, Wholeness, Success)
Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. (3 John 2 NET)
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