Spiritual Attacks: Putting on the Armor of God

Christians are fighting a daily battle. Not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness. Believers do battle with fallen angels called demons, lead by the chief enemy of God, Satan. These enemies of God and of ours attack believers on a consistent basis. What can Christians do to arm themselves against these spiritual attacks? How can a believer fight off theses spiritual attacks? God has provided a way. It is found in the Word of God – the Bible – and it is there that we can “armor up”, so to speak, against the Prince of the Power of the Air (Satan).

Spiritual Attacks Putting on the Armor of God

The best defense against temptation is a good offense and the offensive weapon is the Sword of the Spirit (the Bible).

The Armor of God

We are told that we must put on the armor of God to be able to defend ourselves against the schemes of the Devil (Eph. 6:9). Paul, having been under arrest so often by the Roman authorities, was highly familiar with the Roman Soldier’s apparel. He thought it was the perfect analogy for the Christian in their fight against the invisible enemy of darkness. The Bible describes just what the armor of God is in Ephesians 6:10-17:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The Belt of Truth

The Belt of Truth is the belt that fastens up the believer in the only Truth there is in this world. Jesus Christ is the truth, the life, and the way (John 14:6). There is no other truth that is more absolute than the Word of God (the Bible). We can put it this way: Jesus is the Word and the Word is Jesus (John 1:1,14). The truth is something that we can stand firm on knowing that God can not lie and has promised to deliver us and not one of us will be lost (John 6:37, 10:28-29). We can stand firm if we are in Christ (II Cor. 1:21). Paul says that we stand firm only “with the belt of truth buckled around your waist”(Eph 6:14). The Roman soldier had a belt and when he prepared for battle, he girded up his loins with his belt. That is he pulled up his lhong garment and tucked it in so that he could more easily do battle with the enemy, not trip over his clothing, and not be encumbered by his accessories. This enabled his to stand firm and hold his ground to fight. The truth will not only set you free, but it allows us to be on guard, to be courageous, and to be strong (I Cor. 16:13). The world can not buckle this belt because they do not have the truth.

The Breastplate of Righteousness

The Breastplate of Righteousness is the righteousness that comes from ooin Christ. It is truly the righteousness of Christ that has been imputed to us on account of His righteousness. If we had our righteousness to protect us we would be in great danger. Fortunately, Jesus Christ’s righteousness is imputed to those who trust in Him as it says in Hebrews 10:10,14; “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.“ The world does not have this and so they have no defense against wicked spirits. When we are born-again, the literal translation means “born from above.” The meaning is clear; we are born of God by the Holy Spirit to be a possession of His forever. We are only given this grace by the placing of our sins on Christ Himself and we are accounted righteous before God because of the perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God. The wrath of God has been removed and when we stand before God He will declare us “not guilty” because our Advocate has paid for our sins with His own life. Those who are not saved do not have this breastplate to protect themselves on the day of judgment; the Great White Throne Judgment that is coming for those who do not believe in Jesus (Rev. 20).

The Sandals of Peace

The so-called Sandals of peace is the readiness and inner-peace that comes from knowing that “He Himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:14-15). It is called the “gospel of peace” for this reason (Eph. 6:15). Christians are at peace with God because “we have been justified through faith” (Rom 5:1). We have this peace with God only through our Lord Jesus Christ. Before we were saved we were enemies of God as Paul attests to in Romans 5:10, “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” John 14:27 shows us this peace that comes from Christ, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.“ The world can not have this peace as it says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The Shield of Faith

The Shield of Faith is a must to fight off the fiery darts from the devil (Eph. 6:16). Shields in the 1st century were a combination of cloth and wood. These shields were then soaked in oil. This oil was not a flammable oil but an oil that would quench the flaming arrows that were frequently used during battles. The oil could easily represent the Holy Spirit. The shield of faith is the faith that is placed in Jesus Christ. There is no greater faith in all the universe. If it were our faith, then this shield could easily be penetrated by doubts and fears, for alone we are no match for the Devil and his fallen angles (demons). However, when a person places their faith in Christ, this means that they place their full assurance in Christ; they fully rely on, they totally lean upon, and have a complete trust in Christ Himself. Non-believers have only their own faith to protect them. It is a frail, feeble, untrustworthy faith – a worldly faith. It is a hope-so faith and not a know-so faith that is only found in Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:20). The world’s faith at best can only be in their job, in their bank account, in their stocks or retirement funds. The faith that believers have in Christ is secure and eternal and no moths, rust, or decay can touch it – it is safe from robbers nor can any stock market crash effect it (Matt 6:19-21).

The Helmet of Salvation

The Helmet of Salvation goes over the head. I believe it is meant to protect knowledge of the security of our salvation. This helmet fits over the head and therefore covers the intellect. Not only can the devil not take our life (Job 1:20) but he can not touch our imperishable crown. Everything on this earth is perishable but the imperishable crown is protected for eternity as Paul says in I Corinthians 9:25, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” The knowledge of our salvation should help us endure the afflictions and persecutions of this world. Paul is encouraging us by writing in II Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Isn’t this a wonderful thing to know? We are secured for eternity and it is not temporary like that of the world. It is eternal and makes the temporary troubles seem trivial in comparison (Rom 8:18).

The Helmet of Salvation (this knowledge) should help a believe when they start having doubts about their own salvation, if they are truly saved or not, or to think that they are not worthy to be saved. The enemy will use doubts and self-condemnation to attack the believer that does not have this helmet. One way to tell if it is the Holy Spirit convicting a believer or the Devil that is condemning them is that the Holy Spirit will not condemn but convict. The Devil will put in thoughts into the believe mind that they are not worthy, or that they are just pretending to be a Christian but really aren’t one. That is the enemies tactic and why it is so important to have the Helmet of Salvation adorned. Those who are not Christ’s own can not wear this helmet since they do not have this knowledge.

The Sword of the Spirit

The Sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon that the Christian has at their disposal to fight off the enemy. Jesus used the Word of God (Scripture) to resist and fight off the Devil in the Temptation in the Wilderness. In Luke chapter 4, Jesus is tempted by the Devil. In Luke 4:3-4, “The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.” Again in verses 5-8, “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” Finally in verses 9-12, “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Three times the Devil tried to tempt Jesus and each time Jesus used the Word of God. The best defense against temptation is a good offense and the offensive weapon is the Sword of the Spirit (the Word of God – the Bible). Putting it this way, if you get into the Word of God, the Word of God will get into you. I heard a pastor once say, “Show me a worn out Bible and I’ll show you a strong Christian.” David knew the value of hiding the Word of God in his heart. It helped him endure for so many years running for his life from King Saul. The Devil knows the truth but he hates it. When you feel temptations coming on or feel spiritual attacks hitting you, then reading or praying back Scripture is the most effective weapon there is. The Word of God is the very power of God Himself. It is alive, active, and powerful. The unsaved do not have this at their disposal.


Satan’s Ministers

Satan actually has ministers and many of them are behind the pulpits. Even the Devil can appear as an angel of light. Paul says that there are “false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness” (II Cor 11:13-14). Paul was “afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough” (II Cor. 11:3-4).

Any church that does not preach about the divinity of Christ, that He came in the flesh, was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, and shed His blood to redeem fallen humans on the cross of Calvary is a false gospel and is not from God ( I John 2:22-23, II John 1:7-11).

Satan’s Prime Targets

Satan does not concern himself with the world. He is not interested in them because they are already headed down the broad path of destruction. Those who do not believe in Christ do not need persuasion to sin. They are already held captive by the god of this world (II Cor 4:4). He also may not waste much time attacking so called carnal Christians. Those believers who live in a way that is not growing in grace, in holiness, and in the knowledge of the Lord God are no threat to the Devil. No, those who Satan sees as his arch enemies are those who are trying to live a holy life. He particularly hates those who are sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though he has already been defeated, he focuses his energy and sends his demons against those who are actively proclaiming Jesus Christ as the one and only way to heaven.

Spiritual attacks seem to most frequently occur at times of personal growth in the believer, when a Christian is overcoming a major sin or addiction, and when they are sharing their faith in Jesus in Jesus Christ with others. We give far too much credit to the Devil. Remember that he was a created being and can never be God’s equal. Neither is he omnipresent; that is he can not be in different places at the same time. He is not omniscient either so he can not know your heart or mind like God can. He has been defeated by Jesus Christ and Satan can do only what God allows or permits him to do and not one bit more. He is within God’s sovereignty in everything he does (Job 1).

I believe that spiritual attacks may be on the increase. Christians feel that the way this world is going that they may be living in the last days before Jesus Christ returns. Although no one knows the day nor the hour of His return, we can clearly see the signs (Matt. 24). Satan must also realize that his time is running out before Jesus Christ returns to bind him and toss him into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10). If you are not a believe in Jesus Christ, your fate will be sealed on the day of His return (Rev. 20:12). Today it is still not too late to come to saving faith in Jesus Christ (II Cor 6:2). If you are not a believer in Him, then you will have the same ending as the Devil himself – but for those who have been saved by grace through faith, they have already won the victory over sin, over death, and over the Devil. There’s victory in Jesus, but only death -eternal death – by rejecting Him. I pray you will join the other victors to live for eternity with God in the joy of fellowship and relationship. It will be the end of death, sorrow, pain, and suffering, but just the beginning of an everlasting joy that can not even be described (Rom 8:18).

Signs You Have A True Friend In Someone.

A Matter of Trust

If you have told your friend something in confidence and never heard it from anyone else, that’s a great sign of a true and trusted friendship. Friends confide in one another, and we can tell our innermost secrets, faults, and sins without fear of them telling others. If you feel like you can tell them anything and have not one bit of concern they’ll tell anyone else, you have a true friend, and they are such a blessing. That’s also someone you want praying for you, isn’t it? I have such a friend as this, whom I love so much.

Through Thick and Thin

If you’ve been through some real adversity and it seems everyone else blames you for your troubles but not your friend, that’s a true friend indeed. A friend in need is a friend indeed, and if your friend comes to you while they’re in a hard place and you do the same for them, you have a real friend there. Even when all others forsake you, your true friend never will. Hold onto that friendship with all your might.

Not Judging You

The truest of friends will tell you the truth, as the proverb says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6), but they won’t judge you for your faults. If they’re honest, they must admit that they, too, have faults, so they won’t be too quick to judge you because they know you well enough to understand that it could happen to them, too. A real friend will give you the benefit of the doubt (1 Cor. 13:7) and never assume the worst but always the best.

Listens Without Interruption

I hear some people say to someone else what they’re going through, and even before they finish their sentence, the other person interrupts and says, “You think you’ve got a problem, listen to what happened to me.” A real friend will let their friend finish their sentence without interrupting. They’ll just sit and listen and wait for them to finish what they are saying. A true friend doesn’t interrupt, and they let the person say all that they need to before they say something themselves. No one wants a conversation hog where all the talk is like a one-way street.

Conclusion

If you want to read about true friends, read Proverbs chapter 27. It says a lot about real friends. Friends are those you can trust with your deepest secrets. They stay with you in the good and the bad times. They don’t judge you unfairly. Even when it looks like you’re in the wrong, they give you the benefit of the doubt, and they are good listeners. Are you such a friend? I covet such friendship.

7 Ways To Know An Open Door Is From God

It Points to God’s Glory

No door that God opens will ever contradict Scripture. For example, a man who thought he was supposed to divorce his Christian wife in order to spend the rest of his life in mission work overseas is not from God and not supported by Scripture. This man could easily go and do missionary work overseas and not have to divorce his wife, or he could see if she wanted to go with him. Instead, he got an unbiblical divorce, so how is supposed to witness for Christ when he is contradicting the Bible and disobeying Jesus’ command to not divorce except for sexual immorality? Clearly, that is not God’s will because loving God means obeying His commandments (2 John 1:6). If someone says they know Him but doesn’t keep His commandments, he is not of God (1 John 2:3), and God calls him or her a liar (1 John 2:4). Obedience to God glorifies Him.

Confirmation From Others

Jesus is the one “who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens” and sets before us “an open door, which no one is able to shut” (Revelation 3:8-9). If the door won’t open for you, then that door may not be the one God wants you to walk through. Jimmying the lock or trying to break the door down won’t work.  Just pray for God to reveal to you which door you are to walk through and make it obvious to you so you’ll know for sure.

The Door Makes You Utterly Dependent on Him

If you can manage to go through a door and not need God’s help for anything, then you might be walking through a door in your own flesh and depending on the strength.  If you’re not depending on God to open a door, then you are depending on your own self.  That’s a bad plan, and I ought to know; I’ve done it!  God wants us to be totally dependent upon Him because any work we do is for Him anyway and for His glory. Jesus said we can’t do anything without Him (John 15:5).  We can’t even produce any fruit without Him, unless it’s wax fruit  (John 15:4).

The Door Opens by Itself

I touched on this briefly in the second paragraph, but this is a bit different. You know the automatic doors you find at the stores? These doors open because they have an electronic eye and they can sense movement. In the same way, we might have to simply walk right up to the door that’s shut before we’ll know whether God’s going to open it or not.  God may not open a door until He sees you walk right up to it.  He may be waiting for you to “go” before you can “enter.” Perhaps He’s waiting for you to take that first step of faith.

Bonus Content

Lines up with Scripture

If what you are sensing is an open door, and it’s not against biblical teaching, it could be God doing this. One lady who said the Lord told her to divorce her husband so she could become a missionary doesn’t know Scripture because God is against divorce and God would never contradict His own Word, so if what you are doing is what the Bible teaches, it could be all God’s doing.

It’s All-Consuming?

Jeremiah tried to talk God out of him being a prophet of God because he thought he was just too young, but later, when Jeremiah thought about not speaking God’s Word, he said, “If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (Jer 20:9). Like Paul, he could not help but preach the gospel, and wrote, “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel”(1st Cor 9:16)! If you have an overwhelming passion to do something and you’d even do it for free if you had the ability, then God might be opening that door for you in whatever it is He’s calling you to.

It’s Lawful

There is no reason we should be breaking the law and be calling it “the Lord’s work.” Jesus never broke the law; in fact He fulfilled the law. The Bible commands “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom 13:1). The way God sees it, “whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Rom 13:2). If you have to break a law to do something, even if you think it’s the will of God, it’s not….and it’s not a door God is opening for you.

Conclusion

Above all things, pray to God, seek His will, counsel with others, petition their prayers for God’s will for your life and trust Him and start taking steps to go through a door that might seem closed now but perhaps God is waiting to see in you’ll trust Him to take the first step. If a door opening glorifies God, if you receive confirmation from others, if the door makes you 100% dependent on God to open it, or the door opens by itself, if it lines up with Scripture, if it is an overwhelming passion you have, and if it is not against the law, then it could very well be that God is opening a door for you. Jesus Christ says, “I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Rev 3:8), so if you are obedient to God, then you are more likely to have God open a door without your help, but the door that is never touched is a door that never opens.

Ways you can make a difference in this world? What ways would you suggest?

Be a Barnabas

Barnabas is one of my favorite characters in the Bible because he always seemed to be encouraging and giving people the benefit of the doubt. When Saul was converted and later named Paul, few believers wanted to have anything to do with him…except for Barnabas. It was “When he came to Jerusalem, [Saul] tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus” (Acts 9:26-27). Try to stand up for others when they’re not there. If someone is being gossiped about or talked about negatively, try to stand up for them. Encourage someone, give people the benefit of the doubt. Be the Barnabas.

Be an Encourager

Like Barnabas was an encourager, you can be one too in your own spot in the world. You have no idea how one little word of encouragement can make the difference in a person’s day. I have discovered that if you find one sincere compliment you can give someone, they not only break out in a smile…they can break out of a bad day too. One tiny little encouragement can go a long, long way and it’s contagious. Spread encouragement and reap a smile and leave miles of smiles behind you. That’s why Paul wrote “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thess 5:11).

Be a Good Neighbor

A couple of years ago our neighbor’s wife had heart surgery and she was near to death. During that time, my wife brought food over for her struggling family. This couldn’t take their fear away but they knew that they had a neighbor who cared. When she finally came home from the hospital we celebrated together. Today, she’s slowed down a bit in her older age, but she’s never forgotten the kind acts of my wife bringing food for her and her family. She really made a difference in the world, even if it was only a small part of the world…like right next door.

Volunteer for Something

One of the most overlooked things that we can do to make a difference in the world is to volunteer for something. I volunteered as part of an outreach for a homeless ministry and met so many wonderful people…the volunteers and several homeless people. Our church donated clothing, blankets, and some toiletries and giving these things…and giving of ourselves, made a difference in other people’s lives but it did in our lives too. I love to visit the local nursing home and seek out those, who I discover by asking, have no family or visitors at all. These precious people are simply starving for someone to talk too. Volunteer for something and you will make a difference in the world.

Conclusion

If you are a Christian, you might be the only Bible that some people will ever read so use these 4 ways to make a difference in the world or think of your own ways and leave us a comment below so we can share your marvelous ideas with others.

Five THINGS that most mature Christians no longer do. 

Fighting Over Non-Essentials

It really hurts to see Christians fighting over things that are not essential to our salvation. One man said that the Bible teaches this and another said, it teaches that, but as it turned out, they were both wrong. Sadly, neither would admit they were wrong and neither apologized to the other. If you are debating over things where the Bible is not clear, they you (and I) have some maturing to go through.

Judging by Sight

I used to be really bad as this. I would look at someone and make an immediate assessment of them. Really, I was judging them by sight and that always turns out badly. God told Samuel who was passing his sons by to see who would be the next king of Israel, told him “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1st Sam 16:7). Mature Christians no longer judge people by sight. They have learned better.

Acceptance of Others

Our church is a grace-filled church. We have former convicts, people who are disabled, people of different skin color and nationalities, the homeless, and so on. We have learned (the hard way) to be accepting of others, including their faults. If we don’t accept others, then we don’t realize that God has accepted us in Christ. We shouldn’t trip over what’s behind people. What’s behind us stays behind us. Mature Christians have learned to accept others, regardless of whom they are or where they come from.

Breaking God’s Laws

Not one of us will ever be sinless in this life. If we say we have no sin, we’re calling God a liar (1st John 1:8, 10). The Apostle John says if we sin, we must confess it, and all of us fall far short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23), but we don’t stay there. We strive to be sinning less and mature Christians should sin less, but as we grow in the faith, we tend to break God’s laws less frequently too. We are growing in holiness, yes perhaps slowly, but sanctification takes a lifetime and a mature Christian realizes that.

Resisting God’s Will

New Christians are still learning God’s will, and even though His will is revealed in the Bible, we still struggle to obey it, but more mature Christians have discovered that the will of God is knowable, so they read the Bible and find out what it is. Then, they strive to find God’s will for their lives and obey it. Mature Christians are less likely to resist God’s will because they’ve read enough of the Bible to know it, but they also make a choice to follow it.

Conclusion

Generally speaking, mature Christians don’t fight with one another over the Bible; they don’t judge people or situations by sight; they accept others for who they are; they don’t customarily break God’s laws, and they stop resisting God’s will because they learn it in the Word of God.

Four myths About the Devil That People Believe

He Doesn’t Exist

Satan loves it that most of the world doesn’t believe he even exists, but that makes him even more deadly because an invisible enemy is even more dangerous. He’s happy to just go around and seek those whom he could hinder or devour, but like a lion, he roams about being unseen (1 Peter 5:8).  When a lion seeks his prey, he doesn’t make himself visible.   How much worse of a threat is someone who people don’t believe exists?  So the greatest myth about the devil is that most of the world thinks he’s a myth, even though he has actually blinded the minds of those who don’t believe (2 Corinthians 4:4).

His Own Preachers

Even though people might believe that they are hearing from a biblical or godly preacher, they might actually be hearing a sermon inspired by the devil, for Satan has his own preachers who appear as angels of light.  Paul warned the Corinthians that there are “deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (2 Corinthians 11:13b-15).

His Own Gospel

Any gospel that doesn’t originate from God has to come from only one other source: Satan. Any gospel that is man-centered is not from God.  Again, Paul warns the Corinthians that he was “afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).  What type of “different spirit from the Spirit” was Paul talking about?  It could have been a wicked or demonic spirit compared to the Spirit of God, which always points to the truth.  Satan is a deceiver and mixes truth with error.

He’s Powerless

People who don’t believe in the Gospel don’t even know that he’s the god of this world. And before believers were saved, they were “following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:2-3).  Don’t think that just because Christ had victory over Satan at the cross that he is not still trying to attack believers.  Christians are still under spiritual attack by his demons, so the believer must put on the armor of God daily (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Things that you should never say to a grieving person.

I know how you feel

To say to someone that you know how they feel is for one thing, probably not true. It also seems to rob the person of their right to how they should feel. Can anyone really understand what another person is feeling like? Probably not so it’s just best not to say it.

You’ll get over it

This seems a bit cold to me because we are offering unsolicited advice. To tell someone that they’ll get over it is somewhat of an insult to them. Give them time to grieve. Grieving is a natural thing to go through. Never tell someone who’s enduring a great lost that they’ll get over it. In fact, do we really ever get over losing someone who is precious in our life?

Keep a Stiff Upper Lip

I don’t know who thought of this expression but I can’t imagine any good time to say this. To tell someone experiencing grief to keep a stiff upper lip is asking someone to do something that they can’t even imagine doing at the time. Let them grieve, let the cry…the healing process takes a lot of time and saying keep a stiff upper lip seems to make them think that they should just be brave and not let it get them down when that is close to impossible. Imagine a person who lost her dear Mother you went to pound yam and say ‘just eat the food! And so what? Funny, it’s not the time to eat friend.

All Things Work together for the Good

I have heard people quote Romans 8:28 which says “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” That verse is true but it really doesn’t help the person who is grieving.  It doesn’t seem to fit the situation and even if you think it does, this Bible verse isn’t much help at all for someone who’s lost a loved one.

Don’t Cry

If we tell someone to not cry, we are basically telling them that they shouldn’t be crying when crying is part of the grieving and healing process. Crying helps us deal with our grief and allows us to release pent up emotions. To try and tell someone not to cry when it’s actually going to help them deal with their loss is to try and impose our beliefs on someone who’s going through something that we are not.

Time Heals All Wounds

Time may help in the long term but it does nothing to help during the time when someone has just suffered a great loss. I lost my older brother many years ago and time has never healed this loss. I have learned to move on and deal with it but time did nothing to take the pain away.

Conclusion

Other things I wouldn’t say is “You’ll get over it, try to be strong, God never gives you more than you can handle, God must have needed another angel, he or she’s in a much better place, or just have faith.” Sometimes not saying anything is best. Just be there for them. Sit quietly and grieve with them. All we might be able to say is “I am so sorry.” When words cannot express our sorrow for someone else, then why use them? Silence may be the only thing that they need. Just being there to support them may be enough.

Important differences between Jesus’ first coming and His Second Advent. 

First as a Lamb, Next as a Lion

When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming, He said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)! Jesus came to live a sinless life and make Himself as an offering that was pleasing to the Father to take to Himself the wrath that we deserved. As if confirming his statement, John the Baptist repeats it a second time on the next day (John 1:36), and the apostle John writes in Revelation 13:8 that “all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Jesus was “like a sheep…led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth” (Acts 8:32), and this Lamb was foretold thousands of years before He came to the earth (Isaiah 53:7), but He came voluntarily and willingly gave His life, for no one really took it (John 10:17-18). Jesus came into the world as the spotless Lamb of God but will return the next time as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and will rule the nations with a rod of iron (Rev 2:27, 12:5, 19:15).

Taking Away Sins, Judging for Sins

Jesus came to this earth to live a perfect life, making the unblemished sacrifice that was necessary to take away our sins. John wrote that “you know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). In the Old Testament, sins were never really taken away because the sacrifices had to be repeated over and over again. Even with that, they only covered sins, but Jesus took the sins and “not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). The next appearing of Jesus is where He “will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth” (Psalm 110:6). The first time He came to take away sins. The next time He will come to judge sin. He came first to seek the lost. Next He will judge the lost.

He Came to Save, He’ll Come to Reign

The Apostle John wrote, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). That was why He was sent–to save those who would repent and believe in Him (Mark 1:15; 3:36a). But the next time He comes, He will come for His Bride, the church, and “to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish” (Eph 5:27). In the first coming, He came to save us, but the next time “we will reign with him” (2 Tim 2:12), and at that time He will “have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Rev 5:10), for He “has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father” (Rev 1:6).

Conclusion

Jesus is still giving time for those who have not yet repented and trusted in Him, but the day is coming when it will be too late, so today is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2). If you’re not yet saved, either He will be your Savior today or He will be your Judge tomorrow.

SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY

Faithfully going to church doesn’t automatically make you a mature Christian. I’d never discourage you from being in church every Sunday, but hearing the word isn’t the same thing as heeding it. I fear that some believers, despite their ability to articulate true things about God, are not progressing in Christian maturity. Real gospel growth depends on a right understanding of God, and it manifests itself in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-24). It is possible to be in a church with sound teaching for many years and have stunted growth, though. The author to the Hebrews lamented that after several years of solid biblical teaching, his audience still had not progressed much in their Christian life. He wrote, 

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb. 5:12-14)

Picture a grown man, who should be teaching others, drinking out of a sippy cup and re-enrolling in pre-school. Spiritually speaking, that’s how the author to the Hebrews described the recipients of his letter. They had been under the ministry of the word for a long time, but tragically they remained children. Has the same thing happened to you? Here are three biblical signs that you might be spiritually immature: 

Spiritually immature Christians are gullible to strange doctrines. 

Paul told the Ephesians that God gives us pastors and teachers to build us up in the word so that, “we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph. 4:14). 

Growing up by the beach, I spent a bit of time in the ocean as a kid. I can tell you, few things are more terrifying than seeing a large set of waves headed your way when you’re no taller than four feet! I remember a few occasions in which I was taken under by a wave and tumbled beneath the surface of the water. It’s disorienting! Spiritually immature believers are like small children in the ocean, frequently disoriented by waves of bad theology. One sign of being a spiritual child is that every time some new teaching or doctrine blows by, your faith is shaken by it. 

As we mature in faith, certain perspectives we had about God often do develop, but the spiritually immature are marked by instability. With each new book or blog post they read, they change their views whichever way the wind is blowing. As we grow up in that gospel, the waves and winds of weird doctrines don’t knock us down as they once did.

Spiritually immature Christians aren’t able to play nice with other believers. 

Having four children under seven, I’ve learned that when you take your kids to the park there are certain phrases that get repeated a lot: “Don’t take that, it doesn’t belong to you!”; “Make sure you share!”; “It’s her turn to go down the slide now!”; “Don’t bite!” Children need to learn to play nice with each other, and this is true of the spiritually immature. Paul told the Corinthians,

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? (1 Cor. 3:1-3)

A sure sign of spiritual immaturity is that there is strife between us and our brothers and sisters in Jesus. When they do something to offend us, we retaliate by hurting them with our words (to them, or to others about them), or severing the relationship entirely. When things go well for other believers, instead of rejoicing with them, we’re jealous that it happened to them and not to us. This leads to viewing others in the church with contempt. There’s a terrible selfishness that manifests itself in the spiritually immature, and when unchecked it leads to broken relationships and even church splits. If you can’t forgive others and resolve tension with your family in Christ, you may very well be an “infant in Christ.” 

Spiritually immature Christians are controlled by their fleshly impulses. 

Paul tied being an infant in Christ with being fleshly(1 Cor. 3:1-3). Writing to the Galatians, he described the works of the flesh as these, “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies” (Gal. 5:19-21). This list wasn’t meant to be exhaustive, but it gives you a good idea of the kinds of things Paul had in mind. Like a small child who doesn’t get his way and throws a fit, the spiritually immature yield to their carnal impulses rather than surrendering them to God and exercising self-control. These fleshly impulses run contrary to our new identity as baptized followers of Jesus. Spiritual infants have a difficult time walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), and the fruit of Christian maturity (Gal. 5:22-24) is not yet fully formed in them. Of course, all baptized Christians struggle with this for the duration of their Christian lives, but if we find ourselves continually giving in to fits of anger, sensual behavior, envy, etc., it is a sign that we are “people of the flesh, infants in Christ” (1 Cor. 3:1).

Like any kind of growth, Christian maturity happens slowly over time. As the author to the Hebrews said, the mature are those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice. Training and constant practice are lifelong activities, and if we neglect them, we’ll be doomed to perpetual spiritual infancy: unsettled, unable to get along with others, and unable to control our impulses. If you’ve been assuming that God will one day zap you from toddler to teacher, you’re sorely mistaken. Make use of the means that God has generously given you to help you grow in your faith. Get into a habit of prayer, personal Bible study, and especially fellowship in the local church under the preached word. Be diligent to attend to that word with all humility, eager to receive it for yourself. When you make this your constant practice, you’ll find that over time your feet are firmly planted in the truth, your hands are open to brothers and sisters in need, and your heart is moved less by carnal impulses and more by God’s Holy Spirit. Brothers and sisters, let’s press on to maturity! 

SPIRITUAL WALK

Romans on Living Life in the Spirit

Life in the Spirit is a journey, and while there are many great passages throughout Scripture that discuss the role and person of the Holy Spirit, Romans 8 is perhaps one of the most insightful. Here are 7 suggestions that will fuel a passion for the things of the Spirit and further educate how to live a life directed by him.

1. Walk in the Spirit (Rom. 8:4)

There is no shortcut to learning how to walk with the Spirit. It’s not just for ultra-spiritual people nor is it reserved for charismatic Christians. Life according to the Spirit is not simply trying to do the right thing, nor is it trying to live according to God’s Law. Walking in the Spirit is the central metaphor for describing what it means to live as a Christian. The person who walks according to the Spirit will, in fact, have the essence of the Law fulfilled in his life.

2. Set your minds on the things of the Spirit (Rom. 8:5)

The question “how does one overcome the pull of the flesh?” sounds like an old riddle: How can someone extract all of the air out of a drinking glass? The most direct way to get all the air out of a glass is by filling it with something else. You cannot extract thoughts that displease God from your mind. Like [the solution to the riddle], you need to be filled up with thoughts—indeed with an entire mindset—that is oriented toward the things of the Spirit (e.g. Gal. 5:22–23).

3. Put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit (Rom. 8:13)

The person who has been regenerated by the Spirit is not stuck in sin. By the Spirit, the pull of the flesh can be resisted. To “put to death the deeds of the body” is pretty much the same thing as “saying no to sin,” but unlike the anti-drug campaign among youth many years ago, just say no by itself will never be successful. Just saying no will never allow you to consistently overcome sin. Then what must you do? You must say no by the Spirit.

4. Be led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:14)

The Holy Spirit leads us broadly (always) and more specifically (sometimes). He always leads us through his written Word, which was revealed to the prophets by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20–21). We are to prayerfully, carefully, and humbly apply broad biblical wisdom to the situations we face in our lives.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit leads us directly. The Holy Spirit can choose to act in any way and according to any timetable that he wishes; we do not dictate to him how or when he will move. Since the Bible gives many examples of him acting more specifically, we should anticipate that he will sometimes choose to lead us directly if we are open and available to his guidance.

5. Know the Fatherhood of God by the Spirit (Rom. 8:15–17)

Without the Holy Spirit, we would never know our freedom and identity as God’s adoptive children. Thankfully, God has freely given us his Holy Spirit, and these verses from Romans 8display three amazing things the Spirit does: 

  1. He acts as the go-between who takes us out of a place of slavery and fear and brings us into a place of adoption and acceptance. 
  2. He helps us to cry out to God as Father. 
  3. He testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. 

6. Hope in the Spirit (Rom 8:22-25)

The biblical concept represented by the English word hope is so strong that it is almost a synonym for “eager expectation.” The focus of the expectation isn’t that life will get better here; it is absorbed with the glorious life to come. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in all this? Rom 8:23 says: “We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” Paul claims that it is because we have the Spirit, not despite it that we groan. In this passage, it is precisely the presence of the Spirit within you that causes you to feel this particular kind of suffering—the longing for final redemption in the midst of a fallen world. In this way, the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives reminds us of the stark contrast between the wonderful things God has prepared for us who believe and this fallen world that is so full of sin, suffering, and futility.

7. Pray in the Spirit (Rom. 8:26–28)

These two verses (Rom 8:26–27) are so rich and helpful in our lives in the Spirit.

  1. We learn that we are weak when we come to prayer. We often don’t know what to pray for in any given situation. The concern is not about the manner of prayer (the “how”), but rather the content of our prayers—what do we actually pray about?
  2. We learn that the Spirit joins to help us when we are struggling to know how to pray by interceding for us with wordless groaning. It is not, as some propose, that we should just pray whatever we want since we don’t have any idea how to pray, and that the Spirit fixes them up and prays on our behalf to the Father. Rather, the verb often translated as “helps” has a preposition attached to the front of it, which suggests that it really means “joins to help.”
  3. The Spirit is searching our hearts and knows that we have a mindset that is focused on him, even if we do not know exactly what we are supposed to pray.
  4. The result is that our prayers are prayed “according to the will of God” because the Holy Spirit is moving us thus to pray and is presenting the prayers that he is guiding us to pray to the Father.