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Dressing For Intercession
How to Avoid Holes In Your Armor
The Boots Of Peace
In the first four lessons, we discovered that we need the armor of God because the battle is real. The enemy does NOT want us effective in prayer and intercession because it tears down his kingdom as we build God's kingdom, so Satan comes against us and does all he can to stop us. But God does not intend that we be vulnerable to Satan's attacks. That is why He gives us the spiritual armor to put on. Each piece is especially designed to protect us from a specific of attack of the enemy.
It is important that we understand what each piece is, the type of attack that it protects against and how to put that piece of armor on. Then we will be fully clothed and able to stand firmly in the battle. God does not want us to become casualties of war, He wants us to be overcomers in Christ. He wants us to walk in His victory. That is why He has given us this armor. So let's be sure to put it on.
The NIV translation of Eph 6:15 says "And with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace". Many people refer to this as the "sandals of peace". That does not work for me because soldiers wear combat boots, not sandals. And walking in peace is roughly equivalent to wallowing through ankle deep mud and trying to keep your feet clean.. sandals just won't cut it for that.
Walking in peace is NOT easy... it requires NOT allowing the dirt that comes at us to make us dirty.. it requires forgiveness and grace instead of demanding our rights or getting even on some offense. God does not just suggest we try to get along with each other.. He actually commands us to love one another and to walk in forgiveness. If we desire to wear the boots of peace, we must strive to do precisely that.
Look again at Eph 6:15. The keywords here are "readiness", "gospel" and "peace." Some interpret this as a command to be ready to share the good news of salvation at all times with all people. That is good advice, BUT it is more than this.. We are to
Two of the biggest holes in the Boots of Peace are:
Did you know that if you carry offenses or walk in unforgiveness or bitterness, you are not fully wearing the armor of God. This makes you particularly vulnerable to enemy attacks. If you are involved in spiritual warfare and are walking in unforgiveness, you had better stop fighting until you have taken care of the unforgivness..otherwise you are very likely to become a casualty of war.
Unforgiveness is a sin!!
Jesus commands us to love one another. In John 13:34, He says, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." A big part of loving each other is to forgive each other and not hold grudges against each other.
Jesus teaches us to forgive each other. Just after teaching us the Lord's prayer, He says:
- For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
- But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
The Lord Himself says some pretty strong words here! In fact, this teaching of Jesus seems to leave us with a bit of a paradox because the bible teaches that we have forgiveness of sins through the shed blood of Christ. These two biblical statements almost seem to be in conflict with each other. If we are under the blood of Christ, How can God "not forgive" our sins? What does this mean??
Does this mean we lose our salvation if we don't forgive?
I don't think so, but I think that God is saying that unforgiveness is a stumbling block. It keeps us from being able to be in a close and intimate relationship with our heavenly father. It keeps us from being able to grow and mature in Christ. If we walk in unforgiveness, it hinders the effectiveness of our prayers.
When we walk in unforgiveness, God won't answer our prayers. Jesus ties forgiveness to seeing answers to prayers of faith:Mark 11
- "Have faith in God," Jesus answered.
- "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, `Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.
- Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
- And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."
In this passage we see that the sin of unforgiveness keeps our prayers from being answered.
The parable of the unforgiving debtor in Matt 18 ends with a very sober warning:
Matt 18 (KJV)
- Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desirest me:
- Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?
- And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
- So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
Let's take a closer look at this. What are the tormentors? Tormentors are demons that can afflict you in any of the following ways:
chronic or frequent sickness / health problems financial problems (debt, spirit of poverty) emotional torment (worry, fear, depression, etc.) continuously having our plans frustrated, hindered or thwarted.
I believe that being delivered to the tormentors is only for a season, not for all eternity... I don't think we lose our salvation, but we do end up ineffective and miserable. Holding on to unforgiveness simply is not worth it. The cost (losing intimacy with God, sickness, financial woes, emotional torment, being ineffective, having plans thwarted, etc.) is much higher than any benefit we can possibly get out of unforgiveness... it simply is not worth it!
If a Christian has been delivered to the tormentors for unforgiveness, that Christian is not in a state to move forward in effective prayer and intercession. That person can't even take care of their own needs much less stand in the gap for someone else.
Now please don't over generalize and conclude that anyone who is suffering in any of the above areas is being punished for unforgiveness. Not everyone who is sick, in financial problems, etc. is there because they have been delivered to the tormentors. Sometimes the enemy simply attacks us, or God allows us to go through things to mold His character in us. BUT if these are recurring problems for you, then ask the Holy Spirit to help you examine your heart to see if there are any roots of unforgiveness there that need to be dealt with.
"FROM YOUR HEARTS FORGIVE" (V 35)
What does this mean? It means three things:
At this point, some of you are saying.. "That is all good in theory.. but I don't think it works in real life .. I can forgive with my will, but my emotions go all crazy when I get around the person that I willed to forgive."
- We choose from our will to forgive (the emotions will follow later)
- We refuse to allow our thoughts to dwell there (on the offense or wrongs done to us). We must stop replaying it in our minds and force ourselves to dwell on God instead of it.
- It is OK to set healthy boundaries in love. In other words, we have to forgive the abuser, but we do not have to remain in an abusive situation.
Let me give an example of healthy boundary setting. I had a friend who's mother was very abusive to her for her entire life. The mother would get her very flustered and take advantage of her and push her around and use and manipulate her. The mother always put her down. She got to the point where she pretty much hated her mother and dreaded seeing her.. yet she was in a situation that forced her to be in weekly contact with her mother. One day my friend was driving her car and God told her she had to forgive her mother. "But God," she complained, "Mom does this and this to me.."
"I know" God replied, "but you still have to forgive her and love her."
"But God," she tried again, "she does not treat either of my sisters like this."
"True," God said, "but I still want you to forgive her."
As the conversation progressed, my friend found that she had just driven herself over to her mother's house. The car was now parked in front of her mother's. "But God.." she tried one last time, "I just can't bear for her to treat me like she does."
"I said you have to forgive her.." God said, "You do not have to put up with the way she mistreats you. Go inside and tell her you forgive her, and then I will give you the right words to say."
So my friend went inside and asked her mother to sit down so she could talk to her. Normally her mother would not let her get a word in edgewise, but she was so startled at my friend's behavior that she sat down quietly and listened. My friend shared how it had hurt her when her mother did this or that to her... and after explaining it all, she said, "But Mom, I want you to know that I forgive you for all of that and that I love you."
Her mother was shocked. Then she went on to say something (as God put the words in her mouth) that shocked her as well.. "Mom, I want to be friends and be in a good relationship with you. But I cannot tolerate it when you do ______ to me .. so I am not going to tolerate it any more. I simply am not willing to be in relationship with you under these circumstances.. so I am cutting it off until you are willing to change how we relate in this area... it simply is not healthy for me... it rips me to shreds. Please let me know when you are ready to have a healthy relationship with me, because I will welcome that very much. I want you to know I love you.. and I want us to be in a close relationship.. but that can't happen until you stop treating me this way..."
She had put up a boundary.. saying that she loved her mother but would not tolerate being treated that certain way any more. But God still required her to forgive her mother.. which she did do.
Yes, the emotions can take a while to come into line. But if you truly will to forgive and if you go to God for help, then they will line up. I experienced this personally..
I was in an abusive church and one of the pastors there did something that really wronged me. I was very hurt and wanted to leave the church, but God would not let me. God told me that I had to stay in the church AND I had to minister with a good attitude. That was very hard for me.. I would do okay during the week, but when I saw that minister on Sunday, I would go "all crazy" inside again. I kept bringing it to the Lord and asking Him to help me, and I kept choosing to forgive over and over as an act of my will.
God taught me a little secret that was very helpful.. He taught me to recite the first or third chapter of John each time I started to struggle with unforgiveness. They are long chapters and took a lot of concentration to remember all the verses and get them in the right order.. and it would get my mind off of the problem and onto God.. and as I started filling my mind with the things of God, I had less time/energy to waste on struggling with unforgiveness. Eventually I could be around this pastor and not be upset at all.. and eventually my attitude changed and I had a positive attitude towards him again.
About that time, God taught me that since I had been wronged and had truly forgiven, I had gained an authority to pray blessings on my church.. Since I had paid such a "high price" to gain that authority, I used it every opportunity I could...
About 2 years later, the Lord did release me from that church. The senior pastor did not want me to leave. First he tried to talk me into staying there. When he became convinced that would not work, he said some very mean and hurtful things to me. I sort of forgave him and brushed the dust from my feet and went on.. to a new church that I liked a lot. I just did not spend any time thinking of my former pastor or church. I was sure I had forgiven them and simply did not dwell on it any more.
Then one day I was at a special city-wide meeting and the leader called my former pastors up to pray for them. I found myself wanting to say "You wouldn't want to pray blessings on them if you knew what they are really like!"
OOPS.. A TWINGE OF UNFORGIVENESS.
I was unsettled because I thought I had really and truly and totally forgiven.. yet these emotions were stirring within me as they were called forward for prayer.
This is how I dealt with it..
- I recognized and confessed the sin of unforgiveness. I felt bad that it was still there and purposed in my heart to deal with it.
- I chose again to forgive and asked God to help me do so.
- I confessed it to some of those I am accountable to and asked them to help me walk through this.
- I spoke forgiveness over the situation again.
By doing this, I found a freedom... the twinges of unforgiveness did not stay with me. The memory remains, but not the emotional trauma of it.
If you are dealing with those occasional twinges, you might want to try the same 4 steps...
- Recognize it as sin and confess/repent.
- Choose to forgive and ask God to help you truly forgive.
- Make yourself accountable to friends who will help you walk through this.
- Speak forgiveness over the situation.
What is bitterness?
Bitterness is unforgiveness that has gone rancid and stinks up many aspects of our life.
Unforgiveness can fester in us.. can take over our thinking and being and flavor our behavior. We start desiring evil towards the one/ones we've not forgiven, we dwell on it and we let it infect our thinking and our reasoning like a deadly virus.
What does the Bible say about this?
- In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
- and do not give the devil a foothold.
- Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
- Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Bitterness starts as anger/unforgiveness. It is not a sin to be angry, but God wants us to deal with the anger quickly so that it does not develop into bitterness. We must forgive and not dwell mentally on the offense, or a root of bitterness can develop.
If we have allowed a root of bitterness, then the bible says we must get rid of it.. by forgiving and choosing to walk in kindness and compassion to those who hurt us. We do this because we hurt God but He forgave us, so now we forgive those who hurt us.
If we don't want our prayers to be hindered, we must forgive and release all bitterness. If we hold on to the bitterness, we can't expect God to answer our prayers because we are in direct rebellion against Him.
What Does God Say About This? (Boots Of Peace)
- God has given us His peace
- John 14:27
- 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.
- God's peace is a key to having God's power in our lives
- Romans 15:13
- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- God's peace guards our minds
- Philippians 4:7
- And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- God loves us
- Romans 5:5
- ... God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
- We cannot be separated from God's love
- Romans 8:39
- neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- We are complete in His love
- 1 John 4:12
- No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
- We are forgiven
- 1 John 2:12
- I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
- Love one another
- John 13:35
- By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
- God's love for us empowers us to love others
- 1 John 4:11
- Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
- Love because we have intimate relationship with God
- 1 John 4:7
- Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
- Love because God's love is made complete in us
- 1 John 4:12
- No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
- Forgive each other
- Colossians 3:13
- Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
- Love empowers us to forgive
- 1 Peter 4:8
- Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
- God is the one who empowers us to love
- 1 Thessalonians 3:12
- May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.
- Because of love, live in peace with each other
- 2 Corinthians 13:11
- Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Stop right now and invite the Holy Spirit to search your heart with you. Invite Him to show you any areas of bitterness that you have not dealt with... or any people who you have not fully forgiven. Now, as these things come up.. as He reveals them to you.. don't deny them and push them back down. Recognize them as sin.. and make a choice of your own free will to forgive that person or forgive that situation.. not because they deserve it.. but because you don't want it interfering with your intimacy with God. You have a cold hard choice to look at.. do you want to hold onto your unforgiveness at the cost of putting distance between you and God? Or do you want to get so close to God that you don't allow things like that to get in the way... giving up the bitterness and/or unforgiveness into His hands and throwing yourself into His healing presence.
This is a very tough situation for some of us.. we have been hurt so deeply or for so long. But right now Jesus is standing in front of us and offering us healing and His peace. You can take the first step with Him right now.. hold out your hands as though you are holding the thing or person you are struggling with in them.. imagine yourself putting all that you struggle with into your hands.. this is only a symbolic gesture, but it can very very powerful. After you picture that person or situation in your hands, hold your hands up to God and offer it to Him.. choose as an act of your will to forgive and ask Him to empower you to do so.. ask Him to take that false burden of unforgiveness away and to wash you clean and white before Him. Many people will sense God meeting them as they do this exercise.. they may sense Him removing the thing from their hands, or perhaps sense Him putting His arms around them, or maybe His peace will wash over them.. or He may speak to their hearts. Do not be frightened or alarmed if God meets you in any of these ways. But do not be disappointed if you do not sense anything.. the power of this is in choosing of your will to obey God and forgiving and turning it over to Him. He can empower you even if you don't feel or sense anything.. because He has promised that when we commit our way to Him, when we purpose in our hearts to do it His way, then He will meet us and empower us to do so.
Lord, I ask that you come in your power, right now, and that you reveal to each of us those people we need to forgive.. and let your spirit be present right now to empower and enable us to truly forgive. Take away the pain of those memories and pour out your healing in our hearts. Lord, if we have any roots of bitterness, I ask that you would expose them and break their power over us. Lord we repent for not loving as you commanded and we repent for carrying anger and unforgiveness in our hearts. We don't want it there because we don't want to be separated from You. Fill us with your love right now and empower us to walk in your forgiveness. Change our hearts, Lord, and give us hearts after your heart. Change our focus Lord, that our thoughts would dwell on You instead of on the offenses that were committed against us. Empower us now Lord through the indwelling Holy Spirit and the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. We submit ourselves to you and we look to you to work this change in our hearts. Amen.