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In our last lesson, we talked about putting on the whole armor of God, all seven pieces. It is important to use all of the armor if you want it to protect you. The Roman soldier's armor covered the whole body -- there were not any gaps in it. There are no gaps in God's armor, either. It is full and complete covering and protection. It does not lack anything. It has no flaws or bad places or vulnerable spots. The only vulnerability we have is if we forget to put it on. Then we are vulnerable.
When you put it on, you do not just pick and choose which pieces you want. If you do, you are not putting on the full armor. You do not say, "Well, today I think I'll put on the helmet. I like the salvation part -- the belt of truth, too. Righteousness -- well, maybe I won't put that on today." You do not get to pick and choose. What would our army be like, if soldiers went out to war and everyone was allowed to choose their own weapon? One soldier might say, "I think I'll take that rusty rifle my great grandpa used to hunt squirrels. It worked pretty well for him." That would be a disaster.
Suit up with the whole armor. When you use the whole armor, all the areas of your life are covered and protected. It is God's armor, and it is God's design for you to have it on. Do not waste your time with imitations. God has His own designer label. We put on the imitation -- the things that we think will protect us. For example, going to church is a good thing. But going to church is not your armor. It may help you to put your armor on. It may facilitate putting on righteousness and walking it out. However, if you think you are protected just because you went to church last Sunday, I have news for you. It will help you, and so will your time with God and your Bible study, but that is not the armor. It is part of it, but not all of it -- no imitations, please.
Put on the armor of God. With God's armor, there are no equipment failures or flaws. We must be careful that we are trusting in the God of the armor and not just the armor of God. Some people worship the armor. Worship God.
I Samuel 4 is the story of Hophni and Phinehas. Hophni and Phinehas were very ungodly men. They did things I cannot even talk about from the pulpit. Read the first few chapters in Samuel yourself if you want to know the whole scoop. In Chapter 4, they entered into a battle and were losing. Then they had an idea. They decided to take the ark of the covenant into battle with them. They were sure they would win if they had the ark with them. They took it into battle, and the Philistines went ballistic. At first, they freaked out and began to run, but then they began to fight, and they beat Israel. Hophni and Phinehas thought the ark was some sort of a secret weapon. They thought that when they had the ark, they had God. However, their personal lives were in shambles, filled with immorality and ungodliness. Nevertheless, they still wanted God to bless them.
We need to be careful that we do not glorify the armor and miss God. He is the one who puts it on us and empowers it. He is the one who protects us. He needs to be the focus here.
The Reason For Armor
Why do we need it? We need it in order to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. We need to be able to stand firm. The word "able" is 'dunamai,' which means, "to have the ability, strength and power." When some people talk about the armor of God they know they need to put it on, but they do not know why. They know they should put on the armor today, but they do not know what they are supposed to do with it.
Let me explain. If God tells you to dress up in armor one day, does that give you a clue what is going to happen that day? If a guy comes up wearing a football uniform, what do you think he is going to do that day? Play soccer? Play baseball? If you look at the uniform, you will see what the game is that day.
Likewise, if God tells you to arm up with the armor, what is ahead of you? You will have a little fighting that day. Is there a day that goes by when you do not have to fight? No, there is not. Some days the fighting is fiercer than on other days. There is no day that goes by in which you can escape the battle. You are going to engage in it, so you need the power to stand against the enemy.
The word "stand against" is the word 'histemi' and it means "standing in an upright and active position." You take your stand to ward off the attacks of the enemy. You need to stand on that ground and hold onto that ground before any offensive can be launched. You are supposed to take a stand against the schemes of the devil.
Some people think to stand means to grin and bear it. Some people think it means to do nothing. Some people think it means to shut their eyes and maybe the evil will go away. Does it ever go away? No, it does not. When we talk about the devil, people sometimes freak out. They do not want to talk about it. Does the Bible ever talk about it? Of course it does. Maybe they need to read those verses again.
The Bible talks about the devil. Why? So that you can do your part. Ignoring the devil does not make him go away. People do that with their problems. They think if they ignore them long enough, they will go away. Have you ever done that? If so, did your problems go away? In most cases, you eventually had to deal with them. You cannot ignore the devil, because he will keep coming back. We do not talk about him to glorify him, but to let you know that you have victory over him.
Stand against the schemes of the devil. The word "schemes" means craftiness or wiles. The Greek word 'methodeia' comes from two words: 'meta,' which is "with," and 'hodeuo,' which is "travel or journey." We get our word "odometer" from that word. It has the sense that we are with the road or with a plan. It can be used in a positive way. For example, there is a method for doing surgery. Surgeons need to know not only how to fix the problem inside, but also how to get to it, where and what they are going to cut. Then they need to know how to finish. They need to take out all the sponges. They need to put things back together so there will be a minimum amount of damage and recovery time. They need to think it all through beforehand.
In the negative way, the word 'methodeia' is used in the sense of "deceitful scheming, deception, or craftiness." This simply speaks of the kingdom of darkness seeking to destroy us. People think the kingdom of darkness is like a black hat stuck in the corner: as long as you do not mess with it, you are probably okay. If we ignore it, we think we will be all right. Those with this type of thinking do not quite understand the nature of the kingdom of darkness. The enemy not only lashes out when he is backed into a corner, it is his nature to attack. It is part of who he is and what he does.
Look at some of the verses in the Bible that speak about the kingdom of darkness: II Corinthians 2:11 says, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices." John 10:10 gives a job description of the kingdom of darkness -- "The thief comes only to steal, and to kill, and to destroy." The kingdom of darkness is not passive but very active. Satan comes in any way he can. Anywhere there is an opening he will come in. If there is a back door, he will come in. His attacks are subtle. He will try to seduce you. If your armor is not on, he will attack you. I mentioned the lion that is seeking to devour. He is looking for the helpless, the weak, and the unprotected. He has many believers to choose from -- all those who walk around without the armor.
When Satan tempted Jesus, where was Jesus? Jesus was at His weakest point. He did not start at the fourth or fifth day of the forty-day fast, but came at the very end when Jesus was weak. That did not work, so the devil went underground and tried to use more subtle ways.
If the devil was willing to attack and tempt Jesus, it follows that he will be willing to attack us as well. He will try to do his attacks when he thinks they will be most effective, when he perceives we are weak and vulnerable. Some people think that if they don't wear their armor, if they are not dressed for battle, the enemy will simply leave them alone, must as modern militaries try to leave civilians alone. But that is not the case. You will get attacked whether you have the armor on or not. The attack with land with more effect if you are caught unprepared, if you don't have the armor on. In fact, when you don't have your armor on, you are weaker and more vulnerable. Since Satan likes to attack at your most vulnerable points, you give him more invitations to attack you (instead of less invitations) when you leave your armor off.