"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal,
As I sat in the plush home not too far from Hollywood, the flesh on my face was almost pulled back by the volume of the video I was watching. Two days earlier, I had asked my wife, Sue, where I could find some good military terms "to stir the troops" as I penned the final words of this publication. Now I sat in the home of a man whose job it was to check the sound of the master copy of "Gettysburg," the great motion picture epic which so graphically depicted the American civil war. My new friend, Michael Strong, had worked for many years with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association on films such as "Hiding Place" and "Joni," and for some reason he wanted me to see the battle scene in Gettysburg. He was a good sound man. Sound was his business, and sound is what we had as troops rallied with a unified roar of admiration around their general like "a mighty man who shouts by reason of wine."
As the battle began, most of the infantrymen lay on the ground as cannons blasted the enemy, vibrating the room in which I was sitting and filling the battle scene with thick smoke. With less than a second between each blast, I sat wide-eyed as the sound of each cannon hit me between the ears. To my surprise, there was no direct confrontation between the two armies. The cannons did all the preparatory work, sending terror into the heart of the enemy, then the soldiers pressed in to the heat of battle. My heart was stirred as I saw the spiritual principles set so vividly before me.
We live in an age when the Church roars with adoration for our Commander on Sunday, but hides from the heat of the battle on Monday. I am certain that this is because we have set aside the cannons God has given us to do the preparatory work in our battle. If you are issued with a feather duster and pushed into the heat of warfare, you may lack courage somewhat. However, if you are issued with ten great cannons, the very weapons would give you courage. If you are not familiar with these great cannons, it would be well worth your while to read our book, Hell's Best Kept Secret (Whitaker House).
The key to accomplishing our aims is to have every commissioned soldier employed in battle, but as we have seen many are still asleep in the barracks. One great military officer, Charles Spurgeon, let off a gun which whistled a burning bullet over the snoozing heads of the professing troopers of his day when he said, "Have you no wish for others to be saved, then you are not saved yourself, you can be sure of that!" Charles Finney said similar things.
Welcome to the Army
One great key to success in an army is a unity of purpose, a merging into one mind. This is unusually achieved by de-personalizing the recruits--"You sloppy bunch! In the next six weeks we are going to make you boys into men...you'll wish you'd never been born!" etc. The curly, golden locks of hair are callously clipped from the cranium. The reason for this is that when an army is on the front lines, the commander doesn't want his troops spending time on the vanities of life. He doesn't want his men wasting time in front of the mirror. What he wants is one body of men who will move any way he wants...pronto!
God has made His own ways of getting new recruits into line (I think I prefer the army way). As a new Christian, I went into what is commonly called a "wilderness experience." It was a most dreadful, miserable, depressing experience, but in retrospect it was a neces- sary part of my training. God wants to shake the "world" out of new converts. They have enlisted in the army of God for active service, and the quicker they respond and are trained, the quicker they will find themselves promoted in rank, and to where the action is.
When the U.S. navy trains rescue pilots, they place so much psychological pressure on recruits that 50% drop out. The navy wants the best, so those who enlist are pushed to the limits by being dropped out of helicopters into freezing water. In the water, a man simulates a drowning, and when his rescuer reaches him, he deliberately panics, grabbing the would-be rescuer and pulling him under. The trainee must take charge of the situation or be disqualified from the course. He must take control, not only of the circumstances, but also of his own fears.
God puts us through similar training. Christianity isn't for wimps. He saw the necessity to burn Jesus out in the desert--"though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things that He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8), so how much more will you and I be tried and tested if we want to walk in the footsteps of the Savior? If we want to rescue humanity from the fires of Hell, we must take con- trol, both of our own fears and of the demonic restraints placed in front of us.
The time has come when every able soldier is needed in the front line of battle. He who will not overcome will be overcome. We must keep our fears to ourselves and share our courage with others. We need to know what our weapons are, and we need to have expertise in their use so that we might be effective in penetrating into enemy territory. Ephesians 6:10-18 lists some of our inventory:
We have seven items listed:
It was James the 1st who said that armor was a wonderful invention--not only did it stop anyone from harming the wearer, but it also stopped the wearer doing any harm to anybody else. Not so with the armor of God. It is effective in both defence and offense. But for it to be such, we must make sure we are continually wearing the "full armor of God."
First, we are told to have "the belt of truth buckled around (our) waist." This is a reference to the belt worn by soldiers around the time this Scripture was written. Their clothing wasn't like ours. It was often loose. To be free from being hindered by this loose clothing, a soldier would "gird up his loins" or fasten the clothing to his belt. The application of this is very plain. If we allow any untruth to be resident within our minds or to be uttered from our lips, it will eventually trip us, causing us to stumble or to be our downfall.
So our first preparation for battle is to determine to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, from the heart, without compromise. That means we are to be honest with ourselves and others. David tells us that truth should be our shield. He says, "I have chosen the way of truth," speaking of a wilful resolution, while Solomon exhorts us to "buy the truth and sell it not." In other words, give your all for the truth and don't compromise at any price!
If you want to see how we deceive ourselves with lies, try this way of sharing your faith. Ask an unsaved person if he has kept the Ten Commandments. Most will say, "Yeah, pretty much." Then say, "Let's go through them and see how you do. Have you ever told a lie?" The usual answer is, "One or two." Then ask, "What does that make you?" and watch human nature do verbal contortions rather than face the truth. They will say, "I'm not a liar. Everyone tells white lies. I bet you've told lies! They're just `white' lies."
The Ten Commandments are like a mirror, and the picture we see reflected in the Law is not a pretty one. However, when we become Christians, we face the truth. We are sinners. Our hearts are desperately wicked. We are easily deceived by our own conceit. We can easily lie to ourselves, therefore we must continually search our hearts under the spotlight of the fear of God and the light of the Word of Truth.
If this is to be our attitude to truth in general, how much more should it be our attitude to the truth of the Gospel, where the eternal welfare of men's souls are at stake! We are to be "valiant for the truth," following He who has the "law of truth in His mouth," who is "full of grace and truth," who is "the way, the truth, and the life." Those who have been born of the Spirit of truth, "cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth"..."with the belt of truth buckled around your waist."
The second item which we are commanded to put on as soldiers of the Lord, is the "breastplate of righteousness." In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Paul says, "Let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love..." Here we are reminded that we are enlisted in the army of the God of love. Righteousness by itself is no defence against the enemy. The Pharisees had a form of righteousness, yet were still sons of the devil (John 8:44). Righteousness must be linked with faith (for without faith, it is impossible to please God) and love, for without love we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:13). This righteousness is that which determines whose side we are on: "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother." If we have been born of the God of righteousness we will live in righteousness. "Righteousness" according to Vine's expository Dictionary of New Testament Words is the "character or quality of being right or just. It was formally spelled `rightwiseness,' which clearly expresses the meaning."
It is said of Jesus in Isaiah Chapter 59, "For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon His head; and He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak." This gives us insight to the demeanor of our Commander in Chief. Words should elude us to describe our admiration, our esteem, our worship of Him who rushed headlong into battle for us. Such valor, such courage, such fearless gallantry should stir the fighting spirit within our hearts.
Jesus Christ, the Lord of righteousness loves righteousness. He has a vehement fervor for justice! The soldier who has been taught and trained by the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead will not only have righteousness, but will do righteousness. He should love what is right and hate what is wrong. The child of God longs for a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. He "hungers and thirsts for righteousness." If we haven't that testimony, then we haven't seen an answer to the cry "Create in me a clean heart O God, renew a right spirit in me," or perhaps that has never been our plea.
The breastplate keeps the heart clean, for out of the heart come the issues of life. How could we approach the King with soiled garments! Righteousness breeds holy boldness. If we had an audience with an earthly king, we would groom every hair on our head. We would go over our clothes with a fine tootthed comb, and go over our teeth with a fine bristled brush. We would check the mirror with the eye of a prosecuting attorney, looking for the finest of flaws. We would shine our shoes until they mirror our face. The king's position commands such respect. How much more then should we cleanse our hearts and minds daily through the water of the Word, so that we might have a bold confidence before the King of Righteousness.
How loudly does the sergeant-major of our conscience need to shout to bring us to attention? If we move out of order, do we hear his voice? A good soldier won't even wait for the voice of a sergeant major to call him into line. If by chance he gets out of step with what he knows he should be, he does immediate correction. Have we debts unpaid? Then sell your soul to pay them. Do we honor our parents? If they are still living, do them good. Give them your time, your money, your soul. This is acceptable to God (1 Timothy 5:4). Have we unforgiveness in our hearts. Then forgive or you will not be forgiven. Do we lack love? Then we must get on our knees and ask God to pour His love through us, or we have no biblical grounds to think we are saved. Are we easily irritated; do we obey traffic laws; do we love and pray with our husband or wife; do we read God's Word daily; do we pay all our taxes; is our thought-life pure--do we daily confess our sins and ask for cleansing when necessary...are we zealous for God? These questions are merely soul-searchers to see if we have the things that accompany salvation. This is the profile of the normal Christian. If we lack these things, better we are found out now, rather than on Judgment Day. Is God speaking to you about something right now? Then stop reading this book and resolve to do what you have failed to do, and undo what you should not have done. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. You can have a clean breastplate of righteousness, but if you leave that thing undone, you will give a foothold to the enemy. It will be a gaping hole in your armor.
Repent now, while there is time. There is no such thing as small sin. To steal one cent is to be a thief in the sight of God. There is no mention that the theft of Judas was even noticed by the other disciples. Perhaps he just took a little here and there, but it only takes a small hole in the hull to sink an ocean-liner. All it takes is time. God is not as impressed by the amount of money stolen. Our Creator is righteousness itself. Righteousness can no more be separated from His natural than the ink can be from this book. Adam's sin may look minor to the unregenerate, but we know that his act was willful, hateful, rebellious, and disobedient to Almighty God. We must strive to always have a conscience wience which is void of offence to both God and man, not only for our own sakes but for the sake of the unsaved. I desperately want God to use me to reach the lost. If I am not a straight-shooter with a pistol, He won't let me near the cannon.
One very valuable thing I learned as a new Christian was that the Scriptures say that we are to lay aside uncleanness of any sort. This means we are to lay aside the human tendency to have a perverted delight for that which is licentious or impure. We have a delight for impurity--unclean, gutter humor. A few moments of "adult humor" proves that to be true. But as children of God we are to lay that aside. Being involved in itinerant ministry I am able to fellowship with literally thousands of Christians. How grieved I am when I hear Christians, who are otherwise spiritual, dishonor their testimony by allowing themselves to delight in unclean humor. If we wouldn't say it in prayer, then we shouldn't say it at all. This uncleanness isn't confined to the pews. However, if we understand that humanity has this delight for impuri- ty, then we can reprove it or pull away from it when we see it lift its ugly and unclean head. This should cut down the amount of "comedy" entertainment we watch. Not only is most modern comedy unclean, but they employ "laughing audiences" which will have you laughing contagiously. Satan wants to stain your robe. Wash it constantly in the Blood of the Lamb..."with the breastplate of righteousness in place."
Even the Lowliest Part
The next part of our apparel is often not seen as being a necessary part of our armor. Paul goes on to say, "And with your feet fitted with the Gospel of peace as a firm footing." The King James Version says, "And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace."
How can our footwear be a vital part of our armor? Soldiers who have a fight within their spirit, a keenness, a smell for the battle, make the best fighters. They are prepared within their heart: "The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips." Their shoes are on. Their bayonets are fixed. One word from the Commander and they are into the thick of the battle--they love not their lives unto death.
These soldiers have studied how to be effective as a witness of the Gospel. They know that he who wins souls is wise. They have ordered their priorities, and know that there is no higher calling than to lead a sinner to Christ. They seek that which the Son of man came to seek...that which is lost. They know what pleases Headquarters--that Heaven rejoices when one sinner repents.
The Scriptures say, "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace..." Do you know what that means? It means that if you will obey the Great Commission to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, it so pleases God that He considers even your feet to be beautiful. If you can, slip off one of your shoes right now and have an objective look at your bare foot. With all vanity aside, you must admit that your foot is a little unbecoming. The small toe looks like a reject jelly bean, yet God says that if you preach His glorious Gospel, He considers that lowly, unattractive (even ugly) foot to be beautiful.
Some years ago, I was on a plane on my way to preach the Gospel. It was called the "Champagne flight." The weather was hot and I was wearing open footwear. As the stewardess (who was carrying the drinks) was walking down the aisle, she suddenly slipped and spilt the bubbly liquid over my feet. A moment later she returned and wiped them dry with a towel.
As she was doing so, I remember thinking, "Wow, what V.I.P. treatment God gives those who preach His Gospel--I've just had my feet washed with champagne!"
Join the Society of Beautiful Feet.
Have your feet always shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace. Always be prepared to give an answer for the reason of the hope that is within you.
Effective warfare means taking the full armor of God, and that includes having "your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace."
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