Dear KMAG: 20200621 Open Topic

This Sanctuary Sunday Open Thread, with full respect to those who worship God on the Sabbath, is a place to reaffirm our worship of our Creator, our Father, our King Eternal. It’s an opportunity to let the events of this world grow increasingly dim, while we focus on things above – God’s glory and grace.

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The Infallible Posture

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10-11)

We look at the struggle of life in the light of Paul’s great revelation that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world’s present darkness, the spiritual hosts of wickedness in high places.”

We see that all that happens to us in our lives as Christians which discourages us, defeats us, confuses us, or renders us indifferent to the great truth of God is part of this great struggle. It is a manifestation of this conflict in which we are engaged.

We are aware of failures, of problems, of weakness, of obstinacy and stubbornness, of rebellion, and other things in our life of which we are not proud. These again have been manifestations of this great struggle in which we are engaged.

We are coming now to a time of conflict, another time of struggle. What can we do about this? How can we fight back? In practical terms, what can we do about the struggle we face?

First, we put on the armor of God. Paul says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The clear implication is that if we do not put on the whole armor of God, we will not be able to stand. If we are doubtful about that, life itself will prove it to us. We cannot stand without this armor which represents what we are in Christ and what Christ is to us now, in very practical terms.

Everything rests ultimately on that first piece of armor, which is Jesus Christ as the truth. Let us gird up our loins with the girdle of truth. All Christian faith relates to and derives from the authority of Jesus Christ. He is the truth. That is the first thing. We are to put on the whole armor of God.

Second, he tells us we are to pray. Not merely put on the armor, but also pray. Not only to think about what Christ is and the great truths he reveals, but also to talk to God about them, to lean on his help, to hold conversation with him, to engage ourselves directly and personally with the God who is our strength and our help. We can talk to him and pray about all things.

Now we come to the third and last thing in the apostle’s admonition to us in this passage. It is given to us in but one word, but a word which is repeated four different times throughout this entire passage. It is the word stand.

Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore. (Ephesians 6:11, 6:13-14a)

Everything aims at this, that we might be able to stand. What does it mean, “to stand”?  We are to refuse to move from the ground of faith we have taken, refuse to yield ground, stand. Now why does the apostle put it this way? Why does he not say fight? Having done all, fight! Put on the whole armor of God and advance, charge. Why does he not use some military term that speaks of moving out?

We must take these words seriously, for, after all, these are not play words used lightly. These are serious commands given in a very serious fight. The apostle uses the word stand because it is the only proper word to use. It is the only word which describes the final attitude we must have to insure absolute victory.

As we look at this word more carefully, we can see that it touches on three aspects of the struggle of life: First, the use of this word stand reveals to us the intensity of the struggle in which we are involved. We are told to stand because there are times when that is all we can do. The most we can possibly hope to achieve at times is that we should simply stand, unmoved. The intensity of the conflict becomes so furious, so fierce, there is nothing else we can do but simply hold oue ground. That is what this word implies to us.

Paul has already spoken in this passage about evil days which come. These are days when circumstances simply stagger us, when we face some combination of events, some disheartening tragedy or circumstance that almost knocks us off our feet and we can do nothing else but hope to stand where we are. There are times when doubts plague us. We are exposed to intellectual attacks and we find we have all we can do to assert any degree of faith at all. There are situations and circumstances into which we come when we are overwhelmed with fears and anxieties and we scarcely can keep our heads, because we are under pressure. There are times when indifference seems to sap our spiritual strength so much we lose all our vitality. It drains away our will to act, our motivation, and we seem unable to make ourselves do the simplest things to maintain faith.

This is all part of the struggle. We get disturbed when we see our growth in the Christian life apparently stopped. Our ministry or our witness seems to be impossible or ineffective. All the challenge and keenness of our spiritual life is gone. What are we to do then? Paul says we are to gird up our loins, put on the whole armor of God, pray, and having done all, stand! Stay right where you are until the attack lessens. This is the final word.

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” (1 Timothy 4:1). We read that as though it were a prediction of the closing moments of the age. But the “latter times” means the whole of the age, from our Lord’s first coming until his second. Paul is not talking about one particular time of trouble reserved for the last moment; he is talking about troubles which come throughout the whole course of these latter days.

But the Word also makes clear that these troubles become fiercer in intensity and more widespread in their impact as the age draws to its close. There is a growing awareness in our day that we live in a one-world community. We are no longer separated from other peoples by great distances of thought or time. What happens on the other side of the world today affects us tomorrow. We are very much aware of this.

The vaunted solutions of men are not working. The approaches to these problems upon which men pin their faith — such as education, scientific discoveries, economic improvements, better legislation — these things are not working.

It is getting worse, because, as we have seen all along, the issue never lies in these superficial, surface realms. It lies much deeper, in the hearts and souls of men under the domination of cruel and resistless power that dominates the world, whom Paul calls “the world rulers of this present darkness.” Only the delivering strength of Jesus Christ is adequate to deal with them.

That is the world we are facing, and because of it, there are many who are faltering. God is permitting this in order to separate the phony from the true. He says he will do this; the Word makes it very clear. There is a passage in Hebrews where we are definitely told that the things which can be shaken will be shaken. God is allowing these testings to reveal the genuine and to remove what can be shaken in order that what cannot be shaken might remain.

Therefore, evil days come. When they come into your own personal experience you will need to remember that the Word of God to you is to put on the whole armor of God, to pray, and then stand. Perhaps you will realize that there is nothing else you can do, but that you can win if you stand.

There is a second aspect of the struggle indicated by this word stand. It indicates to us the character of the battle the Christian faces. We are to stand because this is a defensive action, primarily. The proper defense will win the day. If a castle is under attack from an army, the battle is not won by those in the castle venturing forth to overwhelm the army outside. The battle is won by repelling all invasion. This is a picture of our Christian life. This is a defensive battle, not offensive. We are not out to take new ground; we are to defend that which is already ours.

In the Christian battle the offensive work was done almost 2000 years ago at the cross and the resurrection. The Lord Jesus is the only one who has the power and strength to take the offensive in this great battle with the prince of darkness. But he has already done that. All that we possess as believers is already given to us. We do not fight for it. We do not battle to be saved, or fight to be justified, or forgiven, or accepted into the family of God. All these things are given to us. They were won by another, who, in the words of Paul in Colossians, “took principalities and powers and nailed them to his cross, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14-15), and led them captive who had held the world captive.

We are to hold on to that which God gives us and not let any of it be lost or taken from us, as to our use of it. This is what the phrase “contend earnestly for the faith” means.  It means to hold on to what God has already given you and utilize it to the full. As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong,” (1 Corinthians 16:13 KJV). Do not surrender an inch of ground, even though others do.

The Christian who learns to stand, to give up no segment of his faith, but to put on the armor of God and to pray and thus be immovable, is the only Christian who in any way will reflect the love of Christ in the midst of unlovely situations.

There is a third aspect of the struggle suggested by this word. It is the certainty of victory. If putting on the armor of God and prayer makes it possible to stand unmoved and immovable, then nothing more is required to win. After all, if a castle cannot be taken, the attacking army has nothing left to do but to withdraw. There is nothing else it can do. It is defeated, beaten.

Any saint, any believer, even the newest and weakest, who stands in the strength of Christ, puts on the whole armor of God, and, in dependence upon the presence of God in prayer, stands, then the devil is always defeated.

The devil ultimately must be defeated if anyone will simply stand on what God has said. It is his fate continually to be defeated by the very weapons he tries to use against God and his people.

The cross is the great example of this. The cross looked like the supreme achievement of the devil, the supreme moment of victory when all the powers of darkness were howling with glee as they saw the Son of God beaten and wounded, rejected and despised, hanging upon a cross, naked, before all the world. It looked like the triumph of darkness. Jesus said it was: “This is your hour,” he said, “and the power of darkness,” (Luke 22:53b). But it was that very moment when the devil lost. In the cross all that the devil had risked was defeated, beaten down, and the devil and all his angels were disarmed and openly displayed as defeated by the power of Jesus Christ.

This is what God does all through life. The devil sends sickness, defeat, death, darkness, pain, suffering, and tragedy. It is all the work of Satan. But that is not the whole of the story. God takes those very things — those very things! — and uses them to strengthen us and bless us, to teach us and enlarge us and fulfill us, if we stand. This is the whole story.

This is what it means to stand. One of these days, the Bible says, the struggle will end. It will end for all of us at the end of our lives, but it can end before that in the coming of the Lord. Someday it will be over, there is no doubt. And someday it will be said to some, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Adapted from *https://www.raystedman.org/new-testament/ephesians/the-infallible-posture

518 thoughts on “Dear KMAG: 20200621 Open Topic

    1. I (heart) your thinking

      But moving Pompeo down from SoS to SecDef is a demotion

      Trump is a pushing for ultimate Peacetime ops, not continuous warfare

      Rumsfeld marginalized Powell only b/c of Iraq War

      Pompeo still to DRAIN Dept State Swamp

      Put Grinell in DoD or FBI

      WIN+WIN

      Liked by 5 people

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