Sunday, May 15, 2011

Is THAT what you’re wearing?

Thoughts about the Sabbath School Lesson dated 5.21.11
Have you ever had anyone ask you that question? The person asking is probably trying to offer constructive criticism, it can be a disturbing question, to which there is no good answer.  It usually indicates that what you’ve chosen to wear is inappropriate in some way, so if your answer is “yes,” be prepared to worry about what is wrong with what you’re wearing and will everybody be laughing at you for the rest of the day.  If you decide to change your outfit, well, first you’ll probably be late, but beyond that, this outfit is your second choice. 

Have you ever felt like God was asking you that question?  Were you on your way out into the world spiritually under-dressed?  Can you imagine how hard it must be for Him to watch us running around practically spiritually naked and vulnerable to whatever Satan’s going to throw in our direction?  Especially when Jesus has made sure that each  of us has a closet full of things He’s given us to protect us  from Satan’s attacks.  Not only has He given it to us, He tells us exactly how (and why) to use it!
“Put on God's whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.  For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.  Therefore put on God's complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].  Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.  Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].  And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.”  Ephesians 6:11-17 (The Amplified Bible)
Of course, that’s all on top of Christ’s robe of righteousness.  But not only do we go around without any of the armor, we insist on walking around in our own righteousness (filthy rags) and expect to be able to survive the attacks of Satan.  Karen Moderow describes an experience she had that helped her to understand:  
“After an elegant evening out, I discovered--to my dismay--that my back collar was unbuttoned, exposing a three-inch triangle of flesh. I realized the parallel between my fashion woes and spiritual life. Despite the care I take with my appearance, I unexpectedly find myself exposed. My ‘unmentionables’--the sharp word, the critical attitude--show through. I have no more success making myself presentable to the Lord than I have at dressing. But there's hope. Although my own righteousness is like filthy rags, God has ‘clothed me with the garments of salvation, and covered me with the robe of righteousness.’ Good thing, too! Otherwise, I wouldn't stand a chance!”[1]
She’s so right!  Without God’s protection of us, we would have absolutely no hope of every being in Heaven with Him.
“In The Encourager, Charles Mylander writes: ‘Sunrise was dawning when Los Angeles motorcycle police officer Bob Vernon saw a red pickup truck speed through a stop sign. This guy must be late to work, he thought to himself. He turned on his emergency lights and radioed that he was in pursuit. The pickup pulled over, and the officer approached.
“‘Meanwhile in the truck, the driver thought, The cops already know! He was scared. He rested his hand on the same gun he had used a few moments before to rob a twenty-four-hour market. The sack of stolen money was beside him on the seat.
“‘The officer said, “Good morning, sir, may I see your…”
“‘He never finished the sentence. The driver shoved his gun toward the policeman's chest and fired from just inches away. The cop was knocked flat seven feet away.
“‘A few seconds later, to the shock of the criminal, the officer stood up, pulled his service revolver, and fired twice. The first bullet went through the open window and smashed the windshield. The second tore through the door and ripped into the driver's left leg.
“‘“Don't shoot!’ the thief screamed, throwing the gun and sack of money out the pickup window.
“‘What saved the policeman's life was dozens of layers of Kevlar, the super strong fabric used for bulletproof vests. Only three-eighths of an inch thick, Kevlar can stop bullets cold.’ In (Ephesians 6), the Bible instructs every Christian to put on the full armor of God. Simple qualities like righteousness and faith can deflect what the Enemy of souls may fire at us.”[2]
Can you imagine how that interaction would have ended if Officer Vernon had started his day without his Kevlar vest on?  I’ve hear people who wear those vests talk about how heavy, hot and uncomfortable they are, but most folks wear them anyway, though.  It would be insane to do their jobs without that extra protection.

What does that say about us?  We’re not just dealing with people who want to do us harm, Satan is just waiting for an opening to attack us.   
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
OK, let’s take a good look at ourselves in our spiritual mirrors.  Is that really what I want to wear out into a world where Satan is just watching for any vulnerable spot so he can attack?  Have I put on the whole armor of God over His robes of righteousness?
“I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

[1] Karen Moderow, Roswell, GA. Today's Christian Woman, "Heart to Heart
[2] Mike Neifert, Lynn, Indiana. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 3.

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