Thursday, February 9, 2012

What are YOU wearing?

Do you think a fireman would run into a burning building without all of his safety gear on?  Would a SCUBA diver attempt a dive without wearing every single piece of his SCUBA equipment?  What about a soldier? A policeman? An astronaut?  No matter what we're doing, if it calls for some specialized safety equipment, we make sure we're properly attired before we start, right?  I mean, would any of us, intentionally, put even one hand into an oven without first protecting our hand?  Not on purpose anyway.
But when we face everyday trials and tribulations, we don't think twice about going forward virtually (or is it literally) unprotected – practically naked, in fact.  What's up with that?  

In Ephesians, Paul tells us how we should be clothed and prepared to face life in a sinful world:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;...”  Ephesians 6:10-18
I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking that putting on armor was all well and good for folks who lived when Paul did, but we'd look pretty odd walking down the street dressed like roman soldiers.  But let's think it through a little bit farther.  Our lives really aren't much like a nice walk in the park, are they?  We (or maybe just I) often forget that we're walking through an active battlefield where the angels of God and the angels of Satan are fighting for our souls, every minute of everyday.  
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”  1Peter 5:8-9
The question is, would you step into a lion's cage naked?  Don't laugh because we're walking around in front of that hungry lion not just naked, but wearing raw meat perfume!  Who thought that was a good idea?

Let's check back with Paul and figure out what we need to be wearing to keep from getting eaten up by the lion, shall we?  Paul tells us that the first thing we have to do is to wrap ourselves in the truth.  But how do we do that, you ask?  Check out John 14:6: 
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
  Ah-ha!  We wrap ourselves in the truth by surrounding ourselves with Jesus—He is our foundation.
“The Lord will be your helper, and if you trust Him, will bring you up to a noble, elevated standard, and will place your feet upon the platform of eternal truth. Through the grace of Christ, you can make a right use of your entrusted capabilities, and become an agent for good in winning souls to Christ.” E. G. White, Our High Calling, 1961.
Next, Paul tells us to cover our hearts with Christ’s righteousness so that when Satan tells us that God would never really love sinners and that we will never be good enough, we can defend ourselves with the righteousness of Christ. 
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” Philippians 3:8-9
Now comes one of the hardest of Paul’s directives:  "to walk in the footsteps of Jesus…” There will always be obstacles before us, but we are to follow our Leader, and meet our difficulties unitedly, hand in hand. There is only one way to heaven. We must walk in the footsteps of Jesus, doing His works, even as He did the works of His Father. We must study His ways, not man's ways; we must obey His will, not our own. Walk carefully. Do not go ahead of Christ. Make no move without consulting your Leader. Ask in humble prayer, and "ye shall receive." He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. …Our only hope of reaching heaven is to be one with Christ, and then, in and through Christ, we shall be one with one another. No one is called to walk alone. In Christ life and immortality are brought to light. He has opened the way to the kingdom of heaven to those who believe in Him, but He assigns to no one a path different to that which all must travel. He calls for unity, and unity we must have. God asks us to sink self in Christ. For the natural man this is not easy. But through the power of the incarnation of Christ, God manifest in the flesh, the strength of God is revealed in gentleness and beauty. To 
"as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." By this power we may overcome our evil tendencies and so modify our imperfect dispositions that the will of God may be fulfilled in us.” E.G. White, Letter 79, May 7, 1903, to J.A. Burden and wife.
We must always carry in our minds the reality of our own salvation, once we have given our lives to Jesus.  
“Many have confused ideas in regard to conversion. … They could not comprehend the plan of salvation. “Many have stumbled to ruin because of the erroneous doctrines taught by some ministers concerning the change that takes place at conversion. Some have lived in sadness for years, waiting for some marked evidence that they were accepted by God. …they dare not profess Christ, because they fear it would be presumption to say that they are children of God. They are waiting for that peculiar change that they have been led to believe is connected with conversion. “… God accepted them when they became weary of sin, and having lost their desire for worldly pleasures, resolved to seek God earnestly. But, failing to understand the simplicity of the plan of salvation, they lost many privileges and blessings which they might have claimed had they only believed, when they first turned to God, that He had accepted them. “…The evidences of a genuine work of grace on the heart are to be found not in feeling, but in the life.”  E.G. White, My Life Today, 1952.
Finally Paul tells us that the Word of God and prayer are our weapons against evil.  There is a difference here though.  So far Paul has told us to “put on” something, but these last two are things we must “pick up”, and practice with so that we will be able to use them effectively when the need arises. 
“Let them study the Scriptures. Let them commit text after text to memory, and acquire a knowledge of what the Lord has said. . . . And in trial … spread out the Word of God before them, and with humble hearts, and in faith, seek the Lord for wisdom to find out His way, and for strength to walk in it. . . . “Let them have stated seasons for prayer, never neglecting them if it can possibly be avoided. … armed with the Word of God, having it treasured in heart and mind, they will come forth unharmed by all the assaults of the foes of God or man. . . . “Satan is a wise general; but the humble, devoted soldier of Jesus Christ may overcome him.” E.G. White, My Life Today, 1952.

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