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Tag Archives: the armor of God

Cutting the Ties with Your Past

In 1982, Don Henley released Dirty Laundry, a single from the I Can’t Stand Still album. This former number one hit refers to personal and private affairs that individuals do not want made public. Unfortunately, sooner or later this truth usually gets out via gossip or rumors. Even when some of these deeds of darkness are untrue, dirty laundry can permanently damage or ruin reputations.

As it is written and forever remains written, “There is none righteous [none that meets God’s standard], not even one,” Romans 3:10.

The apostle Paul brings up the topic of dirty laundry in a letter to the church at Rome. Paul quotes the Old Testament making it obvious that no one is righteous, not even one. Based upon the context in Romans 2, Christians in Rome began to compare themselves with pagans, prodigals and sinners. The passage above deflates any hopes for self-righteous, a painful reminder of mankind’s inability to always do what is right.

So put to death and deprive of power the evil longings of your earthly body [with its sensual, self-centered instincts] immorality, impurity, sinful passion, evil desire, and greed, which is [a kind of] idolatry [because it replaces your devotion to God]. Because of these [sinful] things the [divine] wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience [those who fail to listen and who routinely and obstinately disregard God’s precepts], and in these [sinful things] you also once walked, when you were habitually living in them [without the knowledge of Christ], Colossians 3:5-7.

During a letter written to the church at Colosse, Paul urges readers to cut ties with their past, by stop indulging the sinful nature. In the beginning of chapter 3, Paul insists that the only way to truly be free is by first cutting ties with your past. Then, as you do this, you must replace your sinful nature by putting on Christ. Beside arming yourself with God’s armor, Ephesians 6:12-18, your heart and mind must be aligned with Christ. Until this spiritual discipline is exercised, you will never be able to fully cut ties with your past.

by Jay Mankus

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The Exorcists in the Bible

The 1973 film the Exorcist is a classic horror movie that will scare the hell out of you. Adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel, a mother notices dramatic and worrisome changes in the behavior and physical make-up of her 12-year-old daughter. This storyline sets the stage for an exorcism conducted by two priests. Although this fictional scene may seem unbelievable today, the supernatural power exhibited by demons and evil spirits is consistent with that found during an exorcism gone wrong in the Bible.

Then some of the traveling Jewish exorcists also attempted to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I implore you and solemnly command you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches!” 14 Seven sons of one [named] Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this, Acts 19:13-14.

During Paul’s third missionary journey, God enabled Paul to perform extraordinary and unusual miracles. Just as followers of Jesus gathered around to touch the edge of his cloak, Matthew 9:20-22, aprons, handkerchiefs and towels touched by Paul were used to heal the sick. As bystanders watched in awe, 7 brothers decided to imitate Paul’s teaching, performing exorcists in the name of Jesus and Paul. However, during one encounter with a demon possessed man, an evil spirit attacked all 7, ripped their clothes off as each exited a house, running for their lives buck naked.

But the evil spirit retorted, “I know and recognize and acknowledge Jesus, and I know about Paul, but as for you, who are you?” 16 Then the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they ran out of that house [in terror, stripped] naked and wounded. 17 This became known to all who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified and exalted, Acts 19:15-17.

College professors and public school teachers often refer to the Bible as out of date, not relative in today’s progressive culture. Yet, the passage above unveils a glimpse of the supernatural powers that exist in the spiritual realm. During my last few years at the University of Delaware, I was fortunate to meet and hear missionaries share their experiences living within third world nations. One guest speaker talked about America becoming spiritually dead, numb to the idea of demons, evil spirits and powers of darkness. Perhaps, the armor of God is included within of Ephesians 6 as a reminder to the 7 sons of Sceva who were from Ephesus to prepare skeptics for the schemes of the Devil. If you don’t take this threat seriously, you too could be caught off guard like these exorcists in the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

The Righteous Mirror

The inventor of a silver glass mirror is credited to Justus von Liebig.  This German chemist used a thin layer of metallic silver onto glass through the chemical reduction of silver nitrate.  Prior to 1835, individuals could see their reflection from a still body of water under ideal conditions.  Yet, modern day mirrors enable the human eye to see fine details, revealing flaws and imperfections on your face and body.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God], 1 Corinthians 13:11-12.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul eludes to a righteous mirror.  Paul uses the term sanctifying grace, an ongoing spiritual process necessary to purify souls from sin that manifests itself on earth.  This concept is built upon in Paul’s second letter, 2 Corinthians 5:21.  Despite the reality of disobedient hearts, human error and repetitive mistakes, when God sees human beings, a righteous mirror reflects Christ in our place.

So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), Ephesians 6:14.

According to the Bible, the Devil uses numerous schemes to take your eyes off of Christ.  When your eyes aren’t fixed upon Jesus, you become vulnerable to Satanic attacks.  These come in the form of subtle temptations, thoughts and whispers that deviate from the Bible.  Thus, its essential to put on the armor of God.  This includes the belt of truth that hold the breastplate of righteous in place.  Just as a catcher in baseball uses a chest protector, Christians should apply the proper equipment.  When you do, you won’t see all your blemishes.  Rather, as you do, God will see the righteous of Jesus, Christ in you.

by Jay Mankus

The Gravational Pull Between Good and Evil

The invisible force that causes massive objects to pull other objects toward them is known as a gravitational pull.  When a professional athlete jumps into the air, the earth’s gravitational pull forces them back to the ground.  Early theologians developed the concept of dualism to help explain a similar pull between good and evil.  Dualism believes there are two independent powers behind everything that happens, one good and the other bad.  In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis states that the universe is the battlefield in which this endless war is fought.

But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the [sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts], Galatians 5:16.

Prior to introducing the concept of the armor of God to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul describes the gravitational pull between good and evil.  Unlike dualism, these invisible forces are clearly defined.  In the right corner, the Holy Spirit is a guiding light, directing, prompting and urging souls to choose obedience in accordance with biblical law.  Meanwhile, the sinful nature opposes God’s Spirit, using impulses, lust and temporary pleasures to entice individuals to break God’s law.  Angels and demons fight for souls in the spiritual realm, pulling hearts and minds in different directions.

For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do, Galatians 5:17.

One of the weapons the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, uses is misinformation.  Going back to the Garden of Eden, Lucifer planted doubt within the mind of Eve by suggesting, “did God really say that?”  Replacing truth with justification and rationalization, the gravitational pull of sin is hard to resist, James 1:13-15.  Meanwhile, the Lord uses confession, James 5:16, pouring out grace and mercy upon willing participants to pull people back into fellowship with God.  In view of this wrestling match between good and evil, keep in step with the Holy Spirit so that your eternal destination will be secured, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

The Searing of the Mind

If a live frog is placed into boiling water, the instinct to jump will immediately kick in, escaping this pot in a split second.  However, if you take a pond, gradually increase the temperature without stopping, this creature will die, scalded and scorched by extreme conditions.  Unfortunately, the same conclusion can be drawn to the human mind.  As the American culture has become pornified, filled with graphic images, mature content and shocking sights, the searing of the human mind has commenced.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

If you have lived a sheltered life, guarded and protected by parents, you may be naïve to the numerous temptations that exist today.  Whenever you veer off into a foreign place, accidently take a wrong turn or wander into unknown territory, the presence of darkness can be overwhelming.  During a first century trip through the streets of Athens, the apostle Paul was troubled.  Depending upon what Bible commentary you rely on for research, Paul likely witnessed nudity, prostitution and sexual practices in the name of religion.  With each step, Paul’s mind was bombarded by unwholesome symbols, breaking his heart and distressing his soul.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23

During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reveals a key relationship between eyes and the mind.  Based upon the analogy above, eyes are the light source for human beings with minds serving as a screening mechanism.  When minds fail to filter out the presence of darkness, corruption occurs.  If unhealthy thoughts are allowed to go unchecked without any urgent action, pornographic images are collected, processed and stored.  Like a sponge cleaning up split water on a counter, minds absorb countless sights that you are exposed to daily.  Thus, without the discipline of putting on the armor of God, Ephesians 6:12-20, to fight against lust, innocent minds can be scarred for life.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, Romans 12:2.

In an article first published in 2011, the Christian Research Journal wrote about the Effects of Porn on the Male Brain.  This piece attempts to illustrate how pornography impacts hormonal, neurochemical and neurological development as sexual images become attached to souls.  One of my favorite points made by the author is that viewing pornography hijacks the normal functioning of the brain and it’s maladaptive patterns.  Perhaps, this man explain the call to action to renew your mind in the passage above.  Pornography is one of those taboo topics most churches side step, afraid to confront.  Yet, as this world continues to push the envelope further and further, it’s time to educate the masses to the searing of the human mind.  May the Bible guide, instruct and prepare you with the necessary resources to overcome the temptations people face in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Visual Paradox

There are times in life when your eyes deceive you.  You will run into people who appear courteous and kind, yet fail to reveal their hidden agenda within.  This visual paradox keeps you from seeing reality; the truth about what is happetning.  These anomalies, conundrums and enigmas keep you in the dark.  This mystery often goes unsolved until it’s too late or the answers remain with those who kept silent, now buried and gone.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth, Psalm 145:18.

There is a new movement sweeping America that defies logic.  While I am not sure of it’s origin, diversity is the energy driving this political ideology.  When common sense pokes holes in this desire to embrace everyone, the media rises up to shut down opposing views.  On the surface, this message sounds like something Jesus would have said, “to love your neighbor as yourself.”  This mental paradox has placed many Christians in the middle, unsure if loving your neighbor includes terrorists who secretly want to kill you.

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him, John 18:37-38.

In the first century, Jesus had his own set of enemies.  Jealous religious leaders believed Jesus was trying to usurp their political and religious power.  Subsequently, when Jesus didn’t conform to their worldview, plots to kill him began to surface.  Today, liberal leaders feel so strongly about secularism that if you don’t accept, adhere and embrace progressive ideas, you are pressured to deny your previous held beliefs.  At the college level, if you choose to exercise you first amendment rights by disagreeing, this visual paradox is exposed for what it is, an attempt to force a code of ethics upon individuals without conviction, faith or inspiration.

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, Ephesians 6:14.

The only successful way to combat this visual paradox is with truth.  If a roman soldier did not secure his belt, his armor would become vulnerable to a surprise attack.  Likewise, if individuals do not wear a belt, you could be caught with your pants falling down.  To avoid this fate, arm yourself with spiritual weapons by putting on the armor of God daily.  This discipline takes time and practice to apply.  Yet, if you are diligent, securing the belt of truth will prevent you from being deceived by similar visual paradoxes that emerge in the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Pursuit for Truth

Due to an outbreak of fake news, news, political and social media sites are hiring fact checkers to decipher truth from fiction.  However, if one worldview does not belief in absolute truth, distinguishing opinions from reality becomes challenging.  Unfortunately, this pursuit for truth often ends up in a he said, she said dispute.

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, Ephesians 6:14.

One of the first sermons I ever heard on the Armor of God has stuck with me.  The pastor was using the analogy of getting dressed.  Unless you enjoy wearing tight clothes or have gained weight around the waist, pants require a belt to stay on.  Yet, if you become careless, lazy or negligent, you can get caught with your pants down.  This occurs when you embrace false statements that on the surface appear to be true.

And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth,” 1 Kings 17:24.

There is a fine line between seeing and believing.  Yet, anyone who consistently demonstrates a pattern of integrity will eventually earn the respect of outsiders.  The woman in the account above may have heard about Elijah, but his actions won her over.  Subsequently, if you want to pursue truth beware of rhetoric.  Rather, take your time, examine the whole context and test what you hear using biblical principles to ascertain truth.

by Jay Mankus

 

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