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Tag Archives: the armor of God

A Critical Hour to Love

Whenever you do a quick review of your life, there were times when you needed encouragement, hope or a friend to lift you out of depression. If you didn’t receive a call, have someone come over to your house or pray for you, you may not have recovered. Last week I heard a sad story of a first responder to the Coronavirus who committed suicide. Apparently, she took her own life, afraid she might infect someone she loved. This tragic event reminds me an expression used by the apostle Paul. In a letter to the church of Rome, Paul suggested that this is a critical time to love.

Besides this you know what [a critical] hour this is, how it is high time now for you to wake up out of your sleep (rouse to reality). For salvation (final deliverance) is nearer to us now than when we first believed (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on Christ, the Messiah), Romans 13:11.

Human nature has a way of lulling individuals into a false sense of security. If you are not disciplined, focused or in tune with the Holy Spirit, you may first yourself falling into a deep spiritually sleep. Daily updates about new cases of and deaths from COVID-19 can make normally optimistic people comfortably numb. Whenever you stop moving forward, neutral can quickly turn into reverse. If the current Coronavirus pandemic isn’t calling you to act now, what are you waiting for? As Jesus said in the first century, “the harvest is ready, but the workers are few.”

The night is far gone and the day is almost here. Let us then drop (fling away) the works and deeds of darkness and put on the [full] armor of light, Romans 13:12.

Instead of leaving readers in the dark, the apostle Paul offers directions. The first step is to stop enabling your flesh to indulge sinful desires. Once you put to death your old self, Colossians 3:1-4, you can begin to put on the armor of God, Ephesians 6:12-18. Those who make a successful transition from darkness to light are in prime position to shine during times of crisis. If you stop for a moment to take a look at all of the needs around, a sense of urgency will conceive a desire to love. Franklin Graham’s ministry Samaritan’s Purse has led the way with their field hospital in Central Park to show the love of Jesus to Coronavirus patients fighting for their lives.

by Jay Mankus

Unmasking Nightmares

As Halloween 2019 arrives, will the events of today result in nightmares tomorrow? Nightmares are triggered by anxiety, stress or trauma. These unpleasant dreams can range from reliving a scene from a recently watched horror movie to strong emotional unrest within your mind. The most severe nightmares are brought on by posttraumatic stress disorder. Engaging in military combat, coping with abuse or witnessing a death can make every night like a real life Nightmare on Elm Street.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully, 1 Peter 5:7.

At the beginning of chapter 5, a former disciple of Jesus addresses the sufferings individuals will experience on earth. Anyone who makes the decision to follow Jesus is at greater risk. For example, the person who wrote this letter was crucified up-side down for his faith. When anxieties, concerns and worries overwhelm your soul, Peter urges Christians to cast their cares at the feet of Christ. As nightmares begin to stir your mind into a tizzy, cry out to God in prayer to stop these brain tremors in their tracks.

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

Just when I thought it was safe, Peter drops a bombshell about a spiritual danger that exists. As a child, I loved to watch Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. One of the episodes illustrated the passage above as lions recognized, separated and wore down weak animals who were surrounded and killed. This passage unmasks Satan’s schemes on earth. One of the ways people get worn down is through nightmares. When bodies don’t get enough sleep, minds are weakened, affecting how you function. If you want to fight back, the apostle Paul suggests using spiritual weapons to protect your mind, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. As believers begin to put on the armor of God, Ephesians 6:12-18, minds will receive the protection you need to unmask nightmares as an attack from the evil one.

by Jay Mankus

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

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

 

 

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