Vol. 1 - No. 10
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Spiritual Strength Is Within Our Reach
by William C. Sexton
When we come near the end of a letter, we usually make that final appeal, last remark, which we hope to be remembered! Paul, the inspired apostle, wrote a letter to the Christians at Ephesus. Near the end (6:10ff) he made a final appeal, which has very far reaching implications. We challenge each to look at it, carefully:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil days, and having done all to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 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 for all saints -- and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (NKJV).
An exhaustive study of this passage would require much time and more space than we have available here and now. A simple four point lesson, I trust, can be profitable to us, however. Such is our plan here.
1. The Value of Man's Part in Reaching!
The first point that registers in my mind as I read this is: Say, man has a part in this! The appeal is “be strong…..” Surely man can, or he would not be told to do it. If it was done for him, there would be no need to direct him to do it.
Yet, in my observation of what is taught in the religious world, I find this a bit out of focus. Often man is preached at -- that there is NOT much if anything that he/she can do. It is up to God.
The emphasis of the New Testament is certainly NOT on trying to persuade God but God persuading man. (2 Corinthians 5:10-11).
Beloved, are you and I appreciative of the fact that we can have a part in our salvation? In fact, whether or not we are lost or saved depends on that part we play! The rest is done perfectly. Only can we become confused by man's message that we can't do anything to obtain that salvation provided by God, or be kept in ignorance about the conditions set forth by God. Be sure that we don't allow that to happen.
2. The Location of That Strength: “In The Lord”
If one is outside the location wherein the values are stored, he can't have them. The New Testament writers have repeatedly stated that salvation is in CHRIST . (2 Timothy 2:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 1:3; 7:11; Colossians 1:14).
The writers are just as concise, understandable, and emphatic on HOW to get “into” Christ: believing (John 8:24), confessing (Romans 10:9-10), repenting (Acts 11:18), being baptized (1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 6:3-4). They show the necessity of remaining “in” Him, too, by repenting when we sin (Acts 8:22), and confessing the same to God (I John 1:9), by bearing fruit, keeping His word (John 15:1-8). Beloved, are we in the location where the God of heaven placed SALVATION, SPIRITUAL STRENGTH?
Don't let anyone tell you that you can't know! God's word is plain, and you can if you will (cf. John 7:17). Without doing what He directs, however, one has no right to call Him Lord (Luke 6:46), nor to expect salvation, regardless of how many preachers, elders, or friends tell us otherwise.
3. The Real Enemy: Satan!
The opponent of God, you and me, and all that is good is Satan! We need to see that he has many devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), and he will employ every crafty tool to deceive us, divert our attention away from the directions of God, and destroy us ultimately.
None of us must ever forget or minimize the GRACE of God: the Father's foreknowledge, the Spirit's sanctification, the Son's blood (1 Peter 1:2). Without what has been provided by each of these and them as a whole, none of us could be saved. Yet, what they have done, are doing, and shall do -- all is perfect. But many are destined to be lost, (Matthew 7:13-14) NOT because of some deficiency of the Divine side of salvation. Rather, because of man's neglect (Hebrews 2:3), postponement (Luke 12:7), ignorance (Luke 12:48), evil behavior (Revelation 21:8), will he be lost: his failure to, by obedience, to apply the “blood of Jesus Christ” will keep him/her from heaven, (Revelation 22:14).
It seems the work of the evil one to preach and lay stress on the concept of -- MAN CAN'T DO ANYTHING to obtain salvation. It is my understanding that the whole message is designed to point to WHAT GOD HAS PROVIDED AND ON WHAT CONDITIONS! Then every message delivered has that common point of emphasis: act so that you may obtain. (Cf. Acts 2:40; 3:17; 6:7; 8:12-13; 22:16; Hebrews 4:1-2; 1 Corinthians 9:24e27, etc., etc.).
He will try to get us to look to man instead of God's rules. He will try to get us to fight with carnal weapons instead of with the spiritual armor provided by God. He will try to get us caught up in some movement that is a departure from God, rather than being busy in the Lord's cause. He will seek to get us to fight and/or doubt our brethren, participate in evil conduct, be negligent in opposing the things which are wrong and/or affirming and advocating the RIGHT!
Beloved, let each of us recognize that the people who seek to lead us in paths not made by the Lord are, in fact, working for Satan. Such is the case, regardless of how pious, humble, kind and gentle they may appear on the surface.
Conversely, all who seek to lead us into a study and application of God's precepts are, in fact, our “friends,” and are agents or instruments of God to challenge and provoke us to BE STRONG IN THE LORD! May we identify each and respond according to their master.
4. Equipment: Provided, But Must Be “Put On”
The emphasis in this passage is on putting the armor on! God has provided all the weapons we need to win the battle, gain the victory, but we must PUT THEM ON! They are pointed to: some to ward off the attack of the evil one and his army, while one is to penetrate to the innermost part of the opponent -- the word of God! Look briefly at these parts:
1. Have the waist “girded” with TRUTH! Are we wrapped up in truth?
2. Have the feet “shod” with the preparation of the gospel. What are we standing and walking on? Are we prepared? Wherein or on what is our peace?
3. Have a shield of “faith,” which will protect us from the fiery darts of the wicked one thrown at us. Does our faith make the darts cast by evil persons fall to the ground without hurting us?
4. Have the head covered, protected with the “helmet of salvation.” Is the knowledge of and value of salvation ever in the forefront of our mind? That hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8) is enough to keep us cool and under control at all times IF WE WILL THINK CORRECTLY ON THE RIGHT THINGS (Philippians 4:8-9).
5. Have the breast covered and protected with righteousness. If you and I have our sins forgiven by the blood of Christ and are directed by the instructions from heaven, being able to point to the place where “it is written,” giving an answer for that hope (Matthew 4:4ff; 1 Peter 3:15), we can't be destroyed by Satan and his army.
6. Have in the hand the sword of the Spirit --the word of God! Are we aiming it? Pressing it?
7. Have on our lips words addressed to God --prayer! Being mindful that for saints to persevere, we all must be faithful, resisting the temptations of Satan and advocating and affirming the gospel of peace. Humbly requesting for the success of the strongest and the weakest, ought to be desired.
We can't all do the same thing, but we can all work as we “ought.”
Friend, you and I may be weak, handicapped in various ways, make many mistakes, etc., etc...yet we can be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. So, let us reach out and take by faith that which is within our reach to claim. Let us not make excuse that there is nothing for us to do, that God will do it all, nor more is required than we can know or do! He, you can do it! Let us Reach, Grasp, and Hold!