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Walking to battle
I am reading Robert E. Merriam’s “Dark December: The Full Account of the Battle of the Bulge.” Merriam writes about the difficulties of tracing back to the battle and accurately recreating the story. One of the forces at work is how legends grow up around certain men and incidents while the battle sinks into obscurity.
The Apostle Paul wanted his readers to know that spiritual warfare is real and not some obscure theological concept. He wanted them to be fully equipped and fully engaged in the battle. This was not a battle fought with flesh and blood but against the very powers of darkness (Eph. 6:12). Paul said, “You must take up the full armor of God” (Eph. 6:13).
The call to put on the armor of God is the call to “put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth” (Eph. 4:24). In Romans, Paul told us to “put on the armor of light” and to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:12, 14). The new man is none other than Jesus Christ.
Apparently Paul was looking at his Roman guard when he made these comparisons. God provides enabling truth so we can resist lies and false teaching. Practical righteousness allows us to live in obedience to God’s Word (Eph. 4:24-27). We are to have spiritual readiness to share the gospel of peace.
The helmet of salvation speaks to our eternal security and the assurance of our salvation. In hand-to-hand combat, which the word “battle” describes, the enemy would use the broadsword to strike at the head. John MacArthur said, “The two dangerous edges of Satan’s broadsword are discouragement and doubt.”
The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Paul used rhema here instead of logos. Rhema is a specific word. It is specific things we learned and memorized from the Bible.
With our armor on, we fight in the context of standing firm and in prayer. We engage in spiritual battle in Christian community, not in isolation. God provides us with every resource necessary to live the Christian life and be victorious in this spiritual battle.
Bible Studies for Life
Living in gratitude
1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
When I was in elementary school, my class prepared for a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving. We made pilgrim hats and Native American headbands with feathers. Our construction paper cornucopias were full of paper turkeys, potatoes and corn. In our reenactment, a Pilgrim sat beside a Native American, and we had to share our make-believe meal with each other. We were being taught how to have an attitude of gratitude.
We know the attitude we display is important. An attitude of gratitude is not an abstract idea. It is both attitude and an outward expression that should be displayed in all areas of our lives.
We are to express gratitude for those who have encouraged us in our walk with the Lord (1 Thess. 5:12-13). These spiritual leaders, pastors, deacons, small group leaders, missions directors, counselors and teachers are engaged in a hard work. It is hard work to lead and correct others. This is why our spiritual leaders are worthy of high honor and love because of their work (1 Thess. 5:13). This type of behavior will lead to peace within the fellowship.
An attitude of gratitude will motivate us to encourage others in their walk (5:14-15). Paul said we are to warn those who are lazy. We are to encourage those who are discouraged. We are to help those who are weak. Each is to be dealt with accordingly, but “everyone” should be dealt with in “patience.” We must not repay evil with evil but do good for everyone. This applies to those in the church and those outside the church (5:15).
Each verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 needs to be connected to 1 Thessalonians 5:18. It is God’s will that we give thanks in everything (5:18). When we are thankful, we can rejoice and pray. When we are thankful, we won’t stifle the Spirit or despise prophecies. When we are thankful, we can test all things and cling to what is good while avoiding every form of evil.
Having an attitude of gratitude will help us live the life God intended for us.
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