Sabbath, September 20, 2008
“… In all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God.” “By the word of truth, by the powe of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” 2 Corinthians 6:4,7.
A spiritual battle
1. What is required for victory over the devil and his dark powers?
“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.” Ephesians 6:10, 11.
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” Romans 13:12.
“If we overcome our trials and get victory over the temptations of Satan, then we endure the trial of our faith, which is more precious than gold, and are stronger and better prepared to meet the next. But if we sink down and give way to the temptations of Satan, we shall grow weaker and get no reward for the trial and shall not be so well prepared for the next. In this way we shall grow weaker and weaker, until we are led captive by Satan at his will. We must have on the whole armor of God and be ready at any moment for a conflict with the powers of darkness. When temptations and trials rush in upon us, let us go to God and agonize with Him in prayer. He will not turn us away empty, but will give us grace and strength to overcome, and to break the power of the enemy. Oh, that all could see these things in their true light and endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus! Then would Israel move forward, strong in God, and in the power of His might.” –Early Writings, p. 46.
2. Do God’s children wage war against human beings? What kind of warfare are they engaged in?
“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.” Ephesians 6:12.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;). 2 Corinthians 10:3, 4.
“The Christian life is a warfare. But ‘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.’ In this conflict of righteousness against unrighteousness we can be successful only by divine aid. Our finite will must be brought into submission to the will of the Infinite; the human will must be blended with the divine. This will bring the Holy Spirit to our aid; and every conquest will tend to the recovery of God’s purchased possession, to the restoration of His image in the soul.” –Messages to Young People, p. 55.
“Yet in this case, as in so many others, was proved the truth of Paul’s assertion that the weapons of his warfare were ‘mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds,’ 2 Corinthians 10:4. Even in Nero’s household, trophies of the cross were won. From the vile attendants of a viler king were gained converts who became sons of God. These were not Christians secretly, but openly. They were not ashamed of their faith.…
Using the weapons given by God
3. Since our warfare is spiritual, what special armor must we put on to be able to resist the attacks of the devil?
“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.” Ephesians 6:13.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7.
“In every soul two powers are struggling earnestly for the victory. Unbelief marshals its forces, led by Satan, to cut us off from the Source of our strength. Faith marshals its forces, led by Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Hour by hour, in the sight of the heavenly universe, the conflict goes forward. This is a hand-to-hand fight, and the great question is, Which shall obtain the mastery? This question each must decide for himself. In this warfare all must take a part, fighting on one side or the other. From the conflict there is no release. . . . We are urged to prepare for this conflict. ‘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.’ The warning is repeated, ‘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.’” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 328.
God’s belt and breastplate
4. What is our spiritual belt? Can we succeed if we turn to falsehoods, as did King Saul?
“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth…” Ephesians 6:14, first part.
“And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” Isaiah 11:5.
“Let truth telling be held with no loose hand or uncertain grasp. Let it become a part of the life. Playing fast and loose with truth, and dissembling to suit one’s own selfish plans, means shipwreck of faith. ‘Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.’ Ephesians 6:14. He who utters untruths sells his soul in a cheap market. His falsehoods may seem to serve in emergencies; he may thus seem to make business advancement that he could not gain by fair dealing; but he finally reaches the place where he can trust no one. Himself a falsifier, he has no confidence in the word of others.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 76.
“Theories will be continually agitated to divert the mind, to unsettle the faith. Those who have had the actual experience in the unfolding of the prophecies, have been made what they are today, Seventh-day Adventists, by these prophecies. They are to stand with their loins girt about with truth, and with the whole armor on. Those who have not had this experience are privileged to hold the message of truth with the same confidence. The light that God has been pleased to give His people will not weaken their confidence in the path in which He has led them in the past, but will strengthen them to hold fast the faith. We must hold the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end.” –Selected Messages, Book 2, pp. 115, 116.
5. What divine gift is absolutely essential to fight sin in all its forms? What is the function of Christ’s imputed righteousness?
“… having on the breastplate of righteousness.” Ephesians 6:14, second part.
“But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love.” 1 Thessalonians 5:8, first part.
“For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head.” Isaiah 59:17, first part.
“By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” 2 Corinthians 6:7.
“We fight in a warfare, not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. See Ephesians 6:12. In life’s conflict we must meet evil agencies that have arrayed themselves against the right. Our hope is not in man, but in the living God. With full assurance of faith we may expect that He will unite His omnipotence with the efforts of human instrumentalities, for the glory of His name. Clad with the armor of His righteousness, we may gain the victory over every foe.…
“Clad in the armor of Christ’s righteousness, the church is to enter upon her final conflict. ‘Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners’ (Song of Solomon 6:10), she is to go forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer.
“The darkest hour of the church’s struggle with the powers of evil is that which immediately precedes the day of her final deliverance. But none who trust in God need fear; for ‘when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall,’ God will be to His church ‘a refuge from the storm.’ Isaiah 25:4.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 111, p. 725.
Boots and shield received from the Lord
6. What should be the basis of our preparation and readiness? Is its source human or divine?
“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:15.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” Isaiah 52:7.
“The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:).” Acts 10:36.
“The testing truth for this time is not the fabrication of any human mind. It is from God. It is genuine philosophy to those who appropriate it. Christ became incarnate in order that we, through belief of the truth, might be sanctified and redeemed. Let those who hold the truth in righteousness arouse and go forth, shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, to proclaim the truth to those who know it not. Let them make straight paths for their feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way.” –TestimoniesfortheChurch, vol. 8, pp. 211, 212.
“Brethren and sisters, will you put on the Christian armor? ‘Your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace,’ you will be prepared to walk from house to house, carrying the truth to the people. Sometimes you will find it trying to do this kind of work; but if you go forth in faith, the Lord will go before you, and will let His light shine upon your pathway. Entering the homes of your neighbors to sell or to give away our literature, and in humility to teach them the truth, you will be accompanied by the light of heaven, which will abide in these homes.” –(Review and Herald, May 24, 1906) Evangelism, pp. 114, 115.
7. What do we need to take in order to be victorious in every spiritual battle and became like the heroes of Hebrews 11?
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Ephesians 6:16.
“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.” 1 Peter 5:8, 9.
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4.
“I asked the angel why there was no more faith and power in Israel. He said, ‘Ye let go of the arm of the Lord too soon. Press your petitions to the throne, and hold on by strong faith. The promises are sure. Believe ye receive the things ye ask for, and ye shall have them.’ I was then pointed to Elijah. He was subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly. His faith endured the trial. Seven times he prayed before the Lord, and at last the cloud was seen. I saw that we had doubted the sure promises, and wounded the Saviour by our lack of faith. Said the angel, ‘Gird the armor about thee, and above all take the shield of faith; for that will guard the heart, the very life, from the fiery darts of the wicked.’” –Early Writings, p. 73.
“Satan is busy every moment, going to and fro, walking up and down in the earth, seeking whom he may devour. But the earnest prayer of faith will baffle his strongest efforts. Then take ‘the shield of faith,’ brethren, ‘wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.’” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 294.
Helmet, sword, and spiritual victory
8. Are there other defensive and offensive instruments that we need to use in our spiritual battle to gain the victory?“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 6:17, 18.
“But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on … for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” 1 Thessalonians 5:8.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12.
“When the servants of Christ take the shield of faith for their defense, and the sword of the Spirit for war, there is danger in the enemy’s camp, and something must be done.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 407.
“It is true that our warfare is aggressive, but our weapons are to be those found in a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ Our work is to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God. We should not be turned aside to lines that will encourage controversy or arouse antagonism in those not of our faith.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 394.
“I fear that there is not that faith that is essential. Shall we not brace ourselves against disappointments and temptations to be discouraged? God is merciful, and with the truth rejoicing, purifying, ennobling the life, we can do a sound and solid work for God. Prayer and faith will do wonderful things. The Word must be our weapon of warfare. Miracles can be wrought through the Word; for it is profitable for all things.” –(Letter 75, 1896) Evangelism, p. 489.
9. How confident can we be if we use these weapons in the fight of faith?
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7, 8.
“Well-nigh a score of centuries have passed since Paul the aged poured out his blood as a witness for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ…. Like a trumpet peal his voice has rung out through all the ages since, nerving with his own courage thousands of witnesses for Christ and wakening in thousands of sorrow-stricken hearts the echo of his own triumphant joy: ‘… I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.’ 2 Timothy 4:6-8.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 513.
An object lesson
A preacher told his listeners one day that he had witnessed the rescue of a shipwreck survivor who had been swept away by the river. As his strength was ebbing away, he was able to grab and cling to a small branch that could barely support him. When the rescuers came and threw him a rope, the man wanted to grasp it; but he was afraid to let go of the branch that had been supporting him. Seeing this, the rescuers shouted, “Let go of the branch, the rope is strong enough to hold you.” Finally, frightened and trembling, the man let go of the branch and saw, to his surprise, that the rope was able to keep him afloat and that it was being pulled by strong arms to the shore, where medical help awaited him.
Jesus is our powerful Rescuer and Saviour; but He is also the branch, the outstretched hands, the powerful arms, and the strong rope–all instruments for the salvation of the lonely shipwreck survivor. Jesus wants us also to be instruments of peace bringing the blessing of salvation to others.