March 22 – The Helmet and the Sword

Ephesians 6: 14 – 17 (NLT)

“Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

“Put on salvation as your helmet’. We know that helmets are super important for protection. Without our ability to see, hear, smell, and even taste – not to mention our ability to think – we couldn’t survive in battle. So, what is the key piece of protection in our spiritual battle? Salvation!

Satan would love for us to doubt our relationship with God. We wonder if we are doing enough. Even though we’re Christ followers, we know we’ve done things we shouldn’t have. Or we know we haven’t conquered a particular weakness even though we’ve tried. When we have all those doubts and nagging feelings, we don’t tend to step forward in our Christian growth. Satan loves that. But Paul is telling us that our big protection comes from our salvation. We belong to God and He protects us. Nothing can separate us from Him! Let’s look at some verses that emphasize that truth.

John 10:27-29  (NLT)

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.”

And just in case you wonder if that translation is faulty, here are some footnotes that cover other translations of those verses

Footnotes:

10:29 Other manuscripts read for what my Father has given me is more powerful than anything; still others read for regarding that which my Father has given me, he is greater than all.

Romans 8:38-39  (NLT)

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

You have probably noticed that I quote those verses in Romans a lot – because I think the whole chapter of Romans 8 is the best definition of God’s relationship with us. The next verses are talking to Christians. John is explaining that as Christ followers, we do our best to follow what God wants. However, John also knows we are not perfect, and here is what he says about worrying that we might make God angry.

1 John 1:7-9  (NLT)

“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

Notice that so far, all our protection from Satan and the powers of darkness comes directly from God. It’s defensive. Our belt is truth – the truth we can know from the Bible. Our breastplate (strong upper body protection) is righteousness – something God gives us because Jesus died and took the punishment for our sin. Our feet are covered with the Good News. We know that God loves us. Our shield is faith – trusting that what God says is true. Our helmet is knowing that God will never leave us – we belong to Him.

But now comes an offensive piece of equipment – the sword. The sword is the Word of God. Knowing what is in the Bible is so important because that is what we can throw back at Satan when he tries to trip us up. Even Jesus used the Old Testament to reply to Satan when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. Let’s read that account from Matthew.

Matthew 4:1-11  (NLT)

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.

During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,

‘People do not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,

‘He will order his angels to protect you.
And they will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”

Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”

10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say,

‘You must worship the Lord your God
    and serve only him.’”

11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.”

Just so you don’t get discouraged, it takes a long time to get to know the Scriptures. I started as a young child when my parents read me Bible stories from Hurlbut’s Stories of the Bible, a classic in-depth book that covers most of the significant events in the Bible. Then as a teenager, I had a fantastic Bible teacher in our teen Sunday School class, and we read and talked about several New Testament books. As a university student, I enjoyed the studies we did in the InterVarsity group. As a young mom, I started leading small groups that required me to study on my own. Do I know my Bible well? It’s passable, but I have sooo much more to learn. It’s one of the reasons that I always consult Bible commentaries as I write these devotions to make sure I’m on the right track. It’s a lifelong mission for all of us, and I suspect we’ll never know the Scriptures well enough until we get to heaven.

If you have a young family, start reading Bible stories to them at bedtime, or perhaps at another time when the family is together such as right after supper. If you’re not sure what would be a good Bible story book to buy, you can contact Susan Smith, our Kids’ Cove Coordinator at ssmith@lsachurch.net. If you have teens, encourage them to get involved in LSA’s youth programs during the week and on Sunday mornings. Contact our Youth Pastor, Shane Davies at sdavies@lsachurch.net. We “grown-ups” can learn a lot when we get together with others to study our Bibles. LSA is working on a new program of Community Groups to start once this pandemic calms down and we can meet together safely. There are currently some small groups, as well as sermon-based study groups, online. Contact dtoth@laschurch.net to find out how you can join one of them.

As we get to know our Bibles, what we read will help us tell Satan to get lost. We won’t get sidetracked with false ideas about our faith. Amen!

Our song for today is Thy Word by Amy Grant

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