Heart Meditations 11- The Armor of God - David Mitts
As we have been working on aligning our inner life with God’s word through the spiritual power tool of meditations of the heart, we have come to realize that our heart is a battleground. Often because the scripture speaks of our thoughts, we have a western tendency to think of that as the thoughts in our brains. While the thoughts we have in our head are important, there are deeper thoughts that affect our motivations in life that arise out of our hearts. The heart thoughts are those that meditation by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit can begin to shift the "why" of our thinking, not just the what of our thinking.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb 4:12 NASB)
Comparing the word of God to a living sword reveals imagery of a violent nature that indicates inner warfare of the heart which involves thoughts and intentions or motivations. Piercing to the core divisions of spirit and soul and of joints and marrow give us a word picture of being cut to the essential places of change and transformation. We could say that the soul mentioned here involves at least in part our conscious intellect. The spirit by contrast is more elusive to us and lives in our heart.
Paul describes this battle:
"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ," 2Co 10:4-5 (NKJV)
Our inner life is a place where our heart is engaged in a struggle for its own independence, its own freedom of self-expression. God is at work through His Spirit which dwells in us, bringing us out of bondage into the liberty of truth. In this process, there are conversations of the heart that we have “known” as perceived truths that are described as high things, reasonings, and even strongholds, fortresses of belief that have exalted themselves against the knowledge of God. How has this happened? What can we do about it? Why should we?
Let’s deal with the why question first. We were created to be free.
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (Joh 8:31-32 NASB)
"So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (Joh 8:36 NASB)
The strongholds of our heart are like most strongholds, defensive structures reinforced by elaborate protective measures. Think of a fortress that you have seen. These are located strategically usually in a high place. The upper ground is more easily defended. The Edomites built their fortresses like this. Petra was an example of the clefts in the rock of the Edomites. Obadiah prophesied against these:
"Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You are greatly despised. "The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, In the loftiness of your dwelling place, who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to earth?' "Though you build high like the eagle, though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down," declares the LORD. (Oba 1:2-4 NASB)
When we build strongholds, we seek to be higher, to be stronger than our enemies. Our inner enemies are anyone who represents a threat to our self-concept. The problem is the stronghold locates us. We become frozen in place by the stronghold and over time the strongholds in our heart begin to define who we are.
I remember when we visited Petra in Jordan. The city-stronghold was built with the wealth of the spice road trade. What made the spice trade so lucrative was the secrecy of the roads through the wilderness. Once Petra was built that secrecy disappeared and eventually that vulnerability made it fall.
In our lives, we build similar strongholds which localize us or freeze us in certain emotions. Maybe the stronghold is built with anger. Perhaps it is built with worry or anxiety. Perhaps it is darker and built with lust and the need to be in control. At its root, the stronghold or strongholds, change how we see people and how we see life. Most importantly they twist how we see ourselves. This what Paul means when He says they exalt themselves against the knowledge of God and the possibility of the obedience of Christ.
What is the true knowledge of God? What does it mean to be obedient to Christ in our thoughts? Yeshua told us:
Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me. (Joh 14:23-24 NASB)
The real cost of the strongholds we have built in our hearts is that we cannot dwell freely with the Lord in love. Strongholds freeze us in our minds and heart. Love is about freedom. The freedom of love is about being known in transparency and openness. We cannot become who we are called to be if we see ourselves through the filters of our strongholds in our hearts!
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1Co 13:12 NASB)
This is the cost of our strongholds. We are never truly known or can we truly know anyone else including the Lord. When we see ourselves it is through the filters of the strongholds, the conclusions we have made about life, and our adaptive survival strategies. This is the true warfare of the Spirit. Pulling down the strongholds and their sensual wisdom which exalts itself against the knowledge of God.
We do this with might that comes from God. How does that work? God has given us His Holy Spirit expressly for this battle.
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (Joh 16:13 NASB)
Notice the Spirit operates by listening, the Sh’ma. He discloses what He hears. Hears from whom? He hears from the only true source of goodness, the Father, whom He knows as Abba.
So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. (Gal 4:3-7 NASB)
The Holy Spirit both speaks of the Father and listens to the Father. This is the resource in our warfare.
The Apostle Paul goes on to describe the battle:
"The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." Rom 13:12-14 (NKJV)
The armor of light. Light is love. Light is truth. Light is order. God is light. SO, when we speak of putting on the armor of light, it speaks to us of the power of resonant truth.
I want to explore the armor of God in this context:
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor 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 armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, 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;" Eph 6:10-17 (NKJV)
The first thing we notice is that the armor is of the Lord and derives its power from Him. It is specifically targeted at the wiles or schemes of the devil. The Greek word translated as either scheme or wiles is the word for method or strategy. What is the method or strategy of the devil? Well, we know that faith comes by hearing.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Rom 10:17 NASB)
The battleground is for faith. Faith is the inner conversation that frames our reality. The scheme or strategy of Satan is to change our inner conversation. He desires us to believe lies about ourselves, others, God, or life itself. These lies believed become thorns in our flesh and they cause a self-exaltation which is in opposition to the Voice of the Lord. To augment the lies, the enemy drives us to find agreement with others of similar beliefs. There is a kind of power in the mob. The mob based on deceit and anti-Christ agendas, in this way, becomes an authority in opposition to the obedience of Christ. In this way, it is a “father” to us. Yeshua spoke about it, this way:
"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (Joh 8:44 NASB)
Lies believed have the same power as truth believed. The only difference is what is produced. Lies produce death. Truth produces life.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (Joh 10:10 NASB)
So we come full circle to the armor of God. The first item is the belt of truth which girds or holds up our waist. What is the purpose of a belt? To hold up our britches. Our britches represent our walk in life. For a while, there was a style where young men walked around with britches worn really low. To maintain that look, they had to walk strange. The falling britches controlled the freedom of the walk.
To me, this is a great picture of what happens when lies hold up our life. We hobble in our walk. Often, we do not even realize how our lies make fools of us. God, who loves us, wants us undergirded by His truth. His truth unlike the lies is all about producing freedom.
and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (Joh 8:32 NASB)
The freedom produced by knowing the truth is the freedom to run the race with the exhilaration of purpose. The belt of truth holds our pants, the covering for our legs in a secure location on our hips and we can stand or move with confidence.
Activation: Activating freedom. Pain is an attempt to let us know that we are out of balance in an area of our lives. Pain is actually an attempt at healing. To heal from pain, we have to approach the source of the imbalance and find what is producing it. Pain is usually caused by trauma that hasn’t been successfully resolved. Trauma is a common part of our human experience. Things happen to us that disrupt our peace and this is called trauma. Trauma usually heals naturally. There are times however where the trauma has so dislocated us that we cannot find our way back to health. What prevents the healing is often our own attempts to protect ourselves from more trauma. We make inner conclusions and vows that lock the trauma in place. This can happen on a personal level or a community level. These self-protection strategies involve conclusions about people or life itself and sometimes God which freeze us into what Yeshua called slavery to sin.
They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, 'You will become free'?" Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. "The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (Joh 8:33-36 NASB)
This slavery separates us from our inheritance as the sons and daughters of God because we cannot enter into the house of the Lord. We stay in the house of bondage to our own false beliefs and cannot walk with freedom.
Think of a time or a situation that has caused you a lot of pain. Perhaps you have been wounded by the betrayal of a friend or perhaps some unfairness has gripped your heart. Ask the Lord to show you what you might be believing that is false. Ask Him to speak the truth to you and return you to the belt of truth so you can run the race of your life.