We know that the Christian’s goal is to love: True, godly, biblical love as defined in 1 Corinthians 13; Unselfish love, fulfilling all the law and the prophets, loving God and others as we love ourselves. We know that God is love, and God is spirit, and that the Law is spiritual. We know that to walk in true love, we must be spiritual; we must walk in the Spirit.
The problem is that we are born carnal, and from the day we are born we walk in the flesh, not in the spirit. We are trained by this world to think carnally and to see things from a carnal perspective. We become an integral part of this world system. Our hopes and longings are focused on this world. It is this carnal walk that traps us in a cycle of sin and death. This carnal walk produces fear, anxiety, stress, envy, jealousy, and it arouses all kinds of desires for the material things of this world to satisfy the desires of the flesh. Since the flesh is never satisfied, we become vulnerable to what this world presents to us to feed our flesh. Ultimately, the result is sin and death.
Jesus came to free us from this cycle of sin and death. Jesus has made a way for us to put an end to our carnality and to become truly spiritual. When we place our hope in the promises that Jesus has made available to us through His death on the cross, and we put to death the hopes and desires that we had placed in this world, we begin our spiritual walk. We die with Jesus to this world and place our affections and desires in heaven, and in the living hope of having a glorified, resurrected, eternal body, like Jesus. We store up our treasures in heaven and eagerly await the return of the King of Kings to establish the permanent heaven and earth, after He destroys this current earth with fire.
When this transformation takes place, we begin to think and act differently. Our view of this world and the situations that we encounter take on a new perspective. We see things in the light of eternity. We consider the purpose of God and His view and values. This changes everything!
I can recall years ago when I was unexpectedly laid off from a company for whom I had worked for many years. My reaction was at first a carnal one: I thought it was unfair. I suspected that someone in upper management had targeted me unjustly. I even thought that my previous manager, who was a friend of mine, had betrayed me. I began to fear the future, worrying about getting another job that paid as well, and was as good a fit for me. I was worried about my bills, and caring for my family.
Now, you may be thinking that this is all a normal, acceptable reaction to these types of circumstances; it may be a normal reaction for an unbeliever, but it is not a spiritual reaction, and it should not be the reaction of a Christian. As I turned my attention towards the Lord, and considered the truth of the situation in the light of His word, and encouraged myself in this truth, my thoughts turned to a spiritual perspective: God was in control. He knew all about this. All things work together for the good (Romans 8:28). This was not a coincidence or something brought about by man; this was the hand of God in my life. God had a purpose for me in this. God wanted to teach me to trust in Him. God would take care of me as He has promised in His word. He could be moving me to a better place. He knows the future. He has the hairs on my head numbered. I should be rejoicing in this opportunity to trust Him through whatever trials I would face since this has eternal value.
To the man of faith, there is great value and power in this spiritual perspective; to the man absent of faith, this view is foolishness.
Walking in the Spirit is a way of thinking. This thinking includes an eternal view; it includes God’s purpose and perspective; it recognizes that we are humble servants of the Lord who is in control of our lives.
As we live our lives here on this earth, living as aliens and exiles, living by faith and walking in the spirit, we face many challenges. We must face various trials and tribulations. We continue in our well doing and remain faithful to our Lord and consistent in our thinking. Our flesh and the influences of this world are at constant odds with our spiritual man, and there is also an enemy that would like to cause us to fail.
In Ephesians chapter 6, starting at verse 10 we are taught that we must wear the Armor of God, or the Spiritual Armor that God has supplied for us, so that we can walk victoriously in the Spirit: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength 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 are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take 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 you loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace. Besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplications.”
There are 7 items that are presented as spiritual armor: Truth, Righteousness, The Gospel of Peace, Faith, Salvation, The Word of God, and Prayer. Let’s look closer at each of these.
There is an evil one who is a liar, who wants to destroy us with his lies. We must constantly be asking ourselves and convincing ourselves about what is true. The truths of the scriptures need to be reinforced in our minds daily. We need to break down and remove the lies that are being presented to us every day. The TV, the news, our co-workers, teachers, salesmen, politicians, and many other sources are bombarding us with subtle lies to shift our focus from God’s truth to the lies of this world and this world system. The intent is to shift our focus from heaven and the promises, to this world and the hopes offered here. Remember the parable of the sower where the thorns and thistles grow up and choke out the fruit. These are the concerns of this world, the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, that distract our focus. These are lies that pervert the truth and render us fruitless. But if we hold fast to the truth from a pure heart, we will bear much fruit. Be aware of the evil one’s motives and devices.
No man can boast before God that they have lived a completely righteous life and there God must accept them as righteous. On the contrary, all men have fallen short and our acceptance by God is a result of His mercy towards us and is based on our faith (more on this faith later). But once accepted, we are expected to repent and turn from our unrighteous behavior to now walk in true righteousness as a new creation. We are admonished to be holy as God is holy. This righteousness is a result of our becoming spiritual. Our mind is transformed and renewed so that our desires are now pure and focused on spiritual things, not carnal things. This frees us from the cycle of sin that is rooted in earthly desires that develop, or give birth to, sin and ultimately lead to death.
As we walk in this righteousness, we sow good seeds and reap accordingly. The enemy has no stronghold, as Jesus once said, “any man who sins, he is a slave to that sin.” Jesus also said, “I am the…. Truth…” “the truth shall set you free.” “he who the Son sets free is free indeed.”
The Gospel of Peace
The good news of the Gospel is the crucial element of truth that must be at the forefront of our understanding of reality. It should establish our world view. It is the purpose of our lives and the reason for our existence. God sent His Messiah to offer to all mankind the opportunity to become true children of God who inherit God’s kingdom, who escape His wrath, escape the judgment of the second death, and take on a glorified, resurrected, immortal, spiritual body to replace our fleshly shell. As the reality of this truth takes hold of our every thought, we are unaffected by the trials that life brings our way, nor are we damaged by the evil one’s attacks.
At the root of our thought life is the exercise of our faith. Unfortunately, most Christians today have directed their faith towards the things of this life. What a huge mistake. True faith, the faith that our father Abraham had, is focused on the hope that has been promised to us at the cross through the sacrifice of Jesus. Faith is the “assurance of things hoped for”, that is, knowing assuredly that what God has promised, and now is our living hope, is certain to be delivered by Him. And we wait patiently for it, enduring whatever circumstances we encounter in this world, as unpleasant as they may be. This is the faith that saves us. This is the faith that pleases the father.
Instead, the evil one would like us to focus on the things of this world, the material things. The lie is that we can use our faith to obtain these earthly treasures. In fact, (the lie says), we have a right to them as God’s children. As long as these things are not evil, why would it be a problem? The problem is that we become focused on these earthly treasures rather than heavenly treasures, and as the Lord has stated, where our treasure is, that is where our heart will be also. Where are heart, and mind, is focused is of critical importance, and is the key to our victory as Christians. This is why the enemy wants to divert our hearts and minds from a heavenly focus to an earthly one.
The modern church has been duped by the so called “prosperity faith” that is nothing more than an excuse for covetousness. A true living faith will keep our hopes, desires, passions, longing, affections and most of our thoughts, on the things of heaven, not on earthly things.
This world is cursed. This generation is wicked. The evil one is in control of this world. Most are deceived. This world is under the judgment of God. His wrath is directed at this wickedness. But God has sent Jesus as the Savior. He has saved us from this judgment and wickedness. Securing this truth in our minds is an important weapon against the enemy. Recognizing the reality of this truth gives us the wisdom to navigate through life with the proper understanding of circumstances and priorities.
The Word of God
The scriptures are the ultimate authority of God’s revealed truth. They are intended to remind us of how men of faith in the past gained victory in their lives, and encourage us to follow their example. As we “wash” our minds in the truth of God’s word, we are not fooled by the lies of the enemy. Our faith is built up. We gain encouragement and strength by these clear examples of God’s truths regarding the world that surrounds us, both seen and unseen.
The enemy wants to immerse us in the physical world around us and the events and drama that surrounds us, distracting us from the spiritual world. But these physical things are temporary and have no lasting value. All this passes away and doesn’t stay with us when we leave this world and go to heaven. The word of God reminds us of the true unseen reality, and gives us examples of how to properly function with this truth in mind.
In addition, the scriptures show us how to please God, and what he requires of us. We see the personage of God as displayed in Jesus. All of these are lessons for us to absorb into our minds that will guard us from the lies of the enemy, which are intended to cause us to stumble.
Not only is there the written word of God (Logos), but there is also the spoken word of God (Rhema) that can establish truth in our hearts. Of course, when the Lord speaks to our hearts with His “still, small voice” we must check what is said against the scriptures and there should not be a contradiction. Often there is need for this direct communication from the Holy Spirit to strengthen our resolve or give us further guidance.
Although it doesn’t always make sense to us, God’s direction is for us to make requests to Him through prayer. We must obey this directive. For whatever reason God has, this is how things are done in the spiritual world. We make our request to God (even though He already knows what we need and even what we will ask for) and then spiritual powers are set in motion to answer our requests, if God decides to answer, that is. Our job is to make the requests, and to repeat these requests until they are resolved or we feel that the Holy Spirit directs us differently.
We must learn to walk in the spirit. Most of what we need to learn has to do with our thoughts and perspective. We need faith and hope to make this transformation of thinking. Prayer and Bible reading reinforce this way of thinking, give us the strength to endure both the trials we face and the attacks of the enemy. The scripture section in Ephesians 6 clearly defines our methods of spiritual protection using the analogy of battle armor.
This short post is to get you started or to remind you how to use this armor. The rest is up to you. Seek God to further teach you how to do battle with the enemy and be victorious.