Thursday, July 16, 2015

Peace Is Not the Enemy's to Take Because of How It's Been Given ... Armor of God # 4

If you’ve been following the blog for the past few days, you may remember that we’ve looked at the “belt of truth” the idea that our opponent is a liar and is allergic to truth. And, so we confront the lies with God’s truth.  It’s not enough to simply not think about our enemy’s lies, we have to replace them with truth.  Believing and living the truth protects us.  We also looked at “righteousness” the idea of living out who we have been called to be.  Jesus gives us right standing with God which then enables us to do the right living for God.  We live out what we believe.  So, when we believe we truly are who God says we are, through His grace and strength, we can like out who God says we are, and this protects us.

This post is about having our “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”

I heard one speaker say that “if we are in a spiritual battle, we have to have a solid foundation something stable.”  Four different times in Ephesians 6:10 – 17, we see the word “stand.”  If we’re taking a stand, we need stability.  If we’re going to take a stand, we need stable footing.  And, what keeps us stable is the fact that we are at peace with God!  As one author said, “We may be at war with Satan, but we are at peace with the God.  What this means is the devil may be against you, but God is for you.”  God is for me!  Four words, none with more than one syllable or three letters and yet, believing them is life changing. Knowing and believing that God is for you can bring peace in any situation.    

Psalm 37:37 says, “There is a future for the man of peace.”  Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body.”  So, for those that experience peace, that are filled with peace there is life there is a future.  So, what the enemy knows is that if peace is taken away, it will seem like there is no future, no hope.  It will feel like the life is being stolen from our body.  This is what he does.  He steals.  He kills. He destroys.  And, I believe one of the things our spiritual enemy wants to do is rob us of our peace because a lack of peace keeps our life wobbly and unstable instead of secure and firmly planted. 

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a lack of peace in your life, but there are times in my life when I can look back and see a lack of peace and this was the result A lack of peace opened me up to fear to worry to distrust sleepless nights a horrible sense of feeling out of control inner turmoil that caused me to feel like I was giving birth to a porcupine it was all really pleasant stuff.  So, can you see why the enemy will work so hard to take away our peace?  A lack of peace can wreak havoc in our lives and he will throw everything in his arsenal at you in an effort to rob us of it. 

There are several ways he will try to do that.  He’ll try to rob us of peace in our circumstances.  He’ll try to rob us of peace in our relationships.  But, what I want to focus on is how he tries to rob us of our peace with God.  How does he try to do that?  I think our enemy has two favorite weapons:  guilt and shame.  He will try to use guilt and shame in an attempt to steal our peace with God.  Our enemy knows how to use both to torment our hearts.  He’s an accuser, always pointing out a flaw, always pointing out a mistake, always pointing out a failure.  And, it seems like his memory is a whole lot better than ours because once we forget about something, he seems to be right there to bring it back up again “Remember when you did that?  Yeah, you really messed up.  Remember how you hurt your wife?  What kind of husband are you?  Remember when you hurt your kids?  What kind of lousy dad are you?  Remember when you messed with that girl’s heart.  And you call yourself a Christian.  Remember when that happened to you yeah, you’ll never be the same after that.”  So, he will throw dart after dart after dart at the bull’s eye of our heart in an attempt to steal our peace through the tactics of guilt and shame guilt over what we have done or haven’t done shame over what we have done or what has been done to us. I heard someone once say, “Untreated guilt is the most fertile soil on earth to grow shame.” As long as we hold on to guilt and shame we’ll never experience peace in our lives. 

There are two types of guilt:  The guilt the Holy Spirit uses to build us up and the guilt the enemy uses to tear us down.  When we trust Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit moves in to our lives He takes up residence inside of us and one way we know He is there is He begins to engage my heart. Romans 8:16 tells us that the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.  The work of the Holy Spirit is not about pointing out external behaviors but rather the internal realities that lead to the external behaviors. My external actions point to internal places of my heart where I am refusing to believe God or trust God. The Holy Spirit will show me aspects of my heart that I have not allowed Him to begin to renew. 

The Holy Spirit moves in and begins to remind me of who I am as a child of God and shows me when what I am doing is not matching up with who I am as a child of God.  This is called conviction.   For instance, if I use my words to tear down my wife that doesn’t match up with who I am.  If I’m selfish with my money that doesn’t match up with who I am.  If I worry about everything that doesn’t match up with who I am.  That’s conviction the Holy Spirit is pointing out something (sin) to me and showing me that it doesn’t match up with the life I have been called to live.  And so, what I do is confess those things and turn away from them and allow the Holy Spirit to continue His work in me. 

The Holy Spirit will always use conviction to build us up into who we have been called to be.  A guilty conscience that comes before sincere repentance is the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  That’s a good thing.  It will be used to continue to shape us in to the image of Jesus Christ.

A guilty conscience THAT COMES AFTER sincere repentance is called condemnation.  That is not coming from God because God’s word tells me that I am no longer condemned (Romans 8:1). This is how our enemy uses guilt.  He uses it to tear us down.  “How could you do that?  How could act like that?  How could you say that?  What kind of Christian are you?”  The enemy always uses guilt to beat up never to build up.  And, this type of guilt and shame can torment our soul.  As long as we feel tormented, we’ll never feel peace.

But, when we believe we are at peace with God, our feet are firmly planted in God’s faithfulness and we can stand firm in His promises.  If you’re not standing firm, you’ll be sliding all over the place.

Some of us will slide actually toward legalism. Because we have not yet believed we are fully at peace with God, the enemy uses our guilt and our shame to cause us to slide toward, "I should do some things that will make God like me." If we don’t believe we are fully forgiven and if we don't believe God enjoys us, we’ll feel a need to work more and more in an effort to feel forgiven and to feel enjoyed by God.  We’ll easily slide right into trying to earn what is freely given simply in an effort to feel better about ourselves.  When we do that, we’re not standing firm in being at peace with God.

Matt Chandler has said, “The gospel declares we have the just judge of the universe declaring us holy, spotless, and righteous in his sight. Not only are we forgiven by the Judge, but we are loved by the Father. When you meditate on those two things, you think on those two things, you don't move away from those two things. Those become the fuel of love that moves to transformation.”

The enemy wants you to believe that if you feel guilty for something you’ve repented of, you can’t come to God because why would God want to hear from you? He will condemn with guilt that, in turn, creates a sense of shame.  This shame causes us to want to “hide” from God.  But, God doesn’t want us to “hide” because there is nothing we’ve done that He hasn’t already seen.  So, as Hebrews 10:22 – 23 tells us, we can “go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.  Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.”

Truth tells me to bring my guilt before God because my guilty conscience has been sprinkled clean with the blood of Jesus. Because of Jesus, I am “righteous” or “right with God” because Jesus took upon Himself the punishment I deserved.  If I have a guilty conscience, I can bring it to God.  “God, I’m coming to you with this and I’m going to believe Your Word over my guilty conscience.  I’m going to draw near to you.”  Colossians 1:19 – 22 “For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to Himself.  He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.  This includes you who were once far away from God.  You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.  Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body.  As a result, he has brought you into his own presence and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.”

So, you can bring it to Him and ask for forgiveness and you can trust that you are forgiven.  One speaker said, “Now, you may wake up the next day and feel guilty again, but you don’t have to ask for forgiveness again.  You’re forgiven!”  Isaiah 38:17 says that God takes our sin and puts it behind His back which means if the enemy wants to get to your sin to rub it in your face, he has to go through God first.  That ain’t gonna happen.

We may be at war with Satan, but we are at peace with God through Jesus.  Ephesians 2:14 says that Jesus Himself is our peace.  It all comes back to Jesus.  Once we have believed that Jesus is our peace that His blood cleanses our guilt, Satan loses the bull’s eye, and we remember that peace is no longer his to take because of how it’s been given through the blood of Jesus.

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