Thursday, June 28, 2012

THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD

Part 1: Layers
My husband and I were praying one day before he went off to work, and I had a strong impression to “put on the whole armor of God”. I wondered about that statement. On the one hand I believe that any God fearing believer would strive to put on the armor just for everyday protection alone. I pondered over this for a long time and I am learning that to put on the “whole” armor of God is indeed a process and the Lord will begin that process for us when choose to follow him. I realize that the armor consists of “definitive layers” that build up to form an inside core and an outer protective shell. When the Apostle Paul wrote this epistle, he no doubt used the image of a Roman Centurion’s battle armor. 
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
How can we stand against the “wiles” of the devil? What are wiles any way? To know your enemy is to know the weapons he uses. A fitting definition of “wiles” is a strategy or trick intended to deceive or ensnare, also trickery and cunning. Remember that cartoon, Roadrunner, and his arch nemeses "WiL E. Cyote?" His entire goal in life was to catch that roadrunner by any means necessary, whether it was by trickery, violence or cunning. Most of the time his tricks ended up back fireing on him. Unfortunately for us, our arch enemy does not joke around.
I found an example of someone who actually withstood the wiles of the devil. In Alma 1:7-9 is a short account of a man who did this, his name was Gideon; he withstood and backed down one of Satan's agent's, a man named Nehor.  
Alma 1:7-9
And it came to pass as he was going, to preach to those who believed on his word, he met a man who belonged to the church of God, yea, even one of their teachers; and he began to contend with him sharply, that he might lead away the people of the church; but the man withstood him, admonishing him with the words of God.
 Now the name of the man was Gideon; and it was he who was an instrument in the hands of God in delivering the people of Limhi out of bondage.
 Now, because Gideon withstood him with the words of God he was wroth with Gideon, and drew his sword and began to smite him. Now Gideon being stricken with many years, therefore he was not able to withstand his blows; therefore he was slain by the sword.
I was impressed to read this short account concerning Gideon. It is easy to rush through this, and forget just who Gideon was. Verse 8 testifies that Gideon was integral earlier in delivering God’s people out of bondage in Lim hi. Now he was no Moses, but he was an obedient servant and he took his baptismal covenants seriously. So Gideon confronted Nehor and no doubt blasted him with the truth of the Word of God. Nehor was angry with him and pulled out his sword, and basically they had a sword fight, I am guessing that Gideon had one too. But Gideon being old, the flesh being weak, could not withstand the exertion needed to continually fight and could not further defend himself. So he died. But rejoice for him, because Gideon came out, guns blazing wearing the full armor of God. Verse 9 says he “withstood him with the words of God”. What does withstood mean?   It means to “stand against; to oppose; to resist, either with physical or moral force; as to withstand an attack of troops; to withstand eloquence or arguments. –
So Gideon confronted Nehor, having confidence in the “armor”, presented a moral force and withstood him with the truth of God’s word. But he was killed, was there a chink in the armor? Nay, it must needs be. His death was vindicated by the arrest and trial and death of Nehor.
Psalm 44:22 Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter
I ask myself, if I could be as brave as Gideon. I don’t know if I have ever had a discussion concerning God with anyone that led to confrontation. See, I think that before we end up in this type of confrontation, there must be a certain degree of premeditation on our part, we must be prepared at all times for such a meeting.
How does the Lord prepare our hearts to build up those layers and put on his armor? A great deal of the language in this scripture makes reference to military terms. Words such as armor are in reference to the buildup of our faith in Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. The armor is a uniform and there is a proper order in how each piece is put on that affects its functionality.
The first inner layer of our armor is the Holy Spirit.
Ezekiel 36:26-2726 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will keep my judgments and do them.
The first and most important layer of the “armor” of God is the Holy Spirit. Everyone who is baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints has the opportunity to “receive” the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands by worthy Melchiezedek priesthood holders The Holy Spirit then becomes a protective “garment” that literally “adheres” itself to us “spiritually” and manifests in the physical. 
“The gift of the Holy Ghost adapts itself to all the organs or attributes. It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections, adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use.” Parley P Pratt, ‘Key to the Science of Theology 61-62
So, when we “take upon the name of Christ”, we take on his attributes, his character. The Holy Spirit is the conduit for these attributes; it is the “garment” that is put upon us, before we can take on the “armor. A seemingly simple “tunic” becomes a garment of skin and of  light.
The second inner layer of our armor is “Peace”.
John 14: 1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me.
John 14:26-2726 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid
It seems that the Holy Spirit and Peace co-exist and work in tandem. But what is this peace Jesus is speaking of. Is that calm and collected feeling we long for, that big sigh of relief after a stressful moment, no wars or strife. Well, yes and more. I looked up the Hebrew meaning for peace, it will blow your mind.
   
Ancient Hebrew Word Meanings
Peace ~ shalom
By Jeff A. Benner
 



When we hear the word peace we usually associate this to mean an absence of war or strife but, the Hebrew meaning of the word shalom has a very different meaning. The verb form of the root word is shalam and is usually used in the context of making restitution. When a person has caused another to become deficient in some way, such as a loss of livestock, it is the responsibility of the person who created the deficiency to restore what has been taken, lost or stolen. The verb shalam literally means to make whole or complete. The noun shalom has the more literal meaning of being in a state of wholeness or with no deficiency. The common phrase shalu shalom yerushalayim (pray for the peace of Jerusalem) is not speaking about an abcense of war (though that is part of it) but that Jerusalem (and by extension all of Israel) is complete and whole and goes far beyond the idea of "peace".
What Jesus is saying to his disciples is that He will send a Helper and that Helper is the Holy Spirit. In verse 26 the “Helper” will teach us and bring all things to our remembrance.  That word remembrance is in context with the word restore.
John 16:23These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
The peace that Jesus leaves with his disciples and us is that peace that brings a restoration of all the things that were lost in the fall. The Holy Spirit, once he abides with us, becomes a protective shield. We can have peace or confidence in knowing that the Savior has “overcome” the world. This is another military term. It implies that the war that started in Heaven and rages now on earth, a pivotal battle called the Atonement, was fought and  won with the blood of the Lamb. Jesus overcame, or basically won with deadly force and took no prisoners; instead he set free the captives. 
This is the shield of Faith. Only by faith in Jesus Christ can we receive the Holy Spirit.
John 14: 17 The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
Ephesians 6: And above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked
And lastly, before moving on, another military reference, in John 16, the Savior rallies us to be of "good cheer" or rather be of a good courage. 
Deuteronomy31:6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
So now, we have commenced to putting on the "whole" or restored armor of God. We have on the Shield of Faith, which is a garment of light and protection, The Holy Spirit.  


In my next post I will talk about those "firey" darts and how the Shield of Faith, which is the garment of light of the Holy Spirit, helps us to quench them.
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