Friday, July 26, 2013

ARMOR BEARER



My husband and I were praying recently and I was impressed to pray concerning "putting on" the whole armor of God. I wondered about that and I thought to myself; is there an emergency coming that I should prepare for? What does it mean exactly to put on the whole armor of God and what is God's armor? Is this armor only for protection against the evil in the world, or does the overall purposes of this “armor” encompass our ability to stand in the presence of God? (These are good questions).
Luke: 11:21-23
21 When a strong [prepared in the gospel] man armed, keeps [guards] his palace, [where your heart is, there is your treasure]  his goods are in peace
22 But, when a [one] stronger than he shall come upon him, and shall overcome him, he takes from him all his armor wherein he [had] trusted and divides his spoils {cause to flee]
23 He that is not with me [standing; steadfast and immovable] is against me; [doubt; double mindedness] and he that gather not with me scatters.

Luke 11 21-23 is a short parable about a person who, in the process of preparing themselves to stand in the presence of the Lord is compared to an armed, strong man, who is a good steward over all that the Lord has given him, and because of that, “his goods are in peace”. What are those goods? Are those goods the blessings of the covenants made with God? Is there an eternal perspective in those “goods” also?

But in verse 22, there seems to be a moment of opposition, where by the “strong man,” armed with the gospel, has interactions with another who appears to be stronger. I would say that the opposing person is stronger in the powers of persuasion, of leading away God’s elect; of planting seeds of doubt, which acts like kryptonite to a strong man’s soul. And because of this, the strong man, although armed with the gospel, drops his guard and does not trust in his armor anymore and is overcome and robbed and left defenseless.

You would think that in light of this tragedy, there would be comforting words for the victim. In verse 23, the Lord issues a judgment: “He that is not with me is against me ; and he that gather not with me scatters.” This is deep and at once confusing; what is the correlation between trusting in your “armor” and whether or not one is for or against God? What does it mean to “gather with the Lord”?

So I would suggest that the “theme” of this parable has a military undertones. The order and uniformity of the military suggests strong men and women “gathered” together for one purpose. Each man and woman in the military takes an oath to serve their country and protect its borders at all cost.
Each person is given a uniform of specific clothing and training in not only how to “put on the clothing” correctly, but in certain aspects of the uniform that can protect the body from immediate harm. Every soldier is responsible for the upkeep and repair of their uniforms. There is a strong penalty for negligence, even in buttoning up a shirt, or tying the boots correctly and even putting on the hat correctly. This negligence is looked at as disobedience and one is considered “out of uniform” when this happens. The penalty can be anything from a verbal chew out, a bad write up on evaluations, or being labeled as one who fails to follow orders; and in some extreme cases, discipline and dismissal. This is strong language isn't it, just for a dress code? But when the Lord says “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gather not with me, scatters”; what type of army would be successful, if only some members were obedient to the code and some chose to mix their uniform with a pair of jeans or sneakers? There would be no defense against those IED’s or roadside explosives . So in this light, what does it mean to put on the whole armor of God?                          

I ran across a series of articles concerning the “upgrade” of the Army Combat uniform. So the Army has developed a better combat uniform for the Army Solider that will not only be comfortable, but protective and if used in the proper manner, could assist in saving a soldiers life.  I have to say that it was fascinating reading; (Seriously).

I served in the Navy during Desert Storm (1990-91). Our uniform of the day was a light blue chambray shirt, white T-shirt and dungarees (working jeans), black boots and the ubiquitous dog tags. I don’t know if any of these items were fire retardant, although I had heard rumors that the dungaree’s were treated with a special chemical, but one thing I know for sure that if any of that technology was apparent, it was washed out in the ships laundry. The goal of fire retardants in work clothing is to resist burning up to a certain temperature and then hopefully prevent the melting of the fabric into the skin.


I know this will bore you to tears, but humor me. What intrigued me about the "New Combat Uniforms" was the "attention to every detail”, from a new and improved helmet, to the collar and buttons and no Velcro on the shirts and pants. (Velcro, in the wrong circumstances can be a safety issue) just saying. The uniform itself has been re-worked so that the solider in the field can have a level of protection against extreme heat, fire, insects (sand fleas to name a few), and body moisture. I love how the new helmet was re-worked to give the maximum protection against serious head injuries, especially those resulting from shrapnel from road side explosives. The overall "camouflage" pattern was reworked so that the foot soldier in an urban, desert environment could blend in better with the scenery. 

Wow, what attention to detail; a lot of care and thought that went into these changes. Doesn't it seem that in light of the ugly reality of war and those fighting in wars, that if the attention to detail that is in a shirt and pants, even the boots and helmet, could help to render a soldier safe from harm; including insect bites and fire and even sweat; then how much more is the armor of God? In 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, it seems that this armor isn’t for everyone and one size doesn't fit all.    
2nd Corinthians 6:1-2
1 We then, as workers together with Him [Christ], beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
2 (For he says; I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee; behold, now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation.)

In the Amplified Bible translation; workers is translated as laborer’s or God’s fellow workers
1 Laboring together [as God’s fellow workers] with Him then, we beg of you not to receive the grace of God in vain [that merciful kindness by which God exerts His holy influence on souls and turns them to Christ, keeping and strengthening them—do not receive it to no purpose].
We have this armor; it is on us; by virtue of taking on the “name of Christ”. By our own baptism and confirmation, remembering the Savior by partaking of his sacrament; by participating in ordinances in the Temple, by keeping God’s commands, by loving our neighbors, and loving God and his son Jesus Christ. With each of these we put on a specific piece of armor and then we learn how to use that piece in his work or in protecting the palace as in Luke 21:11.

In 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 the language is so personal, we are “beseeched” or pleaded with to “remember” our purpose, our duty to God. We are called “fellow laborers” which is an honor, and being fellow workers we are one in purpose with the Father and the Son, we are trusted servants. So if I am impressed to pray about and ponder about putting on the whole armor of God, then it must be that I am being prepared for an “upgrade” to my uniform.         
 2 Corinthians 6:7
7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness, on the right hand and on the left 

In 2 Corinthians 6:7, notice again that reference to “on right hand and on the left”. Again the Lord uses this pattern of speech to point out to us where will we stand in this life; either with him or against him. When we stand on the right hand of the Lord, then we are his obedient servants, when we move to the left, we are in danger of being cast out.
 Matthew 25:33-34
33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left
34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

When the troops came back from Desert Storm, there was a big parade, some in New York City, some here in Washington, DC. There was ticker tape and balloons and flags everywhere. Did you notice the “Pass and Review” march of the returning service men and women? What were they wearing? They all wore their “battle” tested uniforms; the well worn, and faded out, but still in wearable condition uniform. They were all carrying their guns and packs. Their boots were still dusty from the desert, the camouflage was a little faded out. This was the uniform that their Company Commanders did their last inspection of as they" mustered out." It was not a misplaced button, or a shoe untied they were looking for, but they were inspecting the serviceman that wore the uniform. That is the whole armor, battle tested 
The Whole Armor of God
The “helmet of salvation” guards our reasoning, intellect, and thoughts.
The “breastplate of righteousness” helps us to have the Spirit with us always, guarding our heart and soul.
Having our “loins girt about with truth” gives us the foundation to build faith and develop our testimony.
The “sword of the Spirit” is the word of God to pierce the darkness so that we may have light and truth to guide our way in life.
The “shield of faith” helps us withstand the fiery darts of the adversary.
Having our “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” by reading and studying the scriptures helps us be obedient to the laws, ordinances, commandments, and covenants of God (author unknown)

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