Condemnation. Doubt. Guilt. Is it possible that the enemy of your soul is using these common emotions to keep you from experiencing God’s love and power? The question proposed by Roy Brown in The Cabin is how do you get rid of them?
As discussed in the last study, if the belt of truth isn't on, the breastplate of righteousness cannot happen. If the belt of truth isn't connected, then the sword, the Word of God – it's powerless. It starts with being honest with God, honest with yourself.
It's not understanding the truth. It's about your relationship with Jesus. It's about your relationship with God, where you're absolutely honest, as far as it depends on you. And the Spirit of God will show you.
After the belt of truth, he says, "having put on the breastplate," which is righteousness. The metaphor in the film was it was Roy's heart protector, for obvious reasons.
The word righteousness, here, means “uprightness, right living, integrity in one's lifestyle and character.” It's conforming our will with God's will. And, again, although it is rooted in objective righteousness that we already possess, and are standing before God through Christ's work, this breastplate of righteousness that guards and protects our heart is the practical application of the truth to our lives. In other words, it's the Lordship of Christ.
If you really wanna know, the belt of truth is just being honest with God. That's really what it is. It's being real and honest with God and people. The breastplate of righteousness is applying that truth. It's the application of the truth that God gives you, through His Word, or through community, or in worship. It's saying, "Oh, that's true," and you apply it. And when you apply it, guess what? You have on the breastplate of righteousness. Because you are righteous before God because of the work of Christ.
Guilt is a Killer.
The first challenge, or the first assault, of Satan is deception. The second is the called the accuser of the brethren... Condemnation. You know, I know people, that spend their whole life guilt-motivated, instead of grace-motivated. They don't go to church 'cause they long to be with people and love God; they go to church because they'd feel guilty if they didn't. They don't give money because they say, "Wow, I wanna be involved in eternal things, and love, and bring life to people." They give money because they feel guilty if they don't. They speak in groups, 'cause if they didn't speak, they’d feel guilty. Or they don't speak because they just live with condemnation.
You search out behind sexual addictions, eating disorders and dysfunctional families and you will find all this junk is fueled by guilt. Guilt is a killer. And if you are living this way, the enemy is the one whispering in your ears: "You think God's gonna hear you? You call yourself a Christian? I mean, you call yourself a Christian?"
"You call yourself a Christian, and you've got 75 pair of shoes, because every time you feel down, you're addicted, and you go shopping?” “You call yourself a Christian, and you eat, eat, eat, and then go to the bathroom and throw up?” “You call yourself a Christian, and every time you hear a morsel of anything, because you have to feel significant, you find that you're the garbage can of the church?” And so you ask questions, and people tell you stuff, and then, you're the dispenser of information – of course, in the form of prayer request: “Pray for them. You know they're going through a difficult time in their marriage.” “Pray for so-and-so because they've had to disconnect their cable, because some of the family members are struggling with those sexual issues."
The breastplate of righteousness is when God reveals His truth, you're honest with Him, and you put it into practice. And as you are putting into practice and the condemnation comes, you stand your ground. You say, "That's a lie, Satan. I'm complete in Christ."
Or you say, "No, that's a lie, Satan. That was true; I was a phony. I confessed it to God, and 1 John 1:9 is true. "If I confess my sins, He is faithful and He is just to” – what? – “forgive my sin, and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I stand upon the shed blood of the Lord Jesus. I am complete in Him. I am pure in Him. Get away from me, Satan. I'm not gonna hear that trash. I'm not gonna listen to those thoughts. I don't need to eat. Food's not gonna satisfy this. I don't need to log on to – I don't need pseudo-intimacy; I've got real intimacy. I'm not gonna play games.” And do you hear in my voice a little sense of a battle brewing, a little sense of “let's fight”?
You know how we pray? "Oh, God, I'm struggling so much, because I'm a victim, and I don't know what to do, and I feel overwhelmed. And I just have to do this, and I have this compulsion to do this. I'm so sorry, and" – I love this one – "I'll try harder next time."
God doesn't want you to try harder. He wants you to do the right thing now, and He wants you to apply the truth, the power that you presently possess, and by faith, put on the breastplate of righteousness on; because what's it do? It will protect your heart from demonic attack.
Remember the story of Saul, 1 Samuel 15? God, through Samuel, says, "Saul, this is what I want you to do." He has known truth. He has a role: This is what I'm supposed to do. He's supposed to wait for Samuel. He was afraid. Ha, ha, I wonder who could bring that about? He is tempted to – rather than rely on God – take it in his own hands, in his own resources, to be self-sufficient, instead of God-dependent.
And so, he does the exact opposite: He doesn't wait. He becomes a people pleaser. Then, he goes into denial. Then, he rationalizes. Follow Saul's life, from the moment he disobeys what he knows is true. Do you remember the rest of his life? He was plagued by demonic activity.
Question: In what area of your life has God spoken to you truth that you are not presently following? Do you feel you opened the door to demonic activity?
Demonic activity does not mean your bed's gonna start shaking at home or the demon Rose from the film is going to possess you like she did Sammy. It simply means you're being deceived. It means you'll be like so many, including myself, who thinks you're entitled. I mean - I'm heading the women's ministry. I'm collecting clothes for the poor. I read my Bible in the morning. I listen to some of those radio people. Yay, yay, yay.
Except the fact of the matter is, the Bible's really clear about forgiveness. And I've got bitterness in my heart toward my ex-mate, and I hate her guts, and I have anger fantasies. And there's a lady in the church that – we haven't talked to one another for four or five years. And yet, the Bible's really clear that, “You are to forgive others, the way I've forgiven you.” And unless you do, you're on a journey of being deceived.
You know, the Bible says, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness." That means you make time for God, every day. And He understands days that are crazy, and it's not legalism, but it means that He matters most to you. He's the most important relationship, not evidenced by your lips, but evidenced by your life.
Does it mean you're perfect? Of course not. It means you deal with the area God has shown you. If He's shown you, “Quit watching so much TV,” if He's shown you, “Break the habit with food,” if He's shown you, “Go get counseling for your marriage” – are you ready? Would you like to hear God's application? Just do it. Long before Nike: Just do it. Just do what God has shown you.
And I know there's fear but you know what? Once you take the first step to do that, you'll get grace. He'll give you grace! The first time you forgive someone that you don't wanna forgive, He'll give you grace. The first time you say, "I'm gonna block off time that I don't have. I'm gonna spend it with God," He'll give you grace. It's how it works. You put on the breastplate of righteousness.
James puts it best: "Therefore, to the one who knows what's right to do and doesn't do it, to him it is sin."
Why do you think He wants you to obey? Why do you think He said things about priorities, and money, and relationships, and purity? You know why? Because the apple, or the fruit, that you're putting your teeth into is a SweetTart. And it looks sweet on the front end, and there's some pseudo-intimacy and reward when you click on that porn site, or when you take food that you don't need, or when you harbor resentment, but it is a bitter pill to swallow. It will destroy you! It won't just hurt you; it'll destroy you! And He says, "I love you. I love you."
So, with that, let's look at our last piece of armor: "having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace." We've talked a little bit about what that is: sandals that came up to here. They had knobs on the bottom and, often, nails that would come out. Alexander the Great, historically, it was told, invented these, or championed these. And he gave credit that when they went into battle, because his troops had a firm foundation – In fact, in any athletic sport – I mean, you could go with any coach – balance is the key, and the key to balance is, you gotta have a firm foundation.
The word 'preparation' here means “establishment.” It's a means a firm foundation. It conveys the idea of readiness to share the Gospel, which brings peace between man and God.
Now, we said Satan uses deception. Okay. We said he uses condemnation to neutralize us. Now, he also specializes in casting doubt on the very basis of God's goodness, and the means by which we received it: the Gospel. He always attacks the Gospel.
These are the voices that whisper to you, "You don't really believe all this, do you? I mean, God created the universe, becomes a Man, lives a perfect life, dies on a cross, resurrected? Giving the first portion of your money away, trying to live a righteous life in a polluted world? You know, when you gonna quit playing games and believing this religious stuff? You don't need that crutch. What's going on with you? I mean, you're an intellectual person. You've been to school, and some of you went to graduate school, and . . . I mean, you're really gonna believe this stuff about –" Have I said enough? See, the firm foundation is understanding the Gospel.
First Corinthians 15:1-5 – understand it clearly. Christ came – fully Man, fully God – died for our sins, was raised from the dead. Where? This is in space-time history. He revealed himself to over 500 witnesses. This isn't a dream; it's not a religion. It's not an option on a religious salad bar that whatever you believe doesn't really matter. This is about a true-life, historical Man, who lived – it's verifiable; it's historical.
And the Good News – that's what "Gospel" means. The Good News is, He died on a cross to pay for your sin, and the sins of all the people. And the power of sin is broken, and Satan has been defeated, and you are free. And behind all of the truth, and behind the breastplate of righteousness is, this Gospel is what allowed you – this Good News has transported you from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light. And He says, "It's your establishment."
So, by way of application, you need to know and understand the Gospel – 1 Corinthians 15, and Ephesians 2:1-9. Second, you need to know the basis for your eternal security, and the assurance of your salvation. Romans 8:38 and 39 is for security, and assurance, 1 John 5.
See, 1 John 5 – “This is the record, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life. He that does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I've written to you in order that you may know." See, choose – the Gospel, the truth, the freedom, the grace, the assurance. Satan comes and whispers. And that's why it's such a powerful thing, to know that faith is based on facts, not feelings.
Yes, you will have attacks, feelings of guilt and condemnation and real life circumstances that defeat you. But I'm glad that I could say, "Satan, get behind me." Number one, I've believed in the Gospel. I know I'm saved, because I'm in Christ. It's fact. It's data. It's true. And you base it on the facts, and not your feelings.
And then, and I just so encourage you: Sharing your faith is one of the most powerful faith builders available. The best defense is a good offense. And as you share and I understand, it's threatening for many of you. You don't have to tell your whole story but just identify your life with Christ and the truth of what He has done for you.
Remember Philemon prayer, “That you might be faithful in sharing your faith, in order that you might grasp and understand what you have in Christ.” And so I encourage you to remember it is not the messenger but the power is in the message. And as you share it, you’ll realize that the foundation of your faith is so strong, so clear, so intellectually defensible.
As believers, we’ve been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, with all the rights, privileges, and position that being a child of God entails. The spiritual battle we fight involves a responsibility on our part to put on the spiritual protection that God has provided for us.
We can and will resist the enemy’s attempts to deceive, to accuse, and to cast out – how? – when we stand firm by:
1. Being honest with God, ourselves, and others, as a prerequisite to all spiritual battle.
2. Responding to the truth that God shows us about His will for our lives, righteous living.
3. To always be prepared to share the Gospel message of grace.