Thursday, November 13, 2014

This means war! What it means to put on the full armor of God: Fully Obedient

Ephesians 6:10-12 "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."

Introduction and Review
Yesterday we suggested that Paul's command to put on the full armor of God has to do with being filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit-filled life entails us surrendering under the Holy Spirit's leadership so as to be more effective in the daily battle of faith. We noted how the Spirit-filled life can be likened unto chain-mail that protects the body from the weaponry of the enemy. Being that the idea of "putting on the full-armor of God" is a command, we suggest that the second meaning of putting on the full-armor of God has to do with the obedient Christian life.

Putting on the full armor of God means living the obedient Christian life
Obedience to God and the Spirit-filled life goes hand in hand. The filling of the Spirit is the power source or motivation for obedience and obedience is the fruit and effect stemming from being Spirit-filled. It is a manifest impossibility to claim to be Spirit-filled and yet not be obedient. Whenever we disobey God in an area, we have just betrayed such a claim. 

Anytime we see God commanding things in scripture, two things are implied: exercise of the will and the need of God's grace to carry out the command. The ancient Christian writer Augustine had a short little prayer that went something like this: "command what thou wilt and will what thou commandest." In other words, God has the right and authority to issue forth commands from His Word for the carrying out by His people. The human will is the primary vehicle of the heeding in such circumstances. Think of a snow-shovel used to shovel a drive-way. How can I go outside in the winter and shovel snow unless I have the proper tool to carry out the task.

However the involvement of the human will in obedience does not complete the explanation. There must necessarily be some kind of power, influence and Person at work with the human will. Just as a shovel by itself would never be able to shovel snow, and thus needs an external person yielding it, so it is with God in the carrying out of His commands.

Whenever we see Paul's instructions on putting on the full-armor of God, certainly the power source in this instance is the filling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Person Who shapes and molds the Christian to do the will the Lord. However, the Christian in turn must yield in obedience to demonstrate that they are ready to fight the good fight of faith. Notice the commands Paul issues in Ephesians 6:10-18:

"be strong in the Lord" vs 10

"Put on the full armor of God" vs 11

"take up the full armor of God" vs 13

"Stand firm" vs 14

"and having shod your feet..." vs 15

"taking up the shield of faith.." vs 16

"And take the helmet of salvation" vs 17

"pray at all times...." vs 18

These commands indicate that at the heart of putting on the full armor of God is obeying the Lord's will. Even the idea of being Spirit-filled is a command! Our General - Jesus Christ - issues these commands by His Spirit through the Word. We require the Spirit-power to carry them out and the willing obedience to heed the commands. Thus putting on the full-armor of God means being Spirit-filled and living out the obedient Christian life. 

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