How can you survive when things get rough? When your faith is being tested, and you’re getting to the point of being squeezed beyond what you think you can endure spiritually? And while it is difficult to get yourself together in a pinch when you haven’t properly prepared for a bad time, God is very open to those who read His Word about what we need to do to get ready for the inevitable times of testing that come to all.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” (Ephesians 6:13, 14)
So what, exactly, is the “whole armor of God?” The verses that follow itemize these, piece by piece. Today we will examine the first two–truth and righteousness.
The first thing we need to surround ourselves with is truth. This is not necessarily that which we would like to be true, not what others necessarily believe to be true. The truth which we need to be firmly rooted and grounded in is the Word of God–truth according to God, who knows what is real and wise and good far better than any other source.
But why should we believe God above other sources, especially those which seem scientific or otherwise objective and credible? The reason we must accept the truth of God’s Word is because it is precisely that–the inspired, infallible revelation of God:
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (II Peter 1:20, 21)
Whenever a source other than the Bible appears to contract Scripture, there are several possibilities. We might have incorrectly understood what God says. Perhaps the translation is poor: to try to understand the intended meaning, besides consulting other versions, we can look up the individual words in a translation of the original Greek or Hebrew in a Bible Dictionary, such as the one by Spiros Zodhiates. Perhaps we are taking the teaching out of context, not reading the verses or chapters surrounding it. Or ultimately, we may simply be assuming it says something it doesn’t because that is what we want it to say to fit our preconceived notions or lifestyle.
Alternately, we may not be understanding the full implications of either the verse or the scientific data. We may assume they preclude options not genuinely precluded–we must, for example, be careful not to add to what Scripture says. There is also a strong tendency to be intimidated by secular researchers and wrongly accept the unwarranted or biased conclusions of legitimate scientific data. Of course, it is entirely possible that the actual research is flawed.
Ultimately, if after careful and conscientious consideration, secular sources still disagree with the inspired Word of God, we must rest in the infallibility of the eternal God and trust what He says over the work of mere human beings.
The second quality we need to surround ourselves with is righteousness. But whose righteousness are we talking about? The obvious answer is Christ’s, because “all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Apart from God mercifully reaching down to us, we would be eternally lost in our own unrighteousness:
“…You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—in these ways we continue; and we need to be saved. But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You…” (Isaiah 64:5-8)
Yet, beyond our sins being covered by the blood of Christ–now thereby being acceptable to a holy and righteous God–we are also commanded to avoid all sin in our lives. Never must we consciously allow ourselves to “indulge” in anything that God has declared wicked. Why? Because even though we may still occasionally be tempted, Christ has called us to righteous living:
“Whoever abides in Him does not sin [habitually]. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” (I John 3:6-9)
So, to recap, how do we put on the armor of God?
1) The first step is making sure we know truth–especially the truth found in the Word of God–by faithfully reading, studying, and accepting it.
2) The second step is evidencing our faith in Christ by refusing to sin–having the righteousness of Christ imputed to us (counted as ours), and subsequently living righteously.
Help us “…be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving [our]…selves.” (James 1:22)