Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fighting the Enemy with Righteousness

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. 

When putting GOd's armor on to fight the enemy, I think it's important to notice how Paul pairs the various traits with the armor.   It seems to me that Paul is indicating that if we don't have righteousness as a breastplate, we're going to straight up die.  The arrow or sword or bullet will come straight to the heart and we will be done.

Sometimes when we look at theological terms we can become convinced that the words are much more complex or esoteric than they really are.  Righteousness is one of those words.

The definition of righteousness according to Google, Siri, and Merriam Webster, righteousness is acting in accord with divine or moral law, free from guilt or sin.  Why is righteousness then, what is protecting our heart?  Because sin and moral failure is what will open us up for the deadly blow.

You've seen it happen countless times with celebrities, pastors, politicians, athletes... a moral flaw can ruin everything for them.   A very gifted preacher embezzles money.  A politician has an affair.  A celebrity gets arrested.  And suddenly things go downhill.   The thing is, it's the same thing for us "normal" people .... it's just that it doesn't happen in the limelight.

So what actually does sin do?

First, it distracts us from our purpose.  Whether it is a big sin, like the ones mentioned above, or a "little sin" (in God's eyes they are all the same, but we have created our own continuum) it is still detecting us from God's purpose for us.  And when that happens, the enemy gains territory.

Sin also affects our relationships with other people.  More of the ten commandments have to do with how we treat each other than our direct relationship with God.  And when our relationships get screwed up, then we get less effective.  If I am spending my time thinking about how angry I am with my sister, or jealous that my best friend has a new friend, or telling everyone I know how much my mother is annoying me, I am doing very little to change the world.

Finally, sin separates us from God.  And I don't know about you, but I'm not at all interested in fighting the enemy without Him.

God's not interested in having us be defeated.  He is there to help us to avoid the temptation to sin.  And if our focus is on Him we can avoid the pitfalls above.

I'm thinking if I go into battle, I want my heart protected.   Righteousness is what will do that.   Might be something we should pursue.

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