Wise King Solomon tells us, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: … a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” (Eccl. 3:1, 8, RSV) For almost immediately after the flood of Noah, man has been in one war after another, to the point eventually; it became nation against nation, and eventually two World Wars. Certainly, the return of the prince of peace will be a long-awaited relief. (Isaiah 9:6)
Many Christians have struggled with all of the bloodshed and genocide, wondering is it God’s will that these things take place, did he bring them about? No, this would not be reasonable thinking. Of course, by allowing sin to enter into the world instead of destroying Satan, Adam and Eve, he has allowed these things to take place. God does not cause evil and suffering. Romans 9:14. That fact that God has allowed evil, pain, and suffering have shown that independence from God has not brought about a better world. (Jer. 8:5-6, 9). God’s permission of evil, pain, and suffering has also proved that Satan has not been able to turn all humans away from God. (Ex. 9:16; 1 Sam. 12:22; Heb. 12:1). The fact that God has permitted evil, pain, and suffering to continue has provided proof that only God, the Creator, has the capability and the right to rule over humankind for their eternal blessing and happiness. (Eccl. 8:9). Satan has been the god of this world since the sin in Eden (over 6,000 years), and how has that worked out for man, and what has been the result of man’s course of independence from God and his rule? (Matthew 4:8-9; John 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 1 John 5:19; Psalm 127:1)
Satan’s impact on the earth’s activities has carried with it conflict, evil, and death, and his rulership has been by means of deception, power, and his own self-interest. He has demonstrated himself an unfit ruler of everything. Therefore, God is now completely vindicated in putting an end to this corrupted rebel along with all who have shared in his evil deeds. (Rom. 16:20) God has tolerated evil, sickness, pain, suffering, and death until our day in order to resolve all the issues raised by Satan. We are self-centered in thinking that this has only pained us. If you desire a deeper look, please read the Christian Publishing House Blog: Why Has God Permitted Wickedness and Suffering.
The wars over the past 4,000 years have not brought any peace and security. These wars are against blood and flesh. The apostle Paul tells us “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but powerful to God for destroying strongholds.” Our spiritual warfare is for tearing down arguments. Let us pause for a moment, to consider why we are fighting and against whom. Paull tells us by way of Ephesians, our fight is not “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (6:12) This verse is not saying that Christians are to rise up and fight human governments. On this, Max Anders writes, “The picture of warfare here implies that we do not face a physical army. We face a spiritual army. Therefore, our weapons must be spiritual. Against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms seems to suggest a hierarchy of evil spirit-beings who do the bidding of Satan in opposing the will of God on earth.” (Anders, Holman New Testament Commentary: vol. 8, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians 1999, 190)
In fact, we are told to pray for rulers, so that the decisions they make, may allow us to carry out our evangelism work. (1 Tim. 2:1-3) Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 8:36) As Anders brought out, this fight is against Satan’s organization of demonic angels, which has been in control of the earth for centuries. Revelation 12:9-12
What has been the effect of Satan’s rule over the earth? He has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to the light of biblical truths. Yes, for those with an unreceptive mind and heart, Satan has been allowed to place a veil over the gospel, which keeps these particular unbelievers from being able to discern or comprehend the truth. Therefore, Christ’s servants in the earth are shining the light of truth from the darkest corner of the demonically controlled earth.
Blinded the Minds of the Unbelievers
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 3:12-18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
12 Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, 13 and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. 14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is taken away only by means of Christ. 15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts; 16 but whenever one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Let us start by looking at an example of blind minds within Scripture. This was not a case of physical blindness, but mental blindness. There was a Syrian military force coming after Elisha, and God blinded them mentally. If it had been physical blindness, then each of them would have to have been led by the hand. However, what does the account say?
2 Kings 6:18-20 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
18 And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to Jehovah and said, “Please strike this nation with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. 19 Then Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, nor is this the city; follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he brought them to Samaria.
20 When they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, “O Jehovah, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So Jehovah opened their eyes and they saw; and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.
Are we to believe that one man led the entire Syrian military force to Samaria? If they were physically blind, they would have to have all held hands. Were the Syrian military forces not able physically to see the images that were before them? No, rather, it was more of an inability to understand them. This must have been some form of mental blindness, where we see everything that everyone else sees, but something just does not register. Another example can be found in the account about the men of Sodom. When they were blinded, they did not become distressed, running into each other.
Definitely, Paul is speaking of people, who are not receptive to truth, because their heart is hardened to it, callused, unfeeling. They are not responding because their figurative heart is opposed. It is as though, God handed them over to Satan, to be mentally blinded from the truth, not because he disliked them per se, but because they had closed their hearts and minds to the gospel. Thus, no manner of argumentation is likely to bring them back to their senses.
HOWEVER, at one time Saul (Paul) was one of these. Until he met the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was mentally blind to the truth. He was well aware of what the coming Messiah was to do, but Jesus did none of these things because it was not time. Thus, Paul was blinded by his love for the Law, Jewish tradition, and history. So much so, he was unable to grasp the Gospel. Not to mention, he lived during the days of Jesus ministry, studied under Gamaliel, who was likely there in the area. He could have even been there when Jesus amazed the Jewish religious leaders, at the age of twelve. Therefore, Saul (Paul) needed a real wake-up call, to get through the veil that blinded him from the gospel. Hence, a mentally blind person sees the same information as another, but the truth will normally cannot or will not get down into their heart. This is not saying that an unbeliever cannot understand the Bible; it is simply that they see no significance in it, as it is foolishness to them.
Staying with the spiritual warfare aspect, we must think of those who have been taken captive by Satan and his world. Like in any war, prisoners of war can be released. Our being able to teach the truth of God’s Word to all unbelievers and believers, who have found the wrong path, is how this freeing of Satanic captives is accomplished. Gradually, with some, we are able to pull aside the veil of darkness, allowing the light to shine. Once they see the knowledge of the truth, their joy is just as great as any blind person who has had their sight restored. In real-life warfare, freed prisoners can come home angry, holding to hate and bitterness. However, in the spiritual warfare unites men and women of all kinds and from all nations in the connections of lasting love, joy, and peace, having shared understanding through the Word of God.
We need to change the face of Christianity as Christians, the world over, sharing in the battle for the Bible, advancing Bible knowledge, defending the Word of God, defending the faith, and saving those who have begun to doubt. We need to take the fight into our communities, effectively sharing biblical truths with our neighbors in our villages, towns, and cities. The apostle Paul was a madman for the truth. Listen, as he had to defend himself against false apostles.
2 Corinthians 11:23-27 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
23 Are they servants of Christ? I reply like a madman, I am more outstandingly one: I have done more work, been imprisoned more often, with countless beatings, and often near deaths. 24 Five times I received 40 strokes less one from the Jews, 25 three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I experienced shipwreck, a night and a day I have spent in the open sea; 26 in journeys often, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from robbers, in dangers from my own people, in dangers from the nations, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers among false brothers, 27 in labor and toil, in sleepless nights often, in hunger and thirst, frequently without food, in cold and lacking clothing.
Our Struggle against Dark Spiritual Forces
Living in the modern scientific-minded world of the 21st century, most no longer believe in wicked spirit forces, demons. The truth of the matter is if such spirit creatures exist, their belief in them is irrelevant, and the effect is felt on every living person on earth. Even for those of us, who accept the demons as being true, because we are disciples of Jesus Christ, we are not immune from their activity. In reality, we have an even bigger target on our backs, because we do not give into their influences, and are the enemy of their fight against Jehovah God. Listen to the words of Paul:
The Whole Armor of God
Ephesians 6:10-20 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
10 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 wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm, therefore, with your loins girded about with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and with your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in all things, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Through all prayer and petition praying at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, keep awake with all perseverance and making supplication for all the holy ones. 19 Pray also for me, that the words may be given to me when I open my mouth, so that I may be able to speak boldly in making known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
We may be thinking that it seems very unlikely that any human can be at odds with a demonic spirit creature, and come out victorious as they have unimaginable superhuman abilities. It is only possible by our reliance on Christ Jesus. We must have a complete grasp of God’s Word, and apply it in a balanced manner in our lives each day. Only by doing so, can we be freed from the bodily, moral, emotional and mental harm that those under demonic or satanic control have gone through. (Ephesians 6:11; James 4:7)
Girding Your Loins with Truth
The loins are the area on each side of the backbone of a human between the ribs and hips. At the time that the Apostle Paul wrote this to the Ephesians, soldiers wore a belt or girdle-like you see in the image of Roman soldiers. It was 2 to 6 inches in width. This belt served a double duty: (1) to protect the soldier’s loins, (2) but also serve in supporting his sword. When a soldier girded up his loins, this meant he was getting ready to go into battle. This soldier and his belt served as the perfect analogy, of how a Christian is to put on the belt of biblical truth, to protect his life. The truths of Scripture should be pulled tight around us, helping us to live a life that is reflective of that truth, and so that we can use that Bible truth to defend the faith, contend for the faith, and save those who doubt. (1 Pet. 3:15, Jude 3, 21-22) If we are to accomplish these tasks, we will have to study carefully the Bible and consider its contents. Prophetically, it was said of Jesus, “your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:8) If Jesus came under attack by the enemy of truth, he was able to refer to biblical truth from memory. (Matthew 19:3-6; 22:23-32)
Isaiah 30:20-21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
20 And though Jehovah give you the bread of distress and the water of oppression, yet your Teacher will no longer hide himself, but your eyes shall behold your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
30:20–22 The text emphasizes that God “gives” (nātan) his people different experiences (also in v. 23; cf. Eccl 3:1–12), including times of adversity or punishment for sin. In Isaiah’s situation he did not intervene immediately when the Assyrians invaded: instead, he allowed the Assyrian attack on Judah to defeat 46 walled cities and take 200,150 people captive. But in the future some “teachers/a Teacher” will instruct the people in the way that they should walk.155 NIV takes these as teachers (probably prophets) who will guide the people in God’s ways, but Oswalt argues that the singular verb points to a divine Teacher, God himself, who will instruct his people. God will no longer hide himself in the sense of seeming distant or of a failure to act on their behalf (45:15; 59:1–2; Ps 27:8–9; 4:3–4; 102:1–2). His presence will be seen, for he will be active among them, instructing in the way they should walk. This pictures God, the teacher, giving moral instruction to his people with his own voice (cf. 2:2–4; Ps 25:8–14) so that they will stay out of trouble. The Lord will gently teach his disciples in “the way” (haderek) of God, instructing them in the disciplines of godliness so they will not turn in any other moral directions (right or left). This reminds one of God’s original instructions for his people to follow his instructions (Deut 5:32–33; 17:19–20; Josh 1:7–8; 23:6–7).
God’s presence and his teaching will result in the total rejection of idols (30:22) covered with a thin layer of gold or silver to make them look important. Once the people’s eyes are opened and they hear God’s instructions, the people will see the foolishness of trusting in lifeless images that can do nothing. The people became defiled (ṭimmēʾtem Lev 15:31; 20:3; 2 Kgs 23:16; Jer. 7:30) by these idols, but in the future their defilement or desecration of these statues of wood will show an utter disrespect for the gods these idols represent (cf. 2:20; 13:17; 31:7; 44:15–17). They will no longer reverence or treat these idols as holy, but will reject them and throw them out, as if they were getting rid of an object that was repulsive. As Oswalt suggests, “blessings can be received only after the abandonment of one’s own efforts and a complete commitment to God.”
Breastplate of Righteousness
The breastplate of the soldier was a piece of armor that covered the chest, protecting one of the most important organs, the heart. As all Christians likely know, we have a figurative heart, which is our inner person, and it needs special protection because it leans toward wrongdoing. (Gen. 8:21) Therefore, we must cultivate a love for God’s Word and the standards and values that lie within. (Ps 119:97, 105) Our love for the Word of God should be to such a depth that we would reject “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life.” (1 John 2:15-17) In addition, once we have developed such a desire for right over wrong, we will be able to avoid paths that would have otherwise led us to ruination. (Ps 119:99-101; Amos 5:15) Our greatest example in everything, Jesus Christ, evidenced this to such an extent that Paul could say, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.” (Hebrews 1:9)
Shod Your Feet with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace
Roman soldiers needed suitable footwear, which (1) kept the soldier’s footing sure in battle, and (2) allowed him to march some 20 miles during a campaign while wearing or carrying some 60 pounds of armor and equipment. Thus, Paul’s ongoing analogy of the armor of a Roman soldier was right on target, as the appropriate footwear for the readiness of a Christian evangelizer active in spreading the gospel message is even more relevant. The importance is shown by Paul again in his letters to the Roman congregation when he asks how the people will get to know God if the Christian is not willing and ready to bring it to him, as he preaches and teaches? (Romans 10:13-15)
Once again, we must look to our exemplar Jesus Christ as he says to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” For three and a half years, Jesus walked throughout the land of Palestine, preaching to all who would listen, giving the ministry a top priority in his life. (John 4:5-34; 18:37) If we, like Jesus, are eager to declare the good news, we will find many opportunities to share it with others. Furthermore, our being absorbed in our ministry will help keep us spiritually strong. (Acts 18:5)
The Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit
Thureon is the Greek word rendered “shield,” which refers to a shield that was “large and oblong, protecting every part of the soldier; the word is used metaphorically of faith.” This shield of faith would and will protect the Christian from the “the fiery darts of the wicked one.” In ancient times, the darts of the soldiers were often hollowed out having small iron receptacles, which were filled with a clear colorless flammable mixture of light hydrocarbons that burned. This was one of the most lethal weapons as it caused havoc among the enemy troops unless the soldiers had the large body shields that had been drenched in water and could quench the fiery darts. In fact, the earliest manuscripts repeat the definite article, literally “the darts of the evil one, the fiery (darts),” emphasizing the fact that they were, above all, destructive. If a soldier’s shield caught fire, he would be tempted to throw it down, leaving himself open to the enemy’s spear.
What does the highly metaphorical language of the fiery darts depict and how does this weaken or undercut our faith? It may come in the form of minor persecution if we live in the Western world, such as being ridiculed for our Christian faith, even verbally assaulted by Bible critics. Another fiery dart may be the temptation to put money over the ministry. Then, there is a constant temptation from Satan’s world to lure us into immorality. You would have to be blindfolded not to see sexually-explicit images hundreds of times per day as it is used to sell everything. It is not only the images but also the mindset. I will give you just one example, and please excuse the graphic nature. The modern day junior high school children (13 and 14 years old); literally view oral sex as being no different than kissing one another on the lips.
If we are to protect our Christian family, our congregation of brothers and sisters, and ourselves, we must possess “the shield of faith.” Faith is not a simple belief in Jesus Christ as some misinformed ones might tell us; rather it is an active faith in Jesus Christ. James tells at 1:19 “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe and shudder!” The demons and Satan believe in the existence of Jesus Christ, and yet this brings them no salvation whatsoever. Faith comes from taking in an active knowledge of the Father and the Son to the point of building a relationship, a friendship based on the deepest love, and the committing of oneself to the point of turning your life over completely. It is regular prayerful communication, understanding and valuing how he protects us. (Joshua 23:14; Luke 17:5; Romans 10:17)
Again, we turn to our great exemplar, Jesus Christ, who demonstrated his faith throughout some very trying times. He completely trusted the Father to accomplish his will and purposes. (Matt. 26:42, 53, 54; John 6:38) A great example of this trust can be found when Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane. He was in great anguish because he knew that he was going to be executed as a blasphemer of his Father, and even then, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) Not that he was backing out of the execution, the ransom that is, but he wanted to be executed for another reason, other than a blasphemer. Jesus was an integrity keeper, which brought great joy to the Father. (Pro. 27:11) As we face difficult times in the world that is alienated from God, we will do well to imitate Jesus great faith, and not give ours under the pressures of the world that lies in the hands of the evil one. Moreover, our faith will be refined if we trust in God, evidencing our love for him, by applying his Word in our daily walking with him. (Ps 19:7-11; 1 John 5:3) The immediate gratification that this world has to offer could never compare with the blessings that lie ahead. (Pro. 10:22)
Not long ago, those trying to curb the use of drugs within the American youth had the saying, “the mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Our next piece of armor of God would be a very useful tool for protecting the Christian mind, the helmet of salvation. The Apostle Paul said to the Thessalonians, “we must stay sober and let our faith and love be like a suit of armor. Our firm hope that we will be saved is our helmet,” because it protects our Christian mind. (1 Thess. 5:8) Even though we may have accepted Christ, and have entered onto the path of salvation, we still suffer from imperfect human weaknesses. Even though our foremost desire is to do good, our thinking can be corrupted by this fleshly world that surrounds us. We need not to be like this world but rather openly allow God to alter the way we think, through his Word the Bible, which will help us fully to grasp everything that is good and pleasing to him. (Rom. 7:18; 12:2) You likely recall the test that Jesus faced, where Satan offered him “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” (Matt. 4:8-10) Jesus response was to refer to Scripture, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Paul had this to say about Jesus, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
We need to understand that the above examples of faith do not come to us automatically. If we are focusing on what this current system of things has to offer, as opposed to focusing on the hopes that are plainly laid out in Scripture, we will be weak in the face of any severe trial. After a few stumbles, it may be that we suffer spiritual shipwreck and lose our hope altogether. Then again, if we frequently feed our minds, or concentrate the mind on the promises of God, we will carry on delighting in the hope that has been offered us. (Romans 12:12)
If we are to keep our Christian mind in the hope that lies ahead, we need to possess the Sword of the Spirit. The book that reveals heavenly Father, his will, and purposes, i.e., the Bible is stated to be “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” This Word, if understood correctly, applied in a balanced manner, can transform our lives, and help us avoid or minimalize the pitfalls of this imperfect life. We can depend on that Word when we are overwhelmed, or temple to give way to the flesh, and when the Bible critics of this world attempt to do away with our faith. (2 Cor. 10:4-5) We need to heed the words of the Apostle Paul to his spiritual son, Timothy:
2 Timothy 3:14-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
14 You, however [Timothy], continue in the things you have learned and were persuaded to believe, knowing from whom you have learned them [Paul, who Timothy traveled with and studied under for 15 years], 15 and that from infancy you have known the sacred writings [the whole Old Testament], which are able to make you wise for salvation through trust in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be fully competent, equipped for every good work.
3:14–15. Each of us is susceptible to this dangerous trap of deception unless we obey Scripture vigilantly. Following Christ is more than a one-time decision or an occasional church service or kind act. True Christianity involves continual dependence and obedience to Christ the king. Paul told Timothy to continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of. Our faith is proved by its endurance.
Two elements are necessary for faithful living. First, we must possess knowledge of the truth. Truth enlightens a person about what is right and wrong, what constitutes purpose and happiness. We cannot trust or love which we do not know. The second element is conviction or belief. We express our belief system in the daily decisions we make and the behaviors in which we engage. No one acts contrary to belief (though we may act contrary to our professions of belief).
Paul also wanted Timothy to consider those from whom you learned [truth], and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures. Once again he had Timothy’s mother and grandmother in mind (see 2 Tim. 1:5). Timothy was schooled in the Old Testament writings and had learned the need for forgiveness, the provision of God, and the necessity of faith. He had also been discipled by Paul, learning Christ and the church. In each case, Timothy had not only been given knowledge; he had been witness to godly lives.
These people served as examples to Timothy about the truth of God, the need for endurance, and the reward of faithfulness. Each person had staked his or her life on the revelation of the Scriptures which, according to Paul, are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
3:16. The power of the Bible to affect change and demand obedience resides in the fact that all Scripture is God-breathed. The Bible originates with God. Claims of origins carry great significance because authority lives in the Creator. This is why people invest such Herculean efforts in trying to disprove God as the earth’s Creator and in questioning the authenticity of the Bible. Admitting to God’s authorship is an acceptance of his authority over every aspect of life. By stating that Scriptures are God breathed, Paul established the Bible’s claim as God’s authoritative Word over all people.
The Scriptures were written by men “as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). The picture is that of a sailboat being moved along by the wind. Indeed, men wrote the Bible, but the words and substance of what they wrote came from God. This makes the Bible useful. Paul listed four main uses of Scripture, all of which intertwine with one another.
Teaching involves instruction. Since Timothy was feeling the attacks of false teachers, Paul encouraged the young pastor to continue in teaching correct doctrine and correct living. The Scriptures must be known so people will grasp their need of salvation and so the confessing community will adhere to its instructions on proper Christian conduct.
Rebuking and correcting are the disciplinary authority of Scripture. Because the Bible is God’s Word and because it reveals truth, it exercises authority over those who deviate from its standard. “Rebuking” points out sin and confronts disobedience. “Correcting” recognizes that a person has strayed from the truth. Graciously, lovingly, yet firmly, we should try to guide the errant individual back into obedience.
Many times the Old Testament relates Israel’s disobedience to God, how the people suffered God’s chastisement for their rebellion, and how God corrected their sinful habits. The New Testament continues with stories and instructions, warnings regarding disobedience, disciplinary actions for those who fail to heed God’s revelation, and teachings on proper conduct.
Training in righteousness is the counterpoint to correction. The Scriptures give us positive guidance for maturing in faith and acceptable conduct.
3:17. The goal of all this instruction, discipline, and training is not to keep us busy. God intends that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. We study the Bible, we rely upon God’s Spirit, his revelation, and the community of the faithful to keep us on track—obedient and maturing in faith. Continuing in this commitment will enable us to do whatever God calls us to do. Timothy could withstand the attacks of false teachers, the abandonment of professing believers, and the persecution that surrounded him because God had equipped him for the task. God never calls us to do something without first enabling us through his Spirit and the power of his truth to accomplish the task.
We neglect the Scriptures at our own peril. Through them we gain the ability to serve God and others. The Scriptures not only point the way; through the mysterious union of God’s Word and faith, they give us the ability to serve.
John MacArthur says, “Whether confronting Satan’s efforts to distrust God, forsaking obedience, producing doctrinal confusion and falsehood, hindering service to God, bringing division, serving God in the flesh, living hypocritically, being worldly, or in any other way rejecting biblical obedience, this armor is our defense.
After his baptism by John the Baptist, Jesus went out into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights, which left him weak and hungry. It was then that Satan tempted Jesus, waiting until he was in a weakened condition. Read carefully as Satan offers the first temptation to Jesus:
Luke 4:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
3 And the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
Jesus’ First Temptation
First, Satan played on Jesus’ natural desire for food, as he deliberately waited until Jesus was in a weakened state from fasting. In addition, Satan knew that Jesus was the Son of God, as he had been in heaven with him. Notice how he is attempting to attack Jesus’ hunger, by starting his accusation with “if,” to get Jesus to use his powers for selfish gain. In other words, he wanted Jesus to be annoyed and say, ‘You know I am the Son of God, so watch as I turn these stones into bread!’ Was Jesus tempted into a selfish act, a needful feeling of proving himself right? No, Jesus did not permit Satan to bait him into rebellion.
Luke 4:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
Jesus’ Second Temptation
Luke 4:5-7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 And he led him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore if you bow down before me, it shall all be yours.”
One way of being emphatic in the Greek language is to front word(s) before others, and in this case, the second person pronoun (soi, “to you”) was fronted to the beginning of the Greek sentence by Luke to show just how important this question was. The English is not able to bring this out well, but the Greek makes it all too clear. What Satan was saying, is a bit like what a car salesperson might say, ‘Look, this deal is for you and you alone!’ Did Jesus even slightly consider Satan’s offer? No, he responds,
Luke 4:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
Jesus’ Third Temptation,
Luke 4:9-10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
9 And he led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here; 10 for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’
Notice that Satan even quotes Scripture, but of course twists it to suit his misleading benefits. This temptation is much more subtle than one might think. Satan wanted Jesus to get caught up in himself, and take the easy way out, as opposed to the humble three and half year ministry that lay ahead. If Jesus had stood on the top of the pinnacle of the temple, at a time of the day when everyone was out, with all gathered to see him there; it would have made his ministry easier. Because if he had leaped in front of thousands of onlookers, and angels came to rescue him before he hit the ground, many would have had faith in him, based on his showmanship. However, Jesus knew his Father’s will was for him to have an education ministry of three and a half years, a ministry of humility. Moreover, how did Jesus feel about doing the will of the Father? Here are his own words, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34)
Matthew 4:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
On many other occasions, Jesus used the Scriptures to help unsuspecting people escape Satan’s influences, as well as those of the overbearing Jewish religious leaders, who were twisting the Scriptures for their ill-gotten gains. Jesus made more than 120 references or quotations from the Old Testament Scriptures, from over half the books of the Hebrew Old Testament, in his three and half year ministry. This may appear to be trivial when you think of a three and half year ministry. However, notice what John says about Jesus, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book.” (John 20:30)
John also said, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) Thus, if we take everything Jesus said in the Gospels, it would only amount to 3-4 hours of speaking. Now imagine four speakers at a religious assembly, giving an hour talk each, and each of them referencing or quoting some 30 Scriptures in their allotted hour. These would be considered highly biblical talks. Moreover, Jesus usually never had any scrolls in front of him. Therefore, his quotes and references were from memory. In the famous Sermon on the Mount, he directly or indirectly referenced dozens of Scriptures from memory.
Our Need to Pray
After giving us the complete suit of spiritual armor, Paul goes on to tell us,
Ephesians 6:18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
18 Through all prayer and petition praying at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, keep awake with all perseverance and making supplication for all the holy ones.
|6:18 And pray in the Spirit
The soldier must maintain contact with his commanding officer. Prayer helps keep one in tune with the Lord and his purposes. Perhaps prayer should even be considered a part of the “full armor,” because a consistent prayer life is a defense against attacks of Satan and prayer strengthens against temptation. Prayer is said to be “in the Spirit,” since it is the Spirit who helps us pray, interceding “with groans that words cannot express” (Rom 8:26). To pray “in the Spirit” in 1 Cor 14:15 is to pray under the influence of the Spirit.
on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
Paul told the Thessalonians to “pray continually” (1 Thess 5:17). Whatever the occasion, God wants his children to pray regularly, consistently, and frequently. “Prayer” (προσευχή, proseuchē) is the general word for communication with God, including all aspects of asking, praising, and giving thanks. “Request” (δέησις, deēsis) is a more specific word, indicating a special request or entreaty to God. When this word for “request” is found in the N.T., it is most often used in the context of making an entreaty on behalf of someone else.
With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
To “be alert” (ἀγρυπνέω, agrypneō) is literally to “keep from falling asleep.” Its use in Mark 13:33 shows that the word is synonymous with the word γρηγορέω (grēgoreō) (“watch,” “stand guard duty”) in Mark 13:35, 37. There is a sense, then, in which the praying Christian is standing guard to ensure the safety of his fellow soldiers. In Samuel’s farewell speech to his people he caught the essence of this duty when he said, “And as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against God by failing to pray for you” (1 Sam 12:23).
When we are enticed by our flesh, or come upon a trial, or find ourselves discouraged, prayer can strengthen us immeasurably. (Matthew 26:41) Jesus “offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” (Hebrews 5:7)
- Why should we be guided by the Scriptures?
- What is spiritual warfare?
- Who has blinded many to the truth, and how can we help them?
- What are the benefits of Christian warfare?
- What are three primary forms of protection that every Christian must have? (Phil. 3:1; 4:8, 9; 1 Cor. 10:12, 13; 2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Pet. 1:13)
- Whose standards of righteousness are we obligated to follow, and why is it for our best interests? (Rev. 15:3)
- If we disobey God, because we have not formed a longing for his Word, what could be the outcome? (1 Sam 15:22, 23; Deut. 7:3, 4)
- What should we keep our feet busy doing? (Matt 28:19, 20; Rom. 10:15; Ps. 73:2, 3; 1 Tim. 5:13)
- How will firmly grounded faith help us when faced with tragedy or attacks from Bible critics? (2 Tim 1:12; 2 Ki 6:15-17)
- How does our hope of salvation help us to avoid being entangled by disproportionate concern with material possessions? (1 Tim. 6:7-10, 19)
- On what should we at all times rely when fighting off attacks against our spirituality or that of others? (Ps. 119:98; Pro 3:5, 6; Matt 4:3, 4)
 That is merely human
 That is tearing down arguments
 Or people
 “11:22–33 The third and most comprehensive list recorded in this letter of Paul’s sufferings for the cause of Christ (cf. 4:8–12; 6:4–10).” – MacArthur, John (2005-05-09). The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 55700-55701). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
 Lit and in nakedness
 Or struggle
 (an idiom, literally ‘to gird up the loins’) to cause oneself to be in a state of readiness–‘to get ready, to prepare oneself.’–GELNTBSD
 Lit a chain
 Paul made sure believers recognized that as new people who have been granted new life in a new family with new relationships they still would endure spiritual warfare. The closing portion of Paul’s letter explained his account of the Christian’s conflict with evil forces.
Believers must adorn themselves with the armor of God in order to stand against the devil’s schemes. Five defensive weapons are identified: (1) the enabling nature of truth that resists lying and false doctrine; (2) the covering quality of righteousness that resists accusations of conscience and despondency; (3) the stabilizing quality of peace that resists slander and selfishness; (4) the protective ability of faith that resists prayerlessness and doubt; and (5) the encouraging nature of salvation that resists fear and disappointment.
Two offensive weapons are included in the armor of God: (1) the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and (2) prayer. It is fitting that this prayerful and meditative letter concludes with an exhortation to prayer and a request for prayer. (Dockery 1998, 581)
 One of 134 scribal changes from YHWH to Adhonai.
 Lit your teachers. The Hebrew verb is plural to denote grandeur or excellence.
 Gary V. Smith, Isaiah 1–39, ed. E. Ray Clendenen, The New American Commentary (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2007), 520–522.
 W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Jr., vol. 2, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 571.
 6.36 belos, ous n: a missile, including arrows (propelled by a bow) or darts (hurled by hand)—‘arrow, dart.’ In the NT belos occurs only in a highly figurative context, to bele … peporomena ‘flaming arrows (or darts)’ Eph 6:16, and refers to temptations by the Devil.―Louw and Nida 6.36.
 Brephos is the period of time when one is very young–‘childhood (probably implying a time when a child is still nursing), infancy.
 Pisteuo is “to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance—‘to believe in, to have confidence in, to have faith in, to trust, faith, trust.’
 Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 305–307.
 MacArthur, John (2005-05-09). The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 57514-57516). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
 Quotation from Deuteronomy 8:3
 I borrowed the car salesman analogy off of Dr. Darrell Bock, but it is a bit revised.
 A quotation from Deut. 6:16
 Kenneth L. Boles, Galatians & Ephesians, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1993), Eph 6:18.