Not Just Any Army

The Israelites have an enemy named the Philistines. And the Philistines know that the Israelite army is a very special army because of the God they serve, for He enables them to be victorious in their battles. If only the Philistines could make the Israelite army forget that they are the army of God. And in I Samuel 17 it seems they have found just the right tool to make the Israelite army feel defeated, and this happened even before any physical battle has taken place. The tool of the Philistine army is a giant named Goliath. He has the whole army of Israel convinced that they are only the servants of Saul and will never be able to win this battle. But then a young shepherd boy named David comes on the scene. He too sees and hears Goliath but he is not impressed with his height or his sound, for he knows who this giant really is; he is nothing more than an uncircumcised Philistine. And how dare he defile the army of the living God! David then takes action by preparing his weaponry, which consists of five smooth stones, and he kills Goliath with the very first stone because his God is with him. And his actions make the Israelite army once again remember who they are; the army of the living God.  So they go and defeat their enemies.

Is this story relevant to you? Yes it is.  For you too, as a believer, are part of the army of God. It is true, you are not part a physical army, and you do not have physical enemies. Nevertheless, you do have a real enemy. His name is Satan. Jesus teaches in John 10:10 what his aim is The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. And Peter writes in I Peter 5:8 that Satan looks for those he can devour. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. So how can you be be victorious in your battles against your enemy? You will need to wear the right outfit. That outfit is described in Ephesians 6:10-17

Finally be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 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. Therefore, put on the full armour 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.                                  

No soldier goes to battle without the proper outfit. Likewise, you as a believer, need to make sure you are always clothed in the armour of God.The first part of that outfit is the belt of truth. According to John 14:6, Jesus says that He is the Truth.

Jesus answered, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”                                                    

And in John 17:17 Jesus prays to the Father for His followers when He asks the Father to Sanctify them by the Truth.

Your Word is Truth.

The next item is the breastplate of righteousness. Paul explains in II Corinthians 5:21 how you receive righteousness when he writes:

God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

Paul then speaks about the feet that are to be fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Jesus promises to give you His peace, as you can read in John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.

The following item is the shield of faith for you are saved by grace through faith, as you can read in Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.

And Paul writes that he now lives by faith in the Son of God in Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Paul then speaks of the helmet of salvation. This helmet is to protect your mind. As a believer, you are to have a renewed mindset, as you can read in Romans 12:2

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will.

You renew your mind by changing the way you think. Your ways of thinking may have become very established and may be against the Word of God so changes may be necessary even though that can be very challenging. Paul calls this waging war against your thought life, as you can read in II Corinthians 10:3-5 where he writes

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

In Philippians 4:8 Paul tells us the kind of thoughts you are to have.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.These thoughts are to be based on the truth in God's word. Therefore, you will need to spend much time in God's word in order for your mind to be changed. That is exactly what Paul has in mind when he writes to take up the Sword of the Spirit, or the word of God.

In Hebrews 4:12 you can read how powerful God's word is.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The reason it is so important for you, as a believer, to know the truth of God's word is because, as I have already mentioned, the enemy only wants to steal and kill and destroy, and he tries to do that by putting his lies into your mind. However, when you know God's word you will recognise his lies for what they are and replace them with the right thoughts.

Furthermore, a change of mind will mean a change of actions. That happened to the Israelite army for they were able to successfully defeat their enemies as soon as they had changed their minds about whose servants they were; they were the servants of the living God and not the servants of Saul. And so it is for every believer, for you too are to change your actions after you have changed your mindset, as you can read in Luke 6:27-38

But I tell you who hear me: ”Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you. And if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even "sinners" love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even "sinners" do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even "sinners" lend to "sinners," expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies. Do good to them. And lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great. And you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 

So you too can be victorious each time the enemy tries to attack you, by thinking thoughts that are pleasing to God and in line with His word, and acting in a way that is pleasing to Him and in accordance with His word. This may well mean that you will have to think and act differently from the way you have thought and acted before, and it may well mean too that you will have to think and act differently from those around you. Nevertheless, that is what you, as a believer, are to do, and with God's help you will be able to.

Only A Little Flour And Oil