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"Discerning the Times in the Light of the Word"

This excerpt is from chapter eight of the book
Disarming the Powers of Darkness
by Eric Barger and David Benoit.

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Examining the Armor of God - Truth and Righteousness

You’re in an Army—Dress Like It!

As we’ve discussed, no army has ever been victorious who did not know their enemy. General Norman Schwartzkopff commanded the assault known as "Operation Desert Storm", which liberated the country of Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s invading Iraqi troops in 1991. Could you imagine Schwartzkopff addressing his troops by saying, "Listen, I can’t stand Saddam Hussein; never have liked the man. So, I don’t want to talk about Saddam Hussein today. I’ve just come to praise President George Bush. No need to discuss our enemies, let’s just say nice things about our friends." Doesn’t that sound stupid? More so, it would have been no way to prepare for battle. If General Schwartzkopff had exhibited a lack of quality leadership, it would have cost many lives and could have resulted in a resounding defeat in the Gulf War! Instead, he laid out a finely tuned battle plan, which was replete with intense reconnaissance. Schwartzkopff made certain to give his troops a correct understanding of who the enemy was, their abilities, weaknesses, strengths, tactics, habits, and where they would be most likely to operate and with which weapons. Our men knew how to fight that war because of their training, their understanding, their willingness to follow the specific orders given by their commander and because they knew their enemy.

Comforting the Enemy—Discord, Lies, the Flesh

The Bible is loaded with information that will help us defeat the enemy, but we’ve got to know the book—not just say that we believe what it says. Ignorance in spiritual matters is akin to ignorance in court. You may be innocent and you may be well intentioned, but ignorance may cost you dearly. We can repeatedly say that we trust the Bible as God’s written Word and sole authority to mankind, but if we haven’t explored to see exactly what God proclaims in it, our words are empty statements. How can we ever be the people—overcomers, bold and powerful—that God would have us aspire to without knowing His will and our authority as given by Him? So, let’s go on a little "recon" mission to look into the operation of our enemy while we train ourselves to be obedient to our Commander. When it comes to victorious Christian living, there is certainly no better place to start than Ephesians chapter six.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

—Ephesians 6:10–18

Are we living in the prophetic last days, which Scripture teaches become progressively more evil? Absolutely (Matthew 24). Do we have a cunning opponent who wishes to devour us? Absolutely (1 Peter 5:8). And, do we not have a powerful Lord who shed His own blood to give us the victory in these darkened end-times? ABSOLUTELY! Praise the Lord! So then, victory seems contingent on our being faithful with effort in time spent on study, in prayer, and in obedience.

The Bible says, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood" (Ephesians 6:10), but rather with spiritual powers that surround us. We must define that our war is ultimately against evil spiritual beings. We often struggle with human forces as we contend to make righteous viewpoints. However, whether through dialog, debate, exposé or other means, the bottom line must remain crystal clear that humans are not the enemy of the believer. The cornerstone of Christianity is John 3:16. It clearly teaches that God so loved the WORLD that he sent His only Son. We need to remember that if it wasn’t for His mercy and grace, it could be (and maybe once was) us campaigning for abortion, globalism, or so many other causes inspired by the Devil. Let’s never forget that unregenerate flesh has a habit of falling in with Satan’s wishes pretty fast. The unredeemed may unabashedly and unknowingly speak for the Devil, but they should not be seen AS the Devil. Often in the midst of confrontation, we lose sight of who the real enemy is and begin to see other humans as our foe. The manipulations of the powers of Hell only make it seem as though people are the enemy. However, that’s no signal for the redeemed to think they are immune from Satan’s plan and attacks. It can happen to us too. Satan’s plan may often masquerade in the name of something sounding quite noble—yet quite unbiblical. The Devil wants to deter us from fulfilling God’s wishes and plan at all cost. He’ll enter through any open door we leave him and is constantly looking to exploit our weaknesses and gain the upper hand. The demonic forces Paul refers to in Ephesians 6 and elsewhere in Scripture, make a practice of interfering in our daily lives and can ultimately hinder most every part of our existence—if we allow them legal right to do so. If we’re not vigilant to follow the Scriptures and stand for righteousness, before long the Devil may gain a free rein. For those who doubt this, our churches are replete with born-again folks who will attest to what we are saying. These Christians have experienced firsthand the relentless attacks of Satan on their lives and, having allowed their spiritual lives to fall into disrepair, have unwittingly given Satan access with sometimes tragic conclusions. When it comes to Christians, a featured practice of Satan’s workers is to sow discord, lies, and to convince us to operate merely from our flesh in spiritual matters. Let us elaborate.

Some of you reading this book are constantly at odds with someone you work with. You rationalize that you just have a personality conflict. You rationalize that you just can’t like everybody and certainly in offices, factories, and businesses today there are no shortage of the same attitudes and junk seen on soap operas and the "Jerry Springer Show"! Have you ever thought that the problems in some of our relationships could be at least partially a product of demonic meddling? Perhaps due to a lack of knowledge and proper view of Spiritual Warfare, many of us are simply unequipped to recognize and deal with it as such. So, regardless of how uncomfortable, even maddening some relationships may be, shouldn’t we always be praying and asking God to guide us and bring change for His glory? After all, His Word promises that He is working out everything for His purpose and for our good, doesn’t it (Romans 8:28)? Often, dedicated Christians find themselves enslaved to bitterness—even hatred—as we think it better to just despise someone’s actions and constantly be at odds with them. When this happens, it is analogous of the Spiritual War being waged to determine how we will act and react as we walk through this life.

We often refer to "spirit filled living" as we discuss our walk with the Lord. Have you stopped to think that if we aren’t filled with one spirit we might be influenced by another? No, this is not necessarily referring to demon possession but rather demonic manipulation—one of the Devil’s key tools promulgating discord, lies, and flesh. When you are tempted to hate someone (or any other act of disobedience to God) pause, pray, and ask God to help you see them through His eyes before you allow your flesh attitude to act in its fallen state. Whether it’s through a "chink" in your armor or by means of the sometimes very subtle intrusion of demons into your minds and will, Satan’s purposes are realized if you react otherwise.

David has a pastor friend who told us that every morning he and his wife pray together. It doesn’t matter where they are. If one of them is out of town, they will call each other just to pray. He said they do this because it’s hard to fight with your spouse at night when you know you’re going to pray together in the morning. Have you ever thought that some of the arguments that you’re having with your husband or wife could be spiritually induced as well? Have you said, "Let’s stop, honey. Let’s pray about it"? No, because sometimes it’s easier to fight a little bit instead of coming before the Lord with your differences. It sounds foolish, but it’s true.

Have you ever noticed that Sunday mornings are often the most tense time of the week? When you try to get ready for church, everything seems to happen. Besides the fact that we are fallible humans who let our flesh act and react, too many homes are often in disarray on Sundays (Monday through Saturday, too?) because we are in a Spiritual War and haven’t come to grips with it. Praying for the Lord’s intervention in our struggles with one another is definitely an act of Spiritual Warfare and certainly not one Satan wants us to make.

TRUTH—or Consequences?

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth. . .

—Ephesians 6:13–14a

If we are indeed in a spiritual battle, we had better be well armed with God’s truth and be willing and ready to use it. God does provide perfect and impenetrable armor to protect us. We’re going to need it. The first thing He tells us is that we ought to have our belt around us. From what we gather in history, men in ancient times did not dress for battle in pants such as we wear today. They would fight in long tunics, like long dresses. They would tie their belts to pull their hemlines up, so they wouldn’t trip over them. Could you imagine being in the heat of battle and stepping on your hemline? You wouldn’t do it but once. In the same way we must uphold truth —God’s standard for trust—no matter how unpopular it may be with others or for that matter, with our own flesh. Practicing lies, deception, and fabrication of facts is an absolute surefire method to demolish your spiritual strength and allow Satan the right to tap dance all over your life.

The Bible says we should have our loins girt about with truth. Have you ever heard someone say, "He tripped over his own lie"? That came from this passage right here in Ephesians 6. Lying becomes habitual. For example, if you’re going to lie to your wife, you had better have more than one lie ready, because it seems that most ladies don’t usually ask questions in packs of ones and twos. It’s a series of inquiries that unravel until you are tripped up with no place to go! Chances are she already had it figured out anyway if you’ve fallen for Satan’s plan and have begun to make a practice of sidestepping the truth in your daily life together. It’s a certainty that teenagers know about this. If they walk by their dad and say, "See you later, Dad. I’m going to Johnny’s house," Dad says, "See you later, son." Mothers don’t do that. You walk by your mother and say, "See you later, Mom. I’m going to Johnny’s house," and she says, "Hold on a minute. Who is this Johnny person? I’ve never met him. How old is he? Is he a Christian? What kind of family does he come from?" And finally, "Has he ever been to the penitentiary?" She’s going to ask you thirty questions before you walk out the door. We’re sure not belittling mothers here. As a matter of fact, it’s a possibility that God made women that way to keep men straight. (And all the ladies said, "AMEN"!) However, because of our fallen human nature, men have learned how to lie without lying. It’s called the sin of distortion. It’s not really lying in the classical definition, but it’s not really telling the truth either. Some men even claim this is just a defense against their wives’ use of the "gift of suspicion"! But often we find ourselves skirting the truth to keep from getting caught in something that others (mates in particular) may not approve of, or simply to get our way. Ninety-nine percent of time, if this is a habitual pattern, it is because there is a deeper root problem in the relationship that needs to be addressed. Regardless, hedging on the facts, or skirting issues to manipulate a situation, is certainly not really telling the truth, is it? And God wants truth. Skating around the edges—as we’ve all done at some point—is essentially saying that God couldn’t give us His divine favor in any given situation by being forthright and honest. Granted there are times that some things are better left unspoken, but an honest answer will always be a strike against the powers of darkness. Now listen to this carefully. This does NOT mean that in order to please God we need to be brutal with the truth. Our interactions should have the element of grace and love intertwined in them, even in times of rebuke, correction, and those times when anger arises. In essence, being truthful in touchy situations is an art that only the Holy Spirit and our mindset of obedience to Him can corporately execute for God’s glory.

These authors have told their kids (and Eric is now telling his grandchildren) that God wants us to be truthful—even when it hurts and puts us in a position we may not like. Chances are if we feel the desire to fib in a situation, it’s because we have positioned ourselves there by some other act that’s unbecoming to the Kingdom of God. But more so, we find ourselves there because we have determined that lying has the possibility of getting us what we want ;and we have chosen to ignore being truthful when it’s to our advantage. This is a mindset induced purely by satanic leading, which is rooted in rebellion. When we yield to the temptation to lie, it slowly becomes a lifestyle—a habit and a constant sin. God surely abhors lies as Revelation 19 displays. He most certainly wants His children to seek the truth, live the truth, and speak the truth as a lifestyle choice, for it is certain that lying opens our lives up to the work of the Devil and weakens our position as victors in Christ.

More Thoughts on What Constitutes a Lie

. . . for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

—Matthew 12:34b–36

Please understand we don’t claim to have every answer on this issue. We want to provoke you to examine the words you say for they have paramount importance in the outcome of your spiritual battles. In the passage above, Jesus was mincing no words concerning how God views the heart and words of evil men. If it is so for the unredeemed, how much more does God expect His own children to walk and speak uprightly? With that said, let’s interject a big dose of God’s grace right here, for we are not writing this to lay guilt trips or legalism on anyone. However, we do want you to look at your life and relationships and see if they measure up to the standard left us by our Lord.

Some situations are very difficult to walk through, and it just may come down to the intentions of the heart as to whether something could qualify as a lie or not. Thankfully, that’s not our department but God’s! Here is another example as food for thought along these lines. The story is told about a pastor in the middle of a revival. This dear little saint walked up to him and said, "Pastor, I want to give you and the evangelist a pie." He thanked her and took the pie home. After their first bite of the pie, both the pastor and the evangelist agreed that it was the worst tasting pie they had ever tasted, and they threw it in the trash. The next night at church, the dear old saint asked the pastor what they had thought of her pie. He stopped and thought, and then he said, "Ma’am, let me tell you something. Pie that tastes like that don’t last long around our house." Now, he didn’t outright lie; but the manner of his inference did not reflect the entire truth either. How would you have handled this situation? Is there a single, pat answer? Should he have said, "Well, we both agreed that your pie was the worst dessert served yesterday on the entire planet!" Probably not. He would have harmed her spirit and would have rejected her act of kindness. He also might have destroyed his relationship with her and even could have caused her to walk away from church and never return.

Perhaps not addressing specifics and saying too much was the best way to handle that situation so as not to hurt someone who was merely engaging in a well-intentioned act of kindheartedness. However, there is a marked difference between trying not to crush the spirit of a kindhearted soul and saying things laced with half-truths for personal gain. This is the core of the issue.

David’s adoptive father is a gourmet cook. This man could cook anything, but his mother couldn’t cook a lick. So when he eats at someone’s house and he doesn’t like the way they have prepared the food, he says, "That’s just like what Mama used to make." We hope you see what we are getting at here. People learn how to be deceptive without thinking its really lying. But God’s standard is that His children to be forthright. Not that we always need to be so blunt that we’re mean in doing so, but above everything, shouldn’t we use truth in our tact? The Bible says we need to put on our loin rope of truth and somehow —if we are willing—God will give us the ability to be truthful, if we’ll just let Him. The cornerstone of truth is yieldedness to God.

Defeat Untruths with “Right Living”

. . . and having on the breastplate of righteousness.

—Ephesians 6:14b

In ancient times, the breastplate was very important to a warrior. It would have been nearly suicidal to go into battle without the breastplate. These people were shooting arrows, they were throwing spears, and they were fighting with swords. If you didn’t have your heart and your lungs covered, you’d have been an open target for them.

The Bible instructs us to operate covered by the breastplate of righteousness. Do you know what righteousness is? The Greek word translated "righteousness" here in Ephesians 6:14 is dikastes which simple put means "just judgment." Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines righteousness as: "acting in accord with divine or moral law; free from guilt or sin; morally right or justifiable." In short, righteousness is "right living." It’s training yourself to do the right thing. It is NOT the natural thing to do, but is contrary to our fallen nature and denotes our separation from it. It’s a heart attitude that becomes our way of life through obedience to the Lord and surrender to His will. Right living is a decision, but once again, we see that in the end it emanates from our yieldedness to God. It is HIS righteousness that makes us able to walk against the desires of our human flesh, which is no doubt a constant venue for Spiritual Warfare. God’s supernatural righteousness gives us the ability to overcome the temptations to do the wrong thing. Jesus went to the cross, in part, so that we could have "right living"! Do we really trust what He gave us if we manipulate people and situations through less thantruthful use of our tongue? Deception is certainly not acting in accordance with what the "Just Judge" freed us to be, is it?

All rights reserved. Copyright 2002, Eric Barger and David Benoit

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