In the Image of God

Spiritual Warfare

The war began in the misty days of ages long past. Lucifer, so self impressed with itself (A demon is not human and does not deserve to be called a he.) that it felt it ought to be the ruler of the universe. When the demon learned that there would be an heir to the throne of God, and the heir was not its royal conceited one, it started the war against God. As there was no longer any goodness left in the arrogant conceited demon, it and its disloyal horde were easily flung down to the depths of the earth, utterly defeated by a small angelic legion.

Like a fallen star, Lucifer blazed to Earth and immediately plotted to foil God's plan of begetting for Himself a Son and heir. Now named, Satan, its plan included deception and philosophy rather than force of arms, for God controlled all power, and there was none allowed for Satan and its demonic horde.

When the apparent heir appeared on Earth, the demons disguised as a talking serpent used its full array of deceptions to beguile Eve. The war had taken its first casualty. Eve passed her disobedience to husband Adam. The two preferred to believe what the demon said as opposed to God's Words. Clearly, the demonic promise of being wise and knowing good and evil appealed to the self-centeredness of the humans. They rather gave up the great gift of eternal life to have a transitory "wisdom" or knowledge of good and evil. Satan deceptions have great allure.

Satan also propounds the concept that God does not mind a little sinning, a little idolatry, a little toying with demonic philosophy. Look at the seductive charm of Saturnalia, AKA Christmas. Though pagan in origin and practice, doesn't it proclaim a great event of the birth of Christ, doesn't it bring families together, doesn't it encourage gift giving. God won't mind a little paganism for a good (?) cause. Clearly God minds. "Keep yourselves from idols," He warns.

Thus the battle for our minds is enjoined. It is not a battle of flesh and blood, arms and weapons, bombs and bullets. It is the spiritual battle for our souls and minds. Satan deceives with alluring practices with deadly consequences, but God promises eternal life for faith in Jesus and obedience to His Laws. How do we fight Satan?

The Armor of God

God has provided us with full armor that will protect us against the devil's schemes. We need the full armor because the enemy is the dark ruler of the Earth. It controls all aspects of our civilization, except for the few that know the Truth. This despicable demon controls the powers of the air, the airwaves, the media, the schools, most everything.

Take heart, the night is nearly over. God gave us the armor of light. He opened our eyes from the deeds of darkness to the power of the light, from the power of Satan to the infinite power of God. He has forgiven and sanctified us by faith. Indeed, He has rescued us from the dominion and slavery of darkness and brought us into to the kingdom of His beloved son. The victory is ours.

(See: Eph 6:11-17, Rom 13:12, John 12:31, Acts 26:18, Col 1:13.)

The Belt of Truth

God breathed the Spirit of Life into His Word. This Word, this wind (Hebrew ruwach) is the same that brought the universe into existence. "Let there be light." This same Word of God begot His son, Jesus. God breathed His life into His Word. When we hear this Word, the Spirit of Life, goodness and power enters our inner most being. There God writes His Word of Life, His Law, on our hearts so that we can do it.

The belt of Truth holds us together. Without it our shirts hang sloppily, our pants descend to our ankles and trip us up. The Word of God is the gluon that holds our universe of Truth together.

The more versed we are in God's Spirit breathed Word, the more power we have against the demon of deceptions. The better we study the Word, the more studied we are to battle our infamous enemy. In the Word are all the battle plans for defeating the demon that would sate us with pleasures and then leave us to die an eternal death. With it we can apprehend the great gift of eternal life even though we must live at variance with the world held in bondage by the lord of demonic darkness.

(See: Psa 35:2, 2 Cor 6:7, Heb 4:12, Jer 23:29, Rev 1:16, Pro 2:6, Job 32:8, Psa 78:8.)

The Breastplate of Righteousness

Righteousness has the meaning of doing right, following God's way. It also has the meaning of being made right by Jesus who is our righteousness. It further means acting on our faith in Jesus.

Many verses extol the wondrous blessings of God's commandments. God promises a covenant of love to the obedient. David says many times how much he loves the commandments. Most of all we know that the only way we can show our faith in Jesus and our love of God is by obedience.

Yet, Paul complains that no matter how hard he tries to keep the commandments, he fails. He even gives the unbelieving ammunition by stating that the law is done away with. But the law that is done away with is not the law written on our hearts but the law of sin and death. You see, Paul points out that of his own power, he is powerless to keep the commandments. He can only keep them by the power of the Spirit.

He further urges us not to give in to the urges of our sinful nature. Because of Jesus, sin has no thrall over us. Jesus freed us from the slavery of sin and the fear of death. His victory over Satan by dying for our sins makes Jesus our lord, not the diabolical demon. Whomever (or whatever) we serve we are his (or its) slaves; if sin, then doomed to eternal death; if Jesus, then heirs to eternal life.

Jesus is our righteousness. Only by accepting him - his sacrifice, his lordship over us - can we live in righteous obedience to Our Father.

(See: Isa 59:17, 2 John 1:6, Neh 1:5, Psa 119:167, 1 John 5:3, Rom 7:15-25, 8:7-15, Col 1:10.)

The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace

The road is wide and heavily traveled that leads to death. All those who make merry in pagan festivals have company on the slippery slope to the grave. But our way is the narrow one. Our feet trod in the footsteps of our savior.

We follow the lord of the Sabbath to the resurrection. Our highway leads to salvation and life. Our wisdom resides not in the philosophies and thoughts of the world's best thinkers. No, instead we trust the power of God demonstrated by Jesus's death and resurrection which is a stumbling block to many and foolishness to others.

Without deviating, we hold the light of the gospel high so that we will not stumble on the rocks of deceptions, or stray into the wilderness of deceit. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light. When our feet are shod with the gospel, our way is sure. We march through all the obstacles of Satan, with Jesus at the head our ragged army.

(See: Isa 52:7, Rom 1:16, 1 Cor 1:19-25.)

The Shield of Faith

The victory that overcomes the world, which is Satan's domain for now, is our faith. We carry our shield of faith before us. No fiery arrows of sophism and logic can get past the shield of faith held high.

"Now to him by the power at work within is able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or think." (Eph 3:20) God gives believers the same incomparably great power He used to resurrect Jesus.

Nothing in the whole creation can separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus. Clearly, Jesus proved his love when he died for us, his enemies, until we believed. When we are born again, when we are born of God, when we are born of the Spirit, when we are born of water, we overcome the world. Who are they that overcome the world? It is they who believe Jesus is the Son of God, not god the son (or the sun god). Satan's greatest deception is making it to be the savior of the world, a wolf in sheep's clothing.

The demon wanted to replace God. Well, at least, he has replaced the Son of God in the minds of those being led astray. It is his image that is in the creche under the evergreen tree. It is his worship day of the sun that so many are confused to follow. All things not of God as demonstrated in the Word, are of the god of this world. "These are my feast days." God says in Leviticus 23. If we choose to keep His days we are of Him. If we keep the days of the world, we are of the deceiver.

In Hebrew the words for faith, righteousness and truth come from the same root. When we use the full armor of God, which includes truth, righteousness and faith, we are kept free from the lies of Satan. The Truth of God's Word teaches us righteousness, which we walk in by love and faith. We walk by love because we are thankful for God's promises, which hold true. And that is faith, too, because we act on what we believe to be true.

We have a new covenant written on our hearts and mediated by Jesus. This everlasting covenant makes us God's children and part of the God-Family. That is what God offers. Satan can only offer momentary delights followed by the slavery of sin leading to death.

(See: Eph 1:19-20, Rom 8:38-39, 1 John 5:4-5, 1 Cor 15:57.)

The Helmet of Salvation

The battlefield is fought on the craggy slopes of the mind. To protect our great possession, God guards our minds with impenetrable helmet of salvation. Jesus obtained our salvation by becoming a curse for us. He took on all our sins and paid the death penalty in our stead. Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus.

Even as our sins hang about us as an anchor dragging us to the bottom of the sea, God had a plan to release us from this unbearable weight. Jesus said take his yoke, instead of the one made of our sins. The law of Moses could not save us, so God destroyed sin's mastery over us by sending His only begotten son as the sacrificial lamb. We are free indeed.

Jesus spilled his blood for us. His life's blood purified us from all iniquity and gave us eternal life, salvation. God's great work as chronicled in the gospel inspired us with undying desire for a better country, a heavenly one, the Kingdom of God.

The hope of the Kingdom of God protects our minds like no metal or plastic helmet could. Clearly, the yearning for the Kingdom of God sets impenetrable force fields around our minds.

(See: 1 John 3:5, Gal 3:13, 1 Cor 1:18, Rom 8:1-3, John 8:36, Rom 6:14, Psa 130:7-8, Micah 7:19, Titus 2:14, Heb 11:16.)

The Sword of the Spirit - the Word of God

Spirit

Our warfare is spiritual. The law that God gives to us is spiritual, and it gives freedom to us, not slavery to sin. God enjoins us to follow that Spirit, not the worldly, the Satanic.

The Spirit has great power. It is the wind, or Word of God, that expanded the universe. By God's Word, the universe came into being: "God said. . . ." Whenever we speak God's Word, we are handling great power for good. God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him. With the Spirit within, we have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.

The Spirit gives understanding of spiritual truths and wisdom. It gives insight into the very mind of God, for God's Words contain His mind. The Spirit imparts knowledge of the gospel, the good news of our salvation.

The Spirit inspires us to acts of lovingkindness. Our acts of sacrifice, God considers our spiritual worship of Him. We are fervent to walk in the ways of the lord.

The Spirit imparts special gifts: prophecy (inspired teaching), speaking in tongues, healings, teaching and more. Paul tells us inspired teaching is the most important of the gifts.

The Spirit produces fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness.

By the Spirit we worship and praise God. By the Spirit we sing hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs to edify those around us.

God's Word comes by the Spirit and the Spirit gives us God's Word. God's Word and the Spirit are inseparable.

The Sword of the Spirit

Every other weapon God bestows on us is defensive only. But the best defense, as the saying goes, is a good offense. God confers on us the most powerful weapon ever made or will be made - the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. With this weapon we thrust and parry, slash and smash. We can go on the attack and destroy every enemy and deceptive device of demons.

Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Since Jesus had been fasting and was famished, Satan said prove you're the Son of God. Change the rocks into bread. Changing rocks to bread is proof of office of Messiah and Son of God? That would prove nothing.

Esau gave up his birth right for a bowl of lentils. Many people will do anything for food. The obtaining of food is a powerful cause for evil deeds. The blood sugar is low; the mind is weak. Why not tempt Jesus with a crispy loaf of fresh baked bread? Mmm.

Jesus unsheathed the sword of the Word and wounded Satan: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." You want proof of Messiahship; Jesus gave it by living by every Word of God. There is the real proof, not a miracle.

Satan was not finished. Satan took Jesus to the top of the temple. If, it challenged again, Jesus was the Son of God, he could throw himself down and the angels would catch him before he hit the ground. Why would Jesus need to prove to the demon that he was the Son of God? Why would his jumping off the temple pinnacle prove anything?

Vanity would dictate showing off one's powers. Very few would be willing to take no credit for their abilities. Rather, they would love to give a demonstration and take the applause.

No, rather, Jesus thrusted at Satan, and the sword penetrated deeply: "You shall not tempt the Lord your God." Twice wounded by the sword of the Word, Satan made one last attempt to deceive Jesus.

It took Jesus to a high mountain where all the kingdoms of the world could be discerned. The demon swept its arm out to show the majesty of these kingdoms. They're Jesus's if he would bow down to Satan.

Through out the ages, people have bowed down to Satan to gain wealth, power, and popularity. They willing go along with the crowd, no matter the idolatries being committed. Imagine ruling the Roman Empire and all the other kingdoms around? Who would disdain this? Jesus did.

This time the sword of the Word ripped the demon at the center of its being: "Begone, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"

Only Jesus wounded severely Satan by giving perfect allegiance to God. Him only shall we serve; Him only shall we be loyal to. Let us partake in this great victory through Jesus.

(See: Mat 4:1-11, Rom 1:11, 7:14, 8:4-16, 2 Cor 3:17-18, Isa 61:1, Rom 12:1, :11, 1 Cor 2:13-16, 14:1-3, :32, Eph 1:3, 5:19-20, 1 Cor 14:37-40, Col 1:9.)

Conclusion

We fight an unseen enemy, an alien invader. This enemy has subjugated the Earth. Only a few daring souls have escape the slavery of this horrid creature, the great dragon, Satan. For those God gives His most mighty weapons and armor: truth, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. So put on the armor of light that you may be able to vanquish the demon of darkness.

Remember we have been bought with a price, the blood of our savior, Jesus, the Son of God. Therefore, with gratitude and determination, we don the wonderful armor made personally for us by God. Thus, we charge off into the night created by the evil one and turn it into the daylight of truth.

So we let the words of our savior dwell in us with richness and make us wise to the wiles of Satan and the eternal goodness of God. We use his words to teach and counsel one another. With songs and psalms, let us make a joyful noise to God with thankful souls.

(See: Col 1:11-14, 3:16.)

Amen.

-Gil Kovacs

For the Sabbath Christian Church

(e-mail) kov@mediaone.net

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