Tags: 2 Timothy 3, Ephesians 6, family of faith, family of God, household of faith, sound doctrine, spiritual warfare, Titus 1
Citizens of an earthly nation sometimes have to fight for their nation. Citizens of God’s nation and family get to fight in a spiritual war for their nation.
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.
Why is fighting a privilege? Because we know we’re going to win.
Citizens of an earthly nation must protect the principles on which their nation is founded. Citizens of God’s nation and family get to protect sound doctrine.
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
Next time: the privilege of provision.
Tags: Assyria, Christian leadership, Cinco de Mayo devotions, commentary on Micah, local church ministry, Messiah, Micah 5, pastors, spiritual warfare, Sunday School lessons on Micah
The rulers of God’s people had behaved sinfully and shamefully. Now they themselves would be shamed openly, as their enemies, the Assyrians, would conquer their land and humiliate them with smacks to the face.
Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.
They would also stomp through their palaces, terrorizing the people with the threat of captivity and destruction. However, the people could still choose to believe God’s promise that one day a Messiah would come. He would bring peace between God’s people and the God they had offended with their sin. And while He himself would be powerful enough to throw off the yoke of bondage on His Own, He would also graciously raise up Godly leaders and empower them to stand against God’s enemies.
And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men.
Micah 5:5 (emphasis added)
If you have been born again by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are victorious in Him and do not need to fear the principalities and powers and dark rulers who tread through the palaces of this world. You may instead trust and believe that God is still ordaining seven (a metaphor for the the perfect number) and eight (meaning abundantly and plentifully) shepherds and principal men in Bible-believing local churches today to lead the flocks of the Lord Jesus in the ministries of peace and reconciliation.
Tags: 2 Timothy 2, Apostle Paul, armor of God, Biblical manhood, Ephesians 5, Ephesians 6, Genesis 3, I Corinthians 15, spiritual warfare
When you think of the Apostles who comes to mind? Paul? Peter? James? John? Which one of these was the “greatest” Apostle?
For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
I Corinthians 15:9
We sometimes think of Paul as the greatest of the Apostles, but he thought of himself as the least. He didn’t even think he deserved the name “Apostle.” Before Jesus saved him, he had been a relentless bounty hunter of Christians.
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
I Corinthians 15:10
God intervened in his life, and this intervention was what made the difference. Paul, on his own, would never have turned to Christ. He attributed his changed life solely to the grace of God, even though he sounds a little like Popeye the Sailor when we read, “I am what I am.” He recognized that he owed everything to God, and that he was no more and no less than what God had made him. God’s grace motivated Paul to outwork all the other Apostles, but God got all the credit and glory for it.
Becoming a Christian is not a pass to get out of hard work. Christian men, especially, ought to be the hardest workers in the world. God created men to work, and work is not sinful. It was sin that brought a curse upon work.
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Sin took the joy out of hard work, but in the Gospel we find redemption, and we remember that God made us to work hard, so we can work hard and find joy and fulfillment in it once again because we are in Christ – we have been made right with God.
I want to look at a few principles that remind us – as Christian men – how we are supposed to think about work:
I. Put It On
When a man goes into battle, what should he wear? Armor.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Don’t be a spiritual wimp. Get in the battle.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
The armor of spiritual warfare is God’s armor – that He’s provided for us. Our enemy is not an army of Godless sinners. He is not the person who has wronged you, and he is certainly not the person you were close to when he let you down. No, this is a spiritual war, and our spiritual enemy is Satan.
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.
Ephesians 6:12-13 (emphasis added)
“Take unto you” the armor. Put it on. Get in the battle and give it everything you’ve got.
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:
The belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness and the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace and the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation are all defensive weapons. We need to think about the Gospel and our salvation every day. But the sword of the spirit is an offensive weapon. Here is where we get our “payback” against the devil for attacking us, but we had better be reading the Bible and doing what it says more than once or twice a week. We had better be practicing with our swords and not going around without them.
II. Pack It On
As men, we can never have too much spiritual ammunition, and we must not whine and say it’s too heavy or too hard to carry.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15
As a Christian man I am called to be a workman that will not get outworked. I am called to force some Bible knowledge into my head – to “pack it on.”
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
I must not be lazy, packing on a bunch of indulgent, childish junk. I must not be “packing it on” with with video games and gadgets and a bunch of time-sucking hobbies. I need to be emptying the garbage out of my life so that I can pack on the Holy Spirit – so that I can be filled with Him. I can’t be filled with garbage or vanity and the Spirit at the same time. A real man isn’t afraid to say no childishness, nor to say yes to the Lord.
Next time we will learn to “pass it on” and “pour it on.”
Tags: bathing dogs, commentary on Nehemiah, fear of God, military tactics, Nehemiah 2, Nehemiah 4, spiritual warfare, Sunday School lessons on Nehemiah, the devil, the flesh
And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.
Nehemiah 2:5 (emphasis added)
Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah;
Nehemiah 2:7 (emphasis added)
Nehemiah’s “send me” became his “give me.” Perhaps it would be good for us to sometimes pray as volunteers before praying as beggars. “Let my friend be saved” becomes “give me an opportunity to share the Gospel with him.” “Heal my eyes” becomes “Lord, I repent of using my eyes to look with lust; help me to use them to see people’s needs.” I’m not saying we should try to bribe God. He knows our hearts. But Nehemiah had been fasting, praying, and planning for four months before his emergency prayer to God in the presence of the king.
Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.
The journey to Jerusalem took approximately two months, and Nehemiah traveled with a military escort, including some of the king’s officers. It must have been discouraging for him to see that there were enemies waiting for him when he got there, but there will often be enemies waiting when we set out by faith on a journey to do the will of God. We must not mistake the successful arrival at the place of battle for the victory itself. Recovering from an illness is not the victory; it’s only the successful trip to get back into the fight.
These were Nehemiah’s enemies:
But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?
Sanballat held an official position in Samaria, and it is very common for worldly officials to oppose the work of God when money is at stake. Tobiah was an Ammonite: a sworn enemy of the Jews (Deuteronomy 23:3-4). The devil opposes anything and everything Godly. Tobiah was related to some of the workers by marriage. Therefore, he had a “foothold” to try to interfere with the work, and he gathered intelligence. The devil is in the intelligence-gathering business. He can’t read our minds, but he doesn’t need to do so. He can learn everything he needs just by hitching a ride in the back seat on our way home from church. That’s why it’s important to prepare your weapons for battle in church, not just to have a party. The devil can spoil a party, but he can’t overcome a vigilant Christian warrior. Too many professing Christians are like dogs after a bath. They feel like they’ve been scrubbed clean during church and they can’t wait to get back in the mud.
Geshem represents the flesh. The devil and the world will always try to enlist the flesh. Our flesh is weak, and it is a burden which must be borne and battled throughout the life of a believer.
Notice the tactics of opposition in which the world and the devil enlist the flesh to help attack the work and the workers of God:
But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?
Mockery and ridicule must not deter the work of God.
But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.
In spiritual warfare, our enemies will set traps. They spend time and effort planning and plotting.
Scoundrels and Schizophrenics
And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.
A scoundrel is someone who is deceitful and unreliable – someone who will lie to get out of work. A schizophrenic is someone who is afflicted by the coexistence of disparate or antagonistic elements. Christian workers can be infiltrated and influenced by lazy and double-minded enemies of the work of God.
And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease. And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you.
Fear of God is the friend of faith. Fear of failure is the enemy of faith. Nehemiah and his helpers had started a project so big and so daunting that only God could finish it, and they trusted Him to use them to do so. Don’t be ignorant of the devices of your enemies. You know who they are (world, devil, flesh), and now you know their tactics.
Tags: 1 Thessalonians 3, 2 Chronicles 32, 2 Corinthians 1, brokenness, Phlippians 1, Proverbs 14, Psalm 33, spiritual warfare, used of God
I sometimes wonder how often the difficulties we experience in life are simply God’s way of lovingly “breaking” us: tearing down our pride in or order to prepare us for glorious victory in some upcoming battle. “Breaking” can be painful, but it is helpful to see it as part of preparation. Even our hurts are appointed by God.
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
I Thessalonians 3:3
By and large, our flesh tends to resist drawing near to Christ while we are experiencing bright sunny days, good health, plenty of money, or worldly popularity. Those things tend to cause us to depend on ourselves and give ourselves the glory for them. However, how many times have you drawn close to Christ – and depended on Him more – and really magnified Him – through intense suffering?
Even when we face the assault of the enemy, we must not rely on our own strength. God’s people needed to remember this fact when they were attacked by the king of Assyria.
With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
II Chronicles 32:8
The way to survive the attack of a spiritual enemy who is stronger than you is not by self-reliance. Our true hope is in turning to God, for His enemies are no match for Him.
There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.
We know that when God “breaks” His children He will rebuild us and use us again. Jacob is a good example of this. He was broken by God and then re-used. His brother, Esau, was never broken so he was never used in a favorable way by God. Moses is another example. He was broken repeatedly and was used continuously.
What we learn in our past battles can be used in our future battles.
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
II Corinthians 1:3-4 (emphasis added)
Confidence in God is always better than confidence in self.
In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.
When we are preparing for a difficult task we tend to think that we are making ourselves strong – even spiritually speaking. We pray, we read our Bible, we preach to our own souls, and tell ourselves we will overcome and not back down. But the Bible says that, even though we are God’s Own children, our emphasis is not to be on us. It is to be on our Father. We put on our armor in preparation for a battle, and we remember that we are not really battling against other people. We are battling wickedness in high places. It is a spiritual battle. God is not preparing you to wage a personal vendetta or to settle a grudge against sinners you don’t happen to like.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 15, Great Commission, Jesus Christ, Luke 12, Matthew 28, Philippians 2, Philippians 4, spiritual warfare
When you have no provision or strength for the battle you are facing, then it seems to make little sense to go into the battle. You would not have the ability to do what you have been called to do. But that is never the case for a Christian in spiritual warfare.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Philippians 4:13 has become a popular verse in American sports culture, but it is not really a verse about athletes winning ball games or fighters beating up their opponents. It is about drawing strength from somewhere else when you have none of your own. It is about sharpening our focus.
When we talk about drawing strength from somewhere else, when it comes to Christian warfare, what we really mean is from Someone else. When you are preparing for battle, draw your strength from Christ. In preparation you must believe that the message given to us by Christ will work.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
I Corinthians 15:3-4
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Our mission is not optional, so lack of preparation is unthinkable. When Jesus commissions His followers there is a a transfer of authority, but it is still His authority. Matthew 28:19 says, “Go ye therefore…” and the “therefore” refers back to the authority which He has the sole right to distribute and supervise. Christians should not be “tale-bearers” (Proverbs 26:20) with this one exception: We carry the “tale” of the incarnation, life, death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and, because it is His “tale,” it deserves to be told. Most of us really love the idea of, “Lo, I am with you always” but the “I am with you always” is not detached from the “go ye.”
And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
The unction that the Holy Spirit gives to those engaged in the battle is not an excuse not to prepare for the battle. Notice that the people being addressed in Luke 12 are people who are already in the battle and have already prepared. As Christians we must be prepared to speak, but we trust the Holy Spirit to help us when we get a response we don’t expect.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
Don’t fall for the excuse that you are too small to make a difference. If you think you are too small to make a difference, then you have never been in a tent with a mosquito! When it comes to spiritual warfare, don’t make excuses. An “excuse” is often just the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie. Our comfort is not what is important. The will and glory of God are what is important. He works in us to do His will and His good pleasure. Sometimes (to borrow an overused cliche’) we have to “just do it.” We are under attack from the enemy – there is no doubt about it. We need to prepare to start fighting back, stop grumbling and complaining, and joyfully submit to the Lord.
F.uel: From Whom do we draw our strength?
O.ptimism: Why is it important to have confidence in our message?
C.ommission: Is the battle optional for us?
U.nction: Who do we have in the midst of the battle in case we encounter something for which we are unprepared?
S.ubmission: What needs to be our attitude about preparation?
Tags: 2 Thessalonians 1, Christian marriage, endurance, John 17, John 18, Joshua 23, marriage counseling, principles for marriage, Satanic attack, spiritual warfare
Satan would like to accuse and intimidate you into being so scared of “worldly” influences destroying your marriage that you don’t venture out into the arena of the world in order to minister in the love of Christ at all. But God says differently.
I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
John 17:14-15 (emphasis added)
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
John 18:36 (emphasis added)
It’s not that disciples of Jesus don’t fight. It’s that we fight spiritual battles with spiritual weapons, rather than carnal battles with carnal weapons. (II Corinthians 10:3-4) When we view our marriages through the Gospel, it is unthinkable that we won’t be proclaiming the Gospel through our marriages in the world. We do this right in the teeth of Satan. Our response to the direct barrage of Satan is an irascible counterattack. Here are two of the irascible appetites which God has given us to combat the accusations and intimidations of Satan as he attacks our marriages:
Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left; That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them: But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day. For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day. One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you. Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God. Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:
Joshua 23:6-12 (emphasis added)
It’s going to take courage to protect our marriages in a society which hates our marriages.
So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
II Thessalonians 1:4 (emphasis added)
Are you looking for a quick fix? That’s not usually God’s way. God’s way is having courage to face the persecutions and tribulations – and the attacks of Satan – and to endure. Don’t quit. God is preparing a more exceeding and eternal weight of glory for your marriage (II Corinthians 4:17), so that, when it gets hard, that is the time when somebody sees what the Gospel really means to you in your marriage.
Tags: 1 Thessalonians 5, battle helmets, Christian soldiers, Ephesians 6, helmets, Isaiah 59, Revelation 3, spiritual warfare, World War II
If you have ever played or coached baseball or football – or even tee-ball or softball – then you know the importance of a helmet.
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
I Thessalonians 5:8 (emphasis added)
For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.
Isaiah 59:17 (emphasis added)
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Ephesians 6:17 (emphasis added)
The Bible does not tell us that we have permission to put on the helmet of salvation. It does not tell us to pray about the helmet of salvation. It does not tell us to consider the helmet of salvation. It does not tell us to plan to put on the helmet of salvation when we’re ready. No, the Bible tells us to TAKE the helmet of salvation. It’s an order, a command. It’s an imperative: take it.
In World War II some of the soldiers in Europe stopped fastening the chin straps on their helmets because they were afraid that their helmet could be struck so hard that when it flew off, the chin strap would decapitate them. It turns out that the practice of having an unfastened chin strap had started off as a joke. The more-seasoned soldiers would tell the newly arriving recruits to do this, thinking that it would be like telling a rookie mechanic to go fetch a left-handed screwdriver. But pretty soon even the experienced soldiers started believing the myth.
As Christians, engaged in spiritual warfare, it would be a tragic mistake for us – having received the helmet of salvation – to refuse to take it and wear it securely. Many Christians have believed their misinformed fellow soldiers – their brothers and sisters in Christ – and they think that Satan will overcome anything good that God is doing in our life, so it would be better to try to hide and wait out the battle so as not to excite Satan’s attention. On the other hand there are people who attribute every difficult circumstance that comes into their lives as as a sign that they must be doing God’s will – otherwise Satan wouldn’t be attacking them. This is one of the dangers of not having the helmet of salvation safely secured around our thought processes as we go into battle. If I started selling illegal drugs on the street corner, there is little doubt that I would soon have a great deal of trouble come into my life – but I could hardly take that as a sign that I was doing God’s will!
There are times when God allows Christians to experience trouble or tribulation as a chastening experience. Chastening is a sign that God loves you, but that He wants you to learn from your mistakes.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
This is not a sign of approval, but of correction.
The helmet of salvation should give us security in battle, not fear. It guards our minds – the way we think. We need to be constantly thinking of the salvation granted to us by the Lord – not because we might slip up and lose it – but to remind us of the responsibility it entails.
Tags: Acts 27, Biblical battles, Christ's Kingdom, Christian warfare, Colossians 2, jawbone of an ass, John 18, Judges 15, Samson, spiritual warfare, Strange Weapons, weapons of spiritual warfare
More Strange Weapons: A Stone and a Bone
The Bone (Judges 15:15-16)
Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Christ’s Kingdom is “of the world” in the sense that He owns everything, but it is “not of this world” in the sense that His followers don’t use the same weapons that warriors involved in worldly warfare use. As followers of Christ, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (fleshly) or physical, but they are mighty to the pulling down of (spiritual) strongholds. Christ does not say that His followers do not fight, but that we do not fight in a worldly way, and that we do not use worldly weapons. We are not out to conquer by force. We want to conquer by love. Our goal is not to create a worldly government or to some day elect government officials who are Christians. Our goal is to establish the kingdom and government of God in the hearts of men and women and boys and girls. We are engaged in a strange war and we use strange weapons.
Previously we have looked at some the strange weapons in the Book of Judges – cattle prods, tent pegs, water pitchers, millstones – and we have compared them to spiritual weapons. These spiritual weapons may also seem strange, but they seem less and less strange the more you learn about spiritual warfare. Most Christians are aware of the role of the Bible in spiritual warfare, and of prayer, but we are learning to think of other things – such as love, the role of the Holy Spirit, our own bodies, and even God’s sovereign will – in connection with spiritual warfare.
This lesson will focus on some unpredictable weapons which are dependent upon specific circumstances and occasions.
In Judges 15 we find Samson – bound and betrayed by his own countrymen – depressed and discouraged – when the Spirit of the Lord suddenly comes upon him again:
And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.
The jawbone which Samson found was a “new” jawbone – a “fresh” jawbone. It probably still had some flesh or skin on it – maybe some teeth in it. With it he killed 1000 men by himself.
The jawbone of a donkey was perhaps the strangest of all the strange weapons we have considered from the Book of Judges, and it teaches us about the unexpected and unpredictable nature of some of the spiritual weapons in our daily warfare as Christians.
1. The jawbone was a singular weapon.
As spiritual warriors, God has given us freedom to think creatively within the boundaries of His Word and His will. I am glad that we have a number of Christian organizations. In fact, the Body of Christ, which is more of an organism than an organization, must still be organized, since an unorganized organism will not function properly. We must be organized, but we must have a healthy suspicion of routines.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Rudiments are things ordered by the wisdom of man as opposed to God. Traditions are not bad (although traditionalism is), and traditions and discipline are useful in Christian warfare. They are more in the category of training than in weapons. Samson needed a weapon, and God provided a jawbone. It was a singular, unexpected weapon. You may encounter a circumstance where you find yourself having to apply your spiritual disciplines – love, prayer, Bible study – in a way you never have before. So remember, discipline is the way to experience the Person of God, not a means in and of itself. Weapons are gifts from God, and must be seen that way. The jawbone “just happened” to be there when Samson needed it, and he used it effectively even though it was a “singular” weapon.
2. The jawbone was a surprising weapon.
In an intense battle, if we wait around for the perfect weapon to be forged, the battle may be lost. My wife used to like to say, “Some is better than none.” There are times when sudden action is required and we need to use whatever God has placed near at hand. Satan loves sneak attacks and God often calls us when we least expect it. In Acts 27 the Apostle Paul found himself in the middle of a shipwreck and still managed to use it as a ministry opportunity. In the course of Christian ministry you may suddenly find yourself somewhere you never thought you would be invited to go. When this happens, do not keep silent. Pick up whatever “jawbone” or spiritual weapon that God has provided, and by faith start swinging: slaying doubts and fears and demons. We must not think that God is limited in what He gives us as weapons. In the Kingdom of Christ nothing is supposed to be secular – it’s all supposed to be sacred.
The next post in the series will focus on the simplicity of the jawbone.
Tags: 1 Peter 4, 1 Samuel 17, Abimelech, Biblical battles, career, Christ the Refiner, Christian warfare, CPR, God's perfect will, Joshua 4, Judges 9, Luke 3, Malachi 3, Matthew 6, relationships, Revelation 2, Romans 8, spiritual warfare, Strange Weapons, weapons of spiritual warfare
In a previous lesson we saw that the weapon of a millstone reminds us that God’s will is like a weapon in spiritual warfare in that stones are foundational.
This time we will see that stones are also functional. Stones do a variety of jobs. In Bible times they not only made up the buildings, they were sometimes the tools for building. Sometimes they were also monuments for remembering. Other times they were weapons for throwing. God’s sovereign will is the ultimate in functionality. It not only creates or allows all circumstances, but it functions and operates in all circumstances.
Under the heading that “Stones are Functional” I want to use the memory device “CPR:”
Career: When you are building a career, will you trust God’s will, and seek out a “vocation” (a calling from God)?
Priorities: When you are considering your priorities, will you trust God’s will and let Him order your priorities and arrange your time? His Word settles the “first things.”
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Things that are “added” are things that come “later.”
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
The best place to get back into God’s will is the place you got out. Do the “first works.” The freedom we have in the Spirit is not freedom to do what we want. Relaxation is not true freedom. True freedom is freedom from the selfishness of sin, and it is the freedom to obey God. The good works that God has ordained for us to do are prioritized by His sovereign will.
Relationships: When you are building your relationships, will you trust God’s will and let Him pick your friends? God has appointed your spouse to be your special friend over and above other people in your life. Beyond that, He has sovereignly appointed who your neighbors happen to be, who your acquaintances happen to be, and even who your fellow church members happen to be. These people are in your life for a reason – they are not “random.” Trust God in your relationships – you need this weapon on your side in spiritual warfare.
The strange weapon of God’s sovereign will can be found in every locality and in every situation, because, in spiritual warfare, the place where you are subject to being attacked is everywhere: at home, at church, on your job, in your relationships, in Bible study, in prayer, in Christian service.
Stones are wonderful weapons because of their functionality. They can roll down mountains and crush cities, or they can fit in your pocket. There is nowhere you will not be able to see the weapon of God’s will at work in the battle.
Stones are foundational, stones are functional, and stones are used for friction.
The weapon used by the woman in the tower to kill Abimelech was a millstone. A millstone is a large stone placed on top of another stone. These stones are usually round, and they are used to grind against each other and smash into powder or “flour” the kernels of different kinds of grain (i.e. wheat or corn) that are fed between them. A millstone works by grinding and crushing, and it produces friction. Do not think that God’s will is not going to involve you in a great deal of friction.
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
Luke 3:16 (emphasis added)
Notice that this verse says “and” with fire, not “in” fire. It is speaking of the heat of persecution not a “fiery” emotional manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
I Peter 4:12
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
Christ the Lord – the Great Refiner – the Great Purifier of the Church – uses heat – friction – to purge impurities out of the hearts and lives of His people. If you have been a Christian for very long, then God’s sovereign will has sent circumstances into your life, sickness into your life, suffering into your life, even people into your life – to grind on you – to scrape away the rough edges and the impurities, so that you may be more conformed to the image of Christ.
The millstone in Judges Chapter 9 – the millstone that killed Abimelech – was the perfect weapon for the time and place of its use. It crushed Abimelech and cost him his life, his reputation, and his would-be kingdom. God’s will is perfect. Will you love it and trust it? Or will you try to resist it and be miserable? It is a weapon which we observe, not a weapon which we yield. The way to take advantage of this weapon is to stay close to God.