How To Protect Yourself From What You Fear

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

Ephesians 6:14-17 KJV

Sunday, February 21, 2021
This is the third Sunday of African American History Month. We began the month focusing on Life’s Perpetual Struggle. The scriptural message from Genesis 32 reminded us that God is with us in life’s struggle; God preserves us through the struggles of life and in clinging to the Lord at all cost we are blessed to be a people of God who fulfill the purposes of God through our lives. The decision after engaging in life’s perennial struggle is whether “you walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” (Martin Luther King Jr.) According to James Russell Lowell, “Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide in the strife with truth and falsehood for the good or evil side. And the choice goes by forever twixt that darkness and that light.” 
On the second Sunday, we focused on being strong in the Lord and the power of the Lord’s might in order to withstand the wiles of the devil (the deceiver whose hidden intent is to distract, delude and create doubt) because we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness of this world, against wickedness in high places.  We were reminded of the deceitful nature that perpetuates policies, principles, and practices promoting the darkness of this world and wickedness in high places of privilege and power supported by toxic churchianity parading as authentic Christianity.  We are wrestling against principles and powers that perpetrate practices and policies that put people in captivity, demean their humanity, deny their right to exist, by creating laws that disenfranchise the many and enfranchise the few. The rulers of darkness and wickedness in high places promote inequity and injustice by justifying entitlement and privilege systematically in social structures that maintain and sustain inequality rather than justice and opportunity for all.  

Paul cites how you are to protect yourself if you are to stand against the wiles of deceptiveness, against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. All of the pieces of armor are specifically necessary to protect a part of you so that you can withstand who and what is deceitful, deceptive and destructive. The armor prepares you to defend yourself against the adversary that would destroy you. This whole section of scripture in Ephesians in 6:10-18 has one purpose, that is for you to recognize, turn, face and stand against the deceitful trickery of your adversaries and even during and immediately after you are attacked, so you are left standing. Paul describes the armor you need to protect yourself in order to withstand the deception that deludes, detracts, and destroys.   

Consider how you protect yourself against the deception that distracts, deludes, and destroys through doubt. 
Monday, February 22, 2021
The first piece of armor is truth.  Paul says, 14 “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.” Ephesians 6:14a
The belt of truth is the first element of the armor. In the ancient world, a soldier's belt not only kept his armor in place and, if wide enough, protected his kidneys and other vital organs. That is the way truth protects us. Practically applied, you might say the belt of truth supports you so that you are not left exposed and vulnerable to what is false and made up.  

Scripture reminds us that what is satanic is deception, full of lies and destructive. Genesis reminds us about the origin of distrust and untruth. You permit an alternative voice to cause you to doubt what you have been told by someone with whom you are in a relationship, who has provided all that you need to live. (Genesis 3) The bible mentions what is consistent with the character of the satanic, “lying, the author of lies.” (John 8:44, NLT) Untruths, falsehoods, and disinformation create a climate of doubt that clouds the authenticity and reliability of information. 
Physiologically speaking the loins of the body allow you to stand up straight and erect. If you are girded (bound, restrained, and tightened) with the truth, you are able to stand up straight otherwise you would slump. Without truth you are bent over by untruth, guided by faulty reason, and acting on false information. Truth is the antidote to disinformation
Truth is based on who or what you trust. Why would you let anyone cause you to doubt what contradicts what you have been told by someone who loves you, provides for you, and cares for you?  Where do you find your truth? You can search everywhere looking and exposing yourself to all sorts of possibilities. You can end with a paralysis of analysis. You could also be led down a primrose path to your detriment deluded by being “gas-lighted.”  
Psychologists use the term “gas-lighting” to refer to a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else (or a group of people) to question their own reality, memory, or perceptions. It may start out with seemingly small offenses. But the problem is that even more-or-less insignificant instances of you questioning your own judgment or reality — thanks to the deliberate intent of someone else — can snowball. You can end up in a cycle of not being able to negotiate your daily life in a way where you are clear-minded, can focus, can make sound decisions, and have a sense of well-being, says Robin Stern says, Associate Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and author of "The Gaslight Effect," 
Be sure that what you actually believe is truth, not a conspiracy concocted to perpetrate a fraud that is selfishly motivated to manipulate you for someone else’s benefit. There is a truth contained in sacred writ and in the word made flesh in Jesus Christ which is undeniable. At least consider it and find out for yourself its authenticity and veracity. Jesus says, he is the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6). Paul was convinced that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (II Corinthians 5:19) 
We have African American history month because we embraced the truth about our existence and wanted to tell our story. If you don’t tell your story who will? What a story it is. A story of assurance and adversity; a story of belief and bewilderment; a story of comfort and calamity, confidence and crisis, courage and circumstances, a story of faith and frustration, a story of pathos and perseverance, a story of trouble and triumph. What a story. 
Consider what it means to be guided by truth rather than by what is false.  
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
The second piece of armor is the breastplate of righteousness, 14  “having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” Ephesians 6:14b
A wound to the chest can be fatal. That's why ancient soldiers wore a breastplate covering their heart and lungs. You need to be able to breathe as well as have your heart functioning without exposure to the threat of being wounded.  The breastplate guards our heart.

Our heart is susceptible to the wickedness of this world, so we need a breastplate to protect ourselves. “Out of the heart come evil thoughts.” (Matthew 15:19) “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) “As a person thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)

Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalm 119:11) Trusting in God's word of promise laid up in the heart is the only security against being surprised into sin. If God's word is only in his Bible and not also in his heart, you may soon and easily be surprised and manipulated into doing what should not be done. 

Our heart is susceptible to the wickedness of this world. We cannot become righteous through our own good works. We have righteousness transferred to us through Christ, the word made flesh. Imagine transferring status. There are membership clubs whether with airlines or private clubs with special privileges for their members. A member can take a guest and that guest has the opportunities to enjoy the benefits of membership. Jesus says, “I do not call you servants any longer, because a servant does not know what the master is doing, but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” John 15:15

Accept the transferred righteousness that you have been given as a friend of Jesus. Let it cover and protect you. Remember that it can keep your heart strong and pure for God: "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." (Proverbs 4:23, NLT)  
Consider what it means to protect your heart because “as a person thinks in his heart so is he.”  
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
The third piece of armor is your footwear, 15 “and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:15

You need sturdy, protective footwear. The terrain was rocky in the ancient world, requiring sturdy, protective footwear. On a battlefield or near a fort, the enemy might scatter barbed spikes or sharp stones to slow an army down. In the same way, deceptive ones scatter traps for us as we're trying to be faithful to our calling. “Hidden snares and howling tempest often take us unawares” is the way one composer put it. 

The gospel of peace is our protection, reminding us that it is by grace through faith that we are spared. We can sidestep the obstacles as did Jesus as the Word made flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14) Fitting our feet with the readiness of the gospel of peace is described in 1 Peter 3:15 NIV, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect"

Consider what it means that your footwear protects your feet so you can stand straight and walk forward.  
Thursday, February 25, 2021
The fourth piece of armor is the shield of faith, 16 “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” 6:16 KJV

No defensive armor was as important as the shield. It fended off arrows, spears, and swords. Our shield of faith guards us against the deceiver’s deadliest weapon: doubt which leads to despair and discouragement.  Satan shoots doubt at us when God does not act immediately or visibly. But our faith in God's trustworthiness comes from the unassailable truth of the Bible and the word made flesh in Jesus. We know our Lord can be trusted.

Faith and doubt don't mix. Our shield of faith sends flaming arrows of doubt glancing harmlessly to the side. We keep our shield held high, confident in the knowledge that God provides for us, God protects us, and God is faithful to us. Our shield holds because of the One in whom we put our faith, Jesus Christ.

Consider what it means to be able to quench the fiery darts of doubt which leads to discouragement and despair that are fired at you to harm, hurt, and hinder your moving forward. 
Friday, February 26, 2021
The fifth piece of armor is the helmet of salvation, 17a “And take the helmet of salvation.”
The helmet protects the head. Fill the mind with the certainty of what God has done for you in Christ. We have to live each day of life that God gives us as God’s children, anchored in that certainty and with our hearts full of gratitude for the privilege to have been given such a gift to be a child of the living Lord.
“We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, to proclaim the wonderful works of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2: 9) That is our reality and that is our purpose. Let us not allow the devil to put in our minds doubts about our salvation. We are saved by faith in Christ (Galatians 3) and no one can take that salvation away from us.

The helmet of salvation is to protect our thoughts and minds as a crucial piece of armor. We cannot survive without it. 

Consider what it means to protect your head where your thoughts reside; influencing what you say and do about practicing your faith.  
Saturday, February 27, 2021
The sixth piece of armor is the sword of the Spirit, 17b “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17b

The sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon with which we can strike when we fight. This weapon represents the Word of God, the Bible: "For the word of God is alive 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." (Hebrews 4:12, NIV) Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119: 105). The word illumines our path and enlightens our minds with the teaching of the Lord. With the sword of the Spirit we defend ourselves and face the attacks of the enemy, (lies and deceptions), while attacking the enemy with the truth.

When Jesus Christ was tempted in the desert by Satan, he countered with the truth of Scripture, setting an example for us to follow: "It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4, NIV)

The sword of the Spirit is our best defense because the deceiver’s tactics have not changed. We fight bad thoughts, doubts, and false teachings by filling our mind with the message of the truth contained in sacred writ. The devil will try to deceive us, but if we know the word of God well, we can affirm ourselves in the truth and continue to be active in the battle without fear.

The word of God illuminates the way we take as “a lamp to our feet and light to our path.” (Psalm 119: 105) The word enlightens our minds with the teaching of Jesus with his words, life, and legacy. With the sword of the Spirit, we defend ourselves and face the attacks of the enemy, (lies and deceptions) while attacking deceitfulness with the truth. Remember the example of Jesus when he was tempted; how he used the word effectively to overcome the temptations of the devil. (Matthew 4)

Consider what it means to have the sword of the Spirit, which is the word, as your offensive weapon to defend yourself about doubt that discourages and leads to being deceived. 

Therefore, put on every piece of the armor so you will be able to withstand the onslaught of the enemy of deception and destruction. 

I am on the battlefield for my Lord and I promised him that I would serve him till I die. I am on the battlefield for my Lord. 

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