The Counterfeit Armor - Part 2

Sorry I missed last week, but I am getting back on track this week. We will look at the second piece of Satan's counterfeit armor today - the breastplate. Ephesians 6 tells us to put on a breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate covers the chest area and more importantly it is the protective piece that covers our heart, so you can know that Satan will offer a counterfeit to deceive our hearts. His counterfeit breastplate is religion. Rather than wearing a breastplate of righteousness he wants you and I to put on a breastplate of religion. Righteousness reminds me that without Christ I am nothing. Religion tells me that on my own I am pretty good. Righteousness focuses on Christ. Religion focuses on me. Righteousness is based on Christ's redemptive work on the cross. Religion is based on my own good works. How sneaky Satan is that he would offer us something that looks so good on the outside but in reality has little to do with Christ or the cross. When Jesus walked the earth over 2000 years ago, who gave him the most trouble? The religious leaders. They had their own ideas of how the Messiah would act and Jesus did not fit into their particular religious box. Religion still tries to put Jesus into a neat little box today. Religion tells you if you do this, say this, act like this, then you are acceptable. Scripture tells us that our righteousness is not based on our good works but on the blood of Christ. There is a story in Scripture of a woman who was caught in adultery. The religious leaders dragged her before Jesus in hopes that Jesus would judge and condemn her. If you have read her story, you know that Jesus' response was, "He who is without sin, let him first cast a stone." Religion is ever in the business of pointing out others' faults. When religion confronted Jesus that day, it dropped its stones, but instead of repenting it just walked away. Religion does not want to be confronted with its own sin, so it focuses instead on "fixing" others. When the piercing words of Jesus are spoken, the religious heart will cover its ears and walk away. Religion manifests itself in many ways - ways that often seem very spiritual, but are ultimately deadly. II Samuel 16:7 says that man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart. Religion keeps you and I from the heart of the matter - our relationship with Jesus. It is relationship not religion that God wants from us. If Satan can convince us to wear a breastplate of religion, he will keep our heart from the truth of God's Holy Word that "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in HIM we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
I want to end with this analogy that I used in class and it seemed to hit home with everyone. Isaiah 61:10 says, "I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." As women we may not understand all about military armor, but we certainly understand the significance of being a bride. As little girls most of us dream of the day when we will meet our prince and we will become his bride. So consider what God is saying in Isaiah when he compares a robe of righteousness to a bride adorning herself for her wedding day. Maybe it would help if every morning you mentally dressed yourself in a bridal gown of righteousness. No bride wants a wedding gown that is torn, stained, or imperfect. When we wear a breastplate of religion it is the same as putting on a tattered and torn wedding gown. When we put on a breastplate of righteousness, however, we are adorning ourselves in the most beautiful wedding dress we could ever imagine. As a result, like a bride, we will only have eyes for our Bridegroom and pleasing Him will be our only consideration.


The Counterfeit Armor - Part 1

Ephesians 5:13 - 16 says, Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Over the next few weeks we will explore the armor of God and Satan's counterfeit armor. Be on guard - Satan has counterfeit armor and he wants you to wear it.
The first piece of armor mentioned in Ephesians 6 is the belt of truth. So, what is Satan's counterfeit? A belt of deception. Satan seeks to deceive us, and he will tinge whatever he tries to sell us with some measure of truth in the hopes that his deception will lead us to believe him and his lies. It is no accident that the belt is the first piece of armor mentioned. In battle, the soldier would use his belt to hold his other pieces of armor, so in a way, all the other pieces hang on this one - we must embrace truth - true truth - the truth of God's Word. By the same manner, Satan will start with a belt of deception and then the other pieces of counterfeit armor will follow. I know of many ways that we can be deceived by our enemy, but here are just a few. Deception says that we should live by our feelings not by faith. Deception says that prayer and studying God's word are not all that important. Deception says that life is all about the here and now and not about the hereafter. Deception says that God's love is conditional. Deception says that control is the answer. Deception will keep you isolated and prevent you from joining in Bible Study with other Christians.
None of us are immune to Satan and his deceptive ways, but I know One who is - Jesus. So it stands to reason that the more of Jesus I have, the more immune I will be to the lies of the devil and his deceptive practices. In John 14:6, Jesus makes this statement, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me." At least 81 times in the four gospel accounts of Jesus' life he says these words - "I TELL YOU THE TRUTH." Jesus and Satan stand in complete opposition to each other. One tells you the truth, the other lies. It is time to expose Satan for the liar that he is. Here is what Jesus has to say on this subject - "You belong to your father the devil and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me." (John 8:44-45)
Friends, we are living in the last days. Jesus warned us that in the last days deception would run rampant, and I believe that even God's own people walk in deception much more often than we think. In fact, another name I have given for the counterfeit armor is the default armor. Because of our sinful human nature, I believe that if we are not consciously and deliberately putting on God's armor then we are wearing counterfeit armor by default. We must evaluate our motives as well as our actions and see how they line up with the truth of God's Word. Anytime we allow ourselves to be decieved by our enemy then we are wearing his counterfeit armor. It is time to embrace truth and stop being deceived by lies. We must become so intimate with truth that anytime Satan tries to deceive us we will either run away from the lie like Joseph (Genesis 39) or refute the lie like Jesus (Matthew 4). Just saying the armor by rote is not enough. In Ephesians 6 we are told to put on the armor. The word "put" means to bind around onself, to enter, to sink, to go in or under. We must let the truth sink into the deepest places of our heart (see Psalms 51:6), then and only then will we be ready to combat the deception of the enemy. Trust me, Satan knows your weak point, that place where you can easily be deceived and he is just waiting to exploit it. Any place where you are not allowing truth to reign in you is a place ripe for taking by the enemy of your soul. Are you consciously putting on the belt of truth everyday or is it just part of the words that you say and when situations arise you evaluate what will serve you best and then act accordingly? I would encourage you to pinpoint one area of your life where you think the enemy might be trying to deceive you. Find Scripture that will give you truth about that struggle. Begin to meditate on those scriptures everyday. Write them down, let them begin to take root and keep a little journal of positive results you begin to see as you meditate on the truth. Finally, remember these words from our Savior, "If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32) Put on the belt of truth daily, study the truth in the word of God, give the Holy Spirit who is the spirit of truth control in your life, and don't let yourself be deceived by the one who seeks to destroy you.


Esther by Beth Moore

We will begin Beth Moore's newest ten-week study on the book of Esther on September 13. We are offering a Sunday evening and Monday evening option. Call the church office or contact us via e-mail if you would like to participate.
Sunday classes will be from 4-6PM in our fellowship hall and will be facilitated by Nancy Pennington and Cassandra King.
Monday classes will be from 6-8PM in our fellowship hall and will be facilitated by Stacy Pennington.
Workbooks will be $10.00 each.

Trust His Heart

Our church family has been reeling this month from the death of so many who were dear to us. In the last week, we lost two dear men who were faithful members of our church - Cecil Hodge and Loy Lawrence. I don't always understand God's ways, but the more I walk with Him, the more I know that I can trust Him. The song, Trust His Heart has been playing in my mind lately. Let me share the words with you ~

All things work for our good
though sometimes we can't see how they could
struggles that break our hearts in two
sometimes blind us to the truth

Our Father knows what's best for us
His ways are not our own
So when your pathway grows dim, and you just can't see Him
Remember you're never alone

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don't understand
When you don't see His plan
When you can't trace His hand
Trust His heart

He sees the master plan
And He holds our future in His hands
So don't live as those who have no hope
All our hope is found in Him

We see the present clearly
But He sees the first and the last
And like a tapestry He's weaving you and me to someday be just like Him

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don't understand
When you don't see His plan
When you can't trace His hand
Trust His heart

He alone is faithful and true
He alone knows what is best for you
So when you don't understand
When you don't see His plan
When you can't trace His hand trust His heart

May the words to this song bring comfort to those who are mourning and remind all of us that we have a loving Father who is always working on our behalf. May God wrap you up in His arms of love today and everyday.

Sister to Sister LIFE School

Our Sister to Sister class meets on Sunday mornings at 9:30AM in the church fellowship hall. Last week we enjoyed a great breakfast together. Thanks to everyone who came to be a part of our class. We enjoyed seeing so many new faces. We finished up the series Loved by God this past week and will begin a new study this Sunday, September 6. I am excited to be teaching a study on The Counterfeit Armor. God has shown me many truths from His Word as I have prepared & written this study and I am excited to share all that I have learned. Please take some time this week to read Ephesians 6 as you prepare your heart for our lesson. If you are not connected in a small group class, please make plans to join us. I know that you will receive the blessing of friendship and a deeper love for God and His Word. See you Sunday!