Are you facing a strong temptation? Interpersonal conflicts? Difficult circumstances? In the Bible the apostle Paul uses the analogy of armor and warfare to teach about the equipment that’s essential for standing against temptation and spiritual attack.
First, he encourages you to put on the belt of truth. Satan is the father of lies. He’s constantly trying to deceive and trap you. In contrast, all of your armor is held together by truth, which comes from the Father of Truth.
Next, you need to put on the body armor of God’s righteousness. Though there are many levels of meaning to this phrase, the primary one is that you’re forgiven and accepted through faith in Jesus Christ alone. You’re not protected by your own righteousness; you need the righteousness of God.
Next, you’re called to put on the shoes of peace and carry this Good News to people everywhere.
You’re also given a shield of faith to protect you against Satan’s accusations and persecutions. Prayer leads to faith. It keeps your vision clear when circumstances cloud your way.
The helmet of salvation is next on Paul’s list. In addition to protecting the wearer, the helmet identified a soldier’s allegiance. You belong to the company of Christ.
Finally, you’re armed with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. The sword is your only offensive weapon.
God never leaves his men behind in battle. Read Paul’s warfare prayer from the book of Ephesians 6:10-18 for help.
Did you know that service is a way of saying thanks to God? You can never truly pay back the overwhelming love and support your parents may have shown you. But you can pass the love on to your children. In the same way, you can never repay God for granting you life in Christ and for blessing you, but you can pass his love onto others in practical ways.
One of the great barriers to service, however, is pride. Pride causes men to scoff at the thought of putting others first. Pride teaches you to calculate how every action will further your own reputation or advance you toward your goals. Pride makes you keep careful record of who is next in line for something good.
The apostle Paul had much to say to us about sacrifice. Chapter twelve of the book of Romans portrays several specific areas in which you can be a living sacrifice and serve God in the world. As a living sacrifice, you surrender using your gifts solely for your own advancement. You seek to bless others instead and sacrifice your time and resources for their benefit. In the process, your life will be shaped into the image of greatest man who ever lived: Jesus Christ. Where do you sense God calling you to serve? Let your motivation for service flow from a heart that’s thankful to God for the grace he’s shown you.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been widely recognized as one of the great moral heroes of the twentieth century, and rightly so. He was a highly regarded Lutheran minister at a time when other highly regarded Christian leaders’were compromising and making sure they didn’t make any waves against Hitler’s aggressive, tyrammical power. Bonhoeffer was among the few who resisted. And you know, resistance usually has its costs’Bonhoeffer’s cost everything. He was arrested, imprisoned, and eventually hung on April 9, 1945’less than a month before the war’s end.
Yet Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s resistance was more than moral, it was Christian. It was grounded, shaped, and energized by the gospel, and by Bonhoeffer’s loving loyalty to the Lord of that gospel: Jesus Christ.
Amidst the tumultuous times of his day, Bonhoeffer wrote a book that has since become a Christian classic. It’s called The Cost of Discipleship. In it he contrasts what he calls ‘cheap and costly grace.’ Cheap grace, for Bonhoeffer, means grace without the cross. Costly grace, by way of contrast, is a grace that comes to us freely because it cost Christ his life’and that which is costly to God must never be seen as something that comes to us without a price.
Bonhoeffer’s point, men, is that the gospel makes a claim upon every aspect of our lives. It’s received freely, yet demands sacrificial discipleship as our response.
Is your understanding of the gospel comparable to Bonhoeffer’s? If it isn’t, give it some thought.