Archives for the month of: January, 2015

Paul’s ‘How to restart after experiencing difficulties.’ “I can hardly wait to continue on my course.” Philippians 1:20 MSG

Conspiracy2“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” Ephesians 6:13-18, ESV

To stand against Satan’s stratagems—what I called The Taciturn Conspiracy—this little passage reminds us to “Take up the whole armor of God”! Keeping us from falling prey to the schemes of the devil, there are several things Paul mentions in chapter 6—I’d like to mention three of them. First:

a) Don’t confuse who your adversary is

That is a primary strategy of the devil. He wants to get you thinking your issues are a result of your fellow human being. He can manipulate people to do terrible things, but those of flesh and blood are not the main cause of any of your problems. The devil wants you wrestling with flesh and blood. He wants you yelling at people. He wants you believing your predicament in life is because of an incompetent bumbling government. If the devil can get you mad at another human being, he’s done a great job of deflection and distraction—his taciturn conspiracy is working!

There’s nothing worse than fighting against an enemy you don’t know. To be mad at the wrong person and mix up opponents is the ultimate in victory. In this condition the devil can get you mad, discourage you, overwhelm you, and devastate you by making your fight seem like it’s against flesh and blood.

Your fight is not against any system of humanity; it’s against an organization of demonic enterprise. Paul says that ultimately any fight with City Hall is one in which you’re wrestling with rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. And, the Apostle should know. Remember, the man wrote this epistle while locked up in a Roman jail cell! Paul realized his arguments with the empire were ultimately against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places. Don’t become confused and fall into the trap of thinking your adversary is ultimately human—Paul reminds us that’s not the case. Secondly:

b) Don’t overlook what your adversary is

Never forget that Satan is much stronger than you! You are not a superhero with a cape! You absolutely need the strength of the Lord’s might because you can’t go it alone! You need God and the support of other believers standing with you. That’s why Paul says in verse 18:

“…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”

Even the great Apostle Paul realized the ancient foe is a formidable adversary. And as such we’ve got to each other’s prayers for help. Yes, the devil is very strong—but we have a mighty God that has given us armor to wear to withstand the evil day. Beginning with verse 13 we read:

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

If you need a superhero costume, this is it—no cape attached! In fact, this is the only superhero costume to believe in. It’s the spiritual SWAT team’s uniform—don’t leave home without it. Your only opportunity to defeat the schemes of the devil is to learn to put on the superhero costume of faith everyday!

Next episode finishes with the final aspect of this armor.

J Robert Hanson

Persecution complex? “Christians here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God” Philippians 1:14 MSG

Here’s the real circle of life! “So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well.” Philippians 1:9 MSG

God will finish what He began. So why quit now? “God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish” Philippians 1:6 MSG

ConspiracyFinally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12, ESV

I love a good conspiracy. Area 51, UFOs, grassy knolls, it doesn’t matter—the intrigue of figuring out plots and connivers sparks my curiosity. To be clear, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary,¹ a conspiracy is a secret plan made by two or more to do something that is harmful or illegal. For creating a conspiracy, it takes two-to-tango.

Ephesians 6, verses 10 through 12 is about a dark taciturn conspiracy between the devil and other spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Paul writes these thoughts because it’s so easy to forget our struggles are not against individuals—flesh and blood—but the silent schemes of an insidious devil and his legions. The one known as “the prince of the power of the air”² is an exceptional watcher and soundless strategist against humanity. He is able to control situations and make them look like others are responsible. His favorite patsy is humanity. When enduring suffering we can be fooled into thinking we’re fighting men. But, while gazing at marionettes—tools of the puppet master—the real power pulling the strings is Satan.

We think Big Brother is our government, a Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwellian nightmare come alive. But Big Brother isn’t the video camera on the street corner. It’s the demonic powers lurking in the quite darkness of spiritual highlands! The devil and his legions are watching and observing what we do. Our true loss of anonymity isn’t from modern technical advances. The Bible notes privacy was lost centuries before. You don’t think so? Just read Job 1, verses 6 and 7:

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”

Satan walks the earth observing what’s going on. In fact, God asks Satan if he’d scrutinized His servant, Job; verse 8:

“…the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”

And Satan replies to The Almighty with a complaint—verses 9 and 10:

“Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.

Satan’s grievance: he can’t seem to assault Job as the man is too protected! The devil was well aware of Job’s life and activities—he’d been monitoring the righteous man for quite awhile! And, the frustration was that nothing could touch him as the Lord’s protection prevented any overt or covert attacks. “It’s not fair” was the devilish argument!

Satan has been eavesdropping on humanity since the dawn of time beginning way back in the Garden of Eden. He knew exactly what God had said to Adam in light of the prohibition of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The devil understood how to twist that conversation just enough to fool Adam’s spouse. Do not underestimate the devil’s surveillance program!

The good news is the devil has limitations. Though he does tirelessly walk throughout the whole earth, he can’t be everywhere at the same time—only God is capable of omnipresence. The bad news is that Satan has legions of fallen angels—demons—capable of covering every inch of this planet and reporting activities through a well-established demonic hierarchy—hence, the taciturn conspiracy. This is the true Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwellian nightmare come to life!

Paul’s goal in Ephesians 6 is to unmask the adversary and reveal to humanity that a satanic strategy is at work! The evil tactic is networked in such a way that it can cause huge disruptions in your life and fool you into believing others are liable. Paul calls this conspiracy the schemes of the devil—the one conspiracy that humanity needs to be aware of so that it doesn’t fall prey to massive deception. As humankind, the worse we can do is misjudge the devil and be duped into believing we’re wrestling with flesh and blood—other people!

There are several things that Paul mentions in Ephesians 6 that will keep us from falling prey to the schemes of the devil. Satan has fatally underestimated the effect of the whole armor of God, the same armor we’re called to put on everyday.

Next episode I’d like to mention three aspects of this armor.

J. Robert Hanson

¹ http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/conspiracy

² Ephesians 2: 2 ESV; in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—.

May there be many who can say this: “Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. ” Philippians 1:3 MSG

I love a good mystery. Paul writes: “Pray that I’ll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all” Ephesians 6:19 MSG