Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fitting the Armor of God for an Earthly Mission

The highlight of my week thus far has been watching Senator Rick Santorum shock the nation with his performance at the Iowa Caucus.  I don't know what the future holds for his campaign, but I hold sincere hope that he will be the Republican presidential nominee.  There is a lot to admire in Santorum.  First and foremost, just to be clear, there are no perfect candidates.  I don't expect the potential President Santorum to be perfect, either; however, he has shown me in a few short weeks that he is able to succeed and transmit his viewpoints and standards to others without a lot of monetary backing.  Most importantly, he has shown that he will face his political adversaries with unflinching truth.

Today, Sen. Santorum engaged a group of college students in New Hampshire and was confronted on his view for so-called gay "marriage."  Without retracting or reshaping any previous statements, Santorum stuck to his guns and threw out this jewel:

"God made man and woman.  Every child in the world deserves to know and be loved by their mother and father."

He was not there to please a crowd.  He is there to remain true to his principles that support the traditional Biblical family.  Do you know why society opens up a can of worms about the definition of marriage and the optimal structure of the family?  It's because we've allowed individualism and political correctness, all in the name of "tolerance", to grow beyond realistic boundaries.  It all ended with Santorum being booed by several of the students as he left the stage.  How refreshing is that?  For once we read about a prospective leader who isn't more interested in people-pleasing than he is in the truth.

Santorum understands that we can no longer run from our problems or simply hide our heads in the sand, hoping that societal issues will magically clear themselves up.  Let's look at the words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-17.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

We live in a fallen world.  Whether you believe in a new Earth (around 6,000 years old) or an old Earth is irrelevant.  Ever since Adam and Eve ate of the fruit in the Garden of Eden, the game has changed.  This isn't meant to sound like Star Wars, but I truly believe that everything in life is light versus darkness, hence our struggle against the spiritual forces that influence people to commit evil acts in our own day.  Paul used the imagery of a Roman soldier of his day girded for battle.

The belt of truth is symbolic of the piece that protected the vital organs and systems of the soldier, such as the intestines, liver, and stomach.  With critical damage to any of these, the soldier could not live.  Likewise, truth is our safeguard against the enemy's number one strategy, deceit.  Gay "marriage" didn't originate in a day.  It has grown from an attitude of "turning a blind eye" to such misconduct that has been growing since the 1960s.  With our symbolic belt of truth, we are to recall the truth that we know and stick to it at all costs, even if it is unpopular.

The breastplate was intended to protect the heart, lungs, and vital arteries critical to sustaining life.  When we put on righteousness, we "take off" the old man that was condemned to death with Christ.  By simply recalling the very nature in which we were purchased, we understand the name we uphold and we make it more difficult for ourselves to stumble.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20

The shoes referred to by Paul are symbolic of the action that we are called to, hence the term "readiness".  As the Roman soldier was to be quick to respond and move under threat of death, we are to react and take action rather than stand by idly.

The shield of faith is our guard against anxiety, discouragement, and the attacks of the enemies of Christ.  We are to recall that we have a greater force on our side than our adversaries do on their side (1 John 4:4).  By its very nature, it allows us to continue walking forward in spite of "flaming arrows", the verbal and written attacks of those who desire to see the progress of truth stopped in its tracks.

Protecting the brain, of course, was the helmet.  Its strength permitted the soldier to continue fighting even after suffering a blow to the head.  In a similar manner, our thoughts are to be guided by the message of salvation and are not to be deterred by opposition we may face in pursuing good and decent goals.

Finally, the Word is our sword.  It guides our decisions, inspires us to fight on, and impacts the hearts of those who constantly search for fulfillment in everything but legitimate truth.  This Word is truthful and doesn't try to appeal to popular opinion.

Senator Santorum's performance today, while unpopular at face value, is a perfect vignette of the armor of God in action.  Had he dodged the topic of "marital equality", he would have acted outside of Paul's intentions in Ephesians 6 by retreating from the aforementioned enemies of truth.  Interestingly enough, Scripture mentions no protection for the back.  This was not omitted accidentally, for in those days the Roman penalty for cowardice in battle was death.  Likewise, we are not to run from these issues as the church did for so long.  We are to confront them head on, or our retreat will spell death to the morally governed culture that we long to preserve.

Run or fight.  The choice is yours.  Will you stand up for truth or will you hope others step up in your place?  I choose to fight.

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