“I’m ready to go, mommy!” My eight-year-old son, Chad announced.
He stood on the landing of the stairs wearing his biggest smile along with his new dress shirt and pants. I squinted my eyes as I approached him because I could see the red shirt he had on earlier, underneath the new, crisp white one he had just put on. I drew even closer, noticing his dirt-streaked face, and chubby fingers with mud caked under his nails.
“Chad, when I told you to get ready, I meant to wash up and take off your old, dirty clothes before putting on the new ones.”
When it comes to spiritual warfare, many times we are much like my son, attempting to whitewash godliness over the top of our dirty sinful habits. Then we proceed to walk onto the battlefield half-cocked with a target on our backs.
You see, even though the Bible tells us that the moment we become Christians, we are born again (John 3:7 ) and have become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), we still have the same sinful nature alive in us along with the Holy Spirit. The two are at war according Galatians 5:17.
“The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”
With two forces at work, only one will win.
“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6
Which one is controlling you—the sinful nature or the Holy Spirit?
The enemy is well aware of our sinful nature, ugly habits and hang-ups. He loves to exploits our own deficiencies in whatever ways he can. Let me explain.
Ephesians 6:10-18 directs us to put on the armor of God to fight against the enemy and his schemes. One of the pieces of armor listed is the breastplate of righteousness. If I put on an appearance of righteousness over the top of my unrighteous daily lifestyle that is dominated by sin, I’m not really protecting my heart because it’s already hard, sinful and dead.
The only way is to do something about my hard, sinful heart beforehand. But how?
“Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Ephesians 4:22-24
The Bible teaches us to “put off” the things that hold us back, then “put on” the new nature that has the power to makes us more and more like Christ. Christians often fail to experience lasting change because they try to change solely by breaking bad habits.
However change that lasts can only be experienced by exchanging a bad habit for a godly one (Ephesians 4:22-24 above).
We learn through His Word that God intends Christians to put on biblical alternatives to whatever they are trying to put off. Our sinful tendencies and habits are learned behaviors that must be unlearned by replacing them. If we don’t, we leave ourselves open to discouragement and to the devil’s schemes.God provides for us powerful heavenly weapons for each believer to “put on.”
“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:13-18
Before we can experience the victory that God intends us to have by putting on this spiritual armor, we must put off anything that may neutralize its effectiveness. Below are some examples of the Putting On/Putting Off process.
Put off: Is Jesus really the only way to heaven?
Put On: The Belt of Truth. “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6
Put off : My sins aren’t as bad as other’s sins.
Put on: The Body Armor of Righteousness: A heart surrendered to God.
Put off: Worry, shame, and guilt.
Put On: The Shoes of Peace: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Put off: Wavering faith. Does God really love me?
Put On: The Shield of faith: “You are good and do good.” Psalm 119:68
Put off: Maybe I’m not really saved.
Put On: Helmet of Salvation: “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13
Put off: Some of the Bible doesn’t apply nowadays.
Put On: The Sword of the Spirit: “Your word is truth.” John 17:17
Put off: God doesn’t hear my prayers
Put on: “ Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.”
SPIRITUAL WARFARE PLAN OF ACTION
Step One: WAKE UP AND STAY ALERT
Step Two: PRAY
Step Three: KNOW THE TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD
Step Four: UNDERSTAND SATAN’S TACTICS AND HOW HE USES OUR WEAKNESSES
Step Five: ROOT OUT STRONGHOLDS
Step Six: DAILY “PUT OFF” SINFUL NATURE AND “PUT ON”GOD’S HOLY ARMOR
Dear reader, we are in battle whether we want to be or not. The only real question is whether we fight well, poorly, or not at all. God has provided us with the best weapons, yet they will bring victory only to those who use them as He has directed in our guidebook, the Bible.
Let’s make a commitment to start 2016 on the right track. Let’s get in the daily practice of “putting off” our old sinful ways and exchanging them for God’s ways by “putting on” our new nature created by God.
Are you with me? Please comment below: