Monday, November 12, 2012

Lesson 7: "'Arming' for Victory"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic 
Growing in Christ
Lesson 7: "'Arming' for Victory"

The 1888 message dynamic that underlies this lesson is the Bible teaching that righteousness is by faith alone. "Therefore the only element that God's people need in order to prepare for the second coming is genuine faith. The message the world needs to hear is the truth of righteousness by faith in light of the cleansing of the sanctuary--"the third angel's message in verity." Faith is understood in its true Biblical sense--a heart appreciation of the agape of Christ." [1]
When we are crucified with Christ we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. It is His life. Therefore it is His tried and true faith, His power, His righteousness (armor) and His victory that come with His indwelling through the Holy Spirit.
The terms "armor of God," "armor of light," "put on the Lord Jesus," are all synonymous with righteousness by faith. We understand that this faith of Jesus is what works in us by and through the power ofagape. When one is made righteous he is cleansed from sin, thus the statement above linking the cleansing of the sanctuary with righteousness by faith.
For "in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Rom. 8:37). Thanks be to God who has given us the victory through Christ.
"Let us put on the armor of light" (Rom. 13:12). The apostle further says, "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11). With all the armor on, the Christian becomes impossible to harm, and with the weapons furnished from the Divine armory, he is too powerful for his foes.
"For," continues the apostle, "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). It is a mistake to think that our warfare is against flesh and blood. The controversy is not between men, but between the "rulers of the darkness of this world" and Him who is the light of this world.
"Stand therefore," continues the apostle, "having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith with which you are able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:14-17). The first requisite mentioned is truth. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Therefore whoever has not truth has not Christ, and does not know Him.
But truth does no good unless it justifies the individual, hence the necessity for "the breastplate of righteousness." The wise man has said, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23). The only sure safeguard for the heart is the breastplate of God's righteousness. "Behold," says the psalmist, "You desire truth in the inward parts" (Psalm 51:6). This truth is what cleanses and sanctifies and guards from the entrance of evil.
For the feet God gives "the preparation of the Gospel of peace."Here the word "preparation" caries the meaning of already having been made ready. (See how Joshua was made ready before hand with the whole armor of God, Zech. 3:1-5.)
With "the shield of faith," the Christian is protected against "all the fiery darts of the wicked one." Faith is the heart appreciation of theagape love of Christ demonstrated on the cross. It is the confidence that God has already delivered us from all the power of darkness.
The "helmet of salvation" is "the hope of salvation," upon which the Christian's mind must ever be fixed. The Apostle Peter writes, "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:13). "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11; notice the past tense of this verse). To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation" (Heb. 9:28).
Now we are to take "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." We must remember that it is the sword of the Spirit, and not our sword; and so the Spirit must wield it. It is only the Spirit, dwelling in us, that understands how to use this sword; we cannot do it.
God's armor has been fitted to every man. "The Man Christ Jesus," was God made flesh, and He, "for every man," fought the battle against the enemy and won it. It is this armor, His righteousness, tried and invulnerable that Christians are to wear and to stand fast in.
He has given us His peace, and peace follows victory, so the victory has been gained already. Having Christ, we have His victory, for Christ comes with His faith, victories, power, strength, and His righteousness (armor). This is the mystery of God, which is "Christ in you, the hope of Glory" (Col. 1:27).
This assurance is given to the children of God: "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He that is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). And "this is the victory that has overcome the world, even faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:4, 5).
We believe that Christ has conquered everything and that when we have Him we have everything and that there is no power of darkness that can do us any harm.
When we are crucified with Christ our own lives have been given up to Him. Then it must be some other life that we live, and that life is the life of Christ. That is the life in which we glory. Christ is our life, and He comes with His righteousness and His victory and therefore we have it. "Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11).
What is it to put on the whole armor? To stand in Christ complete, that is what we mean. Having had our old garments removed, we are dressed in the robe of Christ's righteousness. This is what "putting on the whole armor of God" means.
"Put on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 13:14). "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38).
--Daniel H. Peters
From the writings of Ellet J. Waggoner
[1] Robert J. Wieland, Ten Great Gospel Truths That Make the 1888 Message Unique, p. 30.
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