Johnny Splats The Raisin Chair Snowman
Does that title make any sense to you? Me neither. Do you remember playing the telephone game when you were a kid? One child would start by whispering something to the next child, that child would whisper to the next, and so on, until the last child would repeat out loud what it was he heard. Everyone would have a good laugh because the end result was never anything remotely close to the original. But how funny would it be if the original message was of vital importance to your very existence?
Well, it seems that down through the centuries people have been playing the telephone game with the Bible. No, I don't mean that a particular translation of the Bible is the only correct translation. What I do mean is that people, being human and usually wanting to take a very active role in things, have taken the simplicity of the Scripture and added to it. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, but add they have. The additions I'm speaking of will in no way keep a person from salvation. What the additions will do is make a believer's life that much more difficult and open to attack from the enemy of our souls because our focus will be either on what we should be doing or on the enemy rather than on the Lord.
Let me give you an example of something that I recently ran across. In Ephesians 6:10-17, we find:
“In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]. Put on God's whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. Therefore put on God's complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace. Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one]. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.” - Amplified
Over the years I have heard many teachings on this passage, everything from the ethereal to the nitty gritty, put some camo paint on your face `cause we're at war! The fact of the matter is that when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior we do indeed become engaged in warfare. But how is it that the Lord wants us to fight? What does He want us to do, if anything, and what will He take care of for us?
There is an account of a battle in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30. King Jehoshaphat found that the Moabites, Ammonites, and the Meunites had gathered together to do battle against him. The king wasn't very happy about the situation. In fact Scripture tells us that he was down right afraid. So instead of running around in a panic and acting out of his own will, King Jehoshaphat ran to God. He proclaimed a fast in all Judah and had all of Judah gather together in Jerusalem to seek the Lord. Here's what happened next:
“And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their children and their wives. Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. He said, Hearken, all Judah, you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat. The Lord says this to you: Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow go down to them. Behold, they will come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the ravine before the Wilderness of Jeruel. You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord [Who is] with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Fear not nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping Him.” - verses 13-18
The following day singers were appointed to precede the army into battle saying, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!” When they began to sing and praise, the Lord Himself set ambushments and the enemies of Judah were self-slaughtered. The spoil was so great that it took three days to carry it all away. And because of this battle, the fear of the Lord came upon the kingdoms round about Judah and King Jehoshaphat didn't hear a peep out of his enemies.
Now, what exactly did the people have to do to win this particular battle? They were instructed to take their positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord. The very next thing that the king and the people did was fall on their faces and worship the Lord. That was the position they were to take - one of worship to God. Their focus was to be completely on Him.
Going back to Paul's instructions in Ephesians, the first thing he tells us is that we are to be strong in the Lord - to be empowered by our union with Him. We are to draw our strength from Him - from the strength which His boundless might provides. We are to put on God's whole armor - the armor which God provides. And the next thing Paul tells us is that we are to do all of this so that we can go out and fight the devil and his minions until the world is free from the powers of darkness! Oh, wait, that's not right. He tells us that we do all of this so we can stand. In fact, Paul uses the word “stand” four times in these seven verses.
I don't know about you, but simply standing can get a little boring after a while. It can also become quite difficult. I'm the sort of person that wants to DO something, not just stand there and wait. But I believe we are called to stand and wait on the Lord for His direction in all situations. At times there very well may be something that the Lord will have us do, and He will be sure to let us know what it is. But I've found that more often than not our greatest, most effective position in this battle we fight is one of worship to God.
After instructing us to stand, Paul then goes on to describe the armor that we are to put on - the armor that God Himself provides for us. In the past I have struggled with how it was that I was actually supposed to “put on” this armor. I have known people who have actually acted out putting on each piece of armor in order to prepare themselves for their day. I tried it once myself, but felt a little too foolish to do it again. I never felt that I could completely understand what it was that Paul was trying to say. So I finally did what I should have done a long time ago. I asked God about it. In taking another look at the passage in Ephesians, God showed me something very interesting. Let's take another look together, only this time, without looking at the physical pieces of armor.
Here are the things that Paul says we must have in order to stand firm against the onslaught of the enemy: truth, integrity and right standing with God, a good working knowledge of the Gospel, faith, salvation, and the sword which the Spirit yields which is the Word of God. I realized that I had been getting sidetracked by the physical description of armor that Paul was using. And so were many others. Nowhere on this list is anything to do with our physical bodies. Everything that we need for our battle has to do with our mind and mindset. This is the where the battle for our souls takes place - in our minds.
Just as Eve was persuaded into deception by the serpent in the Garden of Eden, we are enticed every single day to do things that we know we shouldn't. And every one of these enticements, or temptations, begins in our minds. If we don't know God's truth, we can be easily persuaded into wrongdoing. If we aren't in right standing with God - something that takes place in our minds - we're open game for the enemy. Our mind is also where our knowledge of Scripture is stored, as well as where our decisions of faith and salvation are made.
So somehow, down through the centuries, the simplicity of Paul's message was lost. Our busy little selves wanted a bit more to do than was necessary. I think it's time we get back to the simple basics of God's Word, stand firm, and see the deliverance of our God.