Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
July 26, 1997
Last Updated :
February 15, 2018
Our Spiritual Warfare, Armour Of God, Sword Of The Spirit, God's Word Divides Sheep From Goats, Satan's Deadly Lies And Fiery Darts, Words Are Real Things, Verbal Warfare, Beware Of The Devil's Doubts, Battle Of The Mind, Take The Shield Of Faith, Obtain Faith Through The Word, Keep Your Eyes On Jesus And Not On Yourself, The Devil Also Quotes God's Word, Judge Not Verses, Pavlov Dog Response, The Hypocrisy Of The Naysayers, Audience Of The Sermon On The Mount, Jesus' Many Disciples, Different Audiences At Different Times, Why We Shouldn't Judge Others, Human Propensity For Judging Others
As you may know, in his Epistle to the brethren at the Church of Ephesus, the Apostle Paul makes us very aware of the fact that we Christians are involved in heavy spiritual warfare against the forces of darkness. Consider the following verse:
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Ephesians 6:12, KJV
Being as our warfare is spiritual in nature and not physical such as that which is fought by worldly and ungodly men, it only stands to reason that the weapons of our warfare must also be spiritual in nature. The Apostle Paul again confirms this point for us when he writes the following in his second Epistle to the Church at Corinth:
"(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)"
2 Corinthians 10:4, KJV
So exactly what are these spiritual weapons which we have in our possession? Again, the Apostle Paul not only informs us what our primary weapon is, but he also describes the armour which goes along with it for our own protection, as we see by the following verses:
"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:"
Ephesians 6:13-17, KJV
Here we clearly see that our weapon is the Sword of the Spirit; that is, the very Word of God. The Apostle Paul confirms this fact for us again in his Epistle to the Hebrews where he writes the following:
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12, KJV
While speaking about His ministry on Earth in the Gospels, and the effect that He and His message would have on people, Jesus likewise spoke of this very same Sword when He said the following:
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."
Matthew 10:34, KJV
I believe that the sword which Jesus was referring to in the previous verse is the very Word and Truth of God which He spoke throughout His time on Earth. It is that spoken Word which has divided -- and continues to divide -- the sheep from the goats; that is, the Children of God from the children of Satan, the Children of Light from the Children of Darkness. In fact, as you may know, in the Gospel of John we are told that Jesus is the very embodiment of the Word of God. He came to reveal the Spirit of Truth in a flesh and blood human body, as we can determine by the following set of verses:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
John 1:1, 14, KJV
"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life"
John 6:63, KJV
"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
John 14:6, KJV
This Word, this Spirit of Truth, is the very same Sword which we see proceeding out of the mouth of the Lamb of God -- that is, Jesus -- when He fights against the ungodly forces which have taken over the Earth in the Book of Revelation. Consider the following verse:
"And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God."
Revelation 19:15, KJV
What we need to realize is that our chief adversary, Satan, also possesses a weapon; and that weapon is also the word. However, it is not the Word of Truth, but rather the exact opposite. It is the lie. In fact, as many of you will know already, we are told that he is the father of lies by Jesus himself in the Gospel of John, as we see here:
". . . He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
John 8:44, KJV
What some Christians may not realize though is that we have that old serpent outmatched. You see, while we have a nice shiny two-edged Sword, all he has are a bunch of darts. But don't be deceived! And don't you dare underestimate that vile snake! While his little darts may not seem as effective or as powerful as our Sword, they are in fact loaded with fiery poison. Remember what the Apostle Paul wrote in that same Epistle to the Ephesians:
"Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."
Ephesians 6:16, KJV
You see, very similar to a wasp, or a scorpion, or a stonefish, or a poisonous viper, once his venom penetrates your system, Satan's words -- his lies -- can be extremely painful, destructive, and sometimes even deadly. They can wreak a lot of havoc. Please don't forget that in the Book of Genesis, all it took was four little words to bring about the downfall of humankind, as we see by this verse:
". . . Yea, hath God said . . . ?"
Genesis 3:1, KJV
As I explained earlier, Jesus made it very clear that words are real things. They are powerful. They are spiritual. Our battle against Satan is primarily a warfare of words. If you read the four Gospels, you will see how true this really is. Jesus fought a constant verbal battle against the Scribes and the Pharisees. At the same time, He fed the multitudes spiritually with the Words that give Life. The Word of Truth uplifts, it heals, it gives hope, it saves. Satan's lies do the exact opposite. They condemn, they wound, they cause doubt, they damn. Throughout the entire Bible from beginning to end, we see a great verbal war taking place. That is, the words of the Prophets and the people of God, against the lies and damnations of the evil mouthpieces of Satan.
So exactly what is Satan's primary weapon in this warfare of words? The Scriptures make it very clear that it is the doubts which he speaks to our minds and hearts. As I explain in a number of other articles, the battle actually begins in our minds. That is where the Devil invades our territory. It is for this very reason that the Apostle Paul advises us to bring every thought into captivity. Not only that, but he writes that we must have our minds transformed and renewed, and that we must in fact put on the mind of Christ. Consider the following set of verses which make this point so clear:
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Romans 12:2, KJV
"And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;"
Ephesians 4:23, KJV
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"
2 Corinthians 10:5, KJV
"For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ."
1 Corinthians 2:16, KJV
"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;"
1 Peter 1:13, KJV
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:"
1 Peter 5:8, KJV
"For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."
Hebrews 12:3, KJV
"In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
2 Corinthians 4:4, KJV
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."
2 Corinthians 11:3, KJV
"And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled"
Colossians 1:21, KJV
This is why in the verses which I shared with you earlier, the Apostle Paul writes that we must put on the Helmet of Salvation, and above all, most important of all, we must use the Shield of Faith to stave off the Devil's doubt attacks. We fight against him with the Sword of the Spirit, but we protect ourselves at the same time with the Shield of Faith. We must not allow Satan's fiery darts of doubts to penetrate our minds for one instant; because if we do, that will be the beginning of the end for us. He will never stop until we are defeated. As you probably know, faith is the opposite of doubts. So how do we acquire this faith so that we can stand strong against the Devil? In his Epistle to the brethren at Rome, Paul informs us that faith comes and grows by hearing -- and I might add, by reading, by memorizing, and also by obeying -- the Word of God, as we see here:
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
Romans 10:17, KJV
So as I said, if Satan can cause you to doubt God, or to doubt His Word, or to even doubt your worth as a Christian, then he has a good chance of totally defeating you and neutralizing your work for the Lord. If he can get you to take your eyes off of the Lord, or off of His Word, he has won half the battle. Once he has you looking at yourself instead of looking at Jesus, you are in big trouble, because not only are you wretched in the flesh and stink, but you will begin to slowly sink, sink, sink. So we must keep our eyes on Jesus at all times. Consider these two verses:
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2, KJV
"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
Romans 7:24, KJV
As is clearly demonstrated in the Book of Genesis, as well as in other parts of the Bible, one of Satan's most powerful methods of causing us to doubt God, or to doubt our worth as His children, is to quote the very same Word we all believe in; albeit with his own special twist to it. It is similar to matter and antimatter. It almost appears the same, but it isn't. In fact, it is the exact opposite. If you bring them together, it can cause a tremendous explosion. As we saw earlier, in the case of Eve in the Garden of Eden, it was the deceptive phrase "Yea, hath God said". With Jesus, the Devil was equally as bold. Consider this example that we find in Matthew chapter four:
"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him."
Matthew 4:1-11, KJV
I like to refer to verses such as the previous ones as "Satan's If". The minute that he throws that "if" at you, watch out! His deception is right around the corner. In this case, the Devil had the audacity to quote directly from one of my favorite Psalms of protection; Psalm 91. Consider what verses nine through twelve say:
"Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone."
Psalms 91:9-12, KJV
However, being as He is the Living Word, as you can see, in the previous verses from the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus fired right back at Satan by quoting the Word himself; and that foul fiend eventually gave up and retreated.
While I have now shown you a few examples in the Bible where the Devil actually quoted the Word in order to try to trip up and deceive people, there is another example I want to share with you which is in widespread use today. This example can be found in several verses which are likewise in the Gospel of Matthew. Furthermore, I would dare say that theses verses have probably been quoted more often by those people who oppose God, and who reject the truth of His Word, than any other Scriptures in the entire Bible. These verses are the following:
"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
Matthew 7:1-2, KJV
It never ceases to amaze me how quick the enemies of Biblical Truth are to quote the previous verses. I am sure you have seen it happen many times yourself. The minute a Christian says something which they don't like, and which exposes them, or offends them, BAM, just like a Pavlov dog, those snakes fire away with the "judge not" verses. It is an automatic reflex with them. Their defensive shield goes up, and those verses are soon shot from their tower. However, what they fail to realize -- or perhaps purposely choose to ignore -- is that in their haste, they neglect to consider a number of other things which Jesus had to say, which add both balance and clarification to the meaning of the previous Scriptures.
I also find it rather ironic that, just like Satan, such people quote from the same Book which they deny as being the inspired Word of God, or which they at least reject to some degree. These enemies of Christ constantly accuse Christians of using Scriptures as crutches to support their beliefs, while they do the very same thing themselves when it is to their convenience. How can they quote from a Source which they don't even believe is the Word of God?
It seems a bit two-faced and hypocritical to me. But you see, that is the way Satan operates. He is a hypocrite and a liar, and he will use whatever serves his purpose; and the verses from Matthew chapter seven serve him well. Those two verses have been used to neutralize many a sincere Christian in their witness for the Lord. So then, I think it is time to undo some of the damage which has been done, and to give our fellow workers for the Lord some ammunition to use when the workers of darkness try to stifle their witness through the misapplication and twisting of the previous Scriptures, which, by the way, will eventually lead to their own destruction, unless they repent, as we see here:
"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
2 Peter 3:16, KJV
While Jesus did issue the above admonition regarding judging others, what most people do not realize is that He seems to have given this commandment to the multitudes who listened to Him speak on the mountainside during His famous "Sermon on the Mount". The significance of this point will be shown momentarily. There are those people who believe that this Sermon was reserved only for His closest Disciples; that is, the Twelve Apostles. However, a closer reading of the Bible appears to reveal otherwise. If we read the verse just prior to the beginning of the actual Sermon, and the verses which immediately follow the end of the Sermon, we begin to get a clearer picture of the events which transpired that day. The very first verse in Matthew chapter five reads as follows:
"And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:"
Matthew 5:1, KJV
Notice that is says there were "multitudes" present. Jesus then went up into the mountain, and we are told that His Disciples came to Him. Some people have interpreted this as meaning that only the Twelve Apostles came to Him. However, the closing verses seem to indicate otherwise, as we see here:
"And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."
Matthew 7:28-29, KJV
Notice that is says "the people". This seems to imply that there were other people listening as well, and not just the Twelve Apostles. I am not familiar with any verses where the Apostles are ever referred to as "the people". In short, when they hear the word "disciples", some people assume that it means just the Twelve Apostles. However, the truth of the matter is that Jesus had many Disciples. Perhaps they were not all as close as the Apostles who were hand-picked by the Lord, but nevertheless they were considered Disciples of varying degrees. You see, not only do the Gospels mention the Twelve Apostles, but they also mention the other seventy Disciples who were likewise hand-picked by Jesus to preach the Gospel. Consider these two verses:
"After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come . . . And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name."
Luke 10:1, 17, KJV
In addition to the above, we also need to consider the women who attended to Jesus' and the Apostles' needs; such as the various Mary's, Martha, Joanna, Salome, etc. Likewise, we need to consider Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. And then there is the secret Disciple, Nicodemus, who was the the Pharisee who came to Him by night. And let us not forget Joseph of Arimathaea, in whose tomb Jesus was buried. They were all Disciples to some degree.
Now, if we turn to the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, we also discover that the eleven remaining Apostles abode in the upper room, and that they communed "with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren". Right after that, we are told that there were about one hundred and twenty Disciples. This was just prior to the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out. Consider these verses:
"Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)"
Acts 1:12-15, KJV
Moving on, if we turn to the Apostle Paul's first Epistle to the brethren at Corinth, we also discover that following His Resurrection from the dead, and during the forty days that He remained on Earth prior to His Ascension to Heaven, Jesus was seen by over five hundred people at one time. All of these individuals were obviously Disciples as well. Consider these verses:
"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time."
1 Corinthians 15:3-8, KJV
"The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:"
Acts 1:1-3, KJV
Of course, following the day of Pentecost when the Holy Ghost was bestowed upon the Apostles, we know that many thousands were won to Christ as well. These people too became Disciples of the Lord and members of the Early Church, as the following verses reveal:
"And with many other words did he [Peter] testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."
Acts 2:40-41, KJV
"Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand."
Acts 4:4, KJV
So one of the points I am trying to make here, is that at different points in the New Testament, Jesus had a different number of followers. Not only that, but at different points in the Scriptures, His Words were not always addressed to the same audience. Sometimes what He said was addressed to the general populace. At other times, the Lord zeroed in on His enemies. And sometimes, He said things in private which were only meant for the ears of His inner circle; that is, the Twelve Apostles. For example, consider these verses:
"And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear."
Matthew 13:10-16, KJV
"And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them . . . But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples."
Mark 4:10-12, 34, KJV
Now, concerning the Sermon on the Mount, and the "judge not" verses, my understanding is that Jesus was not addressing the Apostles or Disciples in private. It appears that He was addressing "the people" -- as we saw in the previous verse -- that is, the multitudes who had arrived on the hillsides to hear Him speak. In other words, I believe that Jesus was giving general advice for all of humanity to live by. He was saying that inasmuch as the public at large is concerned, it is not a good idea to judge each other.
Why is this? Well, for one thing, as Jesus says in Matthew, we will be judged by the same manner and degree with which we judge others. That thought alone should stop us in our tracks. Sadly, it usually doesn't. Let's face it. Being the humans that we are, sometimes our judgment and criticism of others can be quite unjustified, or it can be unduly severe. Unless we possess the Lord's Spirit of Wisdom and Spiritual Discernment, we may not see or know things which He alone is aware of. For this reason, we may come to false or erroneous conclusions. I would dare say that most people in the world do not have God's Spirit; so applying the above verses to their lives is indeed a wise practice.
Looking at it from another perspective, when we are young children, we are especially guilty of harsh criticism. We find everything wrong with our parents and the world around us. This is particularly true when we become young teenagers and don't get what we want. Kids have to be some of the best con artists and psychologists in the world. What they often forget though is that we were once their age and engaged in the very same things.
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
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