USEFUL ARMOR, part 8
There comes a time when your words meet the road, that is, when action becomes necessary; when your steps must be in alignment with your words. David spoke to the Israelite army on the hillside, and then he met with Saul face-to-face. David was quite bold in all that he said. Then he met with Goliath in the valley and was standing before him. David exchanged words with him as well, and the spiritual entities in the heavens were making their boast priding themselves in Dagon’s attempts to be victorious over Israel. David was now in the valley, facing Goliath and now having to step out fully, and abandon himself to the Lord. Trusting in the Lord means more than saying it! David’s final statement to Goliath was “The battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands” (1 Sam. 17:47b). Now it all becomes, Well, let’s see!
Hearing David’s words, Goliath did not run away nor cower. He was not accustomed to hiding. He was not afraid, especially by this young, ruddy, good-looking shepherd who did not have any battle scars or battle gear. Goliath did what he always did in time past, he moved forward to attack, fully confident; it was time to rid himself of this pesky gnat who was flitting about his magnanimous presence. Of course, Goliath never had a reason to fear; he never met a man who believed God.
The enemies of Christ are not going to back down because we just show up, even if we use the name of Jesus; remember the sons of Sceva incident (Acts 19:13). Rebellion, defiance, insurrection, impertinence, and insolence are not going to flee just because we don’t want them around or because we told them to go away. These devils are not afraid of your biblical knowledge or your bold talk, and they could care less about your prayers if they are not founded in obedience to the faith. You will never coax devils into giving up or turning away. Pride and arrogance do not yield to weakness; they only understand power. Goliath was never going to turn away nor be won over. There is only one answer, David had the solution; it is a God-given remedy.
When David saw that Goliath arose and stepped toward him, David responded in like manner. He did not side-step, nor did he use camouflage to make his approach seem more inconspicuous; and he certainly did not back-up to reassess his situation or readjust his mindset, or to gain a better position. Often times, those who make movies portray David's battle with Goliath with this sort of action; directors think it must have included such a response, and movies demand more; they are looking for more action than just a young David running toward Goliath. They cannot seem to picture David just running toward the Philistines and Goliath himself. From the natural, they want to see David shift back and forth, and employ various battle maneuvers to gain the upper hand, like a rabbit with quickness. The History Channel or Discovery Channel will make him look like he has the advantage over Goliath because he is young and unencumbered with battle gear. They refuse to see David‘s simple trust in the Lord. David believed God, and his battle gear was his faith, as proven in the shepherd’s field. David had useful armor; Goliath’s armor was of this world and was no match for David’s trust.
Every person who aligns himself with God’s battle plan must eventually step out and be engaged in that battle. However, today, many pastors, preachers, various ministry leaders, and a host of Christians are simply enjoying their time preaching and talking about the battle, but then retreat when anything offensive surfaces. The Apostle Paul certainly preached the Word and told Timothy to preach the Word, but his life demonstrated one who fought the good fight of faith. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul encouraged Timothy to fight the fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). Then in his second letter, Paul was facing death at the hands of Rome and he rightly boasted to Timothy that he had fought the good fight of faith (2 Tim. 4:7). The power of his command in his first letter to Timothy was found in the second letter. Paul himself was a man of war. He fought! His preaching had power because it carried the weight of one who understood battles. Paul was able to boldly tell his younger warrior to fight the good fight of faith because he set the pattern and was that pattern. The battle is everywhere because the flesh nature is everywhere. The natural man is at war with God’s character, sadly, the Church is giving sway to the natural thus empowering devils.
Today's preaching is saturated with stories about what to do and how to do it, but battling in the Lord is often far from their lives. Ministers preach bold faith and talk about the armor of God; they write about prayer-circles and prayer-walks; they encourage everyone to live for God but they lack the zeal to deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow Christ fully and completely. Church life has become one of fun and fellowship; it is all about games and golf. Cruise lines are filled with Christians munching away at the buffet lines. Counseling sessions are teaching people how to cope instead of hope. Medication is promoted and relied on because they do not know how to rest in God, and they want people to keep coming to them and stay in need of them. Our Church services have become centered on the natural life, attending to various subjects that deal with the self-life and even the sex-life, but sanctification is far from their lips because it is also far from their heart. They are more interested in the bedroom that the throne room. They are more excited about a bottle of wine than the communion cup. Donuts and coffee have become the draw, movie clips and drama programs are highlighted, and there is a pie in the face waiting for the new pastor just to make sure everyone knows he is humble and a normal fun-loving guy. Youth pastors are hired to keep the kids happy and make Church fun for them, less they get bored and look to the world; so pastors offer their own version of the world by just christianizing everything. Here, Christ is referenced in the mouth, praised by the lips, but cut-away from the heart. There is a new definition for godly and it is according to the new standard that is established by their fun-loving peers. The youth pastor is applauded for keeping the kids in Church and building an exciting program, but they have no backbone to live for God in the face of evil.
Also today, much ministry is highly centered on the word “offensive.” We are failing to remember that David was highly offensive to all that was ungodly and unholy. Dark is highly offended with light; truth is highly offensive to lies and deception; and the minister should also be preaching a message and walking in a way that offends all that is contrary to Christ, even all those crass and coarse jokes that everyone thinks are just so cute. How many today are using replacement words instead of the real bad language? The same is happening in the Christian life; it is replacement spirituality. We are seeing pastors preach David but think like Saul, who was easily offended. The moment someone is offended in some way, ministers and many ministry leaders are bending over backward to smooth things over, so fearful of losing their support, positions, or taint their future in the denomination; and they greatly abhor the thought that someone may thing that they are unkind, unloving, or harsh in some way. They are use to protecting their own sense of righteousness and want to be thought of as a loving Christian. In so doing, the self-nature rules the Church by just crying out foul, or I’m offended, that’s harsh, I don’t deserve that, or that’s not fair. If that whine doesn’t work, they will shift to the assault, and attack with many words in order to feel better about themselves and ensure their sense of spirituality remains intact. Their pride will seek to gain support from others to prove themselves right. It is all so twisted. There is a real lack in the Church because the self-nature is being catered to at every level. Why is this happening and so prevalent? Why are ministers allowing this? Because they love their lives; they love their Harleys and homes; they love their ministries and they love having a following and partners in ministry to make them feel anointed and influential. They love their vacations and live to receive the accolades from others who call them, blessed. Everyone is playing to the emotions, and ministers are aiding and abetting the feelings of the natural man, who is under the death sentence of God. A pastor just pridefuly told me about a pastor-friend who loves to take pictures of tattoos from his congregants and then puts them on the back wall of his church. Everyone loves it and people get new tattoos so they can be on the back-wall ministry as well. This pastor is shaming Christ by promoting and exalting all that is contrary to holiness. The flesh that Christ crucified is now adorning our walls. I know of another pastor who is applauded for building a pulpit from motorcycle handlebars. People love the way he reaches out to the bikers; in actuality, the bikers of this world are not coming to Christ through this ministry, it just gives a place for Christians to live out their biker’s mindset in Church. They dress like a biker, walk and act gruff, and talk biker language. They feel so sanctified and Christ-loving. It is appalling. Of course, I would be deemed a Pharisee and legalist for writing this. Inwardly, they transfer their own pride unto me saying, you jeopardize souls by not meeting people where they are at; you hinder their salvation; you need to make people feel comfortable in Church. Ridiculous! Today’s Church is basically, “Come as you are, Leave as you came.” No thank you! Christ demands change! Today, we are all about football games and wearing the NFL shirts to Church in order to identify ourselves as fans, and we call it fellowship and worship. Pastors and ministers are all about video and computer games, posting it all on Facebook as though it is a righteous thing. Others that are weak in their Christian walk, view the permission slip and follow accordingly. We are about titles and positions; we are all about humor; we are more focused on supernatural heroes from Comic Books than biblical heroes of the faith. Where are the men and women of faith like David? He was the hero we should be looking to. Some would now handle this offensive attack with the question: “So you’re against fun and movies and no one can watch X-men?” This is exactly the mindset that I am talking about. One is ready to fight and argue for their rights for the natural, but cower in the face of holiness. They do not want anyone touching their right to do as they please. If any of them end up reading this, they will most likely see me as harsh and intolerant. So be it! Ministers gathered together and came to the great evangelist Billy Sunday because they were bothered with his message. They told Reverend Sunday that his message was ruffling feathers. They advised him to pet the cat the right way so that the cat enjoys the attention, and likes the minister’s touch. They wanted him to preach and help people by stroking them in such a way that makes the cat purr. Billy Sunday listed to them and then simply said to all of them, “Well, turn the cat around.”
David would have despised much of what is going on today. We are in need of a new attire and it is called Useful Armor. Why do I say this? Because I know there is a cause calling out for it and there is a great need. David ran toward the enemy. He sought to do battle; he was on the offense and so am I, and I am calling for you to walk toward the enemy of sloth and indulgence, to run against fear and fret that is robbing faith, to go after the anxieties that are stealing away courage. To speak the truth in love thus offending lies, deception and the various delusions residing in the minds of men. To be willing to wage war and be the one to go into the valley and run toward the Philistine Army and even their Goliath. Will this be deemed offensive by some? Absolutely! You will see the weaknesses in the Church arise all around you as you endeavor to see the power of Christ prevail. The devils that have been hiding behind their concept of kindness will show their ugly head. The demons that have been ducking behind toleration, compromise, and accommodation will be screaming for fairness and love. Those who are emotionally driven and want to be accepted and understood will be reeling back, wanting to be comforted in their offense. Sadly, many pastors and ministers will do exactly that, thus giving greater regard to the natural man, often times not even knowing the difference. Their brand of love is to be polite, nice, and accepting of everyone and everything in order to prove themselves righteous. Why? Because they lack true righteousness and are very much in the natural themselves. Beware of all such men and women of God who call for compromise and promote a loving touch at the expense of holiness. No man or woman of God is to cater to the natural man. We are called to be holy as God is holy. This does not mean one is to be caustic in order to show themselves holy. That is foolishness. No one is to be harsh, but gentle, for the fruit of the Spirit produces such qualities. But this fruit of the Spirit is of the Spirit, not the natural man’s attempts to produce its own version of that fruit and call it spiritual. Useful armor protects and seeks to preserve the fruit of the Spirit, not a counterfeit version of it. There is nothing more dangerous in the Church than the natural man walking about with his own version of spirituality, and there is nothing more idiotic than the man of God accepting it, and even placating and pleasing it in order to be liked, loved and followed.
IS THERE NOT A CAUSE? Let’s us just look around with the eyes of the Spirit! ITNAC
Blessings to you!
Your Friend in Christ,
Dr. Gary H. Cote
Part 9 of USEFUL ARMOR is coming next!