FULL ARMOR OF GOD:

The phrase “full armor of God” comes from Ephesians 6:13-17: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Ephesians 6:12 clearly indicates that the conflict with Satan is spiritual, and therefore no tangible weapons can be effectively employed against him and his minions. We are not given a list of specific tactics Satan will use. However, the passage is quite clear that when we follow all the instructions faithfully, we will be able to stand, and we will have victory regardless of Satan’s strategy.

The first element of our armor is truth (verse 14). This is easy to understand, since Satan is said to be the “father of lies” (John 8:44). Deception is high on the list of things God considers to be an abomination. A “lying tongue” is one of the things He describes as “detestable to Him” (Proverbs 6:16-17). We are therefore exhorted to put on truth for our own sanctification and deliverance, as well as for the benefit of those to whom we witness.

Also in verse 14, we are told to put on the breastplate of righteousness. A breastplate shielded a warrior’s vital organs from blows that would otherwise be fatal. This righteousness is not works of righteousness done by men. Rather, this is the righteousness of Christ, imputed by God and received by faith, which guards our hearts against the accusations and charges of Satan and secures our innermost being from his attacks.

Verse 15 speaks of the preparation of the feet for spiritual conflict. In warfare, sometimes an enemy places dangerous obstacles in the path of advancing soldiers. The idea of the preparation of the gospel of peace as footwear suggests what we need to advance into Satan’s territory, aware that there will be traps, with the message of grace so essential to winning souls to Christ. Satan has many obstacles placed in the path to halt the propagation of the gospel.

The shield of faith spoken of in verse 16 makes Satan’s sowing of doubt about the faithfulness of God and His Word ineffective. Our faith—of which Christ is “the author and perfecter” (Hebrews 12:2)— is like a golden shield, precious, solid, and substantial.

The helmet of salvation in verse 17 is protection for the head, keeping viable a critical part of the body. We could say that our way of thinking needs preservation. The head is the seat of the mind, which, when it has laid hold of the sure gospel hope of eternal life, will not receive false doctrine or give way to Satan’s temptations. The unsaved person has no hope of warding off the blows of false doctrine because he is without the helmet of salvation and his mind is incapable of discerning between spiritual truth and spiritual deception.

Verse 17 interprets itself as to the meaning of the sword of the Spirit—it is the Word of God. While all the other pieces of spiritual armor are defensive in nature, the sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon in the armor of God. It speaks of the holiness and power of the Word of God. A greater spiritual weapon is not conceivable. In Jesus’ temptations in the desert, the Word of God was always His overpowering response to Satan. What a blessing that the same Word is available to us!

In verse 18, we are told to pray in the Spirit (that is, with the mind of Christ, with His heart and His priorities) in addition to wearing the full armor of God. We cannot neglect prayer, as it is the means by which we draw spiritual strength from God. Without prayer, without reliance upon God, our efforts at spiritual warfare are empty and futile. The full armor of God—truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer—are the tools God has given us, through which we can be spiritually victorious, overcoming Satan’s attacks and temptations.

GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE:

 It is important to know God’s will. Jesus said that His true relations are those who know and do the Father’s will: “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35). In the parable of the two sons, Jesus rebukes the chief priests and elders for failing to do the will of the Father; specifically, they “did not repent and believe” (Matthew 21:32). At its most basic, the will of God is to repent of our sin and trust in Christ. If we have not taken that first step, then we have not yet accepted God’s will.

Once we receive Christ by faith, we are made God’s children (John 1:12), and He desires to lead us in His way (Psalm 143:10). God is not trying to hide His will from us; He wants to reveal it. In fact, He has already given us many, many directions in His Word. We are to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We are to do good works (1 Peter 2:15). And “it is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

God’s will is knowable and provable. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” This passage gives us an important sequence: the child of God refuses to be conformed to the world and instead allows himself to be transformed by the Spirit. As his mind is renewed according to the things of God, then he can know God’s perfect will.

As we seek God’s will, we should make sure what we are considering is not something the Bible forbids. For example, the Bible forbids stealing; since God has clearly spoken on the issue, we know it is not His will for us to be bank robbers—we don’t even need to pray about it. Also, we should make sure what we are considering will glorify God and help us and others grow spiritually.

Knowing God’s will is sometimes difficult because it requires patience. It’s natural to want to know all of God’s will at once, but that’s not how He usually works. He reveals to us a step at a time—each move a step of faith—and allows us to continue to trust Him. The important thing is that, as we wait for further direction, we are busy doing the good that we know to do (James 4:17).

Often, we want God to give us specifics—where to work, where to live, whom to marry, what car to buy, etc. God allows us to make choices, and, if we are yielded to Him, He has ways of preventing wrong choices (see Acts 16:6–7).

The better we get to know a person, the more acquainted we become with his or her desires. For example, a child may look across a busy street at the ball that bounced away, but he doesn’t run after it, because he knows “my dad wouldn’t want me to do that.” He doesn’t have to ask his father for advice on every particular situation; he knows what his father would say because he knows his father. The same is true in our relationship to God. As we walk with the Lord, obeying His Word and relying on His Spirit, we find that we are given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). We know Him, and that helps us to know His will. We find God’s guidance readily available. “The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight, / but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness” (Proverbs 11:5).

If we are walking closely with the Lord and truly desiring His will for our lives, God will place His desires in our hearts. The key is wanting God’s will, not our own. “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

Prophet Nathan Emol

SHOULD A CHRISTIAN CORRECT ONE ANOTHER?

This can be a delicate subject. It is wise to spend time in prayer first, to check our motivation and ask for guidance. There are times when Christians are called upon to “talk to” or try to correct a fellow Christian. Assuming we are talking about a matter of sin in a believers’ life, our motive and intent should always be to bring about repentance and restoration to the erring brother or sister in Christ.

First, our attitude is very important. “Be kind and tender to one another. Forgive each other, just as God forgave you because of what Christ has done” (Ephesians 4:32). It is then that we are more able to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). In his epistle to the Galatians, Paul had a similar warning about attitude: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). Here we see that those who are “spiritual,” meaning walking in the Spirit in faith and obedience, should gently restore someone who is in sin, being always aware of how easily we can all be tempted by Satan who wants to ensnare everyone in his traps.

The Bible prescribes the procedure for confronting a sinning brother or sister in an extensive passage on church discipline: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17). Again, this is the procedure for confronting a sinning brother, not someone whose behavior you feel needs modifying in some way or someone who merely irritates or annoys you.

On a different slant, one of the most often quoted scriptures is “Judge not, lest ye be judged” (Matthew 7:1 KJV). Taken out of context, the verse has been used to incorrectly justify never taking a stand on anything that would require a judgment to be made. Rather, the verse is referring to hypocritical, self-righteous, unfair kinds of judgment, especially where the confronter is guilty of the same sin as the one being confronted.

So, when should Christians talk to or try to correct a fellow Christian? When we have talked to the Lord first, have an attitude of submission and concern for the other person, and are committed to following the procedures outlined in His Word for such a situation.

Prophet Nathan Emol

NEW JERUSALEM

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The New Jerusalem, which is also called the Tabernacle of God, the Holy City, the City of God, the Celestial City, the City Foursquare, and Heavenly Jerusalem, is literally heaven on earth. It is referred to in the Bible in several places (Galatians 4:26Hebrews 11:1012:22–24; and 13:14), but it is most fully described in Revelation 21.

In Revelation 21, the recorded history of man is at its end. All of the ages have come and gone. Christ has gathered His church in the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:15–17). The Tribulation has passed (Revelation 6—18). The battle of Armageddon has been fought and won by our Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:17–21). Satan has been chained for the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20:1–3). A new, glorious temple has been established in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40—48). The final rebellion against God has been quashed, and Satan has received his just punishment, an eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7–10.) The Great White Throne Judgment has taken place, and mankind has been judged (Revelation 20:11–15).

In Revelation 21:1 God does a complete make-over of heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:172 Peter 3:12–13). The new heaven and new earth are what some call the “eternal state” and will be “where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). After the re-creation, God reveals the New Jerusalem. John sees a glimpse of it in his vision: “The Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). This is the city that Abraham looked for in faith (Hebrews 11:10). It is the place where God will dwell with His people forever (Revelation 21:3). Inhabitants of this celestial city will have all tears wiped away (Revelation 21:4).

The New Jerusalem will be fantastically huge. John records that the city is nearly 1,400 miles long, and it is as wide and as high as it is long—a perfect cube (Revelation 21:15–17). The city will also be dazzling in every way. It is lighted by the glory of God (verse 23). Its twelve foundations, bearing the names of the twelve apostles, are “decorated with every kind of precious stone” (verse 19). It has twelve gates, each a single pearl, bearing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (verses 12 and 21). The street will be made of pure gold (verse 21).

The New Jerusalem will be a place of unimagined blessing. The curse of the old earth will be gone (Revelation 22:3). In the city are the tree of life “for the healing of the nations” and the river of life (verses 1–2). It is the place that Paul spoke of: “In the coming ages [God] might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). The New Jerusalem is the ultimate fulfillment of all God’s promises. The New Jerusalem is God’s goodness made fully manifest.

Who are the residents of the New Jerusalem? The Father and the Lamb are there (Revelation 21:22). Angels are at the gates (verse 12). But the city will be filled with God’s redeemed children. The New Jerusalem is the righteous counter to the evil Babylon (Revelation 17), destroyed by God’s judgment (Revelation 18). The wicked had their city, and God has His. To which city do you belong? Babylon the Great or the New Jerusalem? If you believe that Jesus, the Son of God, died and rose again and have asked God to save you by His grace, then you are a citizen of the New Jerusalem. “God raised [you] up with Christ and seated [you] with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). You have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4). If you have not yet trusted Christ as your Savior, then we urge you to receive Him. The invitation is extended: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).

Prophet Nathan Emol

FREE WILL IN HEAVEN:

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The fact that Adam and Eve had a choice to make in the Garden of Eden shows beyond all doubt that mankind was created with a free will. The first couple chose to sin, and that choice has plunged the entire world into spiritual darkness leading to our need of salvation. Through it all, mankind has retained his free will, and we will retain free will in heaven. Is it possible that people in heaven can exercise their free will to sin again and get kicked out of heaven? No, it is not possible.

To back up a bit, we need an acceptable definition of free will. We have free will, but not in the way most people think. Our freedom consists in the fact that we are free to choose according to our desires. As long as we have a minimum of two available options, we must make a choice, and we will always do so according to our strongest desire. But, in the case of a fallen sinner, he or she is not at liberty to choose according to righteousness. This is what Jesus means when He says that the one who sins “is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). This is not the language of “free will” as people typically think of it. The unregenerate person has a sinful nature; he is not just inclined to sin but driven by sinful impulses. It is perhaps helpful to say, “We are free to choose what we want but not free to want what we ought.” This greatly limits our “freedom” because the list of things we want (as sinners) coincides with whatever pleases our sinful impulses. Our choices are for things that will ultimately destroy us (Proverbs 14:12). As Paul says, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Romans 7:24, NLT).

When we are saved, we are liberated from our natural bondage to sin. The Holy Spirit sovereignly regenerates us and in grace gives us the ability to want what we ought to want, namely, forgiveness, salvation, and the lordship of Christ. When we trust in Jesus for salvation, we begin a moral progression, a journey toward holiness in which we put to death daily the sinful impulses that reside within us and strive toward godliness. In heaven we will be completely devoid of sin; our only desires will be for the things of God—things that bless us, fulfill us, and give us life. This is true liberty (see Romans 8:21). We will retain our free will in heaven, but our will is sanctified there. The sin nature will be gone.

In heaven we are completely conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28–30). Our sanctification will be finished; we will not even want to sin. Also, in heaven there is no temptation to lure us and no devil to deceive us. Unlike Adam and Eve, we will face no test; our moral state will be secure. No one will get kicked out of heaven. Just as our Lord Jesus has a truly free will yet is without sin, so will we retain a free will yet be without sin. We will be like Him (1 John 3:2).

Before salvation, our free will on earth is limited by our inability to choose what is right. After salvation, our free will struggles between choosing what is right and what is wrong. In heaven our free will is limited by our inability to choose what is wrong. In our glorified state, we will exercise our free will to choose what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (see Philippians 4:8).

Prophet Nathan Emol