Prepare a defense
Disciple’s response for incoming fire…
April 11th, 2019
Now as our Christian values and the Gospel of Jesus is under a constant barrage from external and internal foes, we as believers in the saving grace of Jesus Christ need to be up on our best game and to prepare ourselves for spiritual battle for the hearts and minds of those who oppose us.
The goal is not to offend, but to defend what we hold to be the clear truths of the scripture.
The key phrase there is ‘clear truth’. If it is a clear truth, then there is evidence we can put forth to fortify our position. If we haven’t taken the time to consider what that evidence is, enabling us to reiterate those facts in evidence, then our immediate course of action should be to dig into scripture and commit to memory those facts in the Word of God.
Then and only then, when someone attempts to cast doubt or distortion on the message of the Gospel, we will be prepared to effectively defend our position. Saying, “The Bible tells me so”, isn’t sufficient. While it is valid to say the Bible says so, considering it as a defense is about as effective as putting up barbwire fence to shield our position from a missile attack.
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
1 Peter 3:13-16 (ESV)
We don’t stand against enemies of flesh and bone. We are in a battle with forces much greater and more damaging than what our flimsy boarder defense can repel.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)
The verses that follow this one, tell us to stand against these attacks using the whole Armor of God, then goes on to describe its components. The very first part of this armor is the ‘Belt of Truth’.
Now each component of this armor is important for us to equip, but I firmly believe that Paul leads off with the Belt of Truth because without us being aware of the countermeasures that are necessary to repel such attacks, we leave ourselves defenseless.
Since you’re reading this digital devotional blog, let me use a recent example from the technical side of the world.
Evan Osnos who is a writer at The New Yorker news magazine, posted a tweet on Saturday indicating that his 3-year-old child effectively locked him out of his iPad for 25,536,442 minutes (48 years)! This was predicated by the child inadvertently activating the lockout security feature on the device which keeps increasing the lockout period in proportion to the number of incorrect attempts to access the device.
It’s apparent that one of Osnos child’s qualities is tenacity, because to increase the lockout period to 48 years would have taken numerous failed attempts in sequence.
Some things we can pull from this in today’s devotional.
First, this child was likely innocent in that they didn’t understand what they were doing. The child was seeking access to something their parent used and therefore thought to be of (obviously) extreme interest. The result of not being prepared for this possibility, resulted in making the iPad ineffective for an extended period of time.
If the parent knew of this possibility, then he might have been more cautious about allowing the child to play with the device unsupervised. Or perhaps, he knew of the possibility but wasn’t aware the child was attempting to access the device. Regardless there were not countermeasure or precautions implemented to prevent the lockout.
The same is true when we are ill prepared to defend our faith in Jesus Christ. Even the innocent challenge to our faith can render us ineffective and venerable for extended periods of time. Therefore, it is critical that we gird ourselves with the Word of God.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
James 4:7-10 (ESV)
Just as Jesus himself used scripture as a defense from the attacks of the devil, we should be prepared in such a way we can repel these attacks on our faith with the Word of God. We can augment these biblical truths with our experience, and what God has shown us, but the core of that defense will come directly from His Word.
Second, the issue may not result from vulnerabilities.
In the case of the disabled iPad, this is a security feature. Now any man-made device isn’t perfect in every respect. The iPad does and will continue to have vulnerabilities. The manufacture updates the device regularly as new issues are brought to the forefront and addressed.
But in this situation, it wasn‘t a vulnerability; it was a function. The issue resulted from the improper use of the device.
The Word of God doesn’t contain vulnerabilities but is often used improperly to introduce deviations from the truth. This is done often by fragmenting scripture or taking it out of context. If we are to be prepared for such eventualities, we must have these truths in our hearts.
Memorization is wonderful if we can accomplish it but an understanding of what God is saying is even more important than knowing every word in sequence. Because we almost never read or recite the Word of God in its original form (Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, etc.) we rely on a translation in our language. Many who study the scripture will refer back to the original text to understand how a word or phrase has been interpreted in a particular version. Therefore, it is much more important to commit to memory the meaning and intent of scripture and secure a complete understanding to the best of our ability, rather than the specific sequence of words.
Don’t get me wrong here, with a good translation the sequence of words can be very important to our defensive posture. However, because most of us study from translations in our native language, it is more important to capture those important sequences of words in our understanding rather than the entire text word by word.
I will say this. I do believe that if you have properly prepared yourselves with the Word that you will have the capability to recite your own paraphrase iteration of the scripture with little or no difficulty.
I am not a big fan of paraphrased Bibles because they tend to present a narrow interpretation of God’s Word based on the writers understanding or particular attitude at the time the paraphrased version was written.
I am however, a huge fan of us being able to produce our own expression of the Word of God based on what the Word and the Holy Spirit has taught us, and we hold to be earnest truth! The exact sequence of words has little value, if the words are not shared directly from our hearts.
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
Psalms 119:11-14 (ESV)
“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”
Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (ESV)
We need to be committed to the Word in such a way we can express its intent regardless of the translation we are speaking from. If that Word is in our hearts, then it will be reflected in our speech and our response to the attacks of the enemy on our faith.
I had honestly never thought to do this but I’m beginning an exercise in my personal devotional time to document these attacks along with a scriptural basis for the countermeasure for them. This will become a living document, I can review them regularly.
I do this sort of research a lot, in the writing of these devotional blogs, however as I share these articles I am not approaching the scripture from the standpoint of defending what I hold true as a result of the Word of God impacting on me.
I feel it is critical for me personally to have a purposeful effort to document my evidence in opposition to potential attacks and those that I experience. This will better prepare me to meet the obligation expressed by Paul in Ephesians.
I would encourage all of you to do the same. Take the words of Deuteronomy eleven to heart and write them down making a record. Don’t just underline them in your printed Bible where you only run across them now and again. Make your own document that contains those words and reference points to your countermeasures for the onslaughts of the devil, and those attacks on your faith.
If we do this consistently, we will build a firm foundation for us to accomplish what Paul calls us to do in Ephesians…
Always being prepared to make a defense
to anyone who asks you for a reason
for the hope that is in you
In the Grace of Jesus,