Check Your Panoply
PUTTING ON THE PANOPLY of God is something which cannot be accomplished without “praying on every occasion” (Eph.6:18). This signifies that the various phases (girding the loins, putting on the cuirass, etc.) should each be accompanied by such prayers and petitions, as were practiced by Paul and his associates. Before going further into the matter of the panoply it may be helpful first to find out more about Paul’s style of prayer.
Some people are under the impression that a prayer is nothing more than the opening of their heart toward God, just like the opening of a flower toward the light. They consider this to be their utmost effort. God will have to do the rest. To a certain degree this may be correct in a case of great personal affliction. If this, however, became our permanent attitude we would remain in the realm of emotion instead of taking the path leading toward the highest praise of God of which the human tongue is capable. We ought to do our utmost to become independent of our feelings so as to learn more thoroughly how to pray with the renewed mind. This means we have to abandon any passive attitude in prayer and become as active in it as we possibly can. The point should be emphasized that praying is like performing a task for which we have to prepare ourselves. Mature prayer requires our undivided attention in addition to spiritual wisdom and realization of God. If the words are vague and general, this is a sign that something is lacking.
Perhaps we have not yet fully grasped all of God’s promises that pertain to us. They ought to be studied time and again, and as thoroughly as possible; otherwise our faith is in danger. It may be overshadowed by pious fantasies, leading us to believe that this or that is urgent and valuable and useful in the work of the Lord. It is not right to bring such arbitrary petitions before God in prayer even if they are well meant and find the approval of pious tradition.
The Lord has planned all the details of His work among us, and He expects us to do our utmost in His service, yet only along the lines of such promises as are valid for us today. Jesus was fully aware of what applied to Him during His earthly ministry when He had taken the form of a slave (Phil.2:7), and He would not speak to the stone that it might become bread (Luke 4:3). For thirty years He had remained in seclusion, learning these things, before He started His three years of public ministry which ended with six hours of complete subjection to His Father’s will. Moses had completed forty years of higher education in Egypt and another forty years in the seclusion of Midian before he appeared before Pharaoh. Even though Saul in Damascus, after his conversion, immediately heralded Jesus as the Son of God, he went away to Arabia for three years in order to receive more detailed instructions from his exalted Lord. Later he resumed his ministry in Damascus until the disciples of that town helped him to escape the plot of the Jews (Acts 9:20,24; Gal.1:17).
These examples serve to prove that we first should get acquainted with the Lord’s will before we attempt to do our utmost in His service. We ought to know what He expects from us in this administration and we should heed His warnings of the traps of the Adversary. It is true that the Lord said that no one is able to be snatching the disciples out of the Father’s hand (John 10:29), and nothing shall be separating us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom.8:35). But it is also true that Satan claimed even the apostles, to sift them as grain. The Adversary was authorized in his attempt to ruin Job’s faith. Ieue told Satan, “He is in your hand!” But there was the restriction, “Only spare his life” (Job 2:6).
Even today the Adversary is requesting such authorization, especially in order to prevent the most fervent of the faithful from growing into maturity. If he cannot hinder their spiritual growth by Job’s plagues, he will try time and again to distort God’s Word before their spiritual eyes, so that they do not come into a realization of the truth and will not sober up out of the trap of the Adversary (2 Tim.2:25,26). This is the reason that so many children of God remain captives of deception, even though Satan cannot snatch them out of the Father’s hand nor separate them from the love of God.
The most common deception is to assume the translation of the Bible to be inspired and therefore infallible. Hence people are reluctant to accept any truth which is apparent in the original Hebrew or Greek Scriptures only, but not in their Bible.
Others revel in the delusion that they can request from God as much as they are able to believe, and that, even if it be impossible, God will finally grant it to them. They do not know that what God denies, Satan will readily provide if this provision serves to detain them in deception.
Only by nourishing ourselves daily with the words of faith and of the ideal teaching (1 Tim.4:6) may we avoid the trap of asking for things which God has not promised for today. The prayer of faith is therefore primarily based on the words of faith and teaching which the exalted Christ had Paul write down for us. Concentrating on Pauline letters we should not overlook, however, that the path leads from immaturity in Corinthians to maturity in Ephesians.
GOD AND FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
If, praying with a renewed mind, we address the Supreme with these few words, He would consider them far superior to ten thousand uncontrolled words, when we let our emotions run away with us, and fail to glorify the Supreme as we should. By the invocation “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” we acknowledge that it was Jesus Who took away the sin of the world and became obedient unto the death of the cross on Golgotha; hence there is no longer a barrier between God and us. In addition we are obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ and serve Him until all is subjected to Him (1 Cor.15:28). Finally Christ is the Image of the invisible God, Firstborn of every creature, for in Him is all created and He makes peace through the blood of His cross in order to reconcile all to Him, whether those on the earth or those in the heavens (Col.1:15-20). Christ is also the Head of the ecclesia which is His body, the complement by which all in all is being completed (Eph.1:23).
Whenever we make petitions for something which exceeds the abilities of weak mortals, we should address God, the Almighty, the supreme Subjector, the Source of all power, wisdom and love. As a matter of fact we can hardly pray and ignore Him Who is all and has all and does all that we are longing for. Anybody else is only channeling those gifts which originate from Him. This is why we always should go back to the fountainhead, to God Himself, in order to give Him all the praise and thanks and glory which are due to Him alone.
When Jesus says, “I am the Way . . . no one is coming to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6), then He means that henceforth no other way leads to God. Up to that time Israel had approached its Ieue (Jehovah) by means of a divine ritual of various sacrifices. Since Golgotha the situation is different. Now we approach the Almighty in the new Way which is Christ Who was sacrificed for us. Through Him we now have direct access to His Father in spirit.
For this reason let us make ample use of this invocation: God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Paul did so and he should have known for he had seen the exalted Christ repeatedly (Acts 26:16) and had become His spokesman for the highest revelations. Whenever he wants to glorify God with the most sublime words at his disposal he uses this invocation and he occasionally adds “Father of pities” or “Father of glory.” (2 Cor.1:3; Eph.1:3,17; Col.1:3).
Certainly He is our God and Father, too; but when we address Him as ” God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” we grant Him higher honors and greater glory because we admit at the same time our own unworthiness and subjection, as well as our fullest agreement with everything that God did through Christ, not only in the creation but also in the reconciliation, not only for us but also for the rest of mankind and the spiritual beings.
Some people are afraid to address God directly and prefer to begin their prayers with the words, “Dear Jesus.” This might be due to a feeling or assumption that He Who also walked this earth and died for our sins would be closer to us and perhaps understand us better than His God and Father. There is, however, no reason for such shyness. On the contrary, Jesus said that the Father is seeking those who are worshiping Him (John 4:23). God wants us to grow in the realization of His will (Col.1:9,10) until we finally see that He is actually and originally everything of which Christ became the Image (Col.1:15). Our acquaintance with the Image should help us to correct our ideas about God Himself and to adore Him in an appropriate manner.
When things overwhelm us, however, there might be no time for us to pray with the renewed mind. Then we will perhaps sigh and groan in ourselves and pray the way we always did under similar distress. God will never weigh our words under such circumstances, for He reads the thoughts from our hearts, regardless of whether we exclaim “Dear Jesus” or “My God and Father” or whatever had been our habit.
PLEADINGS AND THANKSGIVING
The result of praying should always be to keep out any estrangement between God and ourselves. Whenever addressing the Supreme we may have fellowship with Him, similar to that which everybody is going to enjoy to the fullest extent in the future when God will be All in all (1 Cor.15:28). In our prayers today, even if He is not yet all in us, He is at least something in you and in me. When petitions are made in the ecclesia and all those present say, “Amen,” God is as least something in them. The more mature the prayer, the better; if the hearers are able to follow its trend of thought, God will be even more in them. Being true and, in love, making all grow into Him, Who is the Head, Christ (Eph.4:15), we may be coming, nearer and nearer, in spirit, to the consummation when God will be all in us, too. Thus such hours as lead to estrangement with Him, will become fewer, and continuous harmonious fellowship with Him will become the dominant factor in our lives.
In prayer, our thoughts will go to our fellow men; our superiors and authorities in this country and elsewhere. In Paul’s day the overall situation was by no means peaceful; under the reign of Emperor Claudius all Jews were expelled from Rome; the young ecclesia at Thessalonica went through such persecutions and afflictions that they were alarmed and afraid, thinking that perhaps the day of the Lord was already present; they felt they might have missed the rapture. In addition, Paul’s personal career was marked by “much endurance in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in blows, in jails, in turbulences, in toils,” etc. We can look that up in 2 Corinthians 6:3-10.
It is under the impact of such events during those restless years, and also under the leadership of God’s holy spirit, that Paul gives to Timothy, and to us as well, a prayer guide pertaining both to our inward peace and the outward situation with relation to the people around us. Paul strongly recommends pleadings and thanksgiving for all of them, including the superior authorities (1 Tim.2:1-4). Since he does so in view of the Roman government of his day, in view of wicked men and false brethren, we may even more feel like imitating him in his attitude.
Only on condition of daily nourishment with the words of faith and of the ideal teaching (1 Tim.4:6), however, will we be able to rejoice in pleadings and thanksgiving for those who seemingly add to our hardships in life. As long as we are not fully aware of the divine truths for today we might be inclined to withstand our superiors and our authorities, quoting Peter to the effect that we should obey God rather than men. But Acts 5:29 does not apply to the political rule or to Roman military government which was in power at that time, but to the Sanhedrin, a Jewish council consisting of chiefs, scribes, and elders. It was to them that Peter and the apostles replied, “One must yield to God rather than to men.” The words of ideal teaching concerning our relationship to superiors and authorities today are found in Romans 13:1-7; Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-25 and Titus 2:9,10.
Our prayer guide (1 Tim.2:1-4) tells us that a life in devoutness and gravity is ideal and welcome in the sight of God, that is, a mild and quiet life. God is not only our Saviour, but He wills that all mankind be saved and come into a realization of the truth. This truth is brought out once more in the same letter(4:10):” . . . for this are we toiling and being reproached, that we rely on the living God, Who is the Saviour of all mankind, especially of those who believe.” And the apostle adds: “These things be charging and teaching.” In agreement with this fact is Colossians 1:20: ” . . . through Him to reconcile all to Him, making peace through the blood of His cross, through Him, whether those on the earth or those in the heavens.”
These words of faith and of the ideal teaching contain a promise which alleviates the hardships originating from our contact with the outside world: It is God’s irrevocable will that everybody be saved and come into a realization of the truth about God and about Himself. We are well aware that this will not happen in our day; but after the eons when all beings will be reconciled with Him in the consummation, then indeed He will be All in all and not only in as who believe today.
On the path toward this goal everyone has his individual experience with bitterness, fury, anger, clamor, calumny and malice. This experience may be more or less thorough; it may be gained actively or passively, until all detest these things as much as God does. For this purpose most people will have to review their lives before the great white throne (Rev.20:11-15), in order to evaluate it objectively, i.e., to see it with God’s eyes and agree with His verdict. Later on every creature will have no other desire but to enjoy and reflect God’s love.
As believers it is our immense privilege to know already now how intensely God hates sin because it prevents His creatures from enjoying real happiness. Our way of life will indeed be peaceful, mild, and quiet when we consider sin to be a tool used by God to help His creatures realize their absolute dependence on Him until they will dread any life without Him so much that they are driven to His heart. When we have recognized this divine line of thought we will be able to adopt the same attitude toward all men as the Father of pities is showing.
As long as we are conscious of the words of faith and of the ideal teaching as quoted above we will rejoice in always including all mankind in our pleadings, with thanksgiving, not forgetting kings and all those in a superior station. We may be leading a mild and quiet life, not because God will remove wicked men and false brethren and turbulences, but because we will begin to look at them the way He does. We will agree with His plans in all their details and be subject to His will in all things. Therefore we cannot but praise Him continually.
WORRIES AND THANKSGIVING
If we disregard our own desires and all human planning, but believe God’s promises, we win begin and end our petitions with thanksgiving, and 1 Timothy 2:1-4 will become a true prayer of faith to us. Today God does not expect us to adopt a particular physical posture, but rather the spiritual counterpart in our attitude toward Him and toward other men, which we have just discussed.
We will realize God’s answer to this prayer only when we appropriate the truth contained in verse four and view our fellow men and the events around us from this divine standpoint. When God’s promise (that all mankind shall be saved and come into a realization of the truth) fills our hearts and our renewed minds, we will be the more willing to give Him all the praise; this precious knowledge will bring not only peace and quietness into our lives, but also joy over the wonderful goal which will be reached in the consummation. Together with those who today are completely unaware of this fact, we will acclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, for the glory of God the Father.
This delight will be universal. But we are privileged to anticipate the joy of expectation, for we are acquainted with His final goal and fully agree with His method of attaining to it. This is why the next prayer guide (Phil.4:4-7) exhorts us with the introductory words:
“Be rejoicing in the Lord always!
Again, I will declare,
These lines should always remind us of the reason for our rejoicing in the Lord (i.e., in walk and service): in spirit we can enjoy celestial blessings right now and anticipate what will be ours in the consummation. It is our task, however, to study all the details very thoroughly as we find them recorded by Paul, who had received them from the glorified Christ. Only his epistles contain the words of faith and of the ideal teaching which is valid for today.
No one has more reason for superabounding joy than we have. We are the recipients of God’s abundant grace which He lavishes on us; every spiritual blessing among the celestials in Christ is for us; no believer is excluded who hears and believes the word of truth, the evangel of our salvation (Eph.1:3,8,13) as expounded in the last ten verses of Romans three, the first half of Romans five, and elsewhere. We are joint partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus (Eph.3:6); this is no mystery though it was a secret before Christ had Paul write it down for us in Ephesians. Since that time all grace and blessing is for everyone who believes that “Christ died for our sakes while we are still sinners” and that “being now justified in His blood, we shall be saved from indignation, through Him.”
“Being, then, justified by faith, we may be having peace toward God, through our Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom we have the access also, by faith, into this grace in which we stand, and we may be glorying in expectation of the glory of God” (Rom.5:1- 3).
If we do not cease asking for God’s spirit of wisdom and revelation (Eph.1:17), His thoughts will fill our hearts and occupy our renewed minds so as to leave no room for worries, sadness, and gloominess. Thus our joy about everything which is ours in Christ will increase; our joy about justification, conciliation, and spiritual blessings (Gal.2:17; 2 Cor.5:18; Eph.1:3).
Christ is revealed as Head over the entire universe (Eph.1: 10; Col.1:17) ; His reign will include the celestial realms as well as the earth. If we recognize Him as the Saviour appointed by God “to reconcile all to Him,” those on the earth and those in the heavens, “making peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:20), only then will we get some idea of the full impact and significance of the expression in Christ.
In Christ Jesus all those who believe form a unity; therefore we all may rejoice and praise God for that which is ours in Christ. In this respect there is no difference any longer; everyone has access to these gifts of God, be he old or young, slave or free, male or female (Gal.3:28).
As far as walk and service are concerned, however, all such differences remain; here the keyword is in the Lord. The subjection of wife to husband, children to parents, employee to employer is emphasized as being in the Lord (Col.3:18-25). The latter expression is also used repeatedly in the second half of Ephesians starting with 4:1. We might mention in this connection that the first line of Philippians shows Paul and Timothy as slaves of Christ Jesus, indicating that the letter is not written by Paul, the apostle, who might have some new doctrinal truth to reveal. As a matter of fact this epistle is not concerned with anything in the way of doctrine but rather with walk and service for which the Lord Himself is the best example (2:7). It is perfectly in line with the topic of this letter that Paul refers to his Lord more than a dozen times.
Our salvation is in Christ, as we have seed. When speaking of carrying it into effect, namely in walk and service, Paul, the slave, uses the term rejoicing time and again, because everything that is ours in Christ should lead to a walk worthy of the Lord for all pleasing (Col.1:10). Under desperate circumstances and in discouraging experiences with others we, too, may be rejoicing in the Lord if our hearts are overflowing with the evangel of the grace of God. Darkness may surround us, and our situation may be similar to Paul’s and Silas’ in the interior jail (Acts 16:24,25); nevertheless we will pray and sing hymns of praise to God as they did.
They could not bow their knees, they could not even move their feet which were secured in the stocks. Their spiritual attitude (in the Lord), however, made up for any lack of reverent physical posture, for praising God in a situation like this shows fullest subjection to His will and intention. When we are aware that God is working all together for the good of those who are loving Him (Rom.8:28) we will be able to rejoice in the Lord always. We are no longer alone in our affliction for the Lord is near. The realization of this fact will help us to show lenience toward others.
When Paul had nearly finished his career, he reported to Timothy about his appearance before the Emperor’s court in Rome, “At my first defense no one came along with me, but all forsook me.” However, he did not complain about these brethren; he dealt as graciously with them as God had been dealing with him (Eph.4:32), and said, “May it not be reckoned against them! Yet the Lord stood beside me, and He invigorates me . . . “(2 Tim.4:16, 17). This example shows the apostle’s practice which corresponds with the following four lines of his prayer guide:
“Again, I will declare, be rejoicing!
Let your lenience be known to all men!
The Lord is near!
Let nothing be worrying you!”
We remember that Jesus said (Matt.6:25,32), “Do not worry about your soul [namely, about your soulish needs, such as:] what you may be eating, or what you may be drinking, nor yet about your body, what you should be putting on . . . For aware is our heavenly Father that you need all of these. “There is also no need for worry about our salvation; since we: do not cease hearing the word of truth, the evangel of our salvation, and since we do not cease believing it, we are sealed with the holy spirit of promise. In other words, Ephesians 1:13 is documentary proof that our salvation is secure, and the great divine Notary has attested to this fact with His seal. There is no need for worry about the fate of our dear ones who are unbelievers. They will be driven to God’s heart in due time. Indeed, all the more, nothing should be worrying us, as we desire to walk worthily of the Lord (Col.1:10).
If we wholeheartedly agree with these points, we can praise God that He is operating [all in accord with the counsel of His will (Eph.1:11). And all means each and every thing around us, the great events as well as the trifling things in life. Even if there is much hardship and distress, unrest and contention, defamation and vilification, the peace of God will never cease to guard our hearts and our thoughts in Christ Jesus; we, too, will enjoy this peace as Paul and Silas did in the interior jail.
Such a spiritual attitude is certainly a gift of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, though we are actively participating through our petitions, prayers, pleadings, and our thanksgiving. And His peace will stay with us day and night and become our permanent experience. Even though we cannot always bow our knees, or hide our faces in grief, pain and shame, or lift up our eyes and hands for praise and petition, we nevertheless can adopt a corresponding spiritual attitude by thanking Him not only for all that He gives but for everything He denies, as well. For He knows best what is beneficial to us. No longer will we bring before Him any petitions and pleadings without beginning with praise and closing with thanksgiving. We are privileged to express our gratitude even before He answers. And we leave it up to Him how to answer, be it in the affirmative or in the negative. Only thus the peace of God, that is superior to every frame of mind, shall be garrisoning our hearts and our apprehensions in Christ Jesus. This is why we are exhorted by God’s Word as follows:
“But in everything, by prayer and petition,
let your requests be made known to God!”
IN ACCORD WITH WHAT MUST BE
We do not know “what must be” (Rom.8:26), namely what is best for us. We have no foreknowledge of the near future with all its details which make up our daily lives. We are glad that they are hidden from our eyes; for if we were aware of the outcome of all our personal affairs and if we knew in advance how God had planned them, there would be no motivation for our petitions and pleadings and no urge for our praise and thanksgiving. Often we are lacking the right words in order to tell God our vague thoughts in view of a difficult situation which is beyond our control. Our only wish is that His will be done. Perhaps we have to make some kind of a decision and do not know what to do because the situation is too complicated and we cannot foresee the possible consequences. It is then that we will plead with inarticulate groanings; or rather the spirit itself will aid our infirmity and do this for us (Rom.8:26), the more so if there is no time left for phrasing our words intelligently. Perhaps we will just cry, “Abba, Father!” or something similar. Thus our heart goes to God and we remain in harmony with His spirit, His will, and His peace. He alone knows what is beneficial to us, even though it may taste bitter and not be to our liking.
He has created us so that we can praise Him continuously without neglecting our daily duties. For it is possible to maintain a spiritual attitude enabling us, even without conscious effort, to remain constantly in harmony with Him; thus all our work can be done in an atmosphere of fullest subjection to Him. This unspoken attitude of our spirit will find its expression in thoughts or words of prayer as soon as an opportunity presents itself. We might rouse from sleep with words of praise and prayer on our lips, especially so if we fell asleep in peace with God and men.
Enjoying constant harmony with God means praying continuously even though our mouth is silent and head and hands are occupied with other things. But whenever we are not busy for a moment we will become conscious again of our harmonious relationship with God. When we have a second or a minute for ourselves, no special efforts are necessary in order to establish contact with the Supreme; it is there already, and our spontaneous praise and prayer will confirm this fact. In spirit we can always have this attitude and thus enjoy closest fellowship with God, even when we are going about our daily chores.
A general understanding of God’s universal plans is, the best basis for being in accord with His will. What we should pray for in personal affairs, “to accord with what must be, we are not aware” as far as details are concerned, though we have all the information we need about the final outcome which will be apparent at the consummation. It is only in view of God’s great goal that we can learn how to pray in accord with what must be; for this He has revealed in His Word. A continuous study of the words of faith and of the ideal teaching will help us to adjust our prayers more and more to the divine vocabulary.
We know of His deepest longing and we desire to see it filled, so we will pray accordingly. We are aware of His plans of love for the universe; once we might have thought that He is well able to carry them out and take care of them and thus we need not concern ourselves. But now it is our deepest concern, too, that the outcome be perfect. His universal program of love will become increasingly significant to us, when we learn about our part in it as members of Christ’s body. The realization of God’s will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, will make our desires coincide with His, and our prayers originate from His Word. Petitions, prayers, pleadings, and thanksgiving along these lines have their source in God, the same as the good works which God makes ready beforehand, that we should be walking in them (Eph.2:10).
SYSTEMATIZING THE TRUTH
Ephesians 4:14 refers to minors, namely such believers as are “surging hither and thither and being carried about by every wind of teaching, by human caprice, by craftiness with a view to the systematizing of the deception.” Before taking up this subject, we would like to emphasize the fact that this kind of deception can best be countered by systematizing the truth, and especially the words of faith and of the ideal teaching. Much has been done already along these lines by following the Pauline rules of “having a pattern of sound words” and “correctly cutting the word of truth” (2 Tim.1:13; 2:15). The results are reflected in our Keyword Concordance, our Concordant Versions, and our literature as well; the booklet The Divine Calendar is just one example. Right now, we are especially interested in the prayer of faith; on this topic, too, systematic comments are available.
We have published the most important articles from a series on PRAISE AND PRAYER which our friends found very helpful; therefore a renewed study of them may be strongly recommended (Volume XL). Thus we have ample material on this subject in addition to what we find in the Scriptures themselves; and we should make it a point to become thoroughly acquainted with everything God has said on praise and prayer, so that our thoughts are directed more and more toward the highest purpose of life, the laud of His glory.
During our study hours we can grasp and enjoy God’s message to us in most of its details, but during the stress and strain of everyday life our memory becomes fogged sometimes and we do not recall the precious truths when we need them most. While reading Paul’s prayer guides we find that they are helpful and instructive and cover every possible situation; yet when afflictions, distresses, and turbulences arise, we sometimes fail to remember the words of faith and of the ideal teaching, particularly when we have been exposed to vain talk and idle gossip. Paul once warned Timothy to stand aloof from profane prattlings such as are used sometimes by those who do not correctly cut the word of truth. And be added that “they will be progressing to more irreverence, and their word will spread as gangrene” (2 Tim.2:15-17).
Our physical body cannot live if the blood supply is obstructed; for instance, if the flow of blood to and from the toes is cut off their tissue will decay as if they were dying. In a similar way our life of faith needs a continuous supply of spiritual vitality which comes to us through the prayerful reading of the words of faith and of the ideal teaching. When this supply is obstructed, the Adversary in his craftiness will try to deceive us and further sap our spiritual strength. His system may vary from time to time and person to person; for everybody has his individual weak points, which are well known to him.
As pointed out before, Satan was given the authority to sift the disciples as grain (Luke 22:3), and today he is sifting believers, especially those who desire to grow in the realization of God’s will (Col.1:10). No one is exempted from this warfare and his methods of attack are so ingeniously devised that most believers do not even recognize them as such. That is why we want to emphasize the fact that we must be aware of his stratagems at all times and take the necessary defensive measures. It would be extremely foolhardy to wait until after the Adversary traps us and then invent a way to avoid the snare. A wise man is always prepared. Hence, the question quite naturally arises: “What can we do to anticipate the Adversary’s assault?”
Our place in Christ will not exempt us from the wicked one’s attacks, nor will the study of God’s Word in itself, nor prayer as such, nor a flawless walk, (if there is one); though all these things together form the material which is needed to provide our defense. To make resistance successful, it must be organized instead of being haphazard; we must be vigilant to maintain a sufficient and continuous supply of spiritual vitality. But how can we efficiently watch the various functions of our life of faith so that we do not neglect reading the words of faith and of the ideal teaching,—do not forget to make daily petitions, prayers, pleadings, and thanksgiving,—and walk worthily of the Lord at all times? With most of us, the daily routine is too complicated, and too many things may happen which are beyond our control. Any human plans of defense are, therefore, out of the question. But we need not worry; God in His wisdom has provided a complete suit of armor which is an entirely adequate protection against the stratagems of the Adversary. In this sphere, too, He is able to do superexcessively above all that we are requesting or apprehending, according to the power that is operating in us. To Him be glory!
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