This program is a rebroadcast from March 14, 2020.
Armor of God, Part 3
This week’s program concludes our three-part series on the armor of God. Last week we reviewed each piece of armor God has offered so we can equip ourselves for spiritual warfare. Now we’re taking a look at the next steps He instructed us to take in Ephesians 6:18. Through prayer and petitions to God and by being alert in the face of temptation and spiritual attacks, we can prepare ourselves for the unseen war of the spirit that we face daily.
We can’t fight this spiritual war on our own! We need to be praying for others as they pray for us. With God’s guidance and wisdom, we can withstand Satan’s attacks.
If you missed the previous shows in this series, you can listen now on our archives page.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. I’d like to encourage you right at the outset to visit foiradio.org. There you can find out more information about The Friends of Israel Today radio program. Again, that’s foiradio.org. When you visit, you can visit our archive pages and listen to over six years’ worth of Chris’s teaching. Again that’s foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Steve, we’re wrapping up a three week series. It’s actually one of our most popular series that we did in the past on the armor of God. This last episode is all about the way that Paul ends his teaching on the armor of God, and that’s the importance of prayers. The type of prayers that we offer up to God and the power that prayer has in the life of a believer. I know it’s oftentimes something that we neglect. But it should be on the forefront of our minds all the time as we serve the living God.
Steve Conover: We look forward to it. But first in the news, Israel is undergoing the largest rearming effort in years in response to Iran. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke to the Israeli Knesset saying, “We are investing in security rearmament of the Israeli Defence Forces and the entire defense establishment.” Bennett continued that the rearmament is vital for Israel’s survival.
Chris Katulka: Steve, you know, Israel has certainly made peace with many Middle East countries through the Abraham Accords, but Iran remains a persistent threat to the region. Bennett is not only concerned about Iran’s aggression but also about the West's desire to create another variation of the Iran Nuclear deal, one that Israel and many Middle Eastern nations will more than likely deem unacceptable.
A few weeks ago, we started a series on the Armor of God from Ephesians chapter six. And one of the major takeaways from this passage is that as Christians, we are in a spiritual battle. And it's not a physical battle, it's not a physical fight, it's much deeper than that. The book of Revelation actually gives us a glimpse of a spiritual battle that's raging in the unseen. In Revelation chapter 12 it says this, “then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But the dragon wasn't strong enough to prevail. So there was no longer any place left in heaven for him and his angels. So that huge dragon, the ancient serpent, the one called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world was thrown down to the earth and his angels along with him.”
See, the schemes of the devil are moving. They are among this world. And on a macro level, you see it in the big picture kind of stuff. Governments that are hostile towards Christians and other religions that persecute and kill Christians. The very external outside battle that is spiritually driven, and I even believe antisemitism, the hatred of the Jewish people…I always like to say that whatever God values, Satan wants to destroy, and so you see this battle that's going on in the unseen realms, and yet at the same time, that same battle that's warring against us is warring in places that you would least expect. Places like your family, your church, and your workplace. Listen, God has given us a strategy. He's prepared us for the battle, and he identifies the enemy. He details the enemy's plan. He puts together a strategy to defend his people, to withstand the enemy.
And this is why we're continuing our teaching on the armor of God from Ephesians chapter six. In Ephesians, Paul actually calls believers for most of the letter to walk. And I've said this over the past couple of weeks, we have been called to walk in unity, we've been called to walk in holiness, to walk in love, to walk enlightened, to walk in wisdom. But when we get to Ephesians six, that verb, it actually kind of changes. Paul moves that verb from walk to stand, and because we can see what Satan wants to do is break our walk down with the Lord. He wants to creep into those areas of our life where we're walking with the Lord, and that's why Paul wants us to now take a stand against those schemes that Satan might use against us.
And last week we looked at each piece of the armor that the Lord has given us to stand to protect ourselves against the evil one. He's given us truth, righteousness, faith, peace, salvation, and God's word. They're all used as a defense against Satan. For us to stand up against what the schemes of the devil are, so that we can keep the walk going as God has called us to walk before him. The way that we behave, the way that we relate with God. But I also think that it was interesting too from last week's study that God is the one who provides the armor, but it's still the believers job to put the armor on, to put on truth, to put on righteousness and peace and salvation and faith. There is a responsibility that we have to take our stand against Satan. So today we're going to look at the remaining verses of this section and just because they are last doesn't mean they aren't as important. The remaining verses are where we find our resources and wisdom in the battle.
So let me read from Ephesians chapter six verses 18 through 20. Listen to what Paul says here. “With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit. And to this end be alert with all perseverance and requests for all the saints.” And then Paul concludes, "Pray for me also that I might be given the message when I begin to speak, that I may confidently make known the mystery of the Gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may be able to speak boldly as I ought to speak." Verse 18 after talking about taking up the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of the Lord, like I said last week, these were the last pieces of defense a soldier would put on before battle, Paul connects these two pieces for a believer when it comes to standing in defense against Satan.
He connects this idea of both prayer and petition, and being ready. And so he's connecting these actually back to this helmet of salvation and sword of the Spirit. Look, Paul knows that the attack from the evil one is imminent. It could happen at any moment because Satan is cunning and God's power and insights in that moment are needed. Prayer is the vehicle God gives us to communicate with him through Christ and by the Spirit. So Paul opens verse 18 with two nouns, two very important nouns, prayer and petition. And these are two different types of prayer. This is what we should be doing as believers when it comes to standing in defense against Satan. It says that we should have our prayers and petitions ready. And the first is this broad term for prayer. It's the general sense of keeping in communion with God through conversation with him.
So are you remaining diligent to talk to God? Talking to the Lord through prayer deepens the relationship you have with him. Just because you're a Christian, that doesn't mean that everything just comes to you passively. Just as you've put on the armor of God that God has so graciously provided for us, we're also called to stay in constant contact with him, and this happens through prayer. And it's through prayer that God challenges us and gives us wisdom. He changes us and gives us guidance to endure the temptation Satan would love to use to break us down. Paul also uses the noun petition, through prayers and petition. Petition is a more defined type of prayer. It's a prayer of asking God for specific requests. So the first is staying connected to the Lord through prayer at all times, a general sense of prayer, and the next is actually offering up to God's specific requests, asking God for protection against the evil one.
What's important to see here is that Paul says we should be praying in the Spirit. Friends, this is the way we combat the forces of Satan that are working against us. The moment you became a believer in the Lord Jesus, you were indwelt with the Holy Spirit, and this is a vital part of the Christian life. It's a vital part of the believer's spiritual wellbeing. There are some great verses that speak about the role of the Spirit in a believer's life. Just listen to what Romans chapter eight verses 15 and 16 says, it says this. “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry, "Abba Father." The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God's children.” So listen, in the midst of the spiritual battle that you might be dealing with in life right now, it's important for you to know with certainty through the work of the Spirit in your life, that you are a child of God.
And it's the work of the Spirit who speaks to us to remind us daily that we are loved, and that we are accepted, and that we are adopted into God's family. This helps us take a stand against Satan. Or how about Romans chapter eight verse 26 Paul writes, “in the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with an inexpressible groaning. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God's will.” Look, when you're in the middle of the struggle, standing against the evil one, the Spirit of God, Paul is saying, helps us in our moment of weakness and even when we don't know how to pray or what to pray or when we don't even have the energy to pray because of the battle that we're in.
It's important to remember that the Spirit is speaking on behalf of us. And listen, there have been moments in my life when I know I should be crying out to God, but the pain, the heartache, the hurt, it's too deep to even conjure up words. But Paul reveals that even in those moments, the Holy Spirit is speaking on your behalf to the Lord. Also, there's a unique connection between this idea of the sword of the Spirit and praying in the Spirit. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of the Lord, it's the Scriptures. And we're to use the Word of the Lord against the flaming arrows of the devil that are thrown towards us. But at the same time, I love this, when we pray in the Spirit, it's a way for us to see the power of believers' words that are uttered to God, working against Satan as well. So both God's Word and our words and prayers are working to defeat Satan's schemes.
Now listen, when we come back, we're going to evaluate the other side of Ephesians chapter six verse 18. We pray in the Spirit, but we also need one more component. Come back after the break.
Steve Conover: Let me ask you a question. If Christ were to return tomorrow, would you be ready? Join us online on March 4 and 5, 2022 for our free two-day conference where you will be encouraged to awaken and open your eyes to the promise of Christ’s return. Hear your favorite FOI speakers dive into first and second Thessalonians, and they’ll teach about how Christ’s imminent return can impact your life today. Visit lookup.foi.org. That’s lookup.foi.org to learn more. When will He come? What are the warning signs you should be looking for? And how can you live more expectantly and with great anticipation?
Chris Katulka: Steve, I’m excited about this conference. The Awaken conference. Yours truly will be emceeing the conference. In fact, I’ll be speaking about Christ’s return from First and Second Thessalonians, which I’m very much looking forward to. I think this is something that’s on the hearts and minds of our listeners. Expecting the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Especially with the times that we live in today. There is a hope, there is a longing for the things that are wrong to be made right. And all of that takes place at Christ’s glorious coming. So that’s what we’re going to be studying as we look at First and Second Thessalonians.
Steve Conover: Register for Awaken today and you’ll receive a free one-year trial subscription to our digital Israel My Glory magazine. That’s for first time subscribers only. Prepare for the coming Day of the Lord. Visit lookup.foi.org to register or to learn more.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back everyone. We're concluding our series here on the Armor of God, and if you didn't get a chance to listen to our past messages, I want to encourage you to go to foiradio.org and there you can find our past episodes on the Armor of God. Also, every Friends of Israel Today radio program is online. You can subscribe to our podcast or you can just go to foiradio.org and go to our archives page.
Okay, so we're wrapping up this series here and we learned over the past three weeks that the battle is real. The spiritual battle that's raging in the unseen is real. Satan is cunning, and Paul says the schemes of the devil are working against us. So now that we know the battle is real, we also know how to take a stand against Satan because God provides armor to protect us. The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the feet fitted with the peace of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit. In line with Paul's call to put on the armor of God, Paul also calls us to pray in the spirit. And finally Paul writes this, “With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit and to this end be alert with all perseverance and requests for all the saints. Be alert.”
Listen, in the ancient Greek language, this idea of being alert, communicated the idea of laying awake all night long, being on guard. Ready at any moment. Listen to what the late Dr. Harold Honer from Dallas Theological Seminary wrote about this idea of prayer and being ready and being alert. He says this. "Prayer causes alertness, and alertness keeps believers in prayer. If they are not alert, they do not see the dangers and thus see no need to pray. With the enemy making his assaults, that believers are to be enveloped with prayer, and to this end they are continuing to be alert with all persistence and petition." If you don't think spiritual warfare is a real issue in the Christian life, then you'll never feel the need to be alert, praying and putting on the armor of God. And here's what Paul wants to end on for us. A battle should never be fought alone.
The Roman empire succeeded in becoming the most powerful empire because of its military strategy. They never fought battles alone. They moved in large groups and used special defensive and offensive measures to advance their power in the world. And Paul is telling us in the same way, you can't fight this battle alone. Listen to how verse 18 ends. It says, “with every prayer and petition praying at all times in the Spirit and to this end, be alert with all perseverance and requests for all the saints.” Through the prayers of other believers, the individual saints, entire army. That's collectively battling against the enemy. And for this reason, in this spiritual battle, there should be a mutual concern for one another, demonstrated by prayer for each other.
Friends, as we close this series on the Armor of God, the spiritual battle is real, but God has given us the armor to stand up against the schemes of the devil. But we have to put it on. There is a responsibility we have to access the defense that the Lord has provided. And for that reason, we should pray to show our reliance and dependency on the Lord as we stand against Satan. And we should always be alert, not just for ourselves, but for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Now that you know, put on the armor of God, His truth, His righteousness, His peace, His faith, His salvation. My friends, are you prepared? I think it's important for you to put on the armor of God.
Steve Conover: Chris, in today's study you were talking about Paul, and here's someone that I think of as bold and not a wallflower, and he's praying. He's asking for prayer, for confidence, for boldness, not just for himself, but for others. And it really seems to speak to the fact that what you brought up in Romans eight that he was relying on the Spirit for his confidence in his own weaknesses.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. It's interesting because Paul likes to use a contrasting metaphor here between flesh and the spirit. If you do it alone, you're doing it in the flesh. And by doing it in the flesh, you're always going to fail. That's just the nature of how we've been designed. If you're trying to do it alone, the spiritual battle will always overtake you. Satan schemes will always find a way in. But God is the one who provides the armor, and through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we depend on him, he through prayer and petition and being alert, that's where we find our confidence.
Steve Conover: Israel, on the verge of becoming a state, a teenaged Holocaust survivor arrives on her shores alone. His name is Zvi Kalisher. Little did he know his search for a new life in the Holy land would lead him to the Messiah. Zvi, enthusiastic to share his faith, engaged others in spiritual conversations, many of which can be found in our magazine, Israel My Glory. While Zvi is now in the presence of his Savior, his collected writings from well over 50 years of ministry continue to encourage believers worldwide. Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life of Zvi.
Mike Kellogg: I recently visited a synagogue where many men were studying the Talmud and other books of commentary. They were friendly until I asked them, "Why do you come here day after day and spend your time with nothing but vanity?" Then they became suspicious and one of them said, "I've been here studying for three long years. I come here to purify my soul." I replied, "Take a good look at yourself in the mirror and tell me if you truly think you have purified your soul." He looked at me strangely and said, "I was a fighter pilot, but now I am like a bird with no wings. I have come here to repent. Most of the others here have the same background. They were good fighters, but now they are weak before God." "You are all making a great mistake", I told him. "Why?" He asked. "Because you are like helpless sheep who have gone astray following false teachers", I replied.
"You are always looking to see who has the longest beard or the longest curls because you think he is the most righteous. Your pious outward appearance is like a costume children wear on Purim. Open your eyes, see how far you have fallen. Your only hope is to turn to God in the way he desires." They seemed to be listening intently, and then the chief rabbi of the synagogue came into the room and he too listened carefully. Finally, he said, "I am the chief rabbi here. Feel free to come often." I replied, "My place is not among those who are committing spiritual suicide. There is no life here. It is like an open grave that people are spending their lives in emptiness and vanity."
The rabbi listened and then he asked, "From which books have you taken these stories?" I replied, "It is written in Ezekiel 36, 25 through 27. “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean. I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will take your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and you will keep my judgments and do them." The rabbi took my Bible and they examined it. When he realized it contained both the old and new testaments, he said, "This is not surprising. As soon as I heard you speak, I knew you were one of those who believed in that man. You're one of those whom I do not like. But because you had the great courage to come here, I must admit I respect you. I challenge you to show me from our Hebrew Scriptures only where I have gone astray. Can you do that?"
I told him, "God has made the truth about him plain for us in Isaiah 53, a well known passage among Jews around the world and you cannot deny it. You say you are waiting for Messiah but you are looking to the wrong people such as the rabbi from New York who is now dead." I was surprised that after a long discussion they were still very friendly. Even the rabbi said, "Because you have been so open and seem so sure of your beliefs, I would be happy to have you come back for a longer discussion. You are welcome anytime." This was a real fulfillment of the Lord's words in Luke 10:3. “I send you out as lambs among wolves.” These people need our prayers, and so do I, as I plan to visit them again soon.
Steve Conover: Thank you so much for joining us today. This concludes our series on the armor of God. Chris, where are we headed next week?
Chris Katulka: So we have a roundtable next week with three excellent guests: Dr. Jim Showers, the executive director of The Friends of Israel, Mike Stallard, who is the director of International Ministries, and Steve Herzig, who is the director of North American Ministries, all here at Friends of Israel. We’re going to be talking about the origins of our ministry, The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. Also, what we’re doing today to reach out to our Jewish friends. So it’s going to be a fantastic two weeks as we look at the birth story of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.
Steve Conover: We hope you join us then. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold, and I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Today Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, NJ 08099. Again, that’s FOI Today Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, NJ 08099. The quickest way to contact us is to visit foiradio.org. Once again that’s foiradio.org. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
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Apples of Gold: The Despair Corps
Zvi is often rejected in synagogues. But when visiting one where men were studying the Talmud, he was welcomed to discuss his beliefs. The men came to repent and acknowledge their weakness, but Zvi came to point them toward the hope that they have in God. Asking probing questions, he was able to explain how the Jewish people can find assurance in their salvation.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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