TO WIN THE BATTLE OVER ADDICTION WE NEED OUR SPIRITUAL ARMOR
It is so very vital that we understand that there is an unseen spiritual battle that has been taking place throughout the course of human history.
Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Satan has been waging war against mankind.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
Our fight is not against human beings, but against the devil and his hierarchy of evil spirits. Satan is the god of this dark world who has blinded the minds of the unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is the prince of the power of the air who now works in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2). We cannot fight this battle in our own strength but must be strong in the Lord and his mighty power.
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. Ephesians 6:13
Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians from a prison in Rome and used the physical armor of the Roman prison guards to illustrate the spiritual protection and weapons that are available to born-again believers in Christ. By learning how the natural armor was worn and utilized, we can better understand the spiritual weapons of our warfare (2 Corinthians 10:4)
“Spiritual Warfare” by Rebecca Brogan
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 6:14-17
The Roman soldier wore a tunic or outer garment that served as his primary clothing. It was a large, square garment with holes cut out for the head and arms. It did not provide for body movement unless it was cinched up and tucked into a large belt that the soldier wore around his waist. This cinching was known as “girding up the loins” (or waist). A soldier who was preparing for battle would gird up his tunic into this belt. So that he would be ready to run or move quickly. The belt was also fitted with a scabbard or sheath to secure his sword to his side. In the front it had leather or metal straps attached to help protect the front of the soldier’s lower body.
The soldier’s belt protected his loins from harm. This lower area of the body serves in elimination of wastes and in reproduction. Our spiritual girdle or “belt of truth” protects us in a similar fashion. By knowing and loving the truth – the word of God (the Bible) and He who is the Truth (Jesus Christ), we can discern and eliminate false doctrines, lies and deception of the enemy. By spreading the truth of the gospel, we can reproduce spiritual offspring. People perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Therefore, the first piece of armor and our new life in Christ must begin with “the truth” – we are sinners who need a savior and can be justified freely by his grace (Romans 3:23-24). Jesus himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
The next piece of armor that needs to be fitted into place is the breastplate. This breastplate was attached to the belt by leather thongs that passed through rings on the bottom to keep it solidly attached. It protected the upper body and the vital organs including the heart and lungs. Our spiritual breastplate of righteousness is “the righteousness of God” which is imputed to the believer by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22).
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Once we have embraced the truth, repented of our sins and believe in Jesus, we are in right standing before God. We need to walk uprightly and guard our hearts because the heart is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23). The heart is the seat of our emotions and our attitude. Our attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus who humbled himself, came as a servant and was obedient to the Father (Philippians 2:5-8).
The Roman soldiers’ footwear was called the caligae or military boot often referred to as sandals. The upper is incorporated into the sole construction between two thick layers of leather. These layers are nailed together with iron nails which can be replaced as they wear down. The only stitching is in a position where it is not subject to wear and can easily be re-stitched. Their footwear was constructed to be long lasting and easily repaired. Our spiritual footwear is “our readiness and obedience to spread the gospel of peace.”
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7
When we are obedient to be witnesses of Christ and fulfill the “Great Commission,” the enemy will certainly rise up against us. That is when we need to take up our “shield of faith.” The Roman shield that Paul referred to was called the scutum. It was a very large, slightly curved rectangular shield featuring at its center a large metal knob (called a boss). It was made of two planks glued together, the outer surface being then covered first with canvas and then with calf-skin. Its upper and lower rims are strengthened by an iron edging which protects it from descending blows and from injury when rested on the ground. The soldiers would oil their shield to keep the leather covering supple. In preparation against the flaming arrows of an enemy, the soldiers would soak their shields in water. When they came into range of being attacked, packed formations of legionaries would overlap their shields to provide an effective barrier and their water soaked shields would douse the fiery missiles. In a likewise manner we need to keep our shield of faith prepared for the battle with the “oil of the Holy Spirit” and soaked with the “water of the word” (Ephesians 5:26). Then we can stand in faith when the enemy attacks.
A soldier’s helmet protects another vital organ – the brain. The battle of the spirit takes place in the mind. The “helmet of salvation” is the spiritual piece of armor that will help guard our thoughts against the assault of the enemy. The adversary is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). He will place negative thoughts in a believers mind in an attempt to make us doubt God’s love for us and our assurance of salvation. But we are saved to the uttermost because Jesus lives forever to intercede with God on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25).
Finally, we have our offensive piece of armor – The Sword of the Spirit – which is the word of God.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Chemical addiction is not just a biochemical problem, it is spiritual bondage. Alcoholism and other drug addictions are spiritual bondages that result in physical and mental illnesses, crime and death.
In order to become victorious over drug addiction, a person needs the power of God manifested in their life so that they can be set free from the bondage of sin, find true deliverance and save their soul. The battle of the spirit is fought in the mind and our carnal thoughts must be taken into captivity to the obedience of Christ. We must submit our thoughts to Christ’s thoughts and our ways to God’s ways.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
When Jesus Christ is not only your Savior but the Lord of your life and you are in complete submission to Him, then when you resist the devil – he will flee from you!
Do not conform 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. Romans 12:2
How do we renew our minds? How can we exchange our ungodly worldly thoughts and attain the holy mind of Christ? This can be accomplished, according to Ephesians 5:25, as we are cleansed by the washing of the water of the Word. We must replace our hunger and thirst for the strongholds that bind us, with a hunger and thirst for God’s divinely inspired Word.
The way we defeat addiction is to repent of our sins, place our trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross, renounce the work of the devil in our lives, seek God’s will and enablement through prayer and the reading of the Bible, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Fight the good fight of faith by putting on the full armor of God each day. Be sure to keep your sword sharpened!
To Battle Sexual Addiction: Gird up the Loins of Your Mind
The battles of sexual addiction and pornography are not won by girding up our genitals, but by transforming our thought life.
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16
The word “loins” can be defined as the pubic region or genitals – the location of the reproductive organs. To gird up means to bind about, especially with a belt or sash. In biblical times, a Roman soldier when putting on the part of his armor that covered his loins; would take the excess material from his knee length tunic pull and it forward. Then he would tuck the extra material between his legs in front and gather it behind him. Collecting half of the material on either side in the rear, he would pull it around and tie it in the front as a sash or belt. This would enable him to run with more mobility and agility. Girding up his loins, the soldier would be prepared for the action of battle.
Peter exhorts us to gird up the loins of our mind – the reproductive center of our thought life – so that we will be prepared for the spiritual battle and be able to live a holy and obedient life. We are no longer to be controlled by worldly lusts.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15
The battle of sexual addiction is not won by girding up our genitals, but by transforming our thought life. It is our own evil desire – lustful thinking – that entices us to sin sexually.
The Lord Jesus Christ said, as quoted in Matthew 5:27-28: You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Men are stimulated visually. Especially for men, indulging in sexual fantasy, reading or watching pornography opens the door to sexual addiction and leads to a path of immorality, degradation and shame.
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 11:1-5
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 2 Samuel 11:1-4
At the time when kings go off to war, David sent his nephew Joab, as commander-in-chief, out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. King David himself remained in Jerusalem. David was anointed by God to be king over Israel and to lead the army of Israel in battle. Instead of David fulfilling his anointed calling and leading the physical battle against the Ammonites, he placed himself in a vulnerable position so that he would lose a most important spiritual battle.
From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her…
Men are stimulated visually. King David was no different than any other man. As James made so clear in his epistle: …but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. David gave in to his own evil desire to have someone else’s wife – Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. David’s evil desire not only resulted in his sin of adultery but also the arranged killing of Uriah in battle.
Praise God for his awesome grace and tender mercies. When David was confronted with his sins by the prophet Nathan he repented and was forgiven. But there were terrible natural consequences to his sins.
Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
“This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ ” 2 Samuel 12:9-12
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.”
David was a man after the LORD’s own heart because David was truly repentant. The LORD took away the eternal consequences of his sin. But David would reap in the natural realm what he had sown including the death of the child he fathered with Bathsheba as well as his beloved son Absalom having his way with David’s concubines.
David’s punishment included engaging in warfare all of his days because he struck down Uriah with the sword of the Ammonites. Because David didn’t go out to battle the Ammonites, he was idle. In his idle time, he lusted with his eyes and his evil desire enticed him to sin. The sin of David resulted in the sword never departing from his house. David avoided a physical battle but ended up with a lifetime of battles to fight because he lost sight of the spiritual battle.
Men are stimulated visually. Especially for men, indulging in sexual fantasy, reading or watching pornography opens the door to sexual addiction and leads to a path of immorality, degradation and shame. Because he did not gird up the loins of his mind, even Israel’s greatest king, brought down calamity upon his house.
Porn is reported to be a 12 billion dollar industry in the U.S… 50 percent of men viewed pornography within one week of attending a Promise Keepers stadium event… 54 percent of pastors said they viewed porn within the past year in a Pastors.com survey… in a 2003 Focus on the Family poll 47 percent of respondents said porn is a problem in their home. According to a Christianity Today magazine survey, Internet pornography is a personal problem for 37 percent of pastors. Pornography viewing is not just limited to men who are unsaved but is a besetting sin for many Christian men and Christian leaders as well.
We know that pornography and sexual sin are mighty strongholds in the church that must be demolished. We can also learn from King David’s errors, two important strategies in how to win this battle. First, we have to be aware of how we occupy ourselves in our down or idle time. Secondly and more importantly, we must be aware that the battle of the spirit takes place in our minds. It is our own evil desire – lustful thinking – that entices us to sin sexually.
In order to break away from worldly thinking – carnal mindedness, we must renew our minds. How is this accomplished? Paul explains how in his letter to the church at Ephesus.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27
The Lord Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and as born-again believers we immediately receive spiritual life. But Christ desires that his bride, the church to be without the stain of sin. Sanctification is a process by which we become more and more Christ-like. This is accomplished by our minds being renewed and cleansed from carnal thoughts by replacing them with the Word of God.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:9-11
For many years, people who had great treasures would bury them and in time of need, would dig them up. When we treasure the Word of God and bury it in our hearts, in our time of need it will come forth so that we will know the will of God and not sin against him.
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. James 5:13-15
To be victorious over pornography and sexual addiction, we must not only renew our mind but also we need accountability, the confession of our sin and the support and prayers of our brothers and sisters in the faith.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8