Footwear Of The Gospel

If you’re going into battle, you’re going to need a good pair of shoes. That’s probably not something most of us think about, but what soldiers wear on their feet helps determine how far they can travel in a day and what type of terrain they can fight on. In fact, a good argument can be made that one of the Roman army’s key strengths was improved footwear. Perhaps that’s part of what Paul was thinking about when he wrote this phrase to describe the third piece in the armor of God:

and binding shoes under your feet with the preparation of the good news of peace (Eph. 6:15, LEB)

This piece of armor is related to preparation, the gospel, and peace. It’s a curious combination, especially considering the girdle of truth and breastplate of righteousness have pretty straightforward descriptions. I wasn’t even quite sure what to title this post. Shoes of peace? Prepared footwear? Sandals for preparing good news of peace? I settled on the title you see up there since similar scriptures in Isaiah and Nahum place the focus on carrying good news. Let’s take a look at those.

Carrying God’s Words

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Is. 52:7, WEB)

Nahum borrows this phrase in 1:15 and Paul uses it to support his teaching that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17, WEB). People must call on the name of the Lord to be saved, but before that they must believe on him and to do that they need to hear about Him. For that to happen, there must be a preacher sent to carry the good news of peace (Rom. 10:13-15). Continue reading

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Breastplate of Righteousness

When we’re going into spiritual warfare, we need spiritual armor. As we talked about in last week’s post on the Girdle of Truth, God is the one who gives us this armor. He doesn’t invite us to do battle and then leave us defenseless.

take up the full armor of God, in order that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. Stand therefore, girding your waist with truth, and putting on the breastplate of righteousness. (Eph. 6:13-14, LEB)

The second piece of our armor is a breastplate of righteousness. In a physical soldier’s armor, this is the part of the armor that protects the front and back of the torso. It’s keeping your spine, internal organs, and especially your heart and lungs safe.

Keeping Your Heart

For us, righteousness serves much the same protective function. In a broad sense, the word dikaiosune (G1343) means being in a “condition acceptable to God.” It also refers to “the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved by God” (Thayer’s Dictionary). Righteousness involves the condition of your heart and state of your character.

Oh that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever! (Deut. 5:29, WEB)

God has always been interested in wining His people’s hearts. That desire is at the core of Him asking us to follow Him in righteousness, which is why Jesus didn’t destroy the Law when He came. Rather, He revealed the full expression and intent behind God’s law — that we might develop His character and become like Him (Matt. 5:17-20, 48).

Armor God Wears

Speaking of becoming like God, the Breastplate of Righteousness is a piece of armor that He actually wears.

He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head. He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a mantle. (Is. 59:17, WEB)

The breastplate we’re talking about isn’t just something God gives us to wear. It’s also something that He wears Himself. This is truly armor of God what He’s sharing with us. Continue reading

The Girdle of Truth

The first piece in the armor of God is a girdle, or belt, of truth. We’re told, “Stand therefore, girding your waist with truth” (Eph. 6:14, LEB). Girdles hold an interesting place in scripture. There are five Hebrew words used to talk about things you can belt around your waist (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).

Some girdles were used as a purse or pockets. Others to belt your clothes on. Different types of girdles were part of a soldier’s attire (2 Sam. 20:8), worn by princes and important people (Eze. 23:15), or by priests (Ex. 28:4, 8; 29:9). Girdles often symbolize strength and readiness. But what does it mean to have a girdle made of truth?

Where We Get Our Girdle

Truth in a Christian context is defined by God. The truths that come from Him aren’t subjective and don’t fluctuate. They’re reliable. And they’re what we put on like a belt around our waists as we prepare for spiritual battle.

Jesus gives a succinct definition of truth in His prayer recorded in John 17. He prays to the Father, “Sanctify them in your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17, WEB). The words of God are precious; the only reliable source of truth.

Give diligence to present yourself approved by God, a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed, properly handling the Word of Truth. (2 Tim. 2:15, WEB)

When we’re looking for truth, we look to God’s Word — both in the Bible and in the person of His son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word (John 1:1-3, 14) and He also is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He provides the truth that forms the first piece of our armor. Continue reading

2017 On My Blog: Top 10 Lists

We’ve moved into another calendar year. As per a long-standing tradition, I spent New Year’s Eve with my sister and our cousin eating lots of yummy food and drinking sparkling grape beverages (Moscato d’Asti this year). And per a tradition established just last year, today I’m sharing post highlights from my blogging year.

I started doing this type of post last year with Top 5 lists. I’d wanted to do top 10 then, but there hadn’t been quite enough traffic to make the posts that didn’t make the top 5 lists stand out from each other. As you can see in the graph, there was quite a bit more traffic this year. And I’m really close to 1,500 followers now, so that’s exciting! 2017 On My Blog: Top 10 Lists for marissabaker.wordpress.com

Posts With The Most Traffic

The INFJ User Guide remains firmly at the top of this year’s list. In fact, all but two of my most popular posts are directly relate to INFJ types. It’s so cool to see “Religion And The INFJ” on the list for this year. It’s become the most commented-on posts on my blog and I’ve been thrilled to have so many INFJs with different religious (and a-religious) backgrounds sharing their stories.

  1. INFJ User Guide (published 6/20/2016)
  2. The Vanishing INFJ (published 11/28/2016)
  3. Religion and the INFJ (published 10/17/2016)
  4. INFJ Dark Side (published 3/31/2014)
  5. How To Be Friends With An INFJ (published 10/13/2014)
  6. What Is A “Shadow” In Mysers-Briggs Theory? (published 3/9/2015)
  7. Dating Your Mirror: ENFP and INFJ Relationships (published 11/11/2017)
  8. The Myth of the Good LIttle INFJ (published 10/19/2015)
  9. Some INFJ Thoughts on ENTPs (published 7/6/2015)
  10. Finding Your Real Myers-Briggs Type (published 11/2/2015)

Top 2017 Posts – Monday

I’m so excited to see that several of my posts where I interviewed Christians with different Myers-Briggs types about their faith were so popular last year. And while most of the high-traffic posts on the list above were from 2015 and 2016, the newer ones did pretty good this year as well. Only the last one on this list was under 1,000 views. The top one had over 12,000.

  1. Dating Your Mirror: ENFP and INFJ Relationships
  2. Want To Date An INFJ? Here’s 15 Things We’d Like You To Know
  3. Mercy and Truth Meet Together: INFJ Christians
  4. INFJs and Relationships: Discover Your Compatibility With Other Types (this is a guest post)
  5. Thinking vs. Feeling in INxJ Personality Types
  6. Personality Types In Star Wars Rebels
  7. The Simplest Guide To Myers-Briggs Functions Ever
  8. Send Me Your Stories: Christianity and MBTI Types (note: I’m currently looking for stories from ENFJ, ENTJ, ENTP, and INTJ Christians. Click the link if you’re interested in contributing)
  9. Living with INFJ Guilt and Overcoming Cycles of Shame
  10. That Which Every Joint Supplies: INFP Christians

Top 2017 Posts – Saturday

2017 has been a year for narrowing the gap between the two sides of my blog (Christian and Myers-Briggs). Saturday’s Bible study posts still aren’t eclipsing the Monday posts in terms of traffic, but some of the most popular ones have over 500 views this year. Here’s the top 10 list:

  1. Spiritual PTSD
  2. Addressing Disunity In the Churches of God
  3. Healthy Christian Boundaries and Loving People You Don’t Like
  4. The Gift of Prophecy
  5. Clean Temples For Yom Kippur
  6. Show Christ’s Love, Not Your Judgement
  7. Too Proud To Follow God
  8. As You Love Yourself (this one’s based on a seminar I gave at a YA retreat)
  9. Always Love, Never Compromise: Relating To Those Outside Your Faith
  10. Grief, Guilt, and Comfort For the Saint (this is one of 2017’s guest posts)

10 Countries My Visitors Call Home

The top 4 stayed the same, as I’d expected. And like last year, I have quite a few readers from south-east Asia. It’s interesting to see more people from India, Germany, and South Africa joining us. I’ve also heard directly from several readers in South America, which is pretty cool.

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Australia
  5. Indonesia
  6. India
  7. Germany
  8. Singapore
  9. Philippines
  10. South Africa

Stand

We’ve been talking about the foundations of spiritual warfare for the past couple weeks as we work towards studying the armor of God. In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us to “be strong in the Lord,” which is the starting point for engaging in spiritual battles. He also tells us what we’re up against and warns us to be vigilant against our Adversary. Before he gets into how we put on the armor of God, though, there’s one more point he emphasizes.

Paul says the reason we put on the armor of God is so “that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11. WEB). And once he describes our adversaries in verse 12, he says this again.

Therefore put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. (Eph. 6:13, WEB)

What It Means To Stand

The Greek word translated “stand” is very similar to our English word. They both mean someone actually standing on their feet and also carry more metaphorical meanings as well. For example, in English we say someone “stands up for what they believe” and mean that they have a firm, courageous stance on a subject.

In Greek, histemi (G2476) carries ideas of firmness and reliability. Thayer’s dictionary says it means firmly establishing something in a certain place. It also means setting something in balance (like establishing a just system of weights for currency). Another meaning is standing immovable and reliable, as in the foundation of a building. And finally, histemi carries the idea of being safe, sound, and unharmed as well as ready or prepared. Someone standing in this way is steadfast and doesn’t hesitate or waiver. Continue reading

The Importance of Spiritual Vigilance

Last week, we started a series of posts on spiritual warfare. Following the outline Paul gives us in Ephesians, we began with “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10, WEB). Knowing where we get the strength to fight a spiritual war lays the groundwork. The next point is realizing what we’re up against.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:11-12, WEB)

No wonder we need to be strong in the Lord! Those are adversaries we can’t even see, much less fight on our own. Thankfully, God doesn’t expect us to.

The Importance of Spiritual Vigilance | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Photo credit: Pearl via Lightstock

The Battle Is Won

When Jesus came to this earth as a human, lived a sinless life, then died for our sins, He assured Satan’s defeat. It’s such a sure thing that scripture talks of Satan (whose name means “adversary”) as having already been defeated even though he still has a little while to keep influencing people here on earth (Rev. 12:12).

having stripped the principalities and the powers, [Jesus] made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (Col. 2:15, WEB)

Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus told His followers that the “Prince of this world” was about to be cast out (John 12:31). Other verses speak of Christ having “led captivity captive” (Eph. 4:8; Ps. 68:18) and of binding Satan to destroy his kingdom (Luke 11:17-23). Those all point to the truth that Jesus has already sealed our Adversary’s fate.

Since then the children have shared in flesh and blood, [Jesus] also himself in the same way partook of the same, that through death he might bring to nothing him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might deliver all of them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Heb. 2:14-15, WEB)

Jesus has brought the devil to nothing. The Adversary can seem pretty scary at times, but ultimately, he can’t win. Jesus made certain that God wins this fight. So really all we need to do if we want personal victory is to stay on the winning side.

But The Threat Is Out There

All this isn’t to say we shouldn’t have a healthy level of caution. Just because Satan’s defeat is assured doesn’t mean he can’t still affect us. He’s a very real threat and underestimating him can leave us in a vulnerable position. The Adversary is a roaring lion, not a declawed house cat. Continue reading