Raise your hand if you think God is real (If not, click here). Hey, nice show of hands there, which is a joke, ‘cause I can’t really see you, which is a joke ‘cause you already knew that.
Let’s be serious though. Is the attack on God’s children real?
A huge portion of humans sure think so. Those who do will usually say that what was true thousands of years ago is true today. Prayer works, faith gives life more power and meaning, and joy can still be found in such a corrupt world.
Did you read the last article, The Armor of God 1?
So if the brighter side of the story still holds up, then what about the dark side? Is there really some Devil out on the prowl, lying in wait to tear down anyone who opposes his system? This question, like many others about the spiritual world, it has an answer. I and many other Christians can say yes, definitely, but can every reader? As with many things in God’s arena, this can only be completely verified through personal experience.
If you want to see some of my many personal confirmations, read the last article, The Armor of God 1.
The half-in approach
I’ve known a lot of people who genuinely want to follow Christ, but in some way in their life, they’re not all-in. Many of us follow bad behavior, then go to church. We look at racy stuff on the internet, then pray for help over personal damage (when that internet stuff deals a ton of damage to those who make it). People act unforgiving and hateful toward someone, then ask for forgiveness for themselves.
We often stay stuck at half-in because we don’t have enough verification. We don’t see that being all-in with the Holy Trinity means better… everything. Many of us have a connection to our Father, but don’t care for it as deeply as we could. It’s like owning a super car, but never pushing the pedal down and taking it over 35 MPH (Mc-cough-LarenSenna-cough).
How would we feel?
So why does God sometimes only go part of the way into his relationship with you and I? Why does he often leave us with less protection in such a screwed up world? The answer lies in any relationship with anyone.
We’re created in God’s image. That doesn’t just mean we’re a lot like him. It also means he’s a lot like us. That means his relationships with us are also a lot like relationships between people. The level of fellowship and generosity in a human to human relationship, it depends highly on how much time and energy each person spends on it. If one is not all-in, neither is the other. Don’t call or help the other person much, usually you won’t get called or helped much in return.
So why would God feel any different? Fortunately, unlike the way humans often ditch each other, God is always there. He’s always ready to ramp up our unity with him as long as we make the same effort.
So how do we go all-in and get the full armor?
This was the hard part for me, so I assume it would also be for others… giving up. As with any relationship with anyone, I had to decide how many benefits I wanted. I had to decide that the protection of self and family were worth more than the easy pleasures I was following (you could also call them false Gods).
In a world that is absolutely laden with evil, it takes considerable spiritual resources to help us fight for safety. The good news is, safety can be adjusted to much higher levels, but God has to help, he has to come first in our fight.
The enemy has had thousands of years to practice its version of warfare. None of us humans have had more than a handful of decades. The Devil and his crew are incredibly well sighted, immensely funded, well hidden (often in plain sight) and often far greater in numbers.
This is where God comes in. He’s the only one who can see every detail of the enemy’s thoughts, movements and weaknesses. The Holy Trinity are the only group in the entire universe who’s power cannot be overcome by anyone else. They cannot be out-planned, outmoded or outplayed.
So the choice is simple. Go it alone and learn by hard and often irreversible consequences, or, join up with a team that cannot lose. And to join up means to go all-in. To go all in means sacrifice, but never to the point of loss of self. Let me explain why…
Each step holds a new reward
First off, I can tell you out of heavy experience, the rewards are far greater for sacrificing to God than they are for indulging in sin. I don’t give up one thing and get one in return. The results go much further than that.
For every habit or bad behavior I gave up, one door opened that now allows an endless stream of gifts. Not fleeting gifts that die off, like material things and pats on the back for doing something wrong. These are gifts that never stop giving, like wisdom, joy, great experiences and deeper, more meaningful relationships.
I don’t get to over-indulge in habits and find comfort in addictions anymore. But what I get in return makes those old habits feel like child’s play. There’s the armor that greatly reduces the enemy influence in my life (and will get stronger as I get deeper into it). But there’s also a higher level of power and influence that I now cary (only doing things by the examples set by Christ, and by the laws that God has written on my heart).
So how do we do it?
Following commandments is a great start. But the bible is absolutely full of other ways to put on more armor. For now, I recommend having an objective, selfless, consistent look at what behaviors you have that are more likely to control your decisions, time and consequences than you are to control them.
I’ve had many a verbal go-round with others who say things like “I don’t have addictions”, “I always admit when I’m wrong” or “I don’t have bad behavior”. Why? Because terms like “addiction” and “bad behavior” are often reserved for things like chemicals abuse, gambling or visible crime. But don’t forget what a screwed up world we live in. When that world doesn’t have its own proper balance, it can’t completely teach us to have it either.
We all feel the sting of an improperly run, global culture. We all get latched in to habits and behaviors that help us cope. We’re just not all as unfortunate as those who get sucked into the more hard core stuff. In other words, everyone has addictions and bad behaviors, but not everyone’s are as visible as other’s, and not everyone realizes it.
And that argument I’ve had with multiple people who say it doesn’t apply to them? It’s usually ended with one, quick sentence on my part… “Try to give the habit up for two weeks and see what happens.”
For me, the behaviors I had to break were anything that I couldn’t keep my mind off of, mainly, especially when I should have been concentrating on other things. They were also anything I couldn’t stop without having them loudly call me back. Sometimes I’d even have consistent flashes/memories of the uncontrolled behavior. Every time I’d have a memory, I’d start longing for what it came from.
Time is also a big indicator. With certain habits or addictions, the clock would tick just past when I needed to stop digging into them. I’d tell myself “just a bit more”. Next thing I knew, the time spent had flown out of hand and I would have said “just a bit more” so many times I couldn’t remember.
Don’t let relapse take you off track
In any process of breaking any behavior, there’s always the risk of one of the enemy’s favorite tools, to make you feel, but more importantly, act like a failure. That mindset throws us off track. And more specifically it goes against God’s system of forgiveness. So when you have a moment of weakness, don’t come down on yourself, learn from it and move forward. See this video about self-forgiveness and its power to keep us on the path to God.
How does it work for me?
Sometimes it fails. I often have to fight both myself and the messages I get from God about giving something up. Some things I can quit cold-turkey, but many take time, practice and constant reminders.
In any case, every time I overcome something that damages my relationship with the Holy Trinity, life gets better, my armor gets stronger. Each time I bring the habit back things get worse. Those patterns and the data that comes in return, they absolutely never change. The final results are always clear.
Next article The Armor of God - 3/3 - Putting it On More detailed descriptions on how to make it work.
Previous article The Armor of God 1. God did not leave us defenseless against the enemy.
Until then, here are the resources listed throughout the article above:
Raise your hand if you think God is real (If not, click here for The Atheist Package)
Forgiveness pt 3/3 - Forgiving Yourself. I got this heart that wants to beat the right way and I need to teach it to do that, and I can't do that if I can't forgive myself for what I've done wrong.
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