What I’ve been learning the past few years through all the struggles and growth I’ve experienced, especially at work, most of my struggles are in my mind. Brene’ Brown has some ideas on that when she talks about imperfections. Sheryl Sandberg and Tara Mohr talk about it when they teach us to take a seat at the table and stop playing small. Paul’s take on it is that we have to defeat the “devil made me do it” moments by putting on the armor of God. I’ve been interested in spiritual warfare since the first time I read Frank Peretti. I’d like to talk about this for a few days because, lately, it’s been on my mind.
To prepare for an upcoming Bible study on the armor of God, written by Priscilla Shirer, I’ve been watching some sermons by her father, Tony Evans. He explained something that’s been running over and over in my mind. I’ll try to put it down, and hope it accurately conveys his message. You can search for his messages on YouTube by typing “Tony Evans, The need of Spiritual Armor” for a portion of the first in his series.
He said that each of us have a physical portion, and a soul. The soul is our “heart,” our personality, our emotions, our conscience, that stuff we think about. Our body, on the other hand, is the physical portion that acts out what our soul is telling us. If we are negative, or worried, or hateful, or whatever, our bodies will react based on those feelings. That could be one reason, for example, that we get ulcers, or maybe we have other physical issues due to our the states of our minds. (You’ll find lots of research out there that says similar things on the power of positive thinking on our physical beings, or how laughter can help sick people get well.) Dr. Evans said all of us have a messed-up soul. And depending on the influences in our lives, the bad or good things that have happened to us, our self-esteem, etc., some of us may be more or less messed up than others, but none of us get to skip out on the messed-up soul.
It gets interesting for Christians in that, when we believe in Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross, we are given the spirit of God within us. The spirit is righteous; the spirit is perfect; the spirit is a mirror for us of who we are in Christ. It’s the very best of what God has to give, with all the answers already there, but with a messed-up soul, we will never live up to that perfection; and we rarely seek those answers. We can only move closer towards it by deliberate choice, or further away from it when we rely on our 5 senses, what we feel, see, smell, taste, and hear.
What I keep thinking about is, in the context of the armor of God, we have tools available to us to help us move closer. The first piece of armor is the belt of truth. If we have God’s spirit within us, then we have a whole list of truths that we should be claiming, where what most of our souls are claiming is that we’re not good enough; we’re not smart enough; we’re not …whatever. You fill in the blank.
If our souls are claiming that, then our physical selves are going to be acting those things out. We’ll shrink back when we should be standing up; we’ll dismiss potentially brilliant ideas and not share them; you know, all those ideas that have been floating near the top of the best seller lists over the past few years. But in the spiritual realm, we also allow junk into our lives that we don’t have to accept.
Instead, we should be claiming who we really are in Christ.
DAY 79 HOMEWORK: I may have messed up some of Dr. Evans’ message, so check him out yourself, and go look at Ephesians 6 to read what Paul has to say about the armor we’re to put on. It’s our choice and it’s available to us. We just have to decide to do it.