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Character/Integrity, Temptations, the Full Armor of God

Matthew 5:28 ‘Do not let your heart turn to her ways [the adulteress]’

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

Proverbs 7: 1-3 My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

There is a big connection between heart and mind. It’s said that desires and ambitions stem from the heart. But aren’t those concrete thoughts? And our thoughts on the other hand can have a big impact on the health of our hearts. Like literally.

I believe that God wants His children to operate from the heart, knowing that Jesus is in there. When we accept His Son we accept Him with our minds, but we accept Him into our hearts. And when He is nourished in our hearts, our spirits are lifted, and we can also begin to see things from His point of view. Our minds then adopt His perspective and character/integrity is built in us.

The bridge between heart and mind is character/integrity. When this is more prominent than personality, righteousness is the result. Righteousness is always something to receive no matter how many years a Christian has been following Christ, otherwise it would never have been paid for on the Cross.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Who or what is at the center of your heart? Is it Jesus or is it something else that may be causing you a lot of confusion?

Open the eyes of my heart LORD,

Open the eyes of my heart,

I want to see YOU

I want to see YOU…

 

This song by Michael W. Smith speaks to me a lot. As a Christian it’s so important to realize the connection between Father and Son, and not just once but several times a week. It’s not enough as knowledge in the back of your head. It must be a realization, a rediscovering, a habit to remember again and again.

In my perspective, this song is sung to God, the Father. When I sing it, I am asking HIM to open Jesus’ eyes in my heart. I’m basically inviting Jesus into my heart all over again because I trust His perspective on things. Then in total surrender, when I am aware that Jesus is very well alive and awake in me, I can see through His eyes and He is looking straight to God. I find peace and oneness with HIM here as I am humbly reminded that my righteousness is only there because He made this connection with HIM possible. I am nothing without my relationship with HIS Son.

Is your relationship with Christ making you aware of your temptations?

James 1:15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Temptation becomes sin at the moment when the spirit is quenched because the flesh is fulfilled by our participation to commit. As long as you’re battling temptation with your own strength, they will always seem too great for you to overcome. The secret to faith is finding strength not in ourselves but in Christ’s confidence in God. Armoring yourself with the LORD’S Truth is your weapon for warfare. So what is God’s Truth and how can we overcome one temptation at a time?

In matters of temptation, God’s Truth is found in Ephesians 6:10-18. It talks about putting on the full armor of God, which is the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.

The breastplate of righteousness is the righteousness Christ paid for on our behalf, so putting it on (receiving it) is what will protect our heart. Self-righteousness is not good enough to protect ourselves; we must put on Christ’s righteousness. This is that realization/rediscovering I was talking about earlier; we have righteousness only because of the relationship between God and Jesus.

The shield we must have with us is faithfulness…the same faith He had in God, which strengthened Him with confidence. During those 40 days and nights when Jesus was tempted in the desert, He responded to Satan’s schemes by referring to God’s truths (Matthew 4:4, 5:7, 4:10, Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:13, 6:16). The faith He had as He relied on the Father helped Him to resist temptation.

Then there is also salvation that we must not forget. I believe it is called the helmet of salvation since our righteousness in Christ protects our hearts, our salvation in Christ must protect our minds. Salvation is not a one time deal just like righteousness. Salvation is nothing without righteousness, vice versa, and since what is in the heart must match what it is in the mind, it is our salvation in Christ that reminds us of this connection. With the helmet of salvation, we can “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Last but not least, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17) is something we must carry with us at all times. A doubled edged sword can pierce any heart. This is true just as with God’s Word, and if we deliver His wisdom with humility and righteousness, it is the ultimate Truth that convicts and protects against anything that threatens our relationship/oneness with Him. It is the righteous weapon we have which means we must use it to convict and not condemn.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:

  1.  Is my character/integrity mostly made up of convictions or condemnations?
  2.  What thoughts and feelings am I allowing my character to be built on?
  3.  Is my righteousness Jesus at the center of my heart or is it something or someone else? If it is not Him, could it be the reason why I feel miles away from Him if I give in to temptation?

Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. 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. 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. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

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@godfirstgodalways  God first God always  @god_first_god_always @sheelaleigh  @sheelaleigh

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