When we consider the Armor of God in Ephesians chapter six, we see our only offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. We usually imagine a medieval longsword, but the Roman soldier’s sword would have been no more than 18 inches long. Tony Evans said this shows us that spiritual warfare is up close and personal. It is in your face.

We can think of this sword as a defensive weapon. Jesus instructed his disciples to sell their cloak and buy a sword, if they did not already possess one, Luke 22:36. Everyone has a right to self-defense. It is foolish to think that you will be successful in warfare without a weapon. We have enemies both foreign and domestic who would take our lives and property if they were able. For people to be free, we must have the ability to defend ourselves.

I am praying for the people in Afghanistan who have been left defenseless. At the time of this writing, there are an estimated 10,000 Americans (Biden’s officials say they do not know how many) who have been abandoned with no rescue plans. Men, women, boys, and girls are in the hands of Jihadists. There are reports of the Taliban going from door to door removing firearms from the citizens of Afghanistan and telling them they do not need weapons. They are evil and cannot be trusted.

It will be another sad day for America if the Second Amendment is ever stolen from us. High profile politicians and media elites hire bodyguards and private security who carry guns. We cannot depend on our government to protect us; it is up to us to defend ourselves.

When it comes to spiritual warfare, our weapon is the word of God. In Matthew 4, we read about how the devil attempted to tempt Jesus to sin by twisting Scripture. Jesus defended himself with the word of God. He quoted from the Torah as he successfully resisted his adversary.

The word of God is also an offensive weapon. It must be handled carefully. Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” As we examine the Scripture, the Bible examines us in the process.

It is important to take Scripture in context and not to twist verses or passages to distort their original meaning. People do this to use the Bible to excuse their actions. For example, some misused the Bible to condone slavery, but those who abolished slavery were motivated by Scripture. We know weapons can be dangerous without proper training and can cause accidental injury or death.

I am thankful that we live in a time where we can “open carry” a Bible with us daily. Many of us have the YouVersion Bible App on our smartphones. This enables us to have multiple translations of the Bible at our fingertips. With such easy access to Scripture, you would expect more biblical understanding. However, easy access is no guarantee of knowledge. Christians who fail to read the Bible are like defenseless sheep when it comes to spiritual warfare.

Put on the whole armor of God. We put on the belt of truth by believing in Jesus, John 14:6. The breastplate of righteousness is Christ’s righteousness applied to us, Philippians 3:9. The shoes of the gospel of peace are worn by those who stand firm in their Christian beliefs. The shield of faith is saving faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as payment for our sin debt. The helmet of salvation is the mindset that assures us of our position in Christ and helps with our attitude toward others. And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, is our weapon for spiritual warfare.

Paul concludes his teaching about spiritual warfare with an appeal to prayer. As we consider what is happening in the world today, pray that God will protect and deliver us from evil. Proverbs 29:2.

We have been discussing the armor of God for spiritual warfare in Ephesians chapter 6. The first three pieces of equipment we are to put on are the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, and shoes of the gospel of peace. Then we considered items we are to take up, the first was the shield of faith. This column will focus on the next piece of equipment, the helmet of salvation.

In many sports athletes wear helmets. You will see football players remove their helmets when they are on the sidelines. In baseball, the batter will wear a helmet. The only player with a helmet on defense is the catcher. When I was in elementary school, I had the opportunity to attend several St. Louis Blues games. Back then veteran hockey players had the option to play without a helmet. Thankfully, they all wear helmets now and many opt for a protective face shield.

In warfare, a helmet can be the difference between life and death. I heard of a U.S. soldier who had complained about all the heavy gear he had to wear. He took a round in the head and expected to die, but as it turned out, his helmet saved his life. He said he never again complained about the weight of his gear.

In the analogy of the armor of God, we realize that a head injury would render the other items of equipment useless. In a spiritual sense, we must protect our minds from the enemy’s attacks. We must stand firm on biblical convictions and learn to think critically.

We are aware that the brain is an organ that can be damaged. Sometimes behavior is adversely affected by physical anomalies in the brain. A person’s personality can be completely altered by serious head injury. The point of the Apostle Paul’s illustration is that we need to protect our minds as we face spiritual warfare. We need good spiritual, physical and mental health.

The devil attacks our minds daily enticing us to sin. Many of us know someone who struggles with chemical addictions. Somewhere along the way a person decides to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Eventually, they lose control and become addicted. This can be true of pornography, gambling, and many other addictive behaviors. It takes more and more to get the initial high and eventually the addict loses jobs, friends, family, children, and eventually his or her life. This is what the Bible means when it says sin leads to death, Romans 6:23.

2 Corinthians 4:4 says, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” It is possible that a person is unaware of his or her physical or spiritual needs. Christians should not be surprised when unbelievers behave like unbelievers.

If we can remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but a spiritual battle, we will do a better job relating to people in a Christlike manner. We need the “Mind of Christ,” Philippians 2:5-11. As the breastplate of righteousness guards our hearts, the helmet of salvation guards our minds. 

Our adversary would have us question our faith and doubt our salvation. Many world religions offer structure and rules to live by, but no assurance of an eternal reward. 1 John 5:13 tells us that the Bible is written so that we will know that we have eternal life. John 3:18 clearly explains, “Whoever believes in him (Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

We must protect our minds because what we believe has eternal consequences. Remember, Satan is the “father of lies” John 8:44. As our nation turns its back on God, spiritual warfare gets more intense.

Put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shoes of the gospel of peace. Take up the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. Next week we will discuss the sword of the Spirit.

As we continue to look at the equipment the Apostle Paul instructs us to put on for spiritual warfare, we read that we are to take up the Shield of Faith. Previously, we considered the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the gospel shoes that enable us to stand firm in the Christian faith. The Roman soldier would wear these items continuously. Beginning with the Shield of faith, the next three items were readily available, but not always in use.

Some pastors and teachers have used sports to illustrate the difference between putting on and taking up. A baseball player puts on the uniform, belt, and cleats. The player takes up a glove on defense, a helmet, and a bat on offense. We think of a shield as something that protects us from harm. We do not consider all the things God shelters us with until we are without them.

In the book of Job, Satan uses the idea of God putting a “hedge” of protection around Job as the basis for his accusation against him. He tells God that Job is only faithful because of the blessings—take away the blessings, and Job will curse God. Job 1:9-11.

In his “Through the Bible” commentary series, J. Vernon McGee gives us a list of helps God provides, that were taken from Job:

– Material substance—Prosperity is a gift of God. Satan took away Job’s wealth.

– Loved ones—God blesses us with babies to cuddle, families to care about, and support. Satan took away Job’s children in one day, seven sons, three daughters.

– Health—Physical and mental health are important; suicides often result from bad health. Satan was permitted to take away Job’s health.

– The love and sympathy of a spouse—Job’s wife did not support him through his struggles, instead encouraged him to curse God and die. A bad marriage is worse than singleness.

– Friends—We are blessed by friends who encourage us during difficult times. In Job’s case, his friends gave miserable and advice and added to his suffering. Sometimes friends forsake us.

– Self-worth and dignity—Job felt worthless. Everything upon which he based his self-worth was gone. We find self-worth in God’s love for us, John 3:16.

– The Justice of God—Job lost sense of confidence in God’s justice and becomes critical and cynical. We need to remember that statements and actions done by people in the Bible are not necessarily true or right, we must take them in context. Not everything Job’s “friends” said was true.

– The Love of God—Job lost sense of the love of God. He felt that there was a distance separating him from God, Jesus is the one who keeps us connected to the Father. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

Have you thought about how God has shielded you with similar helps or blessings? Many of us turn from our faith at the first sign of difficulty, but Job refused to curse God no matter how bad circumstances became. He did question God, and eventually God revealed himself to Job. Can you say, like Job, “I know my redeemer lives?” Job 19:25.

The Roman soldier had a shield that was the size of a small door. Before the men would go to battle, wives would tell their husbands to come back carrying their shields, not carried on their shields. When soldiers were killed in battle, the shields were used to transport the bodies.

The imagery in the passage is of the devil shooting fiery darts at the person, but the shield extinguishes them all, Ephesians 6:16. This causes me to think of Israel’s Iron Dome. Our shield can make the enemy ineffective like Israeli technology detects incoming missiles and shoots them down before they ever reach their targets.

Sometimes we carry our faith, and sometimes faith carries us. Acknowledge your hedge of protection. If you lack faith, put your trust in Jesus and he will equip you. We need the shield of faith for spiritual warfare.

We have discussed the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. The third piece of equipment Paul instructs us to put on is “shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:15. The idea behind the shoes is the ability to stand firm and not be moved. The Roman soldiers wore sandals with metal spikes. There are some historical sites where the indentions from these shoes remain. Can you imagine how intimidating it must have been to hear a multitude of Roman soldiers marching in your direction? I would imagine it would have been difficult to push these soldiers back as they dug into the ground with a firm stance.

When I was in college, I worked at a sporting goods store. Most of my time was spent selling shoes for various sports and activities. I remember a lady asked me if she bought aerobic shoes if she could wear them casually to go shopping. I told her if she purchased the shoes, she could wear them wherever she liked. I was joking of course. Although some types of shoes can be worn daily, others are only good for specific functions.

Snowshoes and flippers would look weird if not worn in the proper context. Some people work in environments that require steel toed shoes for safety. If you are watching the Olympics, you may notice different types of footwear at different events. The right shoes give an advantage, and the wrong shoes could result in poor performance or injury. The Apostle Paul is setting the context for spiritual warfare and is using a practical illustration to teach principles that will help us to overcome adversity. Without the proper footing, it would be easy to be pushed around.

We understand the need to get along with people from different perspectives and backgrounds. However, if a person is not firmly convinced that his or her religious convictions are based on facts and not mere feelings, that person cannot be expected to take a stand. History teaches us that people who hold to Christianity are not easily persuaded to turn from their faith. Consider the Christian martyrs. It was not that long ago that we saw men lined up to be beheaded by terrorists. Someone once said that people are not willing to die for what they believe to be a lie.

1 Corinthians 15:58 describes how we are to stand firm, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Christians believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy concerning the Messiah. He has established the kingdom of God and provides salvation for all who believe in him. Apart from Jesus, there is no other way to God, John 14:6. We have confidence that we will see eternally significant results from our lives and ministry.

My wife can take several hours to get ready to go somewhere. When it is time to leave, if I am not wearing my shoes, she tells me I am not ready.

I think about readiness as preparedness. An expert in natural disasters instructed her audience to tell people to place shoes by their beds in case of a disaster like a tornado. No one would want to walk through rubble without shoes. We find ourselves vulnerable when we are not prepared. This is especially true of spiritual warfare.

I am thankful for the gospel of peace. When a person finds peace with God, that person can be at peace with other people. The gospel is that Jesus fulfills the requirements of God’s law for us. He paid for our sins, on the cross, so that we could be forgiven. We can forgive our enemies as Christ forgave us. Our prayer is that others would find mercy as we have. We can trust God to punish the wicked, so we do not need to repay evil with evil or take vengeance on our enemies. As we face spiritual warfare, we can stand firm in our faith knowing that the victory is ours in Jesus.

Last week I began writing about the Armor of God found in Ephesians chapter six. The belt of truth was the first thing Christians are instructed to put on as they prepare for spiritual warfare. For decades, I have heard people say that truth is relative. They claim what may be true for some may not be true for others. How can anyone who believes that truth is relative call anyone out for a falsehood? Without a foundation built on truth, the next piece of equipment, the breastplate of righteousness would have no meaning.

The breastplate was a piece of armor a soldier would wear to protect his vital organs. In a spiritual sense, we might say that it is important to guard your heart which is our seat of emotions. Besides the heart, another organ was considered to have a connection to our feelings. In Greek the word, “splanchna” translates bowels. We may think of gut-wrenching emotions. A soldier without the breastplate connected to the belt might get disemboweled by a blow from a sword. In other words, righteousness will guard our hearts like a breastplate protects vital organs.

It is important to note that the Bible is not referring to self-righteousness. Many people, not just religious churchgoers, become self-righteous when they think more highly of themselves than others. Think about examples of when you might say, “If you are not doing what I am doing, then I am better than you.” What often gets lost in many of our causes is what does God think of the issue? The problem is that we cannot make ourselves righteous before God, we need help. Isaiah 64:6 says that our righteousness is like “filthy rags” in God’s eyes. Proverbs 14:12 says that when we do what seems right in our own eyes, we end up on the path to destruction.

The breastplate of righteousness is the armor of God. The righteousness that guards our hearts is the “imputed righteousness of Christ.” In other words, God sees the perfect sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross and evaluates us based on Jesus’ righteousness instead of our own. We often say that Jesus took our place on the cross as our substitute to pay the penalty of our sin. If you have ever told God that you could not do it on your own, the good news is that you do not have to. When we become a Christian, the Holy Spirit indwells us. Jesus told us that when he departed the earth, he would send the helper who would be our teacher and our guide (John 14:15-17).

The Apostle Paul tells us to put on the breastplate of righteousness. Unfortunately, Christians are not always obedient, and they can say and do things that make themselves vulnerable to the devil’s attacks. We cannot assume that we are righteous if we are not practicing spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible study, and worship.

A while back, the deacons purchased a bullet proof vest for me. Law enforcement officers wear these vests while on duty. I have heard that sometimes an officer will choose to not wear a vest because of discomfort, especially when the temperature is high. In volatile situations officers need to add more protection such as helmets and shields. Like the breastplate of righteousness, a bulletproof vest does not protect if it is not put on.

We are in a spiritual battle. Christian values are under attack and even the most faithful people are finding it difficult to speak openly about their deeply held religious convictions. The purpose of Paul’s admonition is to encourage us to stand firm against opposition. We must not give in to discouragement or defeat. We need the breastplate of righteousness to guard our hearts so that we can show the love of Jesus to a broken world.

God’s word assures followers of Christ that we are on the side of truth and justice. Our God rules and reigns and we are his victorious people. Are you a Christian? Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved.” Trust in the Lord and he will provide his armor.

I recently concluded a sermon series on the Armor of God. Ephesians chapter six informs us that we are not in a battle against flesh and blood, but there is a supernatural adversary who is behind the evil in the world. This encourages us to pray for people whom we might otherwise choose to hate. God’s grace has changed us, and we know that grace can change others as well. We are all a work in progress, but faith in Jesus enables us to become Christlike in our attitudes and our conduct.

The Apostle Paul wrote the book of Ephesians while he was in a Roman prison. He may have been inspired by the image of a soldier standing nearby to illustrate his teaching. Further study also shows that the Armor of God is in the Old Testament. Paul, being a scholar would have understood the historical and spiritual significance of his illustration. The pieces of equipment are: The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel, the shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit. I want to discuss the belt of truth.

The belt of truth represents the belt a solider would tie around his waist to keep his clothes or robes from entangling his feet. This imagery is clear, when we get entangled in lies, we will stumble and fall. Just look at current events. Someone has said we did not have “fact checkers” until the truth started coming out. The concept of fact checking is that absolute truth exists and if something is not true, it is false. We must have discernment because words can be twisted to make truth appear to be a lie and vice versa.

We need the belt of truth because our adversary, Satan, is the father of lies. John 8:42–44 reads, “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.’”

According to research by Barna, most Christians do not believe the devil, or Satan exists. No wonder our society is plummeting into moral depravity. People do not know that they are in a spiritual battle because they believe a lie. Satan and his false teachers disguise themselves as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). We must be equipped with the belt of truth if we are going to make a difference in the world.

Children are taught that it is wrong to lie. Christians are judged harshly when they sin by people who do not believe in Christianity. The expectation is that if someone claims to be a Christian, he or she will be a moral person. Telling the truth is important. The Bible instructs us to speak the truth in love. Unfortunately, not everyone wants to hear the truth. If you are dishonest, it is certain that no one is going to want to hear about your religion.

The belt of truth will keep us from believing lies that will lead to our destruction. People often think Christians are boring, and drugs and alcohol will bring joy to their lives. This lie leads to the bondage of addiction. If you believe society is designed in a way that will make it impossible for you to succeed, you will become a failure because you believe the devil’s lie. Can you think of other examples?

If you want the belt of truth, trust in Jesus by repenting of your sin and receiving his gift of salvation. Join a Bible-believing church and find mature Christians who can help you to grow as a follower of Jesus.

Do you have plans to celebrate Independence Day? Have you visited the fireworks stand with the intention of burning money for the excitement of loud bursts of color? Or did you buy things that sparkle and smoke intentionally getting less “bang for your buck?” Maybe you prefer to let your neighbors spend their hard-earned money while you watch the skies for free entertainment. For me, it varies from year to year.

As the fireworks are exploding overhead, do you think of the Star-Spangled Banner? I do. I think of the rockets red glare and the bombs bursting in air. I am thankful for America, our flag, and our people. When men and women of all races gave their lives defending America, they were sacrificing themselves so Americans could maintain their freedom. I am always amazed by Americans who hate their own country while having never lived anywhere else. If people are not grateful to live in this country, they should consider the plight of people who live in poverty in other countries.

My first mission trip was to Eastern Europe. I will never forget sitting and talking with the people about what it is like to live in America, and what would happen if they could ever live in the United States. Communism had left them without finances or hope for the future. If you want to distinguish an American from people who live in the former Soviet Union look for a smile. The Americans were the only ones smiling—especially in photos. I fell in love with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and my worldview was radically changed by going on that mission trip.

Some of my wife’s family have dual citizenship. Her father is Dutch, and her mother is American. I have learned a lot from family members who live in the Netherlands. What many people want to call socialism, is capitalistic with a high rate of taxation. The government taxes more of the paycheck as salaries increase, so most people lose the incentive to accept promotions. Recently, we have seen people refuse to work as our government gave them money for being unemployed. What we believe or perceive has a dramatic impact on how we live. Like with slavery, people choose “you work, and I eat.”

In John 8:32, we read, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” This year many people celebrated “Juneteenth.” This was to commemorate when the news of the emancipation proclamation reached Texas. Technically the people were free, but they did not know it. When a person becomes a Christian, we are set free from the law of sin and death, and we become citizens of the kingdom of God.

While we work to make this world a better place, we have hope of life after death in heaven. By God’s grace we can break the bondage of sin in our lives. In Galatians 5:1 we learn, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Unfortunately, free people can imprison themselves by returning to sinful lifestyles or legalism.

Sometimes people will use religion to excuse their sinful behavior. 1 Peter 2:16 warns us to, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” Christians are forgiven, and we believe that we are going to heaven because Jesus gave his life for us on the cross. When Christians choose sin over obedience, they suffer the consequence.

As dual citizens of America and the kingdom of God, Christians should love and serve both. Remember that soldiers died for our freedom, and Jesus died to save all who will believe in him. We should not take these sacrifices lightly. We must preach the gospel and stand against tyranny to preserve our independence.

Sadly, many people are encouraging those trapped in the slavery of their sin that they cannot change. Have you heard the good news? Jesus has come to set the captives free. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. (Isaiah 61:1, John 8:36).

When we think of pride, we often mean that we are not ashamed of certain things or people. I might say that I am proud of my daughter, or that I take pride in a job well done. Hearing such phrases may lead some to conclude that I am being boastful. Do you consider yourself to be a proud person? What does our society value most, pride or humility?

I am proud to be a Christian. My Christianity is based on Jesus’ righteousness and atoning sacrifice on the cross, not my own righteousness. I agree with the Apostle Paul, “Romans 1:16 (ESV) “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” I am proud to be an American because our country is a place where people have freedom.

Years ago, I learned about the social media “humblebrag.” This is a technique people use to brag on themselves in a way that sounds less boastful. Someone might post or tweet, “I was humbled to receive the award.” While it may be true that it is humbling to receive an award, the person is making an announcement. I have humblebragged, have you? My friends and family are happy for me as I am for them when they celebrate accomplishments. Perhaps we use the term “friends” too loosely on social media. What we would share with close friends and family may not be something we would talk about with others who are only acquaintances.

It is always important to consider God’s perspective in determining appropriate conduct. What does the Bible say about the matter? When it comes to pride and humility, the Bible has much to say. Proverbs 16:18 warns us that, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” It is not the jealousy of others that will lead to a person’s ruin, it is when that person becomes arrogant to the point of destroying his or her life.

Many skeptics of Christianity rejoice when a prominent religious leader fails morally. I wrote a column praising Ravi Zacharias shortly after his death. His organization later officially announced that he had been involved in scandalous behavior. That was devastating news. We praise people to the point that they become full of pride. Instead of being held accountable by peers, they become too proud to admit weaknesses or seek help. Eventually they self-destruct.

Does that sound familiar? We put people on pedestals, and they become consumed by pride. The disqualification of a few religious leaders is no excuse for atheism. Psalm 10:4 says, “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God.’” Anyone can fall when he or she chooses pride over humility. An apologist may fail morally, that does not change the nature of truth, creation, salvation, or other topics of theology.

In Jeremiah 9:23–24, we are instructed, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches,but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’” Again, 2 Corinthians 10:17 says, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

In Philippians chapter 2 we read how Jesus humbled himself, took on flesh, died on the cross, rose from the grave, and is now exalted. The Bible says every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. We are to imitate Jesus. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:10. When it comes to pride, remember, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6.

We must choose to be humble and trust that the Lord will exalt us in his time.

Memorial Day weekend is a time when people welcome summer with cookouts and outdoor activities. Most people appreciate an extended weekend. What is sad, is that many have forgotten the significance of Memorial Day. Some want to thank those who are serving, others want to thank those who have served. Perhaps even some treat it like Independence Day? However, Memorial Day is set aside to specifically honor those who died serving our country. Those are the people who made the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield.

Have you ever thought about what life would be like if no one were willing to fight or die for us? You would have to deny the existence of evil and believe the myth that humans are basically good and not spiritually flawed or fallen. My first dealing with Christian pacifists occurred in another country. I was teaching pastors in El Salvador on my second visit. During the training time, I was speaking about the book of Nehemiah. More specifically, I was in chapter 4 and I mentioned how the people were rebuilding the wall nearest their homes with a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other. I made the point that the Hebrews were willing to fight to defend their families. Even though I was teaching directly from the Bible, many of the pastors told me that I was wrong. They were convinced that Christians should never fight back under any circumstances.

Most of the time when I am on a mission trip, I must remind myself to not let my culture influence the way I handle Scripture. What I encountered was a people group who had been through recent wars and gang violence. They could not stomach the idea of fighting with weapons of war. Later that day we were able to unite around the idea that the Bible makes us uncomfortable at times, but God’s word carries the ultimate authority. As I study Scripture, I am convinced that we are always at war. There is an ongoing battle of good versus evil.

Christianity is a world religion with much diversity. While there are Christians who are pacifists, most hold to an idea of a “Just War.” This is when it is a clear case of good versus evil. Looking at Romans 13:1-5, we see that God has ordained societal structures, and the military and police do not, “bear the sword in vain.” In a perfect society, only those who do evil would need to fear those who are in authority. However, wicked governments abuse their people. Without righteous nations to intervene, evil will spread unchecked.

I am currently preaching a sermon series from Ephesians 6:10-20 on spiritual warfare. The Bible encourages us to be equipped with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is God’s word. When it comes to spiritual warfare, we are to stand our ground and not run from the fight. You will notice that most of the Armor of God is for defensive purposes. Our only weapon is the word of God.

Those who fought and died to protect our freedoms are heroes. I am thankful for the men and women who were willing to sacrifice their lives for us. We need to pray for our representatives who deal with foreign policy to have wisdom. We want to avoid unnecessary wars, but we also do not want to be vulnerable to threats from our enemies. We must not surrender our freedom to foreign or domestic adversaries. Let us honor those who died, and not take their sacrifice for granted. We must fight to keep America the home of the free and the land of the brave.

Do you remember seeing images of clear city skylines and clean lakes and rivers in large metropolitan areas during the shutdown? I do. What struck me was how quickly the environment was able to recover from what seemed to be permanent damage. That is not to say that we should not be concerned about environmental issues. Has anyone told you that Christians do not care about the earth? The reality is that the Bible teaches us to be good stewards over God’s creation.

Calvin DeWitt has written a book, The Environment and the Christian, in which he lists seven areas that should concern us. First is that wilderness is being converted to agriculture, and agricultural land is being converted into urban areas at an unprecedented rate. Second, as many as three species a day may be becoming extinct. Third, land is being degraded by pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Fourth, the storage of nuclear and other hazardous wastes is a problem. Fifth, pollution is affecting the land and oceans. Sixth, many are concerned about changes in the atmosphere, i.e., warming. And seventh, as civilization spreads, it encroaches cultures that were more in harmony with nature like the Amish, and peoples of the rainforests.

You would think that if caring for the environment is a purely political idea urban centers would be more environmentally friendly than rural areas, but that is seldom the case. I think most people want clean water, fresh air, and less pollution.

As a Christian, I believe this world is created by God. How can anyone look at the amazing scenery all over this planet and not believe that all things have been created by design and for a purpose? Looking through a microscope or a telescope you will see structure and order, not chaos. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

My family and I enjoy the St. Louis Zoo. We appreciate the opportunity to see so many amazing creatures. All of creation has been made by God. Humans are the only creatures designated by God to be made in his image. Genesis 1:27–28 explains, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”

While some may interpret this passage from Genesis as giving humans a license to destroy the environment and hunt animals into extinction, a more careful study of Scripture shows that we are to manage the earth and its resources well. In Leviticus, we see the agricultural principle of resting the soil and rotating crops. They were instructed to work the soil for six years, and on the seventh year leave it alone so that nutrients could return to the soil.

Proverbs 12:10 says the righteous care for the needs of their animals. Remember the song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow?” The song reassures us that God, who cares about a sparrow that falls, cares about you and me. See Matthew 10:29. Have you ever grieved over the death of a pet. I have. As the Lamb of God, Jesus shed his blood for us on the cross as God’s final sacrifice to atone for our sin. Have you trusted him for salvation?

The Bible teaches that this planet will be destroyed and remade. There will be a new heaven and a new earth according to several Old Testament and New Testament passages (Isaiah 65:17-19 and 66:22, 2 Peter 3:13, and Revelation 21:1). We view this world as our temporary home. We choose to worship the Creator, not the creation (Romans 1:18-23).

Christians are responsible to God to be good stewards of the environment. That does not mean we need to support radical policies that cost jobs and hurt working families. Saving the planet will not spare us of death. Where will you spend eternity?