Have You Armed and Prepped Your Faith?

a Bible on an old wood table in the forest
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Christians toss around the word “sanctification” — when used in the Bible, sanctification means to be holy, sacred, set apart, consecrated, and dedicated. In the KJV, the following words are used:

  • Sanctify 65x
  • Sanctification 5x
  • Consecrate 28x
  • Consecration 13x

As you can see, the verb tense is used much more than the noun. God cares about our efforts to become holy and set apart.

God’s Plan for Our Sanctification

Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.”

Peter said in 1 Peter 1:2, “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit,”

John said in John 17:17, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”

So,

  • It’s God’s will that we be sanctified
  • It’s the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us
  • We’re sanctified through His Word

The Trinity is working together for our sanctification, but we must do our part. I’d like to focus on a passage from Matthew 12, vv43–45, but first, a little context.

Jesus and the Pharisees Didn’t Get Along

Before these verses, Jesus had been on a long discourse slamming the Pharisees, and we know what He thought about them -

In Matthew 23:27–28, Jesus said,

“27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

The Pharisees looked good, but they weren’t sanctified. In Jesus’ scathing discourse in Matthew 12:34, He called them a brood of vipers who God will judge by the fruit they produce. And in 39–42, He says God will judge them worse than the people of Ninevah because the people of Ninevah repented at the preaching of Jonah, and someone greater than Jonah is standing before them now, and they rejected Him.

Why Did the Unclean Spirit Leave?

So, in Matthew 12:43–45, Jesus said,

43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”

Jesus said the unclean spirit left the man. I wonder why did the unclean spirit leave? If you remember from the parable of the sower, seeds fell in four areas — on the side of the road, on rocky places, among the thorns, and on good soil. The only fruitful seeds were the ones thrown in good soil. They heard and understood the word, which sank deep into their hearts. The other seeds didn’t take root. They fell to persecution or were choked out by “the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth.”

Perhaps God planted the seed of the Gospel in the man’s heart, and the unclean spirit left the man. The man cleaned up his life, started reading his Bible and went to church. But eventually, the cares, concerns, and worries of the world choked out the joy he once felt. And the devil and his demons, always prowling around looking for someone to devour, returned to the man to find a clean but empty house — devoid of the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit. A clean, empty house is a perfect place for the demons and his friends to throw a party.

J. Vernon McGee said,

The hardest people in the world are unsaved church members because they think they are all right. They have undergone self-reformation — empty, swept, and garnished. They are like a vacant house, and all the evil spirits have to do is move in. The Devil owns them, and they don’t recognize this fact. Reformation means death and destruction. Regeneration means life and liberty.

The Lesson for Us

Jesus was talking about the Pharisees in this story, but it’s also a solid warning for believers.

Salvation doesn’t protect us from the enemy’s attacks.

Peter said in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

Paul in Ephesians 6:12 said, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Satan tempted Jesus, and how did Jesus respond? With the Word (Matthew 4:1–11). Our lesson from the departing yet returning demon, and the clean, orderly house, is that we can look good, like the Pharisees but be in grave danger. If we allow the worries or the busyness of this world to impede our walk and fellowship with the Holy Spirit, we’re vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks.

Sanctify Is a Verb

It doesn’t matter how clean and moral we try to act, we must -

  • grow in our knowledge and application of the Word of God
  • nourish our relationship with the Lord
  • be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, and live by His power

We do this by daily prayer, Bible reading, and serving others in the Name of Jesus.

1 Samuel 17 says, “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

The world is crazy. We know that. We can prep and arm ourselves. But most importantly, we can’t allow worries about the world to choke out our devotion to the Lord. The best armor we have is the armor of God — which empowers us to stand firm against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11). What’s causing the chaos in the world today? It’s orchestrated by the rulers, the powers, the world forces of this darkness, the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

Paul advises us in Ephesians 6:14–18, “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints”

Again, like the words sanctify and consecrate are action words, our faith and our battle are all about action -

  • Gird your loins with truth
  • Put on the breastplate of righteousness
  • Shod your feet
  • Taking up the shield
  • Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit
  • Pray and petition
  • Be on alert

We must prep our faith and keep ourselves strong in the Lord. This takes daily effort and time in prayer and in the Word. We have to keep the weeds pulled.

In John 16:33, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

As ambassadors of Christ, we are to have peace and be of good cheer. If we allow the world’s worries to choke out our peace, then we aren’t any different than those who reject Christ.

Hope for Our Nation

This is how we should live as Christians, but I want to end with a word of hope for our nation.

In II CHRONICLES 7:14, God said, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

We can see how God responded to the repentance of the evil King Ahab in 1 Kings 21: 27–29, “So it was, when Ahab heard those words, that he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his body, and fasted and lay in sackcloth, and went about mourning. 28 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29 “See how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the calamity in his days. In the days of his son I will bring the calamity on his house.”

The Lord can forgive us and heal our land if our nation repents. He can choose not to bring calamity upon us. We need to pray for our leaders, even if we don’t like some of them. Pray they encounter the Risen Savior and repent. In the meantime, we must keep our homes clean and filled with the Holy Spirit.

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R. Dennis Brady

R. Dennis Brady

Husband, father, Toby’s friend, writer, fantasy football fanatic, beach lover, blessed child of God. Fantasyfootballbullrush.com