Dr. Dobson: Well, that was the voice of prolific Bible teacher Priscilla Shirer, and you're listening to Family Talk, a division of James Dobson Family Institute. I am James Dobson. I'm so glad you'd join us today. Yesterday you heard the first part of this powerful message about the spiritual warfare that's happening around us every single day. Priscilla also highlighted our need to put on the armor of God to fight against the attacks of the evil one. I bet you there's some people listening to us today who have been dealing with that attack, with the assault of the evil one.
Now today we're going to be concluding Priscilla's lesson from the apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesians, but before we hear that, let me remind you just a little bit about our guests. Priscilla Shirer is a popular speaker, a New York Times bestselling author and the co-founder of Going Beyond Ministries. She's created 10 video teaching series and acted in three popular films. I'm talking films that you may have seen in theaters. One of them is called War Room, another one is I Can Only Imagine and Overcomer. Priscilla also holds a master's degree in biblical studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. As we rejoin this message, Priscilla explains the significance of each piece of our spiritual armor and the importance of walking in righteousness. I really do hope that this message strengthens your faith and empowers you to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Priscilla Shirer: Now, let me tell you something about myself. I think that people that do know me would agree. I think. I'm a pretty easy going personality. Meaning if somebody offends me or if they do something against me or do me wrong in any sort of way, it just sort of rolls off me. I'm not easily offended. I don't harbor grudges against people. If somebody asks me for forgiveness, it's just easy for me to forgive them and move on. But if I find out that someone has been planning to do me wrong... Don't get it twisted. Well now, that's a whole different story.
If I find out that you have been watching me to try to figure out when I come and when I go so that you can determine the best timing to take advantage of me. If I find out that you've been studying me to try to find out what my weaknesses are, what my inabilities are, what the tendencies of my flesh are, so that you can try to find vulnerable places to take advantage of. If I figure out that not only have you been watching me in my present state, but you've been looking into my history so that you can figure out what past abuses I may have suffered, that have left tender places in my heart, then you can take advantage of today. And if I find out that not only have you been studying me, but you've been studying this man that the Lord has given me to be married to for the past 20 years, you've been watching him to try to figure out what his weaknesses are so that you can figure out how to dangle the right carrot in the right way, on the right day to lead him astray.
And if I find out that you've been looking into his history so that you can try to figure out what is in his history and my history so that you can make it combust so that we cannot have peace in our home. And if I find out that not only have you had the nerve to study me and study my spouse, but you have had the nerve to have your eyes on these three boys that the Lord has given us to rear into warrior men for Christ. If I find out you've been trying to figure out what their insecurities are, what their fears are, so that you can already be planning a way to trip them up before they realize the destiny to which they have been called. If I find out you've been scheming against me, well now if it's a war you want, it's a war you going get it.
The enemy schemes. And does it knowing that cause a Holy indignation to rise up on the inside of you. That he's been studying you. He's been watching you to figure out the best way to take advantage of you. Have you ever considered the fact that that carrot that entices you, the one that doesn't bother with your friend or your spouse, because it's not their thing? It's not what tickles their fancy, but that particular carrot is always dangled in front of our faces when we are most lonely. When you're most hungry, when you're most tired, when you're most vulnerable, that's when the carrot is dangled. That's not coincidence. That's a strategy. It's a scheme of the enemy. And he cannot find us as believers laying down on the job, just hoping that he doesn't show up. He preys on lazy, apathetic Christianity. What we have to be are men and women that stand at the doorway of our home and say, "Not today Satan. Not on our watch."
So, the apostle Paul says, "I'm going to give you some strategy." It doesn't look right. It doesn't seem to actually make any sense. It doesn't seem to connect to the marital difficulty you're going through, the trouble in your singleness that you're going through, that financial struggle, the trouble with your boss, it's not going to seem to connect, but if you will dress like this, you will have the victory that you were looking for. He points out six pieces of armor. Actually, I believe there are seven because he says first in verse 14, "To make sure that your loins are girded with truth." Then he says "You need a breastplate and the breastplate is called righteousness." Then he says, "If you want any hope of moving forward, you're going to need something for your feet." Verse 15, he says, "Make sure that your feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace."
And then he says, "You're going to need a shield because the enemy's got flaming missile that he intends to send sailing in your direction. You're going to need a shield over your life and the shield is called your faith." But not only that, he says that "You're going to need something to protect your mind because the enemy is coming with the lies that he hopes to construct into strongholds so that it will block out the knowledge and the truth of God from ever reaching you. You need protection for your mind." He says "You need a helmet called salvation." But he says, "Not only that, you're going to need a sword."
And the sword that he is referring to was about 18 inches long. It was really a dagger. It was designed for up-close battle when the enemy was all up in your face and you needed to make sure that there was something to take him out when he was too close for comfort. Paul says, "You're going to need a dagger of the spirit and the dagger is called the word of God." But he does not stop at number six. He closes in verse 18 with a seventh weapon and he says, "Pray." He says, "You cannot be a person of victory if you do not pray." Prayer is what infuses the other six weapons with the divine energy that they need to operate at full force in your life. I said this at Color and I'll say it again, that prayer is the key that your God has literally put in your hand and in my hand to unlock all the resources of heaven and have them unleashed onto the landscape of earth.
First Peter 1:13 or 1:3 rather says that "All spiritual blessings that you need, he's already got stored up for you." All you got to do is use the key. Why wouldn't we use a key like that? How can we be too busy to use a key like that? If my people who are called by my name... Listen, this promise works, even if we don't evangelize a whole lot of other people, he says, "If my people, the folks that are already sitting in the dominion at Hillsong London on this Sunday night, if I could just get my people to humble themselves and pray." He says, "I promise I will hear from heaven and I will not just heal the whole land out there. I'll heal the land underneath the roof of your own house." So he says, "Pray."
There's one other piece of armor that I couldn't help but spend a moment on tonight. You guys all right, y'all game?
Priscilla Shirer: Verse 14, the last line, he says, "You need a breastplate. And the breastplate is called..."
Priscilla Shirer: What's it called?
Priscilla Shirer: Righteousness. So Jerry and I, we live in a fairly rural part of Dallas, Fort Worth. We live about 10 minutes, 15 minutes from the city. Easy to get there. But when we go home it feels it's worlds away. That's why we liked it. It's on a slow, lazy little sleepy two lane road. We've got nice yard in the back so there's trees and... I told you I have three boys. It's things three boys need in their life like bugs and mud and stuff like that. Because I'm the kind of mom that believes in go outside and play. Are there any other mothers that believe in go outside and play?
Yeah, I still believe in that. Anytime these boys have the nerve to come to me and say that they are bored, I say "Go outside. Do you see that tree right there? Go play with it. You can play tag with it. You can eat it. I don't care what you do with it. Go play with it." One of the reasons we like living there as well is because one of my closest friends lives across the street. Her name is Rachel. Rachel has a pond in the front of her property. I used to take my boys there even before we lived there to visit Auntie Rachel. So now we use the pond quite frequently. We have for a lot of years now. We grab the two fishing poles that I bought on sale at the local discount store around the corner. I also have a tackle box because in the tackle box we have extra little bobber thingies that you use because we always need extras of those.
We've got extra hooks cause we always seem to lose the hooks. We need new hooks. There are scissors in there in case I need to cut the line. I also have a pair of gloves because y'all know I don't mind going fishing but I'm not actually finna touch no fish. So I take the boys across the street and we'd get whatever hot dog meat is left from the week. That's our bait. Because we're professionals. We walk across the street and we stand underneath the shade of a tree. There's a few trees there, a little cove of trees and we stand there and it's perfect because the shade makes the fish want to come right there. Just a little small sun perch and we just throw the line in and for years now we have just gone for an hour every now and then and it's great because we can literally catch 10 fish in an hour cause they're all just pooled right there.
Every five or 10 minutes we've got another bite on the line. It's the perfect fishing for a six year old, instant gratification. Every now and then I'm feeling adventurous though and my neighbors have this little old rusted rowboat they got on Craigslist and every now and then we will get in the rowboat and we'll row out to the middle of the pond and we'll fish from there. I have to be feeling adventurous though because, rightfully so, my neighbors leave the boat upside down on the side of the pond. They should so it can drain any water that was there from before. But I know that the environment that has been created underneath that upside down boat is damp and shady, it's moist. It is the perfect environment for a critter. So I know when I turn this thing over, something is either going to hop out from underneath it, something is going to waddle out from underneath it or worst of all, something's going to slither out from underneath it.
So, whenever I'm feeling adventurous, I'll say, "Come on boys, let's turn this boat over." I always get way in the back at the tip of the boat. I put them on the sides and I'll say, "Come on, let's turn it over." We turn it over and inevitably, every time, something comes out from underneath that boat. It's amazing to me that never once have I ever had to write a golden sealed invitation and send it into the brush nearby to invite the critters to come and join us at 1:00 on Saturday, we'll be here. Never once have I had to stand off to the side and send out a clarion call into the woods nearby to let the critters know that they can come and be a part of the festivities. Never once have I had to invite them because the environment created by the upside down boat is invitation enough.
Unrighteousness is upside down behavior that is out of alignment with the truth of God's word to where you can pray against the enemy till you're blue in the face, but if the environment cultivates and festers demonic activity, you don't have to invite him. He'll already be on the way. Righteousness is right side up living that invites the favor of God on your life. It is behavior that aligns itself with the truth of God's word that we celebrate in here Sunday after Sunday. Y'all, if we just come here and applaud preaching from the platform, but leave this room and live any old way Monday through Saturday, that we have played right into the enemy's hand.
What he's hoping is that you'll just come here and applaud the word but won't live like we actually believe what it is that is written in this book. The apostle Paul says, "Right living, righteousness, right living is a breastplate. It blocks the enemy from a full frontal attack against your life." When a soldier went into battle, that soldier could be smart, could know all of the tactile strategies that they have in mind. That soldier could have a lot of muscle and be very strong. That soldier could have on all the other pieces of uniform and look very gallant with his big sword and his sphere and his dagger and his sword.
He could have everything available to him and look impressive, but if he went into battle with all of that and no breastplate, one shot from the enemy in the right spot would wipe him out in a moment. Which is why the enemy does not care if you wear the tee shirt. He doesn't care if you attend the conference. It's not his favorite thing, but that's not what he's trying to get to. He doesn't mind if you've got the uniform on and you know the scriptures and you've got the spiritual muscle, you do all the right things, but if you go into battle without a breastplate, one shot to the right place and he can take you out.
Which is why he dangles the carrot to lead you into sin and rebellion. That's why he wants you living immorally. He wants you addicted to that substance. He wants you refusing, digging your heels into the ground, and refusing to align your actions and your attitudes with the truth of God because he knows as long as we're living in rebellion, we have no breastplate on and we're exposed to every attack of the enemy. Paul says, "Live," here it is, "holy." Live holy.
"Brothers and sisters, I implore you by the mercies of God to walk in a manner worthy of the calling by which you have been called." To make a decision that it doesn't matter what everybody else in my sphere of influence is going to do. As for me and my house, we're going to serve the Lord. It means that single woman, you say "it doesn't matter what all the other single girls are doing. I'm choosing to honor God and to walk in holiness until I walked down the aisle and say, 'I do.'" It means single man that it doesn't matter what all the other brothers are doing, you've chosen to honor God and to respect your sisters in the Lord until God changes your status. It means father, you've decided to be a father that honors your wife and honors your children to the glory of God. It means wife and mother. You have chosen to do what it takes to honor God in that season. Knowing that our goal is not to impress people. Our goal to garner the applause of heaven.
Y'all, in this day and age where everything is accounted for on social media, we have to wrestle with something our great grandparents did not, and that is this growing insatiable need to impress people. Everything's got to be perfectly lit. We got to make sure we have enough likes and enough friends and enough followers, and we've begun to sacrifice holiness on the altar of impressing people. It's a monster that we're feeding to where holiness is not the main thing anymore. And every single time we grow more concerned about that than holiness, the enemy rubs his hand because he knows there are a whole lot of Christians that are going into battle without a breastplate on and he's waiting to take advantage of us.
Holiness or righteousness, in this context, is not perfection. Thank God, because he is the only perfect one. We cannot, we literally cannot reach that standard. What Paul is talking about here is a lifestyle choice. It doesn't mean you never fail. It doesn't mean you're not human and you don't have weaknesses. It means that you have considered, if there's any area in your life where you've dug your heels into the ground in your attitudes or in your actions. Where you know your God has said "Forgive." And you've just said "No." Where you knew God has said to you "Give." And you've said "No." Where you know he's asked you to take on that opportunity or to walk away from that friendship or that endeavor, but you've just chosen no, despite the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It's when we dig our heels in that our breastplate is removed off of our lives and we do not have the protective measure in place that only holiness can bring.
And the enemy hopes that we'll be exposed. "Above all else," Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, protect your heart for from it flow the wellsprings of life." And then the apostle Paul, he comes along in the New Testament right here, Ephesians chapter six he tells us how to protect our heart. He says, "Live Holy." Galatians 5:1 says "It's for freedom that you had been set free, therefore stand firm and never be subject again to any yoke of slavery." Why? Because when you're enslaved, you go into battle without a breastplate. When you're free, you are covered, blocking out the enemy from the full frontal attack he intends upon your life.
Because our God is perfect and we are not, holiness can become a burden if we try to achieve it on our own. It's too high of a standard. Like the roof of this building, it's way too high. Even if you're more athletically inclined than me. If both of us jumped, you might get higher than me, but neither one of us is going to touch the standard because it's too high. Man, righteousness is too high a goal to reach. It's too heavy a burden.
Do you know of all of the Roman soldiers' weaponry and armory, the breastplate was the heaviest, about 70 pounds? I'm not sure how that translates exactly to kilos, but listen, it is heavy and the soldier would be so weighed down by the weight of his breastplate, there would be no energy left to use to fight because the soldier would have spent so much of his energy just trying to get the breastplate into battle across the line. That's why the soldier needed something to be able to take some of the weight off of his shoulders. They wore a belt and the belt was so wide and so large and part of the goal of the belt was to take some of the weight off of the shoulders of the soldier so that they didn't have to carry all that weight on your own.
I'm going to tell you something right now. If you try to carry the breastplate of righteousness all by yourself, it's going to wear you out. If the enemy can't enslave you to sin and addiction, he's going to try to enslave you to perfectionism so that you're trying so hard to win the approval of God that you don't have any energy left to actually fight against the enemy. Well, can I tell you, there is some truth that can take that weight off your shoulders. There's some truth that can set you free tonight and give you a little room to breathe so you don't have to carry that weight all by yourself.
And the truth is this, that 2000 years ago, a man named Jesus Christ paid the price. He gave you his righteousness in place of your unrighteousness, and the moment you accept the gift, that's all you got to do. He paid the price. When you accept the gift, two things happen. First, he withdraws from your spiritual bank account, the unrighteousness and sin that is your claim, but he doesn't just leave you empty. The good news is that he then credits to your spiritual account the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus,
Roger Marsh: Amen. What an incredible presentation we've heard the past couple of days here on family talk from author, speaker and teacher Priscilla Shirer. I'm Roger Marsh and I don't know about you, but I learned a great deal from these programs. And I pray that as you apply these truths from this message, you'll remember the purposes of our spiritual armor. God has given us the protection and weapons that we need to find victory in our spiritual battles. You can request a CD copy of this powerful message by visiting today's broadcast page at drjamesdobson.org. Once you're there, you can also learn more about Priscilla Shirer and her thriving ministry. Again, go to drjamesdobson.org and tap onto today's broadcast tab. You can also let us know how you've been encouraged by these programs when you visit our Facebook page. Go to facebook.com and then search for Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. Once you're there, leave your feedback on either of our broadcast posts. Again, that's facebook.com, search for Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk, like and then comment.
Finally, question for you: how has your relationship with your significant other? Does your marriage needs some fine tuning? Well, if you go now to drjamesdobson.org and fill out today's Family Talk marriage survey, the short quiz is a way that we can gauge your relational strengths and weaknesses and then after this evaluation you'll be directed to our resources page to better grow your marriage, understand what it means to communicate better in marriage, to be more romantic, and much more. Unlock helpful tools to strengthen your relationship by taking Family Talk's marriage survey today. You can go to drjamesdobson.org for more information on that. Well that brings us to the end of our broadcast and we encourage you to join us again tomorrow as we revisit Dr. Dobson's popular conversation with author Shaunti Feldhahn. It's a fascinating discussion surrounding her book For Men Only. Be sure to listen to that interview on the next edition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. I'm Roger Marsh. Thanks for listening.
Announcer: This has been a presentation of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute.
Dr. Dobson: This is James Dobson again. Before we go, I'd like to remind you that Family Talk is a listener supported program. If you've enjoyed this broadcast, we'd appreciate your helping to keep us on the air. As you know, we talk about everything from religious liberty to the sanctity of human life and raising boys and girls, among others. These are the passions of our hearts and I hope they are for you too. Thank you so much for listening and for being part of this ministry. For more information, go to drjamesdobson.org.