The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary. The Tree of Life for the week ending 06-13-99
Tree of Life for 06-13-99 Tree of Life for 06-13-99 EPH 6:16 "In addition to all take up the shield of faith by which (shield) you will be able to extinguish, intercept, and destroy all the flaming missiles of the evil one."
James 3:5 "So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!"
The Taming of the Tongue.. perhaps such a subject would have supplied the ground work for a great Shakespearean tragedy. I say "tragedy" since very few are successful at taming the tongue! In fact, it takes a mature believer to not only recognize but to victoriously control the wild meanderings of the tongue.
Our study in Ephesians 6:16 has brought us to the study of the "flaming missiles" of the evil one. The main power utilized behind those flaming missiles is the sins of the tongue. All sins of the tongue have their origin with Satan. The main fiery dart Satan uses to throw at believers on a daily basis comes by way of his most resourceful tool... the tongue.
The word flaming points to a refinement through fiery, burning flames. The word missiles connotes an arrow, javelin or a dart thrown on purpose. Satan's flaming missiles also known as fiery darts are designed to produce stress, pressure, and adversity which produce both inner and overt castrophes. That little tool known as the tongue can reap great havoc in families, relationships, organizations, associations... the world! This is why the word of God commands us to be very careful what we listen to and how we listen.
Mark 4:24 "Take care what you listen to. By the standard of measure it shall be measured to you; and more shall be given you besides."
Luke 8:18 "Therefore take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him shall more be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him."
Even if something appears to be a certain way, we are not to consider as such. ISA 11:3 "...And He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear." Not even the Lord Himself would judge a situation on how it appeared or by what He happened to hear.
Since the believer's defense against the temptation to let lose the tongue is Bible doctrine in the soul, it is only natural the word of God becomes the main objective of the flaming missiles. It is Satan's goal to distract the believer from his or her consistent function in the perception, metabolization, and application of God's word. Without consistency in each, the perception, metabolization, and application of Bible doctrine, there is no operational power for the deployment of the faith-rest tactics. If our enemy can hinder our continuity and momentum in the spiritual life, our viewpoint slowly and subtly begins to change. The believer then becomes apathetic toward the intake of the word of God and the shield of faith eventually lies low, gathering dust and growing tarnished.
The flaming missiles once released, if not intercepted, extinguished and destroyed, will serve to alter the believer's personality, eventually leading to mental disorders. It all starts with a small word. ISA 59:5 calls this the adders egg also known as the cockatrice egg. According to Strong's Concordance it comes from "trusting out the tongue or from the hissing tongue." Even if you receive or entertain words that you don't necessarily believe, they quietly sit... waiting... patiently waiting for the right time to hatch and spring into action thereby further developing the enemy's murky plot of distraction.
Satan's plot of course is to distract believers away from the pure and simple devotion to the truth of God's word. This then leads to a withdrawal. Withdrawal is extremely detrimental in that it allows garbage to replace doctrine in the soul. The soul breathes and whatever you place before it is what it will consume. Flaming missiles therefore, upon reaching their mark, cause self-fragmentation, apostasy, emotional revolt of the soul, and Christian degeneracy. The flaming missiles projected from the mouths of those untrained and undisciplined Christians serve to destroy the spiritual strength of all those in its path.
We are commanded to recognize the battle and not to be used by the enemy in the deployment of his fiery darts. We are never beyond having our objective intercepted and in so doing Satan then uses us to further "his" objective. Spiritual warfare is real and it never ceases to rage forward. Flaming missiles disguised as clean and innocent words of concern or words from a hurt "victim's" mouth will work their way into the soul. Such missiles will then take up room in the soul and that is all our enemy needs... one room in our soul! GAL 5:9 warns us that just a little leaven will spoil the whole lump. Ephesians 4:27 warns us about giving room to the devil, "and do not give the devil an opportunity." The word opportunity in the Greek is topos meaning a room in the soul. Just a little space is all the adders egg needs to nurture itself into a full grown monster! Thereafter comes the final scene in which the monster devours all those in its path. Quite a tragedy.
The causalities which line the road to spiritual maturity are so numerous that not all the graves are properly marked. And still, the voice of the enemy sweetly beckons us to follow them down... down into the depths of apathy, vanity, and the busy schedule and demands of "life" in the cosmos diabolicus. There is a manner of living which pushes God out. Once visited, few return to the narrow road. The pleasures and comforts of the world are highly triumphant in sliding into the number one priority slot and remaining there. Many believers even unbeknown to themselves become the subjects of complacency thereafter considering the mere belief in "God" good enough. And it all starts with a few small fiery darts. Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought to and do not underestimate your enemy. His attack is subtle and attractive! His words are smooth and captivating. And his numbers continue to grow. Beware lest you too join his ranks. Be on guard, keep your shield in position and keep your spiritual muscles trained to lift the shield of faith! Without the proper spiritual equipment the spiritual soldier holds no chance of advancing to the high ground.
Satan hates you, the believer, and has a terrible plan for your life. And, Satan is a master at packaging sin to make it look appealing. He lures us to pursue a deadly course of action which proves to be other than what it appears. The devil plays with our minds, attempting to cause us to think wrongly about the choices we have made. Unknown to us, he has broken into our thinking and is switching our values around. Through this subtle deception he re-marks what is most valuable and sells it to us as cheap. And he places a high value on that which God says is worthless. He presents half-truths in the form of flaming missiles and once inside the believer's soul distorts the course of truth luring his victim to compromise his commitment to obedience to the word of God.
There is an ebb and flow in spiritual warfare and the more spiritual the man or woman, the more likely the target. When in danger you must rely on what is absolutely sure to bring victory... the word of God! Obedience always leads to victory -- always!
There is nothing little that concerns your soul. The smallest and most innocent distraction can snowball into the heat of the battle. This is why the word of God must become automatic to your thinking. The flaming missiles Paul makes note of in EPH 6:16 were some of the deadliest weapons of his day, arrows that had pitch-soaked cotton material affixed to their tips. In battle, a soldier would set the arrows on fire and then shoot it at the enemy. When the fiery dart hit its target, flaming pitch spread onto the enemy's clothing and other flammable surfaces, igniting a spreading fire. Under such attacks, a Roman soldier without a shield was in a defenseless and perilous situation. Hence, Paul ignites us to hold up the shield of faith!
We are facing an enemy who has evil malice and the intent to harm us. Every Christian is stalked down by Satan and his host of fallen angels in an attempt to ambush the believer's faith. The devil is poised and ready to fire his missiles into our hearts at close range. "Faith" is our only defense. We must respond immediately to temptation by putting up the shield of faith. Delayed faith is no faith. The time to resist is not after the missile has harpooned us. Timing is critical in spiritual warfare. Satan's flaming missiles are ready in the air and demand our immediate faith. Act decisively! The language of the New Testament calls for a bold, firm stand against Satan, Eph 6:10-14; James 4:7; 1CO 16:13.
With eyes of faith the believer will see through the smoke of the gunfire (people and their words) to the true source of the aggression... Satan himself. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His temptations, answered the devil, not someone else. Our greatest need then is not to tap into a more plush environment or a new relationship. Our greatest need is to tap into the power of God already available to our lives - the controlling influence of God the Holy Spirit! Where God has put a period let us not put a question mark.
Faith... the invincible weapon.
Superior weaponry is critical to winning any war. Nowhere was this more evident than in the Gulf War. In a high-tech war like none before, one weapon in particular astonished the watching world and single-handedly held off the enemy's attack. It cost more than one million dollars to build just one. It can accelerate from a standing position to a speed of 3,000 miles per hour in seconds. Its powerful computer can detect and calculate the trajectory of any incoming enemy projectile with amazing preciseness and then retaliate to knock an enemy missile out of the sky. Broadcasting atop a roof in Dhahran, NBC correspondent Arthur Kent held a gas mask while pointing to a streak of bright light overhead. With multiplied millions watching live on television, an explosion erupted, and an international viewing audience, including many of our national leaders, saw our invincible weapon -- the U.S. Patriot missile -- shoot an Iraqi Scud out of the sky.
Saddam Hussein would fire a total of eighty-six Scud missiles in the Gulf War, forty at Israel and forty-six at Saudi Arabia. But almost every one would miss its target! Instead, these deadly missiles were literally blown out of the air by our Patriot missiles. The genius of the Patriot's success lay in its sophisticated equipment. Technologically advanced radar on the ground detected and tracked the trajectories of all incoming Iraqi Scuds. The data was immediately transmitted to a control station that, in turn, fed precise computerized instructions to a nearby missile launcher. And instantly a Patriot missile was fired.
With both the incoming Scud and the outgoing Patriot missiles in the air, the radar tracked both weapons, relaying mid-course corrections to a radio receiver in the Patriot missile. As the Patriot zeroed in on the Scud, a proximity fuse detonated the warhead, blowing the Iraqi Scud missile out of the sky before it could hit its unsuspecting target.
The true hero of Desert Storm, our Patriot missile became a household word. The true hero in spiritual warfare is our faith. Our (shield of) faith is that which tracks and intercepts enemy trajectories immediately! Without a strong faith built on the truth of the word of God the target is not destroyed in mid-air but received on full impact destroying (sooner or later) the believer's spiritual life.