“But since we are of the day, let us be controlled, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8-10)
Without assured truth and love rooted in Christ that guard the heart, we are vulnerable to a number of feelings that run contrary to the high call of Christ.
Without the breastplate of faith we are prone to following sensations and feelings rather than truth.
Without the confidence of eternal life through Christ that guards our minds, our motivation to run with endurance becomes dulled by thoughts of guilt and worthlessness that lead to death.
Without the helmet of salvation, we are likely to reach a point where we reason our way out of acting in faith for Christ.
We don the breastplate to protect the heart and the helmet to protect the mind for we are actively engaged in a cosmic war. A war not of flesh – even though all flesh are entangled in it – but of truth and ideas. We know the outcome; the war is won – our salvation guaranteed.
So why fight?
Why engage in a war in which the outcome is already made known?
We fight because although the war is ours, many battles must still be won. The high call of Christ is to skirmish for the souls of those to whom His blood has not yet covered; to bring the guarantee of salvation to all flesh.
Don the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of salvation to victory!
It truly is overwhelming to be so unconditionally loved, so cared about, by someone that you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that everything they say and do is in your best interest. They may call out weak spots in your character, but you receive it in humility because you know they love you. They may ask you to do something difficult and scary, but you step out in faith because you know that they care about you.
The truth is that there is only One who fits the bill. And the restorative power of His love is truly awesome.
Hosea 6:1-3 touched my heart in a unique way as I was slowly reading through each verse this afternoon. Hosea pleads, “Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.”
The call to the world throughout the Bible is always, “Return to Me! Please return to Me! Let me heal you! Drink from the well that will never run dry!”
And for many of us, returning to the One who created us is more of a painful journey than a peaceful one, Israel being a prime example.
The reason for the Law of Moses, the reason for the Kings of Israel, the reason for the prophets, priests, wars, and captivities (notice that this is the entirety of the Old Testament) was because Israel continually tried to remedy their problems with foreign gods who had “eyes, but could not see, ears but could not hear, mouths but could not speak.” (Psalm 115:5-6)
Instead of returning to the Lord in their mistakes, they turned their eyes from Him. Instead of repenting – redirecting their minds to follow the God who was faithfully leading them- they rebelled. Instead of flourishing in His ways, they floundered in their own ways.
And time after time did the Lord bring His restorative hand of discipline down on the Israelite people. He destroyed their lifeless gods. He broke every expectation that they had of being able to live completely self-reliant. And He made sure that they knew that without Him, real peace, love, and joy are unattainable.
He knew they needed Him, because He knows what is best for those whom He created.
Remarkably, three things are consistently mentioned by individuals in the Old Testament who turn back to the Lord after undergoing bouts of discipline:
1) If we return to Him, He will hear us
2) If we return to Him, He will heal us
3) If we return to Him, He will lead us
There was never any doubt in the eyes of those who underwent the discipline of the Lord that He loved them and cared for them. Nor was there ever any fear of rejection if repentance was made.
The discipline of the Lord is not for the pleasure of a sadistic deity, it is rather for the restoration of broken people to the only One who can heal their brokenness, the all-loving, Almighty, Yahweh.
The people of Israel never doubted His intentions.
Nor should we.
It will be painful, that can be guaranteed.
But what can also be guaranteed is that He knows what He is doing, and His discipline is for our benefit, for our restoration.
And so the promises of God to us if we offer ourselves to Him in repentance is that he will hear, heal, and lead. Hear, so that we might commune with Him. Heal, so that we might be free from the guilt and shame of our mistakes. And lead, so that we might walk in His ways producing God-honoring fruit wherever we go.
For the true purpose of discipline is to restore the creature to the Creator, and the purpose of restoring the creature to the Creator is God-honoring action.