Friday, May 27, 2022

The Victory of Obedient Faith

My present journey in God’s word is through Paul’s teaching on the whole armor of God in Ephesians 6. It has me considering how this requires us to understand why these instructions come at the end of his letter rather than at the beginning. It is like the roof on the house; it absolutely requires the foundation that holds everything else secure. 

Ephesians is probably the clearest example of how Paul would begin his letters by teaching and reminding us of what is true and finish his letters by teaching and reminding us how to live worthy of what is true.[1] In this case, to live worthy of who we are in Christ, we must know the truth of who we are and what God has done for us, and stand firm against the devil’s efforts to “steal and kill and destroy.”[2]         

Here is Paul’s introduction to how we use the whole armor of God to stand for Christ while standing against the devil: 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having…[3] 

Churches are always called to “test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”[4] If everyone in the church did this, we would have agreement in the Lord, unity in the Spirit, and strength in numbers, so to speak. 

My summary of God speaking to me this morning is that: 

  • Paul has established in the preceding chapters of Ephesians one of the most clear and concise declarations of who we are “in Christ”, meaning, “in the Lord”
  • Before we get to this somewhat negative focus on the spiritual battle, standing up to what is against us, Paul has called us to the positive focus of how to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…”[5]
  • Now Paul is calling us to stand firm in everything he has already taught, our determination to live worthy of our Savior and his calling on our lives, while dealing head-on with the spiritual attacks that come from the evil one
  • And he shows the church how to put on the whole armor of God around the one body of Christ so we are all standing firm and strong together.

I know how easy it is to think that our battles are against “flesh and blood”. Isn’t that the pattern Satan keeps using against churches, to get our focus off the word and the Spirit and onto personal grievances with people? 

Let me tell you about one of the most real and personal experiences of God drawing people into his word and prayer, and the devil stealing, killing and destroying a church that would not put on the whole armor of God. 

I was in a congregation where the people had been together for 20+ years. However, they had never progressed beyond reading a daily devotional booklet that gave them a verse or two of scripture and told them what to think about it. No one had ever learned to simply read the word, talk to God about what he was saying to them, and put into practice whatever Jesus instructed. 

In that context, I had the privilege of watching people fall in love with God’s word as they simply started reading it for themselves and letting the Spirit teach them. People would come to prayer meetings almost trembling with excitement to get to the sharing time where they could praise God for what they were learning. 

It took no time at all for everyone to be surprised that, no matter where people were reading, and no matter what was going on in those scriptures, not only did each person have something that felt very real and personal to them, but the sharing of these things showed that God was speaking in almost identical ways to everyone. It was literally transforming. We were feeling like the one body of Christ led by our one head, Jesus himself. 

After some time, as is God’s way of doing things, we discovered that he was leading people deeper into themselves at the same time as he was leading them deeper into his word. It was clear that God was showing people where they needed healing and freedom in Christ in order to continue growing to know God in the real and personal ways we were all experiencing. 

Then the tragic thing happened: the deeper things triggered self-protection, and people began listening to the voices of fear from within instead of the voice of love from the word. And when that happened, everyone became convinced that personal grievances and perceived hurts were the ultimate reality and nothing God said in his word mattered. 

That church no longer exists. 

I present this invitation and warning from my encouragement that God has given his children time to be tested, to see what is “good” and hold on to it, and to admit and confess what is “evil” and repent, renounce, and forsake these things so we can abstain from them. Any church can get back to letting the word of Christ once again dwell in them richly for the building up of the body of Christ. And any church can fall away when we are unwilling to repent.[6] 

If any of us have read this, and struggle to obey Jesus and his word in faith, it is a problem of Satan’s schemes no matter how much it feels like a valid issue of personal justification. If we can’t do Jesus’ will about it, we are doing the devil’s will about it. No other options. 

I invite everyone to do what God’s word says is the solution: “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love," be "eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”[7] If we will unite with other believers to do this, no matter how weak or hurting we feel, the whole armor of God will enable all who are willing to stand firm in Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Oh yes, there is a reason that the first piece of the whole armor of God is called, “the belt of truth”. Start by putting on truth, abstaining from lies, and you will have the strength to unite with Jesus’ church in the Spirit to do all the rest.


© 2022 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)


[1] Paul gives a very clear and brilliant transition is in Ephesians 4:1, leading from what is true about who we are in Christ, to how we live worthy of that calling.

[2] John 10:10

[3] Ephesians 6:10-14

[4] I Thessalonians 5:21-22

[5] Ephesians 4:1

[6] The letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 make this clear.

[7] Ephesians 4:2-3

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Armed With the Armor of God

For the past month or so, I have spent considerable time meditating on Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1. It has shown me how to keep my mind set on being “filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”.[1] Through many mornings of prayer-journaling, and many prayer walks in the hills, I have process a lot of things in my life according to the way Paul prayed. 

I have also been helped along by David’s prayer in Psalm 51 where David mentors us in how to pray in repentance and faith for the thorough cleansing of our sin and a wonderful return to joy in our salvation after we have sinned. It has been a very encouraging journey to see how confident David was in the realities of who God was, what he was like, and what he would do for a man who had sinned so terribly. 

Now I return to my previous mining in the quarry of Ephesians 6, the “Whole Armor of God”.[2] 

Today’s main thought is that, when we consider what we are told to do in relation to the whole armor of God, it revolves around the one body of Christ “taking up” the whole armor of God and “putting it on”. Since these are spiritual realities, we need to learn how to do them together in real life. 

I need to clarify that us North American Christians often miss completely who Paul is talking to in relation to putting on the whole armor of God because we have such an individualistic view of salvation. For many of us, our understanding of salvation is that we are individuals who have no accountability to one another except to the extent we ourselves decide to do anything. We see the whole armor of God as covering each individual Christian rather than the local body of Christ. 

However, in this letter, Paul has already presented the truth of the church as the “one new man” that is living for Christ together.[3] When we view taking up and putting on the whole armor of God as what we do as the whole body of Christ, it is wonderfully more glorious than the disappointing results when everyone is in their own corner of the ring thinking they have to battle the devil on their own. 

The secondary thought in this passage is that, if the local church does take up and put on the whole armor of God together, it enables us to “be strong”, to “stand”, to “wrestle”, to “withstand”, and to “stand firm”. This is what the weaker believers in the church need; not a picture where they go-it-alone and do their best to put on this armor, but to see themselves as residing in Jesus’ church and fellowshipping with all kinds of members of the body of Christ who build each other up in faith, hope, and love. In that expression of Jesus’ church, they are strengthened by the group dynamic of the body of Christ where the independent individuality of North American Christianity would leave them feeling defeated and alone. 

The imagery of the whole armor of God is a word-picture that was easily understood by Paul’s readers and is quite simple to explain to any hearers today. The quest is to know how to use such a fascinating picture as a constant reminder of what we do with each characteristic so that it enables a church to stand firm rather than fall apart. Here is a summary of what we are looking for: 

  • What do we do with “truth” in the church so it is like a belt around the whole body of Christ holding all our armor in place?
  • What do we do with “righteousness” in the church so that it is like a breastplate guarding our vital organs (the fragile love relationships)?
  • How do we put on the “readiness of the gospel” so that it is like our church is fitted with the best footwear to handle any enemy, terrain, or battlefield?
  • How do we take up “faith” in real life situations so that our church is extinguishing the fiery arrows of the evil one?
  • How do we fill our minds with the glorious realities of our “salvation” so that our group-mind is protected from the world’s enticements, the sark’s delusions, and the devil’s lies, and liberated to constantly rejoice in our redemption?
  • How do we engage the whole body of Christ to take up the “word of God” in every situation we face with an active desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit as we let the words of Christ dwell in us richly so that we have the mind of Christ in the Scriptures?
  • How do we unite the body of Christ to so maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace that our “praying” is “in the Spirit”, constantly seeking the Father’s name to be hallowed in all that we do, his kingdom to come and overtake everything we are doing, and his will to be done among us as it is done in heaven?
  • And, how do we help the church “proclaim the good news” through both those who are gifted to do so, and every member being ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us the reason for the hope we have in Christ, so that the one voice the world hears from us is, “Fear not, for I bring you good news of great joy, for a Savior has come who is Christ, the Lord”[4]?   

This is what I present to the Lord, and to his church, as questions that all must be answered with, “Father, not my will, but yours be done!” And, if we do that together, seeking to have the body of Christ we are in taking up and putting on the whole armor of God, we can be sure to see God answering Paul’s prayer that we “may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him.”[5] 

“Father in heaven, thank you for silencing my busy-minded thoughts so I can hear your voice above my own, and keep my mind set on these truths from above so that I can walk with Jesus today in delighting to do your will and accomplishing whatever you give me to do. I praise you for your gift of fellowship in your Spirit where this beloved child gets to enjoy you in the wonders of your great and awesome gift of redemption.”


© 2022 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)



[1] Colossians 1:9 (context is Colossians 1:9-14)

[2] Ephesians 6:10-20

[3] Specifically Ephesians 2:15, but in the context of Ephesians 2:11-22 where he uses repeated images of the people of God being a single “dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (vs 22).

[4] Luke 2:10-11

[5] Colossians 1:9-10 (in context of the whole beautiful prayer!)

Monday, May 9, 2022

Endurance For Dull-mindedness

 “I begin this week in weakness.” 

Yes, that is what I told Father as I began my time with him this morning! 

There were so many feelings about everything going on in me because of everything going on around me. I was aware of a dullness of mind that may have been a sign of overload. When I came to God like that it almost felt like I was challenging him to see if he could handle me being so dull-minded and still get something through to my heart, mind, and soul. 

After some wonderful trails through Psalm 26 and Zephaniah 3 this past week, I am back to the main path of how Paul prayed in Colossians 1. Today’s starting point was: “for all endurance and patience with joy”.[1] 

Because of my dullness of mind, I took the first word, “endurance”, and began at the beginning to see how endurance would flow out of both the praying and the experiencing of what Paul prayed and experienced. I knew that I needed the refresher, but it felt like I also needed to grasp something in a deeper way, and, perhaps, for a deeper need. 

The primary ministry of the Spirit was to awaken my heart to how the faith, the love, and the hope of the Colossian Christians was the three-dimensional foundation of everything Paul prayed. Nothing in Paul’s prayer can be fulfilled in our lives unless we are living from our new hearts in “faith in Christ Jesus”, “love for all the saints”, and “the hope laid up for us in heaven”.[2] If those are not there, Paul does what we find in Galatians to reattach us to the good news of great joy in the gospel so we are once living by grace through faith. 

This means that the “endurance and patience with joy” prayer request requires a genuine attachment to the reality of a growing faith, love, and hope. My quest this morning was to meditate on how these three universal realities of the kingdom of God would not only continue mentoring me in how to join Paul in prayer, but would also build the realness of my ability to endure with joy this very day. I particularly wanted to know how meditating on these realities would build my endurance where dull-mindedness was trying to maintain its grip on my thoughts! 

When I considered how “faith in Christ Jesus” gives endurance, I felt the genuine and good feeling of attachment to the reality that faith attaches us to Jesus Christ who is our strength. He is the rock on which we stand. He is the one and only Savior of the world. He is perfect and complete. He is the truth, the reality, the Word of God, and so our faith in him constantly builds in us so we press on with him (endurance) since he is incapable of giving up on what the Triune God is doing to save us. 

When I then considered how “the love that you have for all the saints” meshes with endurance, I was reminded that the agapè-hesed-love of the kingdom of God is real when the believers are all experiencing the agapè-hesed-love of the Triune God.[3] That love, by its very nature, is enduring. The quality of love in God is such that it never fails. If there is a love in us that never fails because it is the very love God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit whom he has given us,[4] then it will lead us to become enduring in everything to do with God’s people since the love we have “for all the saints” is the enduring, faithful, unstoppable, irresistible, unfailing love of God. If we have that love, and pray the way Paul prayed, we will constantly build up that naturally enduring love into the reality of enduring in us. And, yes, I’m looking forward to seeing how God does that in me this week! 

The “hope laid up for you in heaven” already gives us the taste and experience of the realities of eternal life in the here-and-now. Everything we hope for (know for certain about the future) has a level of experience in this earthly life. We already know God now, but hope keeps us excited about how much more and better we will know God then. As Paul said, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”[5] We already have Jesus with us always, but the new heavens and the new earth will give us a perfection of being with him that is beyond fully imagining. We already have the love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is in us, and the Spirit is the deposit of God in our lives guaranteeing all the rest that is to come,[6] but the wonders of living in the Spirit in the new heavens and the new earth is unthinkably wonderful in the fullness we will experience then.[7] 

Conclusion: the foundation of faith, love, and hope, assures me this morning that it makes sense that these would fuel endurance in whatever I am going to face today. At the same time, it also leads me into relationship with God by faith, attached to his agapè-hesed-love, and emotionally encouraged with the certainty of my eternal hope, so that I am strengthened in my time with God to go into this day expecting his presence and strength to give me “all endurance and patience with joy”. 

After my time with God, my morning exercise routine gave opportunity to listen to a good podcast about who we are in Christ that affirmed what God is doing to build my endurance on the foundation of my faith, love and hope. This encouragement also led to me feeling clear-minded to share God’s love with others as opportunities presented themselves. And I am aware that I have already made decisions to endure things instead of try fixing them, something God has been working on me a lot as of late, so I expect that this will position me for what he can do instead of forcing what I can do. 

All in all, God broke through my dull mindedness this morning and blessed with the answer to Paul’s prayer that I would “be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him”.[8] Many aspects of God’s will became clear to me, and now I can walk with endurance in the things that are worthy of my Lord Jesus Christ.


© 2022 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)




[1] Colossians 1:11

[2] Colossians 1:4-5

[3] Agapè-love is the Greek word used in the New Testament to refer to the primary love of God for his people, and the primary love that governs the kingdom of God. In God, it is the desire to do his best for his children. In God’s children, it is our desire for God’s best for others (including our enemies).

Hesed-love is the Hebrew word used in the Old Testament to refer to God’s unfailing love, his faithful love, his steadfast love, with a strong focus on God being faithful to his covenant for the simple fact that his love never fails.

Both agapè and hesed love unite to teach God’s children how to love “all the saints” the same way as the Triune God loves all of us.  

[4] Romans 5:5 (context is Romans 5:1-5)

[5] I Corinthians 13:12

[6] Ephesians 1:13-14 (context is Ephesians 1:3-14)

[7] God speaks of his new heavens and new earth in Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22 in the Old Testament, and in II Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1 in the New Testament.

[8] The first thing Paul prayed for in his prayer of Colossians 1:9-14.