Guarding Your Mind And Emotions

“STAND FIRM THEREFORE . . . HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS” (EPH. 6:14).

True righteousness begins with a right relationship with God.

A Roman soldier would often engage his enemy in hand- to-hand combat. At such times, the weapon of choice was the short sword, with which he sought to penetrate his opponent’s vital organs. For his own protection he wore a molded metal breastplate that extended from the base of his neck to the top of his thighs. It helped deflect any attacks aimed at his heart and abdomen.

The Roman breastplate has great symbolism in Paul’s analogy because to the Jewish people, the heart represented man’s mind and thinking processes; the intestinal area or bowels represented the seat of feelings and emotions. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (KJV). Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jesus added, “From within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts” (Mark 7:21).

During spiritual warfare, Satan’s primary attacks target your thinking and emotions. If he can condition you to think and feel contrary to God’s Word, he has won a significant victory. That’s why he attempts to fill your mind with lies, immorality, false doctrine, and half-truths. He tries to blur the line between righteousness and sin by surrounding you with evil influences that increase your tolerance for sin. He clothes offensive sin in the blinding garment of entertainment. He puts it to music and masks it in humor to confuse you and deaden your spiritual senses. Satan wants to corrupt your emotions and draw you into sinful desires.

Putting on the breastplate of righteousness begins with a right relationship with God, who is the source of true righteousness. From that relationship flows the commitment to cultivate righteousness in your own life by learning and applying His Word. Therein lies the protection you need to safeguard your mind and emotions from satanic deceptions.

Suggestions for Prayer

Focus on strengthening your relationship with God today. Commune with Him in prayer. Meditate on His Word. Seek His grace in responding thoughtfully and righteously to the temptations you face.

For Further Study

Read Proverbs 10, noting Solomon’s description of righteous people.



From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Pursuing Truthfulness

“STAND FIRM THEREFORE, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH” (EPH. 6:14).

Truthfulness is the best defense against Satan’s lies.

The first piece of armor Paul mentions in Ephesians 6:14 is the belt of truth. Roman soldiers of his day wore a tunic, which was a large square piece of material with holes for the head and arms. A belt kept the tunic from flying loosely and getting in the way in the midst of battle.

The phrase “having girded your loins” was commonly used for gathering up the loose material of one’s tunic or robe when preparing for battle or travel. It speaks of preparedness, as in Exodus 12:11, where God tells the children of Israel to gird their loins for their exodus from Egypt. Jesus used it in a figurative sense in Luke 12:35, where He warns us to gird our loins or “be dressed in readiness” for His second coming. Peter said we’re to gird our minds for action (1 Pet. 1:13).

The Greek word translated “truth” in Ephesians 6:14 can refer either to the content of that which is true or to an attitude of truthfulness. Both are implied in the verse. In Ephesians 4 Paul combines both aspects in warning us not to be “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (vv. 14-15). Instead, we are to embrace sound doctrine and always speak the truth in love.

The way to defend yourself against the cunning deceptions of Satan is to gird yourself with a thorough knowledge of God’s Word and a firm commitment to obedience. Yet many Christians remain vulnerable because they’re unwilling to do that.

Just as Paul exhorted the Philippians to excel in knowledge and discernment and to remain sincere and blameless until in Christ’s presence (Phil. 1:9-10), so you must also do the same. Never be content with your present level of spirituality. Keep learning and growing. Demonstrate an attitude of truthfulness that reveals your commitment to God’s Word and your readiness for battle.

Suggestions for Prayer

Is your life characterized by truthfulness? If not, you’re a ready target for Satan’s schemes. Confess it to the Lord and ask Him to cleanse your heart and give you a love for His truth. Begin today to apply His Word to your life.

For Further Study

Read verses 1-4 and 13-15 of 2 Corinthians 11, noting the tactics of Satan and his servants.



From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Resisting The Devil

“TAKE UP THE FULL ARMOR OF GOD, THAT YOU MAY BE ABLE TO RESIST IN THE EVIL DAY, AND HAVING DONE EVERYTHING, TO STAND FIRM” (EPH. 6:13).

Spiritual warfare isn’t as much a frontal attack on Satan’s domain as it is the ability to resist his advances.

Spiritual warfare has become a popular topic in recent years. Books, tapes, and seminars on the subject abound, but there is still much confusion. Some say we must rebuke and bind Satan to thwart his power and influence. Others say we must expel demonic spirits through “deliverance ministries.” Still others encourage us to band together to aggressively assault the strongholds of supposed territorial demons.

But spiritual warfare isn’t an outright frontal attack on the forces of darkness. Scripture says, “Submit . . . to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7); “Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Pet. 5:8-9). The idea that Christians have the authority to rebuke or bind Satan is foreign to Scripture. Even Michael the archangel treated him with more respect than that (Jude 9).

Spiritual victory involves submitting to God, pursuing His will, keeping your spiritual armor on, being on the alert for Satan’s attacks, and then standing firm and resisting him “in the evil day” (Eph. 6:13).

“Evil day” is a general reference to the sin that exists in this world. As the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), Satan will continue to produce evil until he and his forces are cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10-15). Then the evil day will give way to an eternal age of righteousness.

Countless people have pastored churches, taught Sunday School classes, led Bible studies, sung in choirs, and been involved in every conceivable area of ministry only to one day abandon their ministries and embrace the world. Somehow they stopped resisting the devil and lost the courage to stand firm.

How about you? Is your commitment strong? Are you willing to stand firm for the Lord today?

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God for the grace to boldly resist whatever might challenge your faith today.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 9:23-27.

  • What was Paul’s great fear?
  • What measures did he take to insure spiritual victory?
  • Are you taking the same measures?



From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Identifying The Real Enemy

“OUR STRUGGLE IS NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD, BUT AGAINST THE RULERS, AGAINST THE POWERS, AGAINST THE WORLD FORCES OF THIS DARKNESS, AGAINST THE SPIRITUAL FORCES OF WICKEDNESS IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES” (EPH. 6:12).

Don’t confuse prisoners of war with the enemy.

Sometimes in the heat of battle we might lose perspective on who the real enemy is. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that our struggle isn’t against sinful people, but against the evil system and the supernatural forces that influence their attitudes and actions.

In his assault on the kingdom of God, Satan has assembled a highly organized army of fallen angels. Paul categorized them as “rulers . . . powers . . . world forces of this darkness . . . spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

That isn’t a detailed description of Satan’s hierarchy but simply a general indication of its power and sophistication. Apparently “rulers” and “powers” are high- ranking demons. “World forces of this darkness” are possibly demons who infiltrate various political systems of the world, attempting to direct human leaders to oppose God’s plans. An example is a demon called “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” in Daniel 10:13. He withstood God’s angelic messenger to Daniel until Michael the archangel came to the rescue.

“Spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” perhaps refers to demons involved in the most vile and perverted kinds of sins: gross immorality, occultic practices, Satan worship, and the like.

Those who reject Christ and God are unwitting prisoners of war—captured and mobilized by the enemy to accomplish his purposes. Tragically, when he’s finished with them he’ll abandon them to an eternal hell.

You probably know unbelievers who enjoy ridiculing your faith and making life difficult for you. Although that is hard to take, be patient and don’t become embittered toward them. Ask God to make you an instrument of His love as you reach out to them. Also pray that God will remove their spiritual blindness so they can see beyond Satan’s lies and recognize their need for a Savior.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for delivering you from the domain of darkness and transferring you into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col. 1:13).
  • Ask Him to use you today to break through Satan’s deception in someone’s life.

For Further Study

Read 2 Corinthians 4:3-7, noting why people reject the gospel.



From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Maintaining Spiritual Effectiveness

“STAND FIRM AGAINST THE SCHEMES OF THE DEVIL” (EPH. 6:11).

Satan wants to render you ineffective for Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 16:9 Paul says, “A wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” That’s typical of spiritual warfare. The more opportunities you have to serve Christ, the more adversaries you’ll face. That’s because Satan seeks to hinder your spiritual service.

Often seminary students ask me if ministry becomes easier over the years. In one sense it does because you learn better study skills, time management, and the like. But in a greater sense it becomes more difficult because as you labor in the Word, contend for souls, and struggle against your own weaknesses, Satan opposes you at every turn.

You can sense something of the difficulty of ministry in Paul’s words to the Thessalonians: “Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God” (1 Thess. 2:8-9). To the Ephesian elders he said, “Be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears” (Acts 20:31).

Every sphere of ministry is important—whether you’re a pastor, homemaker, factory worker, or student. Consequently, every ministry encounters opposition as Satan attempts to cause friction and discouragement within families, churches, and work places. Thus, believers must be humble and gentle toward one another, “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). When we do that, the Body of Christ is strengthened and Satan can’t gain a foothold.

Ministry is hard work and the obstacles are great, but the victories are even greater. So be faithful, knowing that God will reward you richly.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the privilege of serving Him—even during the hard times.
  • Thank Him for the encouragement you receive from His Spirit, His Word, and your fellow believers.

For Further Study

According to Romans 8:18, what was Paul’s perspective on difficulties?



From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.