Joyce Meyer - The Armor Of Righteousness
We're gonna start in Ephesians 6, verse 10, and I wanna talk to you about the armor or you might say, "The warfare of righteousness". "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle", now listen, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but it is against the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms".
You get that, right? Your battle is not with flesh and blood. Your battle is not with flesh and blood, it's not your boss, it's not your husband, it's not your neighbor, it's not your parents, it's not your circumstances. "Your battle is not with flesh and blood, but with the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on", everybody say, "Put on". Ya see, a lot of times God gives us things that we never use. And so, God has given us armor that if we wear it, it will protect us from the schemes and attacks of the enemy. We not only have armor, we also have weapons. "Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything", and I like what the amplified says, "After you have done all the crisis demands".
So, you see, there are things that we can do, we can pray, we can seek God. I don't know, if you're in debt, maybe you can get a extra part-time job. There are things that we can do, God's just not goonna run in and fix all of our problems while we sit around and do nothing. "After you've done all that the crisis demands, stand your ground. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth", everybody say, "truth". Which is the Word of God, "Buckled around your waist", the amplified says, "Tightened around your waist". And I like that, because when you're having trouble, you've gotta hang on to the Word of God tighter than ever before, because that's when the devil's trying to steal it from ya.
How many of you know, it's easy to tell somebody else to trust God when they're having trouble? Here's a little freebie, when you're in trouble, just do what you would tell somebody else to do, if they had your problem. Isn't that good advice? I need to take that advice myself sometimes. Sometimes, I need to read one of my own books. "The belt of truth tightened around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace". Whoo, everybody say, "Peace". That's just a pretty word, isn't it? "In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith", or some translations say, "Lift up the shield of faith".
So, we have faith, but we have to release our faith. Faith is not to lie dormant in your heart, it's to be released and I like to say, that we release our faith through praying, through saying, and through taking God-inspired action. You get that? Praying, saying, agreeing with God with your mouth, and through God-inspired action. Being obedient to do whatever it is, that God shows you to do. "With which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation". That means, think like a Christian. Ya get that? We think differently than other people think. We don't think according to the way things are we, we think according to the way we know they can be.
And so, let me say what I said at the very beginning last night, the mind is the battlefield, and if you wanna win the war against the devil, then you have to pay attention to what you're thinking. You have to think about what you're thinking, and learn that you don't have to meditate on everything that falls in your head. If what is in your head doesn't agree with the Word of God, you can cast down that thought or imagination, and you can choose your own thoughts, and think things on purpose.
Matter of fact, I will challenge you to do what I like to do sometimes. Take five or ten minutes, and sit down and just have a good Ole Holy Ghost think session. Just sit down and think, "God loves me. God is on my side. I am the head and not the tail, I am above and not beneath. I have favor with God. I am one of his favorites, he's quite fond of me". And "Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people". And Paul said, "Pray also for me".
Now, when we do spiritual warfare, ya know, I started out, 40 years ago, back in the seventies. I'd been a Christian for a long time, but I had no victory in my life. And I think that's why I just hate that so bad, I just I hate to see people, who love God, but they've just got problems that are not being addressed in their churches. They can't get along with people. And Jesus was very practical, and he taught a lot about the kinds of things we're hearing this weekend: about not staying angry, and loving people, and believing the word, and confessing the word. We have to hear practical stuff. We have to hear things that are not just floating around over our head, and sound spiritual, but things that actually work in our everyday life. Amen?
And so, I just hate to see a person who loves God, walking around with no victory in their life. I hate it for them, but I also hate it for their witness. If every believer acted like a believer, come on, this is important. And each one of us is responsible for us, you're not responsible for what somebody else does. God's not gonna ask you to give an account for somebody else, but we will each give an account of ourselves, unto God. And I want to say something, and to me, this is very important. I don't care what everybody else you know does, you have a responsibility to do what's right before God. Just because somebody else does it, and seems to get away with it, that doesn't mean that you now have a license to do it.
And I remember when I was in the early stages of this walk that I've had in ministry, and praying for God to do the things that I see him doing today, and I felt like God was pretty strict with me. It seemed to me like, I didn't have permission from God to do a lot of the things that I saw, even other people in ministry doing, and to be honest, it kinda ticked me off. It was like well, "They went and saw that movie, why can't I go see it? They this, and why can't i? And they this, and why can't I"? And God answered me, and maybe there's somebody here that needs to hear this today, he said, "Look Joyce, you've asked me for a lot, do you want it or not"?
Somebody needs to hear that today. If you've asked God for a lot, if you've asked God to use you in a great way, then you're gonna have to get on the narrow path and stay there. If you're the only one on the path, if it's just you and Jesus, you gotta be willing to be lonely, you gotta be willing to be rejected, you've gotta be willing to be misunderstood. Follow God, and stop trying to keep all the people you know happy, so they will like you and say good things about you. Now, I want people to like me, we all want people to like us, but if it comes down to... Are you going to be a people-pleaser or a God-pleaser, then we have to be bold enough to choose God over people, because if you lose some of the people in your life right now, because you want to put God first, trust me, he will bring you back a harvest of good, right friends.
Some of you could drastically alter your life, just by changing some of the people you're hanging out with. So many of these things that I'm saying, if it's for you, if you just reach out and take that one thing, go home and apply it in your life, it can make massive changes in your life. Do you know that the people that you hang out with, influence you? Spirits are transferable, you pick up what you're around. You start sounding like the people you're around. You start thinking like them.
Now, I don't think that we should hide from all unbelievers, because I think they need our influence in their life, but let me just put it like this, it's okay to hang out with an unbeliever a little bit, as long as you're affecting them and they're not infecting you. C'mon, I'm gonna send you home with something good. So, I wanna talk to you about righteousness today, because I wrote this down, nothing in life is right until you know that you are right. Nothing in life is right until you know that you're right. And I alluded to this last night a little bit, that so many people, they feel like, "What's wrong with me".
I had that record playing in my head for years. Because of being abused, I behaved a little bit weird. My personality was messed up, I had fears in my life that even I didn't understand, because outwardly, I had this bold aggressive personality, but inwardly I was afraid of so many things. And I wasn't, to be honest, very likable. And many people would tell me even after we became friends, "When I first met you, I just really didn't like you at all". And you know what? I didn't like me, either. There was a lot of stuff about me that I wanted to change, but I couldn't change it. And I want you to hear me, no matter how long you're a Christian, until you learn to love yourself in a balanced way, and appreciate what God has made, when he made you, come on, God doesn't make any junk. Everything that he makes, to him, is beautiful.
C'mon, you might weigh 10 pounds more than twiggy, but, please, Paul used the term, I beseech you, which means, I beg you. So, I beg you this afternoon, stop hating yourself, and disliking yourself, and being against yourself. The devil's already against you, you need to be for you. God is for you, and he wants you to be for you. Why do we believe what the devil says about us so easily, but we have such a hard time believing what God says about us? Romans 5, I think it is, says, "Through one man's sin, all men sinned". We believe that. "Yeah, that Adam, if he woulda just behaved himself, but now, because of him, yes, I'm a sinner". But then it turns right around and says, "And through one man's righteousness, all were made righteous", but we have a hard time with that. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Therefore, all have been justified and been made right with God".
Do you know what it means to be justified? Please get this, it means to be just as if you never sinned, one time in your whole life. Yeah, praise the Lord! We don't understand what Jesus did for us. If we did, we could never have a bad day. We could never have a sad day, or a depressed day. If you have received Christ, you're just passing through here. And you know, if you're 40, or 50, or 60, or whatever, I mean, you don't have much longer left to put up with this mess. I mean, every day I get up now, I say while I'm one day closer to home. Amen?
How wonderful it is to not be afraid to die, but to actually be looking forward. 'Cause you know what? We don't belong here. You're never going to be totally comfortable here, because this is not your home, you're not created for this, you're created for something else. And you're just passing through here, but you got a job. Ministry is not just for the preachers on the platform. Everyone of you, in your little part of the world, is actually more important than the preacher you stare at on the platform every week. You know why? Because he's reaching the people that come and want to hear what he's got to say. You can reach people that don't want to go and hear what the preacher has to say, but if they watch your life long enough, you can make them want what you've got and they'll come to you with an open heart.
You're all preachers. You're preaching a message every day of your life, everywhere you go. You're preaching a message in your neighborhood, you're preaching a message in your school, you're preaching a message at your job, when you go to the grocery store. "God, I don't know what my ministry is". Well, just get up every day, and get out in the world and act like a Christian. Don't just put a bumper sticker on your car, and then, act like the devil. Righteousness in Christ is the most wonderful thing, but for most of us, it takes a pretty long time to really get it. You know, because I was abused growing up, and I always felt like I was different than everybody else, and isolated, I had a record playing in my head: "What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me"? The devil whispered that in my ear, millions of times. "What's wrong with me"?
Do any of you ever hear that same record? You got a copy of that record? "What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me"? Cause see the devil wants us to think that, if we're not like somebody else, then something's wrong with us. I mean, I tried to be like Dave, he's so easygoing and nothing bothers him, and everything is, "Cast your care", and everything bothered me. I tried to be like my pastor's wife, she was tiny, and had blonde hair, and blue eyes, and she just believed God all of her life, to have a husband she could submit to. Well, I'm still working on submission, and it's a good thing that God gave me a man that loves me enough, to take me the way I am.
There's nothing wrong with you just because you're not like somebody else. I tried to be like my pastor's wife, and I got to the point where I even actually, lowered my voice. I mean, I did this. I lowered my voice and I tried to sound sweet, and I even tried to walk a little bit meeker. My next-door neighbor was Susie Homemaker and, I mean, if ya wanna know the truth if Dave needs a button sewn on his shirt, he does it himself. Cause if I did it, it might fall off. And I tried to sew, and I tried to do all this stuff, and I hated it at all, it's just not me. C'mon. Just not me. You don't even begin to know what freedom is, until you're free to be yourself.
And I'm not talking about you're free to sin, and do all kinds of things that the Bible condemns, obviously, we have moral obligations in the Word of God to follow. But I'm talking about your personality, and what you like, and what you don't like, and the style of clothes you like to wear, and how you like to wear your hair. You don't have to be like somebody else. C'mon, can I get an honest answer if I just said, "How many of you really, prior to hearing what I'm sayin', really didn't like yourself very much"? Well, we got the right group. And see, that's terrible, that's pitiful. Jesus bought you. He thought you were cool enough to buy you, to purchase you with his own blood. You're not your own you belong to him now.
And I want you to go home from here, and I want you to pray that God will help you to never say one more negative thing about about yourself, out of your own mouth. That is one of the absolute worst things that you can do, is say things like, "I'm stupid. I'm dumb. I can never do anything right. I'm fat, I'm ugly. Ya know, I'm this and that". And I'm gonna tell you a story connecting this to spiritual warfare, and this actually, really happened to me, I'm not adding to it, nor do I intend to take anything away from it. God had been teaching me about righteousness, and I knew better than to do what I'm getting ready to tell you that I did. You know, to do something in ignorance is one thing, to know better and then do it, that's a dangerous thing. Because God gives you a special grace, when you lack knowledge or you're ignorant, but once you have knowledge, you're responsible for what you know.
See, you're not gonna go home and get by with as much as you did before you came here. You thought you came here for entertainment, well, guess what? You're gonna have a greater responsibility before God, when you go home. And now, that you know stuff, the devil will test you and he'll be right there. Are you with me? So, I had a new baby, who is now gonna be 40 in December, and so that's how long ago this is been. God was teaching me and had been teaching me, just what I'm trying to teach you, some of you know this, many of you don't, and the ones who do know it, need to hear it again, including me.
So, Dave and I had an argument that morning. I was sitting at the kitchen table and I was feeding the baby, and we had some kind of an argument, of course, he was telling me it was my fault, and I didn't want to take, it probably was, but I didn't want to take responsibility for it. And so, when he left to go to work, I'm sitting there with my baby, feeding him and I started saying out loud, "That's right, it's all me, I can't ever do anything right, I'm just a big mess, just stupid, no good". And I felt, I mean, I could almost say I could see it, but I didn't see it with my natural eyes, an evil presence coming across the room at me. And it put the fear of God in me, and I started saying as fast and loud as I could, "I am the righteousness of God in Christ, I am the righteousness of God in Christ, I am the righteousness of God in Christ". And the more I said it, the more I felt that presence back off and leave the room.
We gotta be careful about our words. Come on, we hear these messages all the time, "The power of life and death is in the tongue, and those who indulge it, will eat the fruit of it". We can open doors for the devil through saying stupid things about ourselves, about our futures, about our lives, about our families. So, I really am encouraging you, when you go home say about yourself what God says about you, don't say what the devil whispers in your ear. You are not stupid. You are not dumb. You are not a total failure. You have gifts and talents, and the wisdom of God is in you, and God loves you, and God is for you. C'mon. I mean, if you you just knew, you have angels with you.
I was in Phoenix teaching once and a woman came and got this message to me through somebody, she said, "My husband is an unbeliever and this is not something that he would ever come to but he loves me very much, and so, he surprised me, and brought me for my birthday, and he stayed in the conference with me". And she said, "During one of the sessions I noticed that he was shaking and crying, and I said, 'what's wrong with you'? And he's, 'don't you see 'em, don't you see 'em'? She said, 'what are you talking about'? He said, 'all those big men in the white suits that are up there with Joyce. Are they the choir? Who are they'"?
And what he saw was when I left my chair and I came over to stand behind the pulpit with my Bible, he saw this group of huge men, all dressed in white suits, making like a semi-circle around me. This is an unbeliever, and he says, "When she opened up her her mouth, and lifted that Bible up they all pulled these huge swords out of their sheath and stood with it like this". We need to believe more in the supernatural. We need to believe what we don't see with our own eyes. We get we need to get back to realizing that God is the God of miracles. That demons try to occupy our minds, and they try to mess with our lives, but we can bind them and we can resist them, and we can cast them out. Ya know why? Because we have authority as believers in Jesus Christ. C'mon, you don't have to live a normal life, because you're not a normal person. There are supernatural gifts of the spirit.
Discernment and prophecy and speaking in tongues, "You said, 'speaking in tongues', don't tell me you speak in tongues". Well, yes, I do and I'm glad I do. "Well, now, Joyce I didn't know that about you, I don't know if I can watch you anymore". Well see, that's the silliness that's going on in the world today. Now, if you don't want to speak in tongues, that's fine, I'm not mad at you about it, but don't be mad at me because I'm a spiritual hog, and I want everything that God can give me.
Come on then, if you don't know anything about being filled with the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the spirit, you need to get yourself some material and get alone with God and say, "Whatever I don't have that I can have, I want it. Fill me with the Holy Spirit, give me the gifts that I need to live this stupid life that's going on today, with victory and power". And if you don't know what I'm talkin' about, that's okay, because if you're hungry for more of God, you will find out. Amen? I got so hungry for victory in my life, back in the seventies. I was so tired of going to church every week and coming home and nothing changing, and I said, "God, something has got to be missing".
Come on, there's a lot of you, you've been asking that question. Well, you don't have to wait for some big church revival, you can have your own revival. If you're hungry for God, you can have your own revival. Come on, I just dare ya, you start praying everyday, "God, fill me with the Holy Spirit. Fill me with the Holy Spirit. Give me the supernatural gifts of the spirit. Use me, however you want to use me", and you'd better mean it, cause with God, when you make a commitment, you don't get to take it back. Don't stand in church and sing, "I surrender all", if you don't mean it. Come on, I don't want you to go home and stay the same. I want you to go home empowered by the Holy Spirit to smile through some of the roughest times you've ever been in and to still walk in love, and be good to other people, when you feel like your world is falling apart. That takes power.
Now, I wanna to tell you a story. It's found in Joshua, and in particular, Joshua chapter 5. The Israelites, they came out of Egypt, about 6 million or so. God didn't take 'em the easy route, right to the Promised Land, and the reason the Bible says that he didn't, is because they weren't ready for war. Well, what sense does that make? God wasn't taking 'em to war. No, he was taking 'em to the Promised Land, but I said this morning, to possess the land, which he says, "It's time to go in and possess the land". What that word means, is you have to first dispossess the current occupants. And so, out of the millions of people that came out, and this just amazes me, only two, everybody say, "Two". Only two of the original group that came out, crossed the Jordan and went into the Promised Land, and that was Joshua and Caleb. Everybody else that originally came out, died in the wilderness.
Now, there were people born in the wilderness, and they went with Joshua and Caleb into the Promised Land, but it took these people 40 years to make an 11-day journey. Anybody relate? "Well, I've been saved 20 years, I should be further along than this". But you're not, because you just keep going around, and around, and around the same mountain. Quit asking God to get rid of your mountain, and just decide you're gonna go through the dumb thing. The only way out, in God's economy, is through. Come on, you can't have power over something running from it, you gotta face it, go through it, and then you have the experience of having conquered it, and it makes you stronger for the next thing you come up against.
So, they had to cross the Jordan in order to go into the first town, which was gonna be Jericho. And the Jordan didn't part, 'til they put their foot in it. And I love that whole thought, that many times, you don't know what sea God's gonna part for you, 'til you put your foot in it. And a lot of people, you know, they don't wanna put their foot in it, they wanna wait and make sure it's gonna be good before they do. Hey, when I quit my job, and told God I wanted to be in full-time ministry, we didn't even have enough money to pay our bills every month, but I really felt like I was following God. And you know what? He never failed us.
And when I look back then, those were some of the hardest years of my life. But when I look back now, they were some of the most precious years in my life, because that's where I learned that God was faithful, and how to trust him. You notice, David was anointed to be king, but he had to conquer Goliath before he ever wore the crown. God anointed him 20 years before he wore the crown. You may definitely feel that you're anointed for something, but yet, you have not yet, been willing to face Goliath. We get stuck at these mountains sometimes, because we won't do the part that God's asked us to do. And so, God gave a word to Joshua and he said, "Tell the people to get prepared, because today I'm gonna roll the reproach off of them, and tomorrow they'll enter the Promised Land".
Well you know, the reproach is guilt, and shame, and blame. Now, c'mon, there's a message here, because what he's really saying is, there's enemies in there that you're gonna have to conquer if you're going to possess the land, then you're going to have to kick them off of your land. And they could not, don't miss this, they could not really do warfare with the enemy until they knew that they were not guilty and full of shame, and full of blame, and fault finding. They had to know who they were before they could win. Maybe you got it, I don't know, did you get it? I had big dreams, but I'll tell you what, I wouldn't be standing here today, if I wouldn't have finally, finally after saying one million times, "I am the righteousness of God in Christ".
I had a hard time with that one, because I was addicted to guilt I didn't feel right, if I didn't feel wrong. I mean, I felt guilty for 40, 50 years, why stop now? And God said, "If you don't mind, would you just get beyond that, because I need you, and honestly, you're no good to me in that condition". Do you know as long as you're feeling bad about yourself, and you're against yourself, and you're constantly finding fault with yourself, God can't do anything through you? So, he wants to roll the reproach off of you, before he sends you home. I mean, you're looking at me like, "Hmmm"? Well, I get it, I had to hear this message a few thousand times before I got it.
Chris Caine found out on her 30th birthday that she'd been adopted. She didn't know that, she didn't know she'd been adopted. Her brother was adopted and she was adopted. And then she found out later, that her birth mother lived two blocks from her, her whole life. And when she wanted to go meet her, her mother had no interest in meeting her. Her birth certificate said, "Unnamed and unwanted". Chris was already in ministry, she'd already heard this message I'm preaching to you. And she said, "Well, God formed me in my mother's womb, whatever womb that was, with his own hand". Because she knew who she was in Christ, although that was painful for her, it wasn't like, a life ending trauma.
Do you understand what I'm saying? If you know who you are in Christ, you can glide right past things like that. It doesn't bother me to stand here and tell you, that my father raped me, probably no less than 200 times in my teenage years. You know why? That person's dead. The person standing in front of you today is a new creature. I'm a new creature. That happened to somebody I used to know a long time ago, but I don't remember her much anymore. C'mon, because the reproach has been rolled off of me.
So now, I know how to go in and take the land that belongs to me. Come on, you can't, that's why this whole spiritual warfare thing it's so much more than screaming at demons. It's knowing who you are in Christ, it's holding on to the Word of God when it seems like it's not working, it's learning how to live in peace, and walk in peace, and be a peacemaker, and a maintainer of peace. It's learning a which battles to fight, and which battles to leave alone. Pick your battles. C'mon. It's learning things like, I will never say another bad thing about myself, out of my mouth. It's been years since I've said anything negative about me, out of my own mouth, and I pray that God will always give me the grace not to do that, because it is tragic. Is anybody hearing me? Does anybody need to hear me?
And I know there's a room full of you hear that have been hurt, and people are gonna watch this on TV, and other forms, however you get it, and you've been hurt, and you don't know who you are in Christ, but there's a difference in rightness, which comes from behaving right, and righteousness, which is a gift of God, because of what Christ has done for you. 2 Corinthians 5:21, "If anybody is in Christ", well, 17, "He's a new creature: old things pass away: all things become brand-new". I like to say it like this, you become new spiritual clay, and if you'll let God mold you, it'll be like Jeremiah with the potter's wheel, the first thing got marred and destroyed, and God just tore it up, and started all over, and made what he wanted to make to begin with. And c'mon, God may have to get into your life, and do some tearing up but he'll make what he wanted to do from the beginning.