Bethancourt tells CSU students how to equip properly for spiritual battle
Phillip Bethancourt, executive vice president for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, continued Charleston Southern University’s annual Values & Ethics Series at Chapel Nov. 13. He told students, “There is no Switzerland in spiritual warfare. Not taking a side is not an option in spiritual warfare. We are either building up the kingdom of light or the kingdom of darkness.”
When Bethancourt was a student at Texas A&M, he attended a college men’s Bible retreat in a swampy, marshland. Bored with fishing from the dock and armed with a metal baseball bat, a couple of the guys ventured into the swamp, knocked out a small alligator with a crack to its head, put the alligator in the boat with them and headed back to camp. “They were not properly equipped for the long-term battle,” said Bethancourt.
In Ephesians 6:10-17, the apostle Paul tells how to win the fight of your life by equipping for battle. Paul was in prison while writing to the Ephesians and saw Roman guards wearing the exact armor he talks about in Ephesians 6.
Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Bethancourt said, “There is a dangerous plan against us. Satan watches for weaknesses and vulnerabilities, looking for ways to attack.”
Bethancourt shared the Armor of God:
• Belt of truth. “Our life can be driven more by convenience than conviction,” he said. Instead, everything in our life should be truth, including our Facebook status and Twitter posts.
• Breastplate of righteousness. “Christ’s righteousness delivers us from the deathblow of sin and guilt. For those of you who have trusted Jesus, your spiritual life is not based on your last sin; it is based on the righteousness of the blood of Jesus Christ. Sin does not define you; His righteousness does,” he said.
• Shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace. “As we go, always go with the readiness of the gospel. You combat the devil with the truth of scripture,” he said.
• Shield of faith. In ancient times a four foot by four foot piece of wood was wrapped in leather. When entering battle, the warriors dipped the shields in water and moved forward together as a wall of shields. The wet shields protected them when the enemy shot fiery darts. “In spiritual warfare, we need an army around us. The shield for the Christian soldier is faith. When God’s people faithfully obey, God fights for them,” he said.
• Helmet of salvation. “We need to take up and put on the helmet of salvation we have in Jesus Christ, which prevents Satan from striking a blow. When you sin again and again, you are not leveraging the power you have in Jesus Christ to fight against temptation,” he said.
• Sword of the Spirit. “If you don’t have an offensive weapon, you can’t go into battle. You must know the scriptures [your sword] and hide yourself in the story of scripture,” he said.
And what happened to the college guys with the dead alligator in the boat? On the way back to camp, they heard a noise from the front of the boat. The alligator was merely stunned and had come back to life. He was turning circles in the front of the boat because he had lost an eye when they struck him on the head. “They had to strike a final death blow,” said Bethancourt.
He concluded, “When we think about what Christ has done on the cross, he has struck the final blow to Satan.”
Founded in 1964, Charleston Southern is one of South Carolina’s largest accredited, independent universities, enrolling 3,300 students. Affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, the University’s vision is to be a Christian university nationally recognized for integrating faith in learning, leading and serving.