Posts Tagged ‘Armor of God’

Note:  This past Sunday (August 30) Bible Class resumed.  The appointed Epistle Reading is Ephesians 6:10-20 in which the Apostle Paul encourages the Ephesian Christians to put on the whole armor of God with the armor’s various unitive components.  This past Sunday was also “Rat” Sunday in Lexington, VA, in which congregations welcome the new “rats” (first year students) at the Virginia Military Institute.  This lesson was quite appropos!  I led the Bible Class on this Reading but did not have time to go through the whole Epistle.  Below are my notes on the verses we did cover. This passage could be Scripture mini-course!-Pr. Schroeder

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. “The power does not come from the believer but from an external source.”[i] The power is not as a pumped up football player, a great athlete or soldier in any army on earth, but in the One Who is the Lord God Sabaoth, literally, the Lord of the heavenly Armies who dispatched His beloved Son, an army of One, to quell the evil one and free us from Satan’s tyranny. This is not natural strength, but supernatural, from the Lord into our hearts, minds and souls by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  His might is His resurrection, the defeat of sin and death:  see Ephesians 1: 18-20. 

 11 Put on the whole armor    Greek: panopliav, “… the suit of armor of a Roman foot soldier.” [ii] Paul at the time of the composition of Ephesians was in Rome and under arrest, awaiting trial, and Luke tells us that Paul was guarded by a soldier.  Paul maybe became interested in the armor of a Roman foot soldier.  Paul may have asked about his guard’s panoply.    

 of God,  The armor of God does not come from Rome, but the Lord. This is the standard issue of every Christians.

 “In ordinary battles the generals do not arm women or children or the aged.  But our general, Christ the Lord, distributes this royal armory to all alike.  He then teaches them the stratagems of the devil.  This is what he means by the devil’s wiles” (Theodoret, ACC,volVIII, page 208)

that you may be able to stand against the schemes (Gk: μεθοδείας:  schemes, wiles, cunning)  of the devil.    What are the devil’s schemes?

  1. Lies:  He is a liar. The devil said he had the authority to give Jesus the kingdoms of his world.  He didn’t, he doesn’t.  He lied. He gives the same lie to the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve.  He lies.  John 8:44
  2. Camo: The devil comes “disguised” as an “angel of light” but that is a subset of lying. He looks good, the devil doesn’t come looking devilish, but offering “just what we need”.   2 Corinthians 11:14
  3. Temptation: He is the tempter.  By his tricks, his schemes he desires the fall of the Christian by working on the Christian’s Adamic desires “to be like God” (Genesis 3: 1ff) and from that his desires/lusts for more and more.
  4. Accusation: he accuses the brothers night and day. (Revelation 12:10)  These are spiritual temptations. It is the devil who whispers, Be a better Christian, You’re not you know.  Luther would retort:  Tell me something I don’t know, Satan.  But I have Christ as my Savior and to Him I shall flee!   

“Then comes the devil, inciting and provoking in all directions, but especially agitating matters that concern the conscience and spiritual affairs, namely, to induce us to despise and disregard both the Word and works of God, to tear us away from faith, hope, and love, and bring us into misbelief, false security, and obduracy, or, on the other hand, to despair, denial of God, blasphemy, and innumerable other shocking things.” (Martin Luther, The Large Catechism, The Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation”)

 12 For we do not wrestle

“…the struggle is not physical but supernatural. It is a spiritual battle against spiritual “Mafia.” The “Wrestling” in the Greek can also have the more general idea of “conflict, struggle.”‘ …it  occurs only here in the NT. With regard to its usage in this text, if Paul meant “battle, conflict” in conjunction with armor… “wrestling” … was used to indicate that the fully armored soldier was an accomplished wrestler who on occasion would be involved in close-quarter struggle against a cunning opponent.’ Due to the cunning schemes of the devil, believers need to be ready for both remote and close-at-hand assaults. (This is) a face-to-face encounter. The context determines whether it is friendly or hostile. In this context, it is a hostile conflict that is not directed toward or against …. “blood and flesh.” In other words, it is not a physical struggle or a wrestling match.’ In fact, nowhere in this passage is there any indication of a human struggle. Although throughout the paragraph the second person plural is addressed, here the personal pronoun …is the first person plural, which indicates Paul’s identification with the Ephesian believers in the spiritual conflict. It is a dative of reference (“the struggle with reference to us”) though it is translated as a possessive (“our struggle”).

… “but against the rulers, against authorities.” The conjunction … “but,” is adversative and introduces the opposite of physical struggle, namely, the spiritual struggle.” [iii]

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.

 13 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.

  14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth,

Three points about the Belt of Truth:

  1.  The Roman soldier’s belt would have the scabbard for his sword.  God’s truth holds the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit.
  2.  Generally speaking, in Palestine and the Roman Empire, a belt was used to hold up the robes so that one would not trip on the robe!  Falsehood causes us to trip up and we fall.  Truth, God’s truth made flesh in Jesus, girds our loins, holds up the hem of our garment, that we walk in the way of the Lord. God’s truth is written literally in the Bible, in His Word and Life in Israel and the Church.  So girded, encircled by God’s truth, will not be comfortable but for His truth we are thankful we do not fall down. When we do, He will pick us up in His body, His militia Christi, the Church.
  3.  The Belt of Truth reminds me of weight belts I see guys wearing when I gothe gym. Their purpose is given in this quote from a web-site about weight-lifting: “A weight belt wraps around the lower waist and should be tightly secured. It is meant to stabilize the lower back and core by preventing the spine from bending.”  

That random quote speaks to the Lord’s belt of truth.  His truth will stabilize us, so that we are not, “…tossed to and from by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes”(Eph. 4: 14).  It stabilizes the backbone.  A Roman Catholic theologian, Hans urs Von Balthassar, said that the Roman Catholic Church is accused of being “rigid”.  He pointed out that the Church is the Body of Christ and like a body has a backbone.  We are not called to be jellyfish!  The Church has a backbone, he went on to say, to bend and serve the world in His mercy. May the whole Christian Church on earth be accused of being rigid!    There are exercises  in working out to develop the body’s core. His truth protects and works the core, the  body’s core, the body of Christ, through His Word of Law and Gospel, so that we may serve the saving Word to others as we have been so girded.  

Integrity gird You round to impart/The truth of His Word As truth in your heart/His righteousness wearing As breastplate of mail/His victory sharing,  Be strong to prevail.  (“Be Strong in the Lord”, #665, stanza 3, Lutheran Service Book)

 and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 

 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. “The Roman legionaries wore heavy sandals (caliga, a  low half-boot) with soles made of several layers of leather averaging  ¾ inch thick, studded with hollow-headed hobnails. They were tied with leather thongs half-way up the shin and were stuffed with wool or fur in the cold weather…These were not running sandals but ones able to dig in with their hollow-headed hobnails an stand against the enemy.”

 With eagerness shod Stand firm in your place,

Or go forth for God With news of His grace;

No foe shall disarm you  Nor force you to yield,

No arrows can harm you  With faith as your shield.

 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, “shield” Greek only here in NT and related to Greek word for “door” in order to cover the whole man…and one’s fellow soldiers. “Close ranks”: Testudo= “tortoise”  with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one  “…before battle the shields were immersed in water, soaking the leather cover and canvas beneath the leather, which also aided in extinguishing the flaming missiles.”[iv]

[i] Ephesians:  An Exegetical Commentary, Hoehner

[ii] Matthew Henry: “To the Christian armed for defense in battle, the apostle recommends only one weapon of attack; but it is enough, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. It subdues and mortifies evil desires and blasphemous thoughts as they rise within; and answers unbelief and error as they assault from without. A single text, well understood, and rightly applied, at once destroys a temptation or an objection, and subdues the most formidable adversary.”

[iii] Hoehne page 825

[iv] Ephesians:  An Exegetical Commentary, Hoehner page 848

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Note: Due to a snowstorm, we did not have Bible Class and the Divine Service this morning-Pr.Schroeder  The Lord bless you in His Word!

The Old Testament Reading: Genesis 22:1–18

Psalmody: Psalm 25: 1—10  

The Epistle Reading: James 1:12–18 

O Lord God,  You led Your ancient people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land.  Guide the people of Your Church that following our Savior we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. ♫ Amen


Sermon Text:  the appointed Gospel, Mark 1:9-15  English Standard Version (ESV)

The Baptism of Jesus

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The Temptation of Jesus

12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

Jesus Begins His Ministry

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”



In quick succession, in today’s Gospel our Lord is baptized.  Then “immediately”, He’s tempted.  Next He’s preaching.  There are three sections, first:

1. The Promise

This is the beloved Son of the Father, not beloved sons, but this One, the only begotten Son of the Father.  Heaven is torn open above Him so we have sight of our home, the new heavens and the new earth.  The Greek word for “torn open” is the basis of our word “schism”.  A ripping apart.  The next time the evangelist uses this word is when the Lord dies:  And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.   Mark alone uses this word, schism for the rending of the heavens and the temple curtain.  


“In Jesus’ Baptism, the wall of separation is violently ripped open. Jesus is baptized unto the death. The tearing open of the heavens is an expression of God’s desire to be at one with humanity, with you and I, as well as a vivid picture of the price that would have to be paid. Mark would have us know our Lord’s entire ministry is a passion story, whereby he tears open the curtain of separation between God and man, and ensuring an everlasting Yom Kippur, that is, a Day of Atonement.” (Dr. Peter Scaer)

 Again, the passion of our Lord did not commence publicly in Jerusalem on Good Friday, His passion for our salvation continued in earnest in the desert with Satan.  Matthew and Luke tell us 3 significant temptations of Jesus but He was being tempted for 40 days and nights, the whole tempted. He was tempted in every way we are,  yet without sin so that with the heavens opened, we pray and He helps us in His mercy  and grace in all our need (Hebrews 4:14-16)  He does battle so we can fight the good fight of faith. 

2.  The Peril

Mark’s narrative of the temptation is rather terse.  Satan has Jesus by Himself. Satan’s strategy is simple getting people by themselves.  The serpent, the snake in the grass, did this with Eve.  He got her alone, or so she may have thought.  Would Eve trust the Lord at His Word when she could not fully understand His Word about the tree of the knowledge of God and evil?  Would Abraham trust the Lord in His Word to take his son his only Son, Isaac, “Laughter”, the child of the promise and sacrifice him on the Mountain of Moriah?  Will we trust the Lord who did not spare His Son (Romans 8: 31), His only Son (John 3: 16), will He not give us all things? The heavens were ripped apart, and the Temple curtain, in Christ Jesus so we are not torn away from the Lord.


The Holy Spirit cast Him into the desert.  This was part of the Lord’s plan.  Jesus is baptized.  He goes to do battle, alone.  Why?


And since he did everything in order to teach us, and suffered everything for the same reason, so here also He willed to be led by the Spirit into the desert, to meet the devil in combat, and so that no one should be shocked if, after receiving baptism, he suffers even severer temptations: as though something strange had happened; but that he may learn to stand firm and endure with fortitude what happens according to the ordinary rule of our life.This is the reason you received arms; not to stand at ease, but to fight  (Sermon by St. John Chrysostom, on the Temptation narrative in Matthew 4: 1ff0


We walk in danger all the way. Satan uses the best to tempt us to the worst:  to tear us away from the Lord.   We live in perilous times.  The church has for centuries in her long pilgrimage.  Many have sold out to their times to compromise the Word of God to make it acceptable.  We will be tempted.  According to the Lord’s plan, He was sent to be tempted as we are. As St. John Chrysostom preached, He did so to teach us and this what we learn from our Lord’s temptations that He had to undergo:


First:  we can not rely on our own strength, power and spirituality to ward off the evil one, and his temptation. Jesus, in the flesh, relied on His Father.  He relied on prayer.

Second:  we can be strengthen for our daily lives, that is our faith is made steadfast.

Third:  we can tell others who are also tempted by our own example and the ways in which the Lord has led us through, as He was led through those long 40 days and nights in the wilderness. 

Fourth:  Satan wants to tempt in such a way to subtly suggest that there is no forgiveness for you from the Lord, that the Lord does not love you.  This is the devil’s worse of his god damned lies.  This is so we are taught His love for us even while we were sinners, Christ died for us. We are given the dignity that only God can give:  He created us and when the image of God in man is cracked, He came to die for us.  He did this for no angel, but you and I (Hebrews 2:16) The devil cannot fathom his Enemy’s love. 

Fifth:  As Chrysostom preached, the devil wants to get us alone.  We do not jump into temptation, but we pray, Lead us not into temptation…but when we are there, and we will be, then we pray, “…but deliver us from the evil one”.  The devil is prowling lion seeking someone to devour, apart from the Church. The Evangelist Mark alone tells us that Jesus was with the wild beasts.  This verse is hard to understand. It could mean a foretaste of the prophecy from Isaiah that the lion will lie down with lamb.  It could mean he strove with the wild beasts.    This was perilous.  We all strive with the wild beasts, untamed, the Old Adam. Finding us alone and apart is still the enemy’s strategy:  our selves, whole families, nations and church bodies.   When alone and tempted seek the fellowship and communion of the Church, the flock of Christ’s own redeeming, steadfast together in the Word.


Angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven serve Him, and the lion of Judah lying down with the lamb fights for us with weapons of the Spirit.  13No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10.  This is the reason you received arms; not to stand at ease, but to fight and He fights by our side with weapons of the Spirit.   And the chief  weapon of the full armor of God is the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit. From Promise to Peril to:

3. The Proclamation: 

God’s reign is our Good News, the Word going forth to do battle wresting His people from sin, death and the power of the devil.  It is the Lord’s Word of the reign of God, repent and believe the Good News.  This is why Jesus came out (Mark 1:  )  The Gospel of God is our redemption now sealed with His blood, the new testament in His blood.  We so need the Gospel of God of His grace, mercy and peace for us all in our trials.  This is the very Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit. In the temptation that Jesus use His almighty power to change a rock  into a loaf of bread for Himself, He kept the fast as Adam did not.  The Lord, true God and true man, knew his mortality of the flesh needed more than bread, but “every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (St. Matthew 4 ).  All of the Bible, the Word taught, preached and prayed, see the Psalms and pray them!   His Word is our daily bread. as much as the body needs daily sustenance, so does the soul with the body. 

“If anyone therefore does not eat of the Word of God, the same shall not live; for as the human body cannot live without earthly bread, so the soul cannot live without the Word of God. A word is said to proceed from the mouth of God when He makes His Will known through the Sacred Scripture.” (St. John Chrysostom)

 His Word, His Will is  encapsulated in the Lord’s Word of Institution FOR YOU. 

 From Martin Luther’s Explanation of the Lord’s Supper:

For here stand the kind and precious words: This is My body, given for you. This is My blood, shed for you, for the remission of sins. These words, I have said, are not preached to wood and stone, but to me and you; else He might just as well be silent and not institute a Sacrament. Therefore consider, and put yourself into this You, that He may not speak to you in vain.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philiippians 4: 7)

“A Mighty Fortress is Our God”
by Dr. Martin Luther, 1483-1546
Composite Translation from the Pennsylvania Lutheran CHURCH BOOK of 1868

1. A mighty Fortress is our God,
A trusty Shield and Weapon;
He helps us free from every need
That hath us now o’ertaken.
The old evil Foe
Now means deadly woe;
Deep guile and great might
Are his dread arms in fight;
On Earth is not his equal.

2. With might of ours can naught be done,
Soon were our loss effected;
But for us fights the Valiant One,
Whom God Himself elected.
Ask ye, Who is this?
Jesus Christ it is.
Of Sabaoth Lord,
And there’s none other God;
He holds the field forever.

3. Though devils all the world should fill,
All eager to devour us.
We tremble not, we fear no ill,
They shall not overpower us.
This world’s prince may still
Scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none,
He’s judged; the deed is done;
One little word can fell him.

4. The Word they still shall let remain
Nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain
With His good gifts and Spirit.
And take they our life,
Goods, fame, child and wife,
Let these all be gone,
They yet have nothing won;
The Kingdom our remaineth.

Hymn #262
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Psalm 46
Author: Martin Luther, 1529
Town: Wittenberg, 1529



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Introduction:  I am looking at a major portion of this reading, verses 10-22, “The whole armor of God” 

These verses are the crescendo of the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Church in Ephesus.  His encouragement is to be fully  armed with all “weapons of the Spirit” with which He fights by our side (“A Mighty Fortress is our God”): 

  • the belt of truth

  • the breastplate of righteousness

  • the shoes of the Gospel of peace

  • the shield of faith

  • the helmet of salvation

  • the sword of the Spirit

We are up against overwhelming odds:

  • “…the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” vs. 12

  • “…the unfruitful works of darkness…”   such as sexual immorality, impurity and covetousness, 5: 3-10

  • the evil days wherein we live (5: 15)

We can not withstand the evil day on our own or by ourselves alone. It is not good for the man to be alone (Genesis 2).  The Apostle encourages his brothers and sisters to “put on the whole armor of God”.  The phrase “put on” is used some 24 times in the New Testament.  The synonym is “clothe”, as in, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3: 27) In Baptism you are clothed in Christ.  He has fought the battle and won.  He made you His own.  He has drafted you into his militia, the “militia Christi”, the army of Christ.  We live in the Church militant, not triumphant.  The Roman soldier’s shield protected him from head to toe.  Arrows were tipped in tar and lit and then shot.  The Roman soldier would dip his shield in water to douse the flaming darts.  This may be a reference to Baptism through which we are washed and faith is given, so that as the Baptized, putting on the shield of faith, in order “… to extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.  The evil one will shoot at you doubt and despair at your inability to withstand your own lusts of eye and heart: “Oh,you’re not a good Christian.  If you really were a Christian, you would not be feeling like this.”  “No, Satan! It is because I am a Christian that I know this and can cry out, I am baptized! Lord, save me!”  You can not stand up against such, except by the shield of faith, the shield given to you by  His grace, not by your works (!), as He died and rose for you. (Ephesians 2  2: 1-9). 

The Roman soldier in battle was not alone but had to rely on his fellow soldiers.  When besieging a city, they protected themselves in what they called the “tortoise”:

They formed a cohesive unit to protect themselves.  We have brothers and sisters in Christ together:

Like a mighty army
Moves the Church of God;
Brothers, we are treading
Where the saints have trod.
We are not divided,
All one body we,
One in hope and doctrine,
One in charity.
Onward, Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before.

When it comes to the  sound doctrine of the Bible and saving grace in Jesus Christ, we can not “agree to disagree”.  For instance:  If we think the Church can allow sexual immorality, officially or wink at it like it’s nothing, vote in an assembly to change the Word of God to get along with the world, then evil has entered the heavenly places. And Paul solemnly warned:  

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5)

Without unity in doctrine, then the  flaming arrows of the evil one, “empty words” about affirming your wrong,  will get in so easily in the holes in the formation. Like the Roman legion’s tortoise, earlier Paul wrote in Ephesians wrote of the unity He gives in Christ Jesus, in pure doctrine of salvation in Him:

1I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4)

The Church is assailed on many sides.  Near you and beside will be a fellow Christian who in her struggles, has been there and done that and repented of it by His Law and Promise.  She will bear with you in love to help you in the fight with the Shield of Faith. 

God the Father, be our Stay,
Oh, let us perish never.
Cleanse us from our sins, we pray,
And grant us life forever.
Keep us from the Evil One;
Uphold our faith most holy,
Grant us to trust Thee solely
With humble hearts and lowly.
Let us put God’s armor on:
With all true Christians running
Our heavenly race and shunning.
The devil’s wiles and cunning.
Amen, Amen, this be done,
So sing we, Hallelujah!

Hymn #247
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Ps. 18:18
Author: unknown, c. 1400

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Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil.

Then!  When?  After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, after the Voice  speaking from above had said:  This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well please (Matthew 3: 17)  And since he did everything in order to teach us, and suffered everything for the same reason, so here also He willed to be led by the Spirit into the desert, to meet the devil in combat, and so that no one should be shocked if, after receiving baptism, he suffers even severer temptations: as though something strange had happened; but that he may learn to stand firm and endure with fortitude what happens according to the ordinary rule of our life.

 This is the reason you received arms; not to stand at ease, but to fight. And God will not prevent temptations from rushing against you.

  •      And this first that you may learn how stronger you are now than before.
  •     Then that you learn prudence; so as not to be overbold because of the greatness of the gifts you have received: for temptation will steady you.
  •       Thirdly, so that the evil demon, who is uncertain whether you have renounced him or not, may not be left in doubt, through this test of temptation, that you have abandoned him, and wholly renounced him.
  •    Fourthly, that you may become stronger, and more tempered than steel.
  •     And fifthly, that you may receive a kind of indication of how precious is the treasure you have been given. For the devil would not have attacked you had he not seen you now held in honor. It was because of this he attacked Adam, because he saw he was given great dignity. For this reason he attacked Job, because he saw him raised up and honored by the God of all. It was because of this He Himself says: Pray that ye enter not into temptation (Mt. 24: 14)
  •     For this reason the Evangelist speaks of Jesus as, not going, but as being led; and this was according to the design of our salvation: implying that we are not as it were to leap into temptation, but, if we are led there, to stand firm against it. And consider where it was the Spirit led Jesus. Not into a city, nor into the market place, but into the desert.  For since He wished to attract the evil spirit, He gives him occasion, not alone from his hunger, but also from the place. For then especially will the devil attack us, when hem sees us alone and separated from„ each other. It was in this way he attempted the woman in the beginning: approaching as she was alone, and her husband absent. For when he sees us in the company or others, and united, he does not dare attack us. For this special reason should we ‘come frequently together’: so that it shall be more difficult for the  devil to attack us.

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