Preparing for Spiritual Warfare
Many people believe that when one becomes a Christian all our troubles are over. Yet, as many of us know, when you become a Christian essentially our troubles may just be beginning. But how can this be? God is supposed to take care of me; right? The truth is, He does! But what many fail to realize is that because the unbeliever was once closer to being on the side of Satan than God, Satan really never gave them a second thought. Now with a shift to the “good” side, the new believer must get ready to sit in the same passenger seat as other Christians. Essentially, you’ve just become a high-valued target. And as many of us know, it can make for a very bumpy ride at times.
As a former military man, Ephesians 6:10-18 (The Armor of God)has always held a special place in my heart. It is in this passage that Paul brings the Ephesian church to recognize the nature of the battle that not only they faced, but the battle we still face today. As Paul wrote, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). Paul’s words prove significant as they teach us that even when evil presents itself we can stand our ground. We gain the ability to do this when we equip ourselves with the tools that God has given each and everyone of us. This passage brings man to see the real truth; that the Christian life is not a playground, but essentially a spiritual battlefield. As Christ’s followers, Paul provides us with the insight into not only the aspects of the battle we are faced with, but also the protection and weapons with which we are afforded to fight this battle.
Paul begins this passage with a call of unity before the Lord, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10); for Paul was fully aware of the impending spiritual battle that each man, woman, and child would face in their lives. As the passage unfolds a metaphorical explanation of God’s armor is provided to the reader. This approach details how one can stand firm against the evil strategies of the devil while using the metaphoric tools of war that God provides to each one of us. While I would love to provide my full exegetical discourse, for the sake of blog space, I will provide a brief summary of the passage in hopes that it will wet your appetite and desire to know more.
As one goes through the armor that God provides in order, Paul begins with the belt of truth. This belt may be looked upon to serve two purposes. To not only serve as a stabilizer for the body, but also to protect the mid-section while providing a restraint to ones garments that sometimes move in the heat of battle. For the believer, this signifies knowing the "truth" of the Bible. When one knows the truth it will help stabilize, protect, and prevent us from stumbling when caught in the battle for our lives.
The next piece of armor is the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate refers to the armor that protects ones most vital organs; most importantly ones heart. When man lives holy, we are less susceptible to Satan’s attacks. To insure we remain protected, we take up this piece of armor to protect our hearts from the possible attack of Satan. If Satan is allowed to inflict a wound to ones heart, there is an increasingly high chance that the wound will become fatal. Therefore man should look at this metaphor as a reminder from God that we are to live in righteousness.
The third piece of armor is the shoes that protect ones feet. Roman soldiers wore sandals, which were adorned with nails that were driven through the bottoms of the soles. This provided the soldier with the ability to stand firm and remain sure-footed. This metaphor provides man with the understandings that we are to be well grounded in our faith and knowledge of God. We must be sure we have a firm foothold on what we believe so we will remain steady when the enemy comes against us.
The shield of faith is the fourth piece of armor. While many may envision a small rounded shield, for the Roman soldier, it was a large rectangular shield used to take refuge behind when the fiery arrows of the enemy were launched at them. As believers, we know our shield is not made of iron, but our shield is our faith. And this shield allows us to deflect the wickedness that attacks us while never allowing our bodies to be left exposed.
In his last request, Paul tells us to, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). Each soldier is equipped with a helmet. Without a helmet, the soldier’s brain would be left exposed. And no matter how protected one may be, without protection of the head, one precise blow could leave the soldier useless. This salvation helmet offers the necessary protection to guard our minds from the enemy’s attacks. And what would armor be without a means of attack? Therefore we are provided with a powerful sword. The sword was an effective weapon in hand-to-hand combat and a necessity to the soldier’s survival. For the believer, this is the Word of God. It is God’s Word that allows us to defeat our enemy with every battle we are faced with.
Paul’s last verse states, “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” (Ephesians 6:18). This verse is written almost as if we are witnessing a briefing room experience. If we are left to go to battle without having a plan, we fail. Yet here we see that we have an advantage over the enemy. We have on-on-one communication with our commanding officer (God). As the old saying goes, the greatest offense is to have the greatest defense. Paul’s words show us that when we use these tools and walk in the Spirit, we are assured to have the distinct advantage over Satan and always walk away from the battle as the victor.
Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time...