Last week we saw how we are in a battle, and that even though the battle is waged against enemies in the heavenly realm, it is very much ours to fight. It is an unfamiliar battle, one fought not with arrows, bullets, or even rhetoric. Neither is it a struggle engaged on the field of politics or protests.
No, this is an engagement fought against an unseen enemy.
We also established that the battle will overwhelm us if we are not “strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10). We are inadequate, in and of ourselves, to engage the conflict that has been brought to our doorstep. Even so, we must not think ourselves ill-equipped, because our God has prepared us for this war.
Strong in the Lord
The apostle Paul exhorts us to be strong, so we know it is possible to be so. He further tells us where to be strong.
It is “in the Lord” that we find our strength.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13, NASB
Consider also what Paul told Timothy…
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, – 1 Timothy 1:12, NASB
… and …
But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me… – 2 Timothy 4:17a, NASB
In none of those passages is the message, “I am strong.” No, we are not strong.
We are strengthened! By another.
We are made strong. It is passive in every case.
In the great roll call of faith in Hebrews eleven, we are told that those in the long list of martyrs, “from weakness were made strong.”
Strength is found in the Lord, and “in the might of his strength” (Ephesians 6:10). In chapter one of this same letter, the apostle Paul said this:
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. – Ephesians 1:18-19a, NASB
The Armor of God
We are not left without resources to effectively engage the battle. God has outfitted us, giving everything we need pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
Given the peculiar nature of this battle, we need unique equipment with which to fight it, and the equipment God has provided arms us for both for offense and defense.
It is critical that we wear the entire armor rather than select only our favorite parts. You’ll recall from last week’s discussion that Ben Hadad II charged his captains to do battle with neither great nor small, but only Ahab, the king of Israel.
Now a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel in a joint of the armor. So he said to the driver of his chariot, ‘Turn around and take me out of the fight; for I am severely wounded.’ – 1 Kings 22:34, ESV
Ahab died that same evening.
Even with the armor, battle is perilous. We dare not engage the enemy unprotected, knowing that he is endlessly seeking avenues from which to attack and defeat us (Ephesians 4:27).
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled 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. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:14-17, NIV-1978
- We wear the belt of truth because Satan is a liar (John 8:44). A Christ-follower who walks with integrity can face the enemy with no fear. Remember also, that it is the belt that holds the sword. Without truth, the sword of the Spirit (the word of God) cannot be wielded with any power.
- We wear the breastplate of righteousness because in Christ, we are the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21). We have “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Though the accuser thrusts his accusations at us, the breastplate of righteousness assures us of salvation.
- Our feet are shod with readiness of the gospel of peace because as Christ-followers we are peacemakers – peace with humanity, and peace between humanity and God. Through the gospel, we are at peace with God, and we have peace from God.
Not only that, our gospel adorned feet carry that message of reconciliation to the world. Our feet carry us, and as Christ’s ambassadors, we carry a message of redemption everywhere we go. The war we wage against the evil one, we wage with a message of peace.
- We carry the shield of faith as a protective barrier in our advance. For millennia, extending well before the time of Christ, warring cultures have implemented the battle tactic of creating a shield wall, some shields even interlocking with that of their neighbor. In this way, no Christ-follower ever battles alone. We march side-by-side, arm-in-arm, advancing toward the enemy, sustaining one another with our faith as we extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one like Niagara Falls on a match.
- We wear the helmet of salvation because, again, Satan is a liar and as such he attacks our minds with his lies. With the helmet of salvation, my mind is protected by the God of that salvation.
- And finally, we wage battle with the sword of the Spirit – the word of God. Hebrews 4:12 tells us this sword, the word of God, has two blades. It cuts as deep as the heart and the mind.
When I love the Lord my God with all my mind, Satan cannot lead me astray. I feed my mind, filling it with the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) until there is no room for Satan’s lies.
And with that word of God, I am fully prepared to defeat the enemy by freeing those in his grasp. Where a physical sword wounds and kills, the sword of the Spirit heals, giving freedom and life.
The Full Armor in Christ
I read once that the entire armor of God is summed up, or found in Christ. It is true.
- Jesus is “the truth.” (John 14:6)
- Christ is our righteousness. (1 Corinthians 1:30, 2 Corinthians 5:21)(
- Jesus is our peace. (Ephesians 2:14)
- Jesus makes our faith an effective reality. (Galatians 2:20, Romans 1:17)
- Christ is our salvation. (Luke 2:30, Acts 4:12, John 3:16-17)
- Jesus is the Word. (John 1:1, 14)
If you have Jesus, you have the whole armor of God. Wear it well.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31, NIV-1978