How secure do you feel today? I live in a rural part of New Jersey where violent crime is virtually non-existent. I will leave my home today without a thought about my personal security. If I lived in some parts of Chicago where crime is flourishing, I would feel differently. Greater threat requires increased vigilance. Spiritually, I know that there is an adversary who desires my destruction! Because I am a Christian, I am part of the opposition and engaged in a daily battle. But, I am not fearful. Here’s why. God provides for my protection.
The Word says, “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 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. 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, to stand.
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. 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 saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18, NIV)
First up, we are taught that our real battle is not with other people, but rather with powerful spiritual beings. Our Western minds are trained to understand the world in which we live in a material way. Most believe that what is “real” are things that can be measured, touched, and seen. We worship human knowledge, rather arrogantly assured that there is no problem that our best minds cannot solve. I am ever so grateful for modern medicine, for the technology that lets me live in a climate-controlled home, for the abundance of food that modern farming techniques provide. But, I know that there is a realm outside of the visible world in which evil is at work; causing hate, bringing division, blinding the minds of many to their true reason for existence. The Devil is real and at work in our world.
We learn in this passage that as children of God though we live in hostile territory, we need not be afraid. The armor worn by the ancient foot soldier illustrates the many ways that those of us who are ‘in Christ’ live securely in spite of active evil that works to frustrate and destroy the plans of God.
In Christ, we find Truth, which Paul refers to as the Belt in our armor. The belt held the soldier’s clothing and armor in place during hand to hand combat. When we know Christ as Lord, He reveals the true nature of life to us: that we are not random products of an evolutionary scheme. We are made by a loving Creator. He shows us that humanity’s true problem is one of sin that produced spiritual death. The remedy is faith in His work of restoration so that we can be alive to God, reconciled to our Father.
In Christ, we are given Righteousness, the Breastplate in our armor. Righteousness does not mean being out of touch, incapable of laughter, or living a mean life of misery. The righteous are those whom Christ has forgiven, whose guilt is removed, who stand before God justified and whole. It is not something we create, it is God’s gift of grace. What a protection it gives. We learn that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2, NIV) Those who have received the gift of righteousness sleep well, have hope, and are secure.
In Christ, we have Peace, our Shoes, which gives us steady footing in life. Anxiety is the modern curse. Millions live with a simmering pot of fear inside of them, restless, and confused. The Devil exploits that fear and keeps them off balance, looking in all the wrong places for relief. Jesus offers us the Gospel (the good news) of peace with God which makes it possible for us to live in the peace of God. He is our Peace, the source of serenity in this life which is anchored in the promise of an eternal home. Christian, are you wearing the shoes of Peace that give you sure footing in this uncertain world? God says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)
In Christ, we live by Faith, the Shield which extinguishes the Devil’s fiery arrows! Who has not experienced those moments when temptation rages? The attack takes various forms depending on our individual situation. It might be pride, or lust, or greed, or hate, or doubt. The arrows are aimed squarely at our heart, designed to maim and destroy us spiritually. Our best protection is not therapy, or new opportunity, or relocation, or even explanation! We turn to Christ in faith, accepting greater faith in His Word, and we are transformed into men and women of courageous faith. Faith is more than just ‘believing.’ James tells us that faith works, that faith is more than feeling. “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26, NIV) We live ‘in faith,’ looking to Jesus!
In Christ, we gain new minds, wearing the Helmet of Salvation. Being ‘saved’ is more than getting religion, going to church, or saying a prayer. Salvation is, in Jesus’ words, being ‘born again,’ becoming a new person, with a new way of thinking, oriented not merely to survival but to living fully as a child of God on his way home to the Father’s house. Our salvation involves the transformation of our thoughts, the work of the Holy Spirit that gives us a clear mind, insight, discernment, and wisdom. The soldier did not venture into battle with his head bare. A wound to the head rendered him incapable if not dead! Christian, put on Christ and let Him change the way you think so that you are “transformed by the renewing of your mind… able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2, NIV)
In Christ, we have one offensive weapon, the Sword of the Word. Yes, Christ is God’s living Word in the world. He speaks, the world obeys. When we know Him, we can speak in His Name, exercising His authority against the powers of evil that stand against us. We do not have to turn into silly, superstitious people looking for demons behind every tree. We live in full faith, speaking God’s Word, living in the wisdom of the Living Word and the written Word of Scripture, and we defeat the darkness. Are your words, which flow from your heart, shaped by the Word of God?
In this ‘world with devils filled’ (Martin Luther) we ‘need not fear for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us!’
Meditate on those familiar words of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Then take this word from the Word and know that you, child of God, are well protected.
“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:18-23, NIV)
A mighty fortress is our God
A bulwark never failing
ur helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe
His craft and power are great
And armed with cruel hate
On earth is not his equal
Did we in our own strength confide
Our striving would be losing
Were not the right man on our side
The man of God’s own choosing
Dost ask who that may be
Christ Jesus it is He
Lord Sabaoth His name
From age to age the same
And He must win the battle
And though this world
With devils filled
Should threaten to undo us
We will not fear
For God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us
The prince of darkness grim
We tremble not for him
His rage we can endure
For lo his doom is sure
One little word shall fell him
That word above all earthly pow’rs
No thanks to them abideth
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth
Let goods and kindred go
This mortal life also
The body they may kill
God’s truth abideth still
His kingdom is forever
Martin Luther © Words: Public Domain