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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Armor of God

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For 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. 13Therefore 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. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
- Ephesians 6:10-17

People connect with this passage for many reasons. For some, it inspires them to find strength in God - as one Christian said, "to use God wholly and not just when it is convenient for us." Others utilize it as a checklist - what is my personal belt of truth or breastplate of righteousness? While I agree with both of these opinions, this passage speaks more powerfully than that.

Ephesians 6:10 - 17, in its entirety, is a call to war.

As John MacArthur put it, "Repeatedly in Scripture, the Christian life is seen as warfare". We are in a battle - a battle that has been progressing since the beginning. And when you have chosen to follow Christ and take up your cross, this is what you are entering in to. It is a battle of good vs. evil. As Christians, we know good will prevail, for the only thing good is God (Mk. 10:18, Lk. 18:19). We can read the book of Revelations and see the end of the story - but we also see the "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" Paul speaks about trying like hell to succeed.

What about this passage specifically communicates war?

First, the language Paul uses reveals the war motif. Looking at the time period in which Paul was preaching, we see the Roman world as a powerful force. They have the technology and the war intelligence to fashion armor at this period. One does not put on armor unless entering into battle.

Second, we have an affirmation of who our enemy is. We must put on the full armor to stand against the "devil's schemes", "the rulers", "the authorities", the "powers of this dark world", and the "spiritual forces of evil". That is quite a list. We are not talking about weak enemies here, they are rulers and authorities. To fight a strong enemy, we need strong armor.

Third, the type of armor matters. Paul states that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. We cannot fight this battle with physical swords and breastplates. We have to have spiritual protection because we have a spiritual enemy.

The point of this passage is not to simply inspire us to trust God, or to make a moral inventory documenting for ourselves what tools we have. It is a call, a loud one, to realize what we chose when we chose Christ. We chose the narrow path. We chose a path of persecution. We chose the path of war. It would be unwise for us to send a soldier into war without the proper training and armor. Why are we entering a battle without putting on these tools that are provided for us, and frankly, spelled out for us.

My pastor commented on what a shame it is that we have such growing access to the Bible in numerous translations, yet there is such a rapidly declining knowledge of the Bible in the world. How can this be? I am tired of this "meek and mild" Jesus presented so often. I am tired of hearing the phrase "God of love" taken out of context. Our God is a warrior. Our God is willing to fight for us.

I leave this passage with a challenge for you. Let us consider who we are fighting. There are too many people who proclaim to be followers of Christ who waste their time arguing over denominational issues. Here we have a completely transparent verse from the Bible written by Paul clearly proclaiming what and who we should be fighting against. How many of us have buckled the belt of truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, fit our feet with the readiness of the gospel of peace, taken up the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, or the sword of the Spirit and armored ourselves against the flaming arrows of the evil one?


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