I’m not a fighter by nature. I don’t like conflict, confrontation makes me slightly queasy (literally), and I would rather ignore issues than address them head on. But friends, whether we want to recognize it or not, we are standing at the front lines of a battle that has been raging for thousands of years. The question is not if there is a battle, but if we are prepared for the deadly battle that already rages around us.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle 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. (Ephesians 6:10-12, ESV)
On Monday I rocked my sweet four month old baby in the quiet of his nursery. I kissed his fuzzy head and smelled his milk breath and prayed over him, pondering what our crazy world might be like when he reaches adulthood, if the Lord should tarry that long (and I pray He doesn’t!) I long to wrap him in protection from head to toe, guarding him not just physically but more importantly, spiritually.
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. (Ephesians 6:13)
The image of the armor of God came to my mind as I prayed, and it struck me anew how Paul’s description of this spiritual armor speaks so vividly of the readiness we must have for the very real spiritual war that rages around us each day. Our Heavenly Father’s love for us goes even deeper than my love for my little ones – and He wants us to be wrapped in battle-protection, as well.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth… (Ephesians 6:14a)
Paul is relying on imagery of a Roman soldier’s battle gear in this passage, a familiar sight to his original readers. The soldier’s belt was far more than a fashion accessory – the soldier would tuck the flowing edges of his tunic into the belt to keep from becoming entangled and tripped up in hand-to-hand combat. Truth – both knowing and clinging to the truth of God’s Word and living authentic lives without hypocrisy – girds about us and keeps us from becoming tripped up and entangled in this raging war.
…and having put on the breastplate of righteousness… (Ephesians 6:14b)
The breastplate was like a bullet-proof vest, Roman soldier style! It covered the vital organs of the torso, providing necessary protection in battle. As we hold tight to what is right and flee from what is evil, it becomes a safeguard around us.
…and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15)
The footwear of Roman soldiers was designed to give them traction and keep them from slipping as they fought. When we are confident that we are at peace with God and maintaining our focus on the eternal mission God has given us, it gives us spiritual stability and protects us from being pushed off course.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one… (Ephesians 6:16)
This word for “shield” refers to a very large shield that would protect the soldier’s entire body, enabling them to crouch behind it and be completely protected from the arrows flying from the enemy lines. Living a life of deep faith and belief in God’s character, Word, and ways is a shield about us, protecting us from the arrows of temptation and doubt and twisted truth that the enemy constantly sends our way.
…and take the helmet of salvation… (Ephesians 6:17a)
Tying in with the Gospel of Peace and the Shield of Faith, having the issue of our salvation settled is the primary protection for us – Satan loves to attack us in this area, and we must firmly put on our hope of salvation!
Tomorrow, Stephanie will explore the Word of God as our offensive weapon. For today, I want us to ponder if we are battle ready. We must each day fasten on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the Gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation. We must know the truth of God’s Word, cling to His grace, love, obey, believe Him.
As I hold my little ones and pray over them, I pray that God would capture their hearts young – that they would place their trust in Him and cling to Him with all their might. That they would love what is good and hate what is evil, that they would have a thirst for the Word of God and discernment to recognize what does not line up with the God’s revealed Truth. I pray that they would live each day with a deep and settled faith in God’s character, Word, and ways.
We are in a battle, and it rages deadly around us. I do not doubt that my life will not be easy – and my children’s lives might be even more difficult than my own. I must be dressed for the battle, I pray that God will wrap my little ones in the safety of His armor… and I must fight.
“I’m on the winning side of a war that has already been won.”