Some Christians realize that we are at war. Others think it is for those in paid leadership positions and not for individual church members to get involved in.
The truth is that from day one of our deciding to confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior we have been plunged against our will into a spiritual war. We live our lives on the front lines.
Every morning when we wake up and then all day until we go to sleep at night we are being assaulted. At work or school there are those who do not want to hear our message and will be offended if we try to share it with them. At home conflict with our spouses or other family members can be part of the warfare as Satan tries to tear apart the foundation of society which is the family. If Satan can divide the family next he will try to separate the person from their relationship with God.
First our flesh is at war with our spirit. And then our mind is being assaulted by the culture around us. And finally Satan sends his minions to try and get us to trip and fall and then give up our struggle and just give in to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes or the pride of life. There are spiritual forces at work which are against all believers and trying to get them to surrender; to quit fighting the good fight. TV and movies show us people getting away with sin. They are not punished for their wrong behavior and some seem to even be rewarded for it! Satan wants to convince us that the war is over and we have already lost!
Every morning as soon as we open our eyes we NEED to put on the whole armor of God.
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.
There are angelic powers at work on both sides of the current conflict. The conflict will not end until the Day of Judgment. The world is overshadowed by sin, corruption and darkness. Jesus is the light of the world and it is our job to let the light of Jesus shine through us.
Paul is a great example of the entire scope of spiritual warfare.
He was accused of sedition and blasphemy; he was arrested, beaten, escaped an assassination attempt, was shipwrecked and attacked by a poisonous snake and lived under house arrest chained to a Roman soldier for two years. Yet he never quit trying to tell people about Jesus right up until the day he died.
The armor of God represents what we can do to both protect ourselves from the spiritual attacks of our enemy but to how we also can succeed in our combat against the darkness. As we turn our eyes upon the cares of this world (food, shelter, work, family) our eyes are drawn away from our Lord. When we become distracted by things we become easier targets for the enemy.
Belt of Truth
The first item of our armor that Paul lists is the belt of truth. The belt represents the word of God as it surrounds our life like a belt. This is not the simple set of helpful tips we have all heard (like the golden rule and turning the other cheek). Paul is talking about our knowing and understanding the unchangeable almighty truths of God’s word. We are called to test all things against what the word of God says. If God’s word has spoken against doing something then nothing can stand up before it. We must put down what God has said “thou shall not” and pick up those things God has said to do.
The Breastplate of Righteousness
The majority of the enemies attacks are made against our heart and that is where God wants to protect us. The breastplate of righteousness is doing what is right in God’s eyes by following his commandments. Sins are in conflict with God’s way of living and are harmful to ourselves and others, our perfect and just God will not tolerate them in us. Living by faith will be accounted to us as righteousness and will become part of the breastplate.
Shoes of the preparation of the gospel.
Without shoes we can only move forward or backward with difficulty. Trying to walk without shoes we would soon be very distracted by all the debris which causes us pain. The preparation of the gospel refers to the gospel of the Kingdom, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the Kingdom of God, the gospel of the grace of God, the gospel of peace. This is the good news which gives us joy and that we want to share. We want to spread the word that the kingdom of God is coming and that we should all be ready for it. We can have reconciliation with God through Jesus and forgiveness for our sins from God.
Shield of Faith
We are constantly assaulted by the fiery darts of doubt and mistakes from our past. The shield of faith can stop those attacks as we trust the finished work of Jesus as he died on the cross. With the shield strapped to our arm we still need to lift it up to catch the enemies attacks or else we will be wounded by them. Faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” it is solid and tangible. It is based on solid evidence of God’s faithfulness to us in the past and the promises we have written in his word.
Helmet of Salvation
We all need our thoughts protected. If our own thoughts attack us by bringing up past failures and mistakes we can become paralyzed. Salvation means that we have been delivered from judgment. Without the helmet of salvation our minds are constantly bombarded by doubts and the cares of this world. In Philippians we are told that the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Our minds are being renewed every day as we meditate on the word of God.
Sword of the Spirit
This is our only offensive weapon. God needs Christians who keep this sharp by constant study. When Jesus was attacked by Satan he himself used God’s word to rebuke him with truth. Even if we put on all the rest of the armor of God yet we neglect the sword, we will be nothing more than armored moving targets for the enemy to attack. God’s word is a light to our path. It reveals to us the good and the bad, the wise and the unwise. It is the ultimate tool in learning how to live the best possible life, free from the restraints of stumbling in darkness. The truth of God’s word can cut through all the lies, deceits and every defense of the enemy. Nothing that the enemy can bring up can withstand being exposed to the truth of the word of God. When God’s word exposes something as false then it can be cut away and separated out of our lives like a surgeon removing cancer. God leaves no doubt of the outcome of anyone who believes in him, he shall be saved.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
If (and we know he is) God is for us who can stand against us? Yes, we will have trials, tribulations, pain, suffering and setbacks. No one ever lives a trouble free life in this world. If we truly rely upon God every day we will not be defeated. Even if we come to the end of our lives for any reason from disease to old age we can know that God is still walking with us and will never leave us. All we need to do is remember to armor up every morning and God will take care of everything else according to his will.