10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.
The shield of faith is related to the next item:
- The helmet of salvation
The helmet was designed to protect the most vulnerable part of a person their head. Just as the soldier’s helmet gives him a sense of confidence on the battlefield, it’s our awareness of the salvation that Christ has given us, that no-one can take away, that gives us confidence as we face our enemy, the devil. Some of our biggest battles will take place on the smallest real-estate, our minds. This is where many battles are either won or lost, and Satan loves to call God’s Word into question and cause you to doubt. That’s exactly what he did with Even in the garden of Eden. Genesis 3:1-6 describes his interaction with her, starting first by sowing seeds of doubt about God’s spoken Word and then by deceiving her into believing a lie. “One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” 2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” 4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” 6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it.” The helmet brings security by reminding us to stand not in our strength but in the finished work of the cross. Are you standing on your salvation that was purchased by the blood of the Lamb or in your own strength? When Satan starts to come at you, you can stand your ground only if you are standing on the salvation that Jesus paid for in full. Don’t give ground, remind Satan that you are sealed and sanctified by the blood of God’s Son. The last and the only weapon in our armory that can be used for both defense and attack is:
- The sword of the Spirit
This is the Word of God. Now there are two things to be said about the Roman sword. First, it was a short sword, meaning that it was designed for hand to hand combat. But secondly it was also designed for use in a battle column, shoulder to shoulder with other soldiers. Paul doesn’t make a lot of this, apart from using the illustration itself, but think about it for a moment. The word of God is a powerful weapon for both defense and attack, but it’s also something that needs to be studied with others. Just as faith is strengthened when we stand side by side with other Christians so our understanding of God’s Word grows when we study it with others. Paul clearly talked about this in Ephesians chapter 4, where we see God giving gifts to the church so that we can all grow to maturity. If you pay attention you will notice that each of those gifts has to do with the Word of God. God wants us to learn from his word together so we grow into a unified body under Christ. There are other passages that talk about us learning and growing together. In fact, it should be noted that almost the entire New Testament is addressed to churches rather than individuals. Even those parts written to individuals are written in a way that shows they were meant to be read by the whole church. I think one of the powerful keys that we are missing today is the power of community and coming together in the midst of conflict instead of trying to fight the battles on our own. Satan is known in scripture as a lion that prowls around looking for those to devour. Lions hunt by separating their prey from the herd. So let me ask you are you wielding the sword of the Spirit in conjunction with others, or are you trying to be a lone ranger and fight alone? So what does this sword do? Well, Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” God’s word has the power to cut through people’s defenses, by pricking their consciences, shining light into dark places, and bringing truth to the situation. Success on the battlefield is not dependent on self but on the sword of the Spirit. If you want to stand in this world you need to be in the Word. It has always amazed me how much of our lives we spend studying different subjects and yet how little we send studying God’s Word. We see the benefit of going to school and studying so we can get a job, but do we see not just the benefit but the blessing of being in God’s Word? When it comes to winning the war we need to have our mind both girded and guarded. So let me ask you what helmet are you wearing, is it the helmet of salvation or suggestion, is it based on Christs finished work on the cross or your constant striving? Lastly what weapon are you welding in the war, are you relying on God’s unchanging Word or current culture that is constantly shifting, like the sands of the desert?