I've been doing some reading...brushing up on the tools available to Christians in order to withstand the inevitable attacks from Satan. Ephesians 6 has a bit to say on issues of warfare and provides a great deal of perspective.
Firstly, verse12 reminds us that our struggles are not with 'flesh and blood'. In other words, it is not people with whom we battle. It may look like that on the surface, but as I mentioned last week, Satan uses people to do his work. His purpose is to make us so weary, wounded, distracted and introspective that we cannot be effective in any way...not in the work God gives us to do, and not in prayer. How often does he succeed in your life? I'm afraid he succeeds far too often for my liking. And just as I thought I'd managed to pray my way through all those things, over the past few weeks, he has attempted to sideline my focus again by dredging up old wounds. Wounds that have healed, but still come with memories. This is what sent me looking for Godly wisdom on the matter.
Putting on the full armour of God, as instructed in Ephesians 6:13 always sounded somewhat archaic. Armour conjours up all kinds of medievil images. However, the description in this passage comes with reasons for digging deeper. It is in putting on this armour, protecting ourselves, that we are able to stand firm against the attacks of the evil one. And don't we all want to be able to survive these challenges victoriously? I know I do.
So we start with the belt of truth. It struck me that this belt is something that surrounds us...all the way around. Every situation we face should be viewed through the lens of God's Truth. In doing so, I think it is possible to see things not just from our own navel-gazing point of view. Next comes the breastplace of righteousness. We need to be motivated by the desire to act in a morally upright manner. No matter what is going on around us. Then we need to have feet that are ready. The Gospel must be our motivator, but we need to be prepared to 'go' and 'do'. The shield of faith which extinguishes the firery arrows from Satan. We're not talking about them just being batted away, but being put out! Finally, there is the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. The sword being the Word of God.
Within this little passage we have instructions that tell us something about the behaviour we need to display, and the things we need to value. Putting on this armour is not about being able to protect ourselves in a passive way. It is about being actively able to do something about the battles we face. God gives us all the tools we need as well as the victory that is already ours.
Let's live victorious lives!
"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."