You have an enemy. Whether you are a follow of Christ or not you have an enemy, but if you are a follower you are in the war against him and his minions. Paul wraps up his letter with some powerful and meaty teaching about it. Verses 10-12 read,
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 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.”
Paul tells us to be strong, not in our own strength, talent, or wisdom, but in the Lord. We re exhorted to be strong in the Lord. But what does that mean? Remember this, who you are in Christ is different than who you were outside of Him. He gave you gifts. He has trained you, grown you, and moved you through trials. Exercise the faith, wisdom and discernment He gave you and use the gifts He endowed to you. Walk with God, remembering He is alongside you, within you, and you are in Him.
The next verse tells us further how to be strong in the Lord, we are to put on the whole armor of God. It is a choice to use all the gifts and tools we have been equipped with or to let them rust with inactivity. We are all in the battle, but we have a choice in regards to fighting or cowering, and to fight well or poorly.
This isn’t just any fight. We’re not fighting the lost people. They have the same enemy we do, they just don’t know he’s their enemy. It is important to remember that our enemies are not men and women. The lost the prisoners of war. Our enemy is Satan and his underlings the demons who infiltrate, do his bidding, and put the chains on those prisoners. They fight to keep you weak. They fight to keep you ineffective. They do whatever they can to stop you from breaking the POWs out of their prisons and to ensure the captives have no idea they are bound.
But know that you have nothing to fear from Satan much less his demons. You are not called to cower or recoil. You are called to be strong in the Lord and put on His protection. Paul says in verse 13,
“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.”
If we put on all of God’s protection we will withstand and if we use His strength to be active in the war, we will stand firm. We will remain effective fighting warriors allowing Jesus to set the captives free. Let’s take a brief look at the armor we are to wear. And don’t worry it isn’t cumbersome, every piece helps us to stand and fight.
“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,”
The belt of truth is the first piece of armor. The belt held up the soldiers’ tunic allowing him to run and move freely. The truth does that for us. John 8:44 describes Satan as a liar and murderer,
“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Satan can only lie. And he lies well. He can make lies sound truthful, good, and beautiful. His lies can trip us up, keep us from believing we can fight, leave us tangled in the web of deceit unable to join in the battle. When we know the truth, we don’t have to second guess and trip over the lies that scoundrel tells. We don’t even have to listen to them!
One lie he likes to tell you is that we are not worthy to fight with Jesus, that you are too sinful to dare fight in the Lord’s army. But he’s wrong. The next piece of armor is the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate protected the soldier’s vital organs and kept him alive and able to use his weapons for fighting instead of trying to constantly protect his life. You do not have your own righteousness. But you do have Jesus’ righteousness. Romans 4:22-24 read,
“That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”
We were credited with Jesus’ righteousness, not because of any work, not because we fight in the war, not because we pleased God but because we had faith, believed and live with Jesus as our Lord. Jesus’ righteousness gives us eternal life. Our heart is new, it is the temple of God and it is protected. The enemy can’t have our heart. It belongs to God.
Does it bring you joy and excitement to think about your salvation? It does me. Being saved, I want the POWs to be saved as well. And freeing the captives is one of our most important missions. So our next piece of armor is used for that assignment. Verse 15 reads,
“and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”
You need shoes to walk well and far. Walking barefoot eventually your feet become bruised and painful, causing you to limp. Your feet need shoes to allow you to keep walking with God rather than limping along. Knowing the truth of the gospel, what you believe and why you believe it keeps you walking rather than limping.
Your feet are fitted with the readiness. What does that mean? 1 Peter 3:15 says,
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”
You have to know what you believe and why you believe it. You have to keep Christ honored as your Lord. Your life should show that you belong to Jesus and cause people to ask about the hope, the difference they see in you. You should be able to answer them. You should be able to point them to Jesus, to the Gospel.
The lost have no idea they can have peace with God. They don’t know that God wants to reconcile with them, heal their wounds, and give them freedom and rest. It is our mission as operatives to tell them. We can’t tell them by standing still, we have to go and on order to go, we have to move our feet and travel to them. Romans 10:13-15 read,
“For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Verse 16 reads,
“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;”
The shield allowed the soldier to stop weapons from hitting him. He kept it on him always and used it to stop the blows that might have injured him, weakened him and stopped him from being useful in the battle. Our shield is our faith. Faith means you know who God is. We trust completely in His power and strength. We believe He is our Savior, Creator, and the whole world and everything in it is His.
The enemy shoots a fiery arrow your way, but faith in God keeps it from touching you. 1 John 5:4-5 reads,
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
We know how the war ends. God wins, we win! We are already victorious and we keep fighting to complete our mission to free the captives with the gospel of peace. So as hard as the enemy wants to try and hurt us, he can’t. Keep the faith in all circumstances. All the arrows the devil throws our way bounce off the shield of faith and don’t even singe us. Satan can’t even get close to us, he has to fling arrows and hope we are not holding up our faith in order to hurt us. He only has the power to hurt us, if we let him.
Verse 17 reads,
“and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,”
The helmet is the most important part of our protection. The breastplate covers the heart and lungs, but the helmet protects the brain. The brain is the control center for our entire body. It coordinates everything in order for us to live.
We can’t be in the Lord’s army unless we have Jesus’ Salvation. That salvation is what directs the faith, gospel, righteousness and truth to work together for our victory. Without salvation we can’t have faith. We can’t reconcile people to god, if we are not reconciled to Him. We have no righteousness without salvation. We do not know the truth.
The next part of our armor is the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. The sword is the weapon of our armor. It takes training to use a sword well. It requires up close combat to use a sword. Unlike the enemy who fling mendacious arrows at us from a safe distance, we are fully involved with the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.
The Spirit is powerful and He is Truth. When we read the word, He reveals it to us and helps us to understand it. He brings it back to us when we need to hear it. He speaks to us and guides us through every circumstance. But to use the sword well, we must be trained in it. He can’t remind us what He has said, if we never read it or listened to Him. We won’t even recognize His voice if we don’t spend time with Him.
The Word of God is powerful if we use it properly. Remember our mission is to free the captives and reconcile them to God. We have to get in there and use the sword as it was meant to be used. Remember just how powerful the Spirit is. He raised Christ from the dead. He brings people to their knees. He can and does do more than we imagine. He speaks to God for us when we don’t know how.
The word of God is a weapon more powerful than we realize Hebrews 4:12 describes it like this,
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
In Jeremiah 23:29 God describes His word.
“Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”
That is an amazing weapon. What good is it laying by your side? Pick it up, handle it, and use it. The truth of the Gospel is in the Word. The Love of God in the Word. Read it, hear it, speak it and do it.
One of the ways we use the sword of the Spirit is through prayer. Yes! Prayer is wielding the sword of the Spirit. Speaking to the Lord and hearing His Word and doing His Word through obedience makes a difference. Verses 18-20 read,
“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”
When we pray we are actively exercising the powerful weapon we’ve been given. Asking the Lord to help us and help others, strengthens us, encourages us, equips us, and unites us. Paul ends this letter with verses 23-24.
“Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”
Love incorruptible. Nothing can sully God’s love, nothing can damage or rust it. The armor of God, like God is incorruptible. Have faith in Everlasting Awesome God. Be strong.