As much as God has given us a mission and a mandate while on planet earth; we have an enemy intent on robbing, killing and destroying God’s great plan and purpose. As a result of following our Commander in Chief, Jesus, and living disciplined and obedient lives; we are a threat to the enemy and his purposes. Fortunately, we haven’t been left to fend for ourselves. The Lord isn’t sitting in heaven, holding His head in His hands, hoping somehow that His church will advance and overcome the enemy. The Lord has equipped us with some amazing armour and weaponry.
Ephesians 6:14-18 says, “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. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
This armour and weaponry is only available to people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. You must be spiritually renewed to make use of spiritual weapons. The apostle Paul was in prison at the time of writing this, surrounded by Roman soldiers dressed in their armour and weapons. God spoke to him through that every day experience and gave him a wonderful download that has helped Christians ever since. The truth is, we are at war! You and I have an enemy, but we have been equipped to face that enemy. We don’t need to ever fear him.
Paul starts with an instruction to “stand firm”. A simple definition of standing firm would be “to hold out, to resist, to withstand.” The call for us as believers is to hold our ground, to maintain a winning position, to be steadfast and upright as we live our lives on planet earth. It means we must never doubt we have an active enemy who is always looking for someone to destroy. Which means then that we must take our positions and be prepared for his attacks. Paul then explains what Heavenly weapons we have in our possession to help us do just that. For me the first three make up the uniform or clothing of every Christian, and the last four are our weapons to fight with.
· With the belt of truth buckled around your waist. Truth is essential for every Christian. It’s only truth that can set free. We are to wear truth, be the truth, live the truth, speak the truth and believe the truth as Christians. Truth is essential in standing against the enemy. We can’t have any grey areas in our lives or areas of compromise. We need to believe the Word of God is truth and we need to live in that truth all the time. It’s truth that needs to undergird every other part of our armour and weapons.
· The breastplate of righteousness in place. A breastplate protects all the vital organs of a body that sustain life. This isn’t our own righteousness, which God equates to filthy rags, but the righteousness which comes from God. We stand in His righteousness and not our own. It’s a righteousness received by faith. It doesn’t depend on how you feel or even what you’ve done or haven’t done. It’s a righteousness (a right standing) brought about by the selfless act of Jesus. This breastplate of God’s righteousness is our best defence against a lying evil enemy.
· Your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Isaiah speaks about the beauty of a Christian’s feet and about their feet being ready to go and do what the Commander asks of them. In chapter 52 verse 7 we read, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Part of our armour and weaponry is to be equipped and ready with the Gospel, so that we can share the gospel wherever we are and wherever we go. We inflict the greatest damage on the kingdom of darkness when we are ready, available and prepared to share the gospel.
· Take up the shield of faith. This is our first weapon as a Christian. Faith is our shield against the lies of the enemy. Every time we are discouraged, depressed, disheartened or tempted to believe his lies, we are to raise up our shield of faith. What do you do with the shield? We use it to deflect the enemy’s attacks. Our faith shield will “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”. The enemy will persistently and continually come with his lies, condemning thoughts, guilty feelings, fears and harassment, but we are to continually respond with faith and counteract his accusations and deception.
· Take the helmet of salvation. A helmet protects the head of a soldier. In days of old during a battle, it was used to identify which regiment a soldier was from. The helmet of salvation identifies us as a son or daughter of God. When we become saved, we receive the helmet of salvation that identifies us as a child of God; but it also tells others who we are. Salvation answers the who we are and whose we are question. The helmet of salvation protects our minds from enemy attack. If you’ve accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you have been saved. The enemy will try and rob you of that assurance by discouraging and condemning you but keep that helmet on so that his lies won’t penetrate your mind.
· The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Very simply put, this is saying that the Spirit of God provides you with a sword and that sword is the Word of God; powerful and effective, dividing bone and marrow. It gets right into us and cuts away all doubt, fear, anxiety and hopelessness. That means you need to meditate on Scripture, hide Scripture inside of you, and then use Scripture to counteract the enemy’s attacks.
· And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Prayer is a powerful and effective weapon against the enemy. Prayer calls on the hosts of Heaven to back you in overcoming the enemy. Learn to pray! Pray in your native language and prayer in the Spirit. Sometimes our English language is limited, but as we pray in tongues power is released, and breakthrough comes.
Paul then closes this section with the following words: “With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” When you and I pray for others we can become a powerful weapon in the Father’s hand to help others win their battles. You and I have a responsibility to look out for the soldiers around us; to watch their backs, to protect them in prayer, and together to neutralise the enemy. Let’s put on our uniforms and take up our positions. Let’s pick up our weapons and use them to resist and overcome the works of the enemy.