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. 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.
“Living by faith includes the call to something greater than cowardly self-preservation.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien
In wartime, equipment can make or break your survivability and the outcome of the battle.
At the Air Force Academy, one part of our water survival training included practicing what to do if our aircraft was shot down over a large body of water such as the ocean. This training involved a small muddy pond, a life raft, and a piece of survival gear known as a “poopy suit”. Lovely name.
Imagine an olive green rubber suit that covers your whole body. Only the head and hands stick out. There are very tight rubber bands at these three places to keep the water out. The idea was that you were supposed to be able to stay dry and warm for hours or days in the water while you awaited rescue.
As it turns out, the poopy suit I was issued was not in great condition. It had a hole somewhere. As I swam about the muddy pond dutifully executing the survival tasks I was assigned, water continued to leak into my suit. I got wetter and heavier as my suit filled up with water. It was increasingly difficult for me to move around, much less swim.
Finally, it was my turn to be “rescued”. An upperclassman hoisted me up using the small crane that was simulating the rescue helicopter. As my body was pulled from the water, the extent of my suit’s failure became evident to all. The leak had let a lot of water in, but the bands of rubber at my neck and wrists had done their job well and the seal they made kept any water from getting back out.
“We’ve got another Gumby!” yelled the guy who had hauled me out. I probably weighed at least twice my normal weight with all that water. I looked like an over-inflated balloon. I could no longer bend my joints. I flopped helplessly onto the deck at the top of the crane. Two other guys came up and held me upside down by my ankles while the guy who had pulled me out stretched open the band around my neck. They held me thus and shook me until all the water had poured from my suit, over my face, and back into the muddy pond from whence it came. Then I was released to go on to the next “survival” activity. Just another fun day at the “Zoo”.
The very piece of equipment that was supposed to ensure my survival nearly caused my drowning and also cost me a good chunk of my dignity. All the equipment in the world will not help if it is worn-out, ill-maintained, or improperly used.
God Equips You for Victory
Yesterday, we talked about how we are in a battle and who our enemy is. Today, we will focus on what equipment God has prepared for us to fight well. We will cover specifics of all these areas to a greater depth later, for now I just want to give you the list and a brief description.
Belt of Truth
Knowing, believing, and standing on the Truth is crucial to withstanding enemy attacks. The source of our Truth is God’s Word. We need to be hungry for the truth. It is imperative to identify and reject the lies of the enemy. Our minds are a primary target and if we aren’t grounded in truth, we will be wounded in the battle.
Breastplate of Righteousness
A breastplate guards your heart and protects critical organs that are essential to life. In addition to our physical heart, we must be wise to protect our spiritual and emotional heart as well. It is the source, the well-spring of our life. We do this through righteousness. Righteousness involves obedience to God and repentance when we mess up.
Roman soldiers had cleats on the bottom of their shoes to maintain a sure footing. We must be ready for trials and expect them. We are warned not to be surprised or caught off guard by trials. (1 Peter 4:12) Our feet must be ready to do two things.
First, we must stand. We are called to stand our ground and resist the devil (James 4:7). We are not to give up any ground to him. God will help us to stand firm so we do not slip, falter, or fall. (Psalm 121:3) And when we do, He will grab our hand and lift us to our feet again (Psalm 40:2).
Secondly, we are called to move forward carrying the Good News of the Gospel to others who are harassed by enemy forces. Our feet are beautiful when they are used to carry the good news of God’s salvation to those who desperately need to hear it so that they have the opportunity to believe it (Romans 10:13-15).
Gospel of Peace
We must stand strong on the Message of God’s love for mankind and all individuals. Standing strong on the Gospel –who Jesus is and what He’s done for us—brings peace and preparedness to handle whatever life, people, or devils throw at us.
Shield of Faith
Our faith in God is our shield. It protects us from the fiery darts, including negative thoughts and emotions, the enemy shoots at us. God Himself is our shield (Gen 15:1, Ps. 3:3, Ps. 18:30-31).
It is critically important what foundation our faith is resting on. Faith in faith is ineffective. We must have faith in God, which requires trust. Believe what God, not the devil, says—even if all evidence seems to point to contrary. We must guard against having faith in faith.
Faith is also more than belief. Even the demons believe (James 2:19). Faith requires belief with the corresponding action (James 2:26).
Helmet of Salvation
A helmet protects our most critical organ—the brain. Life is impossible without it. Our primary preparation and protection starts with relationship with God through Jesus. Without this, the rest of the equipment won’t help you. It is impossible to experience a peaceful life without first making peace with God. This is the necessary first step.
Sword of the Spirit
Our sword is the Word of God. Soaking our lives in Scripture is a powerful way to defeat darkness that threatens to overtake us. His Word is not just a book. It is so much more. It is a living and active entity (Hebrews 4:12). God has told us His Word will always accomplish exactly what He intends it to (Isaiah 55:11). There is power in God’s words. He used words to speak the whole of Creation into existence (Genesis 1:3-26). “And God said, ‘Let there be…’” Jesus Himself is called the Word of God (John 1:1-5).
I have often heard it said that this list only contains one offensive weapon—the Word of God. The battle we face is primarily defensive in nature. Jesus has taken care of the largest part of the offensive battle for us. However, I see another offensive weapon listed here—prayer (Ephesians 6:18).
It is through the prayers of His people that God chooses to release His power to accomplish His will on this earth. This is a great mystery to us. The all-powerful and sovereign Creator of the universe has chosen to work through frail, faulty, and messy human beings. Nevertheless, our prayers focus His power like a laser beam to demolish the enemy’s evil efforts against us.
In addition, worship can also be an effective offensive weapon (not listed here) but we are going to cover that later.
Each of these pieces of equipment provided by God is important to living victoriously. We must be educated and practiced in their use. We will cover all these in greater depth over the next several weeks.
God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
~ Ephesians 6:10-18, The Message
Search Your Heart
Which pieces of your armor are missing, damaged, inadequate, or in disrepair?
To what degree are truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, God’s Word, prayer, and worship a part of your life?
What is one piece of armor you want to concentrate on wielding more effectively?
Call to Action
- Take your lack to God. Let Him issue, repair, or fortify whatever you need to fight well.
- Choose one piece of armor to focus on. Look up more Scriptures on it and pray about how to deliberately incorporate it into your life.
Seek His Face
Lord, forgive me for wandering out into battle without being adequately prepared. I thank you for equipping me with everything I need to live victoriously. Help me know your Truth and let go of anything that keeps me from holding on firmly to Truth. Make me truth-hungry. Enable me to guard my heart by living in ways that please you and confessing when I mess up. Remind me to be ready for, not surprised by, trials. You’ve told me they will come. I believe you. I want to stand strong by the power of your Gospel and move forward to carry that freeing message to my fellow soldiers. If I have failed to start by accepting my Helmet of Salvation from you, please show me to humbly do that first. I want to be an effective swordsman of your Word. How often do I leave your life-giving words closed up in a book on the shelf instead of wielding them in my life for power and victory? Help me to not neglect the weapons you have given to me so that I may fight the good fight of faith. I know that you will be faithful to protect me and you will not allow any weapon formed against me to prosper (Isaiah 54:17). There is no person, illness, situation, or mental state that can drag me to defeat unless I give up. You will never give up on me. You will not let my foot slip (Psalm 121:3). I am safe in your arms.
In the Mighty and Matchless name of Jesus, Amen.
Find Strength in the Song
“Stand” by Britt Nicole
To read other posts in this series, click the image below.