Have often wondered what the Apostle Paul has in mind when he talks about putting on the whole armor of God (Eph 6:11).
Is he talking about what we need to do in the course of any given day? Or is he emphasizing what we need to believe about who we are and what we have in Christ?
One thing that is clear ties into our last conversation. Just before describing seven things to do “to stand against the shrewd schemes of our spiritual enemy” Paul says, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might” (Eph 6:10).
Paul puts “Be strong” in the present tense, passive voice, and imperative mood. The tense means keep doing this now. The passive means to allow yourselves to be acted upon (strengthened by the Lord). The imperative says that from God’s point of view, “this is a must”!
It’s also plain from what Paul says, that even though our own fallen nature has devilish and demonic capacities for evil, we have even bigger problems in an unseen enemy who Is trying to exploit and leverage our inclinations.
Is he urging us to keep in mind our position in Christ, which is such an important part of his emphasis in this letter? Or is he talking about the practical things that we need to do in the process or maintaining our relationship with Christ– which is also such an important part of this letter?
Here’s what am thinking.
Both our position and practice in Christ are essential to standing against the clever strategies of the devil. On one hand the truth, righteousness, and salvation that are ours in Christ are basic to spiritual offense and defense. Ultimately we don’t stand on anything that we so imperfectly do for God or ourselves.
But at the same time there is also a very practical side when it comes to standing against the devil. While remembering that hiding behind, and in, Christ assures our ultimate victory, we need to keep in mind that if we fail to do any of the following, we give “the accuser of our souls” a crack, or a foothold to exploit in us:
1. Tell the truth (belt of truth)
2. Do what is right (breastplate of righteousness)
3. Be ready to help (shoes prep/gospel of peace)
4. Trust the Lord (shield of faith)
5. Think future (helmet of salvation) see 1Thess 5:8
6. Quote the Word of God (sword of the Spirit)
7. Pray for one-another (prayerful dependence/intercession)
Does it make sense that, in addition to thinking the truth about who we are in Christ, that simply telling a lie, or doing what we know is wrong, or failing to be ready spiritually to help others… etc. can give the enemy something with which to needle, weaken, or harass us.
By the way, if the above seems complicated, just think of all of things we have to do while driving a car to avoid an accident. Don’t cross the yellow line. Watch your blind spot. Stay within the speed limit. Watch for pedestrians. Come to a full stop at a stop sign. Look both ways etc etc etc :-)… Spiritual safety apparently requires a similar multiple approach… Thankfully we are not alone in learning to do this…
Note: Pictures are from Jordanian demonstration of first century Roman occupation in the impressive ruins of Jerash near Ammon.