Ready for Battle - Part 2
Last week I was talking about suiting up in the armor of God. We have the belt of Truth, with a capital T because it is God’s Truth and not the world’s truth or the “truth” we sometimes bend to suit our purposes. Then we have the breastplate of righteousness where we are relying on Christ’s righteousness and not our own. Remembering constantly that we must guard our hearts and not follow blindly after the things and ideas of this world. I ended with talking about wearing the appropriate footwear to go wherever God would have us go. I stopped there because I have more to say about the next three, and I didn’t want to cram it into one blog.
The next piece of armor we take up is the shield of faith. Faith that God will see us through anything that comes our way. Paul says in Ephesians 6:16 that we are to use our shield of faith to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” We have shields that protect us from the lies Satan shoots at us. The Roman soldiers used a formation called the testudo to protect themselves from arrows or objects thrown by the enemy. Testudo is Latin for tortoise and the soldiers’ shields form a barrier like a tortoise shell. The front line holds their shields down to the ground, and the lines behind hold theirs locked together over their heads. This formation cannot be done alone. We need our brothers and sisters in Christ to stand with us. This formation also allowed the front line to move to the back when they tired. When we are at the end of our ropes and struggling to keep our heads above water, we can be free to rely on others to be there for us.
One problem that can happen with our shields is if we use them against people. God did not mean for us to form shields around our churches or our hearts that will prevent us from loving and welcoming a lost world. We have to remember that we are fighting against spiritual forces and not people. Even if they are blind to the Truth of God, we are not fighting them. We are fighting the darkness and father of lies that attacks all of us. These shields are meant to draw people in and to protect them as they grow in the Lord. We are sharing our faith, not keeping it all for ourselves. We are also not looking down on other people who are struggling. We all struggle at one time or another, and we need to be loved and to love during those times.
The last piece of armor that Paul tells us to put on is the helmet of salvation. The helmet protects our heads from those lies that Satan is hurling at us. Our minds are renewed and transformed (Romans 12:2) by our salvation through Christ. Our faith and salvation work together to protect us. Again, this piece of armor is not meant to block out the people around us. We need to be listening to those who disagree with us. We have to know where they are coming from to help them in any way. Also, while we should not be swayed from the Truth of God’s Word, we should not stand stubbornly on ideas we have made up ourselves. Take one look at the Pharisees in the New Testament, and you will see what I mean. Jesus was calling them out of their rigid system of rules and regulations, and they missed all the joy and grace He was trying to show them. Please don’t miss out on that. If you have lost the joy in your life, please review your rules and regulations, remember Christ’s message of grace and love, and throw out all of them if they are keeping you from a relationship with Him.
After all the armor, Paul tells us to take up the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17) We must always go back to God’s Word to measure anything we read, see, or hear. I try as often as possible to include Scripture in my blogs because I want you to read what I am reading, and keep reading! The only Truth we need comes from God, and the only way we can find that Truth is by reading His Word in the Bible and spending time in prayer. Delve in and use the sword that is forever sharp to cut your way out of the darkness and lies. A word of caution comes with this sword just like it does with the pieces of armor. The sword is not to be used against people. We cannot cut them down or judge their opinions or smack them across the head with our Bibles. The sword of the Spirit is to be used against Satan. We are to show it off to others and encourage them to use it as well. When we work together we are stronger! Only when we use our armor and weapon along with much prayer will we be effective against the father of lies and spread the Gospel like we are called. Suit up and stick together!