ARMED TO THE TEETH!
Therefore, put on the full armour 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 (Eph. 6:13-17).
Three times Paul states our stance in this “struggle” against our unseen enemy – stand, stand, stand! Why should we stand and not fight if we are to take the ground the enemy occupies? We only need to stand because Jesus has already overcome him and taken from him what he occupied illegally – our hearts and bodies.
Jesus has redeemed us and taken ownership again of what rightly belongs to Him – the entire universe including the human race. Satan is nothing more than a squatter in territory that he has invaded. When we return to the Lord in repentance and faith, we take up our rightful position “in Him” and He “in us” to live once more under His authority who is God’s appointed and anointed king.
The battlefield is not in our circumstances but in our minds. Satan’s avowed purpose is to win us back under his control by undermining our confidence in God – His love, His goodness and His faithfulness towards us. The devil lies to us as he did to Adam and Eve. He uses every form of deception and every lie to convince us that we have failed God and are disqualified, or that He has failed us and is no longer trustworthy.
Paul must have studied the Roman soldier’s armour and weapons as he sat in his prison cell in Rome, guarded day and night by a fully armed soldier, assuming that he wrote this letter from Rome. As he thought about his situation, he recognised that his circumstances were not his problem but his reaction to them. Why was he in jail and who was responsible for putting him there? Was he a victim of the devil’s schemes or was God still on charge and working in his life for his good?
If God had allowed him to be incarcerated in jail right in the very “den of lions”, Caesar’s palace, then He had a very good reason for placing him there. However, if Paul resisted and rebelled against what God was doing, mistrusting Him, questioning His love and goodness and complaining about his suffering, of what value would this trial be to him?
Paul realised, as he considered his plight, that what really mattered was his thoughts and his attitude to what was happening to him at that moment. How was he to handle the situation to get the best out of it? After all, hadn’t he penned the words to the believers in Rome years before?
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers (Rom. 8:28-29).
Satan, the relentless enemy and his minions of allies, would batter Paul’s mind with doubts and fears to nullify his trust in God when he was in the darkness of uncertainty and insecurity. He needed something to fortify his mind against this attack. Ah! He recognised a useful parallel between the centurion’s armour and the protection God had provided to deflect the destructive thoughts that bombarded his mind.
Jesus used the same powerful protection against the onslaught of the devil – truth! The belt of truth. It was the soldier’s belt, fastened firmly around his waist, that held all the pieces of his amour in place. In the same way, it was the truth of what God had said – His infallible and indestructible Word – that provided the anchor for his confidence in all the benefits of His salvation bought by the blood of Jesus.
Every part of Paul’s armour was anchored to and derived from the truth which came alive to him through his faith in God. He could displace every lie that assaulted his thoughts with the validity of God’s Word, protecting his mind and heart from receiving and believing what the devil insinuated. He could stand firm in both peace with God though faith in Jesus and the peace of God which guarded his heart and mind as he released all his fears and anxieties to Him. He could nullify every lie with the Word of God – driving the devil back by the power of the Word, his mind shielded by his confidence in what God had said.
What an experience to share with his beloved fellow-believers! If it worked for him in his prison cell, with the threat of execution hanging over his head, it would work for them as well, no matter what their circumstances and no matter how relentless the enemy’s attack. His mind and theirs would be impenetrable fortresses as long as they were filled and fortified with God’s truth. Salvation, righteousness, peace, faith… all defended by the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, made him invincible against every lie the devil and his hoards could fire against him.
This is how we fight, not to win, but to press home the victory Jesus won in the wilderness, in the garden and on the cross, and powerfully confirmed by His resurrection from the dead.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6
My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.