Spiritual Armor: Protecting Oneself for the Fight

In the past two blog posts, “The Noble Soldier” and “The Army with the Afterlife in Mind,”  I have been discussing the concept of how the military here on earth– especially the militaries fighting ISIS and radical islamic terrorism– are very much like “The Lord’s Army,” all Christ Followers who are seeking to glorify Christ and fight evil, darkness, sin, and oppression by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But through writing these posts, one thing came to the forefront of my mind: with what does the Christian soldier fight with, in the battle against darkness? I felt it important to 1) address the reality and importance of the enemy’s schemes in our lives, and 2) express what the Bible says about how we fight back.

The Christian Life: A Battleground

Many Christians today, especially in the West, see their discipleship to Christ as something they do on Sundays, or whenever they meet for church. Because Christianity can be, as of now, openly practiced in the United States of America, many Christians do not take their walk with Christ seriously. They see their walks in this life as more of a playground, instead of a battleground. (This is not, of course, stating that to have fun and enjoy life is sinful, or unwise– everything has been given to us by Jesus for our enjoyment, 1 Timothy 6:17).

But, nothing could be further from the truth. Without using scare tactics to freak out Christians about the enemy, the truth is that there is an enemy of our souls.battleground

Here is what the Bible says about the enemy of our souls, satan.

Knowing Our Enemy

It is important to note that not everything bad that happens in our lives is directly from satan’s scheming; much of the time, it is also our sin and it’s consequences, or the result of living in a broken world, one riddled by sin (1 Peter 4:15; Romans 8:19-23).

But, every good soldier must have a good understanding of the enemy they are fighting. The Bible says:

  • He (satan) fell from his place in heaven because of pride, wanting to be God (Isaiah 14:12-15).
  • He can come deceitfully, under the guise even of an “angel of light”
    • And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
  • He comes to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10)
    • The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John  10:10)
  • He tempts humanity, even Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11)
  • He incites humanity.
    • “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21)
  • He is “The Accuser of the Brethren,” accusing us night and day, bringing false guilt and condemnation. (Revelation 12:7-10)
  • He prowls around, like a lion (not as a lion), looking to see whom He can deceive and destroy.
    • Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Think about that last point. satan prowls around– not as the Lion (as in the Lion of Judah, Jesus Christ), but like a lion, a false and cowardly imitation of Christ. Cowardly as he is, satan prowls around, looking for someone to devour.
The definition of “devour” is “to consume destructively.” This definition provides a wake-up call for Believers: You have an enemy that, though he cannot touch your salvation, wants to destroy your life, your testimony to Christ, and your walk with Christ.

With such a formidable enemy ready to attack us, what can the Christian do to defend themselves, as well as to attack the enemy?

Ephesians 6 is full of scripture about spiritual warfare, but James 4:7 uncovers one powerful way a Christian can cause satan to literally run away.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
(James 4:7, NIV)

It’s simple, yet it involves us humbling ourselves before Christ, and doing His Will (therefore rejecting the devil). When we do this, the enemy has no other choice than submit to Christto flee from us!

Fighting The Enemy

It is in this humble submission to our Loving Jesus that Ephesians 6 encourages us to stand firm and strong against the enemy.

Ephesians 6 starts out this way: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise— ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth‘” (Ephesians 6:1-3). What is the common thread here? Submission! In submitting to those who are higher up and/or leading you, your relationship and spiritual life flourishes. 

Diving into Ephesians 6:10, submitting to Christ and to those He has placed over your life, Paul discusses the many different ways a Believer can stay strong against the enemy’s attacks, discussed below (I am using this Bible Study guide as my main resource for this portion of the Blogpost.):

  • The belt of Truth (Ephesians 6:14)
    • The belt of truth keeps one’s sword-carrier and the rest of their armor intact (source). Without Truth, the rest of a person’s spiritual armor is in grave danger of falling off!
    • Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one gets to the Father, except through me” (John 14:6). Without Jesus as the Truth, everything else in a person’s life is in danger.
  • The breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14)
    • The breastplate protected one’s abdomen and vital organs. Without righteousness, the enemy can go straight for the heart, lungs, kidneys, etc. — causing catastrophic damage in the spiritual life of a person. 
    • 1 Corinthians 1:30 states, “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” Jesus Christ is, for the Believer, Righteousness. Without Him, we have no life, and are subject to death, much like a person who has wounded his vital organs.
  • “Feet Fitted with the Readiness that Comes from the Gospel of Peace” (Ephesians 6:15)
    • The feet are some of the most delicate parts of the body, especially when it comes to their undersides/the sole of the foot. In the middle of the battle, one needs shoes that provide protection from debris, and allow the fighter to focus on the battle at hand. 
    • When we are focused on Jesus, and on sharing His Gospel with those around us, we are given a firm foundation, ready to fight and protected from the many distractions of life.
  • The Shield of Faith (Ephesians 6:16)
    • The Shield of Faith is not just something one puts on; one needs to wield their shield of faith, especially as the enemy shoots his fiery darts of discouragement, doubt, fear, and temptation. Believing Jesus’ promises can help us “curve” these fiery darts!
    • Psalm 3:3 proclaims that Jesus is our Shield: “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. It has been said that it does not matter how much faith you have, as much as it matters where you put that faith in. Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me” (John 14:1). Trusting in Jesus as our Shield and Promise-Keeper keeps us safe from satan’s attacks.
  • The Helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:17)
    • The helmet can mean life or death for those in the middle of warfare, as the brain is the most vital organ of the body. When one keeps Jesus’ sacrifice at the forefront of their minds, it protects their minds from distractions and discouragements (source).
    • Jesus is our Savior, the One who has saved us! Keeping our eyes and thoughts on Jesus protects us from the evil one.
  • The Sword of the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17)
    • The Sword of the Word of God, held by the belt of Truth, is the way to fight back against the enemy of our souls.
    • Think about it: the more we know the Word of God, the more we know the promises of God; the more we are focused on Jesus and spreading His Gospel; and the more we are rooted in the Truth, that Jesus is our Righteousness! Learning how to yield the Sword of God is crucial to our spiritual health. More than this, Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1).
  • The Cloak of Zeal (Isaiah 59:17)
    • While not mentioned in Ephesians 6, the cloak of zeal is mentioned in Isaiah 59:17, which says, “He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.” Our zeal and passion for Jesus can keep us from even the worst of outside conditions, just as cloak protected one against the outside elements. Like a coat, today, zeal keeps a soldier performing at their peak.
    • Our zeal must be based on right knowledge; many people have zeal today, but it is based in something evil or sinful. It was Jesus’ zeal to obey the Father and be the propitiation for our sins that saved us; when we base our zeal on Jesus and sharing His Gospel, no one can put that flame out!

Make no joke; our enemy is a formidable one. But, with submitting to Christ; putting on Jesus as our Righteousness and Truth; resting in His Salvation and Gospel; and growing in Faith in Him and zeal for Him, nothing the enemy does can keep us from walking in Christ’s victory.

christ's victory

As important to our spiritual walk as the clothes a soldier wears on a daily basis, I pray that we would put on our spiritual armor. May we walk close to Jesus, our Commander, in the midst of this fight. For, unlike an earthly commander, Jesus is with us– always.



Do you know Jesus?

Are you wounded, today?
Has the fight of life you are in seemingly decimated you?
Even when we are too weak to stand, Jesus is right there, ready and waiting to lift us up, and strengthen us, just as David said in Psalm 3: “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high” (Psalm 3:3).

In these times, we can call to Jesus for Refuge, and rest under His Loving Care (1 Peter 5:7). Because Jesus is not just our military Commander, barking out orders; He is our Loving Father, deeply interested in every detail of our lives (Psalm 37:23).

Learn about this Powerful, Loving, God– Jesus Christ– and just how much He Loves you, here.



Please pray for…

  • The Chibok girls; as of today, there are 113 of them still in captivity. Please pray for a breakthrough in their hearts, minds and lives!
  • Those who are on the physical front lines, including soldiers, aid workers, and members of vigilante groups, especially in Nigeria. Please pray that they would all come to know Jesus, and would fight under His ultimate Lead and Protection.
  • Those who are on the spiritual front lines, including missionaries, clergymen, and every Christian involved in the daily fight against evil (which is all of us, in some form or fashion!). Please pray for protection, wisdom, guidance, discernment, and boldness as they fight the good fight of faith.
  • The members of Boko Haram, deeply influenced by evil and falsehood. Please pray that Jesus would bring even these men to trust in Him, and would turn their lives around for His Glory, just like Saul (also known as Paul) (Acts 9).
  • For the continued protection and sustaining of those who are caught in this evil crossfire.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support!

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The Army with the Afterlife in Mind

I read this news report, heralding the news from Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, that “the fight against Boko Haram insurgents is coming to an end.” In the report, Abubukar states “the outcome of our offensive operations showed that the fight against Boko Haram is gradually coming to an end; this, however does not mean that we should rest on our oars.” Such an amazing report can only enlighten the soul; whether or not it is completely true, the fact that significant progress is made is something to celebrate.

This celebration comes amidst recounting the horrors of Boko Haram, and all that the citizens of Northern Nigeria have been through. The New York Times did an article focusing on 18 girls who were kidnapped, and subsequently made to go on suicide missions.

As each of these young women shared their stories, it became real: the heaviness of the suicide belts on their hips; the false promises of heaven for pushing a detonator; and the IMMENSE amounts of courage– and honestly, grace from God– that it took to turn themselves in instead of following Boko Haram’s orders.

For one girl, her little brother was also made to go on a suicide mission. He was too young at the time to understand what really was going on. He was driven away on a motorbike with Boko Haram’s members; she said he never came back. Instead, the men who drove off with him came back cheering at their “success” (source).

Whether or not Sadique Abubakar’s statement is true only time and events will tell; many are already going against his words, citing many suicide bombings in the last several months including three that made headlines. But amidst this immense loss, the chief of Air Staff’s words come like a refreshing breeze in a hot, hot desert. It is a Hope for weary soldiers, continually fighting the good fight against evil and oppression.

In the same vein of thinking, Christians, especially those continuing to experience hard trials, have the Hope that one day, the pain they are going through will be over with, either upon passing away, or upon the time of Jesus’ return. Think about it: whatever you, as a Believer and Follower of Jesus Christ, are going through, right now; whatever is the content of your pain, your sighs, and your suffering; you not only have the promise that Jesus will be with you, in and through it. You also have the sure promise that one day, “every tear will be wiped away” (Revelation 21:2-4).

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'”
(Revelation 21:3-4, NIV)

 

All Christians know that their time in heaven will be like paradise; and the day His Kingdom comes is closer now, more than ever (2 Timothy 3). It’s anticipation that fills us with the urgency to tell other people about Christ.

Revelation 21 describes Heaven amazingly. Obviously, Heaven is absolutely gorgeous, something that we can only imagine until Jesus allows us to see it ourselves after death or upon His return. In all, the New Jerusalem– heaven on earth– is 1,400 miles wide, high, and long. But it’s grandeur not the only thing that makes Heaven so beautiful.

God’s Presence is Paradise

But there is perhaps one special, beautiful thing that makes heaven, heaven. Many people focus on the presence of angels in heaven, imagining heaven to be a place of white, fluffy clouds, and angels playing melodious harps. But it is SO much more than this! Heaven will be re-created, as well as Earth– and Believers will be given a new, resurrected body, as Jesus dwells with them (Revelation 21:3).

revelation 21.2-4 true

What does this all mean? Ponder the importance of having a sun, a moon, and, for the Believer, a place of worship. Sure, we can worship anywhere we want as Believers; but the place of worship is where one meets with God. These verses are saying that in Heaven, God’s Presence with His Children is all we need. So it is, here; but God will dwell with His People, and God’s glory will be made most manifest, like never before. It is the magnitude of God’s Presence that makes Heaven, Heaven.

 

The Kingdom of Heaven is Near

In a mysterious way, that I admit I do not still quite understand, we are to ask Jesus to bring His Kingdom and Rule to earth (Matthew 6:10). The mind-blowing part: He does this through us! We, Believers in Jesus Christ, are able to experience the Presence of God in this moment– and are being used by Jesus to bring His Kingdom– “The Kingdom of Heaven”– to earth, starting now.

Jesus is with us, now; and, one day, we will live in the Presence of God, void of sin, pain, and death (Revelations 21:27). We will be given resurrected bodies, just like Jesus, and will live in a new Heaven on a new Earth (1 Corinthians 15).

We can be told these things, over and over again. But do they actually shape the way we live on a daily basis? 
Does the fact that all sin, and its consequences, will be banished away, give us realchange the way we live Hope and Comfort?
Does the fact that we will be given new, resurrected bodies, and a new Heaven and earth, make us look at the world around us, differently?
Does the fact that we will be with Jesus, in unhindered fellowship, give you Peace about your future?
And lastly, does the fact that time is running out– and that Heaven is real– give you an urgency about bringing others to Jesus?

With all of these beautiful promises of God in mind, we must live our lives with a sense of urgency, leading as many people as possible to know Jesus, and to enter into His Rest. The struggle is almost over; for those who believe in Jesus, this is a huge relief. But, for those who do not know Jesus, there is a sense of mockery and/or dread in their hearts…

Just as the soldiers fighting in Nigeria, Niger and Chad are fighting the war on terrorism, so are the people of God fighting evil. As we await the end of this war on evil, and struggle almost overanticipate a time of true Peace and complete Newness, we have a sure Hope: “the war is over soon.” Not only this, but we have a Commander who will see us through– one who has already secured the victory! On that day when this world and everything in it passes away, may we have lived in the power of the Holy Spirit in such a way that our Great, Loving Commander says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).



“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”
(Acts 1:9-12, NIV)

“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”
(Acts 7:55, NIV)

So many people today ask the question, “How can I get to heaven?”
Doing good things comes to mind; attending a place of worship, reading holy texts, and generally “being a good person” is usually the world’s answer to such a question.

But if this were true, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross– and His resurrection three days later, followed by His ascension to heaven– is entirely useless.

The Truth is, nothing we can do– no matter how “good” or “moral” it may be– can “get us to heaven.” Believing in Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior, is the ONLY way.

Find out more about Jesus, and why His death and resurrection were completely needed, here.



Please pray for…

  • For the Chibok school girls. As 113 of them are in physical bondage, and countless others are reeling from the PTSD and trauma they have experienced, that they would run to, and come to know Jesus– and that He would set them free.
  • The militaries of Niger, Nigeria, Chad, and Benin, as well as the rest of the world’s armies fighting terrorism and evil. Please pray that these men and women would come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and would not only be in an earthly army, but in the LORD’s army.
  • Those Christians, especially missionaries and those traveling to share the Gospel, for strength, that they might put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6; this will be spoken about in future posts.). That they would continue to fight evil on all fronts.
  • For those who are being persecuted. “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3). Please pray that Jesus continues to keep them strong in His Love, and that they would not turn away from Him!
  • For ourselves; those around us that are going through deep personal trial and anguish, that Jesus would bring them His Hope, Comfort, and most importantly, that His Presence in their lives would make them strong in Him.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support. Jesus bless you all.