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!

When Under Attack: Praying for Maiduguri

They awoke to the sound of explosions. Repelled by the Nigerian army, Boko Haram’s suicide bombers aimed for soft targets: the people of Ajilari Cross area in Maiduguri city, the capitol of Borno State, Nigeria. The aftermath of such an attack was horrendous; amidst “body parts on [homes]” and “people running helter-skelter,” as two survivors put it [1], emergency services and the Nigerian government took in the severely wounded– and there was no end to those who were severely frightened and confused.

Sadly, this was not the first suicide bombing that Maiduguri had experienced. It had been one in a long line of many suicide bombings, which started in mid-May. Since that initial spate of suicide bombings in May, over 300 men, women, and children in Maiduguri have fatally fallen at the hands of BH suicide bombers, with hundreds more injured. It has not been until recently that Nigeria’s army and government have become more diligent in protecting Maiduguri’s citizens, shooting down suicide bombers before they detonated their explosives in large crowds. While lowering the death toll, the amount of fear and instability in Maiduguri has stayed consistently high, with those in the city scared about when the next bomb will go off.

Though we’re still talking about a city that, for many reading, is a world away with its differences, the city of Maiduguri is like many of the cities we live in. With a population of over 600,000 people counted in 1991, and a growth rate of 12.0%, it is estimated that Maiduguri reached a population of over 1 million people in 2009 (source). Maiduguri is, as one can imagine, a city with compact, small homes and roads in historic Yerwa, newer developments dated to the 1970’s and fringe settlements farther from the inner city of Yerwa, and more rural, undeveloped land in the outermost parts of the city [2]. While the city may be home to many different religions, islam is “the religion of most of the inhabitants of [Borno] state,” the state Maiduguri inhabits (source). This city is the biggest and most developed city in Borno state, while being the 7th largest city in Nigeria. But for being such a “fortified city,” this city is in major need of help, both spiritually and physically.

Every single person in this hugely populated city faces a battle– and it’s not just one of spent bullets. Whether knowingly or not, all people have a spiritual enemy– who, not unlike Boko Haram, is “looking for every opportunity to hit back” (source). This is why Paul soberly warns Christians to “put on the whole armor of God, that [one] may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11, ESV). The fight is real, but it shouldn’t be overemphasized fanatically, as it sometimes is. Christ has sealed His children with His Holy Spirit, making it completely impossible to be “possessed” by an evil spirit, or the devil himself (1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 John 4:4; John 14:16). If Christ’s Holy Spirit lives in and forever seals the Christian, there is no room for any other spirit to live in them.

While a Christian cannot be inhabited by an evil spirit, they can be harassed by one. Often times, the enemy will use tricky schemes to attack and harm unsuspecting Christians. It is important, therefore, to remind oneself and other Christians that 1) there is a real enemy, and 2) there a real God, who is not equal with the enemy, but completely in control over the enemy (as proven in Job 1:1-12). It is because of these two facts that Christians can engage in spiritual warfare, without becoming hysterical, afraid, or feeling insufficient (after all, Christians have been given a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind– not fear [ 2 Timothy 1:7]). The apostle Paul expounds on the spiritual protection Christians have in Ephesians 6:13-18.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…”

The same book of Ephesians tells the Christian to “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). What does this mean, exactly? It means that, as a Christian, one can put on a “new self” that glorifies and relies on Jesus Christ. Every facet of the Christian’s spiritual armor, therefore, exemplifies and relies completely upon Jesus Christ.

1) The belt of truth, which holds a place for a sword and holds the armor together, is Christ, as Jesus Himself is “The Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). 2) The breastplate of righteousness protects the vital organs from attacks, especially the heart; this is of the utmost importance, as Christians are called to “Above all else, guard [their] hearts, for everything [one does] flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). Thankfully, this breastplate is not made of a person’s own righteousness (our own righteous acts are like dirty rags [Isaiah 54:6]); instead, it is made of Christ’s righteousness, which is put on Christians when they accept Christ as their Lord and Savior (Philippians 3:8-9). 3) The shoes of readiness given by the gospel of peace are the shoes one wears into battle, “being prepared to give an answer and reason for the hope we have” in the Gospel (1 Peter 3:15). The Gospel is “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). At the core, Jesus is the Gospel, or good news. 4) The shield of faith, as Paul describes, extinguish[es] all the flaming darts of the evil one,” saving the Christian from unforeseen attacks. At the time Paul wrote this, Roman soldiers’ shields covered their entire bodies length-and-width wise, and when coupled together, created impenetrable walls. Faith in Christ and remembering His sovereign faithfulness makes the believer to stand firm against the enemy’s lies. 5) The helmet of salvation combats the enemy’s lies on a different level. satan is the father of lies– and as such, is constantly whispering lies into people’s minds. They are lies that, if left unchecked, leave people in deep bondage. Christ Himself is the helmet of salvation (Acts 4:10-12), and the defense against the enemy’s many lies; this is why Paul tells us one must “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete” (2 Corinthians 10:5-6, ESV). While Paul is talking about bringing others to Christ by the Holy Spirit’s power in this passage, there is application for our own minds. In the words of John Piper, “if anything is out of sync with Paul’s teaching, we should let it be destroyed.” Ultimately, one can find if any thought or idea is “out of sync” with Paul’s teaching by asking the Holy Spirit to speak to them through His Word, the bible– also known as 6) the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). Truly, “Paul’s teaching” in the Bible is truly God’s Word– God wrote it through men, by His Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21). The bible describes itself this way. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). With such an amazing weapon in a person’s spiritual arsenal, one cannot afford to not make regular use of it, by reading it and “meditat[ing] on it, day and night” (Joshua 1:8). What’s more, God’s Word proclaims that Jesus is the Word Himself. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. …And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-5, 14, ESV). In all, Christians must clothe themselves with Christ constantly if one ever wants victory over the enemy.

Maiduguri city, as big and prominent as it may be, is not immune from Boko Haram’s attacks. In fact, it is because of Maiduguri’s prominence that so many of Boko Haram’s attacks have been aimed there. If one is unaware of the enemy’s attacks (and therefore, unprepared), it can leave a whole city in ruins. This is why we must pray for Maiduguri and its people– because, underneath it all, the battle Maiduguri is facing from this radical islamic group is not just physical– it is deeply spiritual.


Do you know Jesus?

When writing about the “breastplate of righteousness,” the piece of armor that protects the heart, one thing becomes clear: only Jesus and His righteousness can truly protect and guard the heart.

When talking about the heart, the bible says something contrary to much of what today’s society thinks: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV). Yet, despite our evil, sinful hearts, Jesus died for our sins– so that we would never have to go through this life, or the spiritual battle, alone.

Learn more about the God who wants to be not only our spiritual armor, but our Savior– and how He accomplished both– by clicking here.



Please pray for…

The people, particularly the churches, in Maiduguri, Nigeria. 

The Nigerian army, and their fight against Boko Haram, physically.

The victims of each suicide bombing and attack, as well as their families.

The government, and President Buhari— that they would come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, and would be given wisdom in this fight.

The men of Boko Haram— that they would come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, too.

Boko Haram’s captives— that we would not lose hope in finding them, and that President Buhari would be moved by Jesus to find the captives, including the Chibok girls. Read, sign, and share the petition to do this very thing, here.


[1] Source
[2] Source: Waziri, Muhammad. Spatial Pattern of Maiduguri City. Researchers’ Guide. No 123 Mangwarori Street, Sabon Titin Mandawari, Kano City, Kano State: ADAMU JOJI PUBLISHERS, 2009. Academia. 21 October 2015. Page 12. 

Victory!

There is a darkness all around us. Whether one senses it or not, a spirit of sorrow– of fear, of loneliness, of hopelessness– reigns in the hearts and minds of countless people all over the globe. Daily, we read articles of heartwrenching violence abroad, while locally, the day’s headlines include senseless tragedies, marring the day with disheartening, sober pensiveness.

In nations like Nigeria, Iraq, and inumerable european countries all across the East, this darkness is both strikingly felt and incomprehensibly heavy. With events such as a child suicide bombing committed by a girl as young as seven years old in Nigeria, to the kidnapping of close to 90 christian Assyrians in Syria, the incessant persecution and violence found in these nations are a cause for deep terror in the hearts and minds of people caught in the crossfire. And while the Boko Haram insurgency found in Nigeria and its surrounding nations is being fought back against by a heavy-handed AU Army, the warfare found in Nigeria– as well as across the middle east– is only a symptom, a physical manifestation, of the spiritual warfare occuring all over the planet, every moment of our lives. Continue reading