3.23.2014

armor

In Ephesians, Paul writes, "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." I love this passage for a lot of reasons, not least of which is the fact that it's a great big spiritual parallel! There is so much to be learned from these illustrations Paul uses, and I spent a bit of time this week studying them. These are some of the things I learned. 

Belt of Truth
Paul starts off with the logically and fundamentally foundational element: Truth. Everything that follows would be of no account if it were not for the truth of Jesus Christ. Truth serves the same function as a belt in that it brings everything together, binds it up, and holds it fast. Before anything, truth. 

Breastplate of Righteousness
What's the point of a breastplate? It's one of the most important forms of defense. Unlike a moving shield though, its main purpose is to stay right in front of your heart and your most vital organs. In the same way, righteousness guards your heart. Through being righteous (in accordance with morality, justice, and virtue), our hearts maintain the integrity and godliness that leads to a fruitful, purposeful, and effective life. Walking into the battle of life without seeking righteousness is like, well, walking into a battle without a breastplate!

Feet Fitted with the Readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace
I could have shortened that to "Gospel Shoes" or something like that, but each and every part of the sentence adds so much meaning. The Gospel (good news that Christ saves) is often related with feet, such as in Isaiah 52:7, which says, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'" The Gospel is the story of creation, humanity's fall, Jesus' redemption on the cross and resurrection from the dead, and our salvation through Him. When we truly believe that, we have peace. Real peace. If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, you know what I mean. When we have that peace, fear falls off us so we are able to simply go and preach. We may not have all the answers, but we know we don't have to. We don't need to be perfect anymore, because we are children of God and heirs of a Kingdom who are filled with the Holy Spirit, God Himself. We're not going to get any more ready than that! And that's why Paul says that the Gospel of Peace is the readiness on our feet. By it, we are prepared, and then sent into action. 

Shield of Faith
Think about it: warriors put a lot of faith in a shield. You see a flaming arrow coming at you, and you lift up that shield, trusting that it will not fail you. A lot of "flaming arrows of the evil one" will come at us in our lives. It might be losing a job, living through tragedy, fighting temptation, feeling betrayed, struggling with anger, or being blinded by prosperity. Paul says we block those attacks with faith, not with our own strength or accomplishment or maturity or anything. 1 John 5:4 says, "For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith." Faith can move mountains by trusting that God will come through for us when we do what's right. 

Helmet of Salvation
No piece of protection is more vital than the helmet. And nothing is more vital for our souls than salvation. Without salvation, we are lost because our own efforts are never good enough. Salvation is the act of God to save us by paying the just penalty we inflicted on ourselves. All we do is say, "I need it, and I'll trust it." That's it. If we believe it, everything else will follow. I love how Paul says "take the helmet of salvation," as if it's being held out to you. Because it is. 

Sword of the Spirit
There's something that each of the first fives piece of armor have in common: they're all defensive. You could have them all, but there's no way you're going to make a dent in the actual battle. You should probably run if you're a soldier without a sword. But what is the sword? It's not truth, or our righteousness, or our peace, or our faith, or our salvation. It's not anything of ours. It's the Spirit, God Himself. That's so profound to me! The only offensive weapon we have is nothing of our own contrivance, it's the Spirit, which Paul clarifies is also "the Word of God." Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is living and action, sharper than any two-edged sword." In order to fight the battle that you are already in, you must be filled with the Spirit and saturated in the Word of God. 

We are in a battle. Christianity is not a passive faith. We simply cannot justify living comfortably, reading a nice Psalm every morning, and sitting on the sidelines waiting for the battle to be over. Jesus said, "Come, follow Me." Everything about Jesus demands and active, all-or-nothing surrender to Him. We are to be soldiers founded on Truth, living in righteousness, peacefully prepared to preach the gospel, trusting God through our actions, acknowledging we've been saved by Jesus' blood, and stepping out to fight with the Word of God. 

Does that describe you? Read it again. Are you founded on Truth, living in righteousness, peacefully prepared to preach the gospel, trusting God through your actions, acknowledging you've been saved by Jesus' blood, and stepping out to fight with the Word of God? I'm not fully there yet, but by God's grace, I will be. I want to fight this good fight for the victory of more souls brought to the saving knowledge of Jesus, and more glory to God. Are you in?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post, Shelby! I love all the lessons that can be drawn from this passage, and your thoughts really encouraged me. I especially love the thought that the Spirit is our only offensive weapon, and it's not of us at all! I know I'm not anywhere near this, either, but God is continually perfecting me. :)

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thoughts so far