Be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual… no matter what kind of fight I have engaged in or will engage in, there is always one thing I remember… It’s the spirit that fights, not the body.
I am the driver, not the machine (the soul, not the body). My existence is not limited to that body and therefore not all of my battles involve my flesh and bone, yet all of them involve my spirit.
When I do take on physical, verbal or other more tangible conflict, my body is only a tool, a secondary element to the real fighter inside. I work the controls, the machine responds accordingly. So if I don’t know or acknowledge the tools that I’ve been given to fight by the will of the soul, I can only win battles that make little to no difference at the end of my time on Earth. I can fight my fellow human for a piece of property, a handful of dollars or the gain of worldly influence. But when it comes to the fight for my eternal future, without proper armor and skills, I have about as much hope as butterfly in a hurricane.
There is good news in this.
As hard as it may be to adapt ourselves against the world and toward God’s path, he’s given us the tools and Christ has given us proof of concept. So you and I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We just have to straighten it and keep it spinning.
How to put on the armor of God
“...be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”- Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV
So if, in effect, God gave us these words, then what tools did he give us to back them up? In the last article I’ve already covered part of it, the breakage and permanent refusal of sin. But now I’ll get more specific and highlight the words given by those who wrote the book, more specifically Paul (all from Ephesians 6:10 NIV).
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist”
Personally I take this in three ways:
Follow the truth of the Gospel, as in, keep the commandments and decrees God gives us. Those truths stand against the lies of the devil.
Have faith in the Trinity. Have trust in God’s ability to do what’s right. Know that the words God and his son have given us are truth.
Live by being truthful and trustworthy. This doesn’t mean we have to tell human’s the details of our mistakes. It means we have to be honest with God, ourselves and others about the fact that we’re not perfect. Then we begin to align ourselves with who God is calling us to be. It means repentance and keeping your word to God.
“with the breastplate of righteousness in place”
The more we fight to be righteous, the stronger the armor of God becomes. And yet not one of us are completely righteous. But one reason Jesus gave his life was so we might strive to be. Through his 30-some years in the flesh, he fought the deceptions of evil and laid out a plan for how to avoid it. Through the death of his body, he gave us an instant way to access his sacrifice by accepting him into our hearts.
So in spite of our imperfections, we can accept Christ and though this action we put on the part of the armor that protects our most vital organ, our heart. Because when Jesus lives there, he will fight to protect his home.
“your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”
Knowing the gospel (reading and knowing the bible well) is like putting on multi-terrain shoes. So if God needs us to “step” into new or rough physical or spiritual terrain, we’re ready by having the word inside us. This prepares us for new environments by giving us discernment between what is right and what is not. It’s something we all need, to help protect us on unfamiliar ground.
See/buy image in the Divine gallery of the writer's photography portfolio. With the exception of some basic adjustments, like a bit of contrast, this image was not digitally altered. You're seeing it the way I shot it. Click to read the story behind it.
“…take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation…”
Having faith that God, his son and his spirit are with us, it helps stave off one of the devil’s favorite tools... doubt. That doubt isn’t just about a lack of trust in God, it’s also about lacking confidence in yourself and your relationship with the Trinity.
Trust me on this, the Devil is an expert at breaking up families through lack of communication and doubt in family connections (among other things). We have to know and remember that we are children of God and followers of Christ, always. So don’t doubt your right to forgiveness, your place with your universal family or the fact that you are loved beyond human measure.
“… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
In Revelations, in John’s vision, he saw an angel (Jesus) with a sword extending from his mouth. As with your average dream, I believe John’s vision was mostly figurative. That abstract sword is the same one we all have, the word of God. So as we speak, sign or think the words of the Bible, especially those that illustrate Christ’s victory through resurrection, we’re exercising the sharpest and most feared tool in the arsenal. Why? Evil hates being reminded of the power it cannot overcome, to the point of pain. The gospel is a reminder that Christ did just that, overcame. Often times, in spiritual battles, just speaking the words of God can change the situation in our favor.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
The more time we spend in prayer, the less time we spend in worldly distractions or evil deceptions. This doesn’t just mean specific prayers about protection. It means prayers of love, requests for education and wisdom, and gratitude. We can’t just talk to God about what we want, we have to return the respect of what he gives by letting him know we’re appreciative. And we also have to be open to the information God gives us in return. Don't just talk, listen, and do it with extreme caution (see Can we Really Talk to God? for more info).
“All the Lord’s people” means just that, everyone. Because even if we don’t like the next person, they’re still a child of God and God still wants us to help each other get home. Vengeance is not a Godly concept, but love for even those we don’t understand is. See Pray for the Enemy for more.
It’s not an overnight thing
No long term, solid plan to improve our lives comes quick. But as I’ve said many times before, the rewards for getting closer to who we’re meant to be, they far outweigh the sacrifices it takes to get there. And being protected from the devil’s work is no exception. God gave us this ability. It’s built right in to our existence. It doesn’t make our lives perfect. Nothing about Christianity does that. But it gives us a chance to move forward in our responsibility to the improvement of the self and the lives of others.
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It’s like owning a super car, but never pushing the pedal down and taking it over 35 MPH.
Detailed instructions on how to talk and how to listen safely.
It goes against not only basic instinct, but long-time, deeply engrained modes of dealing with social conflict. And yet, it’s beneficial to everyone.
See/buy image "Angel in the Fireworks" in the Divine gallery of the writer's photography portfolio. To see the short article about how the image came about, click here.
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