THE ARMOR OF THE CHRISTIAN SOLDIER
I trust you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. As believers we have much for which to be thankful. Gratitude has a positive impact upon our heart and our disposition.
Today our lesson aim is to prepare ourselves for spiritual warfare. The life we live for Christ is one filled with spiritual battles as Paul states in Ephesians 6:10 we wrestle "...against spiritual wickedness in high places." The believer's life is a battlefield. Immediately upon receiving Christ, the believer finds himself in a constant struggle. He is engaged in an unceasing fight, an unending war. He is a combatant, a soldier in conflict. His calling is not to a life of enjoyment and ease but to a life of hard conflict. There are foes within and foes without. From the cradle to the grave, there is a constant struggle against the lusts of the flesh and the temptations offered by the world and Satan.
1. Notice the soldier's charge - vs. 10-11a. "Finally, my brethren be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God..." The charge is twofold: We are to be strong in the Lord, which strength is found in His power. We are also charged to put on the whole armor of God. The armor is listed beginning in verse 14.
2. Notice the soldier's enemy: the devil and his strategies - vs. 11b. "...that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Satan is our common enemy. He has been the enemy of mankind since the time of Adam in the Garden of Eden. He is experienced, he is filled with guile, and is the father of lies. If we don't live our lives depending upon God's strength and His armor, we are doomed to failure. Our defeat is certain without God's power.
3. Notice the soldier's warfare: not human, but spiritual - vs. 12. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Our greatest enemies are not people, but Satan's organized world of darkness. Study the words: principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness. Just the sound of these words make you realize Satan is a serious enemy to you as a person and as a Christian. You are no match for Satan, standing in your own might, you and I need the power of God.
4. Notice the soldier's duty: to take the whole armor of God - vs. 13. "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." The key to victory is dependent upon you and I being equipped with the whole armor of God. Again, the list of this armor is found in verses 14-17, and it is this armor which will allow you to have victory even on the most evil of times. Standing strong in victory should be the desire of every believer, and standing is the result of being armed by God.
5. Notice the components of the soldier's armor - vs. 14-17.
The pieces of armor listed in this section are six in number: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. Verse 14(a), "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth..." Truth in this context speaks of Christ and His Word. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) and God's Word is truth (John 17:17).
Verse 14(b), "...and having on the breastplate of righteousness." The breastplate covered the body of the soldier from the neck to the thighs. It was used to protect the heart. The believer's heart is focused upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His righteousness, and that focus must be protected.
Verse 15, "And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace." The sandals were a sign of readiness—readiness to march and to do battle. The Roman sandals were made with nails that gripped the ground firmly even when it was sloping or slippery. The sign of the Christian soldier is readiness—a readiness to march and to bear witness to the gospel. Wherever the Christian soldier's feet take him, he shares the gospel that can firmly ground a world reeling under the weight of desperate need and conflict. Lehman Strauss states: "The soldier's shoes are not the dancing slippers of this world or the lounging slippers of the slothful, but the shoes of the Christian warrior who knows Christ and makes Him known."
Verse 16, "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." The shield in this verse is the great oblong shield worn by the soldier to protect his body from the fiery darts thrown by the enemy. The darts were dipped in some combustible material and set afire. When they struck, they served the purpose of small bombs. The sign of the Christian soldier is that of the shield of faith, faith in God—a complete and perfect trust that God will quench the darts of doubt and evil that attack him, that God will help him control his mind to conquer the evil doubts and thoughts. The Christian soldier's consciousness of God's presence is so great that God's presence itself becomes his shield and defender (see Genesis 15:1). Psalm 3:3, "But thou, O lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head."
Verse 17(a), "And take the helmet of salvation..." The helmet covered the head and the mind of the soldier. The head, of course, was the core of a soldier's power to wage war. His thinking ability was the most important factor in determining his victory or defeat. Therefore, the soldier needed a helmet to protect his head and mind. The helmet that protects the mind of the Christian soldier is salvation. Unless a man has been saved, his mind cannot be protected from the fiery darts of temptation.
Verse 17(b), "...and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." The sword was a weapon used for both defense and offense. The sword was used both to protect and to fight off and slay the enemy. The sign of the Christian soldier is his use of the Word of God. By living in the Scriptures, he protects himself from the onslaught of the enemy; and he fights and wins battle after battle, day after day. The "word" in this passage is the Greek word rhema, which speaks of smaller segments of spoken truth. You and I can do much if we hide God's word in our hearts.
6. Finally, notice the supernatural provision granted to us through prayer - vs. 18-20. "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak." The importance of prayer in the believer's life cannot be over emphasized. The soldier enters the conflict fully dressed and armed, but something else is essential: great confidence and assurance and courage. Such comes from a spirit of prayer.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
1. How does the twofold charge in verses ten and eleven prepare you for spiritual battle?
2. The devil is just like a fisherman: he has a variety of lures to hook his catch. What lures does he use to hook and catch you?
3. What are some of the spiritual battles that you face in day-to-day life?
4. What is the logical conclusion of not wearing all of the armor of God? What insights can you gain from verse 13 that will help you be better prepared for spiritual warfare?
5. What are the six pieces of God's armor and their function?
6. What does the armor of God teach you about being prepared for spiritual warfare?
7. Are you failing to put on any piece of God's armor as you walk day by day? Which piece? What do you need to do to put on that piece of armor?
8. What does it mean to "pray in the Spirit"? What does it mean to pray out of the Spirit? What difference does it make?
9. How "real" is your prayer-life? Is it mechanical? Routine? Boring? Or is it heartfelt, sincere, and personal? What can you do to strengthen your prayer life?
Have a great day as you walk in the victory provided by Christ.
Your Friend and HIS,