“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) The Christian’s Spiritual Armor (Tom Edwards)
The Christian’s Spiritual Armor
We see of a promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that should give us comfort during times of trials and temptations. The verse says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
We believe this promise to be true. However, we are not told in this particular verse just how God will go about providing this victory for us. But one thing we can see in the context is that it also involves our working together with the Lord. For notice the very next verse: “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (v. 14). The implication being: if we want victory in Jesus, we then must turn from sin and turn to the Lord.
Something else that helps us gain the victory is by putting on the spiritual armor that the Lord has made possible for us, which is referred to in Ephesians 6:10-17. For this is truly one of the ways that the Lord can provide us with a means of escape – by being well-protected from the onslaught of the evil one and even have a weapon — “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” — to fight back with.
In this passage, Paul begins by exhorting the brethren to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness….” (vv. 10-12).
Paul, therefore, then urges the brethren to “Stand firm” by “HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH…” (v. 14). The literal act of girding one’s loins involved pulling up one’s long, flowing robe and fastening it with a belt to the waist, so that it would not get in the way when engaging in battle or some other physical activity. From that meaning, it is also easy to see its figurative usage of preparing oneself. But we also note that what we are to prepare ourselves with is the “truth.” So being a good soldier of Jesus Christ involves studying God’s word.
In the same verse, we also see the next instruction of “HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.” You probably also notice a logical order in this. For we must first study God’s word so we can know and prepare ourselves with it. Then we are to put it into practice. As we have seen in the Old Testament, all of God’s “commandments are righteousness” (Psa. 119:172). So this is also true of the Lord’s commands for us today in the New Testament. Furthermore, John shows in 1 John 3:7 that to be righteous one needs to practice righteousness; and, in verse 10, he states that “anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God…” So having the “breastplate of righteousness” also involves our being doers of the Lord’s word – “…and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (Jms. 1:22).
The next instruction Paul gives for the Christian is that of “having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE” (v. 15). When we think of feet in connection with the gospel, it evokes a picture of taking God’s message to others, which is an important part of being a Christian.
These first three instructions — which pertain to 1) acquiring a knowledge of God’s word, 2) obeying it, and 3) teaching it to others — might also remind us of the great example that Ezra sets forth: “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10, emphasis mine).
Again we also see a logical order in these instructions. For after one begins studying God’s word and putting into practice what he learns, he is then to teach it to others. And would we not think that by his doing the first two steps, he will also then, as a result, have better success with the third?
But let it also be pointed out that one does not need to know all of the Bible before being able to instruct others with what one does know about it. For how much did that woman at the well know before she went into the city to tell others about the Christ? Her testimony led to “many of the Samaritans” believing in Jesus (John 4:39) – and they also came out to hear the Lord for themselves, and then believed based on His message to them (v. 42). This can also be said about Paul who began preaching in Damascus, soon after his conversion, and before he spent about 3 years in the Arabian Desert where he was then instructed by God and obtained a fuller knowledge of His truth (cf. Gal. 1:11,12, 15-18).
Paul then exhorts the brethren in Ephesians 6:16 to take up “the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
Again we see the logical order in this. For the one who studies God’s word, puts it into practice, and is teaching it to others, truly does have that kind of saving faith that the Bible speaks of. For it is an obedient faith, a faith that pleases God; and a faith that will save one’s soul – rather than being merely a mental acceptance toward the Deity of Christ. As Jesus declares in Luke 6:46, “And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” And “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). James also teaches that “faith without works is dead” (Jms. 2:26). And the objective faith, which is the gospel itself (Jude 1:3; Acts 6:7), protects like a shield from the poisonous darts of false teaching.
The one who studies God’s word, strives to live according to it, teaches it to others, and as a natural result is increasing in the faith, is also the one who can have great assurance in his salvation. Or as Paul metaphorically speaks of it, this is the person who has truly put on that “HELMET OF SALVATION.” Being sure of one’s salvation can give a person great confidence, a positive outlook, and the zeal to endure the most difficult circumstances or trials, which is just what a person needs when facing and engaging in spiritual battles. And this assurance is not based on mere feelings; but, rather, on God’s word. As John declares: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 Jn. 5:13).
All these components that we have briefly considered will help protect us from the enemy; but, as soldiers of Christ, not only are we to be protected, but we are also to fight back. So the Lord, in addition, provided us with a spiritual weapon — “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). This is what Jesus used, following his 40-day fast, when He was tempted by Satan three times in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). For to each of those temptations, the Lord responded with an “It is written…” He quoted Scripture, and we must look to it as well and use it. The need to do more than to merely protect ourselves can also be seen in Ephesians 5:11: “And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” Paul had warned Timothy of the “many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers…who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain” (Titus 1:10,11). So just as soldiers have often fought the enemy in order to protect others, we as soldiers of Christ are to similarly engage in these spiritual battles – not only for our selves, but also for the safety of others.
Seeing the sword being mentioned last is also in logical order. For before we go into battle, it is important that we do have on the proper armor that will protect us while we strive to fight in confronting the foe.
Notice, too, that — even after we have prepared ourselves by putting on this spiritual armor and taking the Spirit’s sword — there is still another important thing to help us through, and that is prayer! As Paul writes, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6:18-20). Yes, we need to pray for ourselves — and we need to pray for one another! And as we see here, even the apostle Paul wanted the brethren to be praying for him! So if someone as devoted as Paul needed the prayers of the saints, how much more do we?
May we each realize the importance of putting on the Christian’s spiritual armor, which the Lord is providing, and not neglect the power of prayer. For through these means, the Lord will lead us into victory as we engage in whatever spiritual battle we encounter!
(All Scripture from NASB, unless otherwise indicated.)
I appreciate the interesting 3-D scene that Sherri Crews made for the young people’s class, as seen in the above picture for this article. She makes a different one every quarter.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)