Ephesians 6:11 (NKJV) 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
We will have favor with God and man when we realize we can live from a position of strength and not weakness. That has been our topic this week and we will take a few minutes today to finish this thought. From the story of the favor given to the Israelite women by the Egyptian women in Exodus to the way Jesus stood in strength before Pontius Pilot prior to his crucifixion, we see that understanding the strength we have in the spirit leads to favor in the flesh.
Yesterday we looked primarily at Ephesians 6:10. In this verse, Paul exhorts us to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. He begins the verse with the word “finally” connecting it with all the revelation in this book. When he says, “be strong,” he is not telling us to be strong in ourselves but to have faith in the strength Jesus makes available to us. We are to be strong because of our covenant relationship with the Lord and in the dominion created by his ability. This is very different from just saying we should “grow up” or “stop whining.”
In verse 11, Paul tells us that we should put on the whole armor of God. We live in a spiritual war zone. In recent years, there has been a distinct improvement in the body armor worn by our troops on the battlefield. Although this armor cannot make them invulnerable to attack, it does provide significant protection against small arms fire especially for the vital organs. As a result our troops can walk into battle from a position of superior strength compared to the enemy they are fighting.
In a very real way, that is what Paul is talking about in Ephesians. His model is the Roman battle armor, which shared a similar technological advantage to today’s body armor. It gave the Roman’s an advantage that contributed to their nearly unstoppable battlefield record. For us to walk in the power of Jesus’ might we must put on the armor that he has provided us. If we keep our armor in place, we will continue to have a strength advantage over the enemy.
I have never worn the body armor our troops wear today, but I can imagine that it is not always comfortable. We see video of them fighting in desert environments and it is hard to understand how they can endure the heat with so much clothing on. If they want to have the strength that the armor provides they must keep it on no matter how uncomfortable it may be. The helmet may chafe and the Kevlar may be stiff but they keep it on because the alternative is to be vulnerable to enemy attack.
Part of the armor of the modern soldier is his or her weaponry. They carry a number of different kinds of weapons from rifles and machine guns to mortars and rocket launchers. They must carry ammunition for all of them. These weapons and ammunition are heavy. The soldier must be trained on how to use them and they must keep themselves current in the necessary skills. This is not easy, but it is what causes them to go into battle from a position of strength.
God has provided us with some very powerful armor and weapons, but it does us no good if we do not wear and learn how to use them. As a pastor, I often found that the armor of God can be uncomfortable to people’s flesh. God gave us a helmet of salvation, but sometimes we do not want to act saved. We have a breastplate of righteousness, but sometimes it seems too tight or it chafes under the arms of our flesh. We need to realize that this armor is for our protection. When we take it off, we are vulnerable.
The armor God has given us fits our spirit perfectly. It is only our flesh that rebels against wearing it. We must crucify our flesh so that it begins to conform to the armor of God. When we choose not to wear the armor, it simply encourages the flesh to complain every time we do choose to put it on. In battle, a soldier understands that the armor will save his life so he gets used to it. We are in a warzone and if we wear our armor, we will face the battle from a position of strength
What do I mean by taking off the armor of God? We take it off when we choose not to obey the principles of the Word of God. If I choose to act in a way that is contrary to my salvation, I am taking off my helmet. If I choose to sin, my breastplate of righteousness is not going to protect me. When I give in to the weakness of the flesh my girdle of truth is ineffective and if I allow strife or fear to compromise the peace in my heart, I do not have my “combat boots” on.
I conform my flesh to the armor by building up my spirit. Meditation in the word is important to the process as is Praise and Worship, prayer and fellowship with the Lord and other believers. Paul gives us a picture of this in Romans 12.
Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV) 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The soldier must be willing to sacrifice himself for the good of his family and his country. If we want to be conformed to the strength of the armor of God, we must be willing to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. We must be willing to bear the discomfort of the flesh so that we will be protected in our battle.
The soldier must not be conformed to the ways of the world. He is trained that he must be different from the world. He must think and act differently. He must be conformed to the military so that he can wear the uniform correctly. We must not be conformed to the ways of the world. We must be transformed by the renewing of our mind until the full armor of God fits us perfectly. It will not change so we must.
Finally, we must learn how to use the weapons God has provided with the armor. Faith is a shield, but in Roman times the shield was not just for protection. It was also a weapon. We must learn how to wield our shield of faith against the enemy. We also have a sword called the Word of God. It is important that we train with our sword and become proficient in how it is used against the enemy.
We must be willing to carry the weight of our weapons. We must keep them clean and loaded by constant prayer, worship and study. If we do, we will be fully armored and prepared for any battle. The enemy has weapons of his own. Primarily they are the weapons of deception. If we wear our armor and maintain proficiency with our weapons, we do not need to fear. We can face life from a position of strength, assured of our victory in the power of Jesus Christ.