Spiritual warfare is not my favorite thing to think about. The term puts me in mind of a certain type of person, praying a certain type of way, addressing the devil personally and binding him in the name of Jesus.
I pray to God and God alone. If anybody is going to bind the forces of evil, it is God, not me. I'll ask Him to do that, in the name of Jesus, even, but the Lord is my protector, my shield and my deliverer.
The Lord Himself will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.
~Exodus 14:14 (ESV)
The battle is the Lord's.
~from 1 Samuel 17:47 (ESV)
Yet, I understand that there are times when we have to put our armor on and stand against the enemy.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
~Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)
We are supposed to put on the full armor of God so we will be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
I am a Big Chicken, so I don't like to think about girding myself up to go out to battle. There are times, however, when the battle arrives on one's doorstep, and one is forced to respond, and one must take inventory of the armor that God has provided. (The rest of this post will be based on Ephesians 6:10-18.)
First, God's word tells us to fasten on the Belt of Truth. I used to think that this meant we must always tell the truth, and even the slightest slip in this area would render us casualties of the evil one. While we must certainly tell the truth, and be truthful, I don't think that's exactly what "Belt of Truth" alludes to. The devil is a liar and the father of lies. Fastening the Belt of Truth around us means that we hold ourselves together with the Truth: There is a God. He created the Universe. He loves us. He is holy, faithful and good. Nothing is impossible for God. This is the kind of truth we need: the truth that exposes the devil's lies. When the devil tells us we are hopeless, we remember the truth that even when we were dead in sin, God made us alive in Christ. When the devil tells us that our sins are too terrible to escape, we remember the truth that as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. When the devil tells us that even God can't fix this big problem, we remember the truth that with God, all things are possible. This is the Belt of Truth. It holds us together.
If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
~from John 8:31-32 (ESV)
Then, God's word tells us to put on the Breastplate of Righteousness. Again, I used to assume that this meant I must live a faultless life if I hoped to stand under the Lord's protection. As I grow closer and closer to Christ, I should find myself sinning less and less, but again, this is not the point of "The Breastplate of Righteousness." I have no righteousness of my own. My righteousness is imputed to me through the atoning death of Jesus. He took on my sin when He died on the cross, so that I could be clothed in His righteousness. I am righteous in Christ, even on days when my failures pile up and discourage me. I stand with the Breastplate of Righteousness protecting my vital organs because Christ has claimed me as His own. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and when I wear the Breastplate of Righteousness, I am most certainly in Christ Jesus. I belong to Jesus. I am Jesus' treasured possession, and He has clothed me in His righteousness.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.
~from Isaiah 61:10 (ESV)
After the Belt of Truth and the Breastplate of Righteousness, we are told to put our feet into shoes that put on the readiness of the gospel of peace. Again, in my past, this term put me into a state of guilt. I wasn't sharing the gospel enough times with enough people; I would never be fit to run in these shoes of spiritual warfare. Of course we should share the gospel, just as we should tell the truth and be righteous. But again, I think that is not the main point here.
When you get a new pair of really good running shoes, you put them on and they feel great; it makes you just want to head out on a running trail. The gospel of peace, likewise, should make us feel really good, joyous, ready to go. The gospel of peace tells us that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (see Romans 5:1). This is great news! In the battle of good against evil, Jesus has already conquered sin at the cross. Because of His sacrifice, we are forgiven and can have peace with God, and even fellowship. The Holy Spirit of God dwells in us now, and at the end of time, we will dwell in the presence of God forever, with never ending peace and joy. This truth gives us strength, hope and fleetness of foot to run the race set before us.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus.
~from Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)
How interesting that the armor of God stems from the Truth about Christ and what He has done for us.
Next time I will address the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit, but this is long enough.