Growing up in Sunday School, I was extremely familiar with the age old “Armor of God” illustration that Paul uses in Ephesians 6. I remember the flannel graphs, the coloring sheets and lessons, all describing the different aspects of the armor that believers were meant to put on to fight against spiritual warfare. The lessons were all the same: To fight against Satan, we must put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, sandals of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. In life, I would attempt to remember all the pieces and equip myself with them, but constantly felt like I was failing to truly utilize the armor of God. But when I was listening to the message this last weekend (March 24th), I realized that I had been viewing the armor of God incorrectly, all this time.
The reason I had continuously failed to equip the armor of God, is because I was solely depending on myself to combat the enemy. This past week, Grant spoke on the different aspects of spiritual warfare and how we as believers are called to fight against it. The part that struck me the most, was how convicted I was by my views on the armor of God. The way it was framed on Sunday, was that Jesus is the perfect embodiment of all the aspects of the armor of God. He lived and continues to live with perfect representations of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the living with the Spirit. Instead of me attempting to throw the armor of God on myself everytime I sense spiritual warfare ravaging through my life, I am called to put on Christ, who will fight for me.
All throughout Scripture we see that God is constantly fighting on behalf of His people. In the Old Testament there are countless examples of the situation being dire and hopeless, and yet the Israelites find victory because the Lord fought for them. The problem that Israel constantly dealt with, was the lack of remembrance on behalf of His people of the things He did for them, specifically the instances where He fought for them. Every time they would encounter a new struggle or foe, they would attempt to depend on their own strength or complain about their circumstance, and God’s response always boiled down to one question: don’t you remember what I’ve done for you and your ancestors?
I think of examples such as the Israelites fleeing from Egypt, or Gideon’s three hundred men. In both cases, in the moment, if you interviewed the Israelites directly involved, none of them would have been able to guess how God was going to deliver them from those circumstances. But in both cases, God fought on behalf of the Israelites, with little to no participation on behalf of the people, but all God required of them was for them to believe, remember and have faith that God would continue to be who He has always been: a deliverer.
The struggle is the same for believers today. We have this illusion that we have to fight for ourselves, to defend some semblance of what we deem spirituality, and somehow find victory over a cunning enemy who is constantly seeking to kill, steal and destroy us. Often times, we convince ourselves that the enemy operates with the same “moral code” or “boundaries” that we have. As a society, we all have a common unspoken morality that we all follow regardless of religion or background (although we are starting to see this erode over time). If a man were to square up and fight another man, there is an unspoken “honor code” that men don’t break when they fight, and if they do, there is societal recourse. The enemy doesn’t have an “honor code”, there isn’t a “morality” to them or a boundary they won’t cross to deter us from the life God has called us to live. The enemy will use any means possible to destroy us, and yet we convince ourselves that all it takes is “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps” and to take it to them, and that’s exactly what the enemy wants us to believe.
The enemy knows that alone, they can defeat us. There will be some situation, or some person that can be used against us, that in our own strength we cannot overcome. Believing that we can save ourselves, is the exact kind of pride that can lead to our destruction, so why is it that the “Armor of God” lessons are framed in such a way? We aren’t called to put on the armor of God and defend ourselves, we are called to put on Christ, who will fight for us with all the power and authority it takes to defeat the enemy.
Discussing the armor of God always elicits me to think about David, when he was preparing to fight Goliath. In that instance, a detail that always evaded me when I was younger was that David wasn’t even supposed to be there. He was sent by his father to bring food and drink to the battlefield, and nothing else. When he arrived, days had gone by since Goliath challenged the Israelites who were all shaking in fear and no soldier was willing to face him. When David volunteered himself, Saul attempted to give David his armor, but when David tried it on, it didn’t fit and rendered him unable to fight Goliath. David knew that it wasn’t human armor that was going to protect him against the might of Goliath, but instead knew that God would fight for him. Physically and in his own strength, there is no way a pebble and a sling would take down Goliath. But in faith, David knew that God would fight for him, if all he did was show up and courageously obey.
Processing through difficult circumstances like David in this instance, is how God desires for all of us to respond in similar trials. Where we don’t depend on our own strength to achieve victory, but instead we remember what God has done for us and others, and have faith that God will fight for us. All He desires from us, is for us to show up and courageously obey. We don’t need to put on the armor and fight for ourselves, we need to put on Christ, who will fight for us.
– Pastor Trevor