35. Armor of God, Part I
Ephesians 6:10-12. A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (NLT)
I am going to take my time going through this passage about the armor of God. It is too easy for me to read it quickly and simply acknowledge the figures of speech but not apply the words to my life. This time, rather than considering each piece of physical armor, I’m going to focus on two aspects: 1) what are the truths behind the figurative language of this passage? and 2) how can these truths be applied to one specific issue in my life that has been a challenge to me? I have been praying about this specific issue and feel that it could be a form of spiritual warfare. I have had occasional, specific negative thoughts that, if entertained, can lead me to doubt God. I have been learning how to stop the thought as soon as I recognize it and I feel that God has been helping me to control my thoughts to be pleasing to Him. I am hoping that studying the armor of God with this approach will take me beyond each metaphoric weapon to a more practical and specific application to my life. [For readers of this post, I encourage you to identify an issue in your own life for application of these principles.]
There are ten principles that I have identified from the armor passage that I can apply to my life, particularly applying them to a specific issue in my life that needs to change. There is a lot of overlap in these principles, but they build on each other and strengthen each other. Each principle adds another layer of effectiveness in living the way God has planned for me as the Holy Spirit gives me “the desire and the power to do what pleases” God (Phil. 2:13).
This passage directs me:
1. Fight this issue in God’s power, not my own power. I must be strong in Him. I am no match for the evil one, but God is. I need to recognize that I am entirely dependent on God for this battle and victory. I have tried and failed numerous times, proving to myself that I cannot change myself or win against this evil. But if I use the spiritual resources God has provided, “[I] will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.”
Focusing just on verse 10 – “Be strong in the Lord and his mighty power.” How do I get strong? By exercising. This requires action on my part, including changing my mindset, clarifying my beliefs, and taking action. Today’s English Version translates verse 13 as “So put on God’s armor now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy’s attacks…” I want to be strong for the difficult days that I know are coming. Right now, my life is relatively easy; but either age or external circumstances or both will challenge me sooner rather than later. This passage is a reminder of the spiritual warfare going on in the world today. I am naive if I ignore this fact.
I know many people today think it is strange to believe that evil spirits exist. But I remind myself that I believe in good spirits (God, angels). Why is it any stranger to realize that there are also evil spirits? I am naturally more comfortable attributing the evil I see in the world to certain “bad people” rather than seeing it as the demonstration of invisible evil forces. But I know that’s not the whole of reality. And I don’t know if my negative thoughts are coming from the evil one or from my own self-centered brain, but I know at least that when I dwell on negative thoughts that are not true, I am stepping into the devil’s trap and not trusting God.
Is this recurrent negative thought like Paul’s thorn in the flesh (II Cor. 12)? Possibly. Whatever Paul’s thorn was, it was used by the evil one, yet God’s grace is able to overcome what Satan intends for evil. Here is a good reminder for me: Why didn’t God take away Paul’s thorn?
A. to keep Paul from being proud
B. to demonstrate God’s power
C. Possibly, to keep him dependent on God
D. To demonstrate that joy can exist even in weakness. Paul said “I am glad… I take pleasure in my weaknesses” because God’s “power works best in weakness.”
I would like to develop the same characteristics in my life, even if they must come through a difficult experience.
Father, I don’t particularly want to think about evil spirits. It’s much more pleasant to close my eyes to evil and focus on love, peace, etc. Please help me to see the world the way it really is, and to be prepared for that realization and interaction by putting on the armor that you have provided for me. I am starting this morning by being alert and prayerful. Please make me aware of reality and sensitive to Your Spirit. And please make me strong in Your power, trusting You to do what is best in my life. Bring glory to Your name by Your power shown through my weakness. Amen.
From the personal devotional notes of Peggy McKechnie, certified life coach and follower after God’s own heart. You are invited to contact Peggy through ChurchHealthMinistries.com.