From the Pulpit: God with us in time of spiritual warfare
When we first become a Christian, we are known as “baby” Christians because we are a new creation, a new believer in Christ. Then we grow in our faith, and we start to mature a little more day by day, month by month, year by year. The marks of maturity start to show up in our Christian walk. Things we used to worry about, we don’t anymore.
We have placed them in his hands. God has shown us that He is faithful, time and time again. This doesn’t mean that we won’t have struggles or trials, but now we know how to deal with problems better. Why? We are conforming more and more into the image of Christ.
But there is someone who doesn’t like the progress of our spiritual growth and maturity. We have an enemy who frowns on us and our spiritual journey to know God. His purpose is to hinder, stop, cause us to go down the wrong road so that we can’t get to higher ground in Christ. He is a determined enemy, and the Bible speaks about him very often. The purpose of Satan’s existence is destruction. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He operates as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14). He goes about the earth as a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour (I Peter 5:8).
There is a spiritual battle raging right now. It is constant. And you and I and every Christian have been enlisted to oppose the enemy. The good news is that you aren’t alone; others face the same foe. One of Satan’s tactics is to make you think that you are in a battle all by yourself. His plan is to feed lies to your mind, isolate you, and speak half-truths to you. We must be united as a team. We need to be sure that we fight our enemy and not each other.
Have you ever noticed that the Christian life is one of constant conflict? Why is it constant conflict? The enemy hates us. He loves to cause division. It is not you against me. It is not Republican against Democrat. It is not employer against employee. It is not my family against your family. Our war is not against other humans. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.”
This can be very discouraging. We hoped to move on to Heaven with ease, but we are locked in a battle with the devil. But I have good news. Each battle we face can be won! Jesus paid it all.
The book of Ephesians (see Ephesians 6:10-18) gives us several pictures of the church. The church is presented as a body, a temple, a mystery, a new man, a bride and a soldier. We as believers must get dressed for spiritual battle with our enemy, the devil. We must get ready to fight. Paul tells the church that we can bank on God’s unlimited resources of power. God’s power not only raised Jesus Christ from the dead, but also exalted Him to the position of absolute authority, far above any other powers. This is the power that we have on our side.
Paul tells the church to put on all of the pieces of armor that God provides for us so that we can resist the enemy and stand firm in our faith.
What does the armor of God consist of, and how do we use it? The first piece of armor is the “belt of truth.” How are we to be truthful? We are to be truthful about ourselves in dealing with sin, truthful with others, and most importantly, truthful with God. The belt holds most of the other pieces of armor in place. We must put truth on every day, the truth of Scripture and the knowledge of God’s Word.
The second piece of armor is the “breastplate of righteousness.” We are not saved by our own righteousness, by what we do. In fact, the Bible says that no one is righteous, except for Jesus.
Once we are “born again,” God’s purpose is to produce righteousness in us. We need to have his righteousness, and others need to see His righteousness in me! It represents a holy character, a moral conduct. We do this by being obedient to the truth that we just put on. The breastplate protects the heart. The Christian soldier is vulnerable to discouragement when he/she compromises living by God’s standards. When we wear the breastplate, we do what the father wants us to do.
The third piece of armor is our “feet fitted with the gospel of peace” — shoes of the Gospel. This reminds us to share the good news of Jesus wherever our feet take us. It brings an eagerness, and a willingness to go, bringing peace to others. We are able to share the victory and freedom we have in Christ with others. Be ready, be eager, be willing to go. And as long as we stand still in this battle, we are an easy target. That’s why we have to keep moving forward, sharing the peace of Jesus along the way.
The fourth piece of armor is the “shield of faith.” This is our first line of defense, the shield of faith. When the devil sends fiery darts our way, we can put up the shield of faith and stop them from bringing us harm. When we have faith, we can stand firm against the attacks from the enemy.
The fifth piece of armor is the “helmet of salvation.” The helmet protects our head, our thoughts. It enables us to have certainty and assurance of our salvation. When we grow weak or doubt, we can remember that we are his and he is ours. And finally, the last piece of the armor is the “sword of the Spirit.” This is the word of God, the Bible. This is our primary weapon for offense. We can use the Scriptures to fight the attacks of the devil. This is the weapon that Jesus used when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness. The word of God has power over the enemy. Along with the Word of God, we have the secret weapon of prayer. This is where we communicate with God, and He communicates with us.
We are not weaponless or alone. God is with us, and He has given us the gift of our fellow believers to fight the fight of faith and battle the enemy as an army, together. We know that Satan is already defeated by the work of Jesus on the cross, and one day he will be thrown into the lake of fire as his punishment. We are on the winning side.
(From the Pulpit is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of the Weirton Ministerial Association.)