A Big Enemy.

Cling to Christ or get crushed.

Ephesians 6:14–17 (NIV)

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The enemy is not regular flesh and blood, so the armor is not regular armor. Paul describes this by drawing analogies with parts of standard Roman armor. The analogy details aren’t important. The point is what tools to take up.

Paul begins with truth and righteousness. These are the underpinnings of Christian practice. Next is the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. How does the gospel of peace make the Ephesians ready? And ready for what?

Answering the second question first, it makes them ready for the attacks from the evil one. That helps answer the first question. The gospel of peace makes them ready for attacks by keeping them from panicking. This is a familiar concept in first century warfare. That’s why Paul included the words, “of peace.” The peace the gospel gives is useful, even crucial, when one is under attack.

Faith is the key to stopping the flaming arrows of the evil one. By flaming arrows, Paul means attacks. These often take the form of accusations, since Satan is the great accuser (see Revelation 12:10).

The helmet of salvation is the security of knowing one’s destiny. This stops the other main type of attack – direct assaults on their salvation. Instead of attacking behavior by accusation, Satan often attacks faith directly by sowing doubt. This is important enough that John wrote an entire letter to address it.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. – 1 John 5:13 (NIV)

The one offensive weapon comes last – the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. In Matthew 4, Jesus hit back at Satan three times saying, “It is written.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” – Matthew 4:10 (NIV)

This list of weapons and their purpose highlights the nature of spiritual warfare. Modern Christians don’t think about that enough. We tend to interpret trials and tribulations through secular eyes. The idea that there might be supernatural origins behind events often doesn’t even cross our minds.

If it did, we’d be scared by it. We’ve already discussed how the enemy is a lot more powerful than we are. The thought of going up against such an overwhelming adversary is intimidating.

But ignorance is not bliss. We are up against a big enemy. Cling to Christ or get crushed.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.