Last night my wife and I attended a friend’s Bible study for the first time and really enjoyed it. He is somebody we have known for a while that attends a Saturday night worship service at our church that we frequent and he has been busy with a church plant in the town of Willimantic (about a 30 minute drive from our home). The people that attended were really welcoming and it was one of the best small groups I have been to in a while. Actually, when I think about it, it’s been several months since I was involved in any small group, let alone a Bible study.
The normal course of study for the evening would have been in the book of Romans, in keeping with the Bible in Daily Life series our church as a whole is engaged in. Ed (small group leader) decided to depart from the normal study and take a look at spiritual warfare and how to best be equipped for battle. My wife and I were both pleased with the decision and got a lot out of it.
It is easy to forget that there is an unseen realm all around us in which there are constant battles between the forces of good and evil. That said, it is time to suit up for the war as children of the most high God. The text studied comes from Ephesians 6, a well known description of what we need to do battle with the forces of evil. Several other verses of Scripture were quoted and I shall do my best to remember and quote some of them here in this post.
10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore,
with truth like a belt around your waist,
righteousness like armor on your chest,
15 and your feet sandaled with readiness
for the gospel of peace.
16 In every situation take the shield of faith,
and with it you will be able to extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is God’s word.
18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. -Ephesians 6:10-18 (HCSB)
How often do we think our struggles must be with other people? In reality, it is the evil behind the scenes that we really must address. It is a product of this fallen world in which we live for this brief time. This becomes more and more painfully apparent here in the United States where I live, as I see the decline of morality and this insane celebration of sin so often prevalent. The Bible clearly states that we must take up the full armor of God, not just bits and pieces as it may suit us. So what is it composed of? I find the following listed in the text: truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation. Of course, praying at all times in the Spirit is mentioned. It may sound like a tall order, but when one considers the consequences, it is not so bad!
What does it mean to take a stand? As was pointed out last night, that is a military term. For me, to ‘take a stand’ is to draw a line in the sand and declare “no more!” We are living in a culture where that line has so often been blurred by political correctness and whatever is popular at the time. The Church so often wishes to be warm and fuzzy and welcoming to all. Certainly, our doors should be opened to all — but to welcome sin is to welcome destruction.
Where do we discover truth? From the Holy Spirit and study of God’s Word. Spending time in the Word is the the best way to stay focused on God and His directives for our lives as slaves of Christ. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. -John 8:32 (KJV).
What about righteousness? Where do we find that? We find it in Christ, not from our own works. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. – 2 Corinthians 5:21 (KJV).
What is the gospel of peace? Roman soldiers wore special shoes to help them advance against the enemy. We as Christians must also wear those special shoes in a spiritual sense, which is (as the king James Study Bible puts it) an eagerness to share the gospel (the good news of Jesus and what He has done for us).
What about the shield of faith? Let’s look at how the Bible defines faith: Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. -Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB). Eugene Peterson puts it this way in his translation known as The Message: The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. -Hebrews 11:1-2 (MSG).
What is the “Helmet of Salvation?” Simply put, the word of God. Where do we find out what we must do to be saved? The message is clearly stated in the Bible. For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart. -Hebrews 4:12 (HCSB). All Scripture is inspired by God[a] and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, -2 Timothy 3:16 (HCSB). What words did Jesus begin with when rebuking Satan? It is written. He knew to defend His position with those words, as Satan cannot stand against the truth of God’s word. As stated in Matthew 4:4 (HCSB): But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Of course, it should all begin and end with prayer, prayer, prayer! Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (HCSB)