We face many challenges in life. Some of these challenges are of a personal nature, involving our work life, marriages, families, neighborhoods, finances, health, or more. Others are cultural, we live in difficult times with many competing worldviews and a never-ending cavalcade of issues to be debated. When do we get involved and when do we accept our differences and move on? We also face world issues such as terror attacks, travel bans, wars and rumors of wars. The challenges can seemingly be endless for those of us living today.
So how do we face these many challenges? Perhaps we’re on a business trip and face a temptation to cheat on our spouse. Or one of our children is struggling with a behavior issue at school? Maybe our boss is being unreasonable and the job we were once so happy to have has become a place we dread going each day. How do we stand up for the Biblical definition of marriage in a culture increasingly hostile to the Christian worldview? Do we live in fear over the possibility of terror attacks or do we go forward with our life and travel plans regardless?
These are the kinds of concerns we all face in one way or another in this day and age but the way in which we face them has not changed! The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 that “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.”. And that truly is our first task: to remember that there is a spiritual war raging around us. We are in the midst of this spiritual war and Peter warns us: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
Since we are on the front lines of a spiritual war, it is good for us to recognize that we are unequipped to win the battle on our own. Just as in any army, a soldier needs the proper gear to be equipped for battle. For today’s soldier they may be equipped with body armor, helmets, machine guns, night vision, GPS, and radio transmitters, and other special equipment. And just as the army soldier has specific equipment with which they are prepared for the fight, those of us engaged in the spiritual battle of life also have equipment that helps us engage the enemy. But unlike the army soldier, whose equipment changes with new battlefields and new technology, our equipment is unchanging and has been battle tested for thousands of years.
Ephesians 6:10-11 tell us to: “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.” So the first tool in our arsenal is God himself! In Deuteronomy we read: “For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!” (Deuteronomy 20:4) and in Jeremiah 1:19 we read: “They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” So we see that God is on our side and when we acknowledge Him, we avail ourselves of his mighty power!
Once we acknowledge God, then we can put on his full armor. The first pieces of armor we put on are found in Ephesians 6:14: “Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.” The belt of truth is God’s unchanging Word, which is found in the Bible. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16) It is by God’s Word that we know right from wrong, that we understand who God is and His glorious plan for the world. When we read and study the Bible we equip ourselves with the knowledge that comes from God and correctly inform our worldview.
The second piece of armor mentioned in Ephesians 6:14 is God’s righteousness. How do we put on God’s righteousness? There is only one way – it is imputed (credited) to us through Jesus Christ. So when we repent of our sins and believe in the atoning sacrifice that Jesus made for the forgiveness of our sins, we are clothed in the righteousness that comes from God (and we no longer have to try to get by on our own good deeds, a method that surely proves itself futile). The Apostle John wrote: “And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:5) So believing in Jesus is how we put on the righteousness of God and without that belief we are destined to lose the battle.
Likewise, our faith in Jesus Christ helps us with the remaining items of our spiritual armor: “For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:15-17) When we come to Christ in repentance and faith and receive the gift of salvation, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and in the Spirit we begin to understand the Word of God more and more. We begin to have understanding and conviction of right and wrong that is in agreement with God’s design and from this we face the spiritual battlefield fully equipped so that we might stand firm.
But there is one last element of preparation for our spiritual battle, however, and this is one we cannot neglect. Just as an army soldier exercises to maintain top physical conditioning, we must pray continuously to maintain our top spiritual conditioning. “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18) We see by way of example that Jesus prayed regularly throughout the Gospels (while Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. -Hebrews 5:7) and the Apostle Paul instructs us to “never stop praying.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
In James 5:16 we read, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” So let us not neglect prayer but let us seek to pray on every occasion, bringing our requests to God and asking him to prepare us for the battles we face every day. Paul teaches us in Philippians 4:6-7: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
In the spiritual realm, for those of us who have put our faith in Christ, victory is ours! As Jesus said: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) If you haven’t yet placed your faith in Jesus, why not make today the day?
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