On May 21, 2020, a Naval officer who guarded the gate at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi was shot in the chest at close range by an intruder. However, because she was wearing body armor, she was able to recover in time to activate the alarm and help to end the threat. Her Kevlar armor not only saved her life, it helped to save the lives of others on the base by enabling her to dispatch the perpetrator.
As long as there has been conflict, men have sought ways to protect themselves. Roman soldiers carried shields; samurai wore protective body panels; and armor has been employed by everyone from medieval knights to battleships. Gladiators wore pieces of body armor in the arena, and NFL football players wear pads and helmets on the field of play. People need protection when engaged in conflict whether it be military or sports-related. In the Bible, Paul describes a different kind of armor for a different kind of conflict.
Armor That Helps
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:10-13 NIV)
Can you imagine an NFL football player taking the field with just their shorts, a t-shirt, and their cleats to protect them? Or wearing their shoulder pads but no other protective gear? Or even just their helmet? No way. These guys compete on a field with strong, fast athletes who are trying to knock them into the middle of next week! If they weren’t wearing the proper equipment, they couldn’t perform the same way the other guys could. They would be tentative, limited, and vulnerable. Football players wear all of the protective gear they can in order to keep from being hurt or knocked out of the game. Makes sense, right?
How about the body armor worn by troops and SWAT team members? Let’s ask that Naval officer whose vest just stopped a bullet if she thinks it’s a good idea to wear armor… The battle against terrorism requires troops, and those troops need protection.
The Struggle is Real
So, why do you go into daily spiritual battle against far more malicious foes wearing less than the full armor of God? There are spiritual forces at work in this world that want to bring you down, to limit you and make you vulnerable. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” You may not think about it much, but you are in a spiritual war every day, and there really are forces at work trying to change the values in our world and in our culture.
If you are uncertain about that, read the news once in a while… Or just check yourself: are you ever tempted? Ever lose your temper, or think critical thoughts about people you don’t even know? Is there any bitterness or offense that drives your emotions? Do you find it difficult to love others the way Jesus describes? If there is a God who encourages us to love, there is just as certainly a malevolent force who is probing our armor, looking for weaknesses he can use to promote selfishness and hatred.
While Paul doesn’t tell Christians to go around knocking people down, he does tell us to stand our ground. So stand firm. Protect yourself. Avail yourself of all of the equipment God offers. If you are walking around wearing only gospel shoes, you are pretty vulnerable. Read the rest of the list, which includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shield of faith (verses 14-17). Don’t go into battle un-equipped. Make sure you are completely dressed.
A Different Kind of Armor
When you take the battlefield, conditions can be hard;
Make sure you protect yourself, and maximize your guard.
God has armor He designed to guard His troops before, behind,
To keep his soldiers all aligned in all conditions they may find.
The armor of God has been designed and put together, all combined
To guard your heart and mind when Satan tries to put you in a bind.
In the battle always keep your weapon close at hand;
When evil comes, you’ll be equipped to rise! And fight! And stand.
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