the armor of God

In Ephesians 6 we in Jesus are told to put on the full armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. In this life we are up against three formidable foes against which we ourselves are no match at all: the world, the flesh and the devil. At the same time in Christ and by the Spirit these three foes are no match against us, either. But that is where we come in.

We’re directed to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. To put on the whole armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, we may be able to stand. This is a stance of resistance, depending on God’s strength in the midst of our weakness. And taking up all the pieces of the armor that are ours from God in Christ. What is needed for this cosmic warfare against spiritual forces of evil.

The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, the shield of faith with which we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. These are all ours in Christ, and we need to actively avail ourselves of such. Actually they should be a part of our regular life day after day, which really is what this passage is saying. Then we’ll be ready when the cosmic conflict comes.*

After that we’re instructed to pray in the Spirit with all kinds of prayers and requests. We’re to be alert and always to keep on praying for all of God’s people.

It is foolhardy for us to think on the one hand that this life in Christ depends on us, or on the other hand that we have nothing to do since we are after all, in Christ. This life is rooted in God’s provision for us in and through Christ. And we are to live accordingly, receiving these gifts as not only good, but necessary for our life here which involves conflict against the devil. As we go on together in God’s will for us in Jesus, for the world.

*One might argue that this conflict is always on us, as the devil is always at work, or on the alert when we are careless, and that is a good point. Thus we need always to be in this stance. I think in keeping with the text itself which refers to being prepared for when the day of evil comes, which I take to be certain times rather than all the time. And remembering how the devil tempted Jesus, and then we’re told after the temptation narrative how the devil left him until an opportune time to return to further tempt him–based on these considerations, I take it that while we need always to be ready for the conflict, that we are not always engaged in it. That there are indeed those times of green pastures and still waters in which God refreshes our souls.