Gear Up!

“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.”

Ephesians 6:10

When my three sons were young, they all played football in the city league. My oldest son had asked to play shortly before he turned 8 but I told him he was too young. The summer after his eighth birthday, I happened to see a notice in the paper for tryouts, for the city league team and the starting age was 8. “Oh dear!”, I thought to myself. I mulled over whether I should tell Daniel, but soothed myself by deciding if he asked again I would. Well, sure enough, he did shortly after I had seen the ad. Sigh. As I signed my oldest boy up, it was with trepidation but he was insistent and his Dad reassured me he would be fine. Of course my husband was a huge football fan and had been captain of his football team in high school. All I could envision was my little boy get planted in the dirt and coming home with broken bones and teeth missing!

After registering him, we were given a date to pick up his equipment; large white bulbous helmet, shoulder pads that flapped and rattled like an agitated hen, thigh pads, shin pads, cleats, coloured jersey and…white pants?!? I think whoever decided football players should wear white pants hated his mother! I mean, have you tried getting grass stains out of those babies? Without being able to use bleach?! We also had to buy our son a jock strap ( to ensure a continued family line) and a mouth guard ( to ensure a future nice smile). Seeing this protective gear helped ease my concerns. It was also quite comical to see! Have you ever seen a bobble head statue? That is what this eight year old boy, with a huge white helmet on his head and shoulders the size of his father’s, looked like. His younger brother looked even more so like one when he signed up, because he was nothing more than skin over bones! But they thought they were lean, mean fighting machines! And believe me I was very grateful they had that gear on, when I would hear the loud impact of those pads, as those little bodies crashed into each other and created dogpiles!

In this challenging world, we also need to be properly prepared and geared up. Because unlike football, life is not a game but a battle we are in! A fight for our minds, hearts and our very souls. Our battle is not against other people, though. Ephesians 6:12 says our battle is against the dark forces in the spiritual realm. We are in a fight against rulers, authorities and powers in this world that we can’t even see, but we sure can feel them at work though, can’t we?

Anxiety, fear, worry, depression, bitterness, jealousy, envy, loneliness, identity confusion, and the list goes on and on. The enemy is attacking us every day, The Bible says he “prowls around like a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8), watching and waiting for an opportunity to strike, “to devour” us.

In Ephesians 6:10-18, the apostle Paul calls for believers in Christ to be prepared to stand and fight this spiritual battle. He uses the armour of the Roman soldier, who the people of the time were well acquainted with, to explain the spiritual armour of God believers need to equip themselves with.

Any good soldier knows that when they go into battle, they need to have the proper gear in order to be victorious and stay alive to fight again. The Romans knew it, the medieval knights knew it, our modern day soldiers know it and even football players know it. But do we understand it? Believe it?

The first item Paul talks about is the belt of truth. “What in the world is that?”, I asked myself, when I first read it.

A better translation for this word is “girdle”. Girdles aren’t used as much these days like they used to be and even the girdles I remember were different than in ancient days. The Roman girdle, “girded his loins”, meaning it held everything snugly together, gave him good core support, and a place to tuck his tunic so he could move quickly and freely. Not exactly like a jock strap but similar.

As a Christian our belt is the Truth of God and how He tells us to live. We are to follow the example of Christ in being truthful and having integrity; being of strong character and faithfulness. When our core is strong then we have more freedom and we can stand firm when needed. We can quickly move to flee or stand and repel the attack of the enemy.

Second, Paul mentions the breastplate of righteousness. Okay, now I don’t know anyone who wears a breastplate! What even is it?

The breastplate provided protection for the soldiers vital organs. Think of the Kevlar armour that a modern day soldier uses. Our breastplate protects our heart and soul. Because of Christ’s sacrifice we can now stand righteous (clean and acceptable) before God with confidence. It is our protection against the enemy’s accusations, his lies. We are loved, wanted and forgiven. Yet we also need to work on living righteously and follow the example of Jesus, so that we reflect His righteousness in our lives and grow.

Third, Paul tells us we need to have our feet properly prepared with the “readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”. Hunh?

Roman soldiers did not run around barefoot or have flimsy sandals on their feet. No flip flops here, my friends! They needed to know their feet would support them in battle, that they would be able to stand firm and twist and turn easily. These sandals were made of sturdy leather with broken off nails sticking out the bottom, for good grip, and leather strips crisscrossing about the foot and ankle for good support, as well as good ventilation. Think of football or soccer cleats.

Sisters, our feet are not to be decorated with fluffy, slip on slippers with no grip! We are to have our feet firmly planted in the Gospel. This means we need to read it, know it, study it and mull on it so that we are ready to fight against the lies of the enemy and his attacks. Then we can have peace of mind and heart being comforted by the solid ground of scripture.

Now we come to the “shield of faith”. Hmmm….shields. Well we have windshields, umbrellas that shield us from the wind and rain and most recently plastic face shields to protect from Covid.

Shields were important parts of a Roman soldiers equipment. It was a large rectangular shield made of wood and leather and soaked in water. This shield protected them from flaming arrows, slashing swords and even small rocks. It also kept their other armour from being worn down and destroyed.

Paul says our shield of faith, protects us from the flaming arrows of the evil one by extinguishing them. Our faith snuffs out the lies of Satan when we soak ourselves in the well of living water; God’s Word. Our trust in the living God, the great “I AM”, helps us to remain standing, to continue on in the battle.

Next Paul mentions the helmet. The Roman soldier’s helmet was made of iron and covered in bronze. It protected his head from being crushed or taken off! This was no visor to shield their eyes from the sun or a fancy fascinator to impress Caesar. Without it they were dead or severely incapacitated.

Paul urged us to put on the helmet of “salvation”. This helmet protects our mind, our thoughts, our identity. Where is our salvation? In the redeeming power of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. But salvation is not only a one time thing; it is an ongoing process. We need to put on our helmets every morning by preaching the gospel to ourselves. If you have placed your hope in Christ, you are His, period! There is no longer anything that can hold you captive unless you allow it. No shame, no guilt, no regrets because you have been forgiven it all!

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

The last piece of armour Paul mentions is the sword. Now, a Roman soldier usually carried two weapons, a long sword and a dagger. The long sword was for keeping the enemy back and attacking but the dagger was for close combat and could get under the armour and pierce.

Paul likens the soldier’s weapons to the “sword of the Spirit” and clarifies this by telling us it is God’s Word.

Words can be cutting and piercing can’t they? We can wield them as a weapon or to speak truth and comfort. The enemy always uses words to hamper, stop and destroy our faith and keep us from following Christ.

But God’s Word brings life and hope! It gives direction, teaches wisdom, and tells us how immensely and faithfully we are loved by the Triune God! Paul likens it to a sword because it can pierce and probe the heart and soul like a two-edged sword as it says in Hebrews 4:12. The Word reveals our innermost being to us for examination and shows us how desperately we are in need of a Saviour!

And lastly but certainly not least we are to pray in the Spirit. Always! This is vital! We are to have a running conversation going with God about all our struggles and concerns and for those of others.

So what are you wearing today to protect yourself from the enemy’s attack? How are you preparing for today’s battles? I know I have to be on guard EVERY day because he is sneaky and often attacks me when I am tired or distracted. Then he pounces and I find myself in a dark place. We need to preach the gospel to ourselves and each other everyday, as soon as our eyes open. Find a verse or two you can recite to yourself, run to your Bible and read a paragraph or chapter to set your mind on the Lord, listen to some praise music to focus your thoughts in the right place, pray a simple prayer of thanks and request for help.

Dear ones we need to Gear UP, everyday and not let our guards down, so we can stand firm and “fight the good fight”!

If you need someone to pray for you let me know, I would be honoured to do so.

Be well!

Patricia

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