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Posts Tagged ‘armor of God’

The full armor of God is a metaphor. And we must remember it’s for standing (like a palm tree), not advancing into battle. And, in my mind, it works from the inside out. And for the armor to work 100%, it requires me to embrace the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 6:14-17
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The first three aspects of the armor are truth, righteousness and peace.

Like a belt, truth holds the whole thing together. This means my speaking and thinking truth as well as adopting God’s truth. When truth is bent, then the protection has chinks.

The breastplate (not commonly worn in modern times) protects the heart, one of the most vulnerable parts of the body. And how do we protect this heart? With right actions with fairness, honor, justness, and devotion to the One who embodies these traits. This typifies the sowing and reaping principle: we receive back what we give out. And the converse if true. I cannot expect my heart to be protected if I am grieving the Holy Spirit.

The third essential is “gospel of peace.” Why isn’t it just peace? Because it’s the message of peace itself that has the power. It is foundational (like feet) and carries great weight. Peace is an outgrowth (the promise) out of the mysterious work of the Christ. When I walk in peace, I bring peace with me.

The last three pieces of the armor are faith, salvation and the word of God.

Faith is called a shield for good reason, it is literally held up to withstand direct attacks. What’s interesting to me is the use of the verb “extinguish.” This means that faith can actually neutralize or put out fires. This, next to right living & behaviors, is my strongest defense.

Salvation is the description of a state of being. This state comes from my acceptance of Christ as the “head” of my life, the captain, the tactical center. Thus, the helmet is an apt description. Salvation is not about my “doing” anything. I am not to be about head-butting. It’s security.

And lastly, the sword which has been interpreted as the Bible itself and as a result, people have used this understanding as a case for aggressively cutting others with it. People memorize verses and apply them to as many situations as they can, ostensibly to cut through the circumstances. But, I think it can interpreted as the word within that comes directly from the presence of the Holy Spirit. The sword works together with the shield. The sword does not have to be an offensive weapon, it can block and extinguish as well. The word of God is knowledge and wisdom and truth. The circle is complete.

Remember: the goal here is to stand!

So, here I am Lord. Forgive me for lashing out with the sword before the rest of my armor is in place. May standing in truth, righteousness, and peace be my first priority today.

(FD 16)

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We are asked to put on God’s armor in order to stand against spiritual forces from the dark world. Sounds like fantasy but there is a decision to be made here: truth or fiction? I’m leaning toward the truth side. And if true, the real battle has been waging on without me.

Ephesians 6:12
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.

I have not been asked to advance against the enemy, merely to stand. And yet, I have not been moving forward or standing, not really. Instead, I have been buffeted about internally. My mind has been captured by the distractions of the world, my spirit veiled by self-absorption, and my heart hardened.

The greater fool, I, for trying so hard to do battle in this 3-D world. I’ve been totally caught up in my ambitions, my weight, my aging, my eyesight, my losses, my children’s successes or lack thereof, and so on. I’m not even on the right playing field.

Currently, I’m reading the Suzanne Collins trilogy, Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. These stories take place in a futuristic world where our country has been divided into districts, all serving the “Capitol.” Each district has a single industry. Once a year, each district must send two “tributes” (teenagers) to fight to the death, with only one victor. The victor’s district is then blessed with extra food etc. for that year. In the second book, because the lead characters foiled the Capitol in book one, the games take on a cruel turn. I won’t give that away, but a phrase has stayed with me that is relevant to my discussion here: “Remember who your enemy is.”

In our world, we have forgotten who the true enemy is as well. Instead, our countries fight wars, terrorists prevail, our sons and daughters die violently, people starve, and natural resources are despoiled. We continue to struggle with the symptoms instead of the root causes.

Photo by Angelo Juan Ramos

It all comes back to the Light and illuminating from within: living a life of love, submitted and thereby filled with the Holiest Spirit, who works in union with my personal spirit. And out of that life pours forth compassion, forgiveness, and beauty.

I can go about serving others, visiting the sick and dying, feeding the hungry, comforting the homeless, and giving from my livelihood. But if I do these things without the Light, they are band-aids.

It’s time to stop living as though it’s such a great mystery. The mystery has been revealed through the Christ and is a living, powerful presence in me through the Holy Spirit.

I want to stand today. I want to be counted as one standing. I want to shine.

(FD 15)

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I have always thought of the armor as something from the outside in, as though I pick it up somewhere along the way and put it on like a coat. But now, I think the armor comes from within because it is built on and out of faith and trust.

Ephesians 6:10-11
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.

A visual that comes to mind is passwords. A new trend is to have a little “effectiveness” bar next to my entry and depending on the sequence of letters or numbers I enter, I get a rating. The power of the password is judged as weak, medium, or strong. I create my own choice of password and the company is merely letting me know how effective it will be to withstand the machinations of Internet evil: hackers, identity thieves, and the like.

In life, it is the practice of my faith and trust that will determine my ability to use God’s armor effectively. There are some other words, along with practice, that come to mind: diligence, stubbornness, confidence, knowledge, and self-awareness. These are also needed to hold fast to faith.

Oftentimes the darts that come from the outside are small and annoying, but the accumulation of them can be debilitating. Think of poor Gulliver and Lilliputians when they initially tie him down with ropes and hold him fast, despite the fact they are only 1/12th the size of a regular human. We must give due diligence and engage God in all areas of life, even the little things.

Stubbornness may not be the right word, perhaps it’s determination or persistence, but in any case, it’s holding fast to the faith in the face of “oncoming traffic.” (Just be sure you’re not going the wrong way on a one-way street.) It’s swimming upstream. It’s engaging the paradox. It’s giving room for miracles.

Confidence because faith must be all in. That kind of confidence comes from a full commitment to an idea along with complete understanding. Now, I’m not talking about bravado that looks down on others or puts out a false impression of strength. Authentic confidence does not require loud talk or scare tactics or bullying. Confidence comes from knowing.

Which brings me to knowledge of God. As I build my knowledge of God, of God in Christ, of Christ and the Holy Spirit in me, then all the other things begin to fall into place.

I cannot put my head in the sand if I want to practice slipping into this armor. I have to be aware of who and where I am today and what is immediately ahead of me. I must connect, with an open heart, to the Spirit within. Like sweat that pours out of me on a hot day, to protect me, so does the armor of God emanate from the Spirit storehouse within.

(FD 14)

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