We fight every day in the physical world. Money, pleasure, and power are the primary objectives. We have it wrong. Paul tells us clearly in Ephesians 6. There is another war, and it is not physical. It’s spiritual. In the spiritual battle, war is not waged against our bank account or in a competition for the next customer, it’s for our hearts and minds. That means we are fighting against ourselves.
Evidence suggests that we are lousy at waging this spiritual war. James 4 points us toward murder, fighting, and quarreling as the symptoms. What’s really happening, according to James, is that our physical and worldly passions are going unfulfilled. The only way to satiate our hearts and minds is to act out. If we want freedom, we must wage this spiritual war.
Two things make this war especially hard. First, we must surrender. Jesus said it this way, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). Note that he added the word “daily.” That means surrender is not a one-time event. Our passions and desires will continue to bubble up in us. Even worse, our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8). Thankfully, we are not left to be wimpy fighters, which leads to the second reason that this war is hard. We simply do not know how to wage a spiritual battle.
Thankfully, we get a great picture of waging the battle in Ephesians 6. The message is hidden in the armor of God. While it’s easy to focus on the pieces of armor, it is far more fruitful to see what they do.
Truth – the purity of the gospel ought to remove from our minds all deception, pride, and hypocrisy.
Righteousness – blameless, above reproach. Our actions matter.
Readiness – the gospel of peace – the gospel that brings peace, even in great uncertainty. Armed with it, we are ready and prepared for anything.
Helmet – salvation. Our most valuable asset that can never be taken away.
Shield – Our faith. Remember Hebrews 11:1? Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Sword – the word of God. For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 (NLT)
It’s one thing to know how our armor functions, but it’s quite another to use it. Today, I am going to start by putting it on.