I had the privilege of going to paintball for the first time this weekend with my softball teammates as a bonding activity. With my reputation on the team as a warrior, my coaches were expecting nothing less of me then domination–I would take down my enemies, that is, the other team, and be a natural at this game.
Much to their surprise and my own, I was the worst in the arena. I was out first in each of the three games I competed. It’s not that I wasn’t competitive, because I was, and I hated that I wasn’t doing well. My problem was that I was in attack mode so much so that I forgot about the defense. I couldn’t just attack, but I needed to protect myself from the enemy’s firing.
In the spiritual realm, this is war. A battle between good and evil, between the powers of heaven and the powers of the world, between lightness and darkness. A war between God and His angels and Satan and his demons.
Ephesians 6:10-12 says, “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.”
I wrote an entry a few months ago about the Word of God as the sword (find this under the Armor of God category), and have argued in the past that this is perhaps the most essential part of the armor of God. My perspective has changed recently because, in realty, what is a warrior with a sword if he has no shield, no shoes, and no armor?
Ephesians 6:13-18 says, “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, 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. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”
It doesn’t just say put on a piece of the armor. It says, put on the full armor of God. Each part is of equal importance.
In the paintball arena, I went in with great intentions. I was ready to fight for my team. However, I left behind a crucial part of the game: a strategy for staying alive. What good was my gun if I wasn’t even in the arena?
Likewise, while meditating on Scripture and using it to combat the evil one is our weapon (2 Corinthians 10:4-5), we must also take up the shield of faith, to rely fully on Jesus and to trust in Him (Ephesians 2:8). We must have the breastplate of righteousness to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). The gospel of peace on our feet so that we never forget what Jesus did for us on the Cross (John 3:16). And lastly, we must have the belt of truth, which holds the other pieces together because we must always come back to the Truth in our lives, when the Enemy tries to tempt us, accuse us, and deceive us (John 14:16).
In our daily lives, but especially in times of struggle, we put on the full armor of God, we stand firm, and, as the passage concludes, we pray.