Yesterday, I wrote about the need to be strong in the Lord, so that we might stand against the devil’s schemes from the first part of Ephesians 6:10-20. You can read that here What follows are a few thoughts on v. 14-17 on what is known as the defensive part of the armor of God.
Ephesians 6:14–17 (ESV) 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
One of the primary schemes Satan uses against us is accusation. For instance, early this morning I listened to a podcast from a pastor and leader I respect on handling criticism. From a text of scripture, he explained that criticism often comes when we're already down, when we don't deserve it, and from those who are unqualified to give it. But what I found myself zeroing in on was that second one; that criticism is often undeserved. As I thought back over my life and the times that I've received criticism, it seemed to me that many of those times the criticism was justified. It came because of my own immaturity or lack of courage. Was that true? Partially. Sometimes I've received criticism and I've deserved it, at least to some extent. It's important to listen to criticism and learn from it when we can. But it would not have been right for me to then conclude that I am worthless, that I have nothing to offer, and that I should just give up and hide. And I could sense those thoughts coming on as well. Satan can work his schemes even while listening to a sermon. The text says, to put on the belt of truth. What is true about me is that through no benefit of my own, and in spite of my sin, I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ. I have put on the breastplate of righteousness. This knowledge does not make me want to them disobey, but moves me to want to follow.
The next part of the armor is, “and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” The truth that we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ encourages us not to want to disobey, but creates in us a “readiness” to do God’s will. Internalizing the good news of the gospel gives new grace to move back into the world. Shoes for your feet implies being ready to walk back out into the world and to take risks in spite of potential criticism and past mistakes.
“In all circumstances we are to take up the shield of faith with which we can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” To know the truth that we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ makes us ready to obey, but we will need to repeatedly counter Satan’s lies by remembering these truths. We use the shield of faith by trusting what God says rather than believing Satan accusations. We should expect to need this shield often, “in all circumstances.”
Finally, there is the helmet of salvation. That is that we are secure in the knowledge as we enter this battle, that our security comes not from our ability to hold onto God, but on his ability to hold onto us. This also does not encourage a life of running from God’s will. Rather, it grants the confidence to move into the world, knowing that we cannot ultimately be harmed. He will never leave us or forsake us.
In the next couple of days, I hope to share a couple of thoughts about the part of the armor used for offense rather than defense, that is the word of God itself and prayer.