This is a topic that a lot of Christians talk about, but few get beyond the talking stage. And that’s sad, because it is a reality that all believers face on a daily basis. We are at war with the forces of darkness whether we want to admit it or not. Some believers are somewhat afraid of what this might mean. They are content to be “saved” and idle their way into heaven and let others do all of the fighting for them. Sorry, but it doesn’t work this way. If you are a believer, truly born again (John 3.3), then you are part of this battle. The enemy will not let you go unchallenged. If you can sit by day-by-day letting others talk about the Love of Jesus then I would suggest that you examine your heart to see if your salvation is genuine.
This series of articles will examine what spiritual warfare is and what it is not. We will look at the tools (weapons) that we are to use and our methods of fighting. Our basic and primary reference will be the Bible. I will also draw on some trusted references (which I will note and cross reference) as well as personal experience.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (Eph 6:13-18 ESV)
We are not asked to go into battle without the proper weapons. No soldier. For this first article I want to closely examine these tools and weapons.
Throughout history, Christianity has been compared to being in an army; specifically, God’s Army. In 1865 Sabine Baring-Gould penned the words to the famous hymn Onward Christian Soldiers. The first verse gets right into it with the words, “ Onward, Christian soldiers! Marching as to war, With the cross of Jesus Going on before. Christ, the royal Master, Leads against the foe; Forward into battle, See his banners go!” Verse four likens the Church to a “mighty army.”
Going back even further, the Apostle Paul counseled Timothy to “share in the suffering as a good soldier.” While he makes other comparisons, I find it interesting that soldier is his first. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (quoted above) he plainly spoke about the warfare that believers are called to fight.
Before Paul begins talking about the armor he says one thing. STAND! This is not just an admonition to be in an upright position, but the context and Greek inference is that we are to stand fast without backing down or shrinking away from the enemy. We get this from him saying, “Stand therefore (for that reason; consequently) having fastened…” he says that we can stand because we have taken up this armor. We rto stand our ground when faced with trials and spiritual threats as well as to stand our guard against temptations. So, to our weapons.
Belt of truth. Isaiah 5.27 tells us about a time when the armies of the nations would rise against Israel to punish them for their sins. The “girdle of their loins” or “waistband” mentioned here is the same thing that Paul was talking about. It was used for physical strength and can be compared to a modern weight belt or back brace. No professional lifter would consider working out without one. When I was a furniture mover I used one regularly when lifting heavier pieces. It’s remarkable how much they help. Just as a weight lifter or furniture needs to protect himself with a lifting belt, we need spiritual weight belts when we go up against the enemy to give us extra strength and endurance as well as to prevent injury and damage. There are a lot of different kinds of belts available for today’s professionals. I used something designed for occasional heavy lifting made of a poly material and secured with a hook and loop fastener. Pros often use heavy leather with metal buckles, but all of these belts are designed for one main purpose: to give the user extra strength and stability when lifting heavy objects.
Paul began the description of the armor with this belt. While we may look at it an say, “It’s only a belt” there had to be a reason for Paul to begin here. This is a second function of the belt or girdle that we should look at. Paul knew Roman soldiers. He was a prisoner of Rome on off throughout his entire ministry. Soldiers were very common on the streets of Jerusalem in those days. So Paul used a reference that people would understand. Since we don’t see Roman soldiers on a daily basis let’s take a look at the function of the “belt” on as Paul would have seen it. The belt was an important part of the soldier’s uniform. For one thing it held his sword! No belt – no sword. He also had strips of leather or a thick pad of leather (depending on the regiment) hanging from the front of the belt to protect the lower part of his body. The belt was also used to tie the other pieces of armor to the body. the Roman soldier needed his belt, and so do we.
The believer’s belt is truth! Specifically the truth of the Gospel. It is this truth that binds the rest of the armor to us and gives us strength as we endure. Knowing that we are working toward the reward makes the hardships worthwhile. Knowing that we are working for One who died for us makes us look toward Him as our example. The truth of the Gospel, that Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected to open the way for our eternal life is what binds all Christians together. This is a truth that Satan simply cannot defeat.
I want to insert a word of caution here. There is a lot of “doctrine” out there that is parading as truth. If we use falsehoods as out belt, our armor will not hold. Always look to the Bible as your source of truth. Jesus said that He is the truth (John 14.6) and we know that Jesus is the Word (John 1.1, 1.14-15) so looking toward Jesus will keep us focused on the truth.
False doctrines are a favorite deception of the enemy. He began this particular campaign back in the Garden of Eden when he told Eve that she would not die if she ate the forbidden fruit, even though God said that she would. Satan’s tactic was to present a different “truth” and we see that he is still using this same tactic today. And I understand that because it works. Let me be blunt: TRUTH DOES NOT VARY! What was true in the Bible days is still true. Jesus is still the Way, the Truth and the Life. Never be fooled by people who try to tell you that their truth is not your truth. Truth is truth. Gravity still exists and will cause you to fall to the earth, fire will still burn you and hell is still real. And if you fall for the earthly falsehoods you will end up in a fiery, hot hell. Literally and truly.
Next up: The breastplate of Righteousness