We need to hear this often in our faith lives. We are often sorely tested by the spiritual powers of evil in the world that show themselves internally as temptations and externally as very real threats to our well being.
We need to hear this often in our faith lives. We are often sorely tested by the spiritual powers of evil in the world that show themselves internally as temptations and externally as very real threats to our well being. Paul’s exhortation here is couched in the metaphor of battlefield armor. He is reminding us to be courageous in the face of these things, and to pray, believing in God’s mighty powers to defend us.
Paul tells us in the verses that follow today’s verse, that our greatest struggle is not against the “flesh and blood” trials that come our way, but rather “against the spiritual forces of wickedness” that are in the world. (verse 12) He uses the armor of a Roman soldier as a metaphor here telling us that we need to put on another kind of armor in this struggle. This armor is spiritual armor, it is the armor that we learn to put on in prayer that allows us to stand firm against the forces of darkness, both internally and externally.
What is this armor? We are to “gird our loins with truth.” (verse 14) That is, we are to prepare for battle by studying the Bible, by listening to and imitating the Word of God in Jesus. We are to “put on the breastplate of righteousness.” That is, we are to develop the habits of moral character that are informed by God’s law. We are also told to “shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.” (verse 15) That is we are to walk in the ways of Christ’s peace even in the midst of our troubles. How are we to do all of this? By taking up “the shield of faith.” (verse 16). It is our faith in God’s mighty powers, in his steadfast love and mercy for us, that will give us the strength not only to confront the forces of evil, but to be able to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (verse 16) Finally, because of our faith in Jesus Christ we can put on the “helmet of salvation” and fight with the sword of the Spirit, “which is the word of God.”
We are to immerse ourselves, then, in prayer and the study of scripture then. Prayer, and the study of God’s word, is our boot camp, our advanced infantry training in the war against the forces of evil in the world. We are to pray in the Spirit at all times. We are not just to pray for ourselves, but with as much fervor for our brothers and sisters. As Christians we know that our duty is always to God first and, out of this love for God, we are to serve and love our neighbors as we wish to be served and loved ourselves. We all know that the spiritual forces of evil in the world are always on the offensive against us and the Church. Paul’s admonition, therefore, is most important for our spiritual well being. “Be strong in the Lord, and in his mighty power.” We are called by God and, in faith, we know that he is always at our side. He is our guide and our defender. We march with the King of Kings. With God on our side, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
Lord, strengthen us in our courage and in our prayer. Help us to make the reading of Holy Scripture a habit in our daily lives. We know that it is your love and your grace that make us strong in the faith. Help us to draw apart from our busy lives to be with you in holy and prayerful silence and solitude more regularly. We ask these things in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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