Since The Fall, We’ve Been In Danger Of This
Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you may stand up against the Devil’s tricks. – Ephesians 6:11-17
Since The Fall, we have been in danger. We have been pitted against the forces that would continue to draw us away from God, from our natural home with him. It has always been so. But we Christians know a truth greater than this; we know that we have not been abandoned. We know that He-Who-Is-Love, entered our humanity and died for our sins, once and for all, opening the gates of Paradise. We know that our advocate remains with us throughout the undulating fortunes and disasters of history, as well as the good times and the bad times of our individual lives.
The evil one and his wicked spiritual forces have always been among us. Sometimes they wield more power, because too many of us have turned away from God and have bent our wills to the temptations of the “here and now,” with complete disregard to the future. This, of course, is nothing new, but some times are worse than others, some times are better. When the masses lose touch with God, they inevitably bring destruction down on themselves, even though such a thing is not their “intention.” When ‘freedom’ becomes nothing more than ‘license,’ when immediate pleasures become more important than values and truth, or future consequences, it is inevitable that unseen, unintended, and terrible things begin to happen. This is not a prediction; it is a matter of historical reality. When the ancient values are tossed aside for immediate gain, political, social, or economic, or simply for the gratification of pleasures, there are always consequences that, when they finally come to undeniable fruition, leave us stunned and horrified at our utter loss and destruction, whimpering, “but that was not my intention. I didn’t mean it.” But our protestations are always too late. The damage is done and there is no turning the clock back to do it all over again.
Because of this reality, this passage from Ephesians takes on a unique importance for us. We are always in danger of the forces of evil, but some times are more dangerous than others, for individuals, and for nations. In order to guard against these real threats we need to, “Put on all the armor that God gives us,” in order to be able to stand up against those forces. What are those forces? They are both internal and external. Internally they are the temptations that attempt to confuse us by appearing to be ‘goods.’ The external forces we fear are the ridicule, the rejection, the hatred that those who have given themselves over to the fads and fashions of the times, will bring down upon us for remaining true to God and his commandments. Their ridicule, rejection and hatred will be fierce, precisely because our lives of faith reveal their errors to them, bring them out into the light for all to see. Evil cannot stand the light of truth. It is for this reason that we must put on all the armor that God gives us.
What is that armor? It is the belt of truth, that is, God’s eternal truth. The breastplate of righteousness and integrity. The shoes of one willing to speak and live out of the peace that is the Good News. It is the adamantine shield of faith that can withstand all the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” (From Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy) that can come our way in this fallen world. It is the helmet of the knowledge of salvation and the sword of the word of God that the Spirit gives to us in such times. How do we put on this armor? By unceasing prayer, by placing our lives, our souls, our whole past, present, and future into the hands of God, not those of mere human beings, no matter how “great” they appear to the crowd. As Paul says in this passage, “And pray for me (for each other) that God will give me (us) a message when I am ready to speak, so that I may speak boldly and make known the Gospel’s secrets.”
All times require this of a Christian. But the times we are in require it absolutely of us now. Let us pray for one another, then, that we may confront the forces of evil, well armored, well prapared to accept the sacrifices that will be required of us. For once again, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Thomas Paine ‘The American Crisis”