This is no military war but rather a spiritual war. The spirit of the age is raging against the Church and here in the West the Christians have become soft and unfit. In New Testament times it was clear that Christians were under physical attack, put in prison and killed. Paul makes clear that he himself was involved in this, acting as a witness to the stoning of Stephen – possibly even being the one who signaled when to start the stoning, and obtaining letters from the chief priests to go to Damascus to arrest other Christians who lived away from Jerusalem.
This same Paul, after his conversion, writes to the Church at Ephesus, where Demetrius the silversmith had started a riot because Paul preached Christ while Demetrius’ whole livelihood was tied up in the worship of Artemis, in words that are relevant to the Church today,
“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
You may ask why does Paul write these words. Bear in mind that Paul was beaten,imprisoned,wrongfully accused of all sorts of crimesand had gone from a situation of a pharisee, student of Gamaliel, a highly respected teacher,and persecutor of Christians to outspoken advocate for ‘The Way’. I contend that the reason is that too many of us are in the same position that the Sadducees who attempted to trip up Jesus were in. Unlike Paul, after his encounter with the Risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, we know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.
We need to know the Scriptures. We need to study them constantly and consistently, so that we can understand what God is saying to us and can understand them in context. The Scriptures are given us for our good and that we might come to faith in Jesus as our personal saviour as well as the saviour of the world. They were written with divine inspiration. Godis not full of contradictions so we can expect any leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives to be consistent with Scripture. We can follow the exhortation of verses 18 and 19 for each other, that we may be given the words so that we will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel and declare it as we each should.
In the coming days, I hope to look at the various pieces ofspiritual armour.