Today we finish our two-part series on dressing for success based on Ephesians 6.
I did a little reading on shields, and what I found was interesting. Depending on the culture, time frame and material they were made from, a shield did little more than absorb a blow by the enemy. But in Ephesians, we read that our shield, our faith, is not meant to merely absorb Satan’s attacks against us. It is meant to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (v.16, NIV). There’s a big difference between absorbing and extinguishing. One implies protecting what you can and dealing with the blow you’ve been dealt. The other implies snuffing out the fire altogether with the weapons you’ve been given.
In my search for significance through materialistic means, my shield did nothing more than absorb the blows of Satan. The constant mental berating from the enemy that I was nothing because I didn’t look a certain way and didn’t have an account full of retirement money ready to support a lifestyle in Florida weakened me to the point of becoming a warrior completely exposed to Satan’s attacks.
In ancient times a shield was the mark of a warrior. Our shields are only as strong as our faith. There’s a reason the New Testament is full of verses that talk about the need to grow in our faith, stand firm in our faith, live by faith. It’s not a suggestion. The stronger our faith grows, the easier it is to ignore the lies of Satan and live in victory.
Last summer was a particularly difficult time for my daughter spiritually. I spent weeks watching her battle the lies of Satan in her head, a fear so crippling she became been physically sick. I watched as she, for a time, allowed herself to succumb to the enemy’s devastating claims on her.
We are made up of body, soul and spirit. It’s in the soul part of us, our minds, that battles are won and lost. Just like a motorcyclist has a much better chance of surviving a crash if his head is protected with a helmet, so too will we as Christians be better able to withstand Satan’s attacks if our head is covered with the helmet of salvation.
What I’ve come to realize is that the helmet of salvation is more than knowing where we will go when we die. As God’s saved, chosen people there are certain promises that come with that salvation; the promise that if we resist Satan, he will flee (James 4:7); the promise that “greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (I John 4:4); the promise that “He will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast” (Is. 26:3); the promise that “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37, NIV). The promises are endless, and they belong to us. With sonship comes the benefits of being a child of a King, The King. God has reminded me that He doesn’t just save me and leave me to figure it out until I finally reach heaven. With salvation comes protection, strength, and power.
“But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet” (I Thes. 5:8, NIV, italics mine).
As my pastor put it: Whom will you believe? God or Satan? Put on the helmet, girl. You don’t have to listen to the junk.
The last weapon, the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, is our only defensive weapon. In battle, the warrior protected vital organs with his belt, helmet, breastplate, shield and with his feet ready for battle. None of those things were weapons meant for attack. They were for protection only. The sword on the other hand, now that was a weapon.
Instead of reminding Satan that God supplies all my needs, I will still, at times, recoil in fear in the form of worry and stress. If I were dressed for battle, I could come back at Satan with countless verses about God’s love for me, His provision for all my needs, His plan to prosper me.
It didn’t take long for my daughter to learn this lesson last summer. After a few days of Satan’s nonsense, she started fighting back. For weeks she walked around with a Bible always in her hands. She slept with it opened on a pillow next to her. I could hear her reciting verse after verse while she walked around the house and went about her life. None of this was done out of a superstitious belief that somehow an open Bible would ward off Satan’s blows. Instead, she was gaining an understanding of the tool God has given us in His Word. She wasn’t going down without a fight, and she did eventually win.
This life is a battlefield, and to live it successfully, there are certain wardrobe essentials we must have on.
We wouldn’t leave our house without a pair of shoes or pants. So why would we even think of going into a spiritual battle half-dressed? What piece of armor do you regularly forget to “put on”?