Be Ready for War
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.
Wars will never end. Wars are fought to stop the aggression of evil. Wars have been fought by champions like David and Goliath, by knights in shining armor, by patriots with so much heart they are willing to die for their cause, by wizards sitting at a computer table. Wars have been fought on foot, horseback, in vehicles, at sea, and in the air. Wars are fought in the daylight, in the night, in the cold or in the heat. There is guerrilla warfare, cold war, nuclear war, biological war, cyber warfare and I’m sure other forms of warfare I haven’t heard of. Certainly, if a person went to war today with the musket loaders of civil war days, he’d have no chance of victory. War tactics are always changing, but the reasons for war remain the same. Wars are fought to stop the aggression of evil. Because of the presence of sin, wars will never end.
Spiritual warfare never ends either. Today we have an opportunity to understand better our spiritual enemies, to utilize the equipment the Lord has given us to win the war and to utter the battle cry God has given to support us in our battles. Therefore, let’s consider this thought:
Be Ready for War
Understand your enemy
Utilize your equipment
Utter your battle cry
Your enemy is wily. You cannot underestimate him, or he will crush you. He is not “flesh and blood.” How easy it would be if your enemy was human so that you could conquer him and get him out of the way and finally have peace. But our enemy is described as “the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” The master deceiver has perched himself in the air to look for opportunities to attack and destroy us. Those attacks most often are conceived and carried out from our own sinful mind. The devil works on us to cause us to think and do things that lead us into all kinds of sin that eats away at us like a cancer cell worming its way through our system to kill and destroy our souls.
If you stand before him wearing nothing but your Prince of Peace polo shirt, he’ll eat you alive. You cannot win the victory over him by your church membership. Don’t you see how he builds grudges in your heart that lead to hatred and anger and jealousy? Then those sins begin showing through our lying lips and our filthy hands. You are no match for the devil’s schemes.
Your strength is the Lord. His power and his strength are more than enough to equip you to stand your ground against the devil. St. Paul wrote, “…the gospel is the power of God for salvation” and “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” God already proved himself the victor over your enemy when he confronted him in the wilderness, and then again in his suffering and death. He declared the battle done when he cried, “it is finished” from the cross. He proved himself the victor by rising from the dead Easter morning! You are strong when the Lord is your strength.
Too many people stand in their civvies before the devil and he crushes them before they know what hit them. Too many people do not take sin seriously. They are easy prey to the devil’s schemes. So, look in the mirror and see how helpless you are to fight against the fiercest enemy in the world. Now, let’s get dressed for war!
“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.” The evil day comes when a crisis enters your life. For Job it was the day he lost his wealth, his family and even his own health. For David it was the day he saw Bathsheba bathing. For Peter it was the courtyard of the high priest’s home. We all have our day of evil. That day of evil is a fight to the finish. It is hard work to resist sin and to cling to Christ amidst all the sorrow we feel. If you are ready for war, you will go into battle with Christ. At the end of the day you will be standing your ground against the devil because you understand that the one fighting for us is stronger than our enemy. Our ally is Jesus Christ. Satan is doomed!
Be ready for war by utilizing the equipment Jesus Christ has given you. If you look at your bulletin cover, you can dress yourself as does that Roman soldier. While St. Paul wrote these words he may have been chained to a soldier who looked very much like that picture. The first equipment you will put on is the belt of truth that protects your midsection and your vital organs. Jesus once said, “If you hold to my teachings then are you my disciples indeed. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” God’s Word is truth. With the Word of God in its truth and purity safely wrapped around you, you have the first essential equipment for doing battle against sin.
But there is more to wear. The next article to put on is the breastplate of righteousness. It is your bullet proof vest. This is not your own righteousness. It is the righteousness of Christ that was wrapped around you already at your baptism. The righteous life of Christ has been placed around your heart and chest to protect you from any shots Satan might take at you.
But there is more. You must put on your shoes “with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” With your shoes on you are ready for battle. You possess the peace that Jesus came to give the world. You have the peace that surpasses all understanding. You have the forgiveness of sins for Jesus. You can stand confidently before the devil because you are at peace with your Father in heaven.
But there’s more – the shield of faith! The devil wants to kill you. His flaming arrows are aimed at your heart so that you might burn from the inside out. The faith that the Holy Spirit has planted in your heart through the Word of Christ will keep you safe. Do not lay that shield down or take it for granted or leave it at home!
There’s more to wear – the helmet of salvation. The helmet surrounds your head. Salvation surrounds you so that even while the soldier must peek his head over the shield to see the enemy, your helmet will save you. God has already rescued you from him.
Now you must understand your one offensive weapon. It is your sword. It is called the sword of the Spirit. With the sword of the spirit you can rightly divide the word of truth. You can identify your allies from your enemies. You can cut down everything that opposes the truth of God’s Word and defend everything that supports the gospel message. Now you are ready to utilize your equipment in battle.
Be ready for war by uttering your battle cry. St. Paul wrote, “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.” At the critical times of our lives we need not to look to ourselves, we need to look to the Lord for help. There are many different kinds of prayers to offer to the Lord to fit every circumstance on the battlefield. To “pray in the Spirit” is to pray trusting that the Holy Spirit who lives in you through faith will cause your prayer to be heard and answered by your Father in heaven for Jesus’ sake. Be confident that your battle cry is heard and answered by God!
Utter your battle cry for others too. They are your comrades at war against sin with you. We need to pray for one another. We do that in the Lord’s Prayer, but we can get even more personal than that. Remember to pray for each other.
“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, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” St. Paul needed the prayers of all believers while a prisoner and as he anticipated going to trial. I need your prayers to carry on this ministry. Notice what Paul asks the church to pray regarding himself – “to fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.” The temptation is real to get wrapped up in self-pity and forget the reason we are in the world. The reason we are here is to share the great good news of Jesus Christ without whom no one can live.
Prayer is your battle cry. Use it always. It is also your victory cry. For you are a member of a mighty army that no one can conquer. You are dressed in the armor of God. You cannot lose. You are daily at war against the evil that comes into your life. Understand your enemy. Utilize your equipment. Utter your battle cry. Face sin with the confidence of faith. For the battle is won before it is fought because Jesus Christ has won every battle and the war as well for all of us!