>> Saturday, April 16, 2011
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
I've been reading Ephesians this week and was mulling over the "Armor of God" passage yesterday and today, and it's occurred to me that all of the armor of God is defensive except for one piece--the sword of the Spirit--which is a weapon. The Word of God is our one weapon. It is the only thing we are given to fight back against Satan.
Then I had an image of a person with all of the Armor of God except the sword of the Spirit, and it was a little comical! Imagine some stalwart soldier decked out in battle raiment with no weapon, sprinting and ducking hither and thither on the battlefield, or scrunched up behind a rock to hide because he cannot fight. Not only that, but he cannot even come to the aid of his comrades when they are in need. And when they see him in that state, how can they be anything but disheartened by his inability to help?
Or worse yet, picture this same soldier with the sword...on the ground. Or hanging limply in his hand. Lame! And yet how many of us, myself included, so often find ourselves without our only means to charge through and make progress in the battles within our hearts and in the lives of our brothers and sisters, simply because we won't take the Word of God purposefully into our hands? It's much easier to pick up a self-help book, or the TV remote, or the mouse, and put off the battle or go about the battle our own way, because there are so many other desirable things to do than pick up that heavy, inconvenient, time-consuming sword that will never fail to reflect back to us within the gleaming expanse between its razor-sharp edges, the all-too-often-less-desirable condition of our hearts.
The good news is that God is faithful even when we are not. We may have our times of fruitless scurrying on the battlefield, but the same Spirit from which we draw our sword will not abandon us to ourselves, as I am living proof. When God calls us into his family, he calls us into war. He has given us everything we need to fight, and fight well.
Blessings and comfort be on the families and friends of Chris Gordon and Betty Champaign, who this week completed their battles here on earth. We will miss their fighting by our side, but are confident that we will join them in the victory song as God enables us to stand firm until the end.
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing."
--2 Timothy 4:7-8
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
What the saints believèd, that I believe too.
Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.