By Asst Ps Patrick Chan Yin
I personally did not go or was trained for National Service, but I understand before each assignment, soldiers are tasked to thoroughly check their equipment. Each item they have is chosen for a specific reason – to protect themselves, fight the enemy, win the battle, survive, and return safely. Every aspect of their equipment should be of best quality and must be in perfect working condition. They know they cannot go into battle safely or effectively if they are missing something important or carrying extra baggage. Everything they take with them is designed to facilitate and anticipate their every need. By the time they are on a mission they are more than ready.
As Christians, we are similarly called to be ‘prayer warriors’ for God and we must do the same. God does not want us to carry anything that is unnecessary because it will weigh us down and hinder what He has called us to do. And we must not go into battle without the things we need to win. Our battle is spiritual, and what we accomplish in the spirit realm is as important as what the highly trained, prepared, and equipped soldier does in the physical realm. We must know our weapons and be skilled in using them. But first, we must put on the armor God has given us to stand firm against the enemy.
The apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesian church, “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” (Ephesians 6:10-11). He did not say, “If you are smart you might take up the full armor.” or “If you feel like it and have the time, take up the armor.” or, “Try to take up the armor at least once or twice a year.” No, Paul emphasized again in v. 13, “Put on the full armor of God.” He is not suggesting, he is commanding.
To “stand against” literally means here to stand in front of and in opposition to the forces and plans of evil. It means to be the one standing after the battle. It also means to stand in preparation for the next battle. Standing against the schemes of the devil certainly does not mean we should not be doing nothing. If we are to do nothing until Jesus comes again, why do we need to wrestle against the enemy? Paul goes on to explain, “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” (v. 12). The reason we must put on the full armor of God is to withstand evil. We, ultimately, do not go for battle against mere people, but against a spiritual hierarchy of invisible power.
The forces of evil are invisible powers with a structure and specific levels of authority. We are not only to use our armor to protect and defend ourselves from them (as important as that is) but also to go on the offensive against them as well. When we do that, we close doors to the enemy and open doors to the will of God to be done on earth. We advance God’s kingdom.
Every soldier knows exactly when the time is right to put on his protective battle gear. ‘Prayer warriors’ need to put on the armor of God every day because the war is always going on. New battles continually need to be fought so that evil will be driven back, the kingdom of God advanced, and the will of God be done. Our spiritual armor not only protects us from the enemy, it also gives us what we need in order to push against him.
To put on the armor of God, we must thus identify what the armor is. Paul talked about how to identify and battle the forces of evil using the Roman soldiers as his model. They were by far the most powerful army of that time, and he relates each piece of the armor they had with what God has given us in the spiritual realm. The following is what he said:
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and having your feet fitted with the readiness that come 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.
and take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
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 Lord’s people.
This is not so hard, we should not be complaining, “This sounds like too much work for me!” You can do this! We can do all this because we stand strong in God’s mighty power and strength, not our own (v. 10). That takes the pressure off of us trying to do it all by ourselves. We just have to show up, stand firm and pray.
Some people think that because Jesus accomplished everything on the cross, we do not have to do anything at all. But if that is true, why did Jesus teach us to pray, “Deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13)? Why did Paul tell to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? Yes, the victory over evil was accomplished on the cross, but the enemy is still here and well active. He is a defeated enemy, but he is still waging war against God’s people and in this present world. We do not want him to win any battles on our watch, especially when we can be part of the force that God has called to stop him. We must have the full armor of God always protecting us so we can stand successfully against the enemy’s plans for not only our life, but also the lives of others and those to come.
When you get up every day, put on your protective armor. Do not leave your day to chance. Take possession of it and surrender it to the Lord. Do not let your life get out of control and give the enemy a foothold. You need this armor to stop any onslaught of the enemy’s destructive arrows into your life and the lives of those you care about, especially now that the days are going to be more evil and wicked. O Lord, have mercy and give us your mighty strength to stand firm against the evil one!