The Christian life is no longer a bondage to sin, but it is still a constant struggle against sin. Even after believing in Christ, the Christian will still face 3 enemies till our Lord returns – the world, the flesh and the enemy. Sadly today with rampant false teaching, we tend to underestimate these enemies of our souls. It will make no sense for Scripture to warn us incessantly of these dangers and the necessity to ward off such dangers if we cannot fall away.
The Christian is exhorted not to love the world, the outer foe, for loving the world is putting one at enmity with God. James 4:4. The principles of the world are power, greed, selfishness, ambition and pleasure and they appeal to 3 vulnerable spots of the old man in us – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. 1 John 2:15-17.
The lust of the flesh is sensualism. It is the obsessive craving and gratification of our senses such as gluttony or sex.
The lust of the eyes is materialism. It is the covetous desire to own what we see, though not necessarily needful.
The pride of life is egotism. It is desire to be better than others and the vain elevation and display of one’s reputation over another.
The Christian also has to contend against his own flesh, the inner foe, as well. It is our fallen human nature with the propensity to sin. We are born with this sinful nature. The deeds of the flesh are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. Gal 5:19-21.
Lastly we have to contend against the devil, the cunning enemy, who will tempt us in all possible ways to succumb to our outer and inner foes through moral failure. And his stratagems also include causing us discouragement, frustration, confusion and doctrinal error.
Scripture exhorts us to put on the WHOLE armor of God so that we can withstand the schemes of the devil. We need to be disciplined to put on ALL elements of the armor and not be complacent by doing without one or more elements of it.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints
The armor of God consists of :
- The belt of truth.
- The breastplate of righteousness.
- The shoes of the gospel of peace.
- The shield of faith.
- The helmet of salvation.
- The sword of the Spirit.
By using the imagery of armor, Scripture wants us to know we are constantly in a war, albeit a spiritual war, and we are actually soldiers fighting every day of our lives for our souls. We need the whole armor and not just one or two of the elements as we are contending against demonic forces who wield tremendous power.
The first element is the belt of truth. The belt also carries the sword which is the Word of God. We must equip ourselves with the truth in the Word of God for the enemy is the father of all lies and we should expect deceptive lies at every turn. The sword is an offensive weapon unlike all the other defensive elements of the armor. Each time, we face doubt or deception concerning truth, we must quote Scripture to repulse them.
The breastplate protects our bodies. We must put on the righteousness of Christ imputed when we believe to ward off the accusations of the enemy that we are not worthy. We must rest in the finished work of Christ without feeling depressed by the lie of the enemy that we must work for our salvation. And we have to clothe ourselves with practical righteousness in our lives through the training by the Spirit of our Lord as well, so that the devil really has nothing to shoot at.
The combat shoes have spikes to help the soldier stand firm in the fighting. We must be assured by the gospel of peace of our position in Christ that is not based on our worthiness but on the faithfulness of God. God also expect us to move in the combat shoes and go on the offensive taking the gospel into enemy territory to as many people as possible.
The shield protects the soldier from flaming arrows of doubt from the enemy. The enemy will sow doubt of the faithfulness of God and His promises when the going gets tough. Let the Lord strengthen and perfect our faith as we follow His example of patient endurance. Heb 12:1-2.
The helmet protects the head, the seat of our mind. By holding onto the plain gospel truth for salvation, our minds are protected from false gospels and false Christology. And knowing our ultimate victory of salvation is sure (Rom 8:28-35), our minds are prevented from being crushed by trials knowing no suffering can compare to the coming glory.