Ephesians 6: 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Once a year we would take the trip with our son to the ice hockey equipment store. Pro Hockey Life was a bit of heaven on earth for our son and many other boys and girls who were looking to get fitted for their new season. People outside of Canada would probably question how you could have a store dedicated to hockey gear, but hockey is part of our national fabric, enough to warrant 16 mega stores across Canada. Each year we’d help keep the company in business spending a great deal of money on reinforced skates, shin pads, hockey socks, hockey pants, a jock, elbow pads, shoulder pads, a neck protector, jerseys, a mouth guard and a helmet. As much as it would have been nice to try to save some money by skipping one or more those pieces of protective equipment, it would have put our son at risk. A slap shot, with a heavy puck, hitting an unprotected area would, at a minimum, be very painful, but potentially much worse.
And it’s not confined to hockey. Football, soccer, baseball, and many other sports have their own required protective gear. Like a soldier getting ready for battle, millions of kids and adults put on their armor to get ready for the battle of their sport. The key is putting the equipment on before you play, before you are hit, not after. Putting your shin pads on after you take a cleat to the shin really won’t be of much help.
Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus encouraging them to put on the “full armor of God” – in advance! “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.” (Ephesians 6:13). We need to have our full armor on in advance of “the day of evil”.
Paul goes into detail of what the armor looks like. He speaks of the “belt of truth” (vs. 14a); we need to speak the truth in love. He identifies the “breastplate of righteousness” (vs. 14b); the Greek word here is díkē which implies justice and conformance to God’s standards. Paul says our feet need to be “fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (vs. 15); when we rely on the gospel (the good news that we are reconciled to God through Christ’s death) we have a “peace that surpasses understanding” (Philippians 4:7), even in the midst of chaos and calamity. We are encouraged further to “take up the shield of faith” (vs. 16a); when we have faith in God we are told that we can extinguish the “flaming arrows of the evil one”. Paul encourages us to wear the “helmet of salvation” (vs. 17a); while we can go on living with much of our body maimed or missing, our head is vital and must be protected. Understanding cerebrally that we are saved, and nothing and no one can remove that, can allow us to withstand any assault. Finally, we are told to take up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (vs. 17b). We know that: “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).
There was a time when the Christian church was obsessed with evil and blamed anything negative on Satan. They developed ridiculous rituals to ward off evil spirits and curses. While this approach was absurd, I believe it is equally absurd to underestimate Satan’s power and his ability to derail our lives today. Like wise soldiers, we need to be prepared in advance, wearing the Full Armor of God. However, it is our choice alone, whether we want to wear it, or go into battle unprotected. Choose the former!