Artist Jason Juta / Copyright: Karwansary Publishers
SANCTIFICATION INFUSES THROUGH PRODUCTIVE FAITH, TAKES ROOT IN COMMUNITY, AND THRIVES IN UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. Conversely, sin lurks in idleness, takes root in isolation, and thrives in secrecy. In a time when more people are home from school and work than ever, and the threat of pandemic, death, and economic fallout looms large, Christians must brace themselves for the spiritual battle silently ensuing.
Do you feel like you are in a battle?
Do you know how to armor up and engage in war against Satan?
Many Christians are largely unaware of the armor and weapons of our warfare, how to put them on, and how to engage the enemy successfully. Some are naïve, seeming to be surprised to find themselves on the front lines and under fire. This is a call to awaken, to armor up, and to prepare to do battle!
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:11-14.
Some feel comfortable, safe, and apathetic. Others are naïve to the gruesome reality of the carnage around us and what is at stake—the eternal destiny of our souls. But “Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not,” said Aragorn.
We who have answered the call of Christ belong to the unshakable kingdom of light. Yet there is a kingdom of darkness that wages war night and day. It is no time to be timid or afraid, for the victory is ours in Christ. But we must repent of our sins and arm ourselves for battle.
We live in a fallen society. Sexual immorality is mainstream. Alcohol, marijuana, and other substances continue to compromise the mental capacity of people and destroy lives. Pornography, promiscuity, and provocative dress are all around us. These sins have proven to be deadly, but the Proverbs warned of the consequence of immorality long ago. The world quarrels over racial tension, politics, and injustice. Materialism breeds insatiable jealousy. We are called to cast off these works of darkness and put on the armor of light!
Many have tried to change, only to find that sin has an insidious, ensnaring nature. The battle is much longer and much more intense than we had first estimated. The Bible says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” James 4:7. It sounds so simple. So why doesn’t it seem to work? Is it a lie? Is there no escape from sin once ensnared? We may think of resisting and experiencing instant victory, but the word picture here is more like hand-to-hand combat. To resist, we must wrestle. Jesus was tempted by Satan and resisted, but Satan wrestled with him in three bouts of temptation before he left, vowing to return at another moment of perceived weakness. The promise of God is true! We have naively added to God’s promise our wish that it will be fairly easy—but God did not promise an easy victory. He did, however, promise certain victory! We have only to learn to grasp it!
The armor of light is effective within the army of light. Our children’s Bible class curriculums are flawed as many of them depict the armor of God of Ephesians 6 with one soldier and his belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of readiness of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. But that is not the whole picture, for the Roman shield of faith was not used alone. The skillful Roman soldiers would stand shoulder to shoulder, row upon row, with shields locked before, around, and above forming a nearly impenetrable battle array with which to advance against enemies above and below–even against fortified walls. From cover to cover, the might of our Warrior God fills the Holy Scripture with spectacular victory after victory over evil—and he is our Captain. Then, let us not imagine ourselves alone in the battle against all manner of evil, but brother beside brother, and sister with sister, with confidence approaching the enemy behind the Risen King and Reigning Christ.
Putting spiritual armor into action is simple and yet intensely challenging. We might easily miss this next secret, which has been in James 5:16 all along.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16
The concept is simple enough, but actually confessing our deepest struggles proves to be more than most are willing to do. Sometimes our most deadly and difficult battles, we feel we must face alone. We are afraid of shame, or of judgment by others. The church should be the safest place in the world for a struggling Christian to confess any sin. We must see to it that it becomes such a place. Confession is not required for humiliation, but rather for healing. If you have prayed alone time and again for deliverance to no avail, perhaps it is time to pray together. Perhaps we have never experienced the healing power of confession to a safe Christian we can trust, or the power of praying with brothers and sisters when tempted—but the Bible reveals this secret weapon that we must learn to utilize in order to be victorious.
The armor of light is simply spiritual disciplines: the word of God, faith, and prayer practiced authentically in community. To receive God’s power, we must engage in spiritual discipline for the sake of relationship, not merely outward ritual. We must be willing to be vulnerable with Christ and Christians who are on our side so that we may be strengthened in the face of the enemy.
There are also some things we must cast off. We must be willing to give up anything that threatens our spiritual walk. What is the source of temptation in your life? Are you willing to cut it off? Are you willing to radically change the way you live to save your soul?
One man gave up his favorite TV and raunchy sports entertainment.
A woman stopped hanging out with her friends who liked to party.
A teenager gave up the internet on his phone, immoral movies and music.
A dating couple chose to make themselves accountable to a married couple and to avoid spending time alone.
A man put accountability software on all of his technology.
What do you need to cast off so that you may put on Christ? There is a joy of being right with God, of knowing you have a home in heaven, that is worth far more than any earthly sacrifice we must make to grasp it.
The battle must be fought daily. For man, our battles will not be won all at once. Then, each day, we must choose to cut off evil, to put on the armor of light, and to advance against the enemy with confidence—not in ourselves, but in our Captain Jesus Christ, in our brothers and sisters around us, and ultimately, in the grace of God that has purchased our place in his kingdom forever.
This devotional inspired by the hymn, “The Armor of Light,” by Stephen Rouse, available at www.songsofthechurch.org.