When I entered the word 'stress' into a search engine online, it immediately found 1,050,000,000 items. The stress level of nearly every individual is over the top. Even children feel it from peer pressure, dysfunctional families, normal childish fears and parental expectations. Adults try to juggle all their daily responsibilities while under a dark cloud of uncertainly. Our world is increasingly dangerous and threatening. We all face overwhelming difficulties that have a new face, but are very old problems. With earthquakes, devastating storms, economic nightmares, pestilence and social unrest, most people live with a certain amount of stress. We all need to be reminded of a Source of strength we too often neglect in the rush of living and the threat of destruction. We can be infused with that strength from Jesus Christ when we get to know Him intimately.
I strongly believe we are living in the “perilous times” we were warned about in 2 Timothy 3:1. The Amplified Bible translates it like this: “But understand this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear].”
The conditions we face in our world today were unthinkable just a few months ago. So many of the things we took for granted disappeared before our eyes, and here we are in a very different world. As we navigate our way through this new world of confusion, uncertainty and danger, we need to realize the spiritual side of what is happening.
This earth is a battleground between good and evil. Oh, yes, there are mortal players in the battles, but they are not the real sources of good or evil. If you want to win, you need to understand that. If you fight on a physical level, you will wear yourself out and lose. If you want to be successful in battle, you also have to understand the enemy. The enemy of God and His children is Satan. And the enemy of Satan is God. So the battles we see with our eyes, the people acting out their allegiance to God or Satan, are just the tip of the iceberg. The real deciding factors are in the spiritual realm.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.” (Ephesians 6:11 AMPLIFIED)
These ‘world forces’ are evil spirits (demons) with varying degrees of power and varying territories. Because we are no match for them in the flesh, we need the power of the Holy Spirit in us to combat them. We need the armor of God and we need to know how to use it. Christians desperately need to be trained for combat, endurance, and knowing our Commander’s voice and following Him without regard to personal cost because we trust Him. If we are not prepared, we will fail in the heat of battle.
If I was placed in physical hand-to-hand combat today, I would have no idea what to do. I would not know how to put on the gear for protection. I would not know enemy fire from friendly fire. I would not know the territory or even how to use the weapons. It would be suicide to go out to battle unprepared. Whether we like it or not, we are part of a battle. Yet, many Christians, for whatever reasons, are unprepared for the spiritual battle that is getting more intense than ever. They have read about the armor of God, but have no idea how to put it on. They have not learned to tell the voice of God from the voice of the enemy. They do not understand the spiritual realm or how to use God’s Word. They need to be taught before they find themselves in hand-to-hand combat. The brutality of combat can bring us down physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually if we are not prepared.
Let’s wake up and learn how to counter attack and win spiritual battles. Some battles we find ourselves facing may be on a personal level, some for a church or a city, a state or even our nation. We can make a difference. We may think our prayers cannot make a difference in a nation. We may think that is too big of a thing to take on. But it is not too big for God and that is Who we are trusting to answer our prayers. We can pray and get results when we pray in the Spirit. Here is how we can win battles.
“Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil… Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].” (Ephesians 6:11, 13 AMPLIFIED, emphasis mine)
You may say, “I have heard that Scripture all of my life”. But have you put it into action? We are in a day when we can be defeated by the enemy because we are not consistently wearing our armor. Or because we are so fearful that we are hiding. Or because we are ignorant of the enemy’s strategies. We don’t have to lose this war! Jesus wins and we can be on His side.
When persecution began for the new Christians, they banded together and prayed to God. What did they pray for? They understood what they really needed, so this is how they prayed.
“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:29-31 NKJV) Did they protest and strike out against those who were treating them unfairly? Did they set up a plan to bring down the powers that be? Did they run and hide? No! They prayed for boldness to keep doing what Jesus had told them to do. They prayed for power, signs and wonders so they could be a light to a dark world…just like Jesus.
It is important for us to understand how to put on the armor that God supplies and how to use it. We are called to stand our ground in Christ, on His foundation, and deflect the arrows that the enemy shoots at us, regardless of the level of our battle. So, let’s look at Ephesians 6:14-19 from the Amplified Bible.
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth…” Notice our call is not to start a fight with these evil forces and invade their territory. We are called to stand. Jesus simply stood strong in the truth and proclaimed it whether or not it made the people or the devil mad. Usually, it did make them very mad. Jesus said, “I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Jesus IS Truth, so everything that comes from Him is true. His words have no deceit in them. His actions are without hypocrisy. All because they come from Truth. If we are going to have Truth as the belt that holds all the pieces of armor together, we have to know Jesus personally and be fully surrendered to His Spirit Who lives inside every true believer. He is the Spirit of Truth and will reveal things to us. He will show us on a spiritual level the truth of our circumstances, even when it seems that confusion and deception are reigning there. Sometimes it may even seem the enemy makes a valid point, but if we know the truth (what God has said), we will see the lies and deceit behind it. Don’t try to make a bargain with the enemy. Psalm 51:6 tells us what God wants and what He will do when we seek Him. “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part [of my heart] You will make me know wisdom.” (Psalm 51:6 AMPLIFIED)
“put on the breastplate of righteousness.” If we are living in a way that is not pleasing to God, we have no ground to stand on. If we are not on His foundation, we are in the devil’s territory. You cannot be righteous and ungodly at the same time. If you are ungodly, you are not like God in character, thoughts, actions or anything else. Those who are righteous are walking in obedience to the Word of God and the Spirit of God. They have His light and are displaying the light of Jesus. Knowing Who Jesus is and what He said is not enough. The devils believe and even tremble. But they are still evil and not like God in any way. We need to allow the Spirit of God to alter our lives to walk in context with Jesus’ teachings. A righteous person is in right standing with God by the blood of Jesus and their faith and trust in Him. “Blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired) are those who wash their robes [in the blood of Christ by believing and trusting in Him—the righteous who do His commandments], so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14 Amplified)
“and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Romans 10:15 says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” Jesus told us to go and preach the gospel to others. To share the gospel message that we have. Are we doing it? Souls are dying without Christ. What are we doing about it? “The fruit of the [consistently] righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise captures and wins souls [for God—he gathers them for eternity].” (Proverbs 11:30 Amplified)
“above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” This piece of armor is of great importance. Without trusting in Jesus, we cannot make it through the war. If we are just naming His name because we don’t want to go to hell, but are not truly trusting in Him for our very lives, we will fail in the battle. If we don’t trust Him, we will not follow His commands, seek to be like Him, tell others about Him or stand firm in the battle. Satan throws darts fast and forcefully. He sends sudden temptations our way that we were not expecting. If we are not fully trusting in Jesus, we will not be able to act quickly enough to deflect the darts. We need to learn to trust Him and follow His commands even when we don’t understand. It is imperative that we can differentiate between the voice of our Commander and the voice of the enemy. For every lie the devil tells, for every wound he inflicts, every threat he makes, faith in Jesus Christ will extinguish and overcome them all.
“And take the helmet of salvation…” a helmet covers the head. It covers the mind with which we can reason and make decisions. The Apostle Paul said, “the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving to prevent them from seeing the illuminating light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Satan would also like to turn us (believers) away from our salvation which is our deliverance from sin and the penalties of sin. If we turn aside from salvation, we no longer have the rights of being children of God. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “But I am afraid that, even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, your minds may be corrupted and led away from the simplicity of [your sincere and] pure devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3 AMPLIFIED) And in Romans 15:5-6 he writes, “Now may the God who gives endurance and who supplies encouragement grant that you be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify and praise and honor the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” If we want to all be of the same mind, we need to all have the mind of Christ. Guard what you think. Don’t let just anything take lodging in your mind. Keep your helmet on securely. Protect it carefully. Make sure your mind is set apart for Jesus and not open for enemy fire.
“and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” The Word of God is a must for every believer. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV) As we read the Word of God, we will be enlightened to anything that is amiss in our hearts. We can clearly see where there is a problem within that is causing problems without. And we have the answer on how to change the problem within right there in the Word. Psalm 119:11 gives us further instructions on how to keep sin out of our hearts. “Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” (AMPLIFIED) Jesus is the Word, the expression of God. If we want to be able to stand in the battle, we must know what Jesus taught and follow it. The devil gets an advantage when he can feed us an untruth and we don’t know the difference between truth and error. Saturate your heart and mind with the Word of God. Lay aside whatever you have to, but know what God says, then you will recognize a lie when you hear it. You cannot be successful if you can be trapped by a lie. Deception has led many into the trap of the enemy. The Word of God is powerful enough to bring us out, but it is better to know the Word and not be trapped at all.
“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Prayer is a powerful tool. It is our connection with the Almighty God Himself. As children of God we can go boldly to His throne to make our petitions. If we want to receive answers to our prayers, we need to make sure we are living steadfastly in Jesus. Jesus said, “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7 AMPLIFIED) We can also pray in the Spirit. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26 NKJV) Allow the Holy Spirit to pray on your behalf. He will pray in accordance to God’s will and you will see results.
Our armor works best when we wear all of it. God has provided it for us and tells us how to use it in the battle between good and evil. If we don’t put on this armor, we will find ourselves defeated by the enemy.
PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD!