A soldier ill equipped is far less effective as one with the proper armament and attire. The Christian Soldier wars against the most powerful, most knowledgeable and most experienced foe ever to occupy a battlefield. Constant are his attacks upon the community of Christ (the church,) in each geographical location as well as pursuing each soldier individually are tactics employed and proven successful by the Evil One. Presently we shall continue to learn about the armor God has provided for His soldiers as found in Ephesians chapter six.
Verse 16. “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewithal ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
“The shield of faith” was not actually attached to the soldier, yet remained an important part of his equipment. It was used to avoid being hacked by a sword or being pierced through with arrows. Soldiers could join together and literally make a wall or shields in the face of their enemies protecting entire squads from flying missals and darts. A very important feature of the shield was that it could be turned to protect various points of attack without actually requiring the soldier to move his body. The Christian is to take “the shield of faith above all.” Faith is important in performing God’s will. There is a double consideration attached to the faith, which is our shield. First, it refers to the will of God—the faith of Christ—the Gospel that bears the Savior’s name. Secondly, it requires the Christian to believe what God says and use it as his only shield. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and he is the rewarder of them hat diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6). Every soldier must be trained (have it placed in his mind), that apart from God’s word there is no way of pleasing Him. Our opinions may be pleasurable to us, may at times bring us comfort, but they are of no value to the Christian soldier. Rather than being a help our opinions or the opinions of another can greatly hinder us in battle. There are congregations and individual soldiers that have been ineffective in various ways because they followed opinions rather than “the faith” of the Lord. To increase our faith we must look to God’s word, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17). Knowing what God wants, we must carry on accordingly, as soldiers we are to “walk by faith, not by sight.” (II Cor. 5:7). If the soldier does not express himself properly by putting faith in action the faith dwindles and dies. Nothing dead is beneficial to a soldier. Please read James 2:14-16 to get the total picture.
Quenching fiery darts has reference to the passion within ourselves. The inflammatory temptations that seeks to arouse the inner fires of anger and lust and malignant hate with which Satan hurls his slander and threats at us. We have witnessed some in our time who have weakened in faith allowing their heart to be pierced with these flaming arrows as presented in Heb. 12:2. ”Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Our faith can be turned in any direction to protect us. We may not always be aware of all the “in’s and out’s” of every false way, but we do know what is right and our faith will bring us through any conflict the Devil may bring our way. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common with man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Cor. 10:13).
Verse 17. “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” As anyone would assume the helmet was (is) for protection of the soldier’s head. The helmet of the Roman soldier was made of metal or leather and adorned with other pieces of leather. It more often than not had a crest upon it so that blows inflicted would glance off. The helmet of Christians is salvation—Salvation itself. The Christian having been saved from sin is forgiven or justified. Such knowledge is above the price of rubies. Knowing we are saved during trials and disappointments keeps us going and glowing with and for Christ. “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” (I Thes. 5:8). We are so comforted with inspirations’ promise that we wear it with dignity. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (I Jn. 3:1-2).
Our offensive weapon is “the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.” The word of God is our only offensive weapon. It is the sword, which the Spirit has placed in our hand to use—the Spirit does NOT wield the sword—we must wield it and if we fail to wield the sword it will not be used. The Spirit does not perform a direct operation upon the heart of the servants of Satan in order to conqueror and bring them into the Lord’s army. To contend as some do, “the Holy Spirit must wield the sword” would mean that the word of God is insufficient to accomplish the purpose God has said that it would. When Jesus told Peter (as a representative of all disciples), put up again thy sword into its place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword,” (Mt. 26:52), He meant that any kingdom that is established and maintained by the sword is subject to perishing in the same way. The Kingdom of Christ is a spiritual Kingdom and was not established by military might and is not maintained with carnal weapons (II Cor. 10:3-6). The so-called “Christian Crusades” of the past were anything but Christian and attempted to do the very thing Jesus said was not to be done. Nations today that lay claim to be fighting carnal wars for God miss the boat—it cannot be done. As the smyth forged instruments and weapons for the soldiers to use, just so has the Holy Spirit by inspiration forged in the Apostles of Christ the sword for us to use. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12). Furthermore, Timothy was told, “the things thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou unto faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (II Tim. 2:2). That is how the Holy Spirit works today. God does not in some mysterious or miraculous way put our armor upon us, nor is the sword used by God, we must use it and when we do it is used in spiritual warfare as we “fight the good fight of faith” (I Tim. 6:12). There has never been a weapon as powerful as the sword of the Spirit—the word of God. If this weapon does not convince and turn the sinner, nothing else will or can. The word of God in the book, on the shelf, or even in the mind of Christians will not save the world. It must be preached and lived before the world to be effective.
Verse 18. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” The objector might complain that “prayer” is not a part of the soldier’s implements of warfare. Prayer may not be seen, prayer may not be used by unbelievers, yet, prayer is a most effective tool—the most effective tool of the Christian soldier. While the soldier is responsible for putting on his bodily armor his mind must also be set and what better way to do that than through prayer? Prayer is enjoined upon the Christian at all times and under all circumstances. “Pray without ceasing,” and “continuing instant in prayer” is the admonition of the Apostle (I Thes. 5:17, Rom. 12:12). When the Christian soldier is doing his best to stand and wield the sword to conqueror he is ever praying. Some particulars of prayer are given.
- Praying always with all prayer refers to the manner of revering, glorifying and especially relying upon God. It is praise to Him for the goodness He has shown and thanks given to Him for the provisions He has made for His people. (See Mt. 6:31-34).
- With supplication are the requests made to God for particular people. The Christian prays for himself and for his comrades on the battlefield. But, unlike the heathen he also prays for those in opposition to him. “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. (MT. 5:44, also I Tim. 2:1-3).
- Praying is in the Spirit. Our prayers are filled with those things that enhance and benefit the spirit or inner man as we are directed by the Holy Spirit. This is evidence that we are never without concern for the lost. The flesh would return evil for evil; the Christian does the exact opposite.
- Watching. Soldiers of Christ are to realize that we do not fight a single battle and the war is over—the battle is continuous therefore the watching is constant. We watch not for ourselves alone but for the entire army of the Lord as destruction can arrive at any moment. The Apostle proceeds to name two things respecting our watching.
(A). The watching is to be done with all perseverance. This term is made up of two words. The first being “to continue” and the second is “sever.” Putting them together we are to understand that there are times when things are severed. When this occurs we are to continue or hold on realizing there is never a time when we can give up. Christianity is not always a bed of roses when we can partake of the horn of plenty. Difficulties are often about the Christian as we face the Devil, as was true of our Master. Evil men will confront us. There will be circumstances that are so difficult for us to deal with and times when we just do not know what is best to do. All this does not take into consideration our own inadequacies, failures and short comings. Steadfastness is the key to victory in any endeavor, which one might undertake—Christianity is no exception. To be saved at last and dwell with the Lord depends on our victory. “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10). As a soldier we can expect to die battling for the Lord.
(B). Supplication for all saints mentions for the second time “supplication” with a little more emphasis on “all saints.” I am not sure that I know the reason for this unless it has to do with those who have fought the good fight and have been injured or perhaps have died in the heat of battle. It surely has to do with asking God to grant each Christian the things that we stand in need of. “Saints” is a term that stands for and includes every Christians. “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 1:7). There is nothing that inspires a child of God like knowing that other Christians are praying for him. This is one manner that we can use to strengthen and encourage one another. It would do us all well to mention the name of fellow Christians in prayer.
This brings to a close this short series. I hope that the one requesting that I take a look at the Armor of God is satisfied with the effort and that the rest of you have learned something helpful. More importantly I hope you will use these things to arm yourself against the Devil and the foes of our Lord and His Cause in the world. Shall we all arm ourselves and conqueror the hearts of men and women for Christ? God Bless you all.
Barney Owens 1701
Some Things We Cannot Do
We cannot put toothpaste back into the tube
We cannot sell the cow and sup the milk
We cannot shut a door and leave it open
We cannot have it both ways
We cannot dream of the person we’d like to be; without wasting the person we are