Published August 18, 2015

Paul's Epistle
"Stand! (Part 3)"

The past two weeks in this column (part 1, part 2) I've been looking at those essential parts of the "whole armor of God" that we'll need to stand for the Lord in these troubled times, according to the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-18.

We've discussed the first three items: "truth," the "breastplate of righteousness" and your "Bible boots," "...having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel..."

After those three items, Paul starts verse 16 by saying "above all..." He's saying, in effect, "stand by, here's a key point." Paul writes, "...above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one."

Those "fiery darts" are those insults, those snide and belittling remarks, those false charges unbelievers make toward you. If your faith is strong, and you know the truth, all those things will just bounce off your "shield of faith." If your faith is stronger than your fragile ego, you will simply "consider the source" and know that these unbelievers simply don't understand (and probably don't want to understand) God's will and His ways.

Even the Psalmist, speaking to God, refers to "the shield of Your salvation" (Psalm 18:35). Our "shield of faith" is God's "shield of salvation." Which flows right into Paul's next item.

Paul tells us to take on the "helmet of salvation" (v. 17). What's a helmet for? It's to protect your head! The "helmet of salvation" is to keep you thinking right! It's to guard your thinking – to make sure that what you are thinking is in accord with God's will.

Satan's primary battlefield against Christians – individually – is in their minds. If he can plant doubts, if he can plant confusion, if he can get you thinking in ways you shouldn't think, then he's one step closer to his goals. In the garden of Eden, Satan planted doubts in Eve's mind: "Has God indeed said..." (Gen. 3:1). It's Satan's oldest and most-used trick, so, frankly, he's very experienced in its use.

You need the "helmet of salvation." You need to know that you are saved – without a doubt. You need to know the status you have with God as a child of His.

How do we know all this? The next part of verse 17 explains. We need to take up "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." The Word of God is the Bible. It's how we, today, know God and His will.

President Lincoln in 1864 wrote, "But for this book [the Bible] we could not know right from wrong." But recent studies of American Christians have found that less than ten percent of professing Christians have ever read the entire Bible. If we don't know this "sword," how can we effectively use it in battle?

Hebrews 4:12 tells us, "...the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit..."

Remember this: A sword won't do any good if it's kept in its scabbard. This sword of God's Word won't do any good if it's kept in the cupboard.

Did you notice that, of Paul's six items, five are defensive – we need such defense! – and only one is an offensive weapon, the "sword of the Spirit." Why only one? Because that one is all you really need. When Satan tempted Christ, Christ quoted Scripture back to him – and, of course, won the battle. (Matthew 4, Luke 4.) God's Word will stand! And God's Word makes it possible for us to stand, too!

One more thing that, while not part of Paul's list of six items of armor, is probably the most important of all. In verse 18 Paul says, "...praying always..."  Prayer! This is how we communicate with our Commander. This is how we get our "field orders." Pray for God's guidance. Pray for His wisdom in using these weapons.

And then....just stand!

Martin Luther, appearing before the Diet of Worms in 1521, would settle for none of the false teachings of his day. He is said to have declared, "Unless you can prove to me by Scripture and plain reasoning that I am wrong, I cannot and will not recant. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe... Here I stand. There is nothing else I can do."

Faced with all the nonsense we come against in a society that's increasingly hostile toward Christians, can we afford to say or do anything less?

- Paul

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