“I wonder if he remembered to put on the armour of God when he woke up that morning.” Yes, someone actually said this to my elder brother shortly after we lost our brother through a car collision that was no fault of his own.
You might wonder if an immature Christian made this superstitious comment. Unfortunately no. This accusatory speculation came from someone who had been in ministry for years. I’ve heard this sort of statement from other believers upon hearing about sudden accidents and catastrophes that have fallen upon other believers. In my early years as a Christian, I thoughtlessly spewed out a few unbiblical statements more than once when I didn’t know what to say. The older I get, the more I realize sympathetic silence is more golden than pithy platitudes.
So, let’s get back to the Armour of God. Let’s read Paul’s brilliant passage, and then I will add some thoughts of my own.
Ephesians 6:10-18 -“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”
PUTTING ON THE FULL ARMOUR OF GOD INVOLVES MUCH MORE THAN JUST RECITING A BIBLE VERSE
1. Exactly where does it say in the above passage that we are to take OFF the full armour of God? Are we supposed to remove it before bed, slip into our spiritual pyjamas, and then put the armour on again upon rising? If the armour’s purpose is to protect us, wouldn’t we need that protection during night hours when we are the most vulnerable? I believe the armour of God fits us so well and it is so comfortable that there is no need ever to remove it. It should be like our second skin and not like car keye grabbed on the way out the door! Each element of the armour – truth, righteousness, readiness to share the gospel of peace, salvation, and the word of God – are actual tools the Lord gives us.
2. I believe that Paul never intended his analogy to be used as a protective formula. No! Paul knew his audience would understand his point – as Roman soldiers in full military gear walked among them in the marketplaces. But, unlike the weapons Roman soldiers arrogantly displayed, the weapons of Christ’s followers came from a heavenly source. He implored his readers to remain diligent. Paul urged the Ephesians to remain steady in the faith by knowing and proclaiming the truth. The old saint knew that if his readers created a safe environment by living righteously, they would extend true peace to neighbours, family, friends and yes, even their enemies. By honing their ability to apply God’s word in direct opposition to the lies of the enemy, they would learn to battle well.
If we turn Ephesians 6 into a superstitious talisman that we repeat daily, we are in danger of reducing this truth to nothing more than a childish chant akin to ‘Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.’
3. Bad things happen to good people on occasion. We live in a fallen world. We must stop trying to fit everything into a tidy box labelled ‘Pat Answers.’ We must remain humble and admit when we don’t know why such tragedies happen. We don’t need to throw someone under the but to defend God’s character. In my brother’s case, a driver made deliberate choices, including running a red light, resulting in a horrific crash that killed my brother instantly. His cause of death was not his lax of reciting a bible passage.
4. God isn’t cruel. Our Heavenly Father knows our frailties. He knows we can’t remain on alert around the clock. God doesn’t look down from on high and say, “Oops! Johnny didn’t put on that full armour, so I guess he’s on His own today. Maybe he’ll learn his lesson this time.”
I would encourage you this week to meditate on Ephesians 6:10-18 and find ways to utilize the tools Paul mentions to make a positive difference in the lives of those around you.
Until Next Week
©2023 Katherine Walden