Thursday, April 7, 2011

Contending as One Man

Whether or not you realize it, we're at war. No matter how tranquil things may seem in the environment you can see, there's a very real battle going on in the unseen realm.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, our enemy is Satan and his evil hordes. The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Eph 6:12)

Armor of Light
He went on to describe to the Ephesians the protection that God has provided for us from these evil forces. It's called the armor of God. It's not made of steel or any other material substance. Rather it's spiritual armor. In His letter to the Romans, Paul calls it the "armor of light." (Rom 13:12).

I recall when kevlar body armor was still fairly new in the 1980's. When I was serving in the US Army infantry, we exchanged the old, steel pot helmets and Vietnam-era flack jackets for the new, kevlar helmets and vests. It was state-of-the-art technology designed to protect the body from projectiles like bullets and lead fragments. It was highly regarded in its ability to save lives from otherwise fatal wounds in combat. But what God has provided His people with is far more effective than kevlar. If you know anything about light, you know it travels at 186,000 miles per second, or 700 million miles an hour. So the armor of light is about as "high-speed" as it gets.

Every piece of armor is designed to ensure our safety by God, who is Light, and who cares about us more than anyone else in the Universe. He has provided the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, the shield of faith, and the gospel of peace. Every one of these is summed up in Jesus Christ. He is the Truth, He is our Righteousness, and He is the Living Word. The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ, how He died for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead, so that we might live. He is our Peace, and our faith is in Him alone.

Shield of Faith
I'd like to focus for a moment on the shield of faith. The shield that a Roman soldier carried in the days of the apostle Paul was four feet high and two feet wide. It provided excellent individual protection from projectiles like arrows raining down from a city wall or from sword and spear thrusts from the enemy. But when soldiers overlapped their shields together, it formed a much larger wall of protection. In order to do this, they had to come together in close formation, standing shoulder-to-shoulder. This is known as the Roman phalanx. In this manner, the many stood as one man and formed a unit. This allowed them to contend together against their common enemy, as demonstrated in this video.

In fact, they even used an attack formation, called the testudo, in which the the soldiers behind the front line held their shields overhead (pictured above and left). This formed a complete canopy over the unit, protecting them from projectiles coming in from above, as demonstrated in this video. It was like a turtle shell. Or in another sense, it was an early prototype of the modern, armored tank.

This is a great illustration of how the Body of Christ should function. We need to come together and fight as one man, shoulder to shoulder. As Paul said to the Philippians, "Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel." (Phil 1:27).

You see how he taught us to stand in one Spirit and strive together as one man? That's just like the phalanx and the testudo. When we unite in this fashion, overlapping our shields of faith, we form a light shield above and around us. Although you can't see it, the protection it offers is better than any battle armor known to man.

Putting it All Together
In the evil days we live in, we as disciples of Christ are under attack. Our enemy is dead serious, and he wants to take us out. Let's not forget who the real enemy is. It's not your husband or your wife. It's not your pastor or your neighbor. It's not your parents or your children. It's the devil and his forces of darkness.

To stand in this battle, we need to be clothed in the armor of light that God has provided. Let's daily put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, the shield of faith, and the gospel of peace. Every one of these pieces of armor is summed up in Jesus Christ. Make Him central in your life, and cloth yourself in Him.

But let's not forget that there are no Lone Rangers in the kingdom of God. We need to be united as one in Spirit, standing shoulder to shoulder, as we fight the battle. By overlapping our shields of faith, we will provide full coverage for one another. Then the Lord Jesus will be glorified and will make us victorious, delivering us from every evil attack.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Home page for this blog, and you can also find my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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