You may think that you are at war with your boss, or your sibling, or your neighbor, or even a political party. But you really aren’t. Instead, you are grappling, at least in part, with cosmic powers that you can’t see, feel, hear, taste or smell. You have only the ability to sense the destructive aftermath of their carnage. And even then, it takes a very wisened eye to understand the origin of the mayhem. Paul makes it clear that our enemy is not people. Rather, we are engaged in a pitched battle with supernatural forces bent on our destruction, as well as their dominance over the creation that God intended for us to subdue and rule (Ephesians 6:12, Genesis 1:28).
This is a battle that you absolutely cannot fight with your own powers and resources. This is why Paul commands us to be strong in God’s power, and not our own (Ephesians 6:10). You simply are no match for spiritual beings who are able to see and control more than you. Unless, that is, you use the armor and weapons that God has given you for that warfare (Ephesians 6:13-17). You’ll note that Paul provides us with knowledge of several specific pieces of spiritual armor, and all of them are rooted in faith, and truth. First, he tells us to gird ourselves with the belt of truth. What he means by this is that every piece of armor that we have should be held fast to all of our other equipment by an understanding of what is true. Each time you pick up each piece of armor, remind yourself of those things that are true and good, and know that your relationship to the truth keeps you free (Philippians 4:8, John 8:31-32). When you are in a battle, knowing the truth helps you to stand your ground! When you lose the certainty of truth, you lose the ability to stand firm, and are open to deception. If you fail to prioritize truth, you may even forget how to properly use your weapons and armor. Next, Paul teaches us to keep secure our breastplate of righteousness. In other words, guard your heart. Guard the center of your being. Know the truth that Christ is the center of your being, and firmly protect that truth. Live a life that honors that truth, and so keep yourself in right standing with God. Strive to walk, think, behave, and live in the righteous example of Jesus. Paul goes on to argue that your feet should be protected with an eagerness to spread the gospel of peace. Reconcile men to God, and you have less to fight. If you are always moving and spreading the good news, then both you and the people you love reap a dividend of peace. No defensive armor is complete without a shield. Paul describes this as faith. Put your trust in God to protect you, and all of the arrows that the enemy sends to quash your mission will be extinguished. You might get an arrow that says you are a loser. You can shield yourself from that by trusting that God has made you a winner over your sins and flaws. Paul tells us to protect our mind with the helmet of salvation. He is urging us to keep our thoughts captive to Christ and his rescue of our identity. In this way we can remain focused for the battle by reinforcing who we really are.
Finally, Paul gives us our only defensive weapon – the sword of the word of God. Know the bible well enough so that whenever a principality or power tries to cut you with a lie, you can strike him back with God’s truth.