Last week my youth group made our annual trip to a youth conference in Stone Mountain, Georgia. This is my excuse for not writing for over a week after my whole “things are going to change” post. 😉
The trip was amazing. I’ve always enjoyed the conference (this was my fourth year attending). The teachings are without fail my favorite part, and this conference was no exception. (If you’re interested in watching the teachings, go to this link and mouse over DSYC 2014 to find videos of the sessions; you’ll be blessed!).
The focus of this year’s conference was the armor of God, found in Ephesians 6:10-17.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
- (vv 10-13) Spiritual warfare. It’s called the “armor” of God for a reason! We are in the middle of an unseen but very real battle. Satan wishes to keep us in the slavery of sin, and fights fiercely for it. And if we have given our hearts to God, he makes it his goal to distract, discourage, and deceive us, among other things. The most important thing to remember is that we fight a defeated enemy. From reading the Bible, we see that Satan loses in the end. However, even though God has won the war, we must still do battle against the devil. And although he is a defeated foe, he is still far more powerful than we are, so we must rely on God to help us win our battles. Specifically, we must put on the armor of God.
- (v 14) The belt of truth. One of our most powerful tools, truth sets us free from the lies of Satan (John 8:32). The NKJV says, “having girded your waist with truth”. Gird can mean “encircle” or “surround”–what we usually think of when it comes to a belt. It can also mean “to prepare for action”. Thus, in order to prepare ourselves for the battle ahead, we must gird–or prepare–ourselves with truth.
- (v 14) The breastplate of righteousness. I really liked the approach Pastor Ken Graves took to this section of the armor. A breastplate, clearly, protects your vital organs. Most importantly, it protects your heart. Satan will often try to get into our heads through our affections and emotions (which are generally associated with the heart). A good example would be Solomon. Because of his love for his wives, he turned away from God and began to follow false idols. The moral? Guard your heart!
- (v 15) The sandals of the Gospel of peace. Pastor Kevin Miller said something regarding this verse that stuck with me: “You will only last if you stand on what lasts.” It’s a very simple concept, but it’s incredibly important. If we don’t stand firm in the Gospel, we’ll be easily swayed or knocked down by the lies of Satan and the temptations and persecutions of this world. We must spend time in God’s Word so that we may be grounded and ready for battle.
- (v 17) The sword of the Spirit. The passage is very clear about what this is–the Word of God, the Bible. God’s Word is our sword. It is our weapon against Satan. Similar to the sandals, we must devote ourselves to studying God’s Word so that when we come under attack, we will be able to fight back. The Bible is a treasure box filled with truth, strength, and encouragement; all we have to do is read it to find them.
- (v 17) The helmet of salvation. What sticks with me about this section of armor is a thought my dad had regarding it. Doubt of salvation is one of the most awful things there is. If we doubt our salvation, our armor quickly becomes ineffective. Satan would love for us to believe that we aren’t really saved. Through that doubt, he can weaken our defenses against his attacks. We must always remember that salvation is for all who believe (Romans 10:13). That means that if we trust in Jesus as our Savior, we are saved and adopted into God’s family.
- (v 16) The shield of faith. So many things I could say about the shield! I think one of my favorite things in the teaching on this piece of armor was the image of the shield itself. Roman shields weren’t these small, circular shields that we might see on TV, but sturdy pieces of equipment that measured two by four feet. Clearly, these shields protected soldiers in battle. Interestingly, though, was the fact that these shields could be linked together. A number of soldiers could link their shield together on all sides (and above), which proved nearly impenetrable to all attack. So our faith, as an individual shield, can protect us from the blows of the enemy. However, when we unite in faith with other believers, we are far more powerful than as individuals. What an awesome picture!
Knowing all of these things great, but it means nothing to us if we don’t use the armor in our daily lives. We must always be prepared for battle, therefore we must put on the armor of God daily. Ask God to give you the strength that comes from spending time in His Word. Pray for faith, and that you would be surrounded by righteousness and truth. Thank Him for His gift of salvation, and ask Him to prepare you for the battle ahead. Know that, without Him, we cannot possibly win. But God is on our side, and He is infinitely more powerful than our enemy.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8)