Standing Part 6

In the last five posts we have looked at most of our spiritual armour – truth, righteousness, peace and faith. We now come to the helmet of salvation.

17  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; Ephesians 6:17 (NKJV)

The helmet guards our heads, in the case of spiritual warfare, our minds.

I remember reading the story of a young struggling pastor. He went to a wise older mentor who asked him if he was using the armour from Ephesians 6. The young pastor began to respond with what he had learned about the armour in seminary. The old fellow stopped him and said something like, “I don’t care if you know about it. What I want to know is, are you actually putting it on?” His point was that the armour is only useful if it is applied.

So, how do we protect our minds? This may sound odd, but we need to think about our thinking. Most of us are likely familiar with Romans 12:1-2 about the need to renew our minds, but like the story above, the knowledge is only useful if it is applied. I had occasion recently to share my distinction between knowledge and wisdom. I see it like being in the middle of the highway with a large truck coming at me. Knowledge is knowing I need to get out of the way; wisdom is moving!

In a similar way, knowledge is knowing I need to put on the helmet of salvation, weighing my viewpoints in light of scripture. Wisdom is aligning my thoughts with scripture. A shorter, but parallel passage to Romans 12:1-2 is below.

23  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, Ephesians 4:23 (NKJV)

This renewal process is clearly laid out by Paul in Philippians 4:6-8. Paul tells us that we are to set aside anxiety and worry and exchange it for peace. He tells us how. We are to turn our worry into prayer. This does not mean ‘praying the problem,’ giving our Father a list of what is wrong. Instead we are to bring before Him the change we desire to see (in line with His word) and then to meditate, to think deeply, on things that are good, pure, and right. The outcome is peace resting in our hearts.

This is putting on the helmet of salvation.

Standing Part 5

We have looked at the role of truth, righteousness and peace. We now come to the shield of faith. In Paul’s description we wear truth, righteousness and peace. A shield we wield. Paul says,

16  above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Ephesians 6:16 (NKJV)

Most of us our not familiar with using a shield. Think a little differently then. Think of a baseball player out in the field or a goalie in a soccer net. The player needs to see the ball coming and stop or intercept it. In the same way the shield is used to stop or intercept an attack.

In the sports analogies, once the player has caught or stopped the ball they transition from defence to offense. The same is true in spiritual warfare. The shield is used to protect from attacks and is preparation to transition from defence to offence. This transition may move rapidly from defence to offence and back again. The important piece to know is that the shield is used for both protection and preparation

Now, to successfully stop or intercept a spiritual attack we need to recognize when we are experiencing one! I remember Rick Joyner describing feeling irritable for days. He then took a flight somewhere with Bob Jones and Bob commented that Rick had an arrow in the back of his neck and reached over and pulled it out. Rick said he felt immediate relief.

While most of us cannot see in the spirit realm the way Bob did, if we reflect back I suspect most of us could describe a time when we felt some sense of heaviness or oppression. This is the result of arrows (Paul calls them fiery darts). I have never had anyone remove one from my neck or back, I have however on a number of occasions felt a heaviness, oppression or irritability lift while worshipping.

If we are wise we recognize that when we are in a ‘heavy’ or ‘reactive’ mode, some darts have gotten past our shield. I have learned in those situations to do two things, reposition my shield and then worship in spite of how I feel. In fact I think worshipping is wisdom, it is raising my shield. It is an act that pushes back the enemy. After all, our shield is composed of faith!

An additional thought. While the focus of this series is on a few verses from Ephesians, the book and Paul’s main prayers in it in chapters 1 and 3, while they can be applied to an individual, are addressed to a corporate body. In Middle Eastern thinking in the first century the focus was on family, community and the body. In looking at the armour in our passage Paul was describing a Roman soldier who was part of a unit. The Roman army was the most feared fighting force of the day. What made them so effective was that when they moved forward in battle their shields interlocked to form a nearly impenetrable wall. If you are having trouble wielding your shield, stand with others in the body. If your arm is weighed down, find others who will stand with you and help to steady your shield. He designed us to borrow strength from one another and to stand together as a body.

Stand therefore.

Standing Part 4

Having examined the girdle of truth and the breastplate of righteousness we now need to look at our footwear.

15  and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Ephesians 6:15 (NKJV)

In this verse there are two ideas. Our footwear prepares us; it makes us ready to stand in battle. Second, our shoes are made of peace.

While Paul wrote in Greek, he likely thought in Hebrew given his culture and extensive educational background as a Pharisee. The significance is that while we translate the Greek to ‘peace’ in English, the Hebrew word, which carries more meaning, is shalom. To better understand what prepares us, here are some thoughts from a Greek-English dictionary on the meaning of the Greek word peace and a comparison to the Hebrew shalom, which also translates to peace in English.

εἰρήνη eirēnē noun – Peace, harmony, tranquility, health.

When the term was adopted by the Septuagint translators, eirēnē was an inadequate equivalent to the Hebrew shālôm. To have “shalom” in the Old Testament period meant not only to have “peace” as it is understood today; it also meant to feel “healthy” or to be “whole.” “Peace” was a state of well-being. – The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary.

If in Paul’s Hebrew thinking he was referring to shalom then what he was saying is, ‘When we live from a state of wellbeing we are ready to stand firm in spiritual battles.’ To further illustrate this, I have a written out prayer that I regularly use as a template when I pray. One reminder I have built in for myself is as follows, ‘Remember, Jesus is never in a hurry, He walks in His Father, I walk in Him. Spirit, soul and body are designed to live in and from a state of repose.’ This serves to remind me of shalom

I fundamentally believe this. Think of Jesus. He laying sleeping in a boat in a raging storm, in an internal and physical state of repose (Matt. 8:23-26). What happened when the disciples awoke Him?

26  But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:26 (NKJV)

Notice the last phrase – there was a great calm. Jesus was living out what Paul would speak to in Ephesians 6. Jesus was physically, psychologically and spiritually in shalom and He released what was within Him and it calmed the storm. This is how He calls us to function in spiritual warfare.

We might think only Jesus can do this but I remember Rick Joyner sharing a story that illustrates this point. He was with a friend at an airport near the front of the line, people were tired and angry, the flight was late and it seemed to be overbooked. Just when it seemed things could not get worse two ladies began forcing their way to the front demanding to be put on the plane. Rick said he thought someone was going to punch them. It was then that he said he witnessed a miracle. His friend got everyone’s attention and said, “Excuse me, do you mind if I give these ladies my place in line?” Suddenly peace and calm enveloped the place, Rick and his friend went to the back of the line and everyone was able to get on the plane.

To live in and function out of peace in this way we need to do something. We need to accept that we have this peace in Jesus and apply Paul’s injunctions in Philippians 4:4-9. It means choosing to let go, to stop embracing the things that bring us anxiety and focusing our minds and hearts on things like that which is good, true, pure and right. Paul says the result is peace and that readies us to stand in battle! 

So, lets stand firm in the shalom Jesus left us.

27  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27 (NKJV)

Standing Part 3

In this post we will look at the breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:14, see also Is. 59:17). A breastplate is essentially a shield attached to our body that moves where we move. It covers and guards important organs, the most important one being the heart. Significantly, it does not protect our heads, we will come to that piece of armour later.

Solomon places a great deal of importance on the need to guard our hearts.

23  Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)

There are two key elements here, understanding the importance of protecting our heart and understanding righteousness. In the OT righteousness and justice are intertwined concepts, the very foundation of His throne (Ps. 89:14). You may have been told that righteousness is ‘right standing with God.’ That is a confusion of means and ends. We have right standing with God because we have been given Jesus righteousness. Jesus righteousness is an expression of His character so right standing is the result of having Jesus righteousness. The ends and means can be clearly seen in the following:

The end:

17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Achieved by this means:

21  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)

It is when we hold this truth in our hearts (with the heart one believes Rom. 10:9-10) that we can use the breastplate of righteousness. When we know and believe in our hearts we can stand in confidence and walk into battle protected by His righteousness. In spiritual warfare we are battling in the unseen realm but we experience the results in our day to day lives. Practically, using the breastplate means coming boldly before the throne of grace on behalf of ourselves and others, knowing that we are welcome in the throne room because we carry Jesus righteousness (Heb. 4:14-16).

So engage in the battle, embrace the truth of His righteousness and remember that the breastplate only provides protection when we are facing the battle, not when we turn away. Keep facing forward!

Standing Part 2

I will use the next few posts to describe how we use each of the six pieces of armour Paul identifies in Ephesians 6. The six pieces are below, the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes/sandals of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. 

14  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15  and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16  above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; Ephesians 6:14-17 (NKJV)

The idea of girding our waist speaks of preparation. We need to be ready for battle and nothing prepares us like a commitment to walking in the truth of His word. I think one reason Paul listed truth first in our spiritual armour is a phrase the serpent used in Eden, back in Genesis 3:1. Part of the challenge was, “Has God indeed said…?” In other words, ‘Is that really true?’ We cannot stand in a spiritual battle without a commitment to truth.

In our recent Federal political issue in Canada witnesses were called to speak to the Justice Committee and more than once there was a reference to someone coming to speak ‘their truth.’ That is a good example of the influence of post-modern nonsense. In our legal system we swear to tell the truth, not ‘our truth.’ We may have different perceptions or memories of an event but there is only one truth about it.

An illustration that has long been popular to deny ‘truth’ is the story of the blind men and the elephant (there are a few versions). In the story 6 blind men each touch a different part of the elephant and describe the elephant differently. One as a rope (the tail), one as a snake (the trunk) and on it goes. The interpretation is often used to deny the ‘truth’ of any particular religious view. Yet it ignores the perspective of the storyteller who can see the truth of what is happening. Truth can be known if we are willing to accept the perspective of the Divine Storyteller who reveals truth.

(For a detailed analysis of the elephant analogy see this link

Scripture contains truth and when we are committed to walk by it we are prepared to engage in spiritual warfare and achieve victory. Part of that preparation is embracing the reality in these verses.

6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 (NKJV)

20  But you have not so learned Christ, 21  if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: Ephesians 4:20-21 (NKJV)

Jesus is truth. When we choose and commit to believe His word in spite of what others may say or what we may see we are ready to stand.

Therefore, believe and stand.