Spiritual Enmity, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, March 16, 2021 0 comments

by Eric Hansen

In my last article, I looked at an overview of what spiritual enmity or warfare is and some common signs that we are currently in such a state. While the list was certainly not exhaustive, as a recap, we are in a state of warfare between the flesh and spirit when there is temptation that our flesh wants but we know it does not glorify or honor God. The deeper you grow in your faith, the more you will essentially be struggling as you continue being surrounded by the secular world’s pressures.

The ability for us to resolve these battles that we face is addressed in Ephesians 6:10-20, but unfortunately, without context it just sounds like pure poetry. However, there is a direct reason why Paul, a former Roman soldier himself before his conversion, wrote about this topic in such a way that he did. My fellow blogger Charlie Wolcott wrote on the armor in informative detail about 6 years back as of this writing, and I will be linking to his posts for further reading. I’ll focus on the front-wielding armor here, and I’ll discuss the back-wielding armor in the next post.

Belt of Truth
The first piece of armor Paul references is the belt of truth. This also sets the tone for the rest of his message and his intent. A belt is simple in design but mandatory to survive any war, even now. It not only holds the armor but also the weaponry and protection. Back in Roman times, they would wear what we consider an athletic supporter - gold hanging in front of the groin area to protect it. The belt was also used to hold the sword, clothing, other armor, etc. that made it essential to even enter into war.

This is also why truth is considered the belt of our armor. To put it bluntly, you would be foolish to try and fight evil in your underwear and using a toothpick. We need to keep truth in mind - what is important and what is right - especially now as movements such as cancel culture, Marxism, critical race theory, and other subliminal heresy are infecting even the churches today. We need to hold true to what the Bible says is honorable. Should we stay at a church that is living within its four walls only, or should we find one that is invested into its community? While it’s a scary thing to consider, as I know it was for my wife and me, we both knew we needed to leave the church where I was a youth pastor if we wanted to grow and become Christ-faithful Christians.

Breastplate of Righteousness
Paul’s second armor reference is the breastplate of righteousness. Paul leaves the canvas intentionally uneventful with this, as when we consider what the breastplate protects we can start to picture in our own mind where he was going with this.

A breastplate is basically a shield worn by soldiers, typically made out of metal but could be leather or other material. It saved not only their ability to fight but quite often their lives as well. Behind the plate were the heart, lungs, abdomen, etc. - very critical organs and soft areas of the body that if exposed and attacked could quickly lead to death.

The imagery here is no different than the importance. Righteousness is our salvation; it’s our key into God’s kingdom when we take our last breath here. It protects our soul and typically takes the brunt of the attack. Evil knows where to hit us, and it could be with a divorce, an illness, gluttony, etc. Such forces are not blind to a creation that hasn’t really evolved in many millenia. So Paul is instructing us to protect our core with our salvation. Remembering that when we are hit with those papers, that doctor’s call, etc. that we remember the cure to the pain is God’s presence.

Shoes of Readiness
The last piece of armor I’ll discuss in this post is the shoes of readiness given by the gospel of peace.

We need to be ready to go to war at all times, and we need to be ready to be peaceful. This doesn’t mean to be silent, but it does mean to not retaliate out of anger. An example of this is Martin Luther, who started the Reformation movement in 1517. He didn’t try to burn down English buildings or silence the Catholic bishops, even though he did not agree with them. Instead, he wrote the Ninety-Five Theses and nailed it to the church door, for all visitors to stare at and read as they entered their church and start to wonder just how impactful their church really was. Jesus was no different, opting to use words instead of violence to further the gospel that had started and was about to be complete.

But the fact Paul attributes shoes with readiness confused me when I first started reading this passage as a baby Christian. Though if we look at shoes in his time it makes much more sense; we take for granted the quality of shoes we have today.

Like ours, their shoes were designed to travel far and over rough terrain and allow for stability when needed. They also became more comfortable the more you wore them. They were made of leather and had what we call cleats on them for that grip. Jesus preached about peace whenever possible because we are only in control of our own emotions, not anyone else’s. But being able to be peaceful would help us travel further, reach more people, and still be ready for the arrows being casted toward us.

There is more armor and other elements that Paul mentions in these 10 verses, which will be the focus of my next blog post. As you can already see, even though Paul dedicated only a sentence or two per armor piece, there is so much more we discover if we consider the context.

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