Be Strong in the Lord
“Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness.” (Eph 6:10-12)
These words of Saint Paul to the Christians in Ephesus clearly remind us that our struggle to live a life in Jesus, a life with the “mind of Christ,” a life following His ways is surely not an easy endeavor. To be a Christian is not for the fainthearted, not for the lazy, not for those who want an easy life. To live under the reign of God means that we must live counter culture to the values and ways of this fallen world. We have a difficult battle on our hands! The Bible describes the devil like a lion ready to devour us, with forces of darkness attacking us. We have to be prepared to protect ourselves and understand how to fight back!
Thus, Saint Paul gives us the image of putting on the whole armor of God. Our fight is against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness and spirit hosts of wickedness! That sounds pretty scary. Yet the Apostle Paul never fears. The enemy is a might foe, yet the Apostle knows that God Almighty is with us, and if God is with us, it doesn’t matter who is against us! The devil with all his forces may attack us, but we have nothing to fear. Walk with God. Be filled with His Spirit. Imitate the path of Jesus Christ. And put on the entire armor of God!
So, what is this armor we are called to wear in our battle against the forces of darkness and evil. Saint Paul mentions six parts of armor God that we protect ourselves with each and every day.
- Let us arm ourselves with TRUTH. We live in an age of False News. Not just the political news we hear on the various news channels, but the spirit of our contemporary age is filled with lies and half-truths. Remember, the devil is called the father of lies. And our post-Christian, modern society has embraced full force many of these lies. Many people, even unconsciously accept the secular view that there is no absolute truth. The lie that this life is the end of life. The lie that denies Almighty God is alive, is a God of love and is a God who passionately loves each one of us!
We have to always remember followers of Christ are People of the TRUTH. Jesus says, “Know the truth and the truth will set you free.” He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the Lord Almighty. Everything begins and ends in Him. So, He is the standard of the truth that we maintain. Jesus boldly claimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
So we need to constantly ask ourselves, “Are we truly seekers after truth? Do we strive to truly know the One is who the beginning and the end, the way the truth and the life?
- The second piece of armor is putting on RIGHTEOUSNESS: Jesus taught in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” We have to be people who seek after the righteousness of God; who seek first after righteousness in our own lives, to live right according to God’s truth and according to His will of love and goodness, but who also seek after righteousness and justice in the world around us. Let us become instruments of working towards justice in the world around us!
- The next piece of armor is PEACE: Again, in the Beatitudes Jesus noted, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” Jesus is the Prince of Peace and promised to filled our hearts with the “peace that passes all understanding.” He said, “Peace I give you, my peace I leave with you, not as the world gives… let not your hearts be troubled.” There will never be ultimate peace or any type of utopia in this world because we live in a fallen world with much violence, evil, and darkness. Yet, each of us can become candles of light. We can become instruments that bring the peace of God into our violent and dark world. As St. Seraphim of Sarov highlighted, “Acquire inner peace, and thousands around you will be saved.”
- The fourth piece of armor is FAITH: Faith is described as “Hoping for things that are not seen.” Jesus reprimanded His disciple Thomas by saying, ‘You believe because you see. Blessed are those who do not see yet believe.’ Faith is trusting in God even when all seems impossible around us. Knowing that God is greater than anything we ever face in life. Today we remember one of the great prophets of the Old Testament, the Prophet Habakkuk, and in his prophecy, he notes the role of faith when he concludes, “Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails, and the fields yield no food; though the flock is cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer and makes me tread upon the heights.” (Hab 3:17-19)
- Then we are to put on the armor of SALVATION: Never forget that Jesus Christ is a Savior, who ‘desires all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.’ Christ is on our side, longing to live in us and save us from the fallenness of this world. Salvation ultimately is a life in Christ. Our goal is not simply to “go to heaven” but it is about experiencing the kingdom of God here and now, living with the “mind of Christ,” and walking with Him each and every day. As we live in Christ, we will then die in Christ. Putting on our salvation implies living a life in Hope, a life of Hope!
- And finally, Saint Paul concludes by telling us to use the WORD OF GOD as the sword of our armament. The word of God is “a light to our feet and a lamp to our way.” When we meditate on the word of God day and night, and know His word, we have the wisdom and knowledge to guide us on how to live, on what to do, and how to avoid the snares of the evil one and live according to His will. We must be lifelong students of His word!
TRUTH, RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE, FAITH, SALVATION, and THE WORD OF GOD. This is the armor we must put on daily to fight against the power of the evil one! Let us work and honing each of these gifts in our own life – TRUTH, RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE, FAITH, SALVATION, and THE WORD!
Holy Father John the Righteous, disciple of St. Gregory of Decapolis; Euthemios the Enlightener of Karelia; Cosmas, Bishop of Calcydon; John the New Martyr of Epiros; Athanasia the Wonderworker of Aegina
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