Creed: The Unseen Armor of God
- Thursday, February 03, 2005
Editor's Note: "Creed" is an ongoing article series that discusses the core beliefs of Christianity as expressed in the Apostle's and Nicene creeds. Links to the other installments are listed at the end of this article.
Years ago, on a business trip, I visited Dallas, Texas. For nearly five days, I pretty much lived on my own...in my own elaborate hotel room...dining in restaurants (I love not having to cook!) and coming back at the end of the business day to find my bed made and my bath cleaned.
I tried to get up each morning and read the Word, pray my prayers, etc., but to be honest with you; I was still pretty much a milk-sucking baby when it came to spiritual things. By the beginning of the fourth evening, when my associates and I had gone to West End Marketplace for a night of dining, shopping, and fudge making, I was spiritually running on empty.
Even as I tell of the next events, I can hardly believe they happened. And, for the most part, the memory comes in pictures, like still shots. Standing on a street corner, waiting to cross...hearing laughter...turning my head as I walked from one side of the street to another...seeing a homeless man, scrambling for the quarter some snot-nosed college kid tossed at him...the beggar's glassy eyes meeting mine...then my turning away because it was too painful to look, only to reach the other side of the street and find the man staring down at me, muttering something I couldn't understand... "I don't have any money," I said, then scrambled away, unable to say another word for the next hour or so as we made our way back to the hotel.
What I Learned About Spiritual Warfare
Once inside my room and alone, I sat in the center of the bed and rocked back and forth. Something about the man's eyes had unnerved me. Something about the words - though untranslatable - he'd spoken haunted me. I attempted to pray, but still no words would come out of my mouth. Finally, something guttural spewed forth; it was like the sound of a child in pain. Within minutes, I burst into tears and cried myself to sleep.
Days later, I was back home and standing in front of my church, speaking to a very wise older woman. I told her about what had happened, explained that nothing like that ever happened to me before and, I prayed, would never happen to me again. At the end of my story, I looked at my friend and said, "What happened to me that night?"
She cocked a brow and replied, "You were in the middle of spiritual battle, girl, and you didn't even have your armor on."
She was correct in her assessment. I'd become lax in my personal time with the Lord and, in doing so, had allowed His armor to slip, exposing me spiritually. This armor, I learned - though unseen by the human eye - helps to fight against both the visible and the invisible, mentioned in the creeds.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
Within the first line of Paul's admonition are three things to pay close attention to.
1. "The full armor"
2. "You can take your stand" and
3. "The devil's schemes."
Take them one by one with me.
"The full armor," indicates that by putting on a part of the armor, we have not completed our task in protecting ourselves.
Have you ever been in one of those cars that have the shoulder harness of the safety belt rigged to automatically cross over the passenger when the engine is engaged? However, the lap belt has to be put on by the rider or driver. Otherwise, they are only partially protected. Same with the armor of God. We don't get to pick and choose what parts to wear. We must place it on in its entirety.
"You can take your stand."
This isn't about someone else's stand. This isn't even about God's stand. Through the words of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the ability to take our stand. That shows action on our part, rather than passivity. After all, a relationship is about two or more people being actively engaged with one another. If we lie like doormats - even in the midst of battle - we aren't truly in relationship with our Captain.
"The devil's schemes."
If you go all the way back to the first biblical mention of Satan - the devil - you will find that he is referred to as "crafty." Indeed, he must have been. With a single question and a simple remark he was able to entreat the woman to leave behind the trust she'd, up until that time, had with her Creator. More than that, he was able to change history.
"Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Excerpted from Genesis 3)
Though he was able to approach the woman in such a way that she was not afraid, his ultimate design was one of violence and death.
Later, when the Lord God approached the man and his wife "in the cool of the day," He asked three questions of the man.
1. "Where are you?"
2. "Who told you that you were naked?"
3. "Did you eat of the tree I commanded you not to eat from?"
The man immediately blames the woman, God, and then (almost as an afterthought) himself.
"The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."
So, God turns to the woman.
"What is this you have done?" He asks her.
And, what does the woman do? She "points her finger" at the serpent and says, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
The Loan Shark of the Garden
We all know what a loan shark is. Originally coined as a phrase at the turn of the last century, a loan shark is one who lends money at steep rates of interest, at times to the point of it being impossible to pay the monies borrowed back.
Well, guess what. The serpent - Satan - is the loan shark of the Garden. The word "deceived," used by the woman is, in Hebrew, Nasha. It means: "to lend on interest." What the serpent had tempted her to partake of would yield a great cost.
Man and woman would lose a perfect relationship with their Creator.
Everything that breathed would now experience a physical death.
Mankind would now be required to offer sacrifices for sin; sacrifices that would never fully "pay back" what was originally "borrowed."
Ultimately, it would cost God the Father, His Son's lifeblood shed on a Roman cross.
When Paul wrote the words found in Ephesians 6, mankind had seen that price paid before their very eyes. Paul is saying, "You know what the devil is capable of! You have the stories; you have seen the price paid. He's a sneaky creep. Do not underestimate him."
How Does This Apply To You?
What about you? Where do you stand when it comes to the army of God? In what part of the battle do you partake?
Is your armor fully on? (We'll talk more about this later.) When you put it on, do you keep it on, or do you take it off and on according to what you want to do?
Do you know the enemy? Are you fully aware of his plans and capabilities to carry out those plans?
The Holy Spirit's gift of discernment is paramount to your ability to be aware. Do you use it?
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote words, which I echo from the depths of my heart.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God.
Award-winning national speaker, Eva Marie Everson is a recent graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary. Her work includes
Creed: Understanding the Visible and Invisible
Creed: God the Father Almighty Made Heaven & Earth
Creed: The Covenant God of You and Me
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