It's never felt more appropriate to look at a passage like this.
This term, in our Women’s Bible study group we are looking at the ‘Armour of God’ passage in Ephesians 6:10-18.
At first impressions, the ‘armour of God’ section might seem to stand alone, but it forms part of a thread which runs through the whole book of Ephesians.
Ephesians is a book of two halves. In the first three chapters Paul is reminding the Ephesian church of the gospel they already know. This was a young, but (relatively) well established church, made up of both Jew and gentile believers. The town itself was the centre of worship for numerous Roman and Greek gods, and culturally the people were used to following their disparate ways of life & worship. Paul reminds them that the church shouldn’t look like that – the gospel is something they share – together, they are united in Christ to be one new people marked by love, grace and forgiveness, a joyful and thankful people. They are also one in purpose. In the last three chapters Paul helps them understand how their knowledge of the gospel must impact every area of their lives and relationships – their marriage and family, and their work. It is with this picture of a united body of believers in mind, that we reach the section about ‘the armour of God’...
This is more than personal armour for battle alone,
it is the outfitting of an army.
We do battle together! Hear the voice of a general mustering the troops, encouraging and reminding them of the strength they already have to grow their confidence to face what’s coming! As he has reflected earlier [ch3:14-19] Paul’s heart is for them (and us) to understand God has already given them His power through His Spirit - that they might grow to maturity, and [ch4:11-16] ‘Christ himself’ has given them everything and everyone that they need. Knowing this, [ch6:10-13]
Paul urges them to arm themselves - for the battle is real.
The illustration of a soldier is an obvious one to draw on in a city under Roman occupation, but Paul also draws on the language of the Old Testament in Isaiah [59:15b-17] who speaks of a soldier in armour who fights for His people! It is God himself who is the one doing battle, and we wield our weapons only in His strength. Just as God fought the battles for His people in days gone by [2 Chronicles 32:7,8] so He also fights for us.
As Christians, we face a real enemy – one who knows us well – his tactics are well tested, and he does not easily give up. But we can face him with full confidence that God is with us – in fact that He has already won.
Right now, all of us are fighting on a new battleground. None of us have been here before and our enemy is using a powerful tactic in trying to keep God’s people apart. Some of us will be tempted to withdraw – which will seem easier than ever; some of us will be tempted to doubt that God is in control, or good; some of us may be overwhelmed by fear. We may face the temptation to be lazy or self-indulgent, or even begin to delight in being the god of our own little worlds. Each of us needs to be aware that we are vulnerable, but we can be confident that God gives us the strength and power we need for every battle.
Whether it’s the battle to be obedient, resist temptation or persevere in our faith – Praise God! He has given us His strength and power, the help of His Spirit and an army of warriors, both past and present to stand with us and encourage us on our way [Hebrews 12:1,2].
“As part of Christ’s army, you march in the ranks of gallant spirits…some, like you are in the midst of battle besieged on every side by affliction and temptation. Others, after many assaults…are already standing on the wall of heaven as conquerors…This crowd of witnesses shouts joyfully every time you defeat a temptation, scale a difficulty, or regain lost ground from your enemies. And if the fight should be too much for you, your dear Saviour stands by with reserves for your relief at a moment’s notice.”
William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour