In conversations about the armor of God, I’ve heard people say, “We have 5 defensive elements and only 1 offensive piece of weaponry”- or something of the sort. I’ve always loved that saying and am now coming around to really loving that truth itself.
Ephesians 6:10-18 sets the stage for us; let’s read:
“10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
Ok so that’s what I’m talking about. We have 5 defensive elements: belt, breastplate, sandals, shield and helmet. These are all defensive in nature because their primary purpose is not to attack but to defend ourselves. And then we have the 1 offensive- the sword of the Spirit.
Now I could read all sorts of things into this but I choose to believe this. I think that a good part of our lives as Christians WILL be spent defending ourselves that’s why we have to equip ourselves with a significant number of defensive armor. I mean what a waste of time it would be to load up on all this extra armory if we never needed to use it. In my experience, the moment I tell someone I’m a Christian, it’s like I automatically go into defense mode. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage for me to admit this because I’m afraid of the amount of defending I will have to do. “Will I be able to defend myself well enough? Am I going to be wounded [fatally] in this attack? Am I even prepared for this attack?” In 1 Peter 3: 13- 17 Peter says,
“13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear[b]; do not be frightened.”[c] 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
That whole chunk is phenomenal, but what really stands out to me for today is this: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” Isn’t this defensive? To me it is saying, ‘stand up for yourself in confidence, gentleness and respect. Our faith, truth, readiness and peace and salvation are our defense in this life.
On the other hand now, we have our 1 offensive. As Christians we also have to be on the attack, that’s obvious. When I say ‘attack’, I’m not talking about physically assaulting other people, obviously, because we know that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12. But we need to be in a warrior-like state of readiness to come against the devil and all his works of evil. Satan is always lurking around spying out new or familiar targets, we know this. And he has certain tactics he uses, one of which I believe is temptation. I remember months ago being in cell group and I was just struck by how satan will kick us while we’re down. I mean he will swoop in and try to fatally wound us when we’re in the lowest, weakest, most vulnerable positions of our lives. Have you ever had a day where one thing went wrong, and then everything else after that was just spiraling downwards?? I definitely have! Anyways, in this morning’s devotion I read Matthew 4 where Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness.
Let me paint you a picture:
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[a]”
5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[b]”
7Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[c]”
8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[d]”
11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
Getting past the unbelievable fact that even satan quotes scriptures, we see that in order to cut satan down, Jesus used the Word of God- that is, the sword of the Spirit. I can see how this could also be seen as defensive, and I accept and appreciate that but in reading the passage and seeing how it plays out when I read it, I definitely think I’m getting an ‘offensive’ message here. Jesus meets satan word for word, applying it with right context and ousting satan’s every move. In the end satan is defeated. Jesus stands firm in His defensive, and He attacks using the Word.
And I love this part, “Then the devil left Him, and angels came and attended Him.” (v11). I feel so much tender, loving care here. It reassures me to know that all that time when satan was tempting/testing Jesus, God had been watching all along. I see Him as the loving, gracious protective parent who knows their child has to face a certain battle by himself but is waiting in the wings to swoop in the minute it’s over and comfort him. *sigh*…I love God my Father. No matter what I’m going through, He is always there watching along from the sidelines, rooting for me, hoping that I will make the right decision and then swooping in to comfort me with His Holy Spirit and His angels when I’m in that minute just past the breaking point.
God has called us for an amazing purpose and He has truly equipped us WELL for that calling.
I love you Father <><