Today's Reading: Ephesians 6:10-17
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11)
A soldier never goes into battle without the full array of equipment. That would be dangerous, if not foolish. Soldiers rarely travel light.
Paul outlines the whole armor that God gives to his foot soldiers: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the Word of God. This is the armor issued to you in your Baptism when you were conscripted into the Lord’s army and marked as a soldier of the cross.
A soldier knows who the enemy is. In this battle, the enemy is not flesh and blood. Our fellow human beings are not the enemy, even though they may be in league with the enemy at times. The “enemy” is spiritual - the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers, the spiritual forces of evil and darkness. The whole armor of God and the sword of the Spirit are not used against man, but against the devil, the forces of evil in the world, and our sinful natures. This battle is waged on the spiritual plain, “in the heavenly places.”
Peter tried to defend Jesus with a sword, but it wasn’t the sword of the Spirit. It is the Gospel of peacethat propels our feet; it is the Word of God that is the Spirit’s sword. This is not some “crusade” to wipe out the “infidel.” This is not a “jihad” to establish the reign of God. This is a defensive war against the spiritual powers - the devil, the unbelieving world, our own sinful flesh - who hate the peace of Jesus.
You have the whole armor of God now; it’s in your possession. Put it on and use it. It would be dangerous, and foolish, not to. Truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word are all at your disposal to defend the peace of Jesus.
May glorious truths that we have heard,
The bright sword of Your mighty Word,
Spurn Satan that Your Church be strong,
Bold, unified in act and song.
(Lutheran Service Book #585:4)