Inspired by Ephesians 6:10-17
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:10-11, 13 (NRSV)
Some branches of Christianity emphasize spiritual warfare, and present the Christian life as a battle that is constantly being fought against the devil and all the forces of evil. There is a great deal of talk about ‘attacks’ on the devil and ‘beating him down,’ all for the ‘glory of the Lord.’
God doesn’t need us to fight his battles. This passage from Ephesians, while frequently cited as support for Christians fighting spiritual warfare, is much more defensive than offensive. It acknowledges the presence of evil, its reality in Christians’ lives, and gives instruction on how to stand firm in the face of it. The strength and the power belong to God alone, and it is the armor of God that protects us. That armor is almost entirely defensive: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes that will help us to proclaim the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. A weapon—the sword of the Spirit—is listed last, and then identified as the word of God.
There is evil in the world, but we are not called to fight a spiritual war on God’s behalf. Rather, God has promised to protect us from being overcome by it, and has shown us the tools he has given us to help us stand firm, dressed from head to toe in his love and grace.
Let us pray. God of our strength, you shelter us from the storms of evil and destruction. Strengthen us in your love, that we may stand firm against whatever evils or temptations may try to draw us from you. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.