Four Spiritual Warfare Strategies for Preserving Peace in the Church
In my first post on this important aspect of preserving unity in the church, I argued for the need to fight for peace in the invisible realm.
Paul lands his letter to the Ephesians on the strategic topic of spiritual warfare. He presents four battle tactics for successfully defeating the enemy of our souls in every kind of conflict.
- Trust your God.
- Know your enemy.
- Wear your armor.
- Say your prayers.
I can’t say everything I would like to about these tactics. I have to save something for the men’s retreat I get to lead this weekend. But here’s what I can offer on the third strategy.
Three, wear your armor for its protection. The Lord equips us with six crucial pieces of battle weaponry for both offensive and defensive purposes in dealing with the enemy.
- The belt of truth. The belt held everything else together for the Roman soldier. Since Satan’s principle scheme to defeat us involves deception, it is absolutely imperative that we arm ourselves with the truth of God’s word to counterattack.
- The breastplate of righteousness. This piece covered a soldier front and back. It protected all his major organs. The more we live out Christ’s righteousness gifted to us by faith, the less ground we give Satan to trip us up. For example, if we harbor resentment toward someone rather than forgive, that presence of unrighteousness in our lives opens the door for enemy infiltration (2 Cor. 2:10-11).
- The gospel footwear. As shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Shoes for the soldier meant two things: mobility and stability. Believers are to be ever on the move for the gospel in brokering peace between a rebel race and a holy God. And they must stand firm in that gospel of forgiveness when the accuser comes to indict for various offenses (Rev. 12:10).
- The shield of faith. This we cannot do without. The Roman warrior used a huge, fireproof shield behind which he could position his entire body. We must do everything we can to sustain our faith or Satan’s flaming darts will surely get through to do their damage.
- The helmet of salvation. This piece protects the mind. It orients our thinking toward all three phases of Christ’s saving work: past, present, and future. Given the similar usage of the word “helmet” in 1 Thess. 5:8, it seems Paul wants us thinking extra hard about the future and what God has in store for us in the New Heavens and New Earth.
- The sword of the Spirit. This, Paul explains, is the word of God. This is a mighty weapon! It serves both offensive and defensive purposes. Offensively we wield it in evangelism. Defensively we make use of it in, among other things, fighting temptation, just as our Lord did (Matt. 4:1-11).
Please don’t miss the emphasis in the text of putting on and taking up this provision of God which is our armor. We must do this.
How the last strategy, prayer, plays into that weaponry will have to wait for part three.