It’s the beginning of a new year. A hopeful year filled with sweet memories to be made, exciting adventures to experience, and abundant blessings to enjoy. But there will also be the inevitable challenges to face.
At times, these challenges may feel like major battles you are forced to fight. Whether you realize it or not, there are continuous battles going on – spiritual battles – fighting hard for your mind, your heart, and your spirit. They can leave you feeling defeated if you are unprepared for the many fiery arrows that come flying in your direction.
These arrows are coming from the god of this world, the devil, who would love to keep you chained in darkness, where you would be unable to experience for yourself or spread the good news to others of God’s plan. His plan for you to be able to live in the light with eternal freedom from sin.
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4
The Protective Armor of God
When you become a follower of Christ, He gives you everything you need to fight those spiritual battles…and WIN. You do not have to fear because you have His mighty strength and power to rely on with full protection. This protection is incredibly strong armor which includes a belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet, and a sword.
The Apostle Paul writes:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For 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.
Therefore 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17
We are given everything we need for protection, but notice Paul says that we are to take action by putting on the full armor of God. We cannot just let the armor sit around and get dusty. We have to put it on each day so we can use it!
Armor for the Battle for Your Mind: Belt of Truth, Sword of the Spirit, and Helmet of Salvation
How many hours do you spend watching television? Americans watch a dizzying amount of TV each day, averaging more than 7 hours and 50 minutes per household. It is a huge distraction and time waster which the devil loves because it keeps people from spending time with God and sharing His love with others. It also directly affects your mind in the way you think and act.
The writers of television shows today have an agenda to promote evil in the name of entertainment. These shows are full of crime, violence, hatred, sexual impurity, and mocking of God. Over time, this defiles your mind and dulls your conscience as sin is portrayed as completely “normal and acceptable.” To watch, laugh at, and enjoy the evil things on the screen from which God has redeemed you are dishonoring and offensive to Him.
If you want to be in close fellowship with God and prepared for the lies and deception of the world, fill your mind with the truth found in God’s Word. What if you spent the same amount of time reading and meditating on the Bible as you did watching television? How incredibly strong your mind would be to fight against all the world’s lies continually coming at you!
Paul writes in Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Use that verse as a measuring tool when filling your mind, whether it be from watching television or movies, listening to music, reading books and magazines, or scrolling through social media and the internet. You need daily time in God’s Word, the sword of the Spirit, so that His truth will surround you like a belt.
Go a step further and memorize Scripture so you can be wise with good judgment and discernment when the devil, “the father of lies,” tries his best to deceive you. Your one offensive piece of armor for protection, your sword, will not stay sharp on its own. You must continually sharpen it by being in the Word every day.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12
Along with the belt of truth and the sword of the spirit, you also need the helmet of salvation to be buckled on tightly to fight against the battle for your mind. The helmet protects your head which is where you struggle with thoughts of despair and discouragement.
When your mind is focused on the good news in God’s Word, you can easily discern between spiritual truth and spiritual deception. It takes renewing your mind each day by reading the Bible consistently so God’s truth can wipe out the enemy’s lies, dark thoughts, and confusion from your mind.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
Armor for the Battle for Your Heart: Breastplate of Righteousness
A breastplate is the front portion of plate armor covering the torso, protecting the vital organs, such as the heart, from injury. Paul tells us that for defense, we are to put on the breastplate of righteousness.
When you repent of your sin, God forgives you, cleanses your heart, and makes you righteous – free from guilt and sin. But when you give in to sin without repenting, you are removing your breastplate and leaving your heart open to the enemy’s attacks. Over time, the more you sin without remorse, the more your heart will begin to harden against God, giving in to the devil’s schemes that he devises to try to keep you as far away from God as he can.
These schemes often come in the form of temptation. It’s one of his favorite schemes because it often works. The enemy realizes that as long as you are walking with God and effective in sharing Christ’s message of hope to others, you are a big threat to him.
An easy way to keep you from being effective is by making you fall into temptation, an enticement to sin by what you deeply crave, covet, and desire. If you give in, whether it is from drinking too much alcohol, overeating, spending beyond your means, or having sex outside of marriage, it can be devastating and wreak havoc on your life.
James gives a good warning to Christians:
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. James 1:14-15
Resisting temptation and sin start with the heart. When your heart is focused on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy, your actions will follow. And it will be protected by the breastplate of righteousness.
Here is a prayer of protection for your heart:
Teach me your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart. Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found. Give me an eagerness for your laws rather than a love for money! Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word. Psalm 119:33-37
Armor for the Battle for Your Spirit: Feet Fitted with Readiness from the Gospel of Peace
Back when the apostle Paul was alive, the shoes worn by the Roman soldiers were called “caligae.” They were specifically designed for long marches with three layers of leather which were pulled up and laced around the ankle. The caligae helped protect the soldiers’ feet and also gave them a firm footing for uneven terrain as small spikes or iron hobnails were driven into the soles of the shoes (think football cleats).
The enemies of the Roman Empire would place sharp spikes on the ground in front of them before a battle. If an attacking soldier was not wearing shoes that were sturdy enough, they could wind up crippled or killed.
Your feet need to be prepared for spiritual battle. What does it mean to have your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace?
The word readiness implies being continuously vigilant and to have your feet firmly planted so you can hold your ground whenever you are attacked. There is a battle going on for your spirit. When the devil shoots arrows of fear and doubt in your direction, you can be confident that you belong to Jesus Christ because of the gospel – the good news that He saved you from your sin by taking the punishment that you deserved so you can be with Him forever in your eternal Home.
The gospel of peace allows you to walk on the roughest terrain – through the most painful trials in life without fear, knowing what awaits is greater than anything that causes you to suffer in this life. God is your firm foundation!
In addition to standing your ground, shoes are also to be used for walking. God wants you to spread the gospel of peace to others so they can also hear and know the good news.
When Jesus was encouraging His disciples with a message of hope, He said:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
The devil will try to place as many sharp obstacles as he can on your path to keep you from sharing God’s plan of freedom. He would love nothing more than for you to stay in the darkness with him. So be ready for battle by putting on your sturdy, protective shoes each day.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15b
Shield of Faith
The Roman shield in Paul’s day was referred to as a “scutum.” It was rectangular, made of wood covered with leather, very large, and quite impressive. Because of its slight curve, it was better able to deflect attacks. Back then, arrows were dipped in oil, lit, and then shot at the enemy. So the shields were vital for protecting the soldier from getting burned.
The shield of faith is a protective barrier used to extinguish all the fiery arrows shot at you by the devil to try to challenge your faith. Without a strong faith, darts of doubt can penetrate your spirit, wounding you even to the point of causing spiritual death where you no longer believe in God. Faith recognizes the deception and immediately blocks those arrows.
Faith is having complete trust and confidence in God. When you believe in God’s character – who he says He is, and believe in His promises – that He will do what He says He’ll do, you are demonstrating true faith. Your faith is strengthened when you spend time in prayer, read and memorize God’s Word, and fellowship with others who have a strong faith in God. You remain grounded in truth and the challenges hurled at you by the enemy lose their power. Your faith becomes your shield.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
The shield of faith can also be used to help others. The Roman soldiers had a strategy of joining their shields together in a rectangular shape when the enemy would begin firing at them. Those in the middle of the rectangle would raise their shields over their heads to provide added protection for everyone from airborne weapons. If you join your shield with others who have a strong faith in God, your faith can be strengthened as well, allowing you to more easily take on those destructive missiles aimed at you.
A Vintage Victory Reminder
As a vintage costume jewelry collector, I am always on the lookout for interesting, unique pieces. After studying about the critical importance of putting on the armor of God, I could not resist this 1970s piece that I found with an armored knight on the front which I repurposed into an adjustable ring:
I thought it would serve very well as an important reminder, when I wear it, to start each day putting on the full armor of God so I can stand firm and fully protected against the enemy.
Know that you never have to fight your spiritual battles alone. God is always with you, protecting and strengthening you with His power so you can live in victory, regardless of the enemy’s strategy. God’s Word tells us when you resist the enemy, he has no choice but to run away!
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
Be prepared for the inevitable challenging battles you will face this year. Put on the full armor of God each day so you can stand firm and victorious against the defeated, powerless enemy while you live the life God planned for you in boundless freedom and victory!
Sparkler #1: Prayer
Ask God to give you discernment with what you allow to enter your mind, keeping your focus on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy so you can win the battle for your mind.
Sparkler #2: Action
Spend time each day with God in prayer, meditating on His Word, memorizing Scripture, and spending time with others who have a strong faith in God so you can keep your faith strong and win the battle for your spirit.
Sparkler #3: Challenge
Put on the full armor of God each day so you can fight the greatest challenges that come your way in the form of temptations that entice you to sin so you can win the battle for your heart.
*Sword – photo credit: Rama
Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed. To learn more, visit her website at kingdomsparkle.com.
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