Saturday, November 26, 2011

ARMOR OF GOD FOR SPIRITUAL STRUGGLES

- Fr Dr Paul Kariamadom V.C.

Eph 6:14-17 talks about the armor of God that the faithful have to put on against sin and the wiles of the devil. A Christian warrior sheathed in this armor will be able to resist the devil in the days of evil and stand firm in carrying out his responsibilities. Since the Apostle had lived in the Roman Empire, he knew about the armor the Roman soldiers put on during their fight against the enemies of the Empire.

The Apostle points out that a Christian warrior also needs similar armor in his spiritual struggle.

Here are the powerful words of exhortation:

Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet, put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph 6:14-17).

 
The Apostle speaks about the armor of the faithful in 1 Thess 5:8 also:
Since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. Let us now briefly discuss the various components of the armor.


1. The first thing to be done in putting on the armor of the Christian warrior is fastening the belt of truth. 

One who has fastened his belt is ready for action. One who wears truth as his belt does not have to worry about anything because Jesus himself is the truth. He has said, I am the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6). He was always the yes of the Heavenly Father (2 Cor 1:20).

Jesus came into this world to bear witness to truth (Jn 18:37-38).

He also declared that truth will make one free (Jn 8:32). 

But man feared the Truth and rejected it with sneering ridicule. The apostle makes it clear that the fruits of light appears in virtues, righteousness and truth (Eph 5:9).

When Jesus says, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Mt 5:8), he is referring to the people who have dedicated their lives to truth.

The satyagrahas of Mahatma Gandhi were in search of Truth (God). 

When I live an upright life, basing my words and deeds on Truth, I dont have to be worried about any enemy. 

When somebody fastens his belt, he should take a firm determination to say and do the truth.



2. The second exhortation that the Christian warrior gets is to stand firm wearing the breastplate of righteousness.

This exhortation is a call to sanctity.

The most valuable treasure a person can have is a life of righteousness, of purity. 

Jesus came to this world to fulfill all righteousness (Mt 3:15). 

Pilate and his wife called him a just man (Mt 27: 19, 24).

They did not see any case against him (John 19:4, 6). 

Jesus could ask, Which of you convicts me of sin? (John 8:46). 

The life of Joseph is summed up by saying that he was a righteous man (Mt 1:19).

The kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are persecuted for righteousness sake (Mt 5:10). The apostles take pride in the weapons of righteousness in their right hand and left hand (2 Cor 6:7). The lives of martyrs underline the fact that the righteous are not afraid even of death.

The life of a righteous person stands as a challenge to the sinners.

One who has worn the breastplate of righteousness does not have to fear any adversary. It will always safeguard him. When we put on clothes we should endeavour. to clothe ourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:24).



3. Thirdly, the Christian warriors are asked to put on the shoes of readiness for proclaiming the gospel of peace.

Jesus is the Gospel, the Good News.

He is also Peace. Because of that he was able to unite the Jews and Gentiles and break down the dividing wall, the hostility, between them (Eph 2:14).

The ultimate aim of proclaiming the Gospel is to bring about peace among the people, societies, nations and the entire world. The one who has put on the shoes of readiness is the one who is ready to embark on the Gospel voyage. How beautiful are their feet! (Rom 10:15; Is 52:7).

The precious gift they give is peace (Lk 10:5). 

Wasnt the ultimate gift of Jesus also peace? (Jn 20:19). 

His peace is not like the peace given by the world (Jn 14:27).

Real peace comes only when there is tranquility in the different spheres of man external, inner and spiritual. 

Peace is the sum and substance of salvation.

Politicians, however astute they are reputed to be, cant bring about real peace and healing. That is why we see atheistic and agnostic outfits crack and crumble sooner or later. 

Even today the Christian mission is the establishment of peace by trampling over and trouncing the powers of evil through the proclamation of the Gospel. 

Let us wear our shoes of readiness by praying, Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace!



4. Fourthly, we are asked to brandish the shield of faith to quench the flaming arrows of the evil one. 

In the ancient days, during wars, flaming arrows were shot at the enemy to prevent them from advancing and inflict injury.

In Psalm 7:13, we read about the arrows of God being made into fiery shafts. To face the flaming arrows, fiery shafts, combatants used huge shields. They were made of wood and were covered with hides and skins. They were 4 feet in height and 2 feet in breadth. 

The shield of a Christian is his faith. God is the shield of all those that seek refuge in him (Ps 18:30-35).

Faith is seeking refuge in the power of Jesus, the Lord and Saviour

In 1 Pet 5:9, we get the advice to resist Satan by being firm and steadfast in our faith.

In Rom 11:20 also we see the necessity to be steadfast in the faith.

By grace you have been saved through faith (Eph 2:8).

There is no doubt that somebody who is steadfast in his faith can resist any assault of the adversary.

In Heb 11 there are extensive and elaborate descriptions about the great persons that lived and died in glowing faith. The world was not even worthy enough to receive the great people of faith.

Faith, even the size of a mustard seed, has the power to move mountains, great abstacles (Mt 17:20). 

Even today many flaming arrows are shot at us. 

Only with the shield of deep faith can we quench the fiery shafts of impurity, lust, faithlessness, despair, atheism, fanaticism, lack of love and lack of the sense of sin.



5. The fifth exhortation a Christian gets is to don the helmet of salvation.

Salvation is reaching God after getting forgiveness for ones sins. One who has donned the helmet of salvation is secure and safe. Nobody can harm him.

There is no salvation in any one else except in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12).

One who is in Christ is a new creation (2 Cor 5:17).

Jesus means Saviour (Mt 1:21).

It is to that person who receives Jesus joyfully in his house that salvation comes (Lk 19:9).

One who dons the helmet of salvation is the one who experiences this salvation after being forgiven his sins, in sharing in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Getting salvation is the basic and ultimate aim of the life of faith.



6. The sixth item in the armor of the Christian warrior is the sword of the Spirit the Word.

We are very keen on, and enthusiastic about, our physical safety and security.

The weapons for spiritual security are truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the Word and these constitute the foundation for a spiritual life.

But, unfortunately, we often feel reluctant to carry them with us. One who has this armor on all the time can face any adversary without fear and can march forward joyfully.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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