Invisible Enemy, Invisible Power
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 the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:16b-17
“Red alert,” “specific terrorists’ threats,” we hear on the news. How should we respond to such warnings? We may become fearful or angry. We may be tempted to panic! There seems to be no stopping the enemy. We don’t know where he’ll strike next.
Frightening as the threats are, the Bible warns Christians that they are fighting an even more sinister enemy called the Devil or Satan. We are involved in an invisible, spiritual war. Paul reminds us that we must fight this spiritual battle by being strong in the Lord and His mighty power (Ephesians 6:10).
We are told to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-17). Our armor is not the usual army gear but a belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, shoes with the gospel of peace, a shield of faith, a helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. We can’t see truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation or the Spirit, so we may question how effective these tools are.
But because our battle is spiritual, so are our weapons. We read in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
Martin Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” describes this battle:
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That one little word is the name of Jesus! Luther identifies Him as “Lord Sabaoth,” which is sometimes translated “the LORD Almighty” or “the Lord of Hosts.” He is the commander of “those who are under the leadership and protection of Jehovah and maintain his cause in war.”*
Luther’s hymn ends:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
Put on the armor of God. He who controls the universe has given you His divine power with that armor. His kingdom is forever.
How would the gospel of peace protect us during the battle? Read John 14:27. How is the peace Jesus gives to us different than peace in the world?
Except for the Sword of the Spirit, the armor of God is defensive. How can we take the offensive and wield the Sword of the Spirit when the devil tells us lies such as “You’re not saved”? Read 1 John 5:11-12. What if he says, “You’re weak and sinful”? Read 1 Corinthians 10:13.
When Jesus was hungry after fasting for forty days, how did He wield the Sword against the Enemy? Read Matthew 4:1-11. Using cross-references or footnotes, can you find the verses in Deuteronomy and Psalms that Jesus quoted in Matthew 4?
Read Ephesians 6:18, Romans 8:26-27, and Jude 1:20. What does it mean to pray in the Spirit? Why is prayer important when we’re fighting the enemy?
Luther’s hymn may be found at http://nethymnal.org/htm/m/i/mightyfo.htm.
Nancy J. Baker