17: It's Time To Suit Up And Stand
**To kick off our Daniel series, and in preparation for moving into our new home on October 18th, the elders have invited our church family to a 28-day season of prayer and fasting. These daily devotionals correspond with the 28-day Bible reading countdown to the day we celebrate our soft opening.**
"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 breastplate of righteousness...Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
Paul lived in a time very much like ours. There was great turmoil, riots, social unrest, and struggles for political power. There was reason to be discouraged. There was reason to be overwhelmed by the evil that seemed to prevail. There was reason to want to give up. But Paul's final words aren't filled with hopelessness. He doesn't look around at all the evil in the world and think it's over. He doesn't throw in the towel and tell us to hope for the best.
Just the opposite.
He tells us that it's time to suit up (this is the part where I picture Ironman suiting up to defend planet earth from her invaders. Only...this type of armor is slightly better than anything Tony Stark could design). Paul says something pretty universe-shattering in the next paragraph.
Typical of Paul, he draws heavily on what's been written in the past, this time from the book of Isaiah. Follow me here.
The context is this: The Servant, who was slain like a lamb for the sins of his people (in Isaiah 53), is now looking out over the earth (Isaiah has already made so many parallels between The LORD and His Servant--read: Jesus--that it's hard to separate them). He sees injustice everywhere. Righteousness stands at a distance. Truth is nowhere to be found. Darkness is everywhere. Honesty cannot enter the streets (Isaiah 59:12-19).
And so what does He do? It says the LORD was "appalled that there was no one to intervene, so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head." (Isaiah 59:17).
Did that last part sound familiar? Yup, because that's right where Paul quoted it in Ephesians. What does it sound like The LORD/The Servant/Jesus is doing? He's dressing up for battle against the "rulers and authorities and against the powers of this dark world" (read the rest of Isaiah 59).
Now, if we are in Christ and we are His body (Ephesians 4:4), then what Paul is saying is Christ is dressing for battle and he's doing it through His body, the Church. The Church, in Christ, is being raised up as a Mighty Warrior to do battle against the spiritual forces of darkness. And the darkness will not prevail.
It doesn't matter who is president.
It doesn't matter how dark it is.
It doesn't matter what the headlines say.
The Church. Will. Win. We will fight, and we will be victorious.
Whatever you're facing today, whatever today brings, you can stand firm in Christ. So suit up today and remember: whether you're putting on your tie or your blouse or your Carhartt's, you're also suiting up with millions and millions of other believers who are forming a Mighty Warrior.So let's do battle today. Battle against temptation, battle against division, battle against lies, battle against the spiritual forces at work in our relationships. Together, we'll be victorious.
Suiting up and standing with you,