In our journey in the theme of In the Arena, we’ve completed our study of I Cor. 16:13, 14 and now turn our attention to a new topic, an extremely relevant passage for us: Eph. 6:10-18. “Put on the full armor of God…”
We all have challenges on numerous levels these days, but ultimately, the battle in the center of our arena is not against flesh and blood. Your opponent is not your boss at work, nor a family member, nor a political office holder you disagree with.
Your real enemy, in the arena you are standing in, to quote Eph. 6:12, “is the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Your enemy, my enemy, is the real enemy, Satan.
With that enemy, finding ourselves engaged in a battle against spiritual forces, we need special weapons and equipment—the full armor of God. In his study of this issue, I invited the teaching of a friend, Steve Phillips. Steve spent 10 years on the police force in Portland, OR; he pastored a church for 13 years in Colorado; he is an elder and men’s ministry leader, and he’s a student of the Bible.
Steve has perceptive insights into the spiritual warfare we men find ourselves in, and the following two posts will be dedicated to the topic “The Full Armor of God.”
First, we need to lay a foundation of presuppositions about warfare based on clear Scriptural evidence:
- We are in warfare.
“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. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:3-5
You and I are engaged in a battle, largely unseen, that has raged since before the birth of humankind. We know that almighty God is victorious in the end. Until then, the battle continues, and it impacts you and me.
- The Enemy has weapons of warfare.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I Pe. 5:8
Our Enemy is specifically engaged in what we might call stealth-warfare. He is continually looking to take us out through lies, deception and shame.
- Having non-negotiable convictions are a mandate.
“When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.” 2 Sam. 23:11, 12
“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” Daniel 1:8
Even when others gave ground, or compromised their commitment, men like David, Shammah and Daniel stood firm.
- God is looking for men who will “stand in the gap.”
“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” Ez. 22:30
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…” 2 Chron 16:9
It’s common for men to avoid standing up for what they believe in, especially if they are alone. It’s the unusually courageous man who steps up, even when others don’t.
- Warfare has goals.
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Mt. 16:18
The language of this verse implies action on the part of the Church, not simply defense against attacks.
- Win the war.
- Take ground; take back lost ground
- Don’t surrender ground.
- Defeat the enemy.
- Set the captive free.
We tend to live our lives as if they are the “main story,” with a vague awareness of a distant spiritual battle going on—when the opposite is true— our personal life is a fairly limited blip in time, in the midst of timeless ongoing warfare in the heavenly realm.
As men In the Arena, we are clearly engaged in a battle on many fronts. But we have one true enemy, the Father of Lies, who is committed to your destruction, and that of those you love.
Who in your life needs you to “stand in the gap” for them? What might that look like?
My greatest joy in life is my family. I know, that sounds like the comment you’re supposed to make as a man and father. All I can say is I literally shake my head in wonder at the family I have: my wife Beryl; my daughter Barclay and son-in-law Vince, their four daughters, Bella, Brynn, Brooke and Blake; my son Alec, my son Conor and daughter-in-law Bonnie, their daughter Gemma and son Calvin. Every one of them is a genuine gift. Beyond that, I have a calling that I live out through Peregrine Ministries. It is to help men: Understand their identity in Christ, Embrace their role as men, and Live out their God-given calling in life. Bottom line is I’m convinced men matter and I want to help them live life on purpose.