The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4: 18-19 (NKFV)
This is a time, once again, of the persecution of Christians, between the man seeking Christians to kill them, ISIS destroying many others, and other incidences that are occurring all over the world. Many people ask why? Why do people do such evil things? Why is there so much hatred in this world? Are these people crazy or brainwashed? Who in their right mind would carelessly, and willingly, take lives? These questions that are asked are brushed aside by things such as "it just is," or a shrug of the shoulder with a response of "I don't know." What we fail to acknowledge or accept is that these people who are doing awful things are still just people. They have loved ones, dreams, the need to provide for themselves and others, but they also have flaws and sins. They're human just like you and me, created in God's own image. Our battle is not with these people, though it may seem like it is. No, our battle is with the unseen, the power of darkness, the Father of lies, Satan himself and his demons, his spiritual followers.
Ephesians 6: 10-13 (NKJV)
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
So how do we fight the things that are not seen, the rulers of the darkness of this age that Paul speaks of? What is the armor of God, and how can it withstand so much evil?
The battle of the unseen doesn't require weapons of the flesh. No, that would only cut through people, not the evil that surrounds us. The spiritual battle requires spiritual weapons: the armor of God.
Ephesians 6: 14-20 (NKJV)
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saint - and for me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
We are fighting a battle so we need to be dressed properly for one. Every soldier needs a helmet, sword, shield, shoes, breastplate, and a belt, and God has given us all these in His and our battle against Satan.
The Belt of Truth: Truth is what we stand for. In and of itself, truth is powerful. It cuts away lies, it rises to the surface and can never be buried, but more importantly, it sets us free. We needed to be guided with truth so that we don't fall into the deception of Satan.
The Breastplate of Righteousness: Righteousness guards our heart. It's a distinct characteristic of God, himself, and he bestows it upon his people to stand strong against evil. This is our first line of defense, it protects us when evil is pounding down our door, trying to break us from the inside. The righteousness we find and rely on in God's holiness defends us. Without it, we become vulnerable to Satan and our souls are unprotected.
Shod your feet with the Gospel of Peace: Our feet are what support us. The gospel is what keeps us firm in God. The gospel assures us of our peace with God, that, through Jesus Christ, we are forgiven of our sins, saved from an eternal hell, and forever permitted to be in God's presence. By shoeing our feet with the gospel of peace, we can go forth knowing God is with us, and He is our strength.
The Shield of Faith: This battle we fight is an unseen battle. We can only fight the unseen by faith in the unseen. Our faith in God and our trust in His promises protect us from temptation. The shield protects our hand, feet, and our entire body. Our trust in God, His promises, and what He has already done for us keep us from falling into the traps Satan lays for us. That the things of the body, this world, and our desires are better than the things God has for us, better than God, himself.
The Helmet of Salvation: The helmet protects our head and therefore our mind. This helmet assures us of our salvation. Those in Christ are saved, and nothing can change that. Satan tries to plant doubt in our minds, that we have to work for our salvation, that it's not a gift from God who loves us and freely gives it to us. Though he plants doubts, the helmet of salvation eternally protects our salvation and Christians can be strong in that promise.
The Sword of the Spirit: This is our weapon, the only weapon we need, God's word. As Christians, we believe God's word to be divine truth, and no evil can stand against it. The word strikes into evil and cuts it down. We need to constantly be in the word so that we can have our sword ready at any moment.
There is one last thing we need before, during, and after our battle with Satan and the evil around us, and that is prayer. We can't do this on our own. Our bodies are just as susceptible to evil and Satan's calls of lies as the people who fall for them daily who are destroying human life. By praying before battle, we're asking God to be with us to help us stand firm, and to give us courage. During the battle, we pray he gives us the words we need to fend off the lies, the strength to fend off temptations, and the protection and assurance of His promises. After the battle, we thank the Lord that with His help we defeated evil this time, or for forgiveness if we fall. We're not perfect and even with the armor of God, we fall into the lies, the temptation, the sins of this world and our hearts. But, through Jesus, we can come back to God and ask for forgiveness, repent, and turn from it.
Our battle is not with the people who do evil deeds; our battle is with the evil that drives the evil deeds. So, if you ever hear the question, "Why?" you can answer with the truth of the gospel of the Lord. The spiritual battle is real, and it's here. Don't ignore it, and don't brush it aside. Fight it with the armor of God!