Wage a Winning War for Life (Part 2)

I read that it costs America $400,000 a year to keep one soldier there in Iraq. And this figure does not even include basic pay. That’s how much they spend per American soldier.[1] But that’s nothing compared to what God has done, is doing and will continue to do just to make sure we live victorious lives here on earth. He really has spared no effort.

Let’s read Ephesians 6:13-17... 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 belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, 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.[2]

Our battle is very intense. We are facing a very powerful enemy. Thus, we must fight with a full battle gear. Verse 13 says we must “put on the full armor of God” or “Use every piece of God’s armor”.[3] Paul used the imagery of a Roman soldier’s armor to illustrate how we can wage a winning war for life.

Note the words “In addition to all this...” in verse 16. We can divide the armor into two parts: “The first three—girdle, breastplate, and shoes—were for long-range preparation and protection and were never taken off on the battlefield. The shield, helmet, and sword, on the other hand, were kept in readiness for use when actual fighting began”.[4] Today we look into the first part that deals with preparation. Someone wrote that to be prepared before the battle is to win half of the battle already.

The first piece of the armor is “the belt of truth buckled around [the] waist” (v. 14a). A Roman soldier wore a six-inch wide leather belt. He tucks his tunic or shirt in the belt to keep it in place. Otherwise, during a fight, the tunic would hinder his moves. It also held in place the breastplate and the sword. We are to “Let the truth be like a belt around [our] waist”.[5] In other words, it has to do with being committed to the truth, not only in our beliefs but also in our lives. So we are to live COMMITED lives.

Our enemy gains a foothold in our lives when we lie. For he is “a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). When we lie, we become his slaves.

There was a boy who threw stones at a flock of ducks just for the fun of scaring them. But he accidentally hits one on the head. It died on the spot. He was so afraid that his father would punish him for killing the duck. So, he immediately buried the duck to cover-up the crime. He thought nobody saw him. After dinner, his elder brother told him to wash the dishes. He protested. “It’s your turn tonight.” But his brother whispered to him, “I saw what you did to the duck. If you don’t follow me, I will tell Dad.” So, he had to wash the dishes. The next morning, his brother told him, “Go feed the pigs. Or else...” Throughout the day, he virtually became his brother’s slave. When evening came, he told his brother, “You wash the dishes.” His brother hissed at him, “What? You want me to tell Dad about the duck?” He replied, “I already told Dad. He already forgave me. Now, go wash the dishes.” Really, the truth sets us free.

Do you know what quality irritates the boss the most? Burke Marketing Research asked this question to executives in 100 out of the 1,000 largest companies in America. Lying or dishonesty topped the list. According to the study, “If a company believes that an employee lacks integrity, all positive qualities—ranging from skill and experience to productivity and intelligence—become meaningless.”[6]

According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary, “As a soldier’s belt or sash gave ease and freedom of movement, so truth gives freedom with self, others and God.” Paul wrote, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”[7] Thus, we must live truthful lives.

The second piece of the armor is “the breastplate of righteousness” (v. 14b). To protect his vital organs, a Roman soldier wore a breastplate. It is usually made of leather or metal that covered his entire back and front side. It means living our lives in such a way that reflects the fact that God made us right with Him through the death of Jesus Christ. We are to live CONSISTENT lives.

Our enemy is an accuser. He “accuses [us] before our God day and night”.[8] Whenever we would sin, he would point a finger at us and condemn us before God. He also attacks us by reminding us of our dark past. Remember that the breastplate protects the vital organs like the heart and the intestines. In the Bible, the heart is a symbol of our mind and the intestines our emotions. If we listen to our accuser, we would get so discouraged. We will end up thinking we can never live a godly life. Yes, we were sinners before. But Romans 8:1 assures us that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.

This is how it works. We cannot make ourselves right before God. So, 2 Corinthians 5:21 tell us, “God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”[9] The Good News Bible translated the purpose clause this way: “in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God.” So, God made us right with Him when we accepted the Lord Jesus as our Savior. That’s why Romans 8:33 declared: “Who will accuse God’s chosen people? God himself declares them not guilty!”[10] Of course, we still sin. But that does not change the fact that we are now righteous in God’s eyes.
This is really very practical. We usually face office politics. There are some people who would bring others down because they thought that would boost them up. And when we do our job well, they feel that made them look bad. So, they try to discredit us. That’s what happened to the prophet Daniel, who served as governor in the Persian Empire. King Darius wanted to promote him because “he did his work so much better than the other governors and officials”.
[11] His enemies however “tried to find something wrong with the way Daniel did his work for the king. But they could not accuse him of anything wrong, because he was honest and faithful and did everything he was supposed to do.”[12] That’s living a righteous life. I pray we all live like Daniel. Thus, since God made us right with Him, let us live right for Him. Titus 2:14 says, “[Christ] gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing what is right.”[13]

The third piece of the armor is the sandals. “For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared.”[14] Charles Swindoll described the sandals of the Roman soldier this way: “Called the caliga, it was an open-toed leather boots with a nail-studded sole, and it was tied to the ankles and shins with leather straps. Obviously, these caligas were not used for fleeing or pursuing enemies. Rather, they were used in hand-to-hand combat. …they were meant to give maximum footing and traction to prevent sliding, thus giving the Romans the edge in the trenches of war.”[15] Peace, like the sandals, provides stability. Thus, in the midst of the struggles we face every day, we are to live CONFIDENT lives.

Note that this is “the peace that comes from the Good News”. Before, we were God’s enemies. But now, Romans 5:1 tell us that, “since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”[16] We are now reconciled with God when we put our trust on the Lord Jesus as our Savior. Therefore, since God no longer considers us His enemy, now we have Him by our side. That ought to give us confidence. “If God is for us, who can be against us?”[17] I like The Message translation: “With God on our side like this, how can we lose?”

During a battle, usually the enemy would try to create fear. We call that a “psy-war.” It’s much like terrorism. It capitalizes on fear. That’s why generals would always give pep-talks to their troops in order to boost their morale. Now when faced with a problem, we tend to worry a lot. We become paralyzed with fear. But Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This is not a pep-talk. This is God’s promise. Because we have peace with God, we now have the peace of God. That’s why the Lord Jesus assures us in John 16:33, “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”[18]

Yes, brothers and sisters. Our Lord has conquered the world. No matter what trials we are facing in our personal and corporate lives, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”[19] So let us live committed, consistent and confident lives.

Let’s pray...

[1]Figures from http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/chronicle/3828480.html.
[2]All Bible verses are from the New International Version, unless otherwise noted.
[3]New Living Translation (NLT)
[4]Dr. John MacArthur, Jr., Ephesians (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary).
[5]Contemporary English Version (CEV)
[6]From the illustration database of Biblical Studies Foundation (http://www.bible.org/illus.asp?topic_id=830).
[7]Acts 24:16
[8]Revelation 12:10
[9]NLT
[10]Good News Bible
[11]Daniel 6:3, CEV
[12]Daniel 6:4
[13]NLT
[14]Ibid
[15]Charles Swindoll, Becoming a People of Grace (An Exposition of Ephesians)
[16]NLT
[17]Romans 8:31
[18]The Message
[19]Romans 8:37

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