By Dawn Wilson, Crosswalk.com
When times of crisis come, such as the pandemic of the coronavirus, Christians need a strategy for coping not only physically, but also spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. We might think the physical danger from viral disease is our only concern, but there’s far more at stake for Christ-followers.
President Trump and others liken the struggle against the coronavirus to a “war” against an invisible enemy. We have another invisible enemy, too—Satan. We can’t see him, but we see the effects of his attacks everywhere. The Bible says our adversary is seeking people to “devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Believers are admonished to put on the “armor of light” and clothe ourselves with Christ, but also to suit up in the armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-18). It’s not enough to know about the armor. We need to put on the armor and not miss a piece! As Ephesians 6:13 says, “Put on the full armor of God.”
Why? We’re fighting a war! Here are 6 steps to expect and embrace victory:
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1. Be Strong in the Lord
Before we put on the armor, we need to be clear why we’re doing it. No matter the crisis, we need to be strong. Paul says, “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10). The apostle reminds us our human strength may fail us, but when we rely on and rest in God’s strength, we can face anything. Scripture commands us to “be on our guard, stand firm in the faith,” and be courageous and strong (1 Corinthians 16:13).
The Lord is our omnipotent Commander-in-Chief, and He calls us to fight our battles and face our trials in His power. We prepare for battle by acknowledging, with humility, that our resource for strength and everything else is the Lord. He can help us stand strong and not be destroyed.
We can face any crisis—financial upheaval, relationship disintegration, firestorms and earthquakes … even a scary pandemic—“in the Lord” and His might!
A deadly virus or disease might attack our bodies, but for Christians the battle is not simply against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). A ruthless spiritual battle is also taking place, because Satan schemes to destroy our bodies, influence our thoughts, emotions and actions, and rob God of receiving glory through our life choices.
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2. Put on the Belt of Truth
Satan’s lies have always been “fake news.” In a crisis, he wants us to believe this spinning-out-of-control world is beyond God’s ability to save. The truth is, God is fully in control in every situation. Knowing this can help us experience freedom from fear and worry. Our anxieties can be swallowed up in the truth of who God is and what He can do in and through us.
The belt of the Roman soldier was thick and heavy leather and metal with a protective piece that covered the loins. This belt held the soldier’s sword, dagger or other weapons. It also gathered in his tunic so it wouldn’t snag on things. Ephesians 6:14 says we can stand firm in the battle—prepared and unhindered—when the belt of truth is buckled firmly.
It is fitting that truth is the first piece of armor. We come to the Lord of truth at salvation, and we live by the Spirit of truth and Word of truth. We’re to test what we hear against the scriptures. Holding firmly to Christ’s teachings and abiding in His words can bring freedom.
Abiding in the truth enables us to counter any lies that arise during a crisis. In scary times, wear the Belt of Truth!
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3. Wear the Breastplate of Righteousness
In Ephesians 6:14, Paul said to put on the “breastplate of righteousness.” Being righteous means we are obeying God’s Word and living in a way that honors Him. We are called to live with purity and integrity before a watching world.
In a crisis, Christians have opportunities to display righteous acts in many practical ways—righteous deeds God has prepared for us to model Jesus to the world.
The breastplate of a soldier’s armor was woven from metal chains and it covered the soldier’s vital organs. Without it, an enemy’s blows could be fatal. But with the breastplate, there is strong protection. Believers who fail to wear the breastplate of righteousness—those who cling to their sins—are wide open to Satan’s attacks.
There are temptations in crises to act outside the will of God; but those who guard their hearts find that purity produces power. Righteousness delivers from death!
The Lord is our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6). He is not looking for self-righteousness acts, which are “filthy rags.” Rather, He wants to transform us with His righteousness in Christ. He does this as we submit to Him as a “living sacrifice” and allow Him to renew our thoughts (Romans 12:1-2). In a time of crisis, wear your breastplate of righteousness!
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4. Step into the Shoes of Peace
In Ephesians 6:15, Paul says to prepare our feet with “the gospel of peace.” Shoes might not sound important when it comes to war, but the Roman soldier’s shoes were much like football cleats. Short blunted hobnails on their soles gave the warriors solid footing to step out without fear.
The gospel of peace is the good news of salvation through grace in Jesus. Paul called the feet of those who carried this gospel of peace into the world “beautiful.” Every Christian needs to be prepared through discipleship and spiritual mentoring so that in a crisis we can carry the gospel to those who are in despair.
The shoes of peace are also a reflection of God’s work in us. As Christ-followers, we are in a position of peace with God through salvation (Romans 5:1), and then we practice the peace of God in our sanctification (Philippians 4:7). The world without Jesus does not know peace. A frightened culture in crisis desperately needs to see the Lord’s peace through our lives (John 14:27). When trials come, live in peace!
5. Take Up the Shield of Faith
The shield mentioned in Ephesians 6:16 is a powerful weapon. It is the shield of faith—necessary in all circumstances—that’s especially needed in the thick of the battle. In the heat of a crisis, it is our faith that enables us to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” It is our first line of defense.
The Roman shield could be quite large, affording substantial protection. The enemy shot arrows that sometimes had cloth-covered tips, flaming with fire. Paul said faith quenches the “fiery darts” of the devil. Our enemy may try to puncture our spiritual strength by tempting us to doubt God or fear; but when we lift high the shield of faith, it can protect us.
Roman soldiers often closed ranks, raising their shields together to form a wall against deadly arrows. Likewise, believers can band together in faith to take on any challenge.
Living faith comes from the same place we received faith for salvation—from God (Ephesians 2:8; Galatians 2:20). If faith in God can move mighty mountains, calm surging seas, and deliver from a fiery furnace, faith in God’s power and provision can give us confidence in our current crisis too.
In tough times, have faith in God!
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6. Put on the Helmet of Salvation
Paul, perhaps referencing an Old Testament scripture (Isaiah 59:17), instructed believers to put on salvation as their “helmet” (Ephesians 6:17a). Soldiers wore helmets to protect from blows to the head. 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11 also mentions the helmet—our “hope of salvation.”
In a time of crisis, many voices claim it’s “the end of the world!” Some of these claims are not biblical; and some are directed at the believer’s hope in Christ. False teachings arise about salvation. But when we wear the biblical helmet of salvation—when we are rooted and grounded in Christ’s love by faith and in studying God’s Word—we can be protected from the “stinking thinking” in the world.
The truth is, the Bible says the believer is redeemed from the curse of the law and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. We cannot save ourselves; salvation is only in Jesus. The Lord is our salvation and strength, and we never need to succumb to fear (Psalm 3:8; Psalm 27:1).
When struggling with tough circumstances, we must never let the enemy throw our past back at us. In Christ, old things have passed away, and all things have become new. Whatever comes, reflect the power of God’s salvation!
The Sword of the Spirit
The sword of the Spirit, Paul tells us, is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). It is our powerful offensive weapon against the evils in the world. We can wear every other piece of armor, but if we fail to take up our sword, we’ll simply be a heavily-protected soldier. The sword allows us to move forward and conquer our enemy.
The Roman sword was a dual-edged, close-range weapon, intended to pierce through heavy metal armor. In Hebrews 4:12, the Christian’s double-edged sword is described as “living and powerful.” The Word of God is designed to cut through the enemy’s defenses—to divide truth and error. But the Sword must be skillfully used, first to take captive our own unruly thoughts, and then to refute faulty thinking in others.
In a crisis, some negative people will attack believers for their faith in God. Our example of how to wield the Sword is Jesus fighting off the attacks of Satan in Matthew 4. He wisely and skillfully used the scriptures.
Christians too must learn to live by the Word and use it skillfully. In a crisis, counter attack—compassionately—with appropriate scriptures. Above all, remember, there is power in prayer.
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The Power of Prayer
Some Bible teachers do not include prayer as a piece of armor, but others feel it empowers all the other pieces. Certainly, when we pray with alertness for all of God’s people, assisted by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:18), we contribute to the strength of the church in doing battle against the enemy and living in wisdom and godliness.
Albert Barnes wrote, in Barnes’ Notes (Heritage Edition, Vol. 12, p. 133): “No matter how complete the armour; no matter how skilled we may be in the science of war; no matter how courageous we may be, we may be certain that without prayer we shall be defeated.”
Prayer is how we stay connected to our Commander-in-Chief. The Holy Spirit helps us pray according to God’s will (Romans 8:26-27).
Paul’s prayer request in the thick of battle was for courage to proclaim the gospel. That should be our request—even greater than prayers for safety or healing—that we might obey our Commander’s commission, no matter our circumstances. When trials come, pray!
A Prayer for Using the Armor of God
Dear Father God, help me see beyond the tough circumstances we’re facing today. I know Your thoughts are not always my thoughts. Give me your perspective on world events, cultural disintegration, and scary circumstances.
Show me how your armor not only protects me in the battles of life, but also empowers me to strike a blow against the forces of evil in this world and make a difference for good in people’s lives. I want to be strong in you and your power, Lord.
I take up the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, and I wrap it all in prayers for victory. Thank you, Father, for the power to stand in the midst of any crisis because of the work of Christ in us. Amen.
Priscilla Shirer shared a powerful message on the Armor of God that will encourage your heart and strengthen you for the trials you may face during this pandemic:
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Dawn Wilson and her husband Bob live in Southern California. They have two married sons and three granddaughters. Dawn assists author and radio host Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with research and works with various departments at Revive Our Hearts. She is the founder and director of Heart Choices Today, publishes Upgrade with Dawn, and writes for Crosswalk.com and Christianity.com. Dawn also travels with her husband in ministry with Pacesetter Global Outreach.