What is your experience of the Christian life? Some say Christianity is a crutch for the weak but to follow Christ is to choose the narrow uphill path, tough-going at times and beset with battles as those who travel this path well know. Many get bruised and battered, some fall by the wayside or just give up and pursue what seems to be an easier way. Science Fiction depicts super heroes that have awesome armour and carry amazing weapons – take Darth Vader’s Helmet with Breastplate, a Jedi’s Lightsabre or Captain America’s Shield. Of far greater worth than these fictional items is the heavenly armour that the Apostle Paul describes to support Christians on each one’s epic tough journey. Can you describe it, visualise it and do you wear it?
- ‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour 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 armour 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. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people’ – Ephesians 6:10-18
Paul drew his inspiration from his own spiritual life and times of imprisonment when guarded by Roman soldiers. Many thousands of sermons have been preached from this famous passage and as you meditate upon it, you will find courage and inspiration to put on each piece of the armour so that you may be able to stand your ground with the full backing of the Word of God. Is it any wonder that the days we feel most battered are those when we haven’t thanked God for this armour and consciously ‘put it on’? Use this Booster to consider what the role of each part of the armour might be and how you can benefit from this heavenly armour.
- ‘The believer may be known by his inward warfare as well as by his inward peace’ – J C Ryle
- ‘All whom the Lord has chosen and received into the society of his saints ought to prepare themselves for a life that is hard, difficult, laborious and full of countless griefs’ – John Calvin
- ‘For the Christian, this world is an arena not an armchair’ – John Blanchard
- ‘There can never be peace in the bosom of a believer. There is peace with God but constant war with sin’ – Robert Murray M’Cheyne
- ‘It is impossible to be a true solder of Jesus Christ and not fight’ – J Gresham Machen
Two years after having been a solider in the English Civil War, Private John Bunyan put his faith in Christ. Bunyan had learnt about the horror of brutal warfare but he was then imprisoned for his Christian faith and came to understand the depths of spiritual warfare. His most famous book entitled ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ traces the steps of a pilgrim he calls ‘Christian’ through the battles of life until he movingly ‘crosses the River Jordan’.
‘This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up, heart; let's neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe’ – John Bunyan, Pilgrims Progress
John Bunyan’s language may seem a bit archaic but we can get the sentiment. He knew that his citizenship was of another place and that he needed to press on that narrow path, not turning to the left or the right.
- ‘But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body’ – Philippian 3:20-21
- ‘Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus’ – Philippians 3:12-14
- ‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it’ – Matthew 7:13-14
The path marked out for each one who has the privilege of being a follower of Christ is not an easy one but we are encouraged to endure: ‘Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him’ – James 1:12
Whatever you may be going through, realise that it is only a temporary trial ‘on-the-journey’. Take heart, put your armour on and press on to take hold of all that God has for you. An old song composed by Jamie Owens-Collins in 1984 is a good way to finish this meditation:
‘In heavenly armour we'll enter the land,
The battle belongs to the Lord
No weapon that's fashioned against us shall stand,
The battle belongs to the Lord
We sing glory and honour,
Power and strength to the Lord’
TAGS – spiritual, battle, armour of God, press on