I spent the last few weeks studying the armor of God to learn how I can come out from behind the wall of protection I’d built around my heart and truly love others.
The goal of this study was to get a better understanding of how God’s protection can a) give me peace to trust that I’m truly protected, and b) encourage me to step out and love others the way He told me to.
God showed me this week that the main reason He gave us the armor was to stand and pray.
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. … 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.
Specifically, we’re to pray for all the Lord’s people.
But He reminds us that we’re not praying for people so that we can change them. Prayer isn’t a way to manipulate others. Paul tells us specifically, in the verse right before this, that people aren’t the enemy.
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.
But even when we’re struggling with the dark powers and spiritual forces, we have to remember that satan has already been defeated.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Our job is to enforce his defeat by standing our ground and not believing his lies.
So why does he seem so powerful? Why is the world filled to overflowing with so much hate and harm that’s obviously the work of the devil?
Because so many people in the world believe his lies. The world is filled with hate and harm because people believe – and act on – the lies of the devil.
How can I fight all that evil?
I can’t. And God didn’t ask me to.
I Timothy 6:12
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
The fight of faith is holding onto the truth of God.
That’s why the armor is given to me to stand my ground, not to advance and attack.
Holding on to my faith when I’m constantly bombarded with lies is a mighty fight. But when I succeed in standing my ground, I find rest and peace.
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
God tells us that the effort we expend is for the purpose of entering His rest.
How does me resting defeat the lies of the enemy? It’s an act of faith.
When I rest in the truth of God’s Word, I’m doing so because I believe that He’s already defeated the enemy and I believe He will expose the lies of the dark forces coming against me and my family.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
This verse, about the power of God’s Word as a sword, comes immediately after the verses about making the effort to enter into God’s rest.
It’s not our job to make every effort to defeat the spiritual forces of evil. It’s our job to make every effort to enter God’s rest and trust that He will defeat the forces of evil.
And trust me, it takes a lot of effort to enter into that rest. Because those same forces are doing everything they can to keep us from entering that rest.
But we’ve been well-equipped. We can surround our bodies and minds with the truth of His Word (His armor) and then rest knowing we’re safe in Him.
When I’m at rest in God, it’s much easier to love others and share the peace and rest He’s given me with them.
How has entering into God’s rest helped you love others?
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo courtesy Joe Oliva