The Covid19 virus has changed us in so many ways it is hard to count them all. Certainly, we are more aware of our mortality. Hopefully, we are more conscious of our need for God. Other changes have been more subtle. Like changes to our vocabulary for instance. How many of us used the word “morbidities” or “herd immunity” before this pandemic hit us?
One new word or rather one new abbreviation that has entered our vocabulary, especially in the realm of health care workers, is PPE, Personal Protection Equipment. PPE generally consists of a Tyvek coverall, booties, medical cap, isolation gown, gloves, N95 mask and a face shield. These 7 pieces of equipment are considered essential to keeping health care workers safe from the Corona-virus as they battle it on the front lines. It would be foolish to go into Covid19 territory and encounter this unseen enemy without ones’ full array of PPE.
There is another kind of PPE that is actually more essential than what I have just described. I call it PPE for the soul. It might be better described as our SPE, our Spiritual Protection Equipment. Paul tells us about this critical equipment in Ephesians 6:10-20.
Paul begins his discussion by telling us to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:10-11). Clearly Paul wants us to know that we are in a spiritual battle and that we need the Lord’s help. We need his strength. A major reason for this is that we are up against the schemes of the devil. The word for schemes here in the Greek language is the word “methodias” from which we get our word methods.
Paul continues his discussion by reminding us that we indeed are in a spiritual battle, a battle with powerful invisible enemies. He says “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). There is undeniably a spiritual conflict, like it or not, that we are involved in. Because it is spiritual in nature it cannot be fought with traditional physical weapons. It must be fought with spiritual weapons. Yes, we do indeed need S.P.E., Spiritual Protection Equipment.
Paul then lays out for us our armor to be used against the devil’s methodologies. He says “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 firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Simply explained and simply understood the apostle Paul here is giving us a counter punch for every one of Satan’s methods, schemes and devices. Let me explain.
Satan is a liar so one of his primary weapons is deception. He is said to be a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). For that methodology we have the belt of truth. Physically speaking it is a simple leather belt that the Roman tunic was tucked in so the soldier would not be tripped up. Spiritually speaking for us the truth is in Christ (Ephesians 4:21) and thus we should live our lives characterized by authenticity and measure everything against the One who is the embodiment of truth, Jesus Christ.
Our adversary is the great accuser of the saints (Revelation 12:10). He damns us, shouting in our ear that we are not worthy and bringing our sins up before us. When he uses that strategy, we are protected by the breastplate of righteousness. In Roman times that was a beaten metal covering of the back and front of the torso protecting the vital organs of the heart and lungs. For us it is the declaration by God that we are righteous in His sight. This is not through any merits of our own but it is through Jesus Christ the Righteous One, who is our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:2).
Our enemy is the author of chaos and he seeks to split God’s people into factions. He wants to divide us. For this scheme we have the sandals of the gospel of peace. These were sandals/shoes with spikes on the bottom for traction. For us, we take our stand having experienced peace with God in salvation and the peace of God in daily life. We now are able to experience peace with one another. Now we should be making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3)
The devil is the greatest sower of distrust in history. From the beginning in the Garden when he said to Eve “Has God said….?” he and his minions have sought to cause believers to doubt the person of God and the Word of God. To quench his fiery arrows the Lord has provided us with the shield of faith. The Roman shield was typically made of wood and was 2 ft. wide by 4 ft. high and overlaid with leather. Our shield of faith today it is our on dependence God. We are saved by faith not by our works (Ephesians 2:8-9). We now appropriate God’s provisions for us by faith (Ephesians 3:16). We also, as followers of Christ, have one set of common core beliefs. Paul’s description of these beliefs is “one faith” (Ephesians 4:5).
The thief comes to rob and to kill and to destroy. His effectiveness in using this strategy often leads to a sense of hopelessness and despair. Thankfully, we have the helmet of salvation. Physically this was a beaten metal head covering designed to survive the best swing of the enemy’s sword. Paul describes it for us in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 as “a helmet, the hope of salvation”. This refers to our eternal hope, our hope of heaven and eternal life. This hope protects our minds and steadies our soul.
When we see the armory of weapons our opponent has it can be intimidating. It can also make us feel defenseless, like we are unarmed. We are not. We have the Sword of the Spirit. Paul is referring here to a 12 to 18 inch dagger used to do hand to hand combat against the forces of darkness. It is further described as the Word of God, meaning the individual passages of Scripture. We see how Jesus used those individual passages of the Word while being tempted by the devil in the wilderness (See Matthew 4 and Luke 4).
Please note the imperative Paul gives us regarding this Spiritual Protection Equipment. He tells to take up or pick up the whole armor of God (v. 13). The SPE is there for our use. We need only to pick it up. The first word of v.18 may give us the way forward in putting on the whole armor of God. The word is “praying….” It could be translated “by means of praying”. We put the full armor of God, the gospel armor if you will, our spiritual protection equipment, through prayer.
Here is a helpful prayer to use to put on our SPE every day:
Lord Jesus, You are the Captain of the Hosts of God, I report to duty this day and ask that you deploy me as You will. Thank you for providing the whole armor of God so that I can stand in the mist of the battle. I stand therefore having put on the belt of truth to protect me from the deception of the forces of darkness. I will filter everything though Your truth. I stand therefore having but on the breastplate of righteousness to protect me from the damming of the great accuser of the brethren, Satan himself. I will listen to Your declaration about me not Satan’s. I stand therefore having put on the sandals of the gospel of peace to protect me from division. I will not allow the peace brought to me with others through You to be disrupted. I will be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
In every circumstance I will take up the shield of faith that will protect me from the doubts and disillusionment hurled at me in the form of fiery darts from the wicked one. I will resist him being steadfast in what I believe knowing my brethren are suffering the same thing. I take up the helmet of salvation to protect me from despair and hopelessness. I will protect my mind with the realization that my salvation gives me hope now and eternally. Finally, I take up the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. I am not defenseless. Your Word is sharper than any two -edged sword and will not return to You void. I will memorize it, meditate on it, study it and apply it.
I put on this armor in Your name, for Your kingdom, for the glory of God. Amen.
Pastor Dave Watson