I vividly remember growing up in this small country church back in the Midwest. Sunday mornings consisted of Sunday school class, followed by the Sunday morning service. One of the Sunday school lessons that was repeated most often and stuck with me was the armor of God in Ephesians 6.
My teacher, Mr. Ahlgren, talked about how important it was for us to make sure we were prepared for the battle (winning in the spiritual). He would tell us that a good soldier is always prepared. A good solider puts on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit. Mr. Ahlgren talked about the importance of each piece of equipment. I marveled at the sword of the spirit, as this was the only offensive weapon in the bunch. I mean come on, what middle-school boy doesn’t like the sword of the spirit? The armor of God seemed like a foolproof plan for defeating the enemy and overcoming temptation. The problem was, and is, that many Christians don’t live in victory. Many are overcome by temptation and sin. Why is that? Why aren’t more Christians winning in the spiritual? I think the answer lies in Ephesians 6:
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…
— Ephesians 6:13–14
Did you catch it? Did you see what Paul said? Don’t feel bad if you didn’t catch it, I didn’t catch it for a long time. Look closely at the beginning of verse 14. I think this is the key phrase to winning in the spiritual: stand firm then.
In verse 13, Paul tells the reader to put on the full armor of God and then says after you have done everything to stand. Stand firm then.
We often miss the dual nature of this passage. Most believers do one or the other. They put on the spiritual armor or they fight, but they miss the secret. The secret is to do both, to put on the spiritual armor and to stand firm then.
To win in the spiritual there are two parts: the preparation and the implementation. The preparation is putting on the armor of God, and the implementation is the battling of temptation.
Putting on the armor of God does not mean that success is inventible. Rather, success is the result of standing firm and fighting while dressed in the armor of God. A perfect example is Jesus when tempted by Satan in the desert. When Jesus was tempted what did he do? How did he respond? Jesus fought back using the sword of the spirit. Jesus was successful in the preparation and the implementation. May we be the same. So, today, put on the full armor of God and battle temptation and sin!