“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord
and in the power of His might. Put on the
whole armor of God, that you may be able to
stand against the wiles of the devil”
(Ephesians 6:10-11 NKJV).
In a visit to Makwanpur district in Nepal, I was surprised at the number of bee hives that we saw. There were many groups of several dozen hives clustered in fields along our route.
As we departed the district after a few days of teaching we saw men working the hives, uncovering them, taking out the component parts, and inspecting the health and productivity of the bees.
The surprising part of this, to me at least, was the fact that the workers had protective nets over their heads and faces, but many of them wore short sleeved shirts with no gloves.
They were only partially protected against the stings of upset bees. If the bees were harmless, why wear the nets? If harmful, why not be completely protected? I suppose only the hive workers themselves could account for their choice.
As Christians, we are constantly exposed to an enemy far more dangerous than any swarm of bees. Paul reminds us:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and
blood, but against principalities, against
powers, against the rulers of the darkness
of this age, against spiritual hosts of
wickedness in the heavenly places”
He follows this ominous warning with an emphatic exhortation, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God” (v. 13).
Many of us have heard numerous sermons on the armor of God. We are familiar with Paul’s list of parts–the belt, shoes, helmet, breastplate, shield, and sword. Though we may have never equipped ourselves with the literal military clothing as it is described, we understand the nature and use of each piece.
It is not difficult to translate that understanding to the spiritual realm and to apply Paul’s lesson to our lives. To successfully battle against sin and temptation, we must have an abundance of faith, truth, peace, and righteousness. That much is clear.
But we may miss the importance of Paul’s adjective, “whole.” It is sometimes said of complex objects, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
For instance a gourmet dish is worth far more than the combined value of each item in the recipe. I suggest that the same applies to the Christian’s armor. Though each virtue is important, its value is lessened greatly if it is not accompanied by the others.
In Greek mythology, Achilles was dipped in water that rendered him invulnerable. However, the heel by which he was held was not submerged. It later became the cause of his demise.
We cannot afford to leave any vulnerable areas by which Satan may attack and defeat us.
It is urgent that we address every part of our lives to assure that each component of God’s spiritual armor is in place, protecting us and equipping us for battle.
Some trust in a good moral life to provide salvation, even though they do not confess Christ or seek to serve God. They rely upon their breastplate, but neglect to carry their shield.
Others choose different elements of the armor, while still rejecting parts they consider less important.
An ancient soldier’s equipment was carefully chosen to protect him from every possible danger. No warrior willingly omitted any part of it.
All was necessary in the battle. That is even truer today for the Christian soldier. We must be fully equipped. Let us never face our enemy unprepared.