Preparing for Heaven

Building the Eternal Phase of Your Life

Put On the Armor of God for Spiritual Battle

by Dick Wulf | Course Three

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When we accepted God’s offer of salvation through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ wherein He paid the penalty for our sin, we most likely were drawn by what we could get out of the decision to believe. And the blessings God bestows on us as His adopted children are very wonderful, especially if we keep in mind that we deserve none of them. They come to us out of God’s love, mercy and grace. We have not earned a single one of those blessings.

We have a choice to feel incredibly loved or to feel proud that we earned good things from God. The second is false, but we can go through life blindfolded. But, I am sure that we are far, far better off if we choose blessings from God because we are loved by Him.

However, it probably was not made clear that at the moment that we were forgiven by the sacrificial blood of Jesus on the cross, a number of other cosmic changes to our lives were made. I hope that it was made clear to most of us that the primary benefit of being saved from the consequence of our being sinful and not holy in and of ourselves to have a relationship with God was just that – Jesus’ death and resurrection opened up for us a person-to-person relationship with God, the Creator of the Universe, the Supreme Power, the Greatest Lover, and the list could go on and on.

But, if it was as it was with me, when I was offered God’s invitation to salvation, it was based primarily on my desire to go to heaven rather than hell. That was for me the main benefit. However, I should have been made aware that the good news, what is called the gospel of Jesus Christ, was God’s love for me. Fortunately, we get both God’s love and heaven in the same deal. However, when we focus on heaven, we miss the big picture. John 3:16, the main verse most of us have put to memory, starts, “For God so loved . . . .”

If we can grasp how much God loves us, we would be willing to die for Him. Why, this is true for a parent or child or friend who loves us dearly – we would be willing to die for them if it became necessary.

And, so, there is something that was most likely not made clear when we were adopted by God and made citizens of heaven – God is at war and all citizens of heaven are therefore at war and in God’ army. The well-known martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in his famous book The Cost of Discipleship, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” That is the truth!

God is at war with the disgraceful angel Satan, also known as the devil and the evil one, among other names. He and the other angels who revolted against God in heaven, now known a demons, and were exiled from heaven have been hard at work to rob God of His glory and His people’s allegiance. God won the overall war when Jesus rose from the grave, but Satan has not been bound and isolated yet from our world. There is great glory to be given to God by fighting him in God’s name, dressed in God’s armor.

All evil in this world of ours comes from the devil. Most of it comes just as a result of his planting sin through Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Sin, over thousands of years, has caused continual pain and suffering. As a result, the war with evil still goes on and we are to be active soldiers in God’s army.

Are we consciously aware that Satan is all around us causing havoc? Just because we cannot visually see the devil, are we blind to the fact that he is behind all the evil that surrounds us? Do we think that the devil and his evil forces are in other parts of the world, but not here? We need to realize that we are called to fight the devil right here, right now, in very real spiritual ways.

Listen to what God has to say about this in Eph 6:10-12.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor 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.”

We might see it this way. If anyone we are close to is going through very difficult times, it is definitely related to the sin Satan brought to our world thousands of years ago. When we fight problems our friends and relatives are facing, we are defending them against the attacks of the devil.

We must stand up together with others to defend those in our Christian Inner Circles. And because we are at war with such an evil enemy, we need to be dressed for war. Fortunately, God has His own armor for us to wear – together as an army. We learn of this in Eph 6:13-18 which says:

“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, 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.”

This is the armor of God – His armor given to us. It is more mysteriously powerful than any magical wand from any fairy tale. And, it is more armor than we can put on by ourselves. Only by faith together can we adequately put on the armor of God and be prepared for daily battle.
As an army going out to battle, Christians are to put on their armor and pick up their weapons together. We are to assure that fellow soldiers are protected and that weapons are prepared, not for retreat, but for the advance against evil. As good soldiers, we should admonish one another to practice using our weapons for the time when we will need them. In spiritual battle, well-armed, well-trained and committed Christians together will always be much more effective than lone soldiers.

It will help to briefly define this armor that comes from God and prepares us for spiritual battle. The belt of truth is practiced doctrine, which is truth tested and fully believed. It surrounds us with God’s truth. It protects us against Satan’s lies of falsehood and persecution of those who hold to sound doctrine. Knowing the truth through believing it, acting as if it is true, and then finding out in experience that it is trustworthy sets us free to go to into battle. It is not enough to just agree with what the Bible says. Knowing about truth is not knowing truth; just knowing the truth is not sufficient for battle. Knowing truth is truth applied to life and proven to be true. James 1:22 instructs us: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Living out the truth of Scripture is what counts in the universal war between God and Satan.

Truth keeps us mindful of what really counts, what is truly valuable. Satan’s scheme both in the Garden of Eden and with Jesus in the wilderness was to offer things attractive if truth could be forgotten. Satan will continually offer us delightful opportunities to pull us away from war against him. He will offer frequent trips to fun places, non-threatening doctrines, good chances to make money, among many other diversions. The truth exposes these deadly detours. The devil will also attack our emotional and physical well-being, but truth helps us see beyond danger and death.

The breastplate of righteousness is Christ’s righteousness that covers and protects us from God’s just wrath and makes Satan’s accusations powerless. Christ’s righteousness, not our own, shines forth from us and repels Satan as light does darkness, protecting us from the evil one’s presence no matter how close he comes.

We are to go out into battle, not in the dirty rags of our own goodness, but in the shining breastplate of Christ’s righteousness. Acting consistently with this piece of armor, we will be righteous. Righteous behavior repels evil, disregards evil, and finds no attraction in evil.

The shoes of the armor of God make us ready to go into battle. This footwear is made of God’s peace within us and dispels the fear of battle. Without fear we can attack the devil so that our God can defeat him and his evil. These shoes of peace allow us to trample Satan. The Apostle Paul writes this promise from God about the power of His peace in Rom 16:20: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”

The shield of faith is the certainty that Jesus really did die for our sins, that we are forever in the kingdom of God, and that we can completely entrust ourselves to Jesus Christ. It eliminates the power of Satan to harm us. It helps us remember what we cannot see – glorious life beyond death.

1 John 5:4-5 tells us: “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

The helmet of salvation is our certainty of being saved and brought into God’s eternal kingdom with eternal life. 1 Thess 5:8 clearly states this: “ . . . and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” How else can we take the risks associated with advancing against the enemy than to be sure of our salvation and heavenly destination? The certainty of our salvation makes us bold.

The sword of the Spirit is the word of God, the Bible, inspired by the Holy Spirit. We need a weapon that outmatches anything the devil can use to attack us or defend himself. God’s Word brought everything into being from nothing. How powerful is that! Nothing can stand against the word of God recorded in the Bible.

Christians, working together as a team, are to get to know this weapon well. Just like with a sword, practice must be often. Study and meditation of the Bible is crucial, both alone and together.

Added to God’s armor which we put on together in our Christian friendships, Christian families, and Christian marriages is prayer in the Spirit. We wield our weapons with the power of prayer when it is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

It would take too many words and pages to explain how we dress one another in each item of the armor of God. So, let’s just use the example of the shield of faith. We help one another pick up and position our shield of faith when we have honest conversations regarding the trustworthiness of God, the certainty of who He is and that He will do what He says He will do. It is sometimes difficult for an individual to take up the shield of faith with an unwavering belief in God and His promises. However, when an individual is in doubt about those things of faith, his Christian friendship groups, his Christian family, and his Christian spouse will hopefully not waiver. The individual who has doubts will be protected by the continuing shield of faith of others.

Small friendship groups need to see that everyone is ready for battles that will come their way, battles for which God has activated them. Families certainly should help individual members be prepared to face the evil that will be thrown at them. And, husbands and wives need to look one another over and make sure that each piece of armor is in place for the battles of each day. In these ways in these relationships, individual warriors will be dressed for battle.

However, the battle units, not just the soldiers, need to be dressed for battle. Christian Inner Circles need to insist that everyone put on the armor of God. If one person falls in battle needlessly, it will take others off of the front lines and make the warfare harder.

Actually, the armor of God is our triune God Himself. Romans 13:14 says this rather plainly, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, . . .” The belt of truth is Jesus who proclaimed, “I am the truth.” The breastplate of righteousness is made of Jesus’ righteousness. Jesus brings us peace and is the gospel shoes. Faith in Jesus is our shield of faith. Jesus’ salvation is our helmet of salvation. The sword of the Spirit is God’s own words. And, prayer is to come from the third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit. Yes, we are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ though donning the armor of God.

Putting the armor of God on together now does have value for our lives in heaven where there presumably will be no battle, at least not in heaven itself. It may be that we will be praying for the battle on earth after we have been taken away. However, helping one another put on the armor of God now so that a more complete battle force is assembled and ready to go will yield good things in heaven for each of us and all of us together.

To look out for God in the way of making sure everyone is fighting evil and defeating Satan is great preparation for looking out for God’s desires in heaven, even though they will not be related to war with the devil. There will still be the call to get dressed in righteousness and go about the King’s business as both individuals and as the bride of Christ.

To prepare to be able to see that everyone is prepared in heaven for everything wonderful there, we need to put on the armor of God for spiritual battle together during this present life.
Let’s imagine that one day while four of us are eating lunch at some street café in the New Jerusalem in heaven, an angel pulls up a chair and joins us with a message from Jesus, our King, the Anointed One who saved us and brought us to heaven. The angel tells us that we are to go to a certain place and make ready a picnic for some saints whom our Lord wants to honor because before death they forgave others exceptionally.

Without any opposition from sin, we would not consider whether or not we would do this for Jesus, whether or not we were comfortable with whatever this assignment would require, or if it was too much for the four of us to accomplish. We would just begin planning.

Because of obedience before death to various Togethers, we each would have varying levels of strengths needed for the picnic assignment. In fact, the reason we would have been chosen would be the combination of skill sets developed in the four of us before we came to heaven. Therefore, at least one of us will have needed to have been skillful in making sure that everyone had on the armor of God to fight the devil. That person with skill in seeing that everyone is equipped to do assignments from God would be invaluable. She or he would see that the four of us brought along whatever we each would need to prepare the special picnic our beloved Lord wanted.

Here is a fictional story of someone in heaven who paid no attention to getting himself or anyone else dressed in the armor of God.

Don’t get me wrong. I am very happy here in heaven. But I cannot help noticing that I am not invited by God to some of the fancier events. Once I asked one of the angels who carried invitations to others, why I was not getting invited.

The angel referred to a parable in the Bible that Jesus told. Someone guarding the entrance into a banquet singled out one person and said, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” Then he was thrown out of the banquet.

Then the angel said, “It’s okay. The King did not know if He could trust you to be appropriately attired since you paid no attention to the armor of God when you were to be at war where sin flourished. He did not want you to be embarrassed here in heaven if you dressed improperly. You will be invited to many events where this will not be an issue.”

It is important that we are dressed for battle with evil. It is all around us. Jesus said he came to destroy the works of the devil, and He is still doing that through us. Therefore, we need to dress one another in the armor of God.

This quotation from the puritan author William Gurnall in his book titled The Christian in Complete Armour written over 350 years ago in1655 still applies today. “The Christian’s armour is made to be worn – no taking it off until you have finished your course. Your armour and your garment of flesh come off together. Then there will be no more need of shield or helmet, no more late night watches. In heaven you shall appear, not in armour, but in robes of glory. Nevertheless, for the present you must wear your assigned suit night and day. You must walk, work, and sleep in it or you are not a true soldier of Christ.”