One of my closest friends recently loaned me her copy of “Victory in Spiritual Warfare: Outfitting Yourself for the Battle” by Tony Evans. (Affiliate link) This book takes a close look at Ephesians 6:11-17, often called the “Armor of God”. Spiritual Warfare wasn’t a subject I heard about much while growing up, though I had heard of the armor of God. However, after I read this book, I realized how important it is to be aware of spiritual warfare so that I can fight it. If you want an in-depth study of spiritual warfare that will help you understand what it might look like in your personal life, I highly recommend this book! (You can check it out on Amazon here.)
Since this blog is all about building strong families that will stand firm in their faith, I wanted to spend some time writing about this passage of scripture. I want to talk about how we can apply it to our family life; marriage, parenting, and sibling relationships. First, I want to talk about two things: What is spiritual warfare, and what does it have to do with my family?
What is Spiritual Warfare?
In these verses, Paul instructs Christians to outfit themselves like a Roman soldier heading for battle, but instead of physical armor, the armor is spiritual. Let’s take a look:
“11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.”
Twice this passage instructs us to put on this armor in order to stand firm against the devil. Notice how, in verse 12, Paul tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, powers, world forces of darkness, spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places? In other words, our struggles aren’t merely physical, but spiritual. And they’re not just happening on Earth, but in “heavenly places.”
But what about our physical struggles?
And yet, it seems like most of the struggles we face in this life are physical. Who hasn’t struggled with a sick child, a failing marriage, lost a job, or lived with depression, anxiety, or some other mental illness? Who hasn’t faced some kind of hardship that has tested their faith, causing them to blame God for their problems, or even abandon their faith all together?
When our struggles take up all of our time, energy, and thought, it can be hard to remember or even believe that a spiritual battle is happening. If we only focus on our physical struggles, we may address the symptoms of our problems, but never get to the roots. But this is exactly what Satan wants. The Bible teaches us that God uses any and all circumstances to grow our faith in Him (James 1:2-4). And, of course, the enemy will do anything to prevent that from happening. He uses all of our physical struggles to attack our spiritual lives. This, my friends, is spiritual warfare. And this brings us to my next question:
What does Spiritual Warfare have to do with my family?
I think it’s interesting that Paul teaches us to put on the armor of God right after he instructs families on how to relate to one another. Children, fathers, slaves (who were part of the household and treated like family) and masters were all instructed on how to live with one another.
Family is so incredibly important to God because no other group of people will have a greater influence on a person’s spirit than the people we live so much of our lives with. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) This isn’t a promise, so much as a reminder that the things we grow up with in our home will likely stay with us forever. You know this is true if you have ever tried to break a habit or change a custom or attitude that was part of your home growing up.
Family is a vital instrument in spreading the Gospel.
Family is a major way that faith in Christ is passed from generation to generation so that the Gospel can be shared throughout the world. And throughout the New Testament we are taught how to be the kinds of wives, husbands, parents and children that will help one another grow in our relationships with Christ. So it makes a lot of sense that Satan wants to break up families through divorce, broken parent-child relationships, and hardships that break our faith.
But thankfully, God gave us this fascinating example of what it looks like to be armed against the attacks of the enemy. For the next six weeks I want to take a closer look at each of the six pieces of armor that Paul describes, and talk about how they can be used to raise families that will “stand firm against the schemes of the devil”
If you don’t want to miss this series, please subscribe to my blog so you can get my new posts via email!