However, this scripture and the corresponding verses that go with it have lost their stickem on Christianity today. Many Christians are tired of fighting. We long for peace and tranquility in our lives and its easier to compromise or turn a blind on things rather than to stand against them. If we want to be counted as one who is lead by God, the crux of this series, we must adhere to this important command. Let's dive in.
The Wiles = The Secret Temptations
Last time, we saw that the appearance of evil was another way of saying temptation. Appearance intimates what we see, and that is a key part of Satan's arsenal. Knowing that we are a vision driven creation, Satan definitely tries to place things right in front of us to bring us down. This tactic works well with non believers and weaker and less committed followers of Christ. What happens when that trick doesn't work, though? You get the wiles.
The term wiles means trickery through concealment, deceit and cunning. It's the shadow tactics of the devil. Its not the seemingly half naked person walking through the market. It's not the wild party being thrown by our coworkers, classmates or peers. It's not the opportunity that will obviously lead us away from God. Instead, the wiles are the coworker/coed that purposefully seeks us out to tempt us with subtle seduction. It's the person who bates us into arguments that lead to rage filled tirades that started as a reasonable discussion. It's the opportunity that seems perfect, but 3 months in has led us away from regular church attendance and into a mountain of unneeded stress, leading to further temptation and sin. The wiles are clearly a dangerous place to tread, but every person - Christian or not - will travel into these dangerous places. In order to traverse them while being able to stand firm (stay established in our faith), we must be properly equipped. Thankfully, just as with our last devotion, there is a list not far removed from this scripture.
The Armor (v.14-17)
Truth: This is defined as what we know about God and His purposes for our lives individually and mankind as a whole. It's what we firmly know and believe about God. This truth is described as girding the loins. That is to say, it protects that which produces. The belt of a soldier also holds the sheath that holds the sword. As we'll find out soon, the sword here is the Word of God. Our ability to handle and use the Word of God requires a strong foundation of Truth. Otherwise, we'll march into a situation that requires an understanding of God's Word and we'll fumble looking for the scriptural understanding needed. The stronger we are in our belief and understanding of God and His precepts, the more effective we will be in wielding the one thing that can cut the enemy down where he stands. With that strong foundation of truth, we'll be able to understand and see the subtle attacks of the enemy for what they are.
Righteousness: This tool means the state of living rightly. What's the right way to live? The Bible is full of examples and explanations of righteous actions by individuals, however the guaranteed answer for what is righteousness is in Psalm 145:17:
The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.
Everything we need to know about righteousness is in examining God and His actions. We can look at how people in the Bible and our lives had resembled righteousness, but we must remember that they are just reflecting the righteousness of God. Let them inspire us, but don't forget to look towards God for how to live a righteous life. Righteousness is described as a breastplate, which covered the vital organs and most importantly the heart, the center of passion. If we passionately pursue God to understand His ways from the core of our being, we will find ourselves vitally covered with the understanding and lifestyle of godly righteousness. This will protect us when the enemy tries to sneak in and attack us unawares.
Preparation of the Gospel of Peace: This tool is has multiple parts. Gospel means good news. With a constant swirl of negativity in this world, it's nice when we have good news to build ourselves up in the journey of life. It changes our mindset and allows us to take on the day with a more productive approach. In order to have this good news preparation for our day, we must pursue the peace of God. It's the only thing that can guarantee a productive day. When we have peace knowing that God is with us and guiding our steps, we can tackle any task that is set before us. Also, to be shod means that one's feet our sized to ensure that the shoes worn fit properly. God is going to give us the exact good news we need to ensure we have peace for the day and the situations we face throughout it.
Faith: It's interesting that faith is mentioned as a shield. Often times in the scriptures, faith is talked about as a proactive rather than defensive element. Faith moves mountains (Matthew 17:20). Faith produces powerful results (Hebrews 11). Faith is active (James 2:17). Those all sound like something we would use to go on offense. However, let's look at those examples again. Christ used the mountain analogy because his disciples were having trouble believing in the power God was trying to give them. Christ was telling them that faith would bring about the result because it would shield them from the doubts that were preventing them from accomplishing God's purpose. Everyone of the examples in Hebrews 11 showcase how faith protected and saw those individuals through tough situations to accomplish great things. It acted as a preservation for them. Finally, faith without works is dead because a shield without a battlefield is just a circle waiting to rust. A last point, a soldier doesn't let his breastplate, shoes, belt or even sword lead him onto the battlefield. He lets his shield go before him. Faith leads us to where the fight is so we can do great things that God can get the glory. It will protect us from the wiles of the devil along the way.
Salvation: This term loosely means to be pulled out of the world and into the Kingdom of God. Shouldn't this be on our breastplate as a shining example? Shouldn't it be emblazoned on our shield to strike fear into our enemies? Instead it is given as the nondescript head covering (the typical Roman soldier's helmet wasn't all that eye catching). Why no pomp and circumstance for the most important event in our lives? This subtlety shows us that salvation isn't something that requires a lot of boasting. Roman helmets didn't need to be fancy to get people's attention. When you saw one on the horizon, you knew that an experienced and ferocious warrior was headed your way. The enemy sees our helmet of salvation and starts shaking in his boots. Why? Because salvation guards the one thing that the wiles of the devil targets: our mind. It prevents the whispering thoughts and subtle imagery from getting in that leads us down a path to destruction. When our faith fails us, or our righteousness and truth aren't up to the challenge, salvation steps in and makes the save.
The Spirit (aka the word of God): We have the voice of God at our disposal. All we have to do is wield it. However, to wield it properly takes understanding. It's sharper than any two edged sword. A two edged sword is mighty effective because every stroke can be a killing blow. However, it can also be quite dangerous. If you aren't careful, you'll bring the blade back on your own self. We cannot haphazardly use God's Word. Whether from the Bible or through illumination and revelation through prayer and fasting, God's Word must be handled with care and maturity. If we mishandle God's Word, we can cut ourselves down or those around us. We might try to use the Bible out of context in a situation. When the result doesn't go how we thought it should, our faith is shaken and we fall out of righteousness and truth and lose peace and salvation. However, through careful and consistent readings of the scripture supplemented with prayer and godly conversation with fellow believers, we can come to wield the one thing that can cut through the devil and his plan to bring us down. With one swipe of God's Word in Truth, we'll reveal the lies and seductions he has been telling us and others. Exposed, he'll be powerless to use his wiles to overcome us and the ones we love.
Study To Shew Thyself (2 Timothy 2:15)
Notice, that all of these pieces of armor come into our possession when we study after God. Truth comes from understanding God and our belief in Him. Righteousness comes from seeking after God's ways. Peace comes from listening to the good news that Christ has to tell us. Faith takes root when we start believing what God is telling us. Finally the proper use of the Word comes when we have an understanding of it and its concepts. Knowledge and Wisdom are powerful in revealing the secret plans of Satan. We must never cease from seeking after God and our understanding of Him. He is too vast to comprehend in one lifetime, but the good news is we'll never run out of lessons to learn. It's not to say this easy to consistently pursue God. Life, the world and the enemy will always present opportunities for distraction and subversion. However, if we consistently pursue God, we'll be prepared to take down the devil and advance the Kingdom of God in our lives and the lives of others.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.