Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Armor of God - Priest vs Warrior, Part 1

Nearly 18 months ago, I had a crazy thought.  I started to wonder about how the priestly garments in the Old Testament related to the Armor of God presented by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6.  That was at a breakfast meeting with my best friend, back in the Fall of 2012.  I couldn't quite make the leap then, but I knew both had relevance.  Certainly, both have a strategic symbolic meaning in the life of every believer.

Today the missing piece clicked into place.  But this really isn't a suitcase I can unpack in one post.  So, let me start with the Armor of God first.

Everyone knows about the armor:helmet, breastplate, belt, shoes, shield and sword.  It is a classical picture of what a Roman solider would dress in before going to "work," that is battle. To the right is a manly image I found on mysteryoftheiniquity.com.

Paul, a Roman citizen, would have been VERY familiar with Roman soldiers. He probably saw them every day wearing this intimidating get-up.  It was a good analogy for the people he was writing to being as how they were residents of the very same Roman Empire as well.

"Putting on" this armor of God is a typical analogy for how we are supposed to prepare to face the world as Christians each day.  When we go out, we are supposed to be ready to do battle with satan and his minions.  We want to be prepared and I know a lot of people who "put on" their armor daily.

Something hit me a few weeks back.  I think we might have been preaching this wrong.  We might be missing a central key to more assurance in the power of Jesus, which is so important to a full and...well, empowered Christian walk.  When we think we have to put on the armor each day or we are at the mercy of evil forces, we might feel vulnerable if, one day, we forget to do it.  We think we could leave ourselves open for attack and in Scripture, I just don't see that lining up with other promises, like in Ephesians 1 and about every other letter Paul, Peter, James, Jude and John wrote.

Because it isn't about what we do.  It's about what He has already done.  Subtle shift, huge implications.

You see, I did a little recon (if you will forgive the military pun).  I looked up the Greek word in Ephesians 6:11 & 13.  The Greek word for "put on" (v.11) and "take up" (v. 13) is endyo, (end-o) in case you are interested.  It doesn't mean what we've thought it means.  That word carries the connotation of past, not present tense.  As in, the armor was put on us, not daily as a ritual, but as a gift - at the moment of our belief in Christ. 

What I'm saying is this: we don't take off our PJs and put on the armor of the Lord in the morning before we leave the house; then take off the armor when we come home to get comfortable.  Not at all; it is a permanent garment we wear, our second skin.  When we became a new creation in Christ, He gives us new clothes to wear and this armor is part of it.  We wear the armor all the time.

You can't misplace your shield of faith.  You can't forget to wear your shoes of peace.  Your pants won't fall down because you forgot to strap on the belt of truth.  We can choose not to use these weapons as we walk through this world.  We can also be unaware they are at our disposal.  Each scenario leads to a less than abundant (i.e. successful) Christian life.

But even if you forget to use them or don't know about them in the first place; the fact of the matter remains: 

If Jesus is your Savior, you are wearing the Armor of God.

You are already dressed and ready for battle when you pop out of bed - bed hair and all.  You are dressed and ready for battle, too, in your sleep.  There is never a moment the Lord Jesus is going to leave you unprotected or vulnerable to the enemy.  He does not require you to put it on.  He has given it to you to wear all the time.  It is up to you to do so.

Instead of "putting it on" or "taking it up," you can make a subtle shift, if it is your habit to go through these verses in Ephesians 6:10-17 as you start (or end) your day.  Thank the Lord for completing the work and always protecting you in His goodness.

Certainly, you can strength your defenses!  Grow in the Word and let His Truth renew your mind each day.  But don't fall prey to the enemy.  He will tempt you to think you have to do something to make sure you are protected.  He will tempt you to think you are the one responsible for your salvation and safety by your work.   


Christ finished that work so long ago.  He did it because you are the apple of His eye.  He DOES NOT leave you open to attack.  He wants to teach you how to repel those attacks, just like a great general trains His soldiers to win the battle.  We have the authority to do that, we don't have to be on the defensive - we are meant to be on offense, for the Kingdom!

I hope this increases your confidence in Christ's gifts and provision.  It is a nasty world out there.  It is rough and scary and full of the enemy.  But we don't need to be afraid because our God is an awesome god and He has ensured His children are very well-protected.  The victory IS won!

Next time, we will talk about the Priestly Garments.  **SPOILER ALERT** We wear those all the time too.  In the third installment, we will talk about the difference a little word makes.  (And it makes all the difference.)  It is the word: consecration. It was my missing puzzle piece I mentioned above. 

Exciting Stuff!  Stay tuned!


Donna Campos said...

wow!I was sitting this morning wondering if there was a correlation between the Armor and the Priest clothing!! This blessed! Yes, I in ignorance, would go about my day and suddenly panic because I did not 'arm' myself. hahahaha I now realize that I am suited and ready for battle at all times. I thank you for this!!! God bless you!

Alicia Lewis said...

I AM SO EXCITED to have come across this article. The excitement is really just bubbling up because...
I came across a picture of the regular "Armor of God' with a red line across it vs the Priestly apparel, to which the person I believe was saying not this armor, but this one. And it hit me like a soft baby's kiss, maybe these priestly robes is what he means by armor of God. Not so much the robes as I think now, but more as the lack of metal. Because, as you mentioned and I thought, its all about him protecting us. I tell you I could never figure out why we had to put on all those things and fight when he said the battle is not ours. The two never lined up with me til I saw that image. Couldn't get it out my head, couldn't prove it. But although I told someone that the image may not be correct, I said it is something to think about. I am a passive researcher sometimes when I am confused about what exactly I am thinking. I wait for someone else to have the same thought as I. Thank you for making things click. you giving me the words I was looking for and the direction to do my own research. I know that sounds bad, but thank you.

Alicia Lewis said...

Sorry this just came to me... David demonstrated the armor of God when he went to fight the Giant with just a sling, stone and a prayer. Everything you have and faith in God is our Armor. ( lol..you can ignore that last line, I kinda got carried away.)