There’s a glibness that exists in the western Christian world. Well-intentioned men and women of faith put it there, stacked higher and higher over the decades. Not only has it stunted the growth and development of young men and women in the church, it’s also provided much of the fodder used by critics and comedians targeting Christianity. Glib answers to some of life’s hardest questions and concepts often hint at the base levels of the truth, but they fail to bring to life the nuance and rich meaning found within the layers of God’s word. Superficial answers to raw, bloody questions fuel the rapid advancement of agnosticism and the church of ambivalence, and Scriptures that should bring hope and peace instead breed dismissive contempt. This is not a new phenomenon, but it is getting worse in the Western world.
One passage in particular comes to mind, a powerful message written by the Apostle Paul that has been reduced to Christian cliche. It’s a passage pounded into the minds of Sunday school children across the fruited plains. It even comes with songs and props. And the props are really cool. What eight-year-old boy doesn’t want armor and weapons? Unfortunately, the brilliant psychology of it seems to be accumulating dust.
10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore,
with truth like a belt around your waist,
righteousness like armor on your chest,
15 and your feet sandaled with readiness
for the gospel of peace.
16 In every situation take the shield of faith,
and with it you will be able to extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is God’s word.
18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.
The plastic Sunday school armor was undeniably cool. But time and time again, people raised in this knowledge are leaving the faith and falling for the tactics of the Devil, who is accurately called the father of lies by Jesus in John 8:44. Which one of you would go into battle wearing pajama armor or wielding a pool noodle as your weapon? That’s what happens when this passage isn’t explained and explored beyond trite analogies. There’s nothing trite about it. This is psychospiritual warfare. These are the weapons and armor you NEED in order to defeat the LIES and experience freedom and victory:
Truth: Jesus is the source of truth, so know Jesus or go into a gunfight without bullets. Believe it or not, this is positive self-affirmation done the right way. Who does Jesus say I am? Insert the truth according to God’s Word. “I am a child of God. I am loved by Him.” Truth challenges the lies of self-worth and self-pity.
Righteousness: The singular source is the blood of Jesus covering the sins of a sinful mankind. No one is righteous apart from Christ. This is the antidote, the armor, against pride and self-righteousness.
Gospel of Peace: Gospel means good news, so the good news of peace literally means acknowledging that the war is over. Jesus already won by paying the penalty for sin on the cross, culminating in His triumphant resurrection. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your HEARTS and your MINDS in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7) This infectious weapon is called joy.
Faith: It is the endurance to believe God’s promises even when your entire world is crashing around you. The enemy tells you you’re the boss, you’re in control, it’s your life. Pretty sure there are several songs affirming this lie. The act of faith is really an act of trust. Trust means relinquishing control and submitting to the ultimate authority. Faith produces hope, and the Devil hates hope.
Salvation: This challenges the guilt the enemy uses to paralyze people from being able to function. Jesus paid the price for salvation; that battle no longer needs to be fought. Standing firm in your salvation means forgiving yourself when you make mistakes and working towards not repeating those mistakes. It’s called grace, and it’s a spiritual nuke.
Word of God: When Jesus was tempted by Satan in Matthew 4:1-11, He used Scripture, the Holy Word of God, to refute and defeat the lies, schemes, and snares of the enemy. The Word of God is the living, breathing power of the Holy Spirit imbued in Scripture. No spiritual force can stand against this weapon. None.
You are simply not equipped or empowered to heal the mental and emotional breaks in your psyche and defend against the attacks of a psychospiritual battle. You need the right gear. Millions of people have surrendered the fight, given into the lies, because of pajama armor.