“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God…” Ephesians 6:10-11
My friend, Zane Pratt, preached from Ephesians 6 at our home church, bringing clear light to the importance of spiritual armor. We live in a battle. We have an enemy. Loss is proof of this temporal battle with eternal implications.
“…the schemes of the devil…” Ephesians 6:11
I’ve always thought of myself as level-headed. I’ve taken my faith seriously. I uprooted my family when I was about thirty-one and took them on what turned out to be a faith adventure. We were missionaries in South Africa and Zimbabwe. I witnessed the oppression and possession of our enemy vividly in Africa.
I still serve to see the nations come to Christ by serving churches. I’m serious about my faith. These evil schemes show up in different ways on this side of the globe. The less confrontational way to put it is we tend to live for ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:15).
However, loss put an exclamation point on the schemes of our enemy. His schemes caused a battle that still rages to this day. Death is proof of the fallout of that on-going battle.
“…to withstand in the evil day…” Ephesians 6:13
The goal for us who name the name of Jesus is to endure this temporal ordeal. Schemes are short-lived. We need to stand firm, and we need the whole armor of God to do it. So, Paul does not leave us without instructions. He lists the armor needed to withstand the evil day. Every day.
“…the belt of truth…” Ephesians 6:14
We need to fasten the belt of truth. I cannot overstate the value of this one simple act. In the throes of loss, lies seem to have a laser leveled at you. I experienced a paralysis, a numbness. I endured confusion. I had to engage in what I’ve learned to be self-talk. You have to preach the gospel to yourself. You have to correct the lies. You need to tighten the belt of truth around you.
“…the breastplate of righteousness…” Ephesians 6:14
I also found the depth of loss to be healthy but dangerous. I felt attacked. I felt singled out. I felt I was being punished. To be clear, loss is a perfect time for introspection and dealing with conviction. Loss can bring correction; it can be related to the fall, in general. However, I found a proper posture is to seek to open my soul up to learn and correct anything in my life. And yet, you must not ever forget that your righteousness is not earned. It is a gift given by our Savior. So, the breastplate of righteousness is vital protection.
“…shoes for your feet…the gospel of peace…” Ephesians 6:15
Surpassing peace is a gift from God. Cheap peace will not do. The kind of peace needed in the depth of loss is gospel peace. When facing loss, place the shoes of the gospel of peace on your feet to provide firm footing and protection. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
“…the shield of faith…” Ephesians 6:16
Very early in my journey of loss, I realized I could not walk by sight. I needed to walk by faith. Faith shields against the very attacks directed your way. Fiery darts are aimed at you and, while you may be experiencing a terrible injury to your soul, faith is indeed the victory. It really is that simple.
“…the helmet of salvation…” Ephesians 6:17
When I faced loss, I learned to press into the redemptive macro-story. It put my micro-story of loss in perspective. I retreated up under the helmet of salvation for protection. Salvation really is our ultimate defensive weapon. Throw all of hell at me. Throw every loss at me. Pile them up. And ultimate victory is still ours. Every loss will be worth the pain when we are invited into eternal life. Our salvation has been purchased and held until that day.
“…the sword of the Spirit…” Ephesians 6:17
Interestingly, every other item of our armor is defensive. The sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon. The Word of God is the sword of which Paul speaks. Like Jesus who countered Satan in the wilderness, I found truth correcting my thinking. I found Scripture made sense of my chaotic circumstances.
Finally, we must remain alert. We must endure. We have God’s strength available to us, but we must turn in prayer and supplication in absolute dependency as we battle the schemes of our enemy.
Put on the whole armor of God to face loss.
“…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints… Ephesians 6:18
“Paul…understands that on this side of forever, life is war. …With sin still living inside of us, we are still torn between our love for the claustrophobic little kingdom of self and the grand and glorious purposes of the kingdom of God.” Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies