Vicki Nunn

by Vicki Nunn

The creature was hideous, it’s dark leathery wings sprang out from its back, it’s malevolent face was contorted in hatred and rage. It flew around the room and joined a group of its comrades, clustered around the light on the ceiling, their dark shadows slithered and squirmed as they looked down at the sleeping figure on the bed.

They wanted to attack and disturb the woman’s slumber, to force fearful nightmarish dreams into her mind, to cause her pain, misery and emotional distress, but they were held back. The woman was protected. Not only was there an angel, but she was wearing the armour of God.

* * * * *

I’ve had three instances in my life when God has given me a glimpse of a demon. Once it was in daylight when I was a very young Christian over thirty years ago. I had been unsure about a group of people that a Christian friend wanted me to meet. The momentary glimpse of a hideous, demonic-type face in one man was an undoubted indication by God to steer clear of the group, which I did.

The second time was years later in a prophetic dream, which came true over the ensuing months. (I don’t have any gift of prophecy, and the two dreams I had that one time within a few days, were both connected.)

The third instance was more recently as I was doing research and reading God’s word about the armour of God for this very article you are reading.

Despite my research, I was still unable to fully grasp the reality of the armour of God. While in my imagination I could conjure up images of flaming arrows being flung at me by demons, the whole armour of God thing just didn’t seem real.

As a Christian, I’d heard of and read about the armour of God so many times over the years, that I’d gotten to the point where I’d become desensitised to it. All of that talk about armour, swords and shields and fighting unseen enemies almost seemed unnatural to me, especially as we go through the repetition of each humdrum day in the tedium of our jobs and daily chores.

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe about the ongoing spiritual battle between good and evil, but rather it just seemed so disconnected from my own life. The physicality of our human experience overwhelms our connection to the spiritual world and our spiritual selves, and so as a consequence, our focus is often more about what is physical.

So, I asked God to help me to understand more about the armour of God and why it was important. That very night I woke up after I heard a sound in the kitchen. Now, you must understand that I’m not easily spooked. I’m the kind of person that if I were to hear someone in my yard at night, I’d turn all the lights on and go out armed with a broom-stick, with a stern warning and a few choice words prepared on my lips, to chase them off.

That night though, there seemed to be some kind of strange swirling dark reddish glow in the kitchen. I thought at first that it was a fire. With my heart thumping, I flicked on my bedside light and was about to jump up and investigate when I realised that there was no sound and certainly no evidence of fire or smoke. It was very odd and I felt strangely ill at ease.

When it was evident that there was no fire, I put it down to my tiredness or from just coming up out of a dream. By that time though, I was very much awake.

After a minute or two, I turned off my bedside light, and in the darkness, as I glanced back towards the kitchen, there was that same strange, swirling dark reddish haze again. It was roiling and moving about, almost as if it were alive and that’s when I noticed movement on the ceiling above my bed. Glancing up, I saw clustered in a mass around the light over my bed, a kind of writhing, moving darkness and fear overwhelmed me when I recognised what it was. My heart leapt into my chest and I quickly flicked on my bedside lamp and the vision disappeared.

It was extremely frightening to see the reality of a group of demons so clearly. If I’d wanted to understand why we need the armour of God, then it could hardly have been more evident for me than in instant!

Of course demons would want to attack us when we are vulnerable and when we are asleep is the perfect time. As you can imagine, I prayed for added protection and thankfully I saw no further visions that night.

You may be thinking that I either have an overactive imagination or I’m a bit of a nutcase (and there may be a little truth in both), so you would naturally feel inclined to dismiss it all as ridiculous imaginings.

While I am a creative person, there is no reason on earth why I would want to conjure up those kinds of images and frighten myself silly. Nowadays, the scariest of horror movies do not frighten me in the least, but that vision genuinely scared me to the core. I felt frightened in a way I’ve never felt before, and became very conscious of the spiritual world that overlaps our own.

It wasn’t as though I felt frightened for my life or scared that the demons were going to physically harm me, because I understood that I was protected. It was the reality of seeing the spiritual world so clearly, and the vision of a group of malevolent demons that spooked me and made me feel decidedly uncomfortable. I discussed the troubling experience with God over the next few days.

God had answered my prayer for clarity in a way that I could not easily dismiss, and it enabled me to understand more clearly the necessity of wearing the armour of God for protection. His provision of a glimpse of the spiritual world left an impact on me.

The Reality of the Spiritual World

The introduction wasn’t written with the intention of frightening you, but to bring home the reality of a spiritual world that we struggle to understand, let alone experience. We must be mindful that we need to be protected, and clear information is provided in the Bible about the armour of God and the purpose behind it.

If we remain ignorant of the spiritual battles that are going on, and get so caught up in our physical world and our human experience, then that’s exactly the way Satan wants it! If he can shift our concentration away from the importance of the spiritual war, then he’s already won half the battle.

So as Christians, focusing on the spiritual then has to be a regular, personal and conscious choice for all Christians if we are to be protected.

What is the Spiritual Battle?

The spiritual battle is three-fold:

  • It is in the spiritual world between God and His angels and Satan and the other fallen angels;

  • It takes place in our world with influences and impacts on individuals, places, countries, nations, governments, leaders, education systems, companies and organisations; and

  • It takes place personally where Satan and his followers work against our minds, our bodies and our spirits in an attempt to wrest us away from God’s love and strength, and to discourage us in our walk.

What is the Armour of God?

First let’s consider the statements that precedes the description of the armour:

And this is why you need to be head-to-toe in the full armour of God: so you can resist during these evil days and be fully prepared to hold your ground.”

In the first section, Paul makes it clear that we must wear ALL of the armour of God. Obviously being only partially protected means we will be more vulnerable to harm. Let us be aware that Satan won’t wait around for us to put on the armour of God before he attacks. He’s going to get at us when we are least prepared and protected. If we are not daily putting on the armour of God and not putting every piece of it on, then we will be weak and vulnerable to attack.

In the following section:

“…so you can resist during these evil days and be fully prepared to hold your ground.”

it seems evident that the armour of God will help protect us both from temptation and anything else that Satan throws our way. We must be prepared to hold fast and to stand our ground. Satan is always planning and scheming and we would be foolish to imagine that we can defend ourselves against him, if we do not have God’s strength or protection.

 In these verses standing and resisting is repeated. We must stand fast. We must stand firm – not in our own strength, but drawing the promised strength and might from God.

Parts of the Armour

Belt of Truth: the belt (or the girdle) used to hold the chest-plate in place on a soldier’s body. Also, both the sword and the shield were hung from it when not in battle, because if a soldier carried his sword and shield in his hands all of the time, his arms would be very tired by the time he got into battle. The belt was therefore an important part of the armour.

Just as the belt is around the centre of the soldier’s body and holds everything in place, truth also forms the centre or core of our faith. Just as the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit hang from the belt of truth, so too does our faith and the word of God (Spirit) hang on God’s truth.

Chest-plate of Righteousness:

Righteousness is about being made right with God and also about right and pure living, because God now indwells in us.

When we lived in sin, we had no protection from God’s wrath and we would have died in our sins. Jesus’ righteous act of dying on the cross therefore gave us protection forever, from the punishment of sin. Satan can no longer taunt or harm us about our failings or our sins, because we are forgiven. We also have more strength to resist temptation.

If we lack integrity, Satan will find that weakness in us and strike us there. As Christians, we have to be willing to allow God to develop and grow us, especially in our weak areas. Judas’ greed was his weakness, and Satan found and exploited that vulnerability.

Our spiritual existence – the life of God in us – is secure and safe, protected by this part of the armour.  The chest-plate protects the heart of us.

Shoes of Peace: The footwear of a soldier consisted of both the sandals (or other footwear), as well as ‘greaves’ which were for the protection of the legs.

The shoes themselves protected the soldiers feet as they marched for hour upon wearying hour. If their feet were not protected for the marching, they would not make it to the  battle, nor be able to stand against their enemies.

The armour around the legs saved them from injury in battle and allowed them to continue standing and fighting.

As Christians, we have God’s protection and His peace. These shoes of peace will enable us to walk on the journey that God has set us; to proclaim God’s Good News and truth; and when in battle, to both stand long and firm.

Shield of Faith: The shield referred to in this section was not small, but was in fact large enough to protect the soldier’s entire body, and it was covered with a layer of metal. A shield covered with anything other than metal, was liable to catch fire. This shield was specifically made to stop fiery darts.

Our faith in God will protect us. If it is strong, we can hold it up to protect us from Satan’s flaming arrows. Those fiery darts can include temptations, enticements and evil thoughts. It doesn’t mean that we won’t be tempted or have bad thoughts, but that they will eventually be extinguished as long as we have our shield in place.

Our faith hangs on God’s truth. If we do not believe in the truth of God’s word, we won’t have sufficient faith, and will have little protection against Satan’s weapons.

When we use our shield, we will still feel the blows in battle, but they will be against the shield and not our body. Sometimes the blows may even knock us down, but we are still protected behind the shield and we can get up again. Just as in life we can get knocked down and even have the wind knocked out of us, the strikes against us will not be fatal.

Helmet of Salvation: A helmet serves a clear purpose – it protects our heads from damage. In our spiritual battle, the helmet of salvation is there to protect our mind and the very essence of us from damage. It reminds us about what we are battling for and helps us to focus when things get tough. We will be protected from the things that Satan throws at us that would harm our minds, our thinking, our purpose and our resolve.

The hope we have in Jesus will keep our minds and our thinking clear, especially in the midst of battle.

Sword of the Spirit: So far, all of the armour has been about defence. Our sword then is our only offensive weapon.

Swords are sharp as is the word of God – it will cut through all lies and deception. The Word of God (the Scriptures) is God’s revealed word to us, to enable us to understand Him, and to know and trust God’s unchanging character, and His utter trustworthiness.

As the sword hangs on God’s truth (belt), so too we have power to wield God’s truth in battle. God’s truth cannot be denied and will cut through the lies of Satan and of the world.

Being able to quote scripture is a major defence against Satan and we can use it during battle, amidst times of trouble and temptation.

The Word of God has God’s spiritual power and therefore is the perfect weapon in the spiritual world – it is the perfect weapon as God’s spirit is stronger than any spiritual force we come across. We need fear no adversary!

Why Use the Analogy of Armour?

Whenever I’ve watched movies of people in armour fighting mighty battles, holding up their shield and wielding their sword to strike again and again, I can’t help but imagine how terribly physically gruelling such battles would be. How could they manage to go on and on without dropping from sheer exhaustion? In my own physical weakness, I’d probably only have enough strength to swing a sword once and probably wouldn’t do an awful lot of damage to the enemy.

Proper soldiers train and drill regularly, gaining strength a little more each day, growing and developing their muscles and stamina so they’re prepared for battle when it happens. Those who are slack, could contribute little to the army and certainly could do little to defend themselves.

Isn’t this also an apt description of us daily as we grow in strength and stamina in our Christian walk? Thank goodness we are not expected to stand fast and stand firm in our own strength! Thank goodness that the armour given to us comes from God and is strong!

Boosting Our Spiritual Journey

Many years ago when I was a leader of a kid’s club, we went through a session with the children about the armour of God, and all of the kids helped cut out and put together some armour made out of thick card.

When I was researching for this article, I was reminded of that evening because it struck me that some Christians expect the flimsiest of armour to protect them from Satan’s attacks. They spend little time in God’s Word or in prayer and may even hope that the weekly Church sermon will be enough to see them through.

While that child’s paper armour, shield and sword looked good, they wouldn’t even stand up in a mock battle situation.

To the world or even other Christians, that person may seem to be God’s soldier, but the reality is – their armour is a flimsy imitation.

Wearing God’s Armour

Here are some ways to put on our spiritual armour:

Spiritual Growth: Daily personal time with God is essential in our Christian walk, but if we find ourselves isolated from a Christian community, we need to understand that this can also make it more difficult for us to grow in our faith.

One of the best ways that I’ve grown as a Christian has been in a Bible group study (rather than in a church service.) It is one place where we can more intimately learn and grow and develop our understanding of God and His relationship with us. It is a place where we can question and discuss spiritual matters and expand our understanding.

Singing: Singing, learning and listening to Christian songs is an additional way that we can grow in our faith as the words can be reminders to us about our journey, and who God is. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been listening to a song on Christian radio, or a tune from my own collection, when God has spoken to me through the artist’s words.

Additionally, words of worship can bring us into closer intimacy with God whether in Bible Study or a church service, or in our own time with God.

Memorising: Memorising Bible verses can also be a good way to help us to think about God and our purpose in Him. When we are going through trials and struggles, they can help us to stay rooted in God, and they can be used as a defence against Satan.

I imagine for persecuted Christians held in jail or unable to meet with other believers, that prayer, Bible verses and Christian songs must be a powerful way for them to remain strong in their faith.

Meditation: Meditation is also helpful to Christians and one that most of us struggle with. When I was at Bible College, one of the lecturers took us out for a morning to spend time meditating on God. I must admit that I fidgeted and wriggled and just couldn’t seem to sit still or focus my mind. But as with anything worthwhile, it is not something that comes naturally for many of us, nor is it easy to master without practice.

There are many books available about meditation which we could read, but one of the simplest things to do is to regularly put aside time to focus on a Bible passage – find a place where we can be comfortable and undisturbed, and just read the passage and talk to God about it, asking for clarity and under-standing. Take time to sit still and listen to God. If we get distracted we can reread the passage.

Meditation is good because through it we can gain insight into the person of God; we can become aware of areas where God wants us to change; and we can recognise and overcome bitterness and other negative emotions. Through mediation, God some-times even speaks to us.

Actively fighting evil: It is also our responsibility to fight the spiritual battles that take place in this world, from evil world leaders, and corrupt organisations to people and groups that actively work against common decency, morality and the importance of human life. Some of these battles may take place in our own town/city, state, country or continent. We should actively find ways to see how we can contribute to the fight on God’s behalf.

Daily prayer time: What better place is there to remind us of our spiritual selves then in our daily prayer time and when reading God’s Word?

If we neglect putting aside time each day with God, we must expect that consequences of this will impact our relationship with God including loss of intimacy, lack of faith, and loss of enthusiasm amongst other things. It will also contribute to us contemplating our own spiritual side and the spiritual battle far less than we should.

Pray Without Ceasing

Prayer is an essential weapon against evil,  and every Christian can and should use prayer on a regular basis. After Paul’s words about God’s armour, he followed up with these words in verse eighteen:

“Pray always. Pray in the Spirit. Pray about everything in every way you know how! And keeping all this in mind, pray on behalf of God’s people. Keep on praying feverishly, and be on the lookout until evil has been stayed.”[VOICE]

The original Greek mentions praying in every season, opportunity and in every time. It refers both to praying for God’s good will to be achieved and that evil will be averted.

It also refers to praying in the Spirit, that our hearts should be involved in prayer and that the Holy Spirit will change and strengthen the weaknesses of our heart.

The phrase to “pray always” or “pray without ceasing” can seem a little confusing because we can’t spend every single minute of every single day praying can we?

While we can’t go dropping to our knees every five steps, we certainly can talk to God in our minds about the things that are happening in our lives, and send our thoughts and requests to Him throughout our day.

When the busyness of our lives distracts us, it can easily become a habit to ignore God or allot him only a small portion of our day. Praying without ceasing is about ensuring we are discussing our life with God as we go about our day – that’s the kind of habit God wants to develop in us.

When we hear about awful things happening in the world, do we pray about them and about the people that are affected? Do we pray for the governments of those countries that allow or even encourage atrocities? Or do we allow ourselves to become so discouraged that we just don’t bother?

Do we pray for our workmates, or for those annoying relatives or people that we find difficult to love? Do we ask God to show us ways to pray for things or people that need prayer or to show us how we can make a difference? Do we pray for strength, wisdom and discernment?

It’s Too Big a Problem

While some of the awful things that happen in this world can sometimes seem too large or overwhelming for any one individual to battle, the fact is, that if we all threw our hands up and said, “Heck, that’s too big a problem for me,” then no-one at all would be praying or making an effort to change anything, and the world would turn into a seething, awful mess with little hope.

All Christians must all pray, for together we have strength. If we feel alone or that we aren’t making a difference, we can remind ourselves that we are all in it together. We should also pray for each other for strength. The unity of our strength and beliefs can bolster our faith, our wisdom, our strength and endurance. And with God at our backs, we are an incredible force for good in this world.

There are various ways that we individually and collectively can battle the world’s evil such as;

  • Prayer;

  • Writing to governments and organisations about important matters;

  • Protesting in person, by writing or by boycotting products etc; and

  • Actively campaigning or working towards bringing matters to the attention of the public, or those in charge both locally and/or nationally.

Yes, it can all seem too hard and too much for one person to make a difference. Consider: sometimes a change starts with just one person who says, “No! That’s just not right.”

Prayers are being answered!

Conclusion

While there is evil in this world, and while Satan and his forces work against God and His people, the fight will continue until the world’s end. We cannot be disheartened – we must battle on – we must stand our ground.

Thankfully, not every day will be filled with battles or we would become too weak and discouraged, but we must be prepared.

We should keep in mind that God is not absent or unaware. In each moment, He is putting the pieces of His plan into place and at the same time He is arming and strengthening His people. We are not on our own, or fighting in our own strength. We cannot quit!

We are a member of God’s great army, standing in our armour, and we must daily be prepared to do battle!

[End]

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Bibliography:
John S. Schoenheit, undated,  Truth or Tradition: Take Up the Armor of God, available: http://www.truthortradition.com/articles/take-up-the-armor-of-god, accessed 10/01/16
Kevin Halloran, 26 March 2014, Word + Life:  Strategies to Put On the Full Armor of God, available: http://www.kevinhalloran.net/strategies-to-put-on-the-full-armor-of-god/, accessed 10/01/16
Pastor Colin Smith,
Unlocking the Bible: How Important is Renewing Your Mind?” available: http://www.kevinhalloran.net/strategies-to-put-on-the-full-armor-of-god/, accessed 10/01/16
Adam Clark, 1832, StudyLight.org, Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary: The Adam Clarke’s Commentary, available: http://www.studylight.org/commentary/ephesians/6.html, accessed 10/01/16