In the sixth chapter of his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul uses a soldier dressed for battle to teach a very important spiritual lesson. During his lifetime, Roman legions patrolled the empire, so Paul knew wherever believers gathered the image would be familiar to all who heard his letter read.
Today the Roman soldier is ubiquitous in Sunday School material far beyond the lands where the Caesars once reigned. And he still makes an effective teaching aid on a poster with his armor labeled from Ephesians 6:13-17.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
There is even a plastic version of the full armor of God available as a child’s costume. However, the day I saw seven-year-old Tim use the sword of the Spirit to pound on the shield of faith held by four-year-old Nathan, I knew something was missing in their lesson on spiritual warfare.
Unfortunately, the same thing is too often true for adults as well. Too often we isolate those four verses as though simply describing the armor accurately can keep us safe. And I think that like Tim and Nathan we might even use the armor fighting our allies instead of our enemy.
Very early in my walk with the Lord, I memorized all the pieces of the full armor of God. I knew that rema, not logos was the Greek word for “word” in the passage. I understood from that fine distinction that I was to have precise portions of scripture hidden in my heart and ready to apply as needed.
However, it was much later that I finally realized that the battle I was preparing to fight took place on my knees. Ephesians 6:18 tells us exactly what to do once we have our armor in place:
praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints —
If we move back in the passage to verses 10-12, we see that Paul had reached a conclusion of some kind when he introduces the concept of spiritual warfare:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
One day as I was reading my Bible, I had one of those utterly transcendent moments of enlightenment: FINALLY! Finally, my sisters, I made the connection between Paul’s warning about the spiritual nature of our battle and everything he had said from Ephesians 5:22 to 6:10. He tells us that our battle is not with our husbands, wives, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, employees, employers or any of the other people who are most likely to annoy or disappoint us in life. He tells us that we must live armed and praying so that we are always warring against God’s enemies and not against God’s children. He tells us that the evil day we must withstand is any day that saints allow the enemy to disturb the unity of the body of Christ.
And that is why Gramma must constantly fight on her knees.