Ephesians 6:11. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
In this war we call the Christian life we have been given everything that we need for victory. We have every spiritual blessing (1:3). We are indwelt by the Spirit of God (1:13-14). We are secured in the love of Christ (3:17) and the fullness of God (3:19). We have put off the old self and put on the new self, the Jesus self (4:22-24). All of these truths are ours for the believing. And when we believe these truths the victory won’t just be ours someday. It will be ours today. And every day.
If you don’t feel victorious today it’s not because you’re not. It’s because you don’t believe that you are. BE what you ARE. This is the message of this letter, and the power of our union with Christ.
We are told first in this conclusion of the letter to be strong in the power of Jesus. His resurrection power. The power that allows us to face anything, any suffering, any temptation, any sorrow, any pain, any failure and any success knowing that we will survive into the next life. This is the resurrection power that transforms our weakness into strength, our dying into living, our sacrificing into an inheritance, our suffering into glory. And this is a power that we already have even though we are not yet fully experiencing it.
So too the armor of God.
Over the next couple verses Paul will tell us what the armor of God is: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Spirit’s word. If only we could figure out how to get our hands on these things. We would be invincible. Right?
(Yes, that was sarcasm)
These aren’t thing that we need to figure out how to get our hands on. They’re not realities to attain to. They’re realities to appropriate. To accept. To believe.
Put on the armor of God. How? By trusting that you already have it. You’re already wearing it. Like Superman’s cape tucked under his suit, we must take off the old and expose the new. Be what we are. Wear the clothes that match our identity. God’s armor. Never our own.
And then stand.
When you’re invincible all you have to do is stand.
There’s a great paradox in our verse. Does it say, “Get on your armor and then race off into battle.” Nope. Or, “Get on your armor and then come out swinging, destroying all of God’s enemies.” Nope again.
It’s “get on your armor and then stand there.” That’s the paradox.
In our spiritual battle we don’t do nothing, but we don’t DO anything.
We put on (that’s something to do), and then we stand (there’s nothing left to do).
Put on the armor of God – hear the gospel truths.
Stand – trust the gospel truths.
Trust the victory that God has already won. Trust that nothing can separate you from God. Trust your received forgiveness. Trust your union with Christ’s righteousness. Trust your promised resurrection. Trust that you don’t have to fight to win. Trust that you just have to stand.
There’s a great example of this in the Old Testament. In 2 Chronicles, the nation of Judah is about to be attacked by three enemy nations. Scary stuff. So King Jehoshaphat goes to God and cries out to him. He rehearses the covenant promises made to Abraham and the character of God. And then the Spirit of God comes upon a Levite named Jahaziel. And this is what he said:
2 Chronicles 20:15-18. 15 And [Jahaziel] said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
So the next day, after worshiping God, Judah woke up, put on all their “holy attire,” went to the battlefield, sang praises, and….stood there.
And then God showed up and wiped out all their enemies turning them upon each other.
2 Chronicles 20:22-23. 22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. 23 For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.
“To live is Christ” means you have already won. So stand. Stand and look out over your victory in Jesus. Stand in God’s armor knowing that his promises are true and his love for you is never failing. You can live in victory today. Stop fighting for it and stand upon it instead.