God is not indifferent to wrong, and God knows you and I cannot rescue ourselves.
The Armor of God
“He saw that there was no oneIsaiah 59:16 (NRSVUE)
and was appalled that there was no one to intervene,
so his own arm brought him victory,
and his righteousness upheld him.”
God will redeem those who turn to the Lord, and God will give recompense to those who have made themselves enemies to God. The Lord will right all wrongs, one way or the other.
“He put on righteousness like a breastplateIsaiah 59:17-18 (NRSVUE, emphases added)
and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing
and wrapped himself in fury as in a mantle.
According to their deeds, so will he repay
wrath to his adversaries, requital to his enemies;
to the coastlands he will render requital..”
When the apostle Paul was talking about the armor of God, he was drawing from this very passage for his template.
Paul’s Adaptation of God’s Armor
Be Strong in the Lord
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power; put on the whole armor of God,
God’s Adversaries Are Spiritual
“so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, for our struggle is not against blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
God’s Armor is Spiritual
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on the evil day and, having prevailed against everything, to stand firm. Stand, therefore, and
Ephesians 6:10-17 (NRSVUE, emphases added)
- belt your waist with truth
- and put on the breastplate of righteousness
- and lace up your sandals in preparation for the gospel of peace.
- With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
- Take the helmet of salvation
- and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Just as God will battle God’s enemies, so you and I are to take on God’s armor to battle our enemies in the spiritual realm. Evil is never as strong as God.
Breastplate of Righteousness
This major piece of protective armor went from the neck to the waist, attached to the belt by leather thongs, and protected the vital organs.
Imputed Righteousness—To hide from Satan’s attacks behind a breastplate of our own righteousness is like looking for protection behind a paper fan, like trying to fight a forest fire with a squirt gun, or trying to cover ourselves with spider webs, as Isaiah so vividly depicted.
Their webs cannot serve as clothing;Isaiah 59:6 (NRSVUE)
they cannot cover themselves with what they make.
Their works are works of iniquity,
and deeds of violence are in their hands.
You and I will not be protected from Satan’s lies by trusting in our own good character, or our righteous living.
You and I have to have Christ’s righteousness, which He transferred to us at the time of salvation. In Christ’s righteousness we can rest secure that our hearts – our emotions – are securely protected against attack.
Personal Holiness—Nevertheless, there is something important about living into a life of repentance, setting ourselves apart on a regular basis for Jesus. Part of this means turning from our own ways of coping and dealing with life, with relationships, stress, crises, and the like, and turning towards – really leaning into – the righteousness that Jesus both models and makes available to you and me.
Part of this means a really humbling look at ourselves and adjusting expectations. If we find ourselves regularly getting discouraged because we failed, for instance, that is a clue we have unrealistic expectations. Of course you failed! I fail, we all fail, but that is what you and I are here to learn to overcome.
Understanding God’s acceptance of us is possibly the most frequent ground of attack against Christian faith.
God’s adversary, and ours, the cosmic powers of this present darkness, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, regularly employs the tactic of accusing you and me to our faces, in our heads, often using the voices of those who have already been critical of us. Deep down, we feel unworthy, inadequate, unable, a failure as a Christian, and no way to appease an angry and distant God.
Then there is that constant blanket sense of guilt, we sense a long, pointy, blaming finger coming out of heaven directed right at us. And maybe there are people around us who really are blaming us. Maybe we really are to blame.
The part that represents spiritual forces of evil at work is when that heavy blanket of guilt and shame turns inwards, opposing and destroying the good work of transformation God intends to do in us. Cosmic powers of this present darkness intend to disrupt our fellowship with God by making our hearts so heavy we stop going to God. Our growth is aborted, we hit spiritual catatonia, and never get passed feeling bad.
When you and I find ourselves working hard to protect our own sense of righteousness, that’s a big red flag that spiritual warfare is already underway. Sometimes, you and I can find ourselves so ensnared by these maladaptive thought processes, we need help finding our way out into the light. That’s the time to find a wise and good counselor. Ask God for helping in find them. It is eternally worth it.
The Breastplate of Christ’s Imputed Righteousness enables you and me to hold steady in the protection of knowing Jesus’ forgiveness and acceptance has put us in perfect, righteous standing before God. The stability we need to face stress is founded upon knowing the good news of our peace with God.
Helmet of salvation
This armored headgear was uniquely designed to protect against blows to the head, neck, and face, and represents one’s intelligence, the mind. When something painful or disruptive happens, especially in the case of traumatic events – sudden loss or injury, a spike in life stressors, turmoil in relationships, chaotic situations – our thinking brains are flooded with emotion. There are many practical, concrete ways to navigate an emotionally flooded brain, (here is one place to start) and that’s a good step in the right direction to regain balance in our spiritual thought-life as well.
When a sense of disaster overwhelms us, we are to be wary of spiritual forces of evil seeking to take advantage of the moment.
The Helmet of Salvation reminds you and me that God is working out God’s purposes and therefore, though this battle may seem like disaster, it is actually part of God’s plan, to bring all things together and on earth under one head, to reclaim all of creation for Christ. Imagine the Holy Spirit of God coming in great power for us, to stand by us, to empower us, to bring us through the darkness and back into the light.
“So those in the west shall fear the name of the Lord,Isaiah 59:19 (NRSVUE, emphases added)
and those in the east, his glory,
for he will come like a pent-up stream
that the wind of the Lord drives on.”
For those who turn to God in repentance, God will redeem and bring into God’s covenant
“And he will come to Zion as Redeemer,
to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the Lord.
“And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the Lord: my spirit that is upon you and my words that I have put in your mouth shall not depart out of your mouth or out of the mouths of your children or out of the mouths of your children’s children, says the Lord, from now on and forever.”Isaiah 59:20-21 (NRSVUE, emphases added)