Sunday Message for 22 August 2021: “Spiritual Warriors”

Paul employs a military metaphor in today’s message from Ephesians 6:10-20, a lesson about conflict. Paul compares readiness to a soldier’s equipment, complete with armor from head to toe and even a weapon.

Paul begins by asserting how we should be strong, with our strength coming from God. He encourages his readers to wear spiritual armor for protection against all sorts of threats. Paul describes armor worn by the Roman soldiers of his day. He mentions defensive armor (e.g., helmet, shield) and the sword used for offense. Paul observed how soldiers could function magnificently when they were outfitted with the proper equipment. Using mental images of soldiers may be a bit odd but we get the point (pun intended).

Human life is defined by struggles. Bodies are buffeted by the forces of nature. Gravity drags things down to earth. Disease and decay spread like a runaway plague. Deprivation saps vitality as much as wars ravage bodies. And internally, bad attitudes and negativity eat people from within. Underlying all this death and destruction is the realm of spiritual warfare, invisible yet as dangerous as an army of enraged, charging soldiers intent on killing you.

Paul suggests that “our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness . . . (Ephesians 6:12). Just when you thought that struggles were merely physical, Paul reveals the perils of a dark world filled with spiritual evil.

Paul’s teaching is a reminder that Christians’ most persistent enemy is not limited to visible humans on battlefields. Life is an inherent conflict, a constant flow of attacks inside and out. Sometimes the warfare is literal while at other times the struggle is virtual, abstract and as internally devastating as cuts and slices to the flesh. Whether there is literal bloodshed or not, yearn for God’s protection and persist on the path of love and truth.

How are you outfitted? Do you have what you need to defend truth against the lying hordes of evil? Do you put on the whole armor of God each day? Are you willing to learn how to wield the sword of the Spirit? And just when you think you’ve identified the enemy, such as a corrupt government, or attitudes of prejudice and injustice, the real culprit could be within you; not all enemies are external or outside.

A way to combat threats is through your mind. Consider mindfulness, which is a form of heightened awareness. You can be vigilant by remaining mindful of your environment and circumstances. Using your mind in this way can help you’re your up against hidden evils or a spear-wielding warrior. Proper thinking and awareness are great weapons to defend against a universe of both seen and unseen threats. Strengthen your mind!

Don’t underestimate your enemies’ ability to use lies and deceptions. Evil takes many forms, and a sure way to identify darkness is when powerful people and their deluded followers cling to falsehoods. Paul’s positive lesson in all this is just as important, and that is to not underestimate God’s presence. God’s empowerment conquers all opposition and the power of the spirit is your greatest weapon.

Come, brothers and sisters, let us be victorious over all that seeks to harm us. Celebrate God’s blessings. We are victors, not victims. Be ready for whatever life throws at you. Stand up, take your place, and be ready to fulfill your God-blessed destiny as a soldier of light and life.

–Reverend Larry Hoxey

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