The Christian's panoply

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Christians are soldiers. The Bible says: "Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but... against the spiritual forces of wickedness" (Eph. 6:11,12). The Christian's fight is spiritual and for that reason he needs spiritual weapons and spiritual armor.

The Christian fights "having girded (his) loins with truth" (Eph. 6:1) In Eastern countries a belt around the waist bound the garment in such a way that a man could move without stumbling. Truth prevents us from going astray. It guards us against allying ourselves with the enemy. We can stand firm if we do not permit ourselves to be carried about by every wind of doctrine. The Christian truth is the Word of God, God's message of Law and Gospel, the whole Gospel with all its articles of faith revealed in the Scriptures. Christ crucified for the sins of the world is its center, and we accept it by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit through the means of the grace.

A Christian's garment is the breastplate of righteousness. When we have Christ as our own through faith, He covers our sinfulness. In Christ we are acceptable to God, and the devil has no power or authority over Christ. Christ is therefore the breastplate in which we must be clothed if we wish to win the battle.

A Christian's battle-shoes are "the preparation of the Gospel of peace." A Christian cannot come to terms with evil. That is why he is a soldier. But a Christian's main task is to be a "peacemaker". For that reason we have been given the Gospel. It tells us of that peace which Christ brought about by reconciling us to God. A troubled conscience finds peace in the Gospel.

Because God has forgiven our sins by raising His Son from the dead, a new era of peace has begun. It is not temporal, but spiritual peace. It is not present outwardly here in this world, but is in the hearts of those who believe. Christians have been called to proclaim this peace.

A Christian's shield is faith. It extinguishes all the fiery arrows of evil. All accusations and temptations ricochet off faith.

Our helmet is the salvation that awaits us on the Last Day. This hope gives us strength so that we have the courage to look up and continue confidently on our way.

We are also given a weapon. It is the sword of the Spirit or God's Word. A Christian's weapons are neither tangible nor carnal (2 Cor. 10:8). We fight "without human power and wisdom, but in the power of the Holy Spirit, in greatest weakness, lowliness and humbleness", as Dr. Luther says.

With these weapons and this armor even the weak can fight with confidence because God has given them to us. Even though how frail we are, God protects us with this armor. And even though we would be completely powerless, as we are, God's strength is in God's Word, and this strength is not dependent on our person. Thus we will be victorious with God's help.