I’m still thinking about superheros and their prominence in our cultural narratives. From Star Trek to Star Wars to Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings – the battle between good and evil continues to be waged in story, on screen and on stage. Literature is filled with heroes and heroines and littered with defeated villains. Every era has had its heroes, like King Arthur’s knights of the round table. To this day, we call a “knight in shining armor” someone who champions the right and defeats those who would cause harm or do evil. Throughout history the battle between good and evil has raged without interruption, intermission or even a truce.
Enemies seem to be everywhere. Some are easier to recognize than others, however. Take Goliath, for instance. He was definitely a clear and present danger to the Israelites. David had no trouble recognizing this giant as the enemy, when he went out to do battle against him. In the Revolutionary War, the British were referred to as the “Red Coats” for a reason. This was their military uniform, which easily identified them as the enemy the Patriots were fighting.
In the battles we fight, it is necessary to be able to clearly identify just who it is that we are fighting against. Who is the enemy? What do they look like? If I can’t see my opponent, how can I defend myself? How can I engage in battle if I don’t know who my enemy is? I sense the battle is in full progress all around me. And it feels familiar to me. No wonder. It is the battle Adam and Eve fought in the garden. It is the battle each one of us fight every day from cradle to grave. This explains why all the narratives that surround us are really just one story, repeated over and over again – the playing out of the struggle between good and evil. Every book I read, every movie I watch has a hero and a villain duking it out to see who will prevail in the end.
Who wins in the end? That is the question. Ephesians chapter six gives me some good news and some bad news. My enemy is clearly identified – good news. My enemy is invisible – bad news. How do I fight an invisible enemy – an enemy I cannot see? It seems like an unfair advantage to me. But Ephesians chapter six instructs me how best to prepare myself for this daily battle.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:10-12)
Ok, so there’s the identification of my enemy and the revelation that he is invisible. What follows next are my instructions for how to fight my invisible enemy.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish 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. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:13-18)
So there it is. I need to put on God’s full armor everyday. If I do, I will be protected and prepared to fight my battle with evil, as I am called to do each day. God supplies what I need – a belt, (of truth) a breastplate, (of righteousness) shoes, (supplying the steadiness of the gospel) a shield, (of faith) a helmet, (of salvation) and a sword (the word of God). This is how I am to dress for the battle. As for my battle strategy? I am given that as well. I am told to pray. God’s word and prayer. Those are the divine weapons with which I am to fight against my invisible enemy.
It is easy to feel discouraged in this battle because it often seems like evil is triumphing over good. But Jesus gave a spoiler alert in John 16:33 –
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
When all seems lost, I persevere. I don’t lose hope – the One who calls me is faithful. His words are ever before me –
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:9-10)
sincerely, Grace Day