When I began attending church regularly in the early 1970s, it was customary for people to dress up. Men wore suits and ties, and women wore dresses. Today, there doesn’t seem to be a dress code. Most of the people I see dress casually.
It probably doesn’t matter to God what you wear to church. But He does care how you dress for spiritual battle. In today’s text, Paul finishes his letter to the Ephesians by describing the spiritual resources that enable a Christian to “stand against the devil’s schemes” (v. 11). Using the armor and weapons of a Roman soldier as his analogy, Paul shows his readers how to equip themselves for spiritual warfare.
Paul explains that we battle against “powers of this dark world” and “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (v. 12). The struggle is earthly as well as heavenly. We can see the effects of these spiritual forces in our world, but their ultimate cause is not visible. How can we possibly fight against them?
The spiritual armor that Paul describes in verses13–17 focuses on two kinds of weapons. Our defensive weapons include: the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, readiness which comes from the gospel of peace, and shield of faith. They point to the protection that the righteousness of Christ and the hope of the gospel provide. Our offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
The method of engaging in spiritual warfare that the apostle outlines is simple. Instead of prescribing specific prayers, chants, or elaborate rituals, the apostle asks the Ephesians to “always keep on praying” (v. 18). He also asks them to pray for him so that he will fearlessly proclaim the gospel. The best way to protect ourselves spiritually is to know the gospel and be familiar with God’s Word.
>> Do you know a pastor or missionary for whom you can pray? Ask God to help them declare the gospel fearlessly “as they should!”
Many of us struggle to focus on You, Lord, and on the needs—our own and others’—we are bringing before You. Father, please grant us growth in this spiritual discipline.