Sunday, March 1, 2009

Keep Your Bubble in the Middle

Well we have come to the last two pieces of armor listed in Ephesians 6: 13-17, and as you might expect, God may have saved the best for last. Just as we are summing up our study, Paul may be telling us that these last two pieces are the finishing touches of our defense against Satan and his attacks on us. So if he saved the best for last, let's look at what he has to say.

Verse 17 tells us to take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit with us as we go into battle. Now I don't know about you, but when I read this the first thing I thought of is the use of the phrase "And take". It's almost as if it's a reminder because it's something you often forget. Do you remember your mother telling you as you went out the door in a hurry not to "forget" something? I almost get that feeling here. It seems like Paul is telling us not to forget our helmet and sword on our way out. Why would we do that? Well, most often by being in a hurry. It may well be that Paul is trying to tell us that when we know we are going into battle, or we feel we are coming under attack, don't be in such a hurry to fight that we forget two very important pieces of our armor.

Why so important? I think we may be able to answer that if we remember how Satan chooses to attack. Remember we found that he always attacks what we have chosen to believe. He tries to create doubts, so what we need most is protection of our thoughts. Paul tells us that the "helmet of salvation" protects our head, or mind, by helping us remember that we are saved. No matter what, once we have made the decision to accept Jesus into our hearts we are saved. No one can take that away, so our minds can be protected by the knowledge of our salvation.

We are also instructed to take up "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God". Now most people would say this is an offensive weapon, and in fact, many commentaries do say this. Though I wouldn't necessarily disagree, within the context of this passage where we are being told that we are to be "defensive", I wonder if we need to look at it in a different light. Notice first of all that Paul mentions the sword along with the helmet in the same sentence. He also goes further by using the word "and" to tie them both together. That tells me they must work together, or sort of "hand in hand". How so? Well if we are to use the helmet to guard or protect our minds, the sword, which Paul describes as the word of God, must also protect our mind in some way.

A verse that comes to my mind when I think of this is Psalms 119:11 where it says that "Thy word have I kept in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." You see, although the word of God is most certainly an "offensive" weapon, it is also used defensively to keep us as believers living godly lives which then are a visible witness to an unbelieving world. Look at Hebrews 4:12 where Paul again tells us that the word is "sharper than any two-edged sword", but then goes on to say that it is "able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart". So in fact, we as believers are being told we need to use the word defensively by using it to control our thoughts and actions.

If you know me at all, you know how much I enjoy skiing. What you may not know is that two seasons ago, I decided (very reluctantly) to begin wearing a helmet when I skied. Go figure, the same season I began to wear it, I fell on a steep slope and slid head first into a very large boulder. I actually hit the rock so hard that I cracked the helmet in two places, and bit through my tongue. Believe it or not, I was able to finish my day skiing (hey, I paid a lot of money for the lift ticket) thanks to the protection given me by wearing the helmet. I did, however, suffer from what was later determined to be a mild concussion. But the reason I bring this up is to mention what my doctor told me after I went to see him and finished trying to describe exactly how I was feeling. He looked at me and smiled and said "so you're telling me your bubble isn't in the middle? With a background as a carpenter, and knowing first hand the importance of using a level, I had to laugh.

Dare I say this might be what Paul is telling us here? Use the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit to keep your bubble in the middle? Hey, it works for me. Let's all go into battle with the confidence that if we put on the whole armor of God we can succeed in defending ourselves from the attacks that come from Satan and his angels, and by using God's word as our level, we can live lives that truly reflect the hope we have in Jesus Christ.