Summary: By making sure that we put on the full armor of God we can be certain that the battle will be won.
Call of Duty: Spiritual Warfare
This is a picture of the most famous fighter pilot in history. Fighting in a time when winning five air battles was considered impressive, he has been credited with 80 confirmed air combat victories, with several others suspected but unable to be proven. In fact, he shot down more planes than anyone else -- on either side -- during World War I. His was a household name for decades, and is the subject of multiple books and movies both here and in his home country of Germany.
His name is Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richtofen, but he is much better known as the Red Baron thanks to his bright red Fokker triplane. On April 21st, 1918, the Red Baron was flying over northern France when he saw a Canadian plane flying at a low altitude. Immediately starting a pursuit, the Red Baron began chasing this poor Canadian across the French countryside trying to shoot him down. At one point the Red Baron himself was briefly attacked by a second Canadian, but he was able to shake him off and resumed his pursuit.
While the Red Baron was distracted with this second plane, a single 7.7mm bullet -- the same type used by the British -- hit him, severely damaging his heart and lungs. The Red Baron barely managed to make a rough crash landing in a field before dying in his plane. He was so respected -- even by his enemies -- that he was given a full funeral, complete with honor guards and a rifle salute, by the Allied troops in the area.
We don’t know where the shot came from -- was it from a Canadian plane? An anti-aircraft gun on the ground? No one knows for sure. We do know, though, that the Red Baron came to his end because he made the mistake of pursuing that Canadian plane too long, too far, and too low into enemy territory. This, ironically, violated one of the Red Baron’s most important principles -- don’t fly too low, because ground fire can be dangerous. He thought that he was safe; because he had so many other victories under his belt he thought he couldn’t be killed.
Too many times believers fall into this same trap. We too are soldiers, but we know before the war ends that our side wins -- after all, the Bible says so repeatedly -- so we feel invincible. When this happens we get caught off guard when we’re too long, too far, and too low into enemy territory.
Spiritual warfare, like the traditional sort practiced by militaries around the world, has its own special set of rules. We have weapons, armor, and tactics to use against our enemy. In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul describes the weapons, armor, and tactics we use against our enemy -- as well as the dangers we must be careful of during battle. Starting with verse 10:
“10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For 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. 13Therefore 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. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
There is a lot of information in these nine verses -- and they describe quite neatly the dos and don’ts of spiritual warfare. Let’s start at the beginning.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” This may sound a little obvious, but we simply cannot fight this battle alone. Before anything else, before we prepare for battle, before we put on our armor or ready our weapons, we must realize where our strength comes from. We cannot fight the enemy if we rely solely upon our own strength and power.
This is what is so difficult. We live in a word where reliance on our own strength and abilities is pushed strongly from a very young age. We’re taught that we don’t need help from anyone, and asking for help is a sign of weakness. If we can’t do it on our own, then we either need to work harder and get stronger, or just give up and not do it at all.