Summary: This message compares and contrasts the preparation and protective gear of the Olympic athlete to the preparation and protective gear of the Christian soldier.
Scripture Ref: Ephesians 6:10-18
Other Ref: The Bible Knowledge Commentary
The Preacher’s Commentary
The Believer’s Bible Commentary
The Complete Word Study Dictionary
a. Many of us have been “glued” to the TV lately, attracted to and mesmerized by the winter Olympic games—participating vicariously through our favorite athletes.
b. We are drawn to their focus, their daring, their concentration, their sheer athletic skill and ability.
c. With that we take a quick inventory of our life and think, “If only…” coupled with an “I wanted to do that” or an “I could have done that.”
d. Take heart, we routinely compete in a manner consistent with these athletes, but on a grander and much more serious scale.
e. The point of view we seldom see or take is that these athletes are waging a battle—a battle against time, a battle against human frailty, a battle against endurance and capability, and a battle against fellow competitors.
f. We can learn from those athletes—their training, their preparation, their dedication. Paul gives us some specific training and preparatory tips to aid us in our battle.
2. Mental Preparation
a. Read Ephesians 6:10-18
b. V. 10 — Be strong in the Lord
(1) Paul closes this epistle by addressing all the family of God, appealing to them as soldiers of Christ.
(2) Each of us learns that this Christian life is a constant battle. Satan and his minions are committed to hindering and obstructing Christ’s work through us and knocking us out of combat.
(3) The more effective we become, the more we will experience Satan’s attacks. He doesn’t waste time and efforts on status quo Christians.
(4) By ourselves we are no match for him. So Paul’s preparatory command to us is that we should always be strengthened in the Lord and in His never ending resources.
(5) Just as the best Olympic athletes are those who are aware of their weaknesses and shortcomings and find strength and determination through that knowledge, God's best soldiers are those who are aware of their own weakness and ineffectiveness, and who rely solely on Him.
(6) Read 1 Cor. 1:27—But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
3. Physical and Spiritual Preparation
a. Olympic athletes rely on personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect the weak areas of their body for their chosen sport:
(1) Luge, bobsled, snowboard, ski—helmets to protect the head
(2) Skaters—tightly laced, over-the-ankle boots to protect their ankles.
(3) Hockey—helmets, shoulder pads, elbow pads, chest pads, knee and shin guards
(4) Weight lifters—sturdy belts to protect their waist and back
(5) Swimmers—goggles to protect their eyes and allow them to see in the water
b. Paul urges us to put on our spiritual PPE.
c. V. 11 — Put on the whole armor of God.
(1) As the Olympic games have evolved and become more complex, pushing the envelope of human stamina, endurance, and capability, so have the hazards associated with each sport—jump higher, go faster, spin faster and more frequently, defy gravity.
(2) With this growth, specialists have developed protective gear that not only protects the weak parts of the human body unique to a given sport, but have also allowed enlarging the expanse of that sport.
(3) We also need protective gear in this battle we wage. However, we need divine armor and we must be completely armed; one or two pieces will not do.
(4) Nothing less than God’s full armor package will keep us invulnerable.
(5) We may be tempted to think our enemies are human and try to fight with worldly weapons, but our real enemies are spiritual forces.
(6) Satan has all angles covered—discouragement, frustration, confusion, moral failure, and doctrinal error.
(a) He knows our weakest point and aims for it.
(b) If he can’t eliminate us or disqualify us by one method, he changes tactics and goes for another.
d. V. 12 — Know your enemy and know your limitations
(1) Much as Olympic athletes are aware of their limitations, they are also aware of their opponents weaknesses and limitations. And, they play or compete to those as much as possible.
(2) We too must be aware of our strengths and weaknesses, as well as our opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
(3) We aren’t up against godless philosophers, crafty priests, Christ-denying cultists, or infidel rulers. We fight demonic forces, battalions of fallen angels, and evil spirits wielding tremendous power.
(4) Though we can’t see them, we are surrounded by them. While they can’t possess a true believer, they can oppress and harass him or her.
(5) As a Christian, we should not be morbidly occupied with them, nor should we live in fear of them, for while we are clothed in the armor of God, we have all we need to hold stand our ground against their onslaughts.