Summary: Doing battle always requires protection, but we often try to use something flimsy, not employing the help which God gives through others.
No one in his right mind goes out to do battle without protection. You won’t last long on to any battlefield, whether it be the beaches of Normandy or the sands of Kuwait, if you don’t have some kind of armor. Tanks, flak jackets, bulletproof vests – you must have something to protect your heart, or you will not survive.
In fact, if your battlefield is nothing more than the turf of FedEx field, you’d better have shoulder pads, or those Cowboys will make hamburger out of you! Protection!
And if your battlefield is not a physical one, but a spiritual one, you still need armor. You still must have protection. The question is, “Do you know how to get it, and will you recognize it when it is offered?”
Take on that office romance; express your distaste at what is going on between the boss and his secretary – and you will need armor when the boss retaliates and gives you all the dirty jobs. You will need the force of law – they call it “whistle-blower law” – to protect yourself.
Take on political corruption – the payoffs that grease the skids to get things done; the thievery that takes property out of city warehouses. Take on political corruption, and you may get some heavy-breathing, threatening phone calls. You will need the power of law and a police force with integrity to protect yourself.
Take on vote fraud in the old South; take on the pattern of intimidating black voters, making people interpret obscure passages in the Constitution, the pattern of letting it be known that voting might cost you your job. Take on that stuff, and a generation or less ago, and you could look for “KKK” to be carved on your wall and maybe even on your skin. Take that on and you needed the power of law, a police force, and a federal government with a strong spine. Anytime you take on injustice, you need armor. Anytime you fight for righteousness, you need protection.
Small wonder, then, that Paul spoke of putting on the breastplate of righteousness. The armor of his day was the breastplate – a molded piece of metal the soldier could wear to protect his heart. Without the breastplate the soldier would not dare venture into battle. And without the breastplate of righteousness to protect us, we dare not enter into spiritual battle.
And yet, I say again, the question is, “Do you know how to get this armor? And will you recognize it when it is offered?”
Now I have here something I propose as a breastplate. How do you think this would do to protect us in battle? It’s a screen from my front door. What about it? Would this stop a 9-mm shell? Is this a good breastplate?
There is an old saying that some things are about as useless as a screen door on a submarine. A screen door on a submarine. Think about it; that’s pretty useless, right? A screen door lets the water in. It holds back nothing. It’s pointless. A screen door would have no place as armor on a submarine. But some of us are trying to sail off to battle protected with little more than a flimsy, porous, screen door.
Just about a month ago, the world was captivated by a horrifying news story. American vessels in the North Sea and Norwegian stations on shore reported that a Russian submarine was trapped under water. The Kursk was crippled from an explosion or a collision. That news first came out on Saturday, August 12. But the Russian Navy said nothing and did nothing until Sunday, a day later. Why? In the words of an official spokesman, “Our navy had to clarify for themselves what was happening.” The translation is, “Unless we see it and hear it ourselves, it didn’t happen.” You remember the little picture of the three monkeys lined up on a log – hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil? The Russian Navy heard nothing, said nothing, did nothing, until they could get around to seeing for themselves.
But soon the situation with the Kursk became all too clear. Well over 100 crewmen were inside; the ship could not sail, it could not raise itself. What could be done? How could they be rescued? The world waited. On Monday, the United States and Britain both offered help. Both nations offered to send in equipment. It was not until Tuesday that the Russians responded, to say, thank you very much, they had all the equipment they needed. But on Wednesday, four full days after the explosion, they invited the British to help.
Now the situation got very interesting. Norwegian divers turned up on the scene. They hadn’t been invited; they just came. They prepared to go down more than 100 meters to the sea floor. The Russians stopped them and said they’d already sent divers down. But when the Norwegians went anyway, they discovered that no one had been there at all. And when they approached the submarine’s escape hatch, Russian communications told them, “You won’t be able to handle the hatch. It’s damaged and it will take a heavy crane to lift off the hatch.” But guess what? The Norwegian divers got it free with nothing more than their bare hands.