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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 15 - Ephesians 6:2 - The Armor and the Battle Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius

Index

XV.

 

The Armor And The Battle.

 

"Put on the whole armor of God."-Ephesians 6:2.

 

 

     Jerusalem was the city of armor for Israel; for her captains and her mighty men there was 'the tower of David, builded for an armory, whereon there hung a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men' (Cant. 4:4). There were 'Solomon's three hundred shields of beaten gold' (1 Kings 10:17). There was Hezekiah's 'house of armor' (2 Kings 20:13). There was 'the armor of the house of the forest' (Isaiah 22:8). There were Solomon's 'valiant men, of the valiant of Israel, who held swords, being expert in war: every man having his sword upon his thigh, because of fear in the night' (Cant. 3:7, 8).

     The heavenly Jerusalem has her armory too. Of this the prophet spoke: 'The Lord hath opened His armory, and bath brought forth the weapons of His indignation' (Jeremiah 1:25). It is to this heavenly armory that Paul so often points, when reminding us of the conflict and the triumph. He speaks of 'the armor of light' (Romans 13:12), of 'the armor of righteousness' (2 Corinthians 6:7), and, in the passage before us, of 'the whole armor of God.'

     It is to battle that we are summoned the moment that we believe. All at once we are translated, not to paradise, but to a battlefield, and there placed face to face with our hellish foes. 'Fight the good fight of faith,' is the war note with which our Captain cheers us on.

     For this battle strength is the first thing needed. But where is it to be found? Not in us, nor in the creature; not in human wisdom, or fleshly sufficiency. Only in Him who hath bought us, and called us, and washed us. 'Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.' Here is the source and secret of our strength. Here is a fullness truly divine and heavenly, and yet as accessible, as much within our reach, and at our disposal, as if it were our own; for it is at the disposal of One who loves us better than we love ourselves.

     But strength is not all we need. We require weapons and armor; for the battle is no common one, and the enemy is the leader of the principalities and powers of darkness, who himself needs no armor, seeing he is invisible and invulnerable; who is not only powerful and skilful, but has every kind of weapon at command-the snare, the wile, the sword, the dart, the fire. His object in the present day is to persuade us that he does not exist, that we have to fight no such battle, that we need no sword nor shield, that we can do without anything beyond our own human power and skill. But the divine warning assures us that our enemy still lives and rages and deceives; that he is most to be feared when most invisible; that his last delusions will be his worst, when, as an angel of light, he comes into the Church to mislead by falsehoods, so beautiful, so attractive, so intellectual, so like the truth-it may be, so evangelical,-that, if it were possible, the elect shall be deceived.

     It is the 'whole armor' or panoply of God that we are to put on, that we may 'withstand' and also stand. 'For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal' (2 Corinthians 10:4). Flesh and blood, beings or things of earth, may be sometimes alarming foes; but these are nothing to the principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, the spiritual wickednesses in high places. A girdle we need, and this is given us,-the girdle of truth. A breastplate is provided,-the breastplate of righteousness. A shield is required, and here it is-the shield of faith, to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one. A helmet we must have, and that is not lacking-the helmet of salvation, which covers our head in the day of battle from the, fiery strokes aimed at this vital part by the spirits in 'high places.' A sword we must have, and it is presented to us,-the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Shoes (or sandals) we must have, to protect the feet in the rough, slippery battlefield, and they are at hand,-'the preparation of the gospel of peace.'

     Here are some of the weapons and pieces of armor which we find in the tower of our David, builded for an armory; and we take down these from among the thousand bucklers, the shields of mighty men, according to our need. With these shields of gold provided by our Solomon, we cover ourselves, girding our swords upon our thigh (like our Captain, Psalm 45:3). Our 'Leader and Commander' teaches our hands to war, and our fingers to fight; so that a bow of steel is broken by our arms; nay, and we become 'expert in war;' we are strong, and do exploits (Daniel 11:32). We become as the 'valiant in Israel;' ever girded, ever armed, ever watchful, 'because of fear in the night' (Cant. 3:5).

     For this is our night-the world's day, but our night-and we are exposed perpetually to 'fear in the night,' from the god of the night, the ruler of this world's darkness. Night is full of fear. Again and again we ask (in our weariness and long waiting), 'Watchman, what of the night?' And as yet the answer has only been, 'The morning cometh, but also the night;' the morning will come, but the night must first be exhausted. Then the day shall break, and the shadows flee away. Then Satan shall be bound; the battle finished; the victory won; the conquerors crowned (Revelations 3:21); our weapons laid aside; the sword turned into a ploughshare, and the spear into a pruning-hook; the bow broken, the chariot burned in fire.

     I. We must fight.-There is no choice here. Whether we will or not, we must fight; for we are thrown upon a battlefield, and if we fight not, we perish. Woe be to the man that thinks there is no need of fighting now; that there is no danger and no enemy. Fight the good fight of faith.

     II. We must know our enemy.-Not flesh and blood. Not the world merely, but the god of this world, Satan with all his legions. Him we have to encounter face to face. Let us not mistake the foe, nor undervalue either his skill or his strength. He has been the Church's enemy from the beginning; he is so still; he will be till he is bound. The field on which we fight is strewn (as Bunyan says) with the shivers of Apollyon's broken darts. We may know it by this to be the old battlefield.

     III. We must fight with God's weapons and armor.-Nothing less will do. Satan in his subtlety would provide us with armor against himself-paper shields, wooden swords, spears of reed. He persuades us that we can combat evil by the appliances of modern intellect and science and civilization. Let us beware. To try to suit religion to the spirit of the age, is to play into Satan's hands. Only divine weapons will avail in a battle with the powers of darkness.

     IV. We must fight in faith.-By faith we fight, and by faith we stand (2 Corinthians 1:24). As men believing in Him who died and rose again, we fight. As men believing in the power and love of our Captain and King, we fight. As men who know that they are to be made more than conquerors, we fight. It is the fight of faith.

     V. We must fight bravely, and to the end.-We must not turn back in the day of battle. We have no armor for our back. We must face the foe. 'Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.' And this must be to the end, however long the warfare may be. The prize is not to the conqueror in one field, but to the conqueror at last.