Warfare. When we think about it, we usually think of a place “over there”: places like the middle east, Afghanistan, Iraq. In previous generations, those places had names like Vietnam, Korea, Europe, and the Philippines. When we talk about a spiritual battle, it is sometimes harder to envision, simply because the battle is primarily taking place in your mind.
The men and women who fight and have fought overseas in the battles for the freedom of our nation and allies went through rigorous preparation and training in order to be able to complete their missions effectively. The first step in this preparation and training was a 8 to 12 week program called “basic training” or “boot camp”. In order to prepare for our daily spiritual battle, we must go through a “basic training” of our own.
There are several steps to this basic spiritual training and those steps must be taken in a specific order. It would be foolish and dangerous to give all of the equipment and weapons a basic training graduate has been trained to use to a new recruit fresh off the bus. The recruit would hurt themselves and potentially the people around them simply because they wouldn’t know how to effectively use the tools and weapons at their disposal.
To effectively wage war against the enemy who plagues us all, take these first steps of “basic training”.
WARNING: Do not believe that you can read through these scriptures once and think you’re ready for battle. You must be lead by the Holy Spirit through this training. Notice the very first step is to learn to respect your commander. The very nature of respecting your commander requires you to be willing to follow Him. Submit to Him and His leadership. His leadership must become second nature to you. Do not move to the second and then the third step until your commander deems you fit to proceed.
Respect our Commander – James 4:7 I must submit to God’s authority and obey Him in all things. Until you’ve let God deal with you in the areas of submission in your life (at work and at home) you’re not submitted to God, and so you’re not respecting Him and His Word.
Recognize our Enemy – Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 5:8-9 I must remember I am at war at all times. I must never surrender. Many do not know this, but the enemy can only take ground that you surrender to him. The armor of God discussed in Ephesians 6 does not account for armor on your back because with God there is no need for retreat! Do not surrender! Do not give up the fight! Also, we must be able recognize the enemy when he approaches. If you’re alone in a foxhole and disoriented, it’s going to be difficult to discern from which direction the enemy is attacking. You may even mistake an ally for an attacker! Make sure you’re not in the battle alone, so that the others around you can help you to recognize the enemy when you can’t.
Resist the devil- Ephesians 6:11 I must equip myself daily to resist the devil. You can’t run a mile once a month and expect to be in shape right? Then why would we expect to be prepared for the enemy’s attacks if we only take our Bible off the shelf once a week or once a month? You must stay grounded in the Word.
Belt of Truth- Ephesians 6:14a I must practice faithfulness and integrity. God is faithful to those who remain faithful to Him. (read also: Job) The fact that God is faithful does NOT mean that life will be easy. Remain faithful to God in the good and the hard times. Practice integrity. Keep your word to others and keep your word to God, even when no one is watching. Our character is measured by who we are when no one will see our actions.
Breastplate of Righteousness- Ephesians 6:14b I must practice righteousness and holiness. Without God at the center of your heart and life, we are incapable of righteousness or holiness. Look to your commander for His leadership and example.
Sandals of the Gospel of Peace- Ephesians 6:15 I must remember that my stability and peace come from the Gospel. Again, read the book of Job. There was nothing stable or peaceful about his life after calamity visited him. Yet in the end, he reached a place of peace that could only be provided by God.
Shield of Faith- Ephesians 6:16 I must trust in God’s promises. God’s promises are just that: promises to you. A promise is defined as something that has the
Helmet of Salvation- Ephesians 6:17a I must remember that my salvation is secured in Christ. The work of your salvation was completed on the cross. Jesus said “It is finished” because the job was done. Be secure in knowing who you are in Christ. The old man or woman is gone, you’re not that person anymore. You’ve been remade.
Sword of the Spirit- Ephesians 6:17b I must read, memorize and speak God’s Word into my life, my circumstances and against the enemy. God SPOKE the world into existence, He didn’t think it or snap it into existence. Know and speak God’s Word.
Prayer- Ephesians 6:18 I must be in constant contact with God for my protection and the protection of others. Graduates of basic training do not leave camp, never to speak to their leader again, all alone in the battle. They are in constant contact with their commander and with others in the battle around them. One of the main tactics of our enemy is to use isolation to take us out one by one. Do not allow yourself to be separated from God. We are also created to work together in the battle. If you haven’t found a church of believers where you belong, go out and do it today.
Remember that training takes time and perseverance. You cannot read through these scriptures once or twice and be ready. Training requires repetition and practice. Above all, remember the promise of Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Tell us about YOUR basic training...or how we can pray for you!