I was reading this passage again this morning, and thinking about what it means for the body of Christ to arm ourselves. Two things particularly jumped out at me – (Eph 6:12) For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
And (Eph 6:16) With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
If as Paul says we are struggling against spiritual forces, we need to be much more aware of them. These days there’s so much interest in the supernatural that demonic things have become just a type of entertainment genre – Twilight vampires, Harry Potter spells, Monster High costumes, etc. Unfortunately this means that the world of the evil spiritual forces which Paul was aware of is ignored by many Christians, and treated as merely ancient superstition, which should have disappeared in the light of our clever modern scientific minds. Well, the spiritual forces are delighted by that – if no one thinks they exist except as entertainment, no one is prepared to withstand their onslaught.
But verse 16 gives us the answer to withstand these attacks. I think the idea of shields is a good one, because if you think about the world Paul was writing in, the image would have been of really big rectangular Roman shields, and when the Roman army were ready to engage they overlapped their shield to protect each other.
That’s what we need to do as the body of Christ – overlap our shields of faith, no longer treating our faith walk as purely an individual thing between me and Jesus, but combining to strengthen and support each other.
How can this work practically? Being aware that spiritual attack is possible, and more common in people who are really getting up the enemy’s nose, that is, Christians who are active in the struggle. Praying for each other is always good, and being aware of our own gateways.
Maybe we can all look at the stuff we are reading and watching, and try and discern if it is life-giving, or are we opening ourselves up to the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”.