by Aubrey Sampson
When I was a kid, my mom led my sister and me in a special morning ritual every day before we headed off to school. We’d pretend to put on our spiritual shoes—equipped with the readiness of the gospel of peace. We’d strap on an invisible belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, and an imaginary helmet of salvation, all before grabbing our sword of truth and our shield of faith.
Sometimes, honestly, we’d roll our eyes at the routine. But looking back, this daily practice instilled within me a deep sense of how I was meant to enter the world each day—prepared, equipped, ready, and protected by God.
All of us have real spiritual armor from God to fight our very real spiritual enemy. The Apostle Paul points to this fact, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all the strategies of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).
This is the key to spiritual battle—it’s not our strength, and it’s not our armor. We are invited in Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the love of the Father, to put on God’s Mighty Strength— the same strength that raised Jesus from the dead.
Most war strategists will tell you that in order to experience victory, knowing who you fight against is half the battle. The problem is, so often, we don’t know who Satan is, and therefore we don’t recognize his attempts to thwart us. So let’s look at what Scripture tells us about our spiritual enemy.
In Matthew 4, Jesus finds himself in a desert for forty days. As you can imagine, he is experiencing a wide range of human emotions: hunger, exhaustion, isolation. At a time when Jesus is at his lowest, Satan tempts the Son of God to distrust the promises of God, the provision of God, and the power of God. And Satan’s battle plan hasn’t changed much in the past few thousand years, because the same temptations are dangled in front of each day.
He tempts us to doubt God’s promises, power, and provision, and to go after unhealthy or sinful means to fulfill ourselves. But we can stand firm, knowing that God is faithful.
Revelation 12:10 offers us a picture of what is to come when the final battle comes to pass. It says, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”
This idea, that the enemy of our soul as an accuser, is an important one because there is no activity at which he is more skilled. Satan loves to whisper to us his opinions about our weakness, our depravity, our brokenness, our not-enoughness, or our too-muchness. The enemy carefully crafts his accusations to trigger our shame, so that we don’t live freely, as the holy and blameless children of God we are in Christ. But we can cling to this truth: those who look to God are radiant; they are never covered in shame (Psalm 34:5).
One of the most fitting descriptions of the enemy is that of a liar (John 8:44). This past year, he has shown his manipulative deception in so many ways; but his lies have especially been targeted to divide the body of Christ. He has whispered falsehoods that have misrepresented the character of sisters and brothers in Christ with one aim: to destroy any unity that exists. The enemy knows that keeping us from unity can keep us disconnected from our purpose. But we can stay strong, unified, through the blood of Jesus.
In Matthew 13, Jesus tells a parable of a farmer who plants seeds, only to have weeds choke out the good and flourishing ones. The enemy uses various forms of oppression to choke out the flourishing of God’s people. In fact, any structure or system that subjugates, abuses, starves, traffics, and/or commodifies image-bearers, well, that is always the enemy’s work. But in Jesus’s mighty name, we stand against the oppressive powers of darkness in this world.
It is no coincidence that Ephesians six, where Paul tells us to put on our spiritual armor, bookends Ephesians one, where Paul roots our identity in Christ:
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. That is what he wanted to do and give gave him great pleasure.” (Eph. 1: 4-5)
That’s the foundation of who you are in Christ. You are chosen. You are dearly loved. You have been made holy. You are seen as blameless in Christ and through Christ. You have no reason to fear the enemy’s tactics because of this profound truth: you fight from and with God’s unmitigated love for you.
As you prepare for what is ahead today, put on your spiritual armor, God’s armor. You have been given everything you need to withstand the enemy’s attacks.
Aubrey Sampson is the author of The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament and the upcoming, Known: How Believing Who God Says You Are Changes Everything. She co-hosts The Common Good talk show-- a daily radio show in Chicago--and the Nothing is Wasted Podcast. Aubrey and her husband Kevin founded and lead Renewal Church in the Chicagoland area. She is passionate about equipping others to know they aren't alone in hardship. Follow her on Instagram and on her website.