Confronting an “evil day”

5 06 2020

As a human family, we are passing through truly unprecedented times with the onslaught of Covid-19.  Some countries are experiencing catastrophic consequences, especially in crowded, poor communities.

On the heels of pandemic came the outpouring of frustration and anger triggered by the senseless killings of three African-Americans in U.S. cities. Protests, burning, and looting has ensued.

Few would disagree that we are living in an “evil day.”  Paul wrote, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day” (Eph.6:13).

An evil day

  • can be a season, a period of time
  • must be withstood by the people of God
  • is an unusual outbreak of evil against good
  • is connected to, and likely sourced from the rulers of darkness of our age
  • is likened to the wiles (or schemes) of the devil
  • it is resisted and overcome using the whole armor of God

As we saw in the previous study (What’s the real battle?), ultimately the evil day is caused not by people but the wicked forces or spirits which propel them.

Since it is a spiritual battle involving spiritual weapons, we need to know this: 

What are the elements of the armor and what do each of them accomplish?

Some expositors make much of the individual pieces of armor, and liken them to the battle gear of Roman soldiers. There is emphasis too on the body parts that are protected, such as the head and heart. I want to focus on the spiritual impact and necessity of each element, and why they are so vital in extending Christ’s victory and rule.

1. THE ENTIRE ARMOR IS NEEDED. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (6:11).  Note, it is possible to defeat the devil! Victory is possible in the evil day, and every day. This instruction about battle should not cause us to fear, but to fight. We may be vulnerable, but God is invincible.

Paul is going to proceed to mention seven specific armor elements, but I am convinced that they are suggestive of the fact that in Christ we have absolutely everything at our disposal that we could possibly need, beginning with our position in Christ as beloved and blessed (recall our study, Cascade of blessings).

2. WITHSTAND, AND STAND. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (6:13). If you are outdoors when a strong wind rises, you are wise if you brace yourself for the gusts. You withstand.

An evil day, such as the one we are in, requires special withstanding. We must be spiritually alert, watching for the wicked intentions of principalities, and calling believers to stand guard for Jesus’ cause. And having resisted, we must maintain our ground with vigilance.

3. TRUTH, LIKE A WAIST BELT.  “having girded your waist with truth” (6:14)

As Paul earlier wrote, “speaking the truth in love.“(4:15) Truth counters “dissensions, heresies” false witness, theft, fraud, etc. (Gal.5:20)

4. RIGHTEOUSNESS, AS A BREASTPLATE. “having put on the breastplate of righteousness” (6:14)

We were chosen to be “holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph.1:4). As such, we fight adultery, drunkenness, and revelries.

5. THE GOSPEL OF PEACE, AS FOOT WEAR. “having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (6:15)

Jesus brought peace, removing enmity between Jew and Gentile. Peace overcomes hatred, bigotry and violence. True peace is not a covering over of simmering hatred, but is true reconciliation which brings inner oneness with the other.

6. FAITH, AS A SHIELD. “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (6:16)

The wicked one launches “fiery darts” of doubt, jealousy, and outbursts of wrath (Gal.5:20). Faith quenches these flaming assaults.

7. SALVATION, AS A HELMET. “And take the helmet of salvation” (6:17)

Evil principalities tempt us with idolatry, despair, sorcery selfish ambition, and murder. But in salvation, both in being born again, and progressively throughout life, we are delivered.

8. THE WORD OF GOD, AS A SWORD.  “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (6:17)

We possess the word of truth given to us and written down, we hear from the Spirit of God in our ongoing relationship with Him. And we speak the truth as a part of our warfare.

9. PRAYER, AS THE HEART TO ENGAGE THE ENEMY. “praying always…” (6:18ff)

Without prayer, we lose touch with our Master and therefore lose sight of the victory we are promised. Prayer keeps us “watchful.” By prayer we persevere. And by prayer we reach out to encourage all saints everywhere. Prayer gives boldness to speak, even when imprisoned. The relationship with God maintained through prayer energizes every element of our armor.

What does it look like for you to intentionally put on these elements and confront this evil day?