How many of us make the new years resolution to read the entire Bible in a year? I know the pastor at our church issued that challenge. How is that going for you? Are you still keeping up with it, or have you fallen off the wagon? If you are like me and have kept up with it daily, congratulations, today is day fifty! You have made it 50 days. That is amazing! For those who haven’t kept up, there is still time. If you focus, maybe even double down, you can catch up in no time. There is plenty of time left in the year, so don’t be overwhelmed. Over the past few days, the Spirit has been speaking to me about the importance of reading God’s word on a daily basis. Why? What is so important about reading the Bible? If I go to church once or twice a week and listen to the pastor teach, isn’t that good enough? My goal, by the end of this writing is to prove that God’s word is essential for us to survive. It is food, it is armor, and it is a weapon. Without those things, you will never be ready for the battles that lie ahead. You will be ill prepared for war. What war you ask?
Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand the evil day, and having done all to stand firm, (Ephesians 6:10-13 ESV). There is a war going on that we cannot see with our eyes. There are spiritual forces battling for our souls. If you want to be battle ready, to withstand the schemes of the devil, to fight against the spiritual forces, then you better stand strong and be equipped for the fight. To be strong and to be properly equipped for the battle, you must have plenty of food, you must have armor, and you must have a sword. All of these are described in the Bible as the word of God. Without the word of God, we are easy targets.
Think of your faith as a muscle. In order for muscles to grow they must be properly fed with the right amount of nutrients. Faith, like a muscle, needs to be worked, needs to be stretched, and needs to be refueled with proper foods. The word of God, is that food we need to make our faith grow. Without it we are malnourished and dying. We need to be taking in food daily for our bodies to survive. The same can be said of our spirits. Jesus Says, it is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God, (Matthew 4:4). He also said to his disciples, I have food to eat that you do not know about. My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work, (John 4:32 & 34 ESV). Paul tells the church in Corinth, I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it, (1 Corinthians 3:2). The spiritual food needed for us to grow is the bread of life. It is the word of God. Again, I say, if you are not fueled with enough of God’s word, you are malnourished and dying. If the only meal you get is a 25-minute sermon on Sunday, you are dying. You are going into battle looking like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. You are unlikely to be able to withstand any attack the devil throws your way.
Food is fuel for the body, as much as the word of God is fuel for the soul. If you want to go to battle against the schemes of the devil, against the cosmic powers, then you may need to beef up. This means being willing to chew on the word of God all day. I’m not talking about reading it all day long. I’m talking about reading enough, day in and day out. For some it may be a few chapters a day, for the stronger maybe 10-12 chapters a day. But not only reading it, meditating on it all day as King David says in the Psalms. Meditation on the word you read, is like eating it again. It is fuel for your soul. It is helping the faith muscle to grow. If you want to enter into battle looking like a true spartan, like Gerard Butler in “300”, then you are going to have to put in some work, and eat some food. Many of the actors who play superheroes, as well as many bodybuilders, and strongmen, know that food is essential. Many of them
have a regiment of eating 6,000 to 10,000 calories a day. They are constantly eating. The same is required if we want to grow spiritually healthy enough to win the battle. We must be chewing on the word of God, all day long.
Now that we understand the word is food, it is also important as armor and weaponry. Paul continues in Ephesians, stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one, and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, (Ephesians 6:14-17 ESV). Paul is describing the armor of a Roman soldier to describe our spiritual armor. It is a word picture and it is important to understand what he is really trying to say. The Roman soldier was not only arrayed in the most beautiful armor, it was functional, and strong as well. They were the most feared soldiers of his time. Paul starts with the most important piece of any Roman soldier’s armor, the belt. You may be saying, the belt? Really? How is that the most important part?
The Roman soldiers armor relied entirely on the belt. The belt went around the waist, and covered the loins with chainmail and leather straps. Not only did it protect a vital area on a soldier, but all the other armor relied on the belt being on and secured in place. The belt had tie downs for the breastplate. Without the belt the breastplate would shift when the soldier moved. When they ran, it would flap around. It was important that the breastplate be secure, so it tied in to the belt to keep it secure and in place. The shoes, which were metal tubes that went up the calves to the knee, as well as a kind of cleat, were also attached to the belt. A garter system kept the bronze tubing on the legs in place and prevented them from slipping down or shifting. The belt also had a small shelf on the side where a soldier could rest his shield if it got too heavy to carry.
The belt was important. Paul compared the belt to truth, what is truth? Jesus prayed to the Father, sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth, (John 17:17 ESV). Without the word of God, we have no belt on. Without the truth found in the word of God we are without the most essential piece of armor. Without the word of God, our peace (the shoes), will slip and turn. It will not stay where it is supposed to stay. Without the word of God, our righteousness (the breastplate) will flop around and shift when we move, exposing our flanks. Without the word of God, we have no place to rest our shield (faith) when it grows heavy in our hands. The word of God is the most essential part of our armor. Without it we are exposed and vulnerable. More than that, we are without a weapon.
Paul tells us to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. How are we to fight back without the sword in our hand? How are we to use the sword if it is not on us? The writer of Hebrews describes the sword like this, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart, (Hebrews 4:12 ESV). This is the most powerful weapon against the schemes of the devil, and against the cosmic powers waring for your soul. It is living and active. The Greek for the term two-edged is more accurately translates two-mouthed. This means one edge of the sword is God speaking his word. The second edge of the sword is when we speak God’s words that he has already spoken. When we read God’s word, take it to heart, and then wield those words in battle, it then becomes powerful and active. It then becomes surgical, piercing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. If we do not have God’s word hidden in our hearts, or if we are not meditating on them daily, how will we wield the sword? How will we keep it sharp enough to be surgical with it?
The truth is, without the word of God, we are malnourished, we are without the most important
piece of armor, and we are without a weapon. Without food we will not be strong enough to carry on, let alone carry our armor. The Roman armor weighed upwards of 50lbs. On top of that they carried backpacks with rations and things needed to survive the wild. Without proper nutrition we will not be able to carry that weight for very long. Without the word of God, we will be missing the most important piece of armor. Without the word of God, we will be without the sword of the spirit, with which we can send the evil one scurrying. We will be useless and on the defensive. Peter tells us our adversary; the devil is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Who is the lion going to go after? The well-equipped, hulkingly strong, battle ready soldier? Not likely, but he may try. Or, is he likely to go after the 90lb weakling, struggling to keep his armor on, no sure footing, and no weapon in his hand? That would be my pick if I was a lion. So, stand strong, with all the confidence in the world, having fastened on your armor, sword in hand, and battle ready.
Maybe its time we pick up our Bibles again. Maybe its time we spend a little more time in God’s word. I know a lot of Christians who say they do not have enough time to read their bible. Then they spend 2 hours on their phones looking a memes on Facebook, or 2 hours a day binge watching some streaming show. We all have time. It’s a matter of priority. Its time to take the word of God a little more seriously. Get back on the wagon and press on. Finish what you set out to do at the beginning of the year. Finish the Bible. I promise you will be more battle ready than ever if you do. I promise it is worth spending that 15 minutes a day in God’s word. My prayer is that you would finish what you began. Get in God’s word daily.
You Got this! Stick with it.