Traits of a Christian WarriorNovember 28, 2010
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.12 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.13 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 firm.14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6)
To understand this passage, we really need to remember in Paul’s time, war was personal, it was hand to hand. Unlike the current war scenarios with drones and computerized attacks, to kill an enemy during this time, you would most likely be looking at them face to face. Although the landscape of war has changed a lot today on the battlefield, the landscape of spiritual warfare has not changed. It is still personal, hand to hand, up close and most of all brutal.
One of the most notable warrior people in history was recently highlighted in 2006. Director Zack Synder made a movie that rocked the box office depicting some of the accounts of the Battle of Thermopylae in the hit movie 300. In this movie, you walk the journey of the infamous 300 Spartans who fought against an insurmountable enemy in 480 BC. Estimates say the Greek City States had an army of roughly 7,000 men to the Persian’s invading army of 800,000 strong. At the front lines were the 300 Spartans.
Believe it or not, there are a lot of similarities of the Spartan soldiers in the movie 300 and the plight of today’s Christian Warriors. After watching the movie, I spent the next couple of days reading and researching more on these 300 men who willingly took the front line of a battle they were sure to lose. What would possess a rationale group of men to do this?
The Spartans were a people focused on war. Boys began the brutal training at age 7 and were transformed over ten years or more into the most decisive and efficient warrior of their time. They were trained so well that their instincts were fully developed enough to where their army was merely an exoskeleton for their body, their shield was as involuntary as blinking and their sword was an extension of their hand.
Their culture brought up these warriors and as a people, encouraged and immortalized the warrior in folklore and legend. It was said mothers told their sons and wives told their husbands to return home from war fully upright or on their shield. Retreat was not even given as an option.
I bring the Spartans up because I want to help you understand the type of warrior we are called to be through this passage. I would like to work with you to unpack this passage and pull out key aspects of what a Christian Warrior should look like.
Trait #1: Know Your Commander
History has numerous accounts of military leaders who sparked incredible loyalty from their armies. From King David, to Leonidas, to Alexander the Great, to even the worst of leaders Hitler, army leaders evoke a certain presence and trust among their armies. It was said King Richard Lion Heart of England would inspire his armies during the Crusades by riding out onto the battlefield carrying the nation’s flag. The army would respond by a rally cry and full on battle with the enemy.
Many of us profess Jesus is our Lord and Savior, but I would challenge you to admit you and I both acknowledge the Savior quality of Christ and spend less time on the Lordship of Christ in our lives. As a warrior, we serve a Holy General. Even our enemy recognizes Christ as son of the Most High God. Before you can armor up or pick up a sword, you must fully, and I mean fully submit to the Lordship and Preeminence of Christ.
Turn with me to Luke chapter 7. Jesus enters into town and upon entering; a centurion whose servant was sick sought healing from Jesus. Now this was no ordinary soldier or warrior, he was the leader of a legion. We can infer he had obviously fought battles, led fearlessly, and rose through the ranks of the legion to his current leadership role. He would have been feared in most towns, but we can tell he was well thought of in the Jewish town. What I want to take some time to highlight is this great warrior, battle ready leader had this to say about our Most High General:
6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof.7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it.9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.
This centurion, a man of great warrior prestige, recognized the authority of Christ. He understood the first rule of being a warrior, Know Your Leader/Commander. Would you say you do? Verse 10 tells us, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
Trait #2: Know Your Enemy
He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44
In this verse, Jesus tells us of our enemy. In verse 12 of Ephesians 6, Paul tells us, “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.” Church, we are not experiencing the trials of life, we are experiencing WAR! If you are a believer and follower of Christ, Peter tells us not to be surprised when trials and tribulations come our way. Now in order to be victorious in any battle, you must know your enemy and their weapon of choice. Lucifer is the father of lies and there are three lies I want to specifically address.
Lie 1: He’s changed his strategy
Satan HAS NOT changed his strategy. Well meaning Christians may tell you Satan has become more craft with his approach, but that itself is a lie we have been made to believe. True, he may have more human mediums or vehicles to use than before, but the strategy has not changed. He is always trying to get you to believe THE LIE.
Lie 2: Known as THE LIE: You can be like God.
Turn with me to Genesis 3 to hear THE LIE:
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, Did God actually say, You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?2 And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,3 but God said, You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.4 But the serpent said to the woman, You will not surely die.5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3
That, church, is the Lie, that is the weapon Satan wields against us day in and day out. He convinces us we can build our own kingdom, answer to our own selfish desires, and even go so far as to create the attributes of our creator. “My God doesn’t judge for this or that.” “I don’t believe God will judge me harshly for this, everyone does it.” Lies, that is what they are.
Lie 3: He doesn’t exist.
Believing this lie could be fatal. The worst enemy sieges came as a result of the people not recognizing there was an enemy in their midst, at their walls, or scheming to take them. Don’t let Lucifer, our enemy, suck you into drinking the poisonous juice of pride which will lower your walls and let him slowly tear down the work God is doing in you.
Trait #3: Know Your Armor
13 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 firm.14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”
- Whole Armor / Stand Firm
- Not part of the armor, the whole armor. The Scripture is very clear that we are to do all of these to stand firm.
- Paul also instructs the warrior to stand firm. Like the Spartans, we are not to back down. We should stand confident in the victory we have in Jesus.
- Belt of Truth
- Breastplate of Righteousness
- Peace that comes from the Good News
- The Spartans were noted for the peace they seemed to have prior to battle. They were centered on their goal and completely submitted to whatever the outcome was.
- We too should be at peace, knowing that in all things, Christ has the victory. We are to remain obedient and focused upon him. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
- Shield of Faith
- Helmet of Salvation
- In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink”, he talks about the power of the subconscious mind. He gives numerous examples of how the mind controls how we perceive and act, sometimes without the conscious mind being aware of it. Phil 4:8 says, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”
- When Satan attacks, he goes for our mind. He will tell you his lies and over time, you may begin to believe them. If you have your helmet of salvation, all of his lies will be forced to bounce against the soundness of the Gospel.
- Be sure to listen to the pronouns used in these attacks to determine whether they are truly an attack. I don’t know about you, but when I refer to myself, I use the pronoun I, not “you”. Satan is also called the accuser and will use the pronoun “you”. You are not worthy to pray to God, are not worth anything, are not saved, are not forgiven…
- When he throws these fiery arrows, remember your helmet and claim, “I am an image bearer of God, joint heir with his son Jesus Christ who came and died for my sins so I can stand forgiven, clothed in HIS righteousness and the Scriptures tell me your days are numbered.”
- Sword-Word of God
- The sword of any warrior is critical. The Word of God is our sword and in order to know what a warrior is capable of, you have to know their weapon. There are three critical components of the weapon:
- The Blade: Scripture says it is sharper than any two edged sword. The decisiveness of the blade is the power of the Word of God. Satan submitted to the Word of God when Jesus quoted Scripture to him in the desert. When you spend time in God’s Holy Word, you sharpen the blade for max effect against the lies of the Devil.
- The Guard: Most swords have a guard connecting the blade to the handle. Like the guard of the sword that protects the hands that wield the blade, the Word of God protects us against the lies of the devil
- The Handle: This is perhaps the most critical and most overlooked aspect of the weapon. If you do not spend time in God’s Word, and leave your Bible on your table, or the front seat of your car for looks, you have the equivalent of a sword without a handle. YOU HAVE to indulge in, become inebriated with, and bathe in the Word of God to make this weapon useful.
Trait #4: Warriors Train Continuously
The Spartan armies trained continuously, daily in fact. By doing this, they trained their body to fully integrate the training as an extension of their very being. Verse 18 tells us to pray in the spirit on every occasion and to stay alert. As a warrior for Christ, if you train daily under the direction of your Holy Commander, you begin to immolate what He sees the warrior in his army should look like.
Trait #5: Fight Two by Two
Another notable strategy used by the Spartan army was their strategy to fight shoulder to shoulder or back to back. If you have seen the movie, you will remember there is a scene where one of the soldiers breaks rank and leaves his partner, only to be decapitated by the enemy. Church, this same thing happens to us when we do not walk alongside and fight alongside our Christian brothers and sisters.
If you are not currently in a small group or an accountability group, we open ourselves up to be taken down by the Enemy. Pray with your group and lean on them to lift you up in prayer. Live life on life with them to help them in their battles and allow them to help and pray you through your battles. This is Scriptural and necessary. The battlefield of faith can be a lonely place, find an accountability partner, a partner in faith and press on.
One of the other notable attributes of the Spartan army was their phalanx formation. In this formation, the enemy could launch an attack and the first three rows would block them with their shields and brace the push forward. After a couple of seconds, there would be a wave from the back of phalanx pushing through to the front line essentially throwing back the push.
The same effect happens when we allow others to pray for us. Then enemy comes at us with his best, but through prayer, we are able to throw the advance back and press forward.
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About the Writer:
Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.
As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses. This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.