On the Orpolo firing range, in the southern region of Georgia (the country), on September 3, 2017, fifteen-hundred military servicemen participated in a multinational exercise involving offensive and defensive maneuvers. The goal of the exercise was to increase “interoperability” between Georgian troops and other partner states (the United States, Bulgaria, Latvia, Romania, Ukraine and Azerbaijan), and improve “combat capabilities of the NATO Response Force” according to XINHUSNET. The military drill was perhaps aptly named, “Agile Spirit 2017.”
Military readiness training is essential to protecting the interests of the United States, both domestically and abroad. It requires participating in these exercises on a regularly scheduled basis, with our allies across the world.
In this same way, SPIRITUAL readiness training is essential to every true Christ follower in order to be able, capable, and agile in response to the attacks which come from the spiritual forces of darkness. As children of the light (John 12:36) we are encouraged by the apostle Paul to “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11
The apostle goes on to instruct (from a military perspective) the importance and description of each piece of this armor… belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes-gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Each one of these articles intended for offensive or defensive purposes, is critical to implement in our walk of faith. Without any single one of the articles, our life as a Christ follower is laid bare and open to attack. If any of these areas is weak, or poorly instructed, or not exercised effectively, we are laid bare and open to attack. Continual training in all these areas renders us “agile in Spirit” and then capable of surviving the struggle which comes at us hard, and fast, and when we least expect it.
None of this even makes any sense unless we understand who our enemy really is. God doesn’t want us to be naive in this world, or uniformed about our reality, or vulnerability. So God impresses on Paul to instruct us: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
You might notice, that in essence there is really only one offensive weapon, listed last among all these spiritual defense elements: The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Belts, breastplates, shoes, shields, helmets… none of these are weapons, they are protection against attack. Perhaps that is why when tempted by Satan, Jesus Himself never relied on anything other than God’s own Holy Word, to engage the battle. He said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 The word of God, the sword of the Spirit, is what gives our faith the agile ability to resist the attacks of Satan.
James said it this way, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
Here’s the thing. If we don’t know what God’s word says, we are vulnerable daily, to the attacks of Satan. We may be wearing the armor: belts, breastplates, shoes, shields, helmets… but all we can really do is be sitting ducks for the attack that will surely come. To be agile in Spirit, and capable of engaging this spiritual struggle, demands we regularly and consistently engage in the spiritual exercise of training… in the Sword of the Spirt, the truth of the word of God.
In the now famous words of Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the Starship Enterprise…