Playing Defense

When Barak told Deborah that he would not accept his mission without her assistance, she rallied to the opportunity. Good for her! She did not hesitate. She was not afraid because she knew God had promised them victory. But you know what? The victory was not magical.  They would still have to fight! There would be battles and pain and, well, warfare! Which is hard and dangerous and scary.

Battles, spiritual and physical ones, require preparation knowing that there is the distinct possibility we could be wounded in the process. We often make the mistake of walking into a battle totally unarmed, believing that God will give us the victory and protect us from harm.  And if God has promised victory, then we will be victorious! However. However . . . if we are unarmed, we will be wounded. 😯

God has given us armor for these spiritual battles, and Paul lists the pieces of that armor in his letter to the Ephesians. Our defensive weapons are truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation. Our offensive weapons are the Word of God and prayer. Most of us readily go to offense because it’s where we are in control, where we score points. (Think basketball. 🏀) We study God’s Word, recite scripture, and pray about the battle. Those are “go to” weapons: things we can do. But I think defense is as important as offense, if not more. (Think basketball. 🏀)

The enemies we face are smart and powerful. If all we do is use our offensive weapons, we will probably be beaten up a bit. We should expect to be shot at. (Think basketball. 🏀)  And note this: the devil knows our weaknesses. He has studied our film!  And he knows scripture! He quoted it at Jesus!  We need to defend ourselves when we are attacked. And the enemy will target our hearts. Therefore, we must guard our hearts. How do we do that? With our defensive weapons. (Think basketball. 🏀)   

Although it is not listed first, I believe faith is the most important defensive weapon. Paul describes it as a shield. “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” (1) So, with our analogy of basketball, our opponent (Satan) is throwing up his ball and trying to score points on our goal (our heart). What we have to do is block his shots. That’s where the shield comes in. More than anything else, Satan wants to destroy, or at least chip away at, our faith—our trust in God. Our shield (faith) will keep the shots from hitting his goal.

But our shield (faith) must be strong. Faith is nothing less than absolute trust that God is our ultimate protector. Faith is something we must exercise. It only grows stronger when it is tested. (Think basketball. 🏀)  James writes that we should “consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds for the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (2)

So our faith, which is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” (3) is our greatest defensive weapon. If we go into battle without it, we will be hit so many times that we will probably be defeated—in life and in basketball. It is essential that we heed Paul’s words: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (4) And holding out the shield of faith will cause the darts of Satan to miss the goal (our hearts) and possibly be the reason we win the game . . . I mean, the battle.😬 (I watch a lot of basketball.) 

(1) Ephesians 6:16      (2) James 1:2     (3) Hebrews 11:1      (4) Ephesians 6:11

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