The Christian life is not just about being “nice”. It certainly calls for kindness and gentleness, fruits of the Spirit. But Scripture also leans heavily on war metaphors. Not because of people, but because of spiritual forces.
Jesus was often “not nice”. He was downright “rude” to the Pharisees. He turned over tables. He wouldn’t even talk to Herod. He told the adulteress “I don’t condemn you, but go and sin no more”. In each case Jesus sought the best for those with whom he interacted. But we would not describe his behavior as “nice.”
The reality is that living the Christian life is often a fight. Ephesians 6 tells us our enemy is not one another, but the “dark forces in this world”. And as we unite in opposition to these forces, Ephesians tells us how to dress.
The “armor of God” follows a familiar design to the reader of Paul’s time – the uniform of a Roman centurion. A warrior’s garb. We are supposed to put on our spiritual centurion uniform every morning, walk out the door and start fighting. There is a war out there and we are implored to dress accordingly.
Truth is our belt, uniting the ensemble, keeping our pants up. Righteousness is our bullet-proof vest, protecting our heart. Salvation is the helmet and the Word of God is our sword. All of this to prepare us to face with courage the world and its temptations, to battle against the forces of evil and live a life of faithful obedience.
We are told that if we resist Satan and temptation, we win. That’s a great thought. If we fight, we win. Evil only succeeds by our forfeit. There might be pushback. Jesus got a lot of it. But Jesus calls us to stand our ground as he did. Faithful obedience is an act of courage.