“The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
Oh Paul, Paul, Paul. What can you possibly mean by telling us to put on the armor of light? What kind of armor is that? Doesn’t seem like it would protect us from much. But I have to trust Paul knew what he was talking about. After all, according to his own testimony in Acts 9, 22 and 26, light had proven to be a pretty powerful weapon against him.
I grew up without a TV and had seen very few movies, so when we were first married Tom felt quite responsible to bring me up to speed on pop culture. Some kids in his youth group wanted to go see a Star Trek movie so we used our date night to take them along. The movie was stupid and I was telling the kids how disappointed I was that they didn’t even show a single “light saver battle.” Real cool, right? Here I was being all pop-cultured and right away I fall flat on my face by getting Star Trek and Star Wars mixed up and proving my ignorance of both. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t even know that a lightsaber is a lightsaber, not saver. I still have never seen a Star Wars movie but I have to say, the concept of a sword of light is a fascinating one to me.
My husband tells me, and my friend Rachel confirms, that in the Star Wars series there exists what’s called the “dark side” and sometimes you don’t know which side people are on. Rachel says anyone who knows Star Wars will understand the following picture as an example.
That is not the way it’s supposed to be in the church. When you, like Paul, are literally slain by The Light of the world and given new life in Him, there should be no more confusion as to which side you’re on. People should not be surprised to find out in season 3 of your life that you’ve actually been a Christian all along. When Paul tells us to put on the armor of light, I think he might be talking less about a combative or defensive piece of weaponry or warfare, and more of an identifying uniform.
Kind of like my boys’ hockey jerseys. When the Hartland Yeti ordered jerseys, players got two versions: white and dark navy. When they play a game, each team is either in a light uniform or a dark uniform so that in this fast-paced game it’s easy to tell whose team a player is on when they skate by you in a blur. There should be no confusion as to who the opponent is when you’re in the battle.
Take Paul’s other reference to the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-20. He encourages Christians to be strong in the strength of the Lord’s might so that we can stand against the schemes of the devil, the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and spiritual forces of evil over this present darkness. In fact, Paul describes our battle four times in this passage as simply standing. Put on all this armor, he says, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of readiness with the gospel, the shield fo faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, and then stand firm.
What kind of tactic is that? And is it a successful one? Think about it! Where is Paul writing this battle plan from? Verse 20 tells us that he’s in chains! He’s a prisoner! In the end, he and every single one of the disciples die wearing this armor of God. So was it effective? Well, yes if it was designed to designate the wearer as one of Christ’s own! When you put on the armor of light, you are identifying yourself as being on God’s side. You are on the Light Team. And that my friends, makes you Target #1 to the Dark Team.
You don’t put on the armor of light so that you won’t be attacked by the enemy. You put on the armor of light so that the enemy and everyone else will know whose side you are on. And that just might mean chains, imprisonment and death like it did for Paul, the other apostles and hundreds of thousands of other Christians since then. When you put on the uniform of the Light Team and take a stand as one of God’s own, you are automatically defeating the devil’s schemes. How? Because you are bringing glory to God and that is a tactic that always wins.
So what does that kind of stand look like practically? Paul gives us some great examples in Ephesians 4:17-5:21 when he calls believers to walk as children of light. “The fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true.” It looks like a renewed mind, “a new self created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness,” speaking the truth, being angry and not sinning or letting the sun go down on it, giving no opportunity to the devil, honest work, sharing with those in need, redeemed, talk that builds up and gives grace, kindness, tenderness, forgiveness, love, sacrifice, thankfulness, wise, understanding God’s will, filled with the Spirit, singing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with one another to the Lord, always thankful for everything, submitting to one another and reverent. That’s the jersey of the Light Team.
Here’s Paul’s description of the Dark Team: futility of mind, darkened understanding, alienated from the life of God, ignorant, hard of heart, callous, sensual, greedy, impure, “corrupt through deceitful desires,” bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slanderous, malicious, sexually immoral, impure, covetous, filthy, foolish talk, crude joking, covetous, idolatrous, unwise, foolish, drunkenness and debauchery.
Now unlike, my boys’ hockey jerseys, you can’t just switch the armor of light back and forth with the kingdom of darkness. You are either standing on God’s side or you are with the enemy. If you can’t tell if someone’s on God’s team or not, they’re probably not. Which jersey are you wearing? Do you have Christ’s colors emblazoned on your soul? Are you willing to stand there, come what may? It might mean chains, imprisonment or death, but that my friends, is victory.