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Ephesians 6:12 “Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

If you’ve been feeling like something is “off” lately, you aren’t alone. Tensions at the border, the World Economic Forum plotting world domination… the great Target Stanley cup riot… (seriously!?!) 2024 feels like a powder keg about to go off.

There’s a spiritual heaviness as well. Aaron Renn noticed a remarked shift in culture’s approval of Christianity.1Thank you to Pastor Josh Howerton for referencing this article in service! Back in the day…that’d be the 80s…our culture saw Christianity in a positive light. But right as WWJD bracelets became trendy, America down-shifted to a “neutral” stance. That’s fine for you to be a Christian, just keep your Carman CDs to yourself. Today, social opinion has soured.

Christians are villainized as tyrants in society and media (Fargo season 5 anyone?). Obvious truths like “Men can’t be women” or “We should protect the unborn” are painted as extremist cult teachings. Our inbox at MBA is full of messages from moms feeling the pressure of this world. To this end, the words of Juli Slattery come to mind: “The church has forgotten how to fight.”

In the final chapter of Ephesians, Paul gives believers quite the reality check. To be a follower of Christ isn’t a “Christian walk in the park”; it’s a spiritual battle. Till we stand before the throne in heaven, we are to wear and wield the armor of God, and that includes the pint-size believers running around your backyard.

Proficiency is hard to achieve when we barely know what armor we have, let alone how to use it. That’s why we’re going to do a little field training on each piece with some practical tips to strengthen you and your child’s skills as soldiers in Christ. At the end of this blog, we’ll also offer some great resources to take your training to the next level as we stand firm in Christ.

1. Belt of Truth

At first glance, this might seem a little underwhelming. I mean, here we are in a battle with the powers of darkness and the first thing we’re told to do is….define our waistlines? Not exactly. 

For the ancient soldier, the belt wasn’t a fashion accessory; it was foundational to the integrity of his armor and the security of his sword. Without it, his armor couldn’t stay in place, let alone withstand a hit. In short: without a belt, a soldier was more vulnerable to attack because he’d lose the rest of his armor

In the same way, truth is foundational for the Christian soldier. We put it on first because truth is the only thing that can anchor the rest of our spiritual armor and enable us to wield the sword of the Spirit rightly. Without truth, we can’t wield the sword, we have no idea what righteousness is, and peace becomes some fluffy kumbaya where we are all just trying to not get in fights.

If our children aren’t girdled in truth, they’ll easily get wrapped up in feelings or progressive teachings. Remember, mamas, “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). If we rely on our hearts to determine truth, we’ll be lost. Help your children put on the belt of truth by first teaching them that truth exists and how to discern it. This not only helps them know God better, it enables them to recognize cultural lies and stand firm when they choose to live counter-culture. 

2. Breastplate of Righteousness

To understand the purpose of the breastplate, we first have to know what it means to be righteous. Righteousness is the ability to be morally correct in deed and action. This is why Paul mentions the belt of truth and breastplate together–because righteousness is only possible when it’s anchored in the objective truth of God. 

Symbolically speaking, the breastplate protects the heart and will of the person. When attacks come, they usually appeal to the desires of the heart while doing a frontal assault on truth. (There’s the heart being untrustworthy again!) Think about it: when Satan tempted Eve, he twisted truth and appealed to her desire for power. When Satan tempted Jesus, he took Scripture out of context and tempted Him to avoid the pain of the cross. 

Just like wisdom is the right application of knowledge, righteousness is the right application of truth. We can help our little soldiers secure their breastplates by reflecting on God’s Word and asking: How does truth show us how to live? How can we guard ourselves from being corrupted by the world? How do we react when someone challenges our faith or tries to get us to compromise truth? How do we bring others to the foot of the cross?

Then, (and this is an important one) live out what you discuss! (James 1:22-25.) Kids can notoriously spot hypocritical “Do as I say, not what I do” rhetoric a mile away. Remind your child that no one is perfect, but that’s what sanctification is! It is training our minds, wills, and emotions to correspond with righteousness, and that takes practice. With daily discipleship we, too, can become proficient in using the armor of God.

3. Shoes fitted with Readiness

Don’t let the title fool you, mamas. These shoes weren’t some cutesy pair of “Let me tell ya about my Jesus” sandals. Nope. These puppies have one function: to help you withstand an offensive attack. 

Like modern-day cleats, a soldier’s sandals were fitted with iron studs which allowed the wearer to have sure footing in rough soil or when taking a hit from the enemy. They were issued because the general knew an attack was coming, and he wanted his men to be able to stand firm when it did.

Mamas, we and our children are in battle every day–but one that we cannot see with our eyes. It’s raging in our classrooms and warping the minds of our doctors and politicians. Even pastors are falling victim to false ideology and dragging their congregations down with them. We have to be vigilant because a hit is easier to avoid when you see it coming.

We can help our kids don their shoes of readiness when we teach them how to tactically engage culture – peacefully! First, our kiddos need to know how to think well. Can they recognize faulty arguments or are they swayed by the passionate influencer recording in the front seat of their Ford Focus? Second, can they navigate a conversation well? Are they able to point out flawed logic, back up their argument with evidence, and know when to remove themselves from a doomed conversation? Do they know how to affirm the good their opponent is offering and build their relationship first on common ground before questioning a person’s ideologies? If so, then their feet are well prepared for the battle at hand. If not, then you have a wonderful opportunity to equip them for the Lord.

4. Shield of Faith

Often when we imagine a shield, something like Captain America’s pops into our head. That little round shield might look cool and may even be one of the strongest in the Marvel universe, but when faced with a cloud of flaming arrows your body would much rather have Paul’s version. 

The ancient Roman shield was 4 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide. Its name ‘scutum’ was derived from the Greek word for “door” and when linked with other soldiers, this shield provided an excellent defense against (you guessed it) flaming arrows because it was lined with leather which was soaked in water before a battle. 

The shield of faith is even better than that, though. Yes, really. We’re talking about God’s shield of faith, which makes Captain America’s shield and the Roman scotum look flimsy by comparison.

This shield’s ‘faith’ isn’t faith in miracles – it’s fides salvifica, the saving faith that Jesus has reconciled us to God and has empowered us with everything we need for a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). When the flaming arrows of the enemy come, pointing out all the ways you aren’t good enough, the shield of faith stands between the believer and the lies, reminding them that they are precious creations made new in God. The shield nurtures confidence in God’s Word, His promises, and assures us that our protection comes from Him alone (see  Proverbs 30:5 and Hebrews 11:1).

This world is going to sling all sorts of arrows at you and your children, especially as it grows more hostile toward Christianity. What’s a mama bears to do? First, nurture your child’s proficiency in carrying the shield of faith by spending time in the Word of God. Show them how to go to it during times of stress and doubt so that it becomes second nature. Next, even the best warriors need friends to help them. Show your children the importance of godly fellowship by participating in a local family of believers. Go to church, join a small group, or spend time with other Christians.

5. Helmet of Salvation

This is the only aspect of the spiritual armor that we are told to take, the implication of which is twofold: first, we cannot earn it ourselves, it has to be given, and second, while salvation is offered to everyone, it’s only effective when a person accepts it. And boy, do we need it!

Not surprisingly, a blow to the head is one of the easiest ways to take someone down–just ask Goliath! More often than not, we aren’t going to have literal rocks flying at our heads but we are going to have a heap of discouragement bouncing between our ears, and usually right before or after we step out in faith. The helmet of salvation thus protects the mind and courage of the believer. It reminds us of our security in Christ (Isaiah 59:17, 21). It offers present protections and future hope of salvation, at which point we take off our helmets and don a crown of glory. But until then, it’s best to keep the helmet firmly on your head, mamas. It’s crazy out there!

Battle is as much mental as it is physical. Reflect on where you struggle most and find a Bible verse or chapter to memorize to ward off mental attacks. Psalm 91 is a great one to start with. Once you have one committed to memory, go for another! Have your kids pick their favorites and decorate notecards with the passage. When one of you is struggling, hide a card where they’re sure to find it. Sometimes the best comfort is being reminded that you aren’t alone.

6. Sword of the Spirit

Out of Paul’s list, we only have one offensive weapon–and that is the sword of the Spirit, the very Word of God. Ellicott’s Commentary says the sword is the truth of God in itself, but how often do we take more care in teaching our kids how to wield their Nerf guns instead of the sword? 

If used improperly a Nerf dart will sting and maybe knock over a picture frame. If the sword of the Spirit is used incorrectly, it can wound someone who desperately needs the grace of God, potentially driving them away forever. We’re talking eternal consequences, mamas.

This is why we need to be more like Roman soldiers when handling the Word of God. Ancient soldiers had to prove themselves proficient both on and off the battlefield. Only then would they be given a sword and earn the title of soldier. 

For believers, we need to train our children (and ourselves!) to use the Word of God with diligence and reverence. We need to know how to read Scripture and properly apply it to our modern world (a skill called hermeneutics). 

Children also need to learn which circumstances require compassion and a listening ear (like with a struggling unbelieving friend) and which circumstances require a direct address, like a believing friend leading others astray. They’ll learn this skill first by watching you, so give them a good example to follow!

Final Thoughts

Don’t forget the importance of prayer mentioned in verse 18. While not armor per se, we cannot underestimate its effectiveness in battle. When words fail, there is prayer and intercession of the Holy Spirit. When the battle is waging far away from us, prayer fights on our behalf. When the prodigal won’t return our calls, prayer beseeches God for their restoration. Show your children how to use prayer well, both in praise and in times of trouble because sometimes it’s the only weapon we’ve got, but it’s always enough.

The great news is that we have a book coming out that may help you out in the prayer department! Find out more about Honest Prayers for Mama Bears here.

Other Helpful Resources

Belt of Truth:

  • The Ology by Marty Mackowski
  • Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel Bluedorn
  • The Case for Christ series (e.g. Creation, Heaven, etc) by Lee Strobel
  • What is Truth? by Elizabeth Urbanowicz at Foundation Worldview

Breastplate of Righteousness & Shoes fitted with Readiness:

  • How Now Shall We Live? by Charles Colson & Nancy Pearcey
  • Tactics by Greg Koukl
  • Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle
  • Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey
  • Lindsey Medenwaldt’s Worldview Series
  • Playground Apologetics Series

Shield of Faith & Helmet of Salvation & Sword of the Spirit:

  • The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
  • Center for Biblical Unity with Monique Duson and Krista Bontrager
  • Spiritual Warfare by Karl Payne
  • Person of Interest by J. Warner Wallace
  • The Deconstruction of Christianity by Alisa Childers and Tim Barnett