The battle is on!
To “put on the armor of light” implies that we are dressing for battle. A battle means that there will be continual need for alertness, effort and more choices. This does not mean that the Christian life has to be one constant source of stress. No, it should be marked by joy. The battle is to keep the enjoyment of the victory, not to gain the victory. Christ has already won it, and has obtained for us all spiritual blessings (Eph.1:3). Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). “It was for freedom that Christ set us free” (Gal.5:1; NASB). Jesus desired that “your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
On the other hand, the devil is a thief and a destroyer (John 10:10). He is a deceiver, and he must be resisted (James 4:7). This can be done by rejecting his temptations and lies. That is casting off the works of darkness. It can also be done by declaring the truth and promises of God in our desperate situations. That is putting on the armor of light. This is why it is important to stay in God’s Word, so that the truth becomes so dominant in us that we can recognize and resist the lies.
Paul chose to cast off the shackles of the law and put on the freedom of the Gospel. From that point on he battled to defend that freedom. Every believer has to do the same. No, I do not mean you have to write another epistle to the Galatians! But you have to fight to hold on to your “no condemnation” and the idea that you CAN do what is good and right as you trust in Christ Jesus. You have to choose to live in Romans 8 rather than in Romans 7. It is the enemy that wants to bind you up again, or drag you back into the dirty things you’ve been set free from. And he will have a heyday with you if he succeeds.
Therefore, make conscious choices to act. One doesn’t just hope and pray that they will be able to survive the onslaughts of the devil, but they are to
PUT ON the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil (Eph.6:11).
Here we are, changing clothes again! But it is putting on the FULL armor of God- we are not lacking the resources. God has provided truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the word (Eph.6:14-17). There is no need to wait, or cry out for these things. In Christ we have them all. But we must choose to walk in them by faith, no matter how imperfect our steps may be.
PUT OFF all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have PUT OFF the old man with his deeds, and have PUT ON the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him (Col.3:8-10).
These are not rules given in order to obtain favor with God. God is already pleased with us through Jesus Christ. These are instructions. Many people confuse Christianity and the New Testament with just being a new set of rules to follow. On the contrary, rules can never truly subdue the flesh, but being born again in Christ can (see Col.2:20-23). Thus Paul does not write of struggling to achieve, but to put on what we already have:
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, PUT ON tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering (Col. 2:12).
We have often been taught that such qualities are so much beyond us that we cannot possibly have them until the Holy Spirit brings the change. So why even try? But the truth is that even an unbeliever can put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, and longsuffering! I know many who have, and you probably do too. How much more, then, should a born again believer!
Take a survey of Paul’s instructions, here and in many other places, and notice that he makes no mention of any inability to carry them out. He simply assumes that we can do them, as is. This is not to say that he disregards the need for the Spirit’s work, and far be it from me to imply that. He makes plenty of mention of the Spirit in other places, and we have considered this here. But we have to believe that we can live Godly NOW, because of what Jesus did, and we have to get past the “I can’t do it” or “it’s only for the future” mentality.
Again, if it does not feel natural at first, act on it anyway. Notice that Paul did not just say to “Put on,” but he began with “as the elect of God, holy and beloved.” That is, ACT like the elect of God. ACT as one holy and beloved. That is what you are. Reject any “how could God love me” thoughts and other devilish suggestions.
…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things PUT ON love, which is the bond of perfection (Col.2:13-14).
Act as if you are forgiven, because you are! Put on love, because you yourself are loved. Follow the instructions, and with continual use it will become more natural. With the Holy Spirit it will become supernatural! But do not wait for some far off day in the future to feel right for your part.
And do not give up if you haven’t acted your part well. “A righteous man may fall seven times and rise again” (Prov.24:16). Get back up, call upon the Lord, go in peace, and do your part. By faith, you can do it!