Combat Readiness: Preparing for Spiritual Combat
by Joshua Bixler
Lightraider Warrior Devotional: 1 October 2019 (one devotional each month will follow)
1 Peter 5:8: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
To be a Christian is to be bold and to live out our faith with passion. Our courage and resolve is constantly tested, because every day we find ourselves battling temptation. The devil and his minions are constantly seeking to find a weak spot in our defenses. The devil will try anything to render our witness ineffective to our friends, to our teachers, to our employers, and anyone else we come across. That it is why it so essential to be battle-ready at all times. The devil is waiting for that perfect moment to strike, so we need to be prepared to never let him have that moment.
One of my favorite ancient military tactics was the phalanx. The phalanx was utilized most famously by Alexander the Great and the armies of the Greek city-states: Sparta, Athens, and Thebes. When looking at a picture of the phalanx, it doesn’t look that spectacular. It looks like a cube or rectangle of armored men closely grouped together with shields and spears. What you don’t see in these pictures is what is going on behind the scenes.
Each soldier had to march forward in perfect cohesion, and had to stand tall with his shield. They then had to endure enemy armies smashing into their formation over and over again trying to break it. One of the only ways they could stop the enemy from breaking their formation was constant training and discipline.
This is symbolic of the devil trying to break through our defenses with sins and temptation. Only by daily prayer, daily Bible reading, and consistent church attendance can we effectively fight him off. Just as the soldiers in the phalanx prepared daily for physical combat, we as Christians must prepare daily for spiritual combat.
The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:11-17:
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness arrayed, and with your feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.“
There was another thing that fueled the soldiers in the phalanx and kept them fighting hard, and that was brotherhood. The shield that the phalanx soldier held not only protected him, but the soldier next to him. The soldiers in the phalanx were not only fighting to protect themselves, but their fellow soldiers.
The verse from 1st Peter relates the devil to a lion. When lions are attacking herds of animals, they seek out the weaker creatures. Sometimes this weaker creature is a gazelle that was at the height of its strength a week ago, but due to an illness is slowly limping along with the herd. This usually strong gazelle, which is suddenly at a weak point, has become a perfect target for the lion. We have ups and downs in our lives, and there are times when we are stronger than other times. Having good Christian friends to talk to and support us helps keep us strong in those times of weakness. In Galatians 6:2 it says “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
As Christians we need to seek out Godly relationships with fellow Christian men and women. We need relationships that will build us up and help keep us on the path that God has laid out for us. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good character.” We need to ensure that we are hanging out with good Christian people that are helping us honor God.
To be a strong warrior for God you need to practice Christian discipline and seek out good Christian friends to help you in this fight. Put on your armor daily, and join with your brother’s and sisters for a strong phalanx. Pray that God will help you stay focused on Him, and will help you build relationships that will honor Him and strengthen you as a Christian.
This month, pray that God will help you stay focused on Him, and will help you build relationships that will honor Him and strengthen you as a Christian.
Joshua Bixler is a Christian, husband, father, and a Sunday
School teacher for 5th grade boys. He is a veteran of two combat deployments to
Afghanistan, and loves military history. He and his wife create tabletop RPG
gaming products for their publishing label Bix Six
Adventures on the DriveThruRPG website.