On Christmas Eve Sabbath in 2005 I taught the Sabbath School lesson on spiritual armor. We have the
breastplate, the helmet, the belt and boots, and shield and of course the the sword which was scheduled for the following week. Such simple protections in worldly warfare are obsolete today, of course.
There is one thing that can keep us more or less safe in modern day conflicts. And that one thing is to be born as a citizen of the side that wins. During a conflict between a super power and a 3rd world country, the ultimate outcome is known before the fighting begins. In 1989 we clearly saw a recognition of this fact when soldiers surrendered as soon as allied troops showed up. To a lessor extent, the same was true in 2003. Allied soldiers do die but proportunately, the deaths are lop-sided.
What matters most is - "What side are we on?" If we're on the side that is destined to win, for whatever reason, then we are blessed indeed. If we're on the losing side, we are cursed. The same is true during conflicts between small, less equipped countries. During these smaller conflicts the human damage can be extremely severe on both sides because the balance of power is often fairly even. During such conflicts we don't know in advance which side will win. Whether involving only smaller countries or whether involving a superpower against a 3rd world so-called power, we know that whoever wins writes the history.
In this war between Christ and Satan, we know the superpower. And we know which so-called power will ultimately be defeated and totally destroyed. Unfortunately, we are all born citizens of the power that history and prophecy tell us will lose badly. We are doomed as long as we maintain citizenship in this evil power.
But in this war between Christ and Satan we can be re-born as citizens of heaven. The trouble is that all too often naturalized citizens feel pulled in two directions. The Christian can be pulled in two directions. Our loyalties shift from time to time.
The armor Paul speaks of are protections for the loyal Christian. We must realize and practice consistently the righteousness that identifies us as on the side of Christ. We must experience salvation, we must believe that we have the right to salvation already provided by Christ in order to become righteous. We must maintain the faith in the rightness of Christ and the already accomplished victory of Christ. That victory has already been described in the history and prophecy God has written. We must strive to understand the teachings of Christ in the Bible. Simply knowing what these teaching are is not understanding. We don't demonstrate understanding through multiple-choice tests. We must be able to demonstrate understanding by means of the essay questions - verbally explain without relying on a selection of choices before us. These understandings must come from our experiences. They cannot come from reciting the experiences of others. We must not study to seek knowledge or even truth. We must study to know God. Satan knows the truth, but he does not know God as a constant friend or as a Savior.
I used the game of chess to illustrate this safety that comes entirely from being on the winning side. I dressed the dark chess pieces in tiny white gowns. These gowns were not sophisticated gowns, but I did cut veil material and attach it to all but one of the dark pieces. I did not dress the King in a gown because the King is the bridegroom. The King is righteous through his always existing righteousness. Our dark selves must be clothed in gowns of righteousness to cover our imperfections, our unrighteousness..
When we are clothed on the chessboard with Christ's white gowns we all become queens on this chessboard. There are no pawns. No one is expendible to God. There are no distinctions such as bishops. There are no Knights of Columbus. There are simply our King and 15 gowned queens on the side of God.
The opposing side, the light color, may appear to be righteous, but the best they might be is "good". They are not righteous. They are on Satan's side by choice -- their choice to refuse to wear the white gown. They prize their positions as bishop, knight, or rook. They even take pride in being the pawns of their chosen leader. From a distance, their lightness may appear the same as that of the gowned dark ones. But without the gown they are weighted down by their limitations. While pawns are weak and intended to be dispensible, even rooks, knights, and bishops have clear limitations compared to the queen who can do pretty much anything in chess.
When Christ's side has 15 queens going forward to face 1 queen and 14 limited participants, Christ's side is guaranteed to win. Christ's side cannot lose. The gowned queens can lose by not remaining loyal to their king. The gowned queens lose only by choosing a different king. Study righteousness, salvation, faith... Practice righteousness, salvation, faith... and never reclaim your old citizenshop.