August 17, 2010
Building Strong Friendships in Christ
Sober and Armored Today
“But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.”
1 Thessalonians 5:8
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Paul loves to describe the Christian life in terms of symbols. In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, he uses the symbolism of armor worn by a soldier. Paul spent time under arrest, and he must have encountered many soldiers during his lifetime traveling through the world. Paul apparently spent time thinking about the reasons soldiers wear their armor. Stressing that every believer must remain sober and alert, because the day of the Lord may come at any time, Paul now describes how we prepare ourselves for daily life, using a soldier’s armor. He uses this same concept of armor in Romans 13:12 (“armor of light”) and a more extensive passage in Ephesians 6:10-17.
Paul ties the command to be “sober” with having put on the armor. You make the choice daily to live a sober life, and part of that sobriety is to put on your armor. The entire image of a soldier wearing armor brings to mind the picture of combat, and being ready to defend yourself.
Paul first speaks of the breastplate of faith and love. When you think about faith, it allows us to guard our spiritual hearts as a breastplate guards our physicals hearts from flaming arrows, or the piercing blows of the enemy. But think further about the breastplate of love. Paul uses this image of a defensive breastplate as a symbol of love. As believers, Christ overcomes the world and has conquered all spiritual foes. Yet, He has not yet subjected all things to His rule. By His love, we protect ourselves from the onslaught of the enemy and attacks of the world.
Paul also refers to the helmet of salvation. God designed our skulls to be made of bone, that protects our brains from blows. We can be very grateful for thick skulls, because it takes a fairly strong blow to the head to cause severe injury, although we all know examples of fairly light blows under the right circumstances that cause problems. Therefore, we appreciate the need for a helmet. In this case, Paul again emphasizes the need for our daily sobriety to be linked to our salvation. Salvation only comes by faith that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. He bore my sins in His body on the cross, so that I may live forever in His righteousness. The helmet of salvation reminds me constantly that God has saved me already and eternally from every attack in the spiritual realm against my head and my life. In the physical realm, I wear it every day to remind me of the constant protection of God to keep me saved from the penalty of my sins.
So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.
● Strong bonds of friendship form when we live sober lives, expecting the day of the Lord at any time.
● Strong bonds of friendship grow when we put on the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of salvation.
● We harm our bonds of friendship when we let our friends in Christ live without armor, and suffer the spiritual consequences.
Application for Today
Today, I want to wear my breastplate of love and faith, and feel the helmet of salvation protecting me. Will you feel the weight of God’s armor today?