Putting on the Armor of God
As Christian families, we have all been admonished, exhorted, and counseled from many sources on how important parents and children are in a family. We all want to learn to get along with each other and we know the end goal of where we want to be after our life on earth has finished.
From The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently referred to as the “Mormon Church”), President Boyd K Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke to the youth on January 22, 2013, during the 100 Years in Seminary broadcast. He said “Our youth are being raised in enemy territory. . . . he (the adversary) is in homes, entertainment, the media, language—everything around you” (“How to Survive in Enemy Territory”). That is a scary statement. As parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents—we need to arm our youth with the gospel of Jesus Christ and be good examples. We also need good role models so our youth will have someone to look up to as a righteous disciple of Christ.
Ephesians 6:11–12 says:
Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
As parents we all wrestle against the powers of darkness. We are dealing with difficulties which are particular to our day. This armor is helpful to all of us. Verse 13 of the same chapter says: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” With Paul’s great wisdom –we can all withstand the evil of the day.
Imagine a full body of armor as we would see back from the Middle Ages. Each piece has a special purpose. Ephesians tells us what each of these pieces of armor can mean in a spiritual battle:
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel ofpeace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Former President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ, Harold B. Lee, spoke to Brigham Young University students back in 1954 about this very topic and said, “We have four parts of the body that are the most vulnerable to the powers of darkness. The loins, typifying virtue, chastity [girt about with truth]; the heart, typifying our conduct [breastplate and shield]; our feet, our goals or objectives in life [are shod with preparation of the gospel of peace]; and finally, our head, our thoughts [helmet] (“Feet Shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace,” Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, 9 Nov. 1954), pp. 2-7]).
As parents we need to concentrate on these areas, creating an armor which will withstand the arrows and darts of darkness. I would like to touch on how we can work on each of these areas of armor to help our children protect themselves with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Loins Girt about with Truth
The scriptures are our truth which we need to read each day as a family. We find truth by attending our church meetings and by reading the scriptures and other uplifting, inspirational materials. In all these places we are spiritually uplifted and arm ourselves against the fiery darts of the wicked.
President Packer admonished the youth in his seminary address, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom . . . with all [your] getting, get [going!]” There is wisdom in listening to our prophets. One piece of wisdom and truth comes from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” This piece of scripture reminds us what we can do as parents to keep our families intact and happy.
The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
Now this wasn’t written to make parents feel guilty; this was written to remind us of what is important. As M. Russell Ballard, Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ, tells us, the proclamation “is a clarion call to protect and strengthen families” (“What Matters Most Is What Lasts the Longest,” General Conference, October 2005). A clarion is an ancient trumpet with a curved shape, many times used for a battle call. This visual metaphor is appropriate, as we are in a battle for our families to be protected. There are so many sources from the gospel of Jesus Christ that we can use, and “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” is just one of them.
Breastplate of Righteousness
The topical guide for “righteousness” in the LDS version of the Bible has many alternative entries:
· God, Perfection of
· God, the Standard of Righteousness
· Good Works
· Priesthood, Qualifying for
· Walking with God
Those are a lot of words describing righteousness, but one word in particular really sums it all up: sanctification. This word best describes what the breastplate of righteousness means. If we are sanctified, then we want to be righteous and we can be guided by the Spirit in what we should be doing. The breastplate also guards the heart which we either make righteous or unrighteous by our actions.
Feet Shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace
President Lee continued in his address, “And then he [meaning Paul] said we would have the feet shod with the kind of armor that would protect our feet, suggesting the feet as the objectives, the goals of life which we should have guided by some kind of armor and protected from getting off on the wrong foot.”
We all have a purpose. We all know that eventually, if we keep our covenants, we will return back to our Heavenly Father’s presence with our families around us. We all want to be there, so we need our purpose right in front of us. With our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, we can walk in the right direction being protected from the darts of wickedness.
Shield of Faith
The shield protecting us can help shield us from spiritual wickedness. Faith is an ongoing process. We start out with just a tiny seed of faith, and as we continue to attend our meetings, pray every day, and read our scriptures, this faith will grow and we can hold our shield out in front of us to fend off temptation.
Helmet of Salvation
The helmet covers our head. Our thoughts should be disciplined to be kind to others. Our thoughts are important because as we think, so we also do. Keeping our thoughts with the goal of righteous living in front of us helps us as families to stay righteous. A righteous king from the Book of Mormon (a companion book of scripture to the Bible) warns us to watch our thoughts. He says, “But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not” (Mosiah 4:30).
Our Father in Heaven wants us to be successful. He wants us to be happy, so He gives us these tools to help us teach our children.
Sword of the Spirit
The sword of the Spirit is the word of God and is essential to our armor. We can find the word of God in our scriptures as we read each day to find encouraging words to keep us safe.
How important we are as parents. We are entrusted with special spirits from our Father in Heaven. Sherri Dew, a former leader in the General Relief Society (a world-wide women’s organization of The Church of Jesus Christ) said: “If we could unleash the full influence of covenant-keeping women, the kingdom of God and the world would change overnight” (BYU Women’s Conference 2008).
That is an incredible statement. If we all lived up to our potential as parents, how wonderful this world would be in fighting the adversary. Many of us do wonderful jobs teaching and helping our own children live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of us follow all the teachings of the gospel as best we can and still have children who choose a painful path. All we can do is be a positive force in their life so they know we love them.
Proverbs 22:6 promises, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Families can be protected while living in enemy territory. We can recognize the adversary in our lives and choose the better path. With the help of the armor of God in all areas of our life, we can encourage and support each other in our families to make good choices and set a good example for others who are struggling.