I watched a video this week in which the speaker (Elder Kim B. Clark) quoted Ephesians 6:12. It was awesome (both the video and the scripture). In fact, that one scripture might be one of the most motivating scriptures that we have – because it sizes up our opponents without any degree of dilution. It lets us know exactly who and what we are fighting against. It says that “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.”
Elder Clark related this scripture in order to emphasize the use of the word “whole” in verses 11 and 13 – as it refers to the “armour of God” – meaning that we can’t just put on some of the armour, or even most of the armour – we need it all. This is true. He also emphasized that no matter how awesome we are doing right now, it’s still not enough and we can still do better.
After the video, I read the whole passage – a bit slower than usual. Please note that I have referenced this exact passage (Eph. 6:10-17) in a previous blog post but had not even noticed a key phrase until this last reading.
I started at verse 10 and read through verse 17:
10 Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 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.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
The entire point of this blog post is to highlight the manner in which we are to “put on” the armour that we have available to us. In verse 11 it says just that – “put on” the armour. That seems normal enough. We put on our clothes, we put on our jewelry, we put on our coats, we put on our watches, we put on our makeup, we put many different things ON our bodies to protect them. This is not new.
BUT in verse 13 Paul gives us a qualifier – or a prerequisite – to how we will be able to “withstand in the evil day” – with that armour and it is not putting the armour ON us, it is taking it “unto” us. I don’t know the scientific or exact significance of that phrase, but to me it seems like a more permanent solution – more like a molecular infusion. Rather than donning some protective apparel for a particular battle (IE putting on a helmet and a breastplate) – we are bonding the armour to our very core, creating a oneness with it that will not allow separation.
In other words – Paul is telling us that if we want to be left standing at that last day, against the wiles of the devil and against these powers and rulers of darkness we will need to some spiritual adamantium surgery. Paul said it, not me.
Now, for those of you unfortunate folks who don’t know what adamantium is let me tell you: It is a “metal alloy, and is best known as the substance bonded to the character Wolverine’s skeleton and claws.” “In the stories where it appears, the defining quality of adamantium is its practical indestructibility.” Also of note is the fact that “adamantium also weights his [Wolverine’s] blows, increasing the effectiveness of his offensive capabilities.”1
Essentially, it is the substance that Logan (a.k.a James Howlett) took “unto” himself (surgically bonded to his bones) which enabled him to become one with his indestructible armour (allowing his armour to be as much a part of him as his amazing facial hair) which logically led to his becoming a famous X-men character.2 He is also a great singer.
So, the question then becomes, how to I take unto me the armour of God so that I can become as strong and as impenetrable and indestructible and dependable as the lord wants me to be? No doubt the sequence of instruction given by Paul can lend us a clue (vs 11 first and then vs 13). In the first instruction (vs 11) he tells us to “put on” the armour – and likely this is how we learn how it feels (we quickly learn how heavy armour is), how it can protect us, and identify the benefits of its use. Then, after we have walked around the block a few times, and maybe even seen the intensity of a small battle we take the armour off to “rest up a bit” (maybe while we are taking a shower or eating dinner or going to work or the movies). Over time, the repeated process of putting on and taking off the armour slowly but surely helps us feel the vulnerability of being “not armed” as well as the contrasting safe and secure feeling of being fully armed and therefore we start eating dinner and going to school and out with our friends with our armour on, which leads to taking our armour off less and less frequently. Then, (perhaps after many days) the armour has somehow become part of us and we aren’t even sure we remember how to take it off and in a very real way we have learned to live life fully armed – thus taking the armour “unto us” in every facet of life.
Yet, I think that Paul is telling us in verse 13 that something else, something a bit more permanent is still needed. That’s where it’s up to each of us to discover for ourselves how we can once and for all take the armour “unto us” so that we are protected from the inside out and once we discover how to do that – then, when we have resolved to more fully infuse the armour of God to our very core, and let it become a part of us we can learn how withstand the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
2 Please note that some people claim adamantium is a fictional metal alloy.