“Put on the complete suit of armor from God so that you may be able to stand firm against the crafty acts of the Devil.”—EPH. 6:11.
1, 2. (a) Why are young Christians winning the fight against wicked spirit forces? (See opening picture.) (b) What will we examine?
THE apostle Paul likened our life as Christians to that of soldiers engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Of course, the war we fight is spiritual, not literal. Even so, our enemies are real. Satan and the demons are skilled warriors with vast experience. At first glance, our prospects may seem bleak. Young Christians in particular may appear to be vulnerable. How can they hope to win against superhuman, wicked spirit forces? The fact is, young ones can win, and they are winning! Why? Because they “go on acquiring power in the Lord.” But they do more than draw on God’s power. They are dressed for battle. Like well-trained soldiers, they have “put on the complete suit of armor from God.”—Read Ephesians 6:10-12.
2 When developing his illustration, Paul perhaps had in mind the armor worn by Roman legionnaires. (Acts 28:16) Let us examine why that illustration is appropriate. As we do, take note of what some young ones have to say about the challenges and the benefits of wearing each piece of spiritual armor.
“THE BELT OF TRUTH”
3, 4. How is the truth found in the Bible like a Roman military belt?
3 Read Ephesians 6:14. A Roman military belt had metal plates that protected a soldier’s waist. It was designed to help relieve the weight of his upper-body armor. Some belts also had strong clips that served to carry a sword and a dagger. With his belt fastened tightly, a soldier could confidently stand firm in battle.
4 Similarly, the truths we learn from God’s Word protect us from the spiritual harm that false teachings cause. (John 8:31, 32; 1 John 4:1) And the more we love divine truths, the easier it is to carry our “breastplate,” that is, to live by God’s righteous standards. (Ps. 111:7, 8; 1 John 5:3) In addition, when we have a clear understanding of the truths from God’s Word, we can confidently stand our ground and defend them against opposers.—1 Pet. 3:15.
5. Why should we speak the truth?
5 When Bible truth is wrapped around us tightly, as it were, we will be moved to live in harmony with it and to speak the truth at all times. Why will we avoid telling lies? Because lies have been one of Satan’s most effective weapons. Lies damage both the one telling them and the one believing them. (John 8:44) So to the best of our imperfect ability, we avoid telling lies. (Eph. 4:25) But it can be a challenge. Eighteen-year-old Abigail says: “Speaking the truth may not always seem worth it, especially when telling a lie can get you out of a difficult situation.” Why, then, does she always try to tell the truth? “When I’m truthful,” she says, “I have a clean conscience before Jehovah. And my parents and my friends know that they can trust me.” Victoria, 23, says: “When you tell the truth and stand up for your beliefs, you might get bullied. But you always get outstanding benefits: You gain confidence, you feel closer to Jehovah, and you earn the respect of those who love you.” Certainly, it is worth keeping “the belt of truth fastened around your waist” at all times.
“THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS”
6, 7. Why is righteousness likened to a breastplate?
6 One type of breastplate worn by a Roman soldier in the first century consisted of overlapping horizontal strips of iron. These strips were bent to fit his torso and were fastened to straps of leather by means of metal hooks and buckles. The rest of the soldier’s upper body was covered in more strips of iron fastened to leather. This type of garment restricted a soldier’s movement to some degree, and it required that he regularly check that the plates were firmly fixed in place. But his armor hindered the edge of a sword or the point of an arrow from piercing his heart or other vital organs.
7 What an appropriate symbol of how Jehovah’s righteous standards can protect our figurative heart! (Prov. 4:23) Just as a soldier would not swap a breastplate of iron for one made of an inferior metal, we would never want to exchange Jehovah’s standards of what is right for our own. Our judgment is just too flawed to offer us the protection that we need. (Prov. 3:5, 6) Instead, we regularly check that the ‘iron plates’ Jehovah has given us are firmly fixed over our heart.
8. Why is it worth sticking to Jehovah’s standards?
8 Do you sometimes feel that Jehovah’s righteous standards weigh you down or restrict your freedom? Daniel, aged 21, says: “Teachers and fellow students made fun of me because I live by Bible standards. For a while, I lost my confidence and felt depressed.” How did he recover? “Eventually,” he says, “I saw the benefits of living by Jehovah’s standards. Some of my ‘friends’ began taking drugs; others dropped out of school. It was sad to see how their lives turned out. Jehovah really protects us.” Madison, 15, says: “It’s a struggle for me to stick to Jehovah’s standards and not go along with what my peers think is cool or fun.” How does she cope? “I remind myself that I bear Jehovah’s name and that temptation is just Satan’s way of shooting at me. When I win a struggle, I feel better about myself.”
“FEET SHOD IN READINESS TO DECLARE THE GOOD NEWS OF PEACE”
9-11. (a) What symbolic footwear do Christians put on? (b) What can help us be more comfortable when declaring the good news?
9 Read Ephesians 6:15. A Roman soldier who was not wearing his boots was not ready to march into battle. His sandallike boots were made of three layers of leather fastened together that gave him an excellent foothold. The design made the footwear both durable and comfortable.
10 While the literal boots worn by Roman soldiers carried them into war, the symbolic footwear worn by Christians helps them deliver a message of peace. (Isa. 52:7; Rom. 10:15) Even so, it takes courage to speak up when the opportunity arises. “I was afraid to witness to my classmates,” says 20-year-old Bo. “I think I was embarrassed. Looking back, I don’t know why I should have been. Now I’m happy to witness to my peers.”
11 Many young ones have found that if they are well-prepared to declare the good news, they feel more comfortable doing it. What can you do to be ready? “I keep literature in my schoolbag,” says Julia, 16, “and I listen to the opinions and beliefs expressed by my classmates. Then I’m able to think of what will help them. When I am prepared, I can talk to them about what will specifically benefit them.” Makenzie, 23, says: “If you are kind and are a good listener, you’ll get an idea of what your peers are dealing with. I make sure that I’ve read all the material published for young people. That way I can direct my peers to something in the Bible or on jw.org that will help them.” As those comments indicate, the more prepared you are to preach, the more securely your “boots” will be bound to your feet.
“THE LARGE SHIELD OF FAITH”
12, 13. What are some of Satan’s “burning arrows”?
12 Read Ephesians 6:16. “The large shield” carried by a Roman legionnaire was rectangular and covered him from his shoulders to his knees. It served to protect him from the blows of weapons and the hails of arrows.
13 Some of the “burning arrows” that Satan might fire at you are lies about Jehovah—that He does not care about you and that you are unlovable. Nineteen-year-old Ida struggles with feelings of unworthiness. She says, “I have often felt that Jehovah isn’t close to me and that he doesn’t want to be my Friend.” How does she deal with this attack? “The meetings are a giant boost to my faith,” says Ida. “I used to sit there and never comment, thinking that nobody would want to hear what I had to say. Now, though, I prepare for the meetings and try to answer two or three times. It’s difficult, but I feel much better when I do. And the brothers and sisters are so encouraging. I always come away from the meetings knowing that Jehovah loves me.”
14. What truth does Ida’s experience highlight?
14 Ida’s experience highlights an important truth: The literal shield given to a soldier had fixed dimensions, but the size of our shield of faith can either shrink or grow. It is up to us. (Matt. 14:31; 2 Thess. 1:3) How important it is that we build up our faith!
“THE HELMET OF SALVATION”
15, 16. How is hope like a helmet?
15 Read Ephesians 6:17. The helmet worn by the Roman infantry was designed to ward off blows directed at the head, neck, and face. Some helmets had a handle so that a soldier could carry it in his hand.
16 Just as a helmet protects a soldier’s brain, our “hope of salvation” protects our mind, our thinking ability. (1 Thess. 5:8; Prov. 3:21) Hope keeps us focused on God’s promises and helps us see problems in the right perspective. (Ps. 27:1, 14; Acts 24:15) But if we want our “helmet” to be effective, we must wear it on our head, not carry it in our hand.
17, 18. (a) How could Satan induce us to remove our helmet? (b) How can we show that we have not been fooled by Satan’s deception?
17 How could Satan induce us to remove our helmet? Consider the way he dealt with Jesus. Satan surely knew that Jesus had the hope of eventually ruling mankind. But Jesus would have to wait until Jehovah’s appointed time. And before then, he would have to suffer and die. So Satan offered Jesus the chance to fulfill his hope sooner. Satan suggested that if Jesus would do one act of worship, he could have it all and have it right then. (Luke 4:5-7) Similarly, Satan knows that Jehovah offers us material benefits in the new system. But we have to wait, and we might have to suffer hardships in the meantime. So Satan offers us tempting opportunities to enjoy such a life now. He wants us to seek material benefits first—to have it all and have it now. Satan urges us to seek the Kingdom second.—Matt. 6:31-33.
18 Like many young Christians, 20- year-old Kiana has not been fooled by this deception. “I know that the only hope for solving all our problems is God’s Kingdom,” she says. How does this solid hope affect her thinking and actions now? “The hope of Paradise helps me put secular goals in perspective,” she adds. “I don’t try to cash in on my talents or attempt to climb the corporate ladder. Instead, I’m investing time and energy in spiritual goals.”
“THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT,” GOD’S WORD
19, 20. How can we improve our skills in using God’s Word?
19 The sword used by Roman infantrymen at the time Paul wrote his letter was about 20 inches (50 cm) long and was designed for hand-to-hand combat. One reason that Roman soldiers were so effective is that they practiced with their weapons every day.
20 Paul likens God’s Word to a sword that Jehovah has given us. But we must learn to use it skillfully when defending our beliefs—or when adjusting our own thinking. (2 Cor. 10:4, 5; 2 Tim. 2:15) How can you improve your skills? Sebastian, aged 21, says: “I’ve been writing down one verse from every chapter in my Bible reading. I’m compiling a list of my favorite verses. That way, I feel more in tune with Jehovah’s thinking.” Daniel, quoted earlier, says: “As I do my Bible reading, I pick verses that I think will help people I meet in the ministry. I’ve found that people respond well when they see that you are passionate about the Bible and are doing your best to help them.”
21. Why is there no need to feel intimidated by Satan and the demons?
21 As the young ones quoted in this article have shown, there is no need to feel intimidated by Satan and the demons. They are formidable but not unbeatable. And they are mortal. Soon, during the Thousand Year Reign of Christ, they will be confined to a state of complete inactivity, after which they will be destroyed. (Rev. 20:1-3, 7-10) We know our enemy, his tactics, and his intentions. With Jehovah’s help, we can stand firm against him!