“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.”—EPHESIANS 6:11.
1, 2. (a) Why are young Christians winning the fight against Satan and the demons? (See opening picture.) (b) What will we discuss?
THE apostle Paul compared Christians to soldiers. We are in a war, and our enemies are real! But our war is not against humans; it is against Satan and the demons. They have been warriors for thousands of years and are very good at fighting. So it may seem that we cannot possibly win this war, especially if we are young. Can young people win a war against such powerful enemies? Yes they can, and they are winning! Why? Because they receive power from Jehovah. Also, like well-trained soldiers, they “put on the complete suit of armor from God” so that they will be prepared for battle.—Read Ephesians 6:10-12.
2 When Paul used that illustration, he may have been thinking of the armor that Roman soldiers wore. (Acts 28:16) In this article, we will examine that excellent illustration. We will also discuss what some young people say about the difficulties and the benefits of wearing each piece of our spiritual armor.
“THE BELT OF TRUTH”
3, 4. How is the truth from the Bible like a Roman military belt?
3 Read Ephesians 6:14. A Roman military belt had metal plates to protect the soldier’s waist and keep his heavy breastplate in place. Some belts also had strong clips to carry a sword and a dagger. With his belt fastened tightly, a soldier could feel confident when he went into battle.
The truths we learn from God’s Word protect us from false teachings
4 Like a belt, the truths we learn from God’s Word protect us from false teachings. (John 8:31, 32; 1 John 4:1) And the more we learn to love the truths from God’s Word, the easier it becomes for us to live by God’s standards, or to wear our “breastplate.” (Psalm 111:7, 8; 1 John 5:3) Also, the better we understand these truths, the better we can defend them against our enemies.—1 Peter 3:15.
5. Why should we always tell the truth?
5 Since the truths from God’s Word are important to us, we obey what the Bible says and we always tell the truth. Lies are one of Satan’s most successful weapons. Lies hurt the person who tells them and the person who believes them. (John 8:44) So even though we are not perfect, we try our best never to lie. (Ephesians 4:25) This can be difficult. Abigail, age 18, says: “Speaking the truth may not always seem worth it, especially when telling a lie can get you out of a difficult situation.” So why does she always try to tell the truth? She says: “When I’m truthful, I have a clean conscience before Jehovah. And my parents and my friends know that they can trust me.” Victoria, age 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.” Do you see why it is important to wear “the belt of truth” at all times?
“THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS”
6, 7. Why is righteousness compared to a breastplate?
6 The breastplate of a Roman soldier was often made of horizontal strips of iron that were bent to fit around his chest. The iron strips were attached to leather straps with metal hooks and buckles. His shoulders were covered in more strips of iron that were also attached to leather. The breastplate limited his movement, and it required him to check regularly that the plates were in place. But that breastplate protected his heart and other organs against the edge of a sword or the point of an arrow!
We are simply not wise enough to protect our own heart
7 Jehovah’s righteous standards, which protect our “heart,” or the person we are inside, can be compared to that breastplate. (Proverbs 4:23) A soldier would never exchange his iron breastplate for one made of a weaker metal. In the same way, we would never exchange Jehovah’s standards of what is right for our own ideas of what is right. We are simply not wise enough to protect our own heart. (Proverbs 3:5, 6) That is why we must regularly check that our “breastplate” is still protecting our heart.
8. Why should we obey Jehovah’s standards?
8 Do you sometimes feel that Jehovah’s standards take away your freedom or prevent you from doing things you want to do? Daniel, age 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.” But how does he feel now? He says: “Eventually, 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, age 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.” So, what does she do? “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 shoes do Christians wear? (b) What can help us to feel more comfortable when we preach?
9 Read Ephesians 6:15. A Roman soldier could not go into battle without his shoes. They were made of three layers of leather, so they were very strong. But these shoes were also comfortable, so a soldier could walk confidently and not slip.
10 While the shoes that Roman soldiers wore helped them to succeed in war, the symbolic shoes we wear help us “to declare the good news of peace.” (Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15) Still, sometimes it takes a lot of courage to preach. Bo, age 20, says: “I was afraid to witness to my classmates. 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 Christians have found that they feel more comfortable when they preach if they have prepared ahead of time. What can you do to prepare? Julia, age 16, says: “I keep literature in my schoolbag, 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, age 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.” Being well-prepared to preach is like wearing “shoes” that fit you well.
“THE LARGE SHIELD OF FAITH”
12, 13. What are some of Satan’s “burning arrows”?
12 Read Ephesians 6:16. A Roman soldier carried a large rectangular shield. It covered him from his shoulders to his knees and protected him from swords, spears, and arrows.
13 What “burning arrows” could Satan shoot at you? Perhaps he attacks you with lies about Jehovah. Satan wants you to feel that Jehovah does not love you and that no one cares about you. Ida, age 19, says: “I have often felt that Jehovah isn’t close to me and that he doesn’t want to be my Friend.” What does she do when she feels this way? “The meetings are a giant boost to my faith. 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 do we learn from Ida’s experience?
14 A soldier’s shield always stays the same size. But as we learn from Ida’s experience, our faith is not like that. Our faith can grow or shrink, become stronger or weaker. It is our choice. (Matthew 14:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:3) For our “shield of faith” to protect us, we must keep making it bigger and stronger!
“THE HELMET OF SALVATION”
15, 16. How is our hope like a helmet?
15 Read Ephesians 6:17. A Roman soldier wore a helmet to protect his head, neck, and face. Sometimes the helmet 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 thinking. (1 Thessalonians 5:8; Proverbs 3:21) Hope helps us to focus on God’s promises and not to become discouraged because of our problems. (Psalm 27:1, 14; Acts 24:15) But if we want our hope to protect us, it must be real to us. We must wear our “helmet” on our head, not carry it in our hand!
17, 18. (a) How could Satan trick us into taking our helmet off? (b) How can we prove that we have not been tricked by Satan?
17 How could Satan trick us into taking our helmet off? Think about what he tried to do to Jesus. Satan knew that Jesus would become the ruler of mankind. But first, Jesus would have to suffer and die. And then he would have to wait to become King until it was Jehovah’s time. So Satan offered him the chance to rule sooner. Satan promised that if Jesus would do just one act of worship, he could become the ruler of the world immediately. (Luke 4:5-7) Satan also knows that Jehovah has promised to give us wonderful things in the new world. But we have to wait for this promise to become a reality, and in the meantime we may have many problems. So Satan offers us a chance to have a comfortable life now. He wants us to put our own comfort first and God’s Kingdom second.—Matthew 6:31-33.
18 Many young Christians have not been tricked by Satan. For example, Kiana, age 20, says: “I know that the only hope for solving all our problems is God’s Kingdom.” How does her hope affect how she thinks and lives her life? It helps her to remember that the things of this world are temporary. Instead of putting all her efforts into having a career in this system, Kiana is using her time and energy to serve Jehovah.
“THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT,” GOD’S WORD
19, 20. How can we become more skilled in using God’s Word?
19 Roman soldiers used swords that were about 50 centimeters (20 inches) long. Those soldiers were very skilled with their swords because they practiced using them every day.
20 The apostle Paul said that God’s Word is like a sword. Jehovah has given it to us. But we must learn to use it skillfully to defend our faith or to adjust the way we think. (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5; 2 Timothy 2:15) How can you improve your skills? Sebastian, age 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.” This helps him to understand better how Jehovah thinks. Daniel adds: “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 should we not be afraid of Satan and the demons?
21 As we learned from the examples of the young ones in this article, we do not need to be afraid of Satan and the demons. It is true that they are powerful, but they are not more powerful than Jehovah. And they will not live forever. They will be imprisoned and will not be able to harm anyone during the Thousand Year Reign of Christ, and after that they will be destroyed. (Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10) We know our enemy, his tricks, and his goal. With Jehovah’s help, we can stand firm against him!