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“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2)

Ever since sin entered the world, hatred, strife, and war have filled the pages and lives of human history, both individually and collectively. As nations pursue power and dominion over others or seek to protect their own existence, values, and interests, a vital element involves military armament and weaponry. Many a war has been won by winning the “arms race,” possessing weaponry superior to that of the enemy.

As Christian soldiers marching onward in our spiritual war against our enemies, we do so “with the cross of Jesus going on before.” The Apostle’s opening “therefore” takes us back to the cross of Jesus, the ultimate spiritual weapon and war-outcome moment when “Christ suffered for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18) Singlehandedly descending from heaven to assume our position on the front lines of the battlefield, God’s Son suffered hell and death for our sake, to atone for all our sins. Jesus “disarmed” the powers and authorities, “triumphing over them” by the cross (Colossians 2:15). Easter and Ascension are God’s punctuating proclamation of Christ’s victory as well as ours by faith.

As we in faith now embrace and follow our conquering Savior, we still face the residue and scars of war in our own hearts and lives. Though we are freed by Christ from the ultra-tragic guilt and punishment of sin, the Evil One still exploits sin’s presence and power through our flesh and the world around us. God’s children till struggle and suffer. We still face burdens and battles. We still wrestle for dominion over sin.

Yet because of Christ, not only has the war been won, the enemy defeated, and eternal victory secured; also we are guaranteed victory both in the Church’s and our own personal “spiritual arms race.” Our enemies never have prevailed, nor will they ever prevail, over Christ, His Word, or His Church. Never will satanic weaponry prove superior to divine weaponry. Never, even in these last days of intensive attacks, will Satan overcome those who trust in the Lord.

As Christian warriors called to mobilize, we “arm” ourselves “with the same mind(set)of Christ (verse 1). Look to Jesus both to cleanse you from sin’s guilt and power, and also to strengthen and renew you in your daily sin-battles. Draw strength and hope from Him. He Who has made you alive to God has also made you dead to sin. We who live for Christ now seek to “cease from sin” according to His Will.

The great Ephesians 6:10-17 call to arms urges us to “put on the full armor of God” that we might stand strong in the Lord and in His Word. What amazing, timeless, and effective spiritual weaponry is ours, both to save us and secure us forever. Consider how military weaponry and strategy have evolved since Old Testament times, since Ephesians, since the middle ages, since Worl War I and II, and even recently—weapons now are so much more sophisticated, powerful, and dangerous. Yet none of that nor even Satan’s war machine’s mightiest and craftiest “fiery darts” are ever a match for the weaponry of God’s Word. From David’s slingshot to Jericho’s trumpets to Gideon’s troop reduction to Jerusalem’s angel deliverer against Sennacherib and many more, it is clear where the Source of those underdog believers’ victories rested. Indeed, “one little Word can fell him”—then and now and always!

A Christian’s call to arms is nothing less than a call to trust in the strong arm of the Lord—for salvation, for strength, for safety, for security. “O sing unto the Lord a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory!” (Psalm 98:1)

David Schierenbeck

David Schierenbeck is a retired pastor and a member of the CLC Board of Doctrine. He lives in St. Paul Park, Minnesota.