Topic 1: Soldier's obedience
Before we can start and before we can put on the armour of God, we must understand what is our responsibility and how we must behave within the war. One of are greatest assets during the war is obedience - obedience to the Church and to God. One of the basic foundations of the church is obedience. A perfect example of this is the ascetic teachings of the church - we hand over our 'individuality' for the collective obedience of the church. We fast together, we pray together. If we want to prayer or fast of outside of the set structures of the Church, we need the permission of the church - the representative of the church, the priest. If we want to survive through the battle we must seek the guidance and be obedient to the church.
Topic 2: Persecution and the church
Before we can begin the battle, we must understand our church's perceptive on persecution. The aim of the church is salvation, nothing else. Our aim, the reason we breath, is for salvation. Hence, the church rejoices at all things which grants salvation. Hence the Lord tells us in Matthew 5, that we should 'rejoice and be exceedingly glad' at the sight and taste of persecution. We rejoice at persecution because it is a natural occurrence of our faith, and we are granted the Kingdom. What more can the church ask for. We rejoice because as the Church we are taking on the sufferings and persecution of the world, what can be more Christ-like?
Topic 3: Armour of God: Girded your waist with truth
Here we begin our discussion of the armour of God, found in Ephesians 6:10-18. St Paul informs us that there is a constant fight with the devil, but rather than this being a physical fight, it is a battle of trickery and cunningness. We can protect ourselves from the trickery of devil by placing on the armour of God. The first thing which we need to do is gird our waists with the truth. In a battle the belt serves 2 purposes - to provide stability; and to hang other weapons on. In the same way, the spiritual belt that we put on gives us stability and allows us to hang other virtues on. What is truth? Christ himself is the truth, because he is unchanging element. Hence, we must base all in the foundation of the truth or the devil will trick us. In order for us to put on the truth, we have to pray honestly, and have the 'right' intentions. We need to know ourselves and God.
Topic 4: Mystery of the living Martyrs: Unction of the sick
All mysteries of the church reveal truth to the world. The unction of the sick is constantly confused - it is felt that the sacrament is merely a event to heal. However, not everyone who participates within the sacrament is healed - the answer is usually this is the will of God. If this is the case, what is the purpose of the mystery? What truth is being revealed?
To understand the mystery, we must understand that death, disease and sickness was introduced by man - with the fall. Sickness is a cause of the fall. We as the Body of Christ, carry the sin of the church and the world. There is only one sin, and we carry it together. The Unction of the sick is for the purpose of the remission of sins (St John Chrysostom and St James). Remission of whose sin? The worlds. Hence, this is the mystery of the living martyrs.
Topic 5: Armour of God: Put on the breastplate of righteousness
Justification and righteousness are terms used interchangeably by the Church Fathers. As we have discussed before, there is no salvation outside of the Body of Christ, because there is no salvation outside of Christ. Through the body we are made justified. Righteousness is not a one off moment, rather it is a continuous process. Through continuous participation in the Body of Christ, the theanthropic Christ, we are made righteous. Hence, participation in the Body through prayer, repentance and the Eucharist is the only way to be righteous. St Paul informs us that after girding our waists with Truth, the next step is protection of our 'heart' the centre of our being. The devil can easily trick us into thinking that we are justified or made righteous in our other 'actions' other than our grafting into the Body. The breastplate protects the inner organs - in other words, righteousness is obtained for the inside, not from our 'actions'.
Topic 6: Armour of God: Shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace
What is the gospel of peace? St John Chrysostom tells us that if we are at war with the devil then we are in peace with God, and this 'gospel' is the good news of our life. However, St Paul tells us that we should shod our feet with the 'preparaition' of this gospel. What does this mean? When we start this battle we have to be prepared that our 'gospel' will take us places which we might not be ready for - this is why we need to be prepared. Of all people who can speak of this phenomena is St Paul. One cannot entry the battle without being ready for where ever they may end up.
Topic 7: Armour of God: Taking the shield of faith
The shield, like in a battle, is our protection against direct and deliberate attacks. It is a dynamic protection for us to use against our enemy. But for us to truly understand the shield and the intention of St Paul, we must first understand what is meant by faith. Faith is not merely a belief or a creed, but putting our beliefs and convictions into action. Faith is not mere theology but our practical application - it is the encouragement to live as Christ. The devil, in his attacks does not only make us fall. He shifts our focus to lead us astray, but if we have complete Faith in God then we can overcome his attack.
Topic 8: Be strong in the Lord
Throughout the battle we must never forget that the Lord is our strength. This battle is not fought alone, and cannot be fought alone - without God we have lost before we have even started. As we stated at the beginning this is a battle of deception - the devil will try to make us think that this battle is only fought by you. That you do not need God. This is lie. We have to understand that our only strength can be found in God.
Topic 9: Armour of God: Take the helmet of salvation
In war, a helmet is protection of our heads - but in this context, it is the protection of our minds and thoughts. At this point in the battle we must protect the deceiver from our thoughts. What is meant by salvation? Christ, the theanthropic Christ, is the only source of salvation. Thus, by putting on the helmet of salvation, we are putting on Christ. With our minds constantly focused on Christ and His Kingdom, we will be come Christ like - with all our focus on Christ, the world and the distractions become detail (simplicity of mind). We must renew our mind through our constant repentance and movement and participation in the thenathropic Christ.
Topic 10: Armour of God: The sword of the Spirit
The last item mentioned by St Paul is the sword of the Spirit. This item is the only item used to attack - the other items are all for protection. We cannot take up the sword unless we have complete equiped ourselves with the items of protection - it would be foolish to start the fight without first protecting yourself first. The sword of the Spirit, is the word of God - meaning that the Spirit, which inspired the word of God, is His living Word that affect all. The sword has the ability to cut through, and can go to the root of our emptiness. Without the sword, we ask and speak to our God with empty words. Only with prayer and persistence, can we use our words and cut through to others. A sword also has 2 edges - so with the same sword can we cut ourselves and others, with the same mouth we can either praise or curse the Lord. St Paul aims to make us aware and ready for the battle.
Topic 11: Witnessing the mystery of the gospel
No one lights a lamp to put it under a basket - once we have prepared ourselves and begun the battle, it is a natural occurrence that we would shine light to whole world. This is not something that we would even consciously do - but is a result of who we are. As the Body of Christ we are witnesses to this world of the Truth and all that goes with that truth. One can only witness the 'mystery of the gospel' if they have experienced that mystery. If we do not want our words to be empty, then we must be filled with the Spirit. Orthodoxy cannot be explained, but must be experienced.
Topic 12: Being watchful/prayer in the Spirit
Even with the armour of Christ, we must always be watchful. The good soldier is the one always ready. In our spiritual life we must always be protected with the watchfulness and constancy of prayer. Without it we are sitting ducks for the enemy and his forces. Only through prayer can we be truly ready and truly equipped. It is the beginning and the end of the fight - without it we are not even on the battle field. And if we stop we are the dead waiting to be carried. Through everthing, we need to pray.