I’m breaking my own rules here a little bit and composing this on a keyboard instead with a pen and paper, but hang in there.
Warfare in the natural has changed drastically since Paul wrote about the “Armor of God/Elohim” in Ephesians. While the principles of spiritual warfare haven’t necessarily changed (spirit = eternal), re-explaining some of the metaphors and analogies that Paul uses with a “modern” update may be helpful in understanding why the supposedly “called out ones” are so woefully inept (by which I mean: show me evidence where we are walking as conquerors, in unity, against the Kingdom of Darkness and the Kingdoms of this world…not just minor personal victories but world shattering, earth changing corporate victory!) in the present “military” campaigns of the Kingdom.
As many of you know, I was trained as a Marine calibrator. While I never saw combat, nor even deployed into a combat zone (or received even a fraction of the same kind of discipline in combat arts that a bona-fide combat arms Marine would’ve received), Marines are still instilled with the basics. This is so that should they ever be called into a combat situation, those basics can readily be expounded upon in the work-up training and then capitalized during the deployment.
No matter how strong, fast, intelligent or prepared you are, when you arrive at boot camp you literally know nothing. It is not inaccurate to say that you don’t even know how to put on your own pants. Over the course of 3 months you go from not even being able to dress yourself to being able to complete close order drill in a unit of 50-80 Marines, recite your general orders by memory, understand and know how to wear and maintain all of your uniforms (garrison, dress, and service), and have been forced into a situation where other discipline is a fact of life (no soda, restricted diet, set amount of sleep and exercise per day, and other things). Additionally, you practically live and sleep with your rifle. Every Marine is a rifleman is the creed of the Marine Corps; the infantry is its lifeblood and its entire mission. One of the most important weeks in boot camp is when you spend an entire week on the rifle range – as I recall it, there were much fewer instances of Drill Instructors playing head games and there was much less emphasis on physical exercise. This is the precious week in which you commit 100% of your energy into mastering your most basic tool as a Marine, and marksman accuracy is a point of pride (one of many points of pride) in the Marine Corps. You WANT to be a Rifle Expert (and I was, graduating boot camp!) Again, this relates back to accuracy.
So let’s stop here for a second. I’m not going to flesh out all of the analogies and metaphors that Paul used, but let’s talk about the “sword of the spirit.” If the “sword of the spirit’ is now an “M16A4 Service Rifle of the Spirit,” how accurate are you with it? Are you a certified Marksman? If you cannot pass rifle qualification in boot camp, you cannot graduate and you cannot become a Marine – period. You need to get at least a certain amount of your shots “in the black,” as we say. Ideally, in the context of being a “rifleman” for the Kingdom, don’t you want to hit 100% of your shots?
Your training as a Marine doesn’t stop there. If you are going into a combat discipline you go to the School of Infantry and your entire career then becomes mastery of the art of warfare. You could even end up in specialized schools for special missions – like Force Recon, Scout Sniper, or what was once MARSOC but is now called the Raiders, I believe. Point being, as a combat arms Marine, your training never ends. (This is actually true no matter what your job is, in fact.)
But even as a Marine who is not in a combat arms job, you still go through one more month of additional combat training called “Marine Combat Training.” Here is where you really learn your own limits, as your instructors push you into forced 10-20 mile hikes with 2 hours of sleep and no food in your system. You do land navigation. You learn some of the heavier, crew served weapons. You learn how to do a combat patrol and sortie. Things like that.
Marines are also trained to use their hands as weapons. (I don’t think there is an equivalent piece of armor in Paul’s analogy.) Every Marine is qualified as a “tan belt” in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and every Marine is encouraged to pursue advanced belts as part of their career development – with certain “minimum belts” being expected of Marines of certain ranks and jobs.
Understanding all of this, here is the average condition of those who are supposedly in the army of the Kingdom today: they’re still in the receiving company of boot camp, going through all of the processing and immunizations and literally don’t even know what time it is and they are scared out of their wits. They also don’t even know how to put their own pants on.
Why are we surprised, then, that the Kingdom is not advancing? And why has this happened? Because the tradition of discipleship (discipline!) has been lost and the saints are not equipping each other.