If you’ve played DOOM in the 90s on PC, then you’re all too familiar with this game’s constant gore and fighting off demons. id Software released DOOM on Xbox One and the Playstation 4 in 2016 and it was one of the first Microsoft releases on the Nintendo Switch. And now, previous fans of DOOM are looking forward to the release of DOOM Eternal on March 20, 2020. For previous lovers of DOOM, the gamer is not left disappointed in this game. The graphics are filled with beautiful gore (never thought I’d use those two words together) and we are left satisfied as we fight through thousands of demons and utterly destroy a nostalgic boss from one of the original DOOM games.
As soon as the game starts, you find yourself strapped to a table, breaking yourself free, and grabbing a demon’s face as you smash it to bloody pieces on the table. So far, we’re off to a great start in this iconic game.
You spend the rest of the game fighting through hundreds of demon hordes. Carrying multiple weapons, you’re practically unstoppable. While it was not id Software’s creative intention, DOOM, I believe, is indicative of the human condition in which we are constantly at war with demons. However, unlike the space Marine in this game, we don’t use humanly devised weapons to fight demons. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our war are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
Notice that when Jesus fought the temptation of the Devil, He didn’t use His own opinions or fists as a defence. Rather, He used the Word of God. Even when Satan twisted Scripture to suit his own purposes, Jesus was still able to use God’s Word to fight against him.
As a U.S. Army veteran, I pay special attention to Paul’s words about this spiritual warfare. We’re at war, folks. Not with other people, but with demons. Don’t let this scare you. It might seem a scary concept that we’re fighting demons, especially if you picture them like the Baron of Hell (above) from DOOM or whatever image that comes to mind from Hollywood films and artistic depictions. Some of us may have even experienced demonic attacks ourselves.
I won’t be talking much about the game DOOM since this is not a review, but I’ll be using it more as a Bible study on the human condition it portrays: constantly fighting demons through our spiritual warfare.
The space Marine’s armour in DOOM is incredible technology, considering it never breaks throughout the entire game even though you constantly have to pick up armour shards so you won’t lose any health. Likewise, God gives us armour that never breaks. We have God’s protection because He clothes us in His armour. As He clothed Adam and Eve with garments of skin after their rebellion, so He clothes us in His armour to protect us from dark spiritual forces. Ephesians 6:10-18:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the Devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Stand, therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…
The Evil Day
The armour Paul exhorts us to wear represents both a promise of divine protection and an exhortation to battle. Victory is certain because Christ has already won the war, and so He has made us well-prepared for the coming battles.
Immediately beginning at verse 10, Paul tells us not to rely on our own strength, but to rely on the strength of God, for He alone gives us the strength to withstand these demonic enemies. Outside the Church’s doors lies her opponents: Satan and his army of demons who wish to destroy us. Yet they cannot physically harm believers. So, what do they do? They fester in our minds and spirit like a parasite and try to confuse us and turn us away from God.
The Belt of Truth
Paul first tells the Ephesians to fasten the belt of truth. Think of what the purpose of a belt is. A belt is used to support your foundation so you won’t fall. If you keep loosening your belt, your pants will fall down and you’ll just sag around with your pants around your ankles, embarrassed with your poop-stained underwear being exposed.
Likewise, if you keep loosening the Truth of Christ—what God’s Word says about you as a sinner and a child of God and who Jesus is—it will eventually sag to the bottom of your spirit and you’ll begin wondering why you’re sagging around in such misery. It’s not an advantageous position to be in. Instead of walking around in the Truth, you’re walking around in the lies of the Devil and will begin believing doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1).
In biblical times, soldiers wore a tunic (see Exodus 12:11) and since they primarily engaged in hand-to-hand combat, a loose tunic would cause potential for danger. Something as simple as a loose belt could cause them to stumble and lose the advantage, and thus their life. So, a belt was necessary to gird up the loins.
We must, therefore, use the Truth revealed in Christ to gird up our spiritual loins to prepare for battle in the reality of our sinful condition as well as that of the world. How do we do this?
First of all, Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life,” which no one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Jesus Christ is the only way to God because He is the truth of God (John 1:14) and the life of God (John 1:4; 3:15; 11:25). In John 14:6, Jesus is using emphatic language in the original Greek text—there is only one way to God, not many ways in which we can choose from. This one way is in Jesus Christ. This is why we can boldly claim Christianity is the one true religion.
We must gird up the loins of our spirit with this truth, for it is truth (Jesus) that shall set us free (John 8:31-32). As genuinely saved and obedient followers of Christ, we must gird up the loins of our spirit with the divine truth of freedom from sin given through Jesus Christ alone.
The Breastplate of Righteousness
Let me first identify what righteousness is. Righteousness is being in the right. True righteousness is “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” (Romans 3:22). In other words, righteousness is being made in the right with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Through faith in Christ, God’s righteousness is given to us—He makes us right with Him. As we might also say, God the Father reconciles us to Himself through His Son.
In spite of this reality, there is the danger of becoming self-righteous (one of the Devil’s many tactics against Christians justified by faith in Christ). As righteousness is through faith in Christ and submitting to God’s will rather than our own, self-righteousness is the antithesis. In describing the Jews of his time, Paul writes in Romans 10:3, “For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”
Instead of conforming to God’s Law, the Jews demanded their own traditions and made up their own laws, hence Jesus’ words in Mark 7:1-13. Here in Mark’s gospel account, particularly in verse 9, Jesus says to the Jews, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.” That is self-righteousness—demanding your own supposedly righteous (right) ways over the Word and ways of God. The Medieval Catholic Church also reminds us of this sinful pattern in their mendicant practices.
In biblical times, the breastplate of armour was an extremely tough, sleeveless piece of leather or other heavy material, which would cover the soldier’s entire torso, protecting his heart and other vital organs. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we come across descriptions of God’s righteousness and holiness in numerous ways. God’s righteousness and holiness are one and the same—they’re both revealed in the Law and make us realise we cannot be righteous and holy since we cannot perfectly keep the Law. Because righteousness, or holiness, is such a distinctive characteristic of God Himself, it is no wonder why the Christian’s primary protection from Satan and his dark forces is the righteousness we receive from God through Christ.
Consider the DOOM armour of the space Marine. In the game’s artistic depiction of the space Marine, such as to the left, his armour is always battered, scratched up, dull, and dented, especially what we would consider to be the breastplate. He’s been through various ordeals—he’s literally gone through hell, and yet he’s still walking about and fighting.
As we walk in the faith, our breastplate of righteousness will take a lot of blows, much like the space Marine’s breastplate. The righteousness of Christ is the core of our Christian identity and the Devil wants so badly to crush that identity, so he constantly attacks it (hence identity politics). Our armour will not stay shiny as we walk in faith. It will be constantly berated against with the Devil’s attacks. (So, ladies, if you desire a godly man and he is a knight in shining armour, be suspicious of him, since a true soldier of Christ wears battered armour yet stands firm and strong in Christ.) Peter gives us an exhortation in 1 Peter 1:13-16:
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behaviour; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Wearing the breastplate of Christ’s righteousness, and therefore as soldiers of Christ (cf. 2 Timothy 2:3-4), we must prepare ourselves for battle every day. By being “sober in spirit,” Peter means we must be steadfast and maintain self-control with a clear mind. How can we fight these dark forces if we’re drunk on some idol? For by “preparing your minds for action,” as Peter says, we must be sober Christians who are in charge of our priorities that are in line with God’s Word and His will as opposed to being intoxicated with the myriad allurements of the world.
As we faithfully obey Christ while remaining in communion with Him, we must not succumb to the former lusts that once enslaved us, which, Peter says, “were yours in your ignorance” before we received faith in Christ, nor must we conform to new lusts that come after us.
Additionally, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” is not a command, but a promise. God has promised to make us holy, and this holiness works in us through our Baptism as the Holy Spirit works His sanctification in us (see 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; Titus 3:4-7). Not wearing the breastplate of righteousness that comes by faith through Christ leaves us susceptible to our greatest enemy and his dark forces (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:1).
Feet Prepared with the Gospel of Peace
Roman soldiers wore boots that had nails in them (above), which would grip them to the ground during combat so they wouldn’t lose their footing (kind of like cleats for soccer players). The Gospel of peace is the Good News of Jesus Christ—He is the only way to salvation and we are dead to sin and alive to Christ (Romans 6:11). The Gospel of peace reminds us of the confidence we have in Christ, which is the confidence we stand firmly in:
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly [which was us before faith]. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.Romans 5:5-10
This confidence allows us to stand firm, remembering the amazing will and promise of God that Christ died for us while we were His enemies, reconciling us to Himself. And now that we are reconciled, we hold fast to this promise accomplished in Christ and the remembrance of that promise keeps us confident.
Also, as we remain gripped to the faith in this confidence, we remain ready to proclaim this Gospel of peace to others so they might hold fast to this confidence just as we do, working against Satan’s agenda. In other words, we are always prepared for evangelism, always prepared to give a defence for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:14-17). (You don’t need to be particularly scholarly; you simply need to know Scripture, which you can know Scripture by spending time in the Word.)
Yet as we proclaim the Gospel of peace to the lost, we must not forget to proclaim the Gospel to ourselves as well.
The Shield of Faith
I find it interesting that the one thing Satan desires to cripple and destroy is the same thing that can take out his fiery attacks: our faith. This makes sense since it is God who gives us faith to begin with and it is not our work (Ephesians 2:8-9), so of course He can use the one thing Satan wishes to destroy as our greatest defence against the Devil. All defences can be crippled, unless the one who fortified it remains within it, and Christ is our immovable rock—our cornerstone (cf. Ephesians 2:19-22).
We can also push the enemy back with our faith, like staggering them with a shield. Faith recalls the promises of God and uses this against the Devil. Faith says to the Devil, “Ah, you do well to cause me to remember my sinful nature, but your attempt is in vain, for I am a baptised child of God, in whom God the Father has killed me and raised me in Christ with the guaranteed inheritance of eternal life. The charge you bring against me is of no value, since in the court of God I have been justified in Christ’s blood. Therefore, begone with your excrement; your vanities are a waste of my time!”
A final note on the shield of faith: The legionaries in the Roman military huddled up together, forming strong defensive positions against the enemy (left). Thus, we also have our community of faith—the Church—to gather together with our fellow soldiers of Christ for encouragement and edification in the Word as well as a further defence against the Devil and his evils.
The Helmet of Salvation
In the field of battle, the helmet is probably the most important piece of armour you can wear since it protects your skull and brain. The brain is arguably the most fragile and sensitive organ of our bodies. If our head gets severely injured, it risks brain damage or brain bleeding that could lead to any number of unpredictable outcomes and even cause further damage—even inaction—to our other vital organs. If the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, the brain is the powerhouse of the body. (Forgive me if this analogy is way off. I am no scientist.)
The head is always the major target in battle. As soldiers in the Army, we were trained to fire our weapons centre mass, which is the chest area. Yet if you’re close enough for a guaranteed headshot, by all means, shoot the head. After all, the head is a one-hit kill (excluding miraculous survival from wounds to the head). I imagine the Roman soldiers tried arduously to cut off the heads of their enemies. We invariably aim for the head in video games, too.
Getting a one-hit kill is really hard to do if you’re wearing a helmet. It’s still hard to damage somebody’s head in modern combat with an M-16 rifle when you’re 100 meters away. If you’re fortunate, the bullet doesn’t fully penetrate the armour.
Satan seeks to destroy the assurance of salvation we have in Christ. The weapons he uses are doubt, guilt, shame, discouragement, heresy (e.g. works righteousness), and false doctrine (e.g. double predestination). In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Paul says, “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” That hope—that assurance—is exactly what Satan seeks to destroy.
Let’s discuss this word: hope. The Christian hope is not equivalent to the world’s view of hope. The world’s hope is based on wishful thinking. When the world says they hope for something to happen, it’s a 50/50 chance of their desired outcome happening—it’s a flip of the coin. Scripture, however, speaks of Christian hope entirely differently.
Christian hope is an assurance based on facts. This is why Hebrews says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen… By faith we understand that the universe was created by the Word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (11:1, 3). Christian hope, then, is knowing—a conviction—whereas worldly hope is merely wishing, which is useless. I can wish in one hand and crap in the other and see what happens first. As Christians, however, our hope is that we know our salvation is sealed in Christ’s hands, and none can snatch us away from Him (John 10:28-30).
Yet Satan is a sneaky little bugger. He is our most subtle and insidious foe. He sneaks around, whispering just the right things into your ear to cause you to doubt and be discouraged of your salvation in Christ because of what the world says and/or because of the guilt and shame of your sins and identity. He will also use heresies like the prosperity gospel and sneaky doctrines of demons like “believers’ baptism.”
But know this, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:28-30).
The Sword of the Spirit = God’s Word
Every piece of armour up till now has been a form of defence. Now we have something that can be simultaneously used as defence and offence. The sword of the soldier was the only weapon he had to kill his enemies. Likewise, the sword of the Spirit—God’s Word—is our only weapon to kill the Devil and his demons.
Notice, too, a soldier’s sword is fastened to his belt. The sword of the Spirit—God’s Word—is fastened to the Truth revealed in Christ. Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh (John 1:1, 14). As we use God’s Word against the Devil, Jesus Christ Himself is the weapon we use against him. Satan could not withstand Jesus’ offensive weapon of the Word in the desert, and he cannot withstand it now.
The sword is both a defensive and an offensive weapon. We can use God’s Word both to defend against Satan’s attacks (through faith, our shield, by remembering God’s promise) and to offensively fight against his strategies by swinging the mighty blow of Scripture at him. For example, we might fight defensively when he starts whispering lies about who we are, or against heresy and false doctrine. We also fight offensively against the evils of abortion, euthanasia, and identity politics. However, we must be careful not to attack the person and rather attack the evil behind the deception (this is why “hate the sin, love the sinner” never works, not to mention its being unbiblical).
God’s Word is a powerful thing, which is an understatement. Actually, I take that back; it’s not an understatement because we often forget the infinite preponderance of God’s power. Nine times in Genesis it says, “God said.” And what happened after He said something? Something was created—out of nothing! Every time God says something, He acts.
Always remember God’s Word is so powerful that when Jesus spoke it against Satan in the desert, he ran. Likewise, when we use God’s Word against the Devil, he will flee. However, just as with Jesus, he will return till a more opportune time.
“Submit yourselves, therefore, to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). How do we submit to God? By placing ourselves under His authority and accepting His will by the Spirit. How do we resist the Devil? By speaking God’s Word against him.
Pray for One Another
So, that’s all the pieces of God’s armour, but Paul doesn’t end there. He finishes by saying we need to pray not only for ourselves, but also for the saints. I need to explain the word “saints,” too.
When we think of saints, we often think of the common big C Catholic designation of the word. The Greek word used for saints is ἃγιος (hagios), which is an adjective meaning “holy.” It is often used as a substantive adjective in the Greek New Testament, which then becomes “holy ones,” and it was later transliterated as “saints.” So, saints are simply holy people of God.
When the apostles used this term, they always attributed it to the body of believers. It is not some honourific title they attributed to God’s “most holy” people, as is the erroneous Catholic way of thinking. Biblically, saints are the entire body of believers. We are holy because God makes us holy; we do not become holy through martyrdom and our strenuous good works, which are as filthy as rags (Isaiah 64:6).
So, when Paul says to pray for the saints, he means to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in addition to ourselves. I’m not going to get into how we should pray here because I’ve babbled on long enough. If you’re unsure of how to pray, read my Simple Guide to Prayer. For now, know that although God clothes us with all this armour, it is still necessary that we pray for God’s provision over ourselves and over our brothers and sisters—our comrades—in Christ.
In the meantime: Fear, love, and trust in God above all things, and game boldly.