I have thought a lot about the full armor of God having just taken three weeks to study and teach it. Ephesians 6:10 says its Christ strength, but is that it and we do nothing? Or are we to take up this armor? The major problem I have is to continually put the armor on. Is it a let go and let God thing? For me it is a self-control and/or self-discipline problem.
The Romans soldier was rigorously trained to do his job and the Greek athletes devoted months and months even years to train hard to win a prize in the games, whether the Olympic Games or the Isthmian Games, Paul would write…
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Epictetus, the Greek Stoic Philosopher illustrates this “Would you be a victor in the Olympic games? so in good truth would I, for it is a glorious thing; but pray consider what must go before, and what may follow, and so proceed to the attempt. You must then live by rule, eat what will be disagreeable, refrain from delicacies; you must oblige yourself to constant exercises at the appointed hour, in heat and cold; you must abstain from wine and cold liquors; in a word, you must be as submissive to all direction of your master as to those of a physician.”
Paul says “but I discipline my body and make it my slave” 1 Corinthians 9:27 This word discipline is an interesting word when I searched it out its Hupopiazo (hoop-o-pee-ad’-zo) Literally to beat black and blue or hit under the eye, to smite so as to cause bruises and livid spots, like a boxer one buffets his body, handle it roughly, discipline by hardships. It seems to me Paul had to do something daily, like die to self and take up his cross and turn from his selfish ways and desires Luke 9:23. Paul doesn’t want to have his ministry disqualified, he wants to be used by Christ who is his strength.
Paul was serious about discipline and self-control in the Christian life. It’s going to be a long haul for us, it’s a daily approach to go into this battleground, but by His strength we can persevere. The opponent is our own bodies and all its appetites, instead being like a boxer who buffets his body we buffet it with our fleshy desires and appetites. We are told to lay aside our sinful ways “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1 We as Paul says are to strike real blows at the adversary and not just beat the air 1 Corinthians 9:26 This can only be done with hard work, discipline and self-control.
The only way I know how to do this is by prayer and the renewing and preparing of my mind with the word of God… Look at Romans 12 verses 1 and 2. Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1, 2 It’s transforming our minds and lives with the living word of God, you see we don’t run for a pine wreath that is perishable, but a one that will not fide away and that is imperishable 1 Peter 1:4.
You see in the future there is a crown laid up for us, a crown of righteousness 2 Timothy 4:8. Paul did not want to be disqualified from Christ using him for His service because of his lack of self-control and discipline, so he says “I buffet my body and make it my slave” In doing so he could do great things for Him and getting people saved was on the top of his list. Renew your minds with the living word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to apply them to your life… Then GO and do great eternal things for God by His strength and for His glory.