By Rev. O.L. Johnson
In the scriptures, God encourages his people to “put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesian 6:11).
I believe a certain percentage of God’s people mistakenly think that this verse gives us protection that the devil cannot penetrate. If you are among those who think so, think again as you ponder these verses.
In 2Corinthians 2:11, Paul wrote “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us…” implying the existence of situations wherein the armor may be ineffective against the wiles of the devil. And, returning to Ephesians 6:11, Paul does not suggest that the armor protects in all situations; he says it may — not shall — make us able to stand against Satan.
The word able in this verse means “be possible,” meaning that putting on the whole armor only makes it possible to defeat the devil. That means our armor can be penetrated, making us vulnerable to the wiles of the devil.
But how can that happen? We can get a clue if we return to verses 10 and 11 of 2Corinthians2 and delve a bit into what that passage tells us.
We see the word “forgive” or a form of it, repeated five times in this passage, which identifies forgiveness as the focus or the context of the passage. Looking deeper, we see that when we forgive, Satan cannot gain an advantage over us. If we flip this meaning, then when we do not forgive, that unforgiveness allows Satan to gain the advantage.
That advantage gives him access to one’s heart, the seat of evil within us (Matthew 15:19), and may manifest itself as a crack in our armor making us vulnerable to his advances. It seems then that we are responsible if the devil has the advantage — we give it to him through our unforgiveness. Conversely, if this is the case, only we can solve the problem.
We can do so by living lives replete with forgiveness and devoid of unforgiveness. Forgiveness repairs the cracks in the armor, blocking Satan’s access.
Ask yourself one question; am I harboring any unforgiveness in my heart? If your answer is “yes,” then you need to make it right with that person and get the devil off your back,
Scripture encourages us, “do not give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27). Unforgiveness does just that. It allows him to deceive, divert, tempt and devour us.
We don’t think much about unforgiveness but it deserves our undivided attention. If we are not aware of its potential for destruction, it can make us ineffective as ambassadors for Christ. Think about it.
Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church, Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in South Los Angeles.
Pastor’s Corner is a religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture in life today. The column appears monthly in The Wave and on its website, www.wavepublication.com.