A few years back I decided to get into shape. A decision that I am desperately needing to make again, but that’s beside the point. Back then, I decided I needed to be in shape, so I started journaling everything I ate and I started journaling every work out I did and I religiously watched what I ate and worked out 6 days a week, sometimes twice a day. I achieved my goal. I got into shape. I was in the best shape of my life. Through hard work and focus, I got myself in shape.
Today, I want to continue our conversation about the Armor of God and our teens. I talked last about speaking the gospel to our teens as preparation for the Armor of God. This post is also going to be preparatory to some degree, but this post is going to begin our look at the text that includes the Armor of God, Ephesians 6:10-20.
The first instruction in the passage describing the Armor of God, is found in Ephesians 6:10, “Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power” (NET). The NET does a better job in this verse capturing this instruction than most of the other translations. Paul’s instruction is somewhat passive on our part. It is “be strengthened,” not “be strong.” It is a command to be dependent on the Lord rather than an instruction to make ourselves strong. The Armor of God is not like my workout plan in years past, I cannot muscle my way into shape for spiritual warfare.
Paul is not commanding us to a spiritual workout regimen to get ourselves ready for spiritual warfare. It is a command let the Lord strength us for the spiritual warfare we will experience. When I say that this command is passive on our part, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to be active in it. It means that the source of our strength and power is not ourselves. We still must actively engage in the process.
David provides us an example of this process in 1 Samuel 30:6, “David was very upset, for the men were thinking of stoning him… But David drew strength from the Lord his God” (NET). David sings of this dependence in Psalm 121, “From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord…” (NET). The story of David is a testament from beginning to end of what it looks like to have a healthy dependence on the Lord. David, from his conflict with Goliath to his appointment of Solomon as king after him, is a great example to us of a person who is properly dependent on the Lord.
It is important as leaders or parents of teens that we teach them dependence. Dependence on the Lord is the necessary starting point for fighting spiritual warfare. The American Spirit rebels against this idea, we are very independent by nature and largely taught to be self-reliant. However, for our teens to survive the spiritual battles to come, they are going to need dependence on God.
Jesus commands this kind of dependence in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me—and I in him—bears much fruit because apart from me you can accomplish nothing” (NET). Paul also teaches this kind of dependence. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (NET). Paul was struggling with a weakness but Christ asks him to dependent on him rather than on his own strength. I think all humans probably struggle with this, but it is certainly a struggle for us in our modern worldview.
Begin helping your teen understand how they make decisions. Help them figure out if they are relying on the Lord for their strength or if they are trying to do it on their own. Ask questions in specific circumstances your teen is facing. When there is a specific challenge or situation in the life of your teen, help them ask, “am I depending on Christ in this circumstance?” Make the question as specific as possible to help them understand dependence on Christ.
We are not seeking a vague, general dependence on Christ… i.e. I depend on him for air and life, but we are seeking a constant, specific dependence. I am struggling in my relationship with my best friend, I am depending on Christ to give me strength and wisdom to restore and renew my relationship with my best friend.
As you consider how to help your teen understand dependence on Christ, do a self-check: How is your dependence on Christ?