It really shouldn’t surprise us when we find ourselves under attack by the spiritual forces of evil in this world. Jesus made it clear that “in this world you will have sorrow.” But he also assured us that He had “overcome the world.” The end result of that is that all things will work out for our best regardless of the present circumstances of our lives. Peter actually tells us in 1 Peter 4:12, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through…” Notice the “fiery trials” phrase is reminiscent of the “fiery darts” that are the weapons of our spiritual foes. Peter goes on to encourage us regarding these fiery attacks. He says, “…these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to the entire world.”

No, we shouldn’t be surprised. But we better be prepared. In Matthew 26:41, Jesus instructed us to “watch and pray, lest we enter into temptation.” He means that we are to be on the alert for the temptations that will come our way (as He was tempted in the wilderness) in order that we may resist being dragged into the sin that’s presented. Peter also gives us similar advice in 1 Peter 5:8. He warned us, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” To be prepared, Paul said, we must “put on the full armor of God.” We need to be girded up, strengthened with the weight-lifter’s belt of truth. As long as our core is protected with the truth we will find confidence in the battle.

We also need to be sure to don the breastplate of righteousness. God’s righteousness, expressed in Christ’s life, is the only sufficient righteousness. Our righteousness has already failed us in that we’ve already fallen prey to the temptations and schemes of the evil one. We’ve already sinned. Jesus exhorts us to “be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.” For man, that’s impossible. Yet, in God’s grace, He put our sin on Christ’s breast. Christ bore the breastplate of judgment upon the cross and into the very presence of God on our behalf. Through faith in him we have “HIS” righteousness. There is courage indeed in HIS righteousness, whereas, in our righteousness there is only despair. Our righteousness has no value. James Boice described it this way: “The accumulation of human righteousness is a bit like playing Monopoly. The game has colorful money and is enjoyable to play, but only a fool would take Monopoly money and go into town to buy groceries. A different kind of currency is used in the real world. It is the same spiritually. There are people who think they are collecting assets before God when they are only collecting human righteousness. God tells them that they must leave the play currency to deal in his goodness. Our goodness has no value in heaven.” It’s only His righteousness that will suffice to open heaven’s gates on our behalf.