This third week’s reading of Gurnall’s The Christian In Complete Armour focused on the last 2 phrases of the first part of Eph 6:11 – (1) The Christian is to use the whole armor of God, and (2) The Christian is to put on the armor of God. The last bit of the week’s reading also got into why the Christian must be armed, but we will save that discussion for next week.
Put On Your Armor
This week I want to focus on the section dealing with the Christian putting on the armor of God. Gurnall makes the great point that the Christian must “exercise what they have,” that is, the armor that they have. He says: “It is one thing to have armour in the house, and another thing to have it buckled on” (63).
The main point that he makes in this section, or the “Doctrine” (as he labels it) is this: It is not enough to have grace, but this grace must be kept in exercise. Oh how many of us need this reminder! I know that I do. The grace that the Christian has, specifically in regards to the armor that we have, must be used, must be kept in exercise, not simply stored in the shed for “one day when we think we’ll need it.”
Gurnall wonderfully explains the need of exercising this grace, and gives a few reasons why.
(1) Christ commands us to have our armour on, our grace in exercise. This is simple enough. Christ commands it!
(2) Satan’s advantage is great when grace is not in exercise.
“Satan knows what orders thou keepest in thy house and closet, and though he hath not a key to thy heart, yet he can stand in the next room to it, and lightly hear what is whispered there” (64-65).
(3) Because it is so awky (being odd or out of order) a business, and hard a work, to recover the activity of grace once lost, and to revive a duty in disuse. To illustrate this point, Gurnall offers this helpful analogy …
“You know what a confusion there is in a town at some sudden alarm in the dead of the night, the enemy at the gates, and they asleep within. O what a cry is there heard! One wants his clothes, another his sword, a third knows not what to do for powder. Thus in a fright they run up and down, which would not be if the enemy did find them upon their guard, orderly waiting for his approach. Such a hubbub there is in a soul that keeps not his armour on; this piece and that will be to seek when he should use it” (65).
(4) We must keep grace in exercise in respect of others our fellow soldiers. Just as in battle, one soldier is ready not only for his own sake, but for the sake of his group, so in the Christian life we are to be ready and to exercise our grace, not only for our own benefit, but for the benefit of our brothers and sisters as well.
After giving the reasons for why the Christian is to exercise the armor that he has, Gurnall anticipates an objection … in essence, this objection is: “This is hard work! Who can and/or wants to exercise like this?” His first response?
“Thou speakest like one of the foolish world, and showest thyself a mere stranger to the Christian’s life that speakest thus … Dost thou complain that the heaven-way is rugged? Be the oftener walking in it, and that will make it smooth” (66).
To conclude, I want to comment on Gurnall’s last application of this truth. He says:
“Be exhorted, O ye saints of God, to walk in the exercise of grace … there is a sleep disease we are subject to in this life; Christ though he had roused up his disciples twice, yet takes them napping the third time. Either exercise thy grace, or Satan will act thy corruption” (69).
That is such a good and needed reminder for all of us. No matter where you are right now in your walk with Christ, we all need to hear that timely reminder: “Either exercise thy grace, or Satan will act thy corruption.”
How about you? What stood out to you this week? Comment below … I’d love to hear. Otherwise, enjoy your reading for this week!