Paul was not a violent man. So when he says, "put on the armor of God," he was not referring to a physical battle against some king and his army. Instead, he tells us to battle against the "tactics of the devil," "the rulers…of darkness" and "evil spirits in regions above."
At first this may sound like we need to call for an exorcist or at least say prayers for deliverance. But the tactics of the devil are often not dramatic. They are subtle in order to lull us into dropping our guard.
First of all, there is the battle within. There are lustful passions and the passion of greed. There are desires to dominate others and put ourselves as the center of the world. And there are fears of failure and fears of what others may think, say or do which can lead us into inaction. Like Jesus in the desert we are tempted to be untrue to ourselves and untrue God.
"He who reigns within himself and rules his passions, desires and fears is more than a king. — John Milton
Paul says that "faith," trust in God, and loyalty to Christ, will "extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one." Then, once we reign within, we are ready to go forth and preach the gospel just as Paul was doing — even while in chains!
If we "draw our strength for the Lord and his mighty power," we will win both the battles within and the battles without where threats to justice, peace and the respect for human life demand all our strength and all our love.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/