In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 the Apostle Paul says, “Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” .
In the above passage we are given a rather disturbing list of what the Apostle Paul experienced physically and emotionally throughout his life as a follower of Christ. It’s pretty impressive. I’m afraid I can’t compete with him. But is this the point? Is this list a standard I have to live by…or suffer by? I don’t think so. So what’s the point of the passage?
Turn to Galatians 6:17 for a possible answer. It says, “From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus”. In Paul’s final warning and benediction to the Galatian Church, he insists on the respect that is due to his ministry. He is a genuine minister of Christ and has the scars to prove it—what he calls the marks of Jesus that resulted from his being persecuted (ESV On-Line Note).
The point is that as Christians we may not ever suffer as severely as Paul did but we should have some of the marks of Jesus on our armor (Ephesians 6). When all is said and done you should be able to see a few dents, some scarring, even a place or two where your armor is bent in some areas. You don’t want it be spotless, clean, or untouched.
So, what visible proofs will you have in your armor to show Jesus that you were serious in engaging in the spiritual battle on earth? Will your “list” read as though you earnestly followed Him? Will you have proof of your faith?
This is exactly what Paul was saying to the Christians at Corinth as he challenged them to examine their faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Examine what? Paul says, to “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” The test was to see if the Corinthian Christians were following Christ.
So, what does your armor look like?