The Primate of all Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Revd. Nicholas D. Okoh has observed that the devil has debased human beings into doing what even beasts cannot and yet they call it human rights. He made this observation during the presentation of his opening address to the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria held at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Yenagoa, Bayelsa state. While speaking on the theme, ‘Put on the whole armour of God’, the Cleric listed homosexuality and lesbianism as one of the manifestations of the devil through the lives of some helpless individuals that need to be fought with the armour of God. He said that spiritual battles cannot be fought with human power or wisdom, and even modern technology with all its advancements cannot suffice.Therefore, Archbishop Okoh urged Christians to put on the whole armour of God because of the diverse manifestations of the spiritual enemy forces against the Church in particular and humanity in general.
Quoting copiously from the Scriptures, Archbishop Okoh pointed out that since the fall of Satan, there has been an ongoing battle between the kingdom of light and that of darkness over the souls of men and for supremacy over planet earth adding that it was out of jealousy that Satan plotted the fall of man; so that man will be without divine nature and powerless over sin. But according to him,God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, who died, rose again and restored man to his original position. However, he added that the battle still rages and it is only those who have fully appropriated the work of Christ by faith that can overcome the world, the flesh and the devil.
He remarked that the theme is significant and imperative because by becoming Christians, they have been enlisted in the Lord’s army and so need to fight. He explained that the concept of “the whole armour” implies that they all work together as one, stating that though they are differently named, they all function as one. Hence, he warned that the whole armour must be worn constantly and none is to be neglected because the battle between light and darkness is ongoing and fierce. The Primate stated that the battle is chiefly spiritual but with physical manifestations and to him that is why the weapons that believers have been commanded to put on are divine or spiritual and not human or physical.
Primate Okoh drew a comparison between the battles fought in the Old Testament and those of the New Testament highlighting that in the former, battles were simply spiritual but fought on the physical plane while the latter, he said were spiritual and fought spiritually. Thus, according to him, this was why Jesus did not permit His disciples to carry the sword, as the Israelites of old used to do, to kill fellow men perceived as enemies. He further explained that all Christian battles are spiritual, even when they wear physical faces and are to be understood and fought spiritually. Therefore, he charged the Church to realize that spiritual warfare is real and to begin to see the challenges facing her in this generation from this perspective.
Archbishop Okoh listed out certain manifestations of these evil forces that make putting on the whole armour of God an urgent necessity. He said they include;homosexuality and lesbianism, post-modernism, end-time antichrist activities,heresies and false prophets and prophecies, Boko Haram and Militant Islam,cultural revival, non-payment of Clergy stipends and allowances, malevolent conglomerates, unemployment and poverty, nudity and negative fashion, negative politicking, insecurity in the land, and corruption. He advised Church leaders and Pastors to be mindful of the people they invite to minister to their congregation because according to him, in this era of embarking on gigantic projects, the tendency to bring men with “the anointing to raise money” is always there. “With manipulative and demon inspired prophecies, they emphasize the aspects of the gospel the people would want to hear, especially the indiscriminate emphasis on prosperity”, he said. Therefore, he warned that it is dangerous to fall prey to new generation preachers who only know how one must sow even when a person does not have to gain divine prosperity clarifying that the only remedy to poverty is to work and prayerfully look up to God for blessings.
Bribery and corruption, he opined has been the bane of development in Nigeria adding that the funds meant for life changing projects are shared by a few leaving the commoners to wallow in penury and excruciating suffering. The Primate said that it is even more disconcerting that in this century, people are reviving idolatry in the name of culture and they see the Church as their arch-enemy adding that the Church which has spearheaded spiritual, moral and genuine cultural advancements in the past cannot sit and watch the society return to darkness. However, the Cleric pointed out that the Church is not helpless, for God has provided weapons through which she must fight and win this battle of light and darkness. He cited from the Bible the weapons which include, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the equipment of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, praying in the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit.
The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh concluded that Christians have the duty to fight to expand the kingdom of God adding that the assurance, authority and power to fight and conquer has been given. According to him, the scriptures state that it is only when Christians are obedient to the voice of God that the hordes of hell can bow to the Church. The Primate of all Nigeria acknowledged the good work of the Diocese of Niger Delta West, the host Diocese and the Province of Niger Delta and expressed his gratitude to His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Seriake Dickson and the State Government; and Amb. Dr. Godknows B. Igali, Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Power, for their immense contribution to the smooth hosting of the Standing Committee meeting. He made certain commendations to the Federal Government for embarking on major projects such as the restoration of railways and reconstruction of Airports and the likes all over the nation. Also, he made recommendations to the government concerning 2015 elections, the current Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) strike, the stowaway saga and the unemployment situation of the country.
Present at the opening service were His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson; Minister of Power, Ven. Chinedu Nebo and some other members of the Federal Executive Council. Also in attendance were Archbishops and Bishops of the Anglican Communion and their wives, Clergy men, House of Laity ably led by Hon. Justice Olubunmi Ogunade (Rtd.), Barrister Abraham Yisa, Registrar Church of Nigeria and other dignitaries and representatives of the various Dioceses in the Communion.