But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you. Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:3–5—NKJV)

Having grown up in the era of Daniel Boone and Corn Flakes, there are certain images that spring into my mind when I think of the word “fortify.” Though it does not take a TV show or a breakfast cereal to appreciate the meaning of the word, they both shed light on the meaning of the word.

While cereals made from grains are good for you, they are made even better when they are fortified with vitamins and iron: just add wholesome milk and we kids were ready for the day! And who can forget the coonskin caps and neighborhood games of Cowboys and Indians? No matter how many backyards our “battlegrounds” covered, there was always a designated fort somewhere in the mayhem, which was the safe place, fortified against the marauding enemy. In my case it was the neighbor’s clubhouse with the knotted rope swing over the roof.

Ever since those days I have been captivated with names of U.S. towns and military installations that started off as fortifications. Each location seems to have a prominent physical location near something of value and worthy of defense. Each fortification was built with a real, definable, and deadly serious enemy in mind. Each blueprint was followed in order to give the maximum shield to the defenders and maximum damage to an attacking enemy. As long as there was a defined enemy, each fort was fitted with appropriate armament in order to engage the enemy.

God is in the business of redeeming the souls of His own precious possessions. He will lose none. Since He claimed you and gave His only begotten Son to die as your substitute, He will stop at nothing to be sure that your are fortified against the enemy of your soul. Paul is addressing this work of grace that God was about in the lives of the Thessalonian believers, as well as in yourself.

In verse three Paul speaks of the definable, and deadly serious enemy of your soul, “the evil one.” Satan (the “adversary”) is described in the Bible as the devil, or the slanderer—the lying, scandalous, maligning, treacherous, scheming, vicious and mercilessly cruel hater of God and of anything that God loves. He is known as the accuser—the blamer, charging believers with fault and offense. He is also called a roaring lion wandering the earth seeking “whom he may devour.” It is this enemy of all that is good, wholesome, and godly (which hopefully includes you) from which God seeks to defend you.

In order for you to be able to mount a defense against this wily adversary, God makes your defense His personal obligation. As Paul states, “the Lord is faithful.” Paul’s words carry a dramatic emphasis in the Greek: “but faithful is the Lord.” Not only is the Lord Sovereign in the dispensing of His promised obligation toward you, but also His handling of the stewardship of your soul is with all faithfulness and fidelity. He does His work patiently, with a keen eye to detail, and with all His heart! You are precious in His sight!

The two words used to describe His fortifying work are steridzo and phulasso. The first is to establish, to fix, to make fast, to prop and to set. This includes encouragement, equipment, and enablement in faith, love, and every good word and work (1 Thessalonians 3:2, 12, 13; 2 Thessalonians 2:17). And in such equipping and motivating God activates the second part of His work, guarding—to watch, keep, and preserve. He is not passive in the defense of your soul, nor should you be.

Satan desires to ensnare believers with spiritual error, loafing, meddlesomeness, neglect of duty, and defeatism—things Paul addresses in the middle of the chapter. God is constantly at work fortifying your soul against your mortal enemy. Be busy within the redoubt of God’s loving care, serving and obeying, with a directed heart into the “love of God and into the patience of Christ.” Trust and obey.