Making a Searching and Fearless Spiritual Inventory

By Mark D. Roberts

January 27, 2020

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:14-17 (NIV)


I’ve always been impressed by the courage of people in Alcoholics Anonymous. For example, Step 4 of the AA 12-step program reads: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” I must confess it sounds challenging, even daunting, to honestly and thoroughly examine my whole moral life, including my thoughts, intentions, and actions. I greatly admire those who have done this on the way to recovery from addiction.

Feet standing firm on a wood plankWhether you’re in a 12-step program or not, I would suggest that Ephesians 6:14-17 could become the basis of such a “searching and fearless spiritual inventory.” We could use this passage on the armor of God to examine our individual spiritual lives and also the spiritual condition of our Christian communities.

How might this work? Simply, we could walk through the description of the armor of God and think about the extent to which we are actually, regularly, intentionally, and faithfully wearing each piece. So, for example, you might ask yourself:

  • Belt of Truth: How committed am I to knowing, believing, speaking, and living the truth? When am I tempted to settle for less than the truth?
  • Breastplate of Righteousness: Are the relationships of my life right? Are there any relationships in need of repair? If so, what am I doing about these?
  • Gospel of Peace: How is the peace of Christ evident in my life? In my inner life? In my relationships? Am I a peacemaker?
  • Shield of Faith: Am I hanging on tight to the basic, historic Christian faith? When I feel tempted or attacked, do I find assurance in the core truth of Christianity?
  • Helmet of Salvation: Do I live as someone saved by grace through faith? Or do I keep on trying to earn God’s favor through my works? How generously do I share God’s grace with others?
  • Sword of the Spirit: Is my life shaped by the good news of God’s grace in Christ? Do I ever share this good news with others?

My questions are just suggestive. You may very well come up with others that are better suited to you and your situation. My point is that the description of the armor of God can give us an inspired framework with which to examine our spiritual lives in a way that would be quite revealing. On the one hand, it could show us where God has been at work in us—where his grace has been transformative. On the other hand, it could also show us where we need to grow.

Something to Think About:

Take time to reflect on one or more of the questions listed above.

Something to Do:

Use the “spiritual inventory” based on Ephesians 6:14-17 with your small group or a Christian friend to help each other reflect on God’s work in your life.


Gracious God, help me to be searching and fearless as I examine my spiritual life. May I be open to all that you would want to teach me, so that I might more completely the person you have created and recreated me to be. Amen.

Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Best of Daily Reflections: Trust the Lord, Your Helper and Your Shield

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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