We conclude our study of Ephesians with an exhortation regarding the reality of spiritual warfare and the need to put on the whole armor of God. The Christian life is anything but passive. We see analogies of it being likened to a race, a wrestling match and a fight of faith. To put it bluntly beloved, a daily part of the Christian life is a war against principalities and powers of darkness.
In chapters 1-3 we have talked about being seated in heavenly places in Christ. That is our position in Christ. In chapters 4-6.9, we have talked about walking with The Lord in the power of The Holy Spirit and how that plays out in all of our relationships within the church, the home, the world, and the workplace. Once again take note of the fact that God does not tell us how to live for Him until He first tells us what He has done for us. The Christian life is a yielded life that responds to the grace and love of Jesus Christ.
Now before Paul bids his farewell, and makes a few closing comments, he closes with a much needed exhortation regarding spiritual warfare and the need to stand against the wiles of the devil by putting on the whole armor of God.
When you hear the words “spiritual warfare and the armor of God” what picture do you form in your mind? This one?
Casual, no real threat, what war? Who needs armor on a day like today?
OR this one?
Intense, a real enemy with real weapons and a real intention to “take your life”? a need to constantly be on guard against his attacks because casualties are suffered if we are not properly clothed.
Honestly saints, the reason for picking the first image was to make the point that spiritual warfare IS NO JOKE. By grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we have peace with God, but we do not have peace with the world, the flesh or the devil, thus, we need God’s Armor. Yes, we have already learned in chapter 1 that we are completely forgiven and secure in Christ. But, until we get to heaven, there is going to be an ongoing battle with the world, the flesh and our adversary, the devil.
Jesus told Peter, Satan has desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat. I believe that is the devil’s agenda for each and every one of us who are in Christ Jesus. Every aspect of your life is subject to the attack of the enemy. Your marriage, the raising of your children, your vocation, your finances, your area of ministry and service unto The Lord. In each and every one of these areas of life, the enemy’s agenda is to steal, kill, destroy, devour and divide the people of God. The same holds true for the body of Christ and our church family as well. The devil seeks to destroy and devour any and every ministry here. The devil seeks to destroy and devour personal relationships here.
Beloved, spiritual warfare is an every day part of the normal Christian life.
- James 4.7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
- 1 Peter 5.8,9 Be sober (self controlled), be vigilant (alert); because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
- 6.10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might (not in yourselves but in the Lord and in the in the power of his boundless resource).
Because this is a spiritual battle, we need divine resources to fight. Note that all of this instruction for spiritual warfare begins with the reminder to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might”. We do not win any battle against evil in our own strength, but only with the spiritual resources provided by our Savior. This power of God is for all of God’s people. Old, young, married, single, baby Christian or mature Christian. It has nothing to do with your IQ. It has nothing to do with your physical condition. It has nothing to do with your income level. It has nothing to do with where you live: in the city or the suburbs, in a trailer, an apartment or a house. It has nothing to do with your marital status.
- 6.11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Put on the whole (or full) armor of God- Lord willing, we will see that each piece has been specifically designed to cover and protect a vital part of our being.
Wiles here means strategies and tricks. This Greek word carries the idea of cleverness, crafty methods, cunning, and deception. Beloved, never underestimate the deceptive power of the devil.
Truth be told beloved, God has already served us notice of the devil schemes. He tells us not be ignorant of his devices (2 Cor 2.11). Thus dear ones, the devil cannot succeed in destroying or devouring you or us or any ministry or relationship within this flock apart from us believing and acting upon his lies instead of believing God’s Word and walking on God’s truth in spite of how I feel or what I think.
What do I/we need to do to stand against the wiles of the enemy? The recognition that such a battle exists and is going on at this very moment. A soldier mentality for the battle: in The Lord’s army, there are no civilians; we are all called to be soldiers.
- 2 Timothy 2.3,4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
A desire to be disciplined in order to subject myself to God and His will in order to win the race:
- 1 Cor 9.24-27 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
- Ephesians 6.12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood (any physical enemy; we are not wrestling against people made of flesh and blood), but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wrestle – A military term used to describe hand to hand combat. We are told to fight the good fight of faith. Whenever there is a conflict in your life with another person, remember this verse. Paul is saying that it is not people (flesh and blood) that we are fighting against. Beloved, your enemy is neither your brother in church who offended you, nor your relatives or your neighbor, but Satan and his spiritual forces who have already been defeated by Jesus but refuse to accept that defeat.
Now if you roll your eyes and say, that is crazy Pastor Ray, the enemy already has snared you into his web of deceit and defeat. The proper name devil literally means, slanderer. Satan is the Accuser of the brethren. He is the Tempter. He is the king of pride and self-exaltation. Whenever a conflict arises, the devil wants us to get our eyes off of Jesus and His sacrifice for us. Thus, whenever our eyes are off The Lord and how He taught us to treat those who hurt us or attack us, we instinctively feed thoughts of revenge, anger, and bitterness. We refuse to forgive as God in Christ has forgiven us. As it says in Proverbs 13, our pride feeds the contention, instead of seeking ways for reconciliation and healing.
- 6.13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God (every piece of God), that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
In his description of the Whole Armor of God, Paul combines the weapons of a Roman foot soldier with a number of Old Testament images of God, or the Messiah, as a warrior. The imagery comes from the book of Isaiah, where the Lord and his Messiah are arrayed for battle (Isa. 11:4–5; 52:7; 59:17). In other words, the way to combat temptation is the way Jesus did. The way to deal with those who hurt us, persecute us, despitefully use us, is the way Jesus did.
Every piece of the armor has a positional meaning and a practical meaning. We need to know who we are in Christ if we are to walk in the victory of Christ. We are not fighting for victory. We are fighting from a position of victory. Brothers and sisters, if we are going to stand against the fiery darts of the devil, we need to have on every piece of God’s armor. If we do not have on the whole armor of God, we are going to suffer for it. Imagine a soldier landing at Normandy or fighting in the trenches of Afghanistan with no armor on. What if they only had on a helmet? What if they did not have a gun or hand grenades? What if they had on flip flops instead of combat boots?
Evil day – Since the fall of man, every day has been evil, a condition that will persist until the Lord returns and establishes his own righteous kingdom on earth. Jesus said, sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
- 6.14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
Stand- God’s will for each is that we stand against the wiles of the enemy. When you read the word stand, do not think of standing in line at WalMart…. or standing in line wit your ticket to enter the ballpark…. or even a soldier standing at ease. To stand means that we are to hold our ground, continue in the station in which you are placed, keep your post, be upon your watch, and be on guard. To be found standing at the end of a battle in those days meant that you won. But we only can stand if we know who we are in Christ and if we put on the whole armor of God. God provides the armor, and we must put it on.
Loins gird about with truth- The Roman soldier’s leather belt supported and protected his lower abdomen, gathered his tunic together, and held his sword. The belt that pulls all the spiritual loose ends in is “truth.” The truth of Who Jesus is in a world of false Jesus’. The truth of the gospel of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone in a world where people are seeking to earn or work their way to heaven by their good deeds or religious rituals. The truth of God’s Word in a world of lies and deception.
We are to put on truth because the enemy traffics in lies and deception. Lies disguised as temptation…lies in the name of science. The Lie of evolution. Evolutionists tell us that if we had the time to stand in front of a cage of chimps, over a period of time we would see those chimps gradually change into a man in a business suit carrying an IPad and talking on a smart phone. After God created Adam, he created the chimps!
Breastplate of righteousness- The breastplate was usually a tough, sleeveless piece of leather or heavy material with animal horn or hoof pieces sewn on, covering the soldier’s full torso, protecting his heart and other vital organs. The most vital organ that we have is our heart. When the Bible speaks of the heart, it is referring to the real you, the inner man. Our heart is your will and your affections. Jesus said that out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies.
But when you come to Christ, He gives you a new heart. Thus, Satan is always seeking to draw us into the arena of the old man and the flesh, because when he gets us there, we are mincemeat. That is why it is important for us to know that we are the righteousness of God in Christ. Believers are protected by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them (Ro 4:6- 11; Php 3:9), and it is by faith in His righteousness that we walk in righteousness (Rom 6-8) and can stand up to the temptations and accusations of the devil.
- 6.15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Feet shod/gospel of peace- The image here is of the Roman soldier’s sturdy sandals, which gave him stability and protection in battle. Some historians credit footwear as one of the greatest reasons why the Roman Army was so victorious over its enemies. The Roman Soldier was equipped with footwear that had spikes on the soles that provided them a strong enough stance and balance that gave them a superior posture in battle on hills and uneven terrain.
For those of you who take karate or martial arts, you know that the stance is the most important move and is what is practiced first, for from the basic stance are all manners of kicks and punches launched! Ironically, the peace that comes from the gospel readies one for war against evil (Eph 2:14, Eph 2:15, Eph 2:17). It is a peace in he midst of the battle, apart from it.
The gospel of peace pertains to the good news that, through Christ, believers are at peace with God and he is on their side (Rom. 5:6–10). It is that confidence of divine support that allows the believer to stand firm, knowing that since he is at peace with God, God is his strength. But it also means that you and I will be peacemakers, not troublemakers, not instigators. We will not be self-appointed spiritual police or sin sniffers. We will not be walking time bombs, ripping into or attacking this person or that person (remember, our primary battle is not with flesh and blood). The child of God is a bearer of peace, not a sower of discord and contention. The fruit of the Spirit is peace (not tension, not contention, not slander or gossip).
- Isa 52.7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
- 6.16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Shield of faith- The faith that is spoken of here is a life that places a firm trust in the character and promises of God. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. The Roman shield was large enough to cover the whole body; it was made of wood, covered with hide, and bound with iron at the top and bottom. When dipped in water before a battle, it could extinguish fire arrows that had been dipped in pitch and set ablaze.
It has also been noted that when an army was under enemy attack, they would link their shields together side by side and over their heads to form an almost impenetrable shield. Since the unity in The Spirit in the bond of peace is vital for this warfare. We can see why the enemy is constantly seeking to divide and devour relationships within the body of Christ.
I would only add here that the first mention of the word shield in Scripture is found in the book of Genesis.
- Gen 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. I will protect you, I will strengthen you, and I will be your shield. The shield of faith is not something it is Someone!
Fiery darts- Peter writes about the fiery trials of our faith. Temptations and trials are likened to the flaming arrows that were shot by the enemy with the goal being to cripple you, disable you or kill you. Some of the most common fiery darts of the enemy are condemnation, pride, hardness of heart, self-pity, the prosperity and good life of the unsaved, persecution, discouragement, false accusations, ill health, unexpected turn of events, lack of forgiveness, envy, mental assumptions about others, preoccupation with worldly attractions and distractions.
- 6.17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Helmet of salvation- The helmet protected the head, always a major target in battle. A well-designed helmet will protect you from various angles of attack. Remember what is in your helmet, your head and in your head is your mind. The helmet guards our mind and thoughts. Daily keep your mind filled with the gospel of Jesus Christ and renewed with The Word of God.
Satan is constantly seeking to destroy a believer’s assurance of salvation and the truth of what it means to walk with Jesus in newness of life with his weapons of temptation, doubt and discouragement. He is seeking to get us to lean upon our own understanding and “reason”.
- 2 Cor 10.3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Sword of The Spirit- The one offensive weapon in the believer’s arsenal is compared to the Roman sword, short and designed for hand- to- hand combat. God’s word is the only needed weapon. God’s Word is infinitely more powerful than any of Satan’s attacks, and offensively to help destroy the enemy’s strategies.See Jesus’ use of Scripture in Mt 4:1- 11; Lk 4:1- 13
- 6.18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
- 6.19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
- 6.20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
In verses 18-20, the cap to the armor of God ends with an urgent call to militant prayer on behalf of all believers and on behalf of Paul’s ministry. Jesus is our Example of effectual, fervent praying beloved. Please note that Paul does not ask for prayer for his personal well-being or physical comfort in the imprisonment from which he wrote, but for boldness and faithfulness to continue proclaiming the gospel to the unsaved no matter what the cost. Even in prison Paul was not thinking of his own welfare but of his testimony for Christ.
My house shall be called a house of prayer- One of the things that the church is told to continue in is prayer. Personal prayer, prayer in your marriage, women’s and men’s prayer times.
Beloved, put on the whole armor of God and keep it on. Fight the good fight of faith today.
- 6.21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:
- 6.22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.
Even though Paul was in prison, he knew that the devil could only prevail in the lives of God’s children if they were unprepared. He wrote to equip them and comfort them.
- 6.23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 6.24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen
The epistle ends with one word that sums up the Christian life from start to finish. The grace of God through The Lord Jesus Christ.
If you have not surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, than you are standing on the battlefield of life naked and without any protection against the lies and schemes of the enemy. Will you trust Him today?
This is the gospel that the risen Jesus told Paul to preach: Acts 26.18 “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
If today, you are truly sorry for your sin and will repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness of your sin, He will not only forgive you, but He will provide for you the divine resources needed to deliver you from the power of Satan that has controlled your life.
Church family, is there an area of your life where the enemy is taking a victory lap around the track? Is he using you to slander or accuse others? Is he using you to harbor ill will and bitterness towards someone instead of forgive them as Christ forgave you? Have you believed his lies and deception regarding temptation and areas of the flesh instead of walking in the light as He is in the light?
There is one power that is not mentioned very often in today’s culture, a power that we can all go to for forgiveness, healing, restoration and salvation.
That is power in The Name of Jesus Christ and His precious blood that grants forgiveness of sin. Believe it. Embrace it. Plead it. Apply it. Choose to walk today standing, not limping!