10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
Intro: Gear up!
It is a first alarm! In the Fire Department communication world when a dispatcher pages out a first alarm it means there is a structure fire! Gear up; The Christians years ago were given a first alarm, there is a spiritual fire, gear up! The Christian is under attack. The spiritual warfare is fully engulfed.
The warfare of the Christian soldier is real and if the Christian does not take serious the battle they have already lost. The Christian who continually seeks to grow in THEIR knowledge of and obedience to the Word and to serve the Lord more faithfully will not find ministry becoming easier. As the Lord gives the victory over certain temptations and weaknesses, Satan will attack elsewhere. Faith fill witnessing, preaching, teaching, visiting, and every other service for the Lord not only will bring victories but will also bring their own special difficulties and opposition. A Christian who no longer has to struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil is a Christian who has fallen either into sin or into complacency. A Christian who has no conflict is a Christian who has retreated from the front lines of service. There is a breach in the walls of the armor.
If we are walking worthy of our calling, in humility rather than pride, in unity rather than divisiveness, in the new self rather than the old, in love rather than lust, in light rather than darkness, in wisdom rather than foolishness, in the fullness of the Spirit rather than the drunkenness of wine, and in mutual submission rather than self–serving independence, then we can be absolutely certain we will have opposition and conflict.
Application: The Warfare of the Christian Soldier.
1. The soldier's charge: vs.10-11a
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God.
Finally! Be strong in the Lord—in the power of His might, Put on the whole armor of God. Basic to the effective Christian life is preparation. The unprepared believer becomes the defeated believer who seeks to serve the Lord in his own wisdom and power. The strength of the Christian life is dependence on God, being strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Any other strength proves to be powerless.
The Lord’s strength is always more than sufficient for the battle. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
2. The soldier's enemy: The devil and his strategies vs. 11b
“That you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
When a believer, or a body of believers, loses its deep sense of love for the Lord, that believer or that church is on the brink of spiritual disaster.
Spiritual defection usually begins simply with forgetting the joy of those first experiences after salvation, including the thrill of Bible study, prayer, worship, and the sense of belonging to the Lord Jesus.
There is not a believer alive that is exempted from the attack of the Devil and his schemes. The church cannot afford to lose its first love when this happens compromise to the world is next, tolerance of sin, and contentment with programs and activities, to satisfaction with possessions and self. The adversary attacks the whole church in this fashion by tempting individuals in the church to fall into such sins. There is no attack on the purity and holiness of the church that is not a personal attack on the people within that congregation.
Recognizing Satan’s schemes, Paul closes his letter to Ephesus by giving his brothers and sisters there both encouragement and warning, instructing them of the armor, the enemy, the battle, and the victory of the believer’s warfare. Paul faced opposition throughout his ministry. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are not only God’s sons and servants but also His soldiers—and a soldier’s job is to fight the enemy. We are not without help! “Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Corinthians 2:11)
3. The soldier's warfare: Not human, but spiritual vs. 12
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
We know from God’s Word that Satan and his invisible demons are continually at work in the world and all around us. But we do not have the wisdom to discern exactly when they are present, how many there are, what kind they are, or what they are doing. Saints tread on dangerous ground when they try to deal with things for which Scripture gives no instruction or guidance. We are to put on God’s armor and report to Him, perfectly confident in the knowledge that: (1 John 4:4) “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” The very “gates of Hades shall not overpower” Christ’s church.
4. The soldier's duty: To take the whole armor of God vs. 13
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Our responsibility is to resist and stand firm. Some believers have done everything well in the Lord’s work, but they do not continue to stand firm. The issue is not in what a believer has done, but, when the battle is over and the smoke clears, whether he is found standing true to the Savior.
The circumstances differ, but the underlying reason is always the same: they took God’s armor off and thereby lost the courage, the power, and the desire to stand firm.
In the great spiritual warfare in which we do battle, we are only called to resist and to stand firm. (1 Peter 5:8-9) “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”
The greatest joys come in the greatest victories, and the greatest victories come from the greatest battles—when they are fought in the power and with the armor of the Lord.
5. The soldier's armor: vs. 14-17
a. The belt of truth (v.14a) “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.”
The Roman soldier always wore a tunic, an outer garment that served as his primary clothing. It was usually made of a large, square piece of material with holes cut out for the head and arms. Ordinarily it draped loosely over most of the soldier’s body. Since the greatest part of ancient combat was hand–to–hand, a loose tunic was a potential hindrance and even a danger. Before a battle it was therefore carefully cinched up and tucked into the heavy leather belt that girded the soldier’s loins.
Girding the loins was a mark of preparedness, and the soldier who was serious about fighting was sure to secure his tunic with his belt.
The belt that girded it all securely together and demonstrates the believer’s readiness for war is truth. The content of God’s truth is absolutely essential for the believer in his battle against the schemes of Satan.
b. The breastplate of righteousness (v.14b) “Having put on the breastplate of righteousness,”
No Roman soldier would go into battle without his breastplate, a tough, sleeveless piece of armor that covered his full torso. It was often made of leather or heavy linen, onto which were sewn overlapping slices of animal hooves or horns or pieces of metal. Some were made of large pieces of metal molded or hammered to conform to the body. The purpose of that piece of armor is obvious—to protect the heart, lungs, intestines, and other vital organs.
In ancient Jewish thinking, the heart represented the mind and the will and the bowels were considered the seat of emotions and feelings. The mind and the emotions are the two areas where Satan most fiercely attacks believers. He creates a world system, a sinful environment by which he tempts us to think wrong thoughts and to feel wrong emotions. He wants to cloud our minds with false doctrine, false principles, and false information in order to mislead and confuse us. He also wants to confuse our emotions and thereby pervert our affections, morals, loyalties, goals, and commitments. He desires to snatch the Word of God from our minds and replace it with his own perverse ideas. He seeks to undermine pure living and replace it with immorality, greed, envy, hate, and every other vice. He wants us to laugh at sin rather than mourn over it, and to rationalize it rather than confess it and bring it to the Lord for forgiveness. He seduces us to become so used to sin in us and around us that it no longer bothers our conscience.
The protection against those attacks of Satan is the breastplate of righteousness. To put on the breastplate of righteousness is to live in daily, moment–by–moment obedience to our heavenly Father. This part of God’s armor is holy living, for which God supplies the standard and the power but for which we must supply the willingness. God Himself puts on our imputed righteousness, but we must put on our practical righteousness. To be without the breastplate of righteousness will cost the Christian his joy. (1 John 1:4) “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”
The church today is often guilty of supplying believers with the paper armor of good advice, programs, activities, techniques, and methods—when what they need is godly armor of holy living. No program, method, or technique can bring wholeness and happiness to the believer who is unwilling to confront and forsake his sin.
c. The sandals of the gospel (v.15) “And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”
A soldier’s shoes are more important even than an athlete’s, because his very life could depend on them. As he marches on rough, hot roads, climbs over jagged rocks, tramples over thorns, and wades through stream beds of jagged stones, his feet need much protection. A soldier whose feet are blistered, cut, or swollen cannot fight well and often is not even be able to stand up—a perilous situation in battle. He cannot very well handle his sword or shield and cannot advance rapidly or even retreat. A Christian’s spiritual footwear is equally important in his warfare against the schemes of the devil. If he has carefully girded his loins with truth and put on the breastplate of righteousness, but does not properly shod his feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, he is destined to stumble, fall, and suffer many defeats. The gospel of peace is the marvelous truth that in Christ we are now at peace with God and are one with Him. Therefore, when our feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, we stand in the confidence of God’s love for us, His union with us, and His commitment to fight for us.
The believer who stands in the Lord’s power need not fear any enemy, even Satan himself. When he comes to attack us, our feet are rooted firmly on the solid ground of the gospel of peace, through which God changed from our enemy to our defender.
d. The shield of faith (v.16) “Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
The first three—girdle, breastplate, and shoes —were for long–range preparation and protection and were never taken off on the battlefield. The shield, helmet, and sword, on the other hand, were kept in readiness for use when actual fighting began, therefore the verbs taking up and take.
This shield was about two and half feet wide and four and a half feet high, designed to protect the entire body of the soldier—who was considerably smaller than the average man today. The shield was made of a solid piece of wood and was covered with metal or heavy oiled leather.
The soldiers who carried these shields were in the front lines of battle, and normally stood side by side with their shields together, forming a huge formation extending as long as a mile or more. The archers stood behind this protective wall of shields and shot their arrows as they advanced against the enemy. Anyone who stood or crouched behind such shields was protected from the barrage of enemy arrows and spears.
Every person lives by some form of faith. We cross a bridge with the faith that it will support us. We eat food trusting that it is not poisoned. We put our lives in the security of airplanes, trains, ships, buses, and automobiles, confident that they are safe. The fact that faith in such things is usually well rounded makes life and society as we know it possible. But faith in God is immeasurably more reliable and more important than the practical, everyday faith by which we live. And it is far from being simply “faith in something.” Faith is only as reliable and helpful as the trustworthiness of its object; and Christian faith is powerful and effective because the object of faith, Jesus Christ, is infinitely powerful and absolutely dependable. Christian faith never fails, because the One in whom that faith is placed never fails.
In New Testament times the tips of arrows would often be wrapped in pieces of cloth that had been soaked in pitch. Just before the arrow was shot, the tip would be lighted and the flaming missile would be shot at the enemy troops. The pitch burned fiercely, and on impact it would spatter burning bits for several feet, igniting anything flammable it touched. In addition to piercing their bodies, it could inflict serious burns on enemy soldiers and destroy their clothing and gear. The most reliable protection against such flaming missiles was the shield, whose covering of metal or leather soaked in water would either deflect or extinguish them.
The spiritual flaming missiles against which believers need protection would seem primarily to be temptations. Satan continually bombards God’s children with temptations to immorality, hatred, envy, anger, covetousness, pride, doubt, fear, despair, distrust, and every other sin. The purpose of all of Satan’s missiles, therefore, is to cause believers to forsake their trust in God, to drive a wedge between the Savior and the saved. The only way to extinguish Satan’s flaming missiles of temptation to doubt God is to believe God, taking up the shield of faith.
e. The helmet of salvation (v.17a) “And take the helmet of salvation.”
The fifth piece of God’s armor is represented by the Roman soldier’s helmet, without which he would never enter battle. Some of the helmets were made of thick leather covered with metal plates, and others were of heavy molded or beaten metal. They usually had cheek pieces to protect the face.
The purpose of the helmet, of course, was to protect the head from injury, particularly from the dangerous broadsword commonly used in the warfare of that day. The fact that the helmet is related to salvation indicates that Satan’s blows are directed at the believer’s security and assurance in Christ. The two dangerous edges of Satan’s spiritual broadsword are discouragement and doubt. To discourage us he points to our failures, our sins, our unresolved problems, our poor health, or to whatever else seems negative in our lives in order to make us lose confidence in the love and care of our heavenly Father. (Galatians 6:9) “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
Because the adversary will never lay down his sword against us as long as we are on earth, God’s armor is a constant necessity until we leave this earth forever.
Paul’s own spiritual helmet was his firm hope in the completion of his salvation. “Momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
f. The sword of the Spirit (v.17b) “And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
The sword varied in length from six to eighteen inches. It was the common sword carried by Roman foot soldiers and was the principal weapon in hand–to–hand combat. Carried in a sheath or case attached to their belts, it was always at hand and ready for use. The sword of the Spirit is Scripture, the word of God. The Scottish pastor and writer Thomas Guthrie said, “The Bible is an armory of heavenly weapons, a laboratory of infallible medicines, a mine of exhaustless wealth. It is a guidebook for every road, a chart for every sea, a medicine for every malady, and a balm for every wound. Scripture teaches many truths about itself. First, and most importantly, it claims God as its author. “All Scripture is inspired by God,”
The Bible also claims that it is inerrant and infallible, containing no errors or mistakes. It is flawless, faultless, and without blemish. As the sword of the Spirit, the Bible offers limitless resources and blessings to the believer. it is the source of truth. “Thy Word is truth,” Jesus said to His Father. People today look everywhere for answers to life, to try to find out what is worth believing and what is not. The source of all truth about God and man, life and death, time and eternity, men and women, right and wrong, heaven and hell, damnation and salvation, is God’s own word. It is also a defensive weapon, capable of deflecting the blows of an opponent. It is the believer’s supreme weapon of defense against the onslaughts of Satan. Unlike the shield, however, which gives broad and general protection, the sword can deflect an attack only if it is handled precisely and skillfully.
The Christian who does not know God’s Word well cannot use it well. Satan will invariably find out where we are ignorant or confused and attack us there.
6. The soldier's protection: vs. 18
18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
Prayer is key: “Some people’s prayers need to be cut short at both ends and set on fire in the middle.”
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