The Moving Word

Writer, Preacher, Bookworm, Student of the Word

Armed for Spiritual Battle

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By Richard Mansel

INTRODUCTION

We tuck our child into bed and head to our bedroom for much needed sleep. As the morning comes, we walk by our child’s room, and see that their bed is empty. Their curtains blow in the breeze coming from the open window, sending shock waves through our world.

Our screams pierce the silence of the house. Fueled by adrenaline and fear, we race to the window and see our limp child over the shoulder of a strange man.

We are outside in a flash, grabbing the man and fighting with everything that we have to save our child. Death is no obstacle. The child’s safety is the only thing in the world that matters. We are impervious to pain and danger to our body. We become a wild animal for our child’s life.

Such horrors happen in a violent world. This nightmare is too horrible to imagine, and we take precautions, as best we can. We plead with God for their physical safety and sacrifice for them every day. We do whatever is necessary to keep them from harm.

Despite our fervent concern and protection, we often allow Satan to carry them away spiritually without any opposition. In fact, many times, we invite him in and give him our children willingly by letting them be worldly to the core. Our lack of concern for their spiritual condition stands in stunning contrast to our rigorous protection physically.

Most will die for their children, but the majority will not lead their children to spiritual life in Christ (Matthew 7:13-14). They will monitor their children’s health and security, but not their soul.

REALITY OF THE WAR

Knowledge of our enemy will fortify our spirits. However, “God does not throw us unprotected into the battle against Satan’s empire.” [1]. He wants us to be well fortified, but first we must understand the enemy.

If we deny the reality of the spiritual war that rages around us, we will be an easy casualty. Our families will be, as well, without godly leadership and they will run after the world, and all that it entails.

Satan is deadly serious about this war and so few Christians seem to care. Leonard Ravenhill said, “Many of us are hunting mice — while lions devour the land.” [2]

We must become more serious about the reality of the dangers facing us. Our young people are leaving the church in droves. God’s people are becoming increasingly immoral. Our churches are countenancing error in order to draw crowds. Biblical authority is almost an afterthought. Religious leaders of the day hold more credence than the Apostles of Jesus.

We must awaken from our slumber because the world is on fire.

  • “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). [3]
  • “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
  • “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).

God and Satan are fierce competitors in the spiritual war for the souls of men. We all stand on the battlefield, regardless of whether we realize it or not. We fight for the Lord or we stand against him. No one can be passive in this struggle. In fact, passivity puts us on Satan’s side, as does being immoral. Anyone that does not actively fight for righteousness empowers the devil and his forces.

Satan and his ministers are always involved in seeking to destroy their enemies. “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31).

“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

In the first chapter of Job, Satan fights for the soul of God’s disciple. He hunts all of us and employs every lie at his disposal. He is a pathological liar who possesses no positive qualities (John 8:44).

“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Jesus is light and perfectly good (John 8:12; Revelation 21:22-24).

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

If we will successfully take the battlefield for God, we must know the enemy. It is not people, although they do wear his uniform. They are under Satan’s power.

“Our enemies are not people. We must see beyond people. Satan may use people to persecute us, lie to us, cheat on us, hurt us, or even kill us. But our real enemy lurks in the shadows of the unseen world, moving people as pawns on the chessboard of time. As long as we see people as enemies and wrestle against them, we will spend our strength in vain” [4].

People in sin are victims of Satan’s deceptions. They are doing his bidding under false pretenses. Yet, they labor for him, nonetheless. They are responsible for their own actions, but we need to pray for them and reach out to their souls and try to bring them to Christ.

Satan uses them in nefarious ways that utilizes whatever is necessary to pull us from God. He studies us, is skilled at finding our vulnerable spots, and pierces us through with his tricks (Ephesians 6:11).

“Mention of the ‘schemes’ of the devil reminds us of the trickery and subterfuge by which evil and temptation present themselves in our lives. Evil rarely looks evil until it accomplishes its goal; it gains entrance by appearing attractive, desirable, and perfectly legitimate. It is a baited and camouflaged trap” [5]

Satan will fade into the background so he will not be responsible for anything. No one will find his fingerprints at the scene of the crime. Darkness obscures his offenses. In fact, “few of Satan’s tactics are openly Satanic” [6].

That makes him especially dangerous because he finds a way to make everything that he wants, appear as our own decision. He speaks in our voice and convinces us we are independent and making our own way. Yet, we cannot hear his macabre laughter as he watches us walk away from God.

Ephesians tells us that we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but the power of the Devil. His tentacles are in everything. “Satan keeps people in a state of darkness, and he has a legion of evil spirits whose supreme task is to fasten false ideologies like iron shackles on the souls of men” [7].

However, “God does not throw us unprotected into the battle against Satan’s empire” [8].  His grace and mercy clothe us in goodness, which is antithetical to the filthy robes of the evil one.

THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE WAR

If God provides all that we need and we do not utilize them, we cannot hold God responsible. We have a spiritual armor that will make us complete (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13).

We must put on the armor, if it will be of any use to us. We cannot survive without it.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

We must band together against our common foe, so we can be stronger.

“The church, the body of believers, is in this warfare together. As the Roman soldier did not fight alone, so must believers as a body, united under their commander-in-chief, stand against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places” [9].

We must take a stand as a courageous soldier who is fully committed to staving off these attacks. “Stand” means to “make a stand, hold one’s ground in a military context” [10]. The term means, “To denote that which lasts and is stable, not subject to change or decay” [11].

We cannot allow Satan to take the hill that the Lord has secured. Souls that are lost to the enemy are doomed to an eternal hell (Matthew 25:46). The stakes are enormous!

“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17).

God has blessed us in ways we neither deserve nor can comprehend. They rain down around us. We fight with God’s armor and utilize his weapons and power. However, we cannot fight without actively donning the armor and picking up the sword.

For many Christians, it is not because they do not have the armaments to fight Satan. They do not take the initiative to use them. We think we are too smart, strong or wealthy to need help. To do so would be to admit weakness.

Satan is thrilled when our vanity prevents us from being fully armed.

“This piece of armor is basic to all other pieces because truth and trustworthiness are basic to all the other qualities that believers need in order to withstand diabolical attacks. As believers internalize God truth they live and move in it” [12].

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13).

The breastplate of the soldier of the day, “extended from the base of the neck to the upper part of the thighs, so it covered what we would call the thorax and the abdomen” [13].

Shoes are very important to a soldier. They spend a lot of time protecting them. We cannot stand strong and resist Satan without good footing.

“It is the believer’s surefootedness in the tranquility of the mind and the sincerity of the heart in the gospel of peace that gives them the readiness to stand against the devil and his angelic hosts” [14].

We take up the shield of faith that will protect us and empower us on a daily basis. Faith is security because we know that God is in charge and Christ has defeated every enemy that faced him (1 Corinthians 15:26). We know to the core of our being that Christ will never abandon us (Hebrews 13:5; 11:1).

“Before battle the shields were immersed in water, soaking the leather cover and canvas beneath the leather, which also aided in extinguishing the flaming missiles” [15].

The fiery arrows “prepared the way for the mass attack of the troops upon the enemy opposed to them” [16] In fact, “Soldiers used to throw these darts at the enemy in great profusion from all conceivable directions so as to cause confusion” [17].

Satan wants us to be confused and shamed at our stand for righteousness and morality. When the heat of public shame attacks us, he hopes we will surrender and follow the crowd (Ephesians 4:17-19).

We come to the final two pieces of the armor; ones that we take up, rather than putting on.

“In physical warfare, the helmet and sword are the last two pieces a soldier takes up. The helmet, hot and uncomfortable, would be put on a soldier when he faced impending danger” [18].

The helmet and the sword work together. The helmet represents knowledge, while the sword represents the Word of God. The application is clear. We learn the Word and incorporate it into our minds, and lives and we can be ready for all of the attacks that will rise against us.

We must possess the knowledge that we will not be defeated, if we remain in Christ. “With his head protected, the soldier feels safe in the midst of the battle” [19]

The sword is an offensive weapon and is, “the breath of God” [20].

“But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked” (Isaiah 11:4).

“And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations” (Revelation 19:15).

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Nothing can defeat the Word of God (cf. John 1:1-5). When properly utilized, it’s an unstoppable force. We return to the beginning.

We are fighting a spiritual enemy whose powers exceed man’s abilities. Accordingly, if we will survive, we must use the tools provided by God, the most powerful force in the universe.

THE RESPONSE TO THE WAR

The war is real, and unless we prepare for battle, our chances for survival are nonexistent. God has done his part, and we must take advantage of his mercy. No one can win this war without his armor and weapons.

We must be vigilant, day and night. We must know the enemy in all of his permutations. Satan will turn to sexual, ethical and technological issues as temptations. If we refuse to discuss sexual challenges with our children, Satan will have a great advantage. We do not have to be too graphic, but our youngsters must be sexually smart and taught how to handle the situations that will arise (Hebrews 13:5).

Young people need to be aware of the lies that the opposite sex will throw at them. Fathers can empower their daughters by teaching them how to handle themselves with men. Likewise, sons need to be prepared to handle sexually aggressive women.

We must examine ethical issues and apologetics in light of Scripture so they will be ready for the attacks of science.

Knowledge, a wary eye and worthwhile preparation coupled with God’s power, is unassailable. Our efforts will come to victory.

“The whole armor highlights the danger and seriousness of the threat facing the readers and therefore more strongly emphasizing the importance of total dependence on God’s strength” [21].

CONCLUSION

The seriousness of this conflagration cannot be overstated. Souls lie in the balance. Sincerity will be insufficient. We must be in Christ, or we will be with Satan for all eternity. No other option exists.

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:12).

The world is unaware of the dangers facing them; we must raise the clarion call to the lost and dying around us. The gospel call still speaks loudest, if we will speak the words of the Father.

The time is here for the people of the Book to live as disciples. “The world is waiting to see men and women behaving like Jesus” [22] We cannot reach the lost unless they see Jesus in our lives (Ephesians 4:1).

“Although Christ won the victory at the cross, the reality of conflict presently continues for the believers.” [23]. We cannot rest on Jesus’ laurels because Satan is after all of us. He never rests and we are all responsible for our own sins (Ezekiel 18).

Eternity rests in the balance. “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11).

ENDNOTES

1. John Phillips, Exploring Ephesians and Philippians (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1993), 185.
2. http://dailychristianquote.com/dcqspiritwarfare.html , Accessed on August 26, 2009.
3. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references will be from the King James Version.
4. Phillips, 187.
5. Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter To the Ephesians in the Pillar New Testament Commentary series edited by D.A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 464.
6. Kenneth L. Boles, Galatians and Ephesians in the College Press NIV Commentary series edited by Jack Cottrell (Joplin: College Press, 1983), 334.
7. Phillips, 190.
8. Phillips, 185.
9. Harold Hoehner, Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2002), 853-854.
10. Ibid, 833.
11. Ibid, 823.
12. Ibid, 840.
13. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Christian Soldier (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1977), 223.
14. Hoehner, 844.
15. Hoehner, 848.
16. Lloyd-Jones, 299.
17. Ibid.
18. Hoehner, 849.
19. Hoehner, 850.
20. F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon and to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984), 409.
21. O’Brien, 462.
22. Phillips, 194.
23. Hoehner, 831.

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3 thoughts on “Armed for Spiritual Battle

  1. Pingback: Called from darkness into light | daily meditation

  2. Pingback: Bread and sword | daily meditation

  3. Pingback: Ready and eager with the gospel | Walking with God

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