Every day we face a battle. Most of us don’t think much about the spirit world, but Jesus, and his disciples spoke about the Enemy who is out to kill, steal, and destroy.[i] (John 10:10; 1 Peter 5:8, Ephesians 6:12) The Bible tells us that this enemy isn’t so much your boss, annoying neighbor, or local politician as it is the unseen forces that drive the people that we regard as our foes. An effective battle tactic of our enemy is to instill fear in us. So let’s take a look at how these unseen forces work so we know what we are fighting against and how to defeat them and their fear tactics. In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul lists for us the proper wardrobe and accessories we need to deal with spiritual war:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 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.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Notice that three times Paul tells us to stand against the devil’s schemes and that five pieces of armor are defensive in nature. We need not run away in fear, nor do we need to race in an ambush. Christ has already fought the ultimate battle and eliminated death for His children, we just need to stand and resist the enemy’s schemes with the tools that have been given to us.
Let’s start by unpacking each of the pieces that Paul refers to. We begin by putting on the belt of truth. Roman soldiers wore their belt as we do – around their waist. It would hold their sword and it was also used to tuck their tunic into during times of battle so that it would not hinder them. The belt of truth in Ephesians refers to knowing the Word of God. We need to study it daily, not in a legalistic fashion, but in preparation. Back in Genesis 3 when the first attack was made on man, Satan twisted the Word of God and questioned Adam and Eve about its truthfulness to get them to disobey the Lord, and it worked. When we doubt or neglect God’s Word it puts us in a place where we can be deceived and unhealthy fears are often based on deceit.
When we put on the breastplate of righteousness we behave in a way that is free from guilt and sin. Proverbs 11 lists many benefits of putting on the breastplate of righteousness. Let’s take a look specifically at verse 9, “With their words, the godless destroy their friends, but knowledge will rescue the righteous.” (NLT) Gossip can definitely bring some fear into our lives and bring about some undesirable consequences. However, this verse reminds us that the righteous will be saved by their own knowledge of the truth of who they are in Christ and their friends will also see through the lies. Those who know the righteous see through the slander. [ii]
A few years ago my husband and a co-worker were both laid off from their jobs at a small company in the quaint town of 6,000 where we lived. My husband quickly found a position 350 miles away while the kids and I stayed behind waiting for the house to sell. One of the disadvantages of a small town is that word travels quickly and gossip spreads like wildfire. Someone had started the story that my husband and his co-worker were in fact not laid off, but fired from their positions. To make matters worse, this gossip supposedly originated somewhere within our church. Needless to say, we were hurt and angry – not to mention disappointed that our friends and church family would believe such things. I spent the next six months isolating myself. I had convinced myself that our church was no longer a good place to be as most of those people probably didn’t support us anyway. I had believed the lies of the enemy and he had me right where he wanted me – alone and away from my church family. I was full of hurt and resentment. The thing is, that was not the truth of the situation. Most people did not believe or even hear the gossip. Had I embraced the truth of verse 9 those six months may have turned out differently. I would not have feared the reactions of our church family. Already we can see how the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness work together.
As we stand, we are instructed to sandal our “feet with the readiness for the gospel of peace”. Roman soldiers wore heavy sandals with hobnails, a short nail with a large head, to ensure firm footing. [iii] When referring to the “gospel of peace”, Paul is speaking about the relationship with Jesus Christ with whom we are taught about in the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Truly knowing Christ gives believers peace and firm footing even in the midst of battle. It’s important to find a quiet time and place free of distractions to meet with God daily. As we pray and get to know God better we begin to experience the peace that comes a relationship with Him
With our shield of faith, we can expel the lies that our enemy tells us. The type of shield being referred to here is about the size of a door.[iv] It is enough to cover the whole body. If we are fighting the fiery arrows of an enemy, we need to turn to Scripture for the truth of who God is and who we are. When the Enemy tells you that you will never be good enough because of the things you have done, God says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12) When the enemy tries to convince you that you are not loved, God says, “not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” (Romans 8:38-39) And when the enemy makes you feel defeated and hopeless; God says the He “will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
No one should enter into battle with their head uncovered. The helmet of salvation protects our mind and covers us with the truth so that we can fight back with the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. The sword is the only offensive weapon specifically mentioned by Paul. When our minds are convinced of our identity in Christ we are equipped to stand with endurance, confidence, patience and strength. We can then use the Word of God to fight back against the enemy.
Here concludes the qualities of Ephesians associated with a piece of armor, but there is actually one more offensive weapon mentioned in verse 18.[v] Prayer is one of the most effective weapons we possess and often times we don’t fully utilize it. Talk to the Lord about your struggles. He already knows your inmost thoughts so nothing you say will surprise Him. Ask Him to give you the wisdom to deal with your fears. Believe that God has your best interests in mind. Trust that He will see you through your hardships and you will find that with your growing faith comes the peace that only God can provide.
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition and thanksgiving, let our requests be known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:6
Remember to dress for success! Until next time…