are you ready for warfare?


Do you go out with your armor on? There are many careers that wear armor, but none more common than the armed forces. It is not uncommon to see a soldier dressed in battle gear on the news. In Jesus day it was not uncommon to see a Roman soldier or centurion. Paul uses this as an illustration to teach followers of Christ a valuable spiritual truth.[1]

You are at War [Ephesians 6:10-12]

Paul makes it clear. Christians are living in a war zone. Here is how your spiritual war is described: First, the war is intensely ferocious [v.12]. It is intensely ferocious because your enemy has one purpose in mind—to destroy your heart and distract you from following God. Your enemy might seem like a friendly foe that offers opulent peace treaties and enticing bribes. He is no friend; he is a ferocious foe in camouflage seeking to ransack your heart with baits and traps.

The spiritual war in which you are engaged is against the “principalities, powers and rulers of darkness.” [v.12] These evil rulers are lead by sergeant Satan the sly strategist and his band of menacing minions. Satan is so sly that he uses your strengths against you. Just as he tempted Jesus in the wilderness he can even distort the Word of God to get his way with you [cf. John 4]. Evil is a Weapon of Mass Destruction and the enemy is as nasty as an Al-Qaeda terrorist. The spiritual war is staged on the battlefield of “heavenly places.” It is waged in a spiritual realm in your midst, but unseen to your naked eye.

This is not the kind of war where you lob grenades, shoot semi-automatic guns, send computer-guided missiles, or have sea and air arsenals. This battle is fought as a wrestling match [i.e. hand-to-hand combat or guerrilla warfare]. Wave after wave of evil savages struggle against you in a continual onslaught seeking to sidetrack and devastate you spiritually. They do not take prisoners of war; instead they look to execute their captives.

Second, the enemy is scheming to take you down hard and fast [v.11]. Satan is not the red-horned, tail-wagging, pitchfork-carrying goofball you commonly see depicted in modern cartoons. He is dark, but is referred to as the Angel of Light. He is incredibly beautiful and intelligent, but is known for being a deceiver and father of lies. He is cunning, tricky, deceptive, and like a predator waiting to devour you like a juicy prey.

What kind of schemes does Satan slyly strategize against you? [cf. 4:22-29] Satan’s weapons of trade are taking little things and making them look big and taking big things and making them look little. He gets you to carry tomorrow and yesterday around today. He makes sin look fun, refreshing, and freeing, but in reality it is guilt-ridden, old as dirt, and bondage. Most importantly he gets you to live contrary to the Word of God and the cause of Christ.

Third, the only way you can win this war is with God’s power [v.10]. “Be strong in the Lord,” is like a war charge towards the troops. This phrase did not originate here, but in the OT.[2] God used this charge towards His nation and its commanders reminding them He will fight right along side them even go before them [cf. 5:8, 11]. Often God fights for His people who are against insurmountable odds. God is a warrior and spiritual warfare champion, which is a source of courage and comfort in the heat of an intensely ferocious war.

Arm Yourself for Battle [Ephesians 6:13-17]

Soldiers of Christ are charged to stand. [vs.11-14] Three times in this passage Paul tells you to stand so you do not fall [vs.11, 13-14]. The enemy—Satan and his cronies—are powerful forces that cannot be faced alone in the power of your own might. Armor might seem clunky, bulky and difficult to wear. However, if you were in danger you would not think twice about putting on thick armor. God has supplied you with a complete storage shed of weapons to wield for this war:

Weapon Physical Purpose Spiritual Purpose
Belt of Truth Keeps your armor up. Keeps arms and feet useful for action. Be prepared. Protection against hypocrisy and false gospels (1:13; 4:15, 21, 24, 25; 5:9; cf. Luke 12:35-37)
Breast of Righteousness Protects your heart and vital organs Protection against condemnation (4:24; 5:9)
 

Shoes of Readiness

Helps you to run well and stand strong. Durable for long distances. Firm footing. Protection against fear. Bearing the message of the gospel of peace (1:2; esp. 2:14–18; 4:3; cf. 6:23; Romans 3:21-26).
 

Shield of Faith

Protects you from a variety of attacks. Dodging and distinguish fiery arrows. (Genesis 15:1; Psalm 5:12; 18:2, 30, 35; 28:7; Proverbs 30:5; 1 Peter 5:8-9) Protection against dangerous temptation: doubt, disobedience, discouragement, and despair (1:1, 13, 15, 19; 2:8; 3:12, 17; 4:5, 13; Romans 10:15)
Helmet of Salvation Protects your head and your precious noggin Promise of ultimate victory (1:13; 2:5, 8; 5:23)
Sword of the Spirit

[Only offensive weapon mentioned]

Offensive weapon to wound and kill enemy. (Revelation 19:15) Battle is won with the Word of God. Truth defeats deception (1:13; 5:26; cf. Hebrews 4:12-13).

The Bible describes you as a soldier and you are called to wear special armor. You are in a spiritual battle. It is a fight for your life. Armor is not an option it is required to even have a chance to face your foe. Why must I take my armor seriously? You are able to withstand the intense battle and stand firm under immense pressure because you have God’s armor. Only He is able to keep you from falling, therefore, stand tall [cf. 1:20-23]. Each of the pieces of armor is a call to arms that deal with the character of God within you. The armor must be “put on.” Therefore, spiritual warfare is an external counterpart to Paul’s emphasis on inward growth and the edification of the church [cf. 4:12, 16].

Don’t Forget to Watch and Pray [Ephesians 6:18]

Be on guard. One of your greatest weapons is prayer. In the midst of the battle you can call on your commander-in-chief without using the red-phone. God is a unique commander. He is not oblivious to your warfare, He is right there with you. Therefore, when you pray to God you are not surprising God with your needs or trying to change God’s mind; rather you are acknowledging His presence and asking how He wants to change you through the battle.

How should you pray? Be committed to a lifestyle of persistent prayer in the Spirit. This brings your prayers in line with God’s will; making prayer about God’s agendas not yours. If you want to know how to pray look at Jesus [cf. Matthew 6:9-13] who praises God’s greatness and glory [v.9], agrees with His will [v.1], and acknowledges dependence upon God for daily survival [vs.11-13]. Prayer is powerful weapon because it is direct communication with the battles Conqueror and King.

Ground Yourself in the Gospel [Ephesians 6:19-20]

Why is the gospel such a big deal? Why can’t you win the spiritual war without being grounded in the gospel? The gospel is where you choose sides. The gospel chooses the winning side of the battle. In the gospel, Christ defeats death, sin, and the powers of evil, partnering you with the power of Christ to be able to fight against your foes.[3]

How can I ground myself in the gospel? First, pray for opportunities for the gospel [v.19a]. Second, proclaim the gospel [v.19b].[4] Rather than proclaiming your personalities, talents, influence, and spiritual affluence, proclaim Christ. Don’t get hung up on side issues like: politics, culture, end times, or Christian patriotism. Each of these issues is not wrong to discuss, but they can be distractions derailing you from getting to the Gospel. Stick with the gospel; it’s the power of God unto salvation.

Third, proclaim the gospel with boldness and without excuse [vs.19c-20]. You are an ambassador of the King of kings and Commander-in-chief of the armies of heaven. Speak as His representative with boldness, eagerness and unashamed passion making known the mystery of the gospel [Romans 1:16]. Remember the cross of Christ is foolishness to those who do not know the gospel. Be prepared to offend people with the gospel. Sometimes the gospel brings on more foes and persecution.

In conclusion, Christian, you are at war with a ferocious enemy in a hostile world. Have a wartime mentality. This war is a difficult fight with evil foes. Ephesians 6:10-20 is a clarion call to arm yourself for battle with the weapons God makes readily available to you. Don’t forget to pray agreeing with God concerning your need of His presence, power, and utter dependence upon Him for victory. Finally, ground yourself in the glorious refuge of the gospel. In the gospel, you will find rest and safety in the secure arms of your Savior and Warrior King Jesus Christ who has fought the battle in your stead, defeated the foe, and claimed eternal victory. The battle truly belongs to the Lord. Have you put your armor on today?


[1] Throughout Ephesians 6:10-20on spiritual warfare Paul’s sustained imagery is drawn from the prophecy of Isaiah, which describes the armor of Yahweh and his Messiah (11:4–5; 59:17; cf. 49:2; 52:7).

[2] Cf. Joshua 1:6-9; Deuteronomy 31:6-7, 23; Zechariah 10:12

[3] Paul often asks for prayer for himself and his colleagues, particularly in relation to their ministry of the gospel (Rom. 15:30–32; 2 Cor. 1:11; Col. 4:3, 4; 1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1, 2; cf. Phil. 1:19).

[4] Great passages to proclaim the gospel of Christ: John 1:12; 3:16; Romans 3:23; 5:8; 6:23; 10:13; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 9:27.

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