Life is a battleground and the sooner we accept this truth, the easier it will be for us to win the battles that we will encounter throughout our lifetime. Our enemy is strong and his tactics are deceptive. So in order for us to claim the victory that Christ has won for us at Calvary, we must stand up, face the Accuser, and put on the spiritual armour God has given us for the battle. Do you know who the enemy is? “The devil…For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:11b-12). Tragically throughout church history we have fallen into the mistake of doing battle with the wrong enemy. When we treat victims of the enemy as the enemy we create huge problems! Notice how each phrase in this section builds in intensity. What an awesome power confronts us! There are forces behind the evil that we see on every hand. Paul refers to them as “rulers.” They have been around a long time, and they are highly organized, functioning in networks covering the whole earth. What is even worse, we can’t see them because they are located in the “heavenlies.” We’re not in their league. If we take them on in our own strength, it’s like taking on the Mafia. The destruction of mankind is the aim and object of these “spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies.”
The Old Testament book of Job is an excellent illustration of these forces at work. In the opening scene of the book, the Sabeans kill Job’s herds of oxen and donkeys, and his servants. Next, fire from heaven (probably lightning) kills his sheep and his servants. Then an attack by the Chaldeans kills his camels and his servants. Finally, a fierce wind levels his house and all his children are killed. But the power behind all of these natural and human phenomena was Satan himself. The devil is a murderer, but murder for him is not a pointless exercise; it is designed to prove a point. Satan had taunted God, “Does Job love you for nothing! You’ve put a hedge around him…” In other words, Satan was charging that Job loved God merely because of the many blessings God had bestowed upon him. Satan was saying that there was nothing higher worth living for than what man could get out of God and life. So every time the murderer strikes, a holy battle is being staged. Does man love God for what he can get out of him, or because God is worth loving? The story of Job is not the exception, it’s the norm. Expect to be attacked yourself.
There is a cost involved in whole heartedly loving God and following Him. So when the attack comes, adopt the “infallible posture,” given in Paul’s word: STAND. Don’t run. Don’t lash out. Don’t fight fire with fire. Stand! If you stand, the devil will flee from you. Imagine yourself as a new recruit to Christianity. Paul, the battle-scarred veteran of the faith, awaits you and greets you with this letter in hand. “Welcome to the war,” says the great apostle of the faith. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Listen to the words of Revelation 12:9-11…The great dragon was thrown down…and his angels were thrown down with him… “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down…and they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.”
In Romans 13:14, Paul says…”Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its lusts.” Also, writing to his son in the faith, Paul says to Timothy…”You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2Timothy 2:1). This is where our armour lies – Christ is our defence! We need to study this armour in order to learn how to lay hold of Christ practically. How do we appropriate Christ? How do we take Christ for our own use? It’s easy to say that Christ is the answer – but HOW is He the answer? This is what we need to know and this is what the armour describes. Jesus is the answer as a specific defence against specific things. But before we examine the armour closely, there are a couple of things that we need to see in the passage before us. There are two general divisions or classifications of the pieces of armour – this is revealed by the verb tenses that are used. The first division of armour (first three pieces) is something that we have already done in the past if we are true followers of Christ…”having girded…having put on…having shod.” These all refer to something already done. The second division includes those things which are to be put on or taken up a the present moment…”taking the shield…take the helmet and sword.” These are first the things we have already put on once and never need put on again. Then there are aspects of Christ which we must take up again and again whenever we feel under attack.
So stay with us, as we put on the Lord Jesus Christ (dress for battle), as this conflict is life-long.
But be of good cheer – the victory is secure!