Does this apply to our spiritual battles? Certainly. The truth is that most of us today (including most of us in Church) are fighting the greatest battle of all (the spiritual war between God and Satan) – wearing absolutely nothing. We are standing on the spiritual battlefield completely naked with a blindfold on – and we believe that we are fully prepared to take on the enemy. This is a very powerful weapon of our enemy – deception. We believe the lie that we are ready for battle, when we’re not even close.
Let’s review what the Apostle Paul tells us about God’s armor:
“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 saints.
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” (Ephesians 6:10-20)
The first verse tells us to ‘be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power’. We are being told here to rely on the Lord for strength and power – not ourselves. This is not our battle, but God’s battle - we are servants fighting the enemy according to His will. Alone we will not be able to stand against our enemy’s schemes. We are then told that our fight is not against ‘flesh and blood’. What does this mean? It means that you and I are not fighting people (as the world tells us). Our battle is not against people (regardless of how they might come against us), but against Satan and demonic powers. I won’t lie, it does sound a little scary. We’re asked to fight demons? Yes. The question is – how? The world tells us that metal armor, guns, swords, tanks, etc are required to fight against our enemies. The Bible tells us that these things are worthless against our true enemy. We are fighting a spiritual enemy and therefore, need spiritual weapons. Worldly weapons will not help you when ‘the day of evil comes’. The underlying message here is that every one of us will face evil during this life. There are no exceptions. If you begin to follow the Lord and put on His armor, you will see the enemy’s schemes and you will be able to stand against him, regardless of what the world throws at you.
Let’s take a look at what these spiritual weapons are and what they do for us. The first weapon mentioned is truth. As I’ve mentioned many times before, the world is full of deception. We are bombarded with lies upon lies and told that these lies are the truth. If you are focused on the world, then you will believe all of the lies you are told. You will trust that our government, our media, our leaders, etc. are all telling you the truth and you will forget (or never learn) that there is only one, incorruptible truth in the world – God’s Word. If you accept His offer of salvation, read and study the Lord’s Word and pray to Him for knowledge and wisdom, then you will begin to understand the true nature of the world. You will begin to understand what the truth really is and what it means for the world. You will not be deceived by the enemy’s lies, because you know the truth. You know God’s ways and His laws and you will see how the devil tries to tempt you away from the Lord. Above all else, you will know the true path to salvation:
“Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)
So, truth is a powerful spiritual weapon and our enemy hates it because it exposes his lies. The truth will set you free from the many worries of this world because you know what lies beyond this fallen world. Truth is a defensive weapon to refute lies thrown at you and an offensive weapon to show the world the truth of Jesus Christ and His Word.
…and always remember that the Lord wants you to know the truth and live by the truth:
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4)
The next piece of spiritual armor mentioned is righteousness. How is righteousness considered a weapon? If you are a righteous person walking in the Lord’s ways, then you will resist the devil’s temptations. You will always seek the Lord first and not allow yourself to be tempted by the things in the world…things that could take the place of God. You will never allow anything to come between you and the Lord. You will continually seek His righteousness, and in so doing, show the world His true character. People will look to you as a righteous, spiritual leader and you will lead others to Him:
“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Mathew 5:16)
The next piece of armor is the shield of faith. To me, nothing is more important than faith. Why is faith referred to as a shield? In our world, a shield is a defensive weapon that defends against our enemy’s offensive weapons. In the same way, a strong faith allows us to stay strong spiritually and never allow the devil to draw us away from the Lord and His will for us. We’re even told here that a strong faith will ‘extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one’. This verse makes it clear that our spiritual enemy will continually try to destroy us. The ‘flaming arrows’ will continue to fly until we leave this world. What are the flaming arrows mentioned here? They are all of the temptations, all of the evil thoughts and actions that the devil uses in an attempt to keep you from the Lord and His plan for you. If you are a born again Christian, then our enemy will continue to tempt you and attack you in an attempt to bring your focus back on the world and away from God. Never forget, we’re told that the devil is here to ‘kill, steal and destroy’. The Lord has offered us salvation, love and peace in His perfect will. Our enemy wants to destroy you in any way he can. Faith is the shield that protects you against our spiritual enemy. When the world tempts you and tries to take you away from God’s plan, a strong faith will allow you to stay close to the Lord and resist the world and our enemy.
I recently watched the movie ‘300’. This is a movie based on the battle of Thermopylae when 300 Greek soldiers fought a much larger Persian army. In one scene, the Persians fired so many arrows at the Greeks that the sky was darkened. What did the Greeks do? They used their shields to protect themselves until the Persians had to reload. The Greeks then stood up, used their swords to knock the arrows from their shields and stared at the Persians as if to say ‘arrows will not destroy us, we’re still here – ready to fight’. A strong faith will allow you to stay in this spiritual war regardless of how the enemy comes against you. I realize that if you are new to Christianity this can all seem very strange to what you have been taught your entire life. I assure you that this is the truth.
As I have followed the Lord over the past 2 years, I became aware (very early on) of a darkness that has opposed this plan for me. It has come against me in the form of mental pressure, spiritual doubts, evil thoughts and from people who have questioned everything I have done to this point. As I have matured spiritually, the Lord has shown me who my enemy is and how our enemy has tried to scheme against me. Just as the Bible tells us, I can now see the enemy and his schemes. He never stops trying to oppose God’s plan for me, he never stops trying to get in the way and prevent me from delivering the message I have been given, he never stops trying to get his tentacles back into me. There have been times when I wanted to give up and get back to my ‘normal’ life in this world, but that wasn’t God whispering in my ear. Each time this happened, I would pray for help and guidance and the Lord would reassure me and keep me where I needed to be. As you fight your spiritual battles, always rely on Him and His ways…not your own.
What does the Lord tell us about faith?
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:6-9)
Faith is worth more to us than gold. When gold is refined by fire it melts, but when faith is refined by fire it is strengthened. This is why we are told repeatedly that we will need to endure all kinds of trials and tribulations. We don’t like it when we are asked to go through them, but the Lord will use each trial to strengthen our faith. Even though our faith strengthens and protects us during this life, the ultimate goal of our faith is salvation in eternity. Never forget this. We are running a marathon in this life, not a sprint.
Jesus also mentions this ‘refinement by fire’ in Revelation 3:18:
“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”
Jesus is telling us that we must have our faith refined by Him. Come to Him with a little faith (small as a mustard seed) and if you continue to follow Him, He will give you faith to move mountains. It won’t happen overnight. You will be ‘refined’ by trials in this life until you reach maturity. Once you reach spiritual maturity, the trials no longer matter, the enemy no longer matters, the world and the things in the world will no longer matter - you will be focused on the Lord and His plan and you will be secure in your salvation…nothing in this world will move you.
At some point in the future, people will ask – ‘How did John know these things? How could he see them coming?’ The answer is that I was willing to give up the world – job, money, worldly security to follow our Lord. I laid it all at His feet and asked Him what He would have me do. Not surprisingly, the first order of business was being ‘refined’. Before God can use you, you must allow Him to change your character. I was asked to leave my job, give up my savings and my worldly security. This was a 15 month ‘refinement by fire’. What happened at the end of this trial when the Lord began to give back to me? A true faith that cannot be moved by the world. As I progressed spiritually, I was given a spiritual eye to see the world as the Lord sees the world, to love what He loves and to hate what He hates (sin). If you were given a message to deliver that you knew no one would believe, that would be viewed as crazy by many, that would cost you friends and your worldly security – could you still deliver the message? Each of us must mature spiritually before we are given greater authority.
Let’s finish our discussion on spiritual armor. What is the helmet of Salvation? This verse is referring to the knowledge of our salvation. As true children of God, we know that we are citizens of heaven – not this world. We are alien to the world and the world hates us for our devotion to Jesus Christ. We know that our time on earth is temporary and that our true life begins when we leave this world to be with our Father. Our true life doesn’t end when we die, it begins. So, when the world tries to instill fear in us, we do not fear our enemy or the things in the world. We know that our enemy can hurt or destroy our physical bodies, but he can’t touch our souls. Why should we fear death? Jesus conquered death and sin for us. As a result, when the Lord asks us to do what may be viewed as dangerous by the world, we will not fear because we know He who protects us has also prepared a place in heaven for us. If we are someday given a choice between death and denying Jesus Christ, we will always choose to stand with the Lord. Death has no power over us. Remember, almost all of the original Apostles were martyred. They did not run away when the world pressured them nor did they deny Jesus, they knew what awaited them after this life. They were secure in their salvation.
The final piece of armor mentioned in these verses is the sword of the Spirit. This is God’s Word. This sword is His Word written in the Holy Bible and it can be a prophetic revelation given to someone. God’s Word is both a defensive and offensive spiritual weapon. We use it for spiritual guidance, spiritual knowledge and correction and we use it to fight our enemy by exposing lies. If God gives us a message about the future and that message comes true, it will certainly lead people to Him. Remember, even though there are many evil people in the world, God loves them and desires for them to come to Him. If we continue to read His Word and pray, we will continue to mature spiritually into the warriors He meant for us to be.
Never forget that this is a war. In a war, each side will look for weaknesses to exploit. Our enemy is no different. Think about your weaknesses. Are you prone to gambling, alcohol, drugs or pornography? Do you sometimes have an uncontrollable anger that leads you to do things you later regret? Ever tried to overcome these things on your own? It’s not easy…in fact, the Bible tells us that without God, we will ultimately fail to overcome our weaknesses. Why? Because we try to take on satan alone. We think we can somehow overcome something far more powerful than ourselves. The truth is we can’t take on our spiritual enemy alone. Our enemy wants to destroy you and he knows he will be successful as long as you are apart from God. If you come to the Lord and allow Him to change you, the tables will be turned. You will then become a righteous warrior of our Lord. Our enemy will then fear what the Lord is doing through you. Why? Because you will begin to tear down the devil’s strongholds and destroying his works in this world.
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
Does the Lord use our enemy’s weaknesses against him? Certainly. The rulers of this world who are following our enemy think that they are highly intelligent, powerful and have us all deceived. They think that everything is moving along in this world, just as they planned. They are full of pride. What comes before a fall?
“Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.” (Proverbs 16:18-19)
What else does the Lord have to say about wicked people and their evil plans?
“Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.” (Proverbs 11:21)
“But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.” (Proverbs 4:19)
“The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.” (Proverbs 10:3)
“When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” (Proverbs 10:25)
“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)
“The LORD works out everything for his own ends — even the wicked for a day of disaster.” (Proverbs 16:4)
We also have the comfort of knowing how all of this ends. Regardless of the trials that come our way or how bad things may become on earth, our true home awaits us.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)
It’s never too late to begin putting on His armor. If you haven’t started down the Lord’s path for you yet, my hope is that you will start on your journey today. Ask Him for forgiveness and His path for you. I know from experience, you won’t be disappointed.