Renee is washing vegetables for dinner in the kitchen sink; humming a chorus she remembered hearing in church last Sunday, when she hears the front door open and then slammed shut. She quickly grabs a towel for her hands and runs to the living room to see if it’s Sean. He is not there.
She then turns down the hall to the study and finds Sean sitting on the loveseat with his head buried in his hands. She fears bad news but sits down next to him saying nothing for a time while stroking his hair and back. After a short time she asks, “Want to talk about it?”
Within ten minutes she gets the whole story. Sean was shown up at work by Steve, again. Steve likes to “brown-nose” the boss and on many occasions uses small mistakes made by Sean to make himself look good.
“I don’t know how you do it, Renee. I just wanted to slap that stupid grin off Steve’s face after he told Jerry that perhaps I wasn’t up to the project Jerry had given me and that Steve should find someone else to do it. You get mean customers every week and yet you keep your peace and silently bless them! All I want to do is pound in Steve’s face!”
Renee knew what to say but not how to respond. She didn’t want to be a nag but knew she had to help Sean out with this.
“Do you mean it? Do you really want to know how I handle the “Steves” in my life?”
“Yeah. I guess I do. I’m tired of feeling this way. Like I’m just playing Christian but not living it because every little thing keeps turning into a big pain in the . . .” Sean hesitated before continuing. “I guess I should meet with Pastor Tony, uh?”
“Well, Steve is not a little thing but I think I know what you need. If what I share doesn’t help you then, f course, you can meet with Pastor Tony.”
Renee proceeded to explain what she has learned about spiritual warfare. She opened up her Bible to where a blue bookmark was set, the sixth chapter of Ephesians.
Time to Put on The Armor
In my last article we looked at what the spiritual warfare is and who the parties are thereof. In this article I want to get into more detail about God’s resources to fight this war.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 that this fight is not in our own strength.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,
for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for
the destruction of fortresses [the arguments and
reasoning by which the enemy endeavors to fortify his opinion and defend it
against God’s truth]. We are
destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge
of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
So this is as much a mental war as it is a spiritual one. Better said, we can’t fight against the doubts in our life if we don’t have a solid spiritual handle on our life. If we doubt God’s grace in taking care of us after our salvation, then we are going to be defeated when we try to handle attacks by people to our faith. The world is constantly referring to Christians as “simple” or “un-enlighten,” “uneducated people.” Recently the attacks come in the statements by media types that we are “religious radicals” because we believe in one God and only one way to Him, through Jesus Christ and His shed blood. We are even being compared to the extreme Islamist terrorists by Hollywood actors!
If you are a new believer, I encourage you to complete a spiritual “boot camp” to understand our enemy and our weapons to fight him. This can be done through discipleship by a mature believer. It is very difficult to handle the spiritual attacks on our own. The Bible is filled with encouragements to learn from our spiritual elders so that we can be strong in the face of the enemy. In the meantime, memorize Ephesians
In any battle with any enemy, one needs to be prepared. In the spiritual war, we have spiritual armor in order to stand.
Eph 6:13 – Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will
be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Now, fighting in this fight demands that we take on all the armor of God, not just a piece here and there. In Ephesians 6, God’s armor includes the following: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, security of the Believer, God’s word and prayer (or all prayer). Paul uses a common illustration of his day in describing the use of this armor, the Roman soldier. They were everywhere he went. They remind me of a trip I took to France years ago. In all the cities I saw French police everywhere. It was bizarre to me. I’d be lucky to find any law enforcement in my home town unless I called 911.
If God said it, believe it!
Anyway, Christians in Ephesus knew the Roman soldier well. Paul even had friends who were soldiers since he was in custody quite a bit. He starts off in verse 14 with the belt:
Eph 6:14a – Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth,
For the Roman soldier, this signifies a belt worn around the waist that carried a sheath for a large dagger. It also had strips of leather attached to the front to cover his private parts. The belt basically held his tunic tight at the waist much like it does for a dress or skirt so that he was able to move about freely without the cloth of his tunic interfering in battle.
What Paul illustrates here is that God’s truth of who He is to us, in us, and through us is held tight to the most sacred part of our being. The truth is very important when confronting an attack by Satan. Since the dawn of man’s creation, Satan has attacked God’s truth. Think back to the story of Eve in the Garden of Eden when Satan tells her the lie that she would not die if she disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit. She just needed to stick to God’s words and she would have survived this attack. Jesus uses verses out of the book of Leviticus to fight back the attacks of Satan when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness.
Without truth, Satan can convince you of almost anything. That is why consistent, daily Bible study is a must for all Christians and memorizing key verses is crucial. Satan’s attacks usually occur when we are away from our Bibles so memorizing Bible passages is a great way to keep the belt of truth on at all times.
Your are perfect in Christ
Eph 6:14b – and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
The soldier’s breastplate covers the front of the body from the neck to the waist. It includes shoulder plates as well. The breastplate protects the vital organs of the body from attacks by swords, spears and darts/arrows.
Paul wants us to know that what God is protecting is His righteousness in us – His spiritual vital organs. At salvation, Jesus puts us in a conditional position acceptable to God. God no longer sees our sinful nature and imperfections, He sees Jesus, perfect and righteous. As long as we are in fellowship with God, we remain in a state of acceptance to God. When we sin, that condition is changed and we lose fellowship with God. John tells in 1 John 1:9 that by confessing our sins, He cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Therefore, to put this part of God’s armor on, we must reflect on our spiritual condition and confess any un-confessed sin. We are then in a state of approval with God.
Satan likes to tell us we are so useless to God because we are such losers. He shows us our imperfections and reminds us of our past failures. He sends the “Steves” of the world to us to bring us down and make us feel useless. Without the knowledge that Jesus died for all our failures and places us in a state of righteousness, Satan will win this attack all the time and we will feel defeated.
Standing of the Promises of God
Eph 6:15 – and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
The sandals of the Roman soldier were pretty remarkable. They were bond by leather straps around the ankles that had to be very tight to stay on not only in battle but also while marching. They had small cleats on the bottom that gave good traction on all terrains. When Paul tells us to stand firm, he sees the cleats of the soldier’s sandals as a key ingredient to do this.
When people attack our faith in Christ, we do not turn away from those attacks, we stand firm in the attitude of peace, for the gospel, or good news, of salvation through Jesus is not something we argue. We preach it. We live it. We don’t shove it down the throat. It is always given in love. We are commanded to always be prepared to share our faith. I’ve always believed that any Christian can share their faith because every Christian should know how he/she became one. All they have to do is share that. But we still need to be prepared.
I think a good way to put this armor on is to write down the plan of salvation, or copy it from the sources found of this website, and read that every day before leaving home. Over time it will be memorized. At that point, we just need to recite it from our memory each day to keep it fresh. You’ll be surprised at the opportunities to share your faith once you commit yourself in this way.
Eph 6:16 – in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
To me this one is pretty obvious because faith ties all the armor together. But what I want to point out is the shield itself and how it was used by the Roman army.
The Roman shield changed over the centuries but during Paul’s day it looked huge. It was as wide as the soldier and was the length of the solider from the ground up to his chest, depending on the size of the man. The sides were somewhat curved inward. Often it was covered in animal hide that they could wet to extinguish flaming arrows.
The Roman army used various strategies in deploying its troops. One strategy was to line up soldiers with these shields together. This made up one of three or four lines of soldiers. These soldiers would, as a group, deflect frontal attacks by the enemy. To attack, they could either reach over the tops of their shields with spears or swords, or they could use daggers to reach between openings between the shields. When the first line of soldiers tired out, the men separated and the second line walked up between the first line of soldiers who retreated to the back of the formation to reform and rest.
As you can see by this strategy, each soldier had a chance to recover while the battle continued. Another strategy was a formation called the turtle. When faced with an enemy shooting arrows at them in force, a group of soldiers would cluster together, kneel down, and left their shields over their heads and bodies. When executed, they looked like the back of a turtle shell.
The point of these strategies was to protect the line or group of soldiers so that each individual soldier could be more effective in the battle. The point I am making, if not Paul, is that as individual Christians, we can only battle the spiritual enemies by ourselves for so long before we get worn out. Yes, we put on the armor. Yes we live and fight by the power of the Holy Spirit. But we also need other Christians. One soldier does an army not make. We need to team up with other Believers for prayer and Bible study. We can help our fellow Christian soldiers by serving the body of Christ in a local church, or by serving the community in an outreach program. We are commanded in the book of Hebrews and elsewhere to be
active in a local church in worship.
The shield of faith is living the Christian life alongside other Believers in the power of the Holy Spirit. When one member is hurting, the encouragement and prayer of the saints are like the second line of soldiers moving in to relieve the front line. We are not alone. Therefore, we should not fight spiritual battles alone.
Security of the Believer
Eph 6:17 – And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The helmet of the Roman soldier, like his shield, changed over the decades. The helmet in the first Century A.D. was one designed not only to deflect attacks to the man’s head but also his ears. I think Paul uses this piece of armor to help illustrate a common theme in his letters. Salvation by grace, not works. In part one of this article, I wrote about the legalistic teachings of Jewish Believers who went to the churches started by Paul on his missionary journeys. Their message was “a gospel which is not a gospel.” They were adding other requirements for salvation on top of faith in Christ alone. This was very confusing to the new Believers. Paul often wrote in his letters to these churches refuting the added requirements because these new Believers were concerned that they had somehow lost their salvation because they did not follow these added requirements.
Even today the illustration of the Roman soldier’s helmet is useful. Satan often sends to weak or new Believers “learned” people who seem so very much polished and mature in their Christian faith. They seem so spiritual but in fact, they are either dead in their faith or not Believers to begin with. They claim that a true Christian must have certain “spiritual” experiences, or must send money to a certain “spiritual” project. They are forever having people follow certain practices in order for them to be “spiritual.” They write books and give sermons giving seven steps that must be followed if a Believer wants to be blessed with health, wealth and success. Because, they tell us, if you are not healthy, wealthy and successful, you may not be a true Christian. You may not be saved at all!
Lies from the devil! Your salvation is based upon one thing, rather one person – the person of Jesus Christ. The helmet of salvation is a reminder of that fact. Do not listen to anything the devil has to say about your salvation or salvation in general. The helmet is there to deflect these lies from your ears so don’t forget to put it on.
Eph 6:17 – And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The Greek word for “sword” is really for a small sword or large dagger. It was anywhere from six to eighteen inches long. The phrase “word of God” is not the same phase the John uses in his gospel which encompasses the entire scriptures (logos), but rather for a “saying” or specific message found within the Bible (rhema).
The illustration is that when attacked by our enemy, we use specific portions of scripture to defeat that attack. The perfect example of this is found in the fourth chapter of Matthew. Jesus has been fasting for forty days and guess who shows up to tempt Him? Satan. In the three attacks Satan uses, each time Jesus recites three verses from Leviticus (refer to Eph. 6:14a above). God’s truth will always defeat the devil’s lies. I think that is why Paul puts the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit together.
Of course, this means that we must know God’s truth, which means we must read and memorize His word. I know that memorizing is difficult for many adults. We have enough to remember though out the day as it is. But this for your spiritual life. Memorize small portions of scripture at a time that specifically relate to an issue you are dealing with. Bible concordances are helpful for this. But above all, hang in there when it comes to memorizing. It is a discipline.
While you’re learning which verses to memorize and which verses are helpful to you for various attacks, remember Who is fighting for you, even when you don’t have the verse to use when you need it. Jesus is before the Father interceding for us. When you can’t think of how to defeat a certain attack, think on these verses from the Old Testament:
Exodus 14:14 – The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.
Deut. 1:30 – The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight
on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes,
Deut. 20:4 – for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you, to
fight for you against your enemies, to save you.
Nehemiah 4:20 – At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet,
rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.
Psalm 35:1 NASB – Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
Praying is a good thing
Our last piece of armor is prayer:
Eph 6:18-20 – With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the
Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and
petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given
to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of
the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I
may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Ask any mature Christian and they will tell you that the prayer of saints has sustained them in times of trouble. Prayer is what will make God’s armor effective. You cannot stand against the attacks of our enemy without being “prayed-up” nor can we assist our fellow Believers.
For some, prayer is difficult – probably because they have not seen it done by others. It is up to the individual Christian to find out from their pastor or some other mature Believer how to pray. Jesus had to teach his disciples how to pray. Find Bible verses and stories about Believers’ prayers. Moreover, I would advise not reading books about prayer until you’ve been taught this spiritual discipline. Although anyone can pray, effective prayer takes practice.
Prayer is our lifeline to God. Do not take this discipline lightly. Satan attacks those most who prays least!
A lifetime of Bible study will open the door to all that God has provided you, so don’t be discouraged if you fail from certain attacks from the enemy. As you become more mature, you will recognize the strategies of the devil and become more adept at defeating him.
To review Part 1, click here: http://www.aliveinchristradio.com/alive-in-christ-radio-articles/spiritual-warfare-part-1.html
Currently on disability, Brian has been a pastor since graduating from San Diego Christian College in 1986 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies. In 1994, Brian earned a graduate level paralegal degree from the University of San Diego. Since 1984, he has been very active in the AWANA clubs serving as a commander, pastor and missionary advisory board member. Brian has worked on pastoral staffs of churches in Colorado and southern California. In 1997 he began a church in his home which currently meets in its own building located in Desert Hot Springs, California. A major hobby of Brian’s is cycling which includes two bike trips through Europe and a Canada to Mexico ride. Brian has been married to Beth, who he met in college, for over 26 years and they currently live in the Palm Springs area. They have two grown children.