“Put on the full armour of God” (Ephesians 6:11a)
God has everything under control!
In the O.T. physical battles between Israel & their enemies reflect spiritual battles in the unseen spiritual realm. In Canaan enemy strongholds needed to be pulled down. Israel was not only fighting their enemies on the ground but also finding themselves up against spiritual demonic forces as Canaan was full of demon worship through their idols. In the Bible we are told that all idolatry is the worship of demons. (Deuteronomy 32:16-17) (1 Corinthians 10:20) As believers we too have to pull down strongholds in our own lives and in the lives of others. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) Sometimes there are spiritual forces behind adverse circumstances and God will use them for His will and purposes but He is always in control of everything that happens to us as believers. Not all things that happen to us are directly from God but He allows them to happen that we might fully trust Him more. As the late David Wilkerson used to say; “God has everything under control.”
Power to fail or to prevail
Israel had physical weapons in their hands but the only way they could defeat the enemy was to trust God to give those weapons power to prevail over their adversaries. It was unbelief that caused Israel to be defeated before their enemies and apart from Joshua and Caleb no Israelite of their generation entered the Promised Land. They missed out on the very best God had for them. Unbelief will short-circuit our spiritual effectiveness as believers and be the means of defeat before them. Satan knows our weak points and is incessant in his attacks. We can resist him and God has given us the spiritual means to do just that but do we avail ourselves of His provision in this matter of spiritual warfare?
All the dirty tricks in the book
You know Satan has been around for a long time and knows all the dirty tricks in the book to destabilize our faith, however, armed with God’s armour and weapons we can defeat him every time he presses home his attacks and sometimes they are relentless. Now we can beat him at his own game and if we draw near to God and resist Satan long enough he will flee from us. (James 4:7) So then with these things in view let’s now look at what Paul wrote concerning this matter of the full armour of God.
The Full Armour of God
(Ephesians 6: 10-18) “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armour 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 armour 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.”
The Source of all Spiritual Power
(Vs 10) “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”
The Bible says; “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6) “When the enemy comes in; like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19b) The LORD has not left us as believers in the Lord Jesus without weapons and armour to fight His battle but many of the LORD’s soldiers enlisted into His ranks are not furnished with the weaponry and armour of the LORD that He has provided for them to use. The spiritual armour and weapons are dormant in them because of the indwelling Spirit of God but they have not availed themselves of what He has provided for them. They have never really been activated in that believer’s life. When a believer is genuinely filled with the mighty power of the Holy Spirit the armour and weapons are no longer lying dormant but are suddenly activated in that believer’s life and they begin to understand and act upon the fact that they are in a spiritual battle with the spiritual forces of wickedness in high places. At that point Satan knows he is in trouble big time! When a believer discovers who they are in the Lord Jesus and the spiritual resources available to them and start to use them by faith Satan does a Knee jerk reaction!
Standing against the wiles of the Devil
(Vs 11-12) “Put on the full armour 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.”
Satan is a master schemer and has been around a long time and knows all the dirty tricks in the book to destabilize our faith and confidence in the LORD and in the Bible. A believer who is not filled with the Spirit will be aware that Satan is around but will not fully understand or comprehend what they are up against in the spiritual realm. Often they will dismiss trouble and affliction as just common problems everyone faces in life but not realizing that some of those problems are directly connected to Satan. Once they have learned to walk in the Spirit and have had their senses trained by the Word of God they will be able to distinguish good from evil and recognize whether the affliction is from Satan or not. In many cases there are genuine believers that do not understand how the spiritual gifts operate because they have never been taught about them in their churches. Some have been taught the erroneous theology that says the gifts of the Spirit died out with the Apostles and they are not for today. Sadly many of their pastors and teachers are reinforcing this view because they themselves do not understand fully or experience the gifts of the Spirit operating in their ministry.
The Gifts of the Spirit have always been around
The Gifts of the Spirit have never passed away but have always been around. The reformers came up with this idea that they had ceased in the Church because of the extremes of the Roman Catholic Church with their emphasis on the innate spiritual power of relics, icons and their bogus miracles and so called ‘cures’ of one sort or another. Martin Luther battled this kind of thing in his day and in the times of the Crusades superstitious beliefs in relics and religious charms was chronic in Christendom at that time. The reformers, some ex Roman Catholic clergy, in their zeal to maintain the authority of scripture went the other way and came up with this idea that the Spiritual Gifts were no longer needed. They saw the extremes of Roman Catholicism and went to the other extreme. Actually most of the well-known reformers were once the intelligencer within the Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church before they came out of that spiritually corrupted institution. Because of this thinking the Holy Spirit in many churches today has become a prisoner without power in the lives of many believers. Added to this, with all of the hype around today and the counterfeit signs, miracles and wonders it is no surprise to see believers shy away from anything to do with the real power of the Holy Spirit.
We are to walk in the Spirit
The apostle Paul wrote; “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfil the desires of the flesh.” Those believers who have never been filled with the Holy Spirit and encountered His deeper work and power in their lives will often see and experience adverse circumstances through their natural senses and miss what is really happening. Having said this it is their right and privilege to know what they have available to them to fight the LORD’s battles. Without the power of the Holy Spirit resting moment by moment upon their lives they make themselves vulnerable to spiritual attack and defeat. Having said this it is the privilege of every believer to know what they have and who they are in the Lord Jesus and the power He gives through His Spirit to pull down spiritual strongholds in their own lives and circumstances and in the lives and circumstances of others.
We are to resist the Devil.
(Vs 13) “Therefore put on the full armour 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.”
The Apostle James wrote; “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:7-9) Firstly we are to submit our wills to God by faith making Him the CEO over every aspect and circumstance of our life. Secondly we are to resist the Devil and keep on resisting him and he will eventually flee and leave us alone for a time. Thirdly we are to draw near to God with single-mindedness and confidence in His care and provision. Fourthly we need to ask God for wisdom and if we believe we receive it when we ask for it He will give it to us liberally and without hesitation, but we must ask in faith with no doubts that we will receive it. (James 1:5-8)
Facing the ‘evil’ day
Every one of us as believers will face an evil day when it will seem that the powers of hell will be arrayed against us with severe temptation. It can come through; Physical persecution, spiritual oppression, everyday circumstances, love of money, prominence in the business world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life or even through marriage and family issues. Another thing we need to be aware of in fighting these spiritual forces that are at war with our souls is to watch out for the influence of the media, TV & especially the Internet. In all such circumstances we are to stand our ground and resist Satan’s suggestions with our eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus alone through reading the Word of God, Jesus, who is the author and perfector of our faith because what He starts He intends to finish! As Paul also said; “He who has begun a good works in you will bring it to completion at the Day of Jesus Christ.” When the evil day comes, and it will, have we done everything to stand? Or do we give up under pressure? If we determine to resist him and draw near to God at such times Satan will flee in abject terror! Satan knows when we really mean business! God Himself has ordained praise to drive the devil out of our affairs. (Psalm 50:23) (Psalm 56:8-10) (Psalm 8:2)
The weapons of our warfare
(Vs 14-17) “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.
1. The Belt of Truth:
The belt that went around the waist of the Roman Soldier kept the rest of his body armour in place. If the belt was not on he had no way of supporting the breastplate leaving his heart to be exposed to the fiery arrows of the enemy, also the breastplate covering his heart and the sheath that held his sword in its proper place was supported by the belt. In the believer’s life the belt of truth is essential as all of the other weapons of spiritual power are supported by the truth. (John 14:6) (John 16:13-14) (Psalm 119:160) If a believer is not walking in the whole truth of God’s Word them they will not be able to defeat the spiritual forces arrayed against them. Every manifestation, every supernatural revelation, every prophecy and doctrine and every miraculous occurrence must all be examined in the light of God’s Word. C.H. Spurgeon the famous preacher of the 19th Century said two things about God’s Word. He said; “The Word of God is the anvil upon which the hammers of men’s opinions are smashed!” He also said; “How do you recognize a bent stick that is hidden to the naked eye? By holding it next to a perfectly straight stick.” (The Word of God) We are to use the Word of God as we would wield a sword. (Romans 10:17) (Psalm 43:3) (Philippians 2:16-18) We are to hold forth the Word of life because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God!” (Romans 10:17) If we are not living by the truth and practicing truthfulness in our daily lives then we cannot use the other weapons effectively and we will soon be overcome by the enemy of our souls.
2. The Breastplate of Righteousness:
Our Lord Jesus the Messiah was the perfectly righteous one who by His sinless and perfect life provided for us a righteousness (a righteous life) that we can never earn, deserve or merit because we are carnal and sinful and by nature and birth rebels against God and children of wrath.(Psalm 51:5) We have violated God’s law and have failed to love God with all of our heart, with all of our mind, and with all of our soul and with all of our strength and to love our neighbour as we would love ourselves. All of us have broken the Ten Commandments at one time or another. Our righteousness at best is like a filthy women’s menstrual rag in God’s sight that smells really bad and is only fit to be burned. (Isaiah 64:6) The only one who can give us this righteous life that pleases God and makes us acceptable to Him is our Lord Jesus the Messiah. (2 Corinthians 5:21) (Romans 3:21-26) (2 Corinthians 5:17) (Philippians 3:9) When Satan attacks us because of our past sins and failures we need to recon on the fact that we have the breastplate of Jesus’ righteousness and declare out loud to Satan those Bible verses that tell us we have God’s own righteousness and that by faith! (Romans 3:21-26)
3. The shoes of the Gospel of Peace:
The Roman soldier on campaign in enemy territory never took of his sandals. He was ready to go at any time. Feet in the Body of the Messiah are those who carry the Gospel. (Isaiah 52:7) (Romans 10:14-15) Their ‘feet’ are beautiful to the LORD because they take with them the good news that the Messiah died for the ungodly and that through repentance and faith in Him they can receive the very righteousness of God through the same faith and be reconciled to god for time and eternity. Now we are not all evangelists but we can and should be able to witness one on one. (1 Peter 3:15) One who works in the office stuffing envelopes with Gospel tracts to be posted is just as important to the work of evangelism as the one who is on the front line! Faithfulness is required. (Luke 18:8) (2 Timothy 4:1-2, 5) As the Lord Jesus Himself said; “So you also, when you have done everything commanded of you, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”(Luke 17:10)
4. The Shield of Faith:
When the Roman soldier went into battle he had a shield that covered him from head to foot that had very thick leather covering the front of that shield. The enemy would shoot flaming arrows at the soldiers and the arrows would be extinguished on their shields. On his own, a Roman soldier was a fair combatant, but when he locked shields with the shields of his fellow soldiers they became virtually a solid wall that the fiery arrows could not penetrate. When the Roman soldiers advanced on the enemy as one man the enemy could not overcome them. We need to stand with our brothers and sisters as one against the devil. As it has been sung; “United we stand but divided we fall!” Faith is the shield that protects us from the fiery missiles of the evil one. All of his fiery arrows are aimed at the shield wall of faith. If we hold high the shield of faith individually then Satan will not be able to get to us. If we become a shield wall standing alongside our brothers and sisters then Satan cannot breach that shield wall! As it is written; “a three-fold rope is not easily broken!” If we pray and speak out the promises of God in the Bible we will definitely have our prayers answered! So then hold high the shield of faith. How do we get this faith? Paul tells us how; “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) If we knew the Word better we would know better how to stand!
5. The Helmet of Salvation:
The Roman helmet guarded the soldiers head from the blow of the enemy’s weapons. Our minds need to be renewed as the mind and the emotions are connected and they are the battle field for the Christian believer. Some of us are “walking battlefields” at times when the enemy is assaulting our minds and troubling our emotions. He often drags up the past sins and shortcomings and really lays it on thick. This is why we must have our minds renewed by the Holy Spirit using the Word of God, the Bible as our ultimate weapon of attack. All of the other pieces of armour are defensive except the sword of the Spirit. With this we can stick it into the devil and twist it around in him for good measure! If we know what the Bible says then we can use scripture against him when he presses home his attacks which at times will be intensely fierce! Those whose lives are built on the solid foundation of God’s Word will stand when the stormy winds of adversity are unleashed upon them. (Matthew 7:24-27)
6. The Sword of the Spirit:
The roman soldier had a short sword and with this he could defend himself at close quarters. When the shield wall was advancing as one man the swords of the roman soldiers would dart in and out between the shields impaling the enemy on them. The Roman shield wall was virtually impenetrable. Their strength lay in their united shield wall. They were able to stand side by side and strike out hard against the enemy with their short but very effective swords. The Word of God is the weapon that God has given us as believers with which to attack Satan and his cohorts from hell. When the Lord Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness three times he said to Satan; “It is written…” He used the Word of God to drive away the devil and we also need to do this when Satan attacks us. When we are witnessing to the unsaved we must give them the Word of God. This is the only divine seed that can be sown in the soil of the heart by the Holy Spirit. Faith then comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) (Luke 8:11) (Psalm 107:20)
7. Praying always in the Spirit:
(Vs.18) “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.”
The Bible says we are to “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) The Holy Spirit will pray for us, pray with us and in place of us when words fail us. (Romans 8:26-28) We have a wonderful, divine, loving, sensitive and powerful friend and companion living within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. He is God the Spirit, the third person in the Trinity. It is His pleasure and purpose to work in us the Good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
God’s will for us
Once we have put on the armour of God we need to keep praying in the Holy Spirit. The secret to praying in the Holy Spirit is to be continuously filled with or controlled by the Holy Spirit moment by moment as we pray in the Holy Spirit. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is the initial filling but to stay filled moment by moment we need to pray as we walk and walk as we pray. As we do this it will build us up in our most holy faith and keep us living in the flow of God’s love. (Jude 1:20-21) (Ephesians 5:18) (Romans 5:5) Someone once said years ago; “We can pray in the context of life or live in the context of prayer.” The Bible also says; “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Even when words fail
Praying in the Spirit continuously is prayer that comes up out of our regenerated spirit where the Holy Spirit resides. Sometimes it will be desires and groaning that cannot be uttered in words. At such times the Holy Spirit will be praying in us and through us. One of the benefits of the prayer language of the Holy Spirit is that it is the way to express the inner longings of the heart that we cannot fully process mentally. In all such praying we do not lay aside our intellect but sometimes what we are feeling on the inside cannot be expressed in our own language but in the Holy Spirit those deep longings and desires can be expressed. We can pray in the Spirit in our own language or in the language of the Holy Spirit when words fail but the secret is the surrender of the will and the tongue to God’s control. As we walk by faith so we pray by faith. (Romans 8:26-27) Walking and praying in the Spirit is to be a daily discipline.
Yielding our tongues to God
If our tongue is yielded to God along with our will then we can safely trust the Holy Spirit to enable us to pray according to God’s will even though we may not understand what we are praying audibly. (1 Corinthians 14:4) Once again the secret to praying in the Spirit is the complete surrender of the will to God. Our bodies are also involved in this. If we give God control of our physical bodies including its appetites and physical desires then God gets the contents and then we will prove what the good acceptable and perfect will of God is for us. (Romans 12:1-2) We can pray in the Spirit on every occasion and continuously as we go about our daily lives. If we do this daily then the joy of the LORD will be in us and we will be enabled to give God thanks in all of our circumstances whether they are good or not so good.
Practice makes perfect
They say practice makes perfect. When you first start to pray in the Holy Spirit Satan will attack you with everything he has. The old temptations and past sins and images from the past will come into your mind and if you are not careful feelings of condemnation for past sins will arise up like spectres in the night. Satan is called the accuser of the brethren who accuses them day and night before God. (Revelation 12:10) If you have confessed and renounced past sins then they are cleansed and forgotten. (Isaiah 43:25) (Psalm 103:12) (Hebrews 8:12) If God has chosen to forget then we likewise should cast those dark imaginations out by calling on the name of the LORD. As we seek to submit our wills to God and resist the devil he will flee from us. When we verbally confess and testify to what the Word of God says that the blood of Jesus does for us and seek continuously not to love our lives in this world even unto the death we will overcome Satan every time he attacks us and his attacks will be merciless and severe at times. (Revelation 12:11).
To Sum Up:
The only way for us to survive spiritually in these days is to put on the full armour of God every day and to pray without ceasing in the power of the Holy Spirit. We may know about the armour of God and how it applies to out walk with the Lord but it is when we put it on personally that we are then empowered to take our stand against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms!” At the start of everyday we need to put on the armour of God. We need to make it personal. We can make it a prayer and one that needs to be spoken out loud. We should do this whether we feel spiritual or not. Often we are defeated in our spiritual walk with God because we use our feelings as a spiritual barometer. Our feelings are important of course but our walk with God for the most part consists firstly knowing the facts of God’s Word and secondly putting our faith in God’s Word and our feelings will follow. Also it needs to be said we can know the Shalom of God deep down on the inside in certain severe and trying circumstances even though our feelings and emotions may well be shot to pieces by the enemy’s artillery. This is a reality of walking with God. How then do we put on the full armour of God? We can pray and put it on piece by piece and get into the daily habit of doing it and that religiously at times especially when we do not feel spiritual at all Keeping in mind we walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
How to put on the full armour of God:
“I will be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. I put on the full armour of God, so that I can take my stand against the devil’s schemes. For my 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 I put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, I may be able to stand my ground, and after I have done everything, to stand. I stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around my waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, I take up the shield of faith, with which I can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. I take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And I pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, I will be alert and always keep on praying for all the Saints. In Jesus name I pray. Amen!”