Last week we began a two-part series, studying about the war in which this entire Universe is an unwilling participant. Today, we are going to learn how to fight back against this spiritual onslaught that threatens to steal everything from us. We don’t have to come up with our own battle plan to do so because The Captain of God's Army has already provided one. We simply have to learn His Battle Plan, and use it. Ephesians 6:10-17:
we are to use the Armor of God, to do battle against Satan! First, notice that with this armor, we still do not have a chance against Satan in our own power and wit. We are to be strong in the Lord, and in His might, but in that Power, we are to know we are strong, and we are commanded to stand against Satan. Let's look at an illustration that may help us to better understand where we are, verses where we should be, in the Lord. We were in a prison, and in shackles, bound and waiting for our punishment and our death sentence for the darkness in our own heart. Then He comes (Sar Tsaba Jehovah) - Captain of the Army of the Lord - into our prison, places His keys into our hands, takes off His Own Armor, and lays this beautiful suit of armor beside us, saying: “Your penalty is paid, you are free. Many are still enslaved as you have been. Put on My armor, join Me in the War and go to as many as you can reach with these keys I have given you. There will be much resistance, much pain, but you are their hope. I will be waiting for you on the battlefield. Join Me." What will you do? Here is where many have failed in the war already. Some have gloried in the fact that they will not be executed, but they have never used the keys in their hands to open the shackles & the prison door. They have swept up, cleaned up, and lived their lives the best they can, right there in prison. They can’t do anything for God or others, they can’t go and enjoy life, but at least they are saved from death. This represents the people who continue to live in the prison of their sins and fears, of their guilt, of their lust, of their anger, jealousy, or bitterness. They have the key to be free, but they won't try the door. They still live as a prisoner, by choice. (They STAY).
Others have used the key to open the door, and ran outside, leaving the armor behind. They never put on the armor, because they simply want to enjoy being free. They are sure the King would want them to use this freedom to seek their own happiness, to enjoy His blessings. They are not going to worry themselves with fighting in this crazy war. They will take the life they have been given at the expense of another, and let others rot in their prison because their life is too important. They wander out into a literal battlefield, and attempt to enjoy life. Some try putting the armor on for their own protection, even though they don't want to fight in the war, but they soon get tired of how cumbersome and heavy it seems to wear, and they quickly take it off again. These people who wander around in the war zone just looking for entertainment are soon cut down in the battle and taken back to the cell, if they are lucky. Some, in joy and good intentions, run out of the cell and into the battle in their own strength, and they are quickly defeated by an overpowering foe. (They PLAY). A very few have been broken in joy and gratitude for what the King has done for them, and used His Keys to remove the shackles, to open the prison doors, and then suited themselves in the incredible Armor of God, leaving the dark cell to do their King's Will to fight in His War. To slay the forces of Satan, in Christ's Power. Loving every chance they are given to fight for their King and save others as they have been saved. The King has come to your cell, and proclaimed you are free: Will you STAY? Will you PLAY? Or will you PUT ON THE ARMOR?
For those of you who are in the fight, Paul does an amazing job of using this descriptive comparison of armor to teach us how to fight a very real, spiritual battle. When Paul talks of armor, it is almost guaranteed what armor he is speaking of to his readers, the armor they all saw, every day, all around them—Roman soldier's armor. Ephesians 6:10-12: Principalities, powers, rulers: all descriptive of literal demonic leaders, assigned to specific areas, people, or missions for their god Satan. These are our enemies who hold mankind captive. Ephesians 6:13-14: "Withstand in the evil day..." Paul says we are to be able to face days of hurtful, or tempting attacks, and remain standing. “Stand therefore..." Paul says to stand, having girded our waist with "Truth!" What a beautiful first piece of armor to name, the belt or sash around the waist. On the Roman soldier, this was usually the last piece of the armor to go on, when they were ready to do battle, with the attaching of the belt, was the changing of disposition to the battle at hand—the commitment to the cause. It often held the decorations and medals of battle. It held his weapons. It held the rest of the armor in place. Everything would literally come apart in conflict were it not for the belt. (Representing a true heart). Jesus is saying: "Your undivided heart is what will hold the rest of the armor together. Your passion and for Me and My Kingdom must be where you begin, always!" What good are the best weapons and armor, if you have no courage for the cause? They will be unused, and abandoned. Start with a true, undivided heart—"The Belt of Resolve." Ephesians 6:14: What does a breastplate protect? Your chest/heart. What is righteousness? To live right and true according to God's principles, to resist sin, and put God and others first in heart. So Paul is telling us we must guard our hearts from Satan's attempts to bring unrighteousness, and that if our hearts aren't kept in righteousness, we will fail as a warrior. Why? Because, if our motivation centers around doing what is self-gratifying, rather than what is right and good for others, we will lose the heart of a warrior, we will lose the love of God, we will lose the battle. It is very fitting that the Belt of A True and Undivided Heart, and the Breastplate of Righteousness are together in one verse—because an undivided heart will always bring righteousness in actions. Ephesians 6:15: This verse is often misunderstood as the desire to spread the Gospel of Peace. Surely, this will become a part of the mission, but, it is not what is communicated in this verse. The footwear of an army will often literally decide whether they win the war or not. Romans had superior footwear in their age of combat. The Caligae, were heavy-soled, hobnailed military sandals. Protection from traps, difficult terrain, strong footing in hand-to-hand combat—all are made possible with sure footing and protection. This verse is saying the Gospel of Peace, or the Word of God, is to be our footwear. That His Word gives us a sure footing, a confidence to step forward in unsure and unfriendly terrain, the protection to walk through traps, the direction for each step forwards, the strength to stand our ground and fight in combat. Because God's Word gives me boldness and keeps me grounded to do right no matter what others think or do, no matter the consequences. Psalm 119:5-6, Matthew 7:24-25. If I do not have strength and in His Words, I will waver and fall back, trip up constantly, not have the strength to carry on. Ephesians 6:16: In those days, enemies would tie flammable material coated in pitch or oil to their arrows, and shoot them at opponents. The fire would spread to the, often wooden shields, and make them useless, or it would ignite anything flammable that it struck, spreading destruction and death far beyond the single arrow. Satan will send a single arrow our way (a lustful thought, a jealous thought, a quick thought of despair or doubt, a worry or anxiety, an accusation, one drug use), and if that arrow hits, the fire will spread, sometimes burning for weeks or years, or a lifetime. Paul says we are to have the Shield of faith to quench those arrows. Roman soldiers would coat their shields with water or non-flammable oils that helped to quench the fire on these arrows. Our faith in God is what stops Satan's fire from spreading when we get hit with an arrow. Everyone will have moments of doubt, temptation, panic, worry, anxiety, but, if we turn it over to Christ in faith—if we don't hold onto what we don't understand, or can't predict, and instead, just trust Him with it—the fire cannot spread. You must give it to Him in faith. Ephesians 6:17: Helmets are used to protect the head in combat. The Helmet of Salvation, will guard what you think about your Salvation in combat. Your heart as a warrior is willing to put everything on the line, is powerfully based on your assurance of what is in the next life. If you know that you will one day be in New Jerusalem with those you work to save, if you know that whatever you do now, whatever you lose now, is of no value next to your eternal life with Christ, you will fight with unequalled zeal. If you are not certain of your Salvation and the life to come, you will be guarded in your actions, and governed on what you will give of your life. If you constantly feel that God is done with you, because you messed up again, you will not feel you are worthy to continue in the battle. (You're right, you’re not—but He has given you His worth, His value, His Righteousness—and He will never leave you, no matter the stumbles or falls, as long as you continue to love and serve Him: Deuteronomy 31:6. Ephesians 6:17: Now, we come to the one and only offensive weapon mentioned: the Sword. Notice this Sword is not to be wielded by us directly, but by the Spirit—because the Sword is the Word of God, and we can’t understand the Word without the Spirit, nor, can we use the Word in Wisdom, Love and Justice as is needed. The word used here means the individual writings of the Word. The Bible is full of many different weapons, depending upon the need. It is not One Weapon, but an Arsenal. Paul is saying that we are to know God's Word well enough that we can answer every temptation, every challenge, every lie, with solid Truth. We protect our marriages, our children, our society, our hearts, our attitudes, our minds, with the knowledge of God's Word. That is where we find wisdom for the right thoughts, where we find wisdom for the right actions, where we learn where our strength and authority lies against Satan and his army. We must learn God's Word to have the right weapon against Satan, when he attacks. this is why Satan does not want you to be in God's Word—it is the only offensive weapon we have. Jesus Himself, the Living Word (In Matthew 4 and Luke 4), answered Satan's every temptation with, "It is written...", because the Scriptures have Wisdom, because the Scriptures have Power, because the Scriptures tell of Satan's boundaries, and he can’t bluff. So how do we train with our Weapon? Learn God's Word to be ready for war. Look up every Scripture relating to your current battle with Satan. Live it, love it, trust it, when you learn it. This kind of warfare sound lame to you? It is the hardest, most courageous thing you'll ever have to do. Learning and living God's Word requires a complete selflessness and fortitude like no other. It requires complete dependence upon God to do what you can’t. Every church service, every Bible Study, every reading is Weapons Training.
The Armor of God is simply this:
Stand in undivided devotion... Belt of truth
Live righteously against sin... Breastplate of Righteousness
Walk in sureness and boldness... Shoes of Gospel of Peace
Guard every thought and give it to God, before it inflames... Shield of Faith
Know you are His, know every work counts eternally... Helmet of Salvation
Learn your weapons of war with each Word of God... Sword of the Spirit
In the early years of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln became so angered at the inactivity of Union commander George McClellan that the president wrote his commanding general this one-sentence letter: “If you don’t want to use the army, I should like to borrow it for a while. Respectfully, A. Lincoln.” I think it is safe to say that God could make this statement to the church today: "If you don't want to use the Army I've died to Empower, I should like to borrow it for a while!" (Jehovah Tsaba). You have been given the Key, by our Captain of the Army. There are probably only a few who will take that key, unlock their cell, put on their armor, and devote themselves to saving others for our King. We are at war. Peace time is coming soon, but for now, we are at war. 2 Timothy 2:3-4. What will you do with the Key? STAY? PLAY? OR PUT ON THE ARMOR?
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