Spiritual Warfare and the Christian (Ephesians 6:10-20), Part 1

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Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

The book of Ephesians begins with the Christian in Christ, and describes his exhaustless wealth as an heir of God and joint-heir with Christ (chs. 1-3). It continues with the Christian walking worthy of the Lord in spiritual unity, purity, and joyous harmony with fellow Christians (vv. 4:1-6:9).

The Warfare of the Christian

But what a change of scene and atmosphere when we come to Ephesians 6:10-20. We are suddenly presented with the terrible reality of spiritual warfare, where we see a demonic foe set in array against us. These verses picture the Christian facing Satan and his minions, locked in mortal spiritual combat.

THE CALL TO ARMS

“Finally, my brethren, be strong… for we wrestle…” (Eph. 6:10, 12). “Finally” indicates the close of the letter and suggests a climax to Paul’s letter of exhortation. No one is exempt from the conflict. God calls every saint to arms and commands each to fight the good fight of faith.

THE CONFLICT WITH UNGODLY ANTAGONISTS

“For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

The warfare involves powerful antagonists in desperate hand-to-hand battle. The word “against” is emphasized five times in this one verse. We have invisible spiritual foes who are actively and aggressively fighting against us. “Not against flesh and blood.” This negative statement clarifies the nature of the enemy.

The conflict is not against people, the human and the visible, but with the spiritual and invisible. We must not make war with people or focus our attack on people. Rather, God desires that we realize who is behind the critical and hurtful attitudes and actions of people, and direct our warfare against the true enemy: Satan and his demonic forces.

Our adversary is Satan. Scripture reveals Satan as a bitter enemy of God and His people, the implacable foe of Christ and all Christians. He is a cruel adversary continually seeking to devour the saints. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant, because our adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.” Jesus tells us Satan’s avowed purpose is “to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). Everything Satan does is deceitful and destructive.

Our adversary has a position. Satan and his demonic host occupy various strategic positions relative to earth and world governments. Jesus never acknowledged Satan as a king, but three times he calls him “the prince of this world.” Ephesians teaches that he is the ruling spirit that motivates unbelievers and seeks to control “the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:3). Satan also has control over the nations of earth. When Satan offered Christ all the kingdoms of this world if He would but bow down and worship him, Jesus did not dispute his claim of control over them.

Our adversary has power. Satan is not only powerful in himself, but also mightily equipped and strongly entrenched for this warfare. He is the strong man that Jesus spoke of (Luke 11:21) that Christ has defeated. He has his strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4) and his armies (Eph. 6:12). In the light of such a revelation from God, it would be absolute foolishness to underestimate or ignore the power of the devil.

THE BATTLEFIELD

It is crucial to know where this warfare takes place because its location determines our position in relation to the enemy, the nature of the warfare, and the kind of weapons to be used.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us that one of the realms Satan operates in is the “heavenly places.” However, our captain Jesus Christ, is located “far above all heavens” (Eph. 4:10) and has authority over “all principality, and power and might, and dominion” (Eph. 1:20-21). And since we, as Christians, are seated with Christ, we too are above Satan and receive from Christ all the power we need to be victorious in this spiritual battle.

Another realm Satan operates in is in our minds. For that reason we are told the kind of weapons that must be used. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

The mental battle is at times very difficult. We must capture our negative thoughts and bring them into obedience to Christ, meaning in harmony with His Word.

The Weapons for Spiritual Warfare

In order to win over our enemy, we must know our weapons and how to use them (Eph. 6:10-14).

OUR LOINS GIRT WITH TRUTH

“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth” (Eph. 6:14). The first piece of spiritual equipment we must put on is “the belt of truth.” Our Lord said it this way, “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning” (Luke 12:35). Be alert. Be ready for action.

The “belt of truth” means a correct understanding of God’s Word plus a commitment to be a person of truth. Jesus told His disciples that if they continued in His word, in His instruction concerning the truth, then they would be His disciples indeed, and the truth, which will thus be imparted to you and which you will be continuing in, will make you free (John 8:31-32).

“Truth” then, in this context, means a belief in, and a knowledge of, the truth as it is in Jesus Christ. It means not only a mastery of God’s Word, but also being mastered by the Word. A Christian orders his life by the truth. He must not do anything or allow anything to stay in his mind that is not in harmony with the truth of God’s Word. I am to embrace the truth, live by the truth, and seek the truth at all times. Proverbs 23:23 exhorts:

“Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.”

 


 

Originally published in God’s Revivalist. Used by permission.

Allan Brown
Dr. Allan Brown is Professor and Chair of the Division of Ministerial Education at God's Bible School & College. He holds his PhD in Old Testament Interpretation from Bob Jones University and is the author of several books and articles.