Spiritual warfare pt3: spiritual armour
SPIRITUAL WARFARE PT 3: ARMOUR(Eph 6:10-18)
Eph 6 contain the longest and most detailed instructions in the Bible on the subject of spiritual warfare and it tells us exactly what to do.
1: Our Need: God’s Strength (6:10-11)
2: Satan’s methods: Deception (6:12-13)
3: God’s provision : Gospel Armour (6:14-18)
For the past 2 weeks we have been looking at the topic of spiritual warfare.
· We’ve looked at the reality of Satan, the sovereignty of God, the battle for truth, the victory of Christ.
· We’ve considered the whole issue from the perspective of authority – Christ is the only one who has authority over Satan and the spiritual forces of evil because He created them. He delegated that authority to the 12 Apostles, but He didn’t delegate that authority to ordinary believers.
· We therefore have no right or authority to be going around rebuking Satan, or binding Satan, or casting out demons. There is no N.T. command to do this or instructions about how to do so.
· If someone is in bondage to Satan or sin, or possessed by a demon, its because they are citizens of Satan’s kingdom and therefore under His authority and control. The only way we can fully and finally rescue them is by leading them to Christ, the great deliverer.
· We looked at Col 1. That it is through faith in Christ, and only through faith in Christ, that someone is rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son.
· So Christ is the only one with a deliverance ministry and our major role is to share the gospel, which, as Rom 1:16 says, is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believers.
· Because believers are filled with the Spirit and directed and controlled by the Spirit, we cannot be filled and directed and controlled by an evil Spirit. We have nothing to fear….
· We can, however, be harassed and tempted and deceived, and otherwise outwitted by Satan.
· So if the right response to the reality of spiritual warfare is not to go around binding Satan and saying mantra’s against him and wearing special charms or getting special anointing oil – what is the right response? What should we do about the reality of spiritual warfare positively?
· Eph 6 contain the longest and most detailed instructions in the Bible on the subject of spiritual warfare and it tells us exactly what to do. So we will be looking this passage this morning.
Turn to Eph 6:10-18
Paul closes this Epistle with a clarion call to prepare for battle.
· vs 12 tells us that we wrestle, we are engaged in hand to hand combat, we have an intense personal struggle, not against people, but against a great spiritual army, which is evil and is bent on our destruction.
This morning we will consider:
2: Satan’s methods
3: God’s provision
1: our need: God’s strength (6:10-11)
Be strong: is a present passive imperative
The main command here is to be strong in the Lord. Put on the armour, stand firm – these are 3 different ways of saying the same thing.
· The Greek is a present, passive imperative.
· The present tense means that we must make this a habit of our life. This is not something we need to do once off, but regularly, daily, as a pattern of our life.
· The imperative means that it a command, it is something God expects us to do as Christians
· The passive means we can’t do it ourselves. In other places in Scripture we are told to be strong, but when it comes to fighting this kind of battle, this kind of enemy – we don’t have the kind of strength that we need.
· So we don’t have the active command, “be strong” but a passive command – be strengthened in the Lord, be strengthened with God’s strength, be clothed with divine power which is the only kind of power able to help you withstand this kind of onslaught.
Divine power (EPH 1:18-23)
· It says we must be strengthened in the strength of His might, the Lord’s might.
· The text is referring to supernatural, divine power. The kind of power that God alone possesses and possesses in abundance.
Immediately we are taken back to the opening chapters of Ephesians.
Eph 1:18-23 (READ)
· In the resurrection of Christ we have a display of God’s supernatural power by which He defeated death, conquered the grave, triumphed over every rule and authority and rose to the highest place of honour and power in the universe.
· All rulers and authorities and powers are placed under the feet of Christ and He is given as ruler over all.
· The same words are used in 1:21 “rulers and authorities” as in 6:12 our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the “rulers and authorities” in the heavenly places.
· We continue to do battle against a defeated enemy.
· Satan and his legions cannot touch Jesus, they cannot undo his finished work on the cross, they cannot prevent his full and final victory over every rule and authority – all they can do is try to deceive and damage His bride, the church.
2: satan’s methods: DECEPTION (6:11-12)
Rulers, Authorities, powers...
· Rulers and authorities: There is a spiritual hierarchy in Satan’s kingdom and they have a sphere of authority, a chain of command, a sphere of dominion.
· Cosmic Powers: The word means literally world-rulers it can refer to human rulers, but is also used as a synonym to refer to Satan and his demons. It indicates something of the influence and power which satan holds over this present world.
· The reference to darkness and to spiritual forces of evil highlights the fact that his influence and power is bent against God.
So what this text is describing is a great spirirtual army which is composed of many spiritual beings, with significant spiritual power and influence, all united in their rebellion against God and their desire to influence people against Him.
But the attack is not primarily physical, against our person, against our wealth or health of family members. So often, when it comes to spiritual warfare, that is where people focus their attention – on the different ways Satan or his demons may be doing us physical or material harm, but that is not where the focus of his efforts lie.
What we must realize is that Satan can harass and harm us physically, but that is not the focus of his efforts. What Satan really wants is to attack us spiritually, to do damage to our faith.
Look at the end of vs 11 – we must put on the whole armour so that we can take our stand against what? Not against the devil himself, God is the only one who can deal with him. The armour we have helps us to resist his schemes.
Schemes: the “wiles” as the KJV puts it, the schemes, the craftiness, the deceitful strategies of the devil.
The devil deals in lies and he is always lying to us, always trying to distort and dilute the truth – that is his major strategy.
Jesus said of the devil in “ John 8:44 He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Our battle is spiritual, not physical – its a battle for the truth – to hold fast the truth of the gospel amidst a myriad of satanic distortions.
That’s why Paul warns Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars who consciences are seared.”
In 2 Corinthians Paul could say:
2 Cor 10:4-5: “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,
Our battle is spiritual, not physical – it’s a battle for the truth – to hold fast the truth of the gospel amidst a myriad of satanic distortions.
3: GOD’S PROVISION: GOSPEL ARMOUR (6:11,13-16)
The way the Greek syntax is constructed here in Eph 6:11 we could read it, be strengthened “by putting on the whole armour of God.”
Don’t be distracted by the imagery here. Paul was writing this letter from prison. He was probably looking out at a Roman solider who was fully dressed for battle and using that very picture to describe how a Christan is to be ready for the spiritual battle.
So what is the armour? Gospel truth. The gospel truth Paul has been covering in this very letter to the Ephesians.
How do we put this armour on so that we can resist the attack on our faith? By remembering what God has done for us in Christ and letting that impact our daily living. By applying exactly what Paul has been teaching in this letter.
· This is not a new teaching, it’s just a different paradigm, a different perspective on what he has been teaching.
· That as we believe and live out the gospel in our daily lives – we will be victorious Christian soldiers.
Paul summarizes the major areas of gospel truth we need to remember and live out under 6 headings which relate to 6 different pieces of armour a Roman soldier would have worn.
1:BELT OF TRUTH
The Christian who would stand firm against the schemes and deceptions of the devil must stand firm in the truth, uncompromising when it comes to truth, unwilling to yield any ground to error.
· The truth, sound doctrine, right thinking matters. Christians are to value the truth, seek out the truth, discern error. So in Eph 4:21-24 we were exhorted to renew our minds with the truth, to conform our thinking to the truth.
· Then in 4:25 we were told to put off falsehood and speak the truth, so we are also to live truthfully, to live with integrity, to put of falsehood and hypocrisy. We can’t say we value truth but then live and speak falsely.
· So we put on the belt of truth by practising discernment and living with integrity. By upholding sound doctrine in thought and word and deed. By discerning error, replacing it with right thinking and right living. It’s a constant, daily, choice.
2: BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
· Eph 4:24 Our new self, is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. This is who we are in Christ, we are completely righteous, we are justified, we stand in a right relationship with God as if we had never sinned and as if we had lived the perfect righteous life of Christ.
· Eph 5:8-10 exhorts us to therefore live righteously. Because we are children of light, we must walk that way in truthfulness, righteousness, goodness. Again you see that our position and our practice go hand in hand. Christians cannot let sin have its way in our lives, we must fight it with all of God’s strength working within us.
· So we put on the breastplate of righteousness by remembering the righteousness we have been given in Christ. To take up the breastplate or righteousness is to take seriously the great cost with which our righteousness was gained for us by Christ and therefore to refuse to have anything to do with sin. To fight sin wherever you find it – knowing that Christ died to free you from its clutches.
3: SANDALS OF PEACE
We are to put on sandles, or shoes for our feet. These were the Roman soldiers equivalent of Rugby boots. They provided a sure footing and ease of movement.
The spiritual parallel for the shoes is readiness. As the belt is truth and the breastplate is righteousness, the shoes are readiness, preparedness. But it’s a particular kind of readiness, it’s the readiness that comes from the gospel, which is peace.
So we are ready for the battle when we stand in peace, the peace which the gospel establishes.
· Again, I think the right way to understand this phrase is to look in the primary context, in Ephesians itself. Paul is summarising at the end of the letter what he has been teaching in the body of the letter.
· 1:2 Paul’s greeting – grace and peace comes from God. Unearned, unmerited favour. We have peace with God through the gospel.
· But that peace has effected our horizontal relationships as well. Eph 2:13-18 This was a major theme in the second half of chapter 2 – peace, peace with God and peace among fellow believers.
· Eph 4:1-6 – therefore be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
When Paul says – put on the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace – he is saying, stand firm united in Christ, stand firm side by side with your brothers in Christ, shoulder to shoulder, shield to shield – doing battle together, as one new man, as one great army.
· So we put on the sandals of gospel peace by remembering the peace we have with God, which was gained for us by Christ and then live that out by living peacably with others, doing everything we can to avoid sowing division, harbouring bitterness and unforgiveness. By building the fellowship we have with the saints and making sure we are standing side by side with them in unity as we battle together against Satan.
4: Shield of faith
The last two pieces of armour in vs 16-17 are snatched up, or grabbed at the last minute as the soldier runs into the battle. The shield and the helmet
The shield being referred to here was that big, rectangular shield, like a small door. The Roman soldiers would use their shields very effectively as a unit.
The spiritual counterpart for the believer – is faith.
· 2:8-9 By grace you have been saved through faith. Faith is trusting in what Jesus has done for me, rather than in what I can do for Him.
· We stand against temptations toward legalism or self-righteousness by putting our full confidence in what Christ has done for us and not in any goodness of our own.
· 3:16-19 Paul prays that believers would be strengthened by God’s power so that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith. So that being rooted and grounded in love we may be able to comprehend what is breadth and length and height and depth of the love of God toward us in Christ. That we might know the love of Christ so that we might be filled with all the fullness of God.
· So the shield of faith protects us against the accusations of the devil, whose very name means “accuser” and who is constantly bringing accusations against us. It protects us against self-righteousness and against debilitating guilt when we have fallen short and sinned. With the shield of faith we trust fully and only in what Christ has done for me and not in any goodness of our own.
5: Helmet of salvation
· The term “salvation” here, means to save, to deliver, to free, to rescue.
· It is clear that what Paul has in mind is not only the salvation from the penatly of sin, but also from its power. Deliverance from the oppression of evil, from every form of wickedness.
· He is taking us back to his own prayer in Eph 1:18-23 (read)– Paul wants us to know God’s great power toward us in Christ, the great victory that we enjoy in Him.
· The helmet of salvation gives us the sure confidence that we can and will overcome even against such a formidible opponent. When the battle wages fiercely all around, when it feels like we are being pummeled and knocked to the ground – we need to know that we have God’s deliverance, God’s salvation, the certain hope of victory in Christ.
· We might receive many blows, but the helmet of salvation means that we are delivered from the death blow.
6: Sword of the Spirit
· This was the short, broad sword used in close combat by the Romans
· We are told that the Sword is the Word of God, the Bible. So this phrase “of the Spirit” must be telling us where the Sword comes from, who is the author. This is the Spirit’s sword, the sword which He produced and gave to us for the battle.
· ESV Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
· The Spirit has not given us a blunt, plastic toy Sword – He has given us the most powerful weapon in the universe specifically for the kind of spiritual battle we face.
· We need to take our Bibles in hand and wield it in the power of the Spirit in fervent prayer
Vs 18 says literally with prayer and petition praying. Paul uses a participle form for the word “pray.” A participle normally ends with “ing” in English and tells us more about how the main action is to happen. We are to take up this gospel armour and stand firm in it and live it out prayerfully. With an attitude of prayer, being dependant upon God in prayer.
Notice the focus of our praying is not on Satan, or about Satan and demons and rebuking and binding him and breaking curses. We are to be praying to God for the Saints with all kinds of prayers and petitions. Fervent prayer, specific prayer, desperate prayer, spirit-empowered prayer – is to saturate our battle efforts.
In prayer we express our dependence upon God, we affirm our trust in God and we ask for God’s help for the battle.
Summary of armour
So let me summarize what we’ve learned here:
· We have a great personal battle to fight against a formidable foe. But God has provided us with everything we need in the gospel.
· It’s a battle primarily fought for truth, to stand fast in gospel truth. To believe the truth about who we are in Christ and to live that out in our daily lives.
o The devil will try deceive – so we must stand firm in the truth, to renew our minds with the truth.
o The devil will try to tempt to sin, so we must stand firm in righteousness and holiness.
o The devil will try to divide us – so we must stand firm in unity, in the bond of peace.
o The devil will try to make us focus on ourselves, either our good or bad performance and we need to focus our faith on Christ alone.
o The devil will try to demoralize us and get us to give up, and we need to remember the certain victory that is ours in Christ.
o We need to take up our Bibles and fight against these schemes with the truth of God’s Word and we need to do that prayerfully, in dependence upon God.
It seems that in this spiritual battle, many believers are doing all kinds of things that we have no biblical warrant for doing and we are not doing those very things we are commanded to do.
John Piper makes the following observation:
“Life is war. That’s not all it is. But it is always that...But most people do not believe this in their hearts. Most people show by their priorities and their casual approach to spiritual things that they believe we are in peacetime, not wartime...Very few people think that we are in a war that is greater than World War II, or than any imaginable nuclear war. Few reckon that Satan is a much worse enemy than any earthly foe, or realize that the conflict is not restricted to any one global theatre, but is in every town and city in the world. Who considers that the casualties of this war do not merely lose an arm or an eye or an earthly life, but lose everything, even their own souls, and enter a hell of everlasting torment?”