“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood…” ~Ephesians 6:12a
Paul very clearly points out, as Christians, our struggle is not against flesh and blood. Paul is trying to drive home the point that struggle is not that of physical war, people, corporations, other nations, etc. So then, what exactly are we up against then? Paul answers this as he finishes up the rest of verse 12:
“Against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” ~Ephesians 6:12b
In other words, Paul is saying that the fight that we contend with everyday as followers of Christ is spiritual. Obviously, most of the time, the spiritual realm is invisible to us. Occasionally we may catch glimpses of it if the Lord allows us to see, angelic appearances, etc, but for the most part we do not see the spiritual realm. So how in the world are Christians supposed to defend themselves?
Paul in the preceding verses says:
“Be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devils schemes” ~Ephesians 6:10-11
It seems very clear that without this armor of God that Paul speaks, it is impossible for a Christian to stand strong in the Lord. Paul charges believers to put on the FULL armor of God. By doing so we will not be caught in the devil’s schemes. The Greek word here for “schemes” is methodeia, which can be translated as “cunning arts, deceit, craft, or trickery”. By putting on the full armor of God, Christians well not be deceived or tricked by the craftiness of the devil!
So what is the armor of God and how do we as Christians apply this practically to our lives? Paul goes on to describe the armor of God:
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place” ~Ephesians 6:14
Understand that Paul is used the Roman armor as a model for his description of the armor of God. In that day, the armor used by the Romans provided complete protection if it was put on correctly. The belt of the armor actually had a hook on it that connected to the breastplate. By hooking that belt to the breastplate, it kept the entire armor suit snuggly together and prevented the armor from being lax or vulnerable. The “Belt of Truth” buckled around the waist depicts a believers confession to Christ. Without the knowing and proclaiming Christ and understanding that confession, the believer is vulnerable to spiritual attack. The breastplate in the Roman armor was obviously to protect the vital organs of the Roman soldier. The “Breastplate of Righteousness” is symbolically God’s righteousness that protects the Christian’s heart.
“And ready your feet with the readiness of the gospel of peace” ~Ephesians 6:15
The prophet Isaiah sheds some more light on this particular verse:
“How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who bring good news, who announce peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, “your God reigns!”” ~Isaiah 52:7
In the ancient world, there were messengers that would run by foot to deliver a message from kingdom to kingdom declaring news. These messengers were ready at a moments notice. By readying “your feet with the readiness of the gospel of peace” is simply being ready to proclaim the Gospel of Christ with gentleness and compassion at any time.
“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” ~Ephesians 6:16
The Roman solders had two kinds of shields. There was a small shield that was used in close combat, and a larger shield that covered the entire body. Paul uses the Greek word thyreos, which refers to the bigger shield (a large oblong, four corned shield). Usually this shield was coated with leather so that it could extinguish the fire from flaming arrows. The idea here is that faith in Christ acts as a shield against all the tricks and attacks of the enemies. It is a powerful illustration to think that when Christians stand together in prayer and faith, they make a blockade of these thyreos shields and the devils tricks and “flaming arrows” cannot penetrate it!
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” ~Ephesians 6:17
Obviously, any kind of helmet protects your head. Go figure, right? The Roman helmet is no different. The hope of salvation is found in Jesus Christ. The “Helmet of Salvation” is the knowledge of salvation that protects the heart and soul of the believer. Knowing in our minds (in our heads, which the helmet protects) that Christ has already won the battle and conquered sin, death, the grave, and Satan allows the believer to stand firm in their relationship with Christ. The only weapon that is given to the believer is “the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”. Just like the shields, the Roman solider had two kinds of swords. A long sword and a short sword, which was more like a long knife or dagger. The Greek here (machaira) means “a large knife or a small sword”. The picture here is that when a believer is confronted in close combat with spiritual attacks, God expects us to use His Word to defend our selves.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions wit all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for the saints” ~Ephesians 6:18
Paul concludes this teaching on spiritual warfare with prayer. He recognizes that prayer is the way that Christians communicate with God and by the help of the Holy Spirit, who helps us pray (Romans 8:26). Paul says the believer needs be “be alert” or be aware of the things around them. Devotion to prayer and God’s Word is crucial to victory and standing firm in spiritual warfare.
Spiritual warfare is very much a real and active part of Christian’s life. Many, however, do no give much heed to this. I pray that this blog will challenge you to take a deeper look into what the Bible says about spiritual warfare and I hope that you will take the time to equip yourself with the armor the Lord has given you. God supplies the armor for the believer, but it is our job to put it on ourselves. God will not dress us. When we dress in this, we are dressing ourselves in God’s armor, God Himself (Isaiah 11:2, Isaiah 59:17, Ephesians 6:10-18). God gives us everything we need to stand firm (1 Corinthians 10:13, Ephesians 6:10-18), but it our job as Christians to use what God has given us.