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Clothed and Ready - Toronto Seventh Day Baptist Church

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The Way of New Life
Clothed and Ready
Study Scripture: Ephesians 6: 10 - 20
Background Scripture: Ephesians 6: 1 - 24
Lesson 12
February 21, 2015
Key Verse
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand against the wiles of the devil.
Ephesians 6:11
INTRODUCTION
The Study Scripture now confronts us with the need to face life in a realistic and practical manner. It
provides us with facts which confronts the distorted perspectives and value systems and dreams which
leads us into confusing illusions and into an unreal and make-believe world.
Christians need to be reminded that they are continually being confronted with choices. They are
continually being called on to accept the flimsy and uncertain authority of mere mortal men or the
certain, solid and clear word of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When we look back on our lives we become aware of failures, problems, weaknesses, stubbornness,
rebellion and other things in our life of which we should never be proud. But we should also note that
these are manifestations of the struggle in which we are engaged, and the cleverness and the
ruthlessness and might of the enemy that we constantly face whether or not we realize it.
Believers are always trying to make progress in their Christian life and in their spiritual growth, but
often times it is their bad habits that frustrate them. This Study Scripture therefore reminds us about
who we are and what is happening to us since we live in a very hostile environment.
We are therefore now looking at the forces that we face and the Apostle Paul analyzes life as it relates
to the Christian.
It is noteworthy and crucial that we remember that in the first three chapters of the book of Ephesians,
the Apostle states clearly the position that we have in Christ since we have been accepted into union
with Him, based of course on what He has done for us.
The Apostle Paul reminds believers that God had created man to be in fellowship with Him and
worship Him, but because man sinned they were alienated from God, and the world was ravaged by
man’s sin. But God was merciful and He rescued man by the work of Jesus Christ and filled believers
with His Holy Spirit, and made all believers called out from every nation and tongue one great family.
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We stand therefore in His merits. It is in Him that we have our prized possession.
From chapter 4, the Apostle Paul expounds on the walk that we should have given this position and
prized possessions that we have been given because of our union with Christ. We were told that we are
to walk worthy of the vocation to which we are called and therefore the Apostle reminds us that since
we have been redeemed by the grace of God, our salvation has affected our daily life and all the
experiences we undergo.
Given the gift of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit lived and worked in believers to
make the presence of Christ real in their lives so that they would declare the glory of Christ to the
world and to others they wish to rescue because of God’s redeeming love.
To show how the glory of God would be shown to the world Paul spoke of how the behaviour of
believers would translate in practical ways. The Apostle therefore spoke in some detail about many
aspects of life including the relationship between children and their parents, exhorting children to
honour their parents while at the same time exhorting fathers not to provoke them to wrath but to bring
them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. All of this is of immense practical importance to
believers who face many contrary positions which arise from the Satanic influence on the minds of
men.
The Apostle Paul had immediately before this attention to the obligation and rights of parents spoke of
husbands and wives, explaining in great detail the relationships that they were to have with one
another.(See chapter 5).
Then the Apostle turned to the relationship of servants and slaves and their masters, but in doing so he
was not supporting the accepted structure of society but instead was calling on Christian slaves as well
as masters to look on their situation as an opportunity for obedience and service of Christ,
demonstrating that they were servants of Christ and despite their situation would do the will of God.
Note therefore that after dealing with the expected patterns of behaviour the Apostle’s attention turned
to other sections of the environment in which the believer live. Prominent in this would be the subject
of the Christian’s conflict with the world and the struggle required.
We must pay special attention to the fact that man cannot win any struggle by themselves. As a matter
of fact, those that are saved do not belong anymore to themselves, but belong to Christ and are required
to have Christ live His life through them in order for them to even survive the attacks of their enemies.
We will therefore be looking at the beginnings of the battle, what the battle entails, what the strategy of
Satan is like, the terror tactics that he uses, and how believers are to understand that it fences provided
against defeat.
Truly Paul declared the whole counsel of God to the Ephesians for he had laboured among them for
three years using this great city as his home base.
He informs us that in coming to faith in Christ we enter into every spiritual blessings in the heavenly
places in Christ (1:3). But he also warns that it is the beginning of a great struggle with Satan and his
forces. So while we thankfully dwell on the blessings of our faith, we should be aware of the hostile
engagement we enter when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, and which we must prosecute in His
strength using our resources in Christ.
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Paul’s letter details the Ephesians past spiritual condition (2:1-3) and by extension that of all people.
He spells out their ever present spiritual situation as saints of God, with the attendant tremendous and
wonderful blessings of being “in Christ”.
Then just before his final salutation at the end of his letter we read “…Finally, be strong in the Lord
and in his mighty power.” This and the verses that follow deal with a very crucial area of the spiritual
life of all believers, that of the ongoing spiritual warfare in which all saints are involved, whether or not
they are aware of this conflict. If the preceding parts of the letter may be described as the believers
riches (1-3) and his walk (4-5), then these verse are about the believers warfare.
As in all wars, victory is contingent on weaponry, strategy and mindset and so it is with spiritual
warfare, and in these most important verses, Paul exhorts his readers to the battle. He presents the
mindset, strategy and weapons at the disposal of the saints, to persecute their spiritual warfare with the
archenemy Satan and his host of demons. Comforting for Christians in all this is the fact that our
ultimate victory does not rest on our performance but on the victory Christ has already achieved in His
sacrificial death on the ‘cross’.
Paul depicts the saint fully armed for battle using the metaphor of a Roman soldier’s battle dress but
ultimately all the spiritual resources available to the believer is to be found in Christ. He was under
house arrest at the time of writing and was chained to a Roman soldier at different times but his
immediate surroundings was only the occasion that prompted his portrayal of the saint as one dressed
for battle as a soldier.
We should note carefully that as Paul was writing he was a prisoner guided by Roman soldiers and so
he used several images from these military personnel. But it is more important to note that the
Apostle’s real source of the images used was from several Old Testament descriptions of the Coming
Messiah. As we study therefore note the following.
One writer notes: “Putting on the “full armor of God” is putting on the armor which our Lord
girded Himself, when He set out to bring about the salvation of His own in an evil day:
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. And the
Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and
strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And He will delight in the fear of the
LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; But
with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And
He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the
wicked. Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, And faithfulness the belt about His waist
(Isaiah 11:1-5).
And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His
own arm brought salvation to Him; And His righteousness upheld Him. And He put on righteousness
like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for
clothing, And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. According to their deeds, so He will repay,
Wrath to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; To the coastlands He will make recompense. So
they will fear the name of the LORD from the west And His glory from the rising of the sun, For He
will come like a rushing stream, Which the wind of the LORD drives. “And a Redeemer will come to
Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” declares the LORD (Isaiah 59:16-20).
When we put on the “full armour of God” we are actually putting on Christ:”
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It should come as little surprise to believers that they are engaged in spiritual warfare, as it is very clear
from the opening passages of Scripture that there is an enemy that opposes God, His plans, His
purposes and His people. Satan showed himself to be the implacable enemy of God from the Garden of
Eden where he led man into sin (Gen.3) and thus damned the human race. This however was only
another act of hostility following his rebellion in Heaven (Ezek 28:12-15; Isa.14:12-14) in eternity past
even before time began. His opposition to God has continued unabated and only intensified with
God’s people his chief target and their destruction in Hell his main objective.
Satan has attacked, deceived and tempted the saints down through the centuries (1Chron.21:1;
Dan.10:10-13, 20-21; John13:27; Acts 5:3; 2 Cor.11:13-15) and had the audacity to tempt Jesus to sin
to His face (Matt.4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13;Rev.2:9, 13, 24; 3:9). Peter describes him thus: Be sober, be
vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may
devour, (1 Pet.5:8).
Paul would have his readers be aware of the spiritual warfare that raged around and within them but
equally important he gives them specific instructions on how to ‘arm’ themselves for the spiritual
battles using the weapons furnished by their being “in Christ”.
Jesus explicitly stated: “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”
(Matt.16:18). Thus we know the church is engaged in a spiritual war and its enemy is Satan and a host
of unseen angelic and celestial enemies, whose power vastly exceeds our own (Acts 5:3,13:10;
2 Cor.11:13-15; 1Tim.5:14-15; Rev.2-3).
Though our enemies are invisible to our eyes, they are nevertheless real and their work is evident in the
church and in the lives of believers. They seem to have various forms, as is suggested by the variety of
terms used by Paul to identify them: “rulers,” “powers,” “world forces of this darkness,” “spiritual
forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (vs.12) and also appear to be organized territorially
(Dan. 10).
It would be foolish for Christians to underestimate the power of the demonic forces arrayed against us
but neither should we be intimidated. The apostle James exhorts us to: “… Resist the devil, and he will
flee from you (4:7) and in our text Paul calls on Christians to stand. So let us study our text with a heart
to understand our situation and resources and a commitment to heed the words of God’s Apostles.
THE TEXT
Verse 10. The Apostle’s change of subject from Christian relationships to spiritual warfare might
appear abrupt but our relations which he just described are one of the chief battlegrounds with the
forces of evil.
Finally…because this is the last of his major themes in the book. By the term ‘my brethren, he
identifies with the believers in the struggle.
‘Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might’ is meant to be a general ever present principle for
living and found elsewhere in Scripture. See for example Psalm 31:2, Psalm 89:8 Isaiah 40: 26 Isaiah
26:1 and many other passages.
We must depend on the strength of God as a way of life. Particularly the saint must allow God to
strengthen him or her, and on the other hand must strengthen him / herself in the Lord. Here we see that
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God gives the strength but the saint also have a responsibility to appropriate that strength.
…in the Lord, in Christ is a cardinal reality in this letter; we are one with Christ and it is in Him that
we are strong. Jesus said of the church at Philadelphia in Revelation Three, “… And you have a little
strength…”, yet that church was not rebuked by the Lord. The little strength in Jesus was enough to
resist the Devil.
power of His might…both words have similar meaning but the combination puts emphasis on the
importance of the divine power at work in believers.
It is most important to note that when the Apostle begins to speak of the warriors’ resources he says
“Be strong”, and the Apostle uses the present tense which means that he exhorts the brethren to
constantly appropriate the strength of the Lord. This is not therefore something we do one-time only,
but it is something that we must do constantly. Given the fact that we are in union with Him this
relationship makes available to us the strength that He provides for us.
Believers was never to fool themselves that we go to heaven as one scholar wryly describes it “on a
flowery bed of ease”. The believer must remember that they are at war and that this war is aimed at
every single part of them including their most intimate parts.
Remember that this battle is not one that we choose, so in reality this battle is not primarily against us
though we are participating in it and during this battle we are potential victims. As previously pointed
out this battle began when Satan rebelled against God and was cast out with one third of the Angels of
heaven, according to Revelation 12:3-4. This cosmic battle continued and when God created the earth
and men and woman for friendship with Him Satan’s strategy was to destroy that which God loves, and
in particular he wanted to destroy the people made in God’s image and likeness.
We therefore face a vicious, calculated, determined, hateful, murderous, single-minded, destructive,
deceptive, well- experienced in twisting the mind of men enemy that was created originally as a
powerful and able angel of God. If we were to engage in a battle in our own strength we would be
totally defeated and so the Apostle who is now in prison and guarded by Roman soldiers, is going to
instruct us that our resources come from God Himself with His power working in us.
Verse 11. Put on… We are not encouraged to take up the “full armor of God,” we are commanded to
do so. Paul’s emphasis on the full armour suggests that our protection against Satan’s attacks is assured
only if and when we take up the full armour of God. Our adversary is the devil. Satan boasts an array of
schemes and he attacks us at any point he considers us vulnerable. Thus, our armour must be complete
or we are soon victims of his attacks.
The whole description of the armour in the following verses is reminiscent of the weapons and battle
garb of a Roman soldier. The imagery came to Paul easily as he was chained to a soldier at this time
and it was easy to see that any missing piece of the armour left the soldier exposed to mortal danger.
Paul transfers the same urgency to the spiritual realm and urges full ‘body’ coverage.
Paul’s emphasis on the “full” or “complete” armour of God must mean that these verses actually
describe all that we need for the warfare and any other item men may suggest is unnecessary and likely
a liability.
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It is understood, it is a given that we will be attacked by Satan, we are in a war! "Wiles" has at its root
the idea of
that which is traced out with method; that which is methodized; and then that which is well laid-art, skill, cunning.
The purpose of the armour that God provides for waging spiritual warfare is essentially to withstand
all of Satan's attacks.
The wiles of the devil are the various arts and stratagems which he employs to alienate people from
God and lead them into Hell. Satan seeks to have people doubt, deny, disregard and disobey the word
of God (Gen. 3; Matt. 4). The world system which he inspires seeks to get people to believe that they
do not need God, in fact his aim is to deny the very existence of God (1 John 2). The ‘flesh’ which
Satan excites, tempts us to think that we can find all our satisfaction, joy, and fulfillment in the
physical and material realm of life (Rom. 7).
The idea here is that Satan does not necessarily carry on open warfare with the saints but relies on
deception, deceit and stealth. His actions are often covert. But never forget that even though we do not
see what he is doing his actions are ongoing.
God has provided us the full armour and given specific instructions on how to repel Satan’s attacks.
We are to resist the devil (1 Peter 5:8-9), flee the temptations of the world system (the lust of the
flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; 1 John 2:15-17; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22), and
deny the flesh (Rom. 6:12-13; 7:18-24; 8:13).
We should be cognizant of what the Old Testament teaches us about the unseen world. Daniel 10 tells
us that Daniel was praying for a revelation of some truths that he had received and which he eventually
wrote in chapters 11 and 12. Note what the angelic being which eventually came to Daniel tells Daniel
the prophet:
“O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright, for
unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.
Then said he unto me, fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to
understand and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
But the Prince of the Kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days. But lo, Michael, one of the
chief princes, came to help me, and I remained there with the kings of Persia”.
Note that this is an angelic being speaking to Daniel the prophet telling him that the Prince of the
Kingdom of Persia, a satanic demon had interrupted the trip to Daniel, had momentarily stopped him
from coming to Daniel even after he was sent by God to minister to Daniel and to tell him what would
befall his people in the latter days.
Then after this the angelic being told Daniel in verse 20
“Then said he, knowest thou why I come unto thee? And now we will return to fight with the Prince of
Persia, and when I am gone forth, lo, the Prince of Greece shall come”.
The Angels of God therefore are in a continuing battle with the angels of Satan who are trying to
frustrate God’s plan and work. Let us understand therefore that there is much happening around us that
we cannot see. Note that when Daniel was enabled to see the angelic beings he lost all his strength and
fell to the ground, and had to be helped to stand up. This shows the kind of power that this connected
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with the angelic world. There is no doubt then that we need the strength of God to even engage in the
battle at a modest level, much less to be highly involved.
We need the Lord, and not the Lord and something else or some other method or some other plans. We
need to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. We need the full armour of the Lord given
the kind of foes that we face.
Verse 12. Ephesus was a satanic stronghold and a hotbed of occult practices (Acts 19). In all cultures
including modern societies, beliefs in spirits and the occult is common. Today, though many scoff at
the idea of a real Devil, yet satanic themes appear to be the most popular fare on television and in the
movies. Here Paul points to the reality of that world and gives believers a sense of the vast, powerful,
formidable and organized enemy with which they must contend.
One must have some knowledge of the enemy in order to wage war successfully. A thorough
knowledge of the enemy and a wise regard for his abilities are a necessary preliminary to victory. Paul
wants Christians to have a full understanding of what they are up against. If we underestimate our
spiritual enemy, then we see no need for God's armour, we rely on our own puny strength and are
quickly defeated as Satan lure us into sin.
Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed, lest he fall, (1 Cor.10:12 l).
Paul uses the word wrestle to denote the intensity of the fight, literally hand to hand combat. Our
struggle is against an unseen foe and essentially on a spiritual plain, though it often leads to certain
physical behavior.
…not with flesh and blood…Paul is not suggesting that Christians have no enemies among men but
rather that their main conflict was with the invisible spirits of wickedness under Satan’s command.
Often the individuals we contend with are being manipulated by Satan (Matt.16:13-23; 2 Cor.4:4).
…against principalities…here we have a description of the organization of Satan’s host of demons.
Paul puts emphasis on the warfare by noting we are against each category of evil spirits. We know that
God’s holy angels are variously said to be archangels, cherubim and seraphim. We also read about
principalities, and powers and thrones and dominions. So, God has organized His angelic force from
the top down. There are archangels and then principalities and then the powers and the thrones and the
dominions and the might and the cherubim and the seraphim and they all have different functions, all
have different capacities.
Not surprising then Satan who always tries to imitate and corrupt God’s design would organize his
forces along similar lines. Whereas God’s angels are said to be holy, obedient, ministering spirits,
Satan’s demons are linked to or characterized with darkness and wickedness.
The word principalities refers to principal rulers, or chieftains. Powers those who had power, or to
whom the name of powers was given. …rulers of the darkness of this world are the rulers that preside
over the ignorance and sin with which the earth abounds.
One commentator notes:
Darkness is an emblem of ignorance, misery, and sin; and no description could be more accurate
than that of representing these malignant spirits as ruling over a dark world. … When he speaks
of the Christian warfare here, he refers to the contest with the powers of this dark kingdom. He
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regards each and every Christian as a soldier to wage war on it in whatever way he could, and
wherever he could attack it. The contest, therefore, was not primarily with men, or with the
internal corrupt propensities of the soul; it was with this vast and dark kingdom that had been
set up over mankind. I do not regard this passage, therefore, as having a primary reference to the
struggle which a Christian maintains with his own corrupt propensities. It is a warfare on a large
scale with the entire kingdom of darkness over the world. Yet, in maintaining the warfare, the
struggle will be with such portions of that kingdom as we come in contact with, and will actually
relate
(1.) to our own sinful propensities--which are a part of the kingdom of darkness;
(2.) with the evil passions of others--their pride, ambition, and spirit of revenge--which are also a
part of that kingdom;
(3) with the evil customs, laws, opinions, employments, pleasures of the world--which are also a
part of that dark kingdom;
(4) with error, superstition, false doctrine--which are also a part of that kingdom; and
(5) with the wickedness of the heathen world--the sins of benighted nations ---also a part of that
kingdom. Wherever we come in contact with evil--whether in our own hearts or elsewhere--there
we are to make war.
Also of note is the fact that the term darkness refers to Hell and the pit and the dominion of Satan.
When we were saved, Col. 1:13 says we were taken out of the kingdom of darkness. The Scriptures say
that Hell is a place of darkness, where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. It's called
outer darkness and so darkness is synonymous with the dominion of demons and the abode of Satan.
Against spiritual wickedness. Literally, "the spiritual things of wickedness;" but the allusion is
undoubtedly to evil spirits, and to their influences on earth.
…In high places… this same phrase occurs in Ephesians 1:3; 2:6, where it is translated, "in heavenly
places." It is used of those that dwell in heaven, Matthew 18:35; Philippians 2:10; of those who come
from heaven, 1 Corinthians 15:48; Philippians 3:21; of the heavenly bodies--the sun, moon, and stars,
1 Corinthians 15:40. It is also used to denote the lower heavens, the sky, the air, represented as the seat
of evil spirits (Ephesians 2:2). They exert a baleful influence on the affairs of men manifested in vice,
spiritual error, superstition, infidelity, atheism, sexism, materialism, evil customs and laws. Their
influence is readily seen in popular music, art, media, entertainment, seminaries, education and politics.
Another writer notes in part: Some commentators believe that Paul described four different orders
of angelic beings here. Probably the four terms used of our spiritual enemies in this verse do not
identify four separate kinds of adversaries as much as they point out four characteristics of all of
them. "Rulers" stresses their authority and "powers" or "authorities" their strength. "World
forces of this darkness" or "powers of this dark world" point to their wide influence in the
world, and forces "of wickedness" or "spiritual forces of evil" relate to their evil character.
Verse 13. We already know that the ‘days are evil’ (5:16) and so the ‘evil day’ likely refers to
particular days of great temptation or demonic attacks. In another sense every day of temptation is an
evil day.
…to stand…the context of the passage is war and the term means to vanquish or subdue; the idea is
that every foe is to be repulsed no matter how numerous or formidable.
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We should at this point remember the story of the false prophet Balaam that the heathen King Balak
hired to prophesy against Israel. Balaam wanted to prophesy against Israel for money, and so stood up
over and over again to utter prophecies against Israel, but all his prophecies that came out of his mouth
were great prophecies in favour of Israel. God had so controlled his tongue that he could not, despite
his will, prophesy against Israel and so we know that the children of Israel had an impregnable defence
against the prophecies of Balaam. But as soon as the false prophet failed Satan switched his strategy
and had many of the children of Israel look out on the woman of Baal Peor who of course were pagan
women, and they were so attracted to them with a fleshly kind of lust that was forbidden by the word of
God that they married the heathen women and then started to worship their gods. As a result of which
the zealous Phineas arose according to Numbers 25 when he saw this carnality and slew one of the
members of the children of Israel. Because of this brave action God promised that He would give him
an everlasting priesthood.
Satan therefore doesn’t cry over his failures but when they occur he moves on and tries something else
that is devious and treacherous. Unable to work through Balak to get Balaam to prophesy against Israel
so that they would fall Satan used his wiles to get fleshly, carnal lust to work among the children of
Israel so that they would disobey the word of God, be corrupted and destroyed. So we have to be
careful for Satan switches from one evil method to another to get us away from obeying the word of
God. Note also that Satan constantly probed the godly Job and he failed at every time because of Job’s
attitude to God. So note that it is possible to keep on behaving properly.
Verse 14. We are commanded to stand or resist every attack as a soldier does in battle. How we do
this and the weapons at our disposal is described in this and the next four verses. The main verbs in the
section are "stand" (v.14) and "take" (v.17) and are imperatives denoting urgency. At this point Paul
describes the saint in the language of a fully armed soldier but with spiritual weaponry.
Note that Messiah is described as a warrior (Isa. 11:5; 59:17, 52:7) and Paul certainly had those texts in
mind and with a soldier right there in front of him, his use of the soldier imagery was natural.
Having your loins girt… literally the belt of truth about your waist. Loose flowing robes were the
normal garb for those in the Near East and it was necessary to gird them up when people travelled, ran,
or engage in some vigorous activity. It was the place where they carried their money, their sword, their
pipe, their writing instruments, etc. The girdle on a soldier was designed to carry the breastplate and
scabbard and to keep every part of the armour in its place, so the soldier was snug on every side.
The truth could refer to both God's revealed truth that the Christian believed and his own truthfulness,
specifically a lifestyle that reflected that truth. Full truth is the only adequate basis for a defence against
Satan.
Note that ”truth” is presented as a way of life that must be what all of our behaviour rests on. Jesus
Himself said that Satan is the father of lies and that he is a murderer. 1 John 2:1 speaks against lies and
Revelation 21 denounces this practice and stresses its deadly effect. Lying therefore is not the “truth”
no matter how we define “truth” and lying is forbidden. Some scholars speak about the seven levels of
lying which begins with us speaking what are called “white lies” because they are convenient tools to
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use to avoid certain unpleasant things, or to brush people aside when we do not want to represent the
glory of Christ, but it is noted that this practice which often starts so innocently and which is
considered trivial develops and ends in a person adopting lying as a way of life, automatically
responding with hypocrisy and lying. This is a very serious matter for Christians. Lying or not speaking
the truth means that you are adopting Satan’s style and living according to the way of Satan. This
ended up in him being cast out of heaven. So be careful for you do not want the same thing to happen
to you!
While there might be some difficulty in linking some of the specific pieces of armour with their
spiritual representation, the truth as a belt that more or less holds things together seems quite
reasonable. Certainly any believer who lacks integrity destroys his own witness and cannot confront the
Devil for fear of exposure. Another thought of girding oneself is that it marked preparation to go into
action.
the breastplate would be similar to a coat of mail worn by knights in medieval times. It was the
armour that covered the body from the neck to the thighs, and consisted of two parts, one
covering the front and the other the back. It was made of rings, or in the form of scales, or of
plates, so fastened together that they would be flexible, and yet guard the body from a sword,
spear, or arrow.
Of righteousness… The righteousness in view could refer to the righteous conduct of believers or the
righteousness of Christ that is imputed to believers when they are ‘saved’.
The breastplate defended the vital parts of the body; and the idea here may be, that integrity of life, and
righteousness of character, is as necessary to defend us from the assaults of Satan, as the coat of mail
was to preserve the heart from the arrows of an enemy. It was the incorruptible integrity of Job, that
saved him from the temptations of the devil. A want of integrity will leave a man exposed to the
assaults of the enemy, just as a soldier would be whose coat of mail was defective, or had some part
missing.
Verse 15. This is a reference to the soldier’s foot protection which was made-up of two parts.
(1.) the sandals, or shoes, which were made so to cover the foot, and which often were fitted with nails,
or armed with spikes, to make the hold firm in the ground; or
(2.) with greaves that were fitted to the legs, and designed to protect the shins. These greaves, or boots,
(1 Samuel 17:6), were made of brass, and were in almost universal use among the Greeks and Romans.
…the gospel of peace… The sense is that the Christian soldier is to be prepared with the gospel of
peace to meet attacks similar to those against which the ancient soldier designed to guard himself by
the sandals or greaves which he wore. The word rendered preparation means, properly, readiness,
fitness for, alacrity;
There is some difficulty in determining the exact connection between these parts of armour and some
particular thing in the gospel but one commentator offers these thoughts:
One part of his dress or preparation consisted in the covering and defence of the foot. It was to
preserve the foot from danger, and to secure the facility of his march, and perhaps to make him
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The Path to New Life
firm in battle. Christians were to have the principles of the gospel of peace--the peaceful and
pure gospel--to facilitate them; to aid them in their marches; to make them firm in the day of
conflict with their foes. They were not to be furnished with carnal weapons, but with the
peaceful: gospel of the Redeemer; and, sustained by this, they were to go on in their march
through the world. The principles of the gospel: were to do for them what the greaves and ironspiked sandals did: for the soldier--to make them ready for the march, to make them firm in
their foot-tread, and to be a part of their defence against their foes.
Interestingly Isaiah 52:7 links the feet with the gospel: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of
those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
Now let us not kid ourselves here. Doubts are common among Christians and they paralyse Christians
more than we think. Christians, when they have doubts, cannot respond to the trials of life, have
difficulty surviving temptations and trials. So the Apostle tells us that our feet must always be shod
with the preparation of the good news of peace made between God and men. Peace with God should
bring readiness for battle, and should bring the ability to struggle successfully without having doubts.
Verse 16. The Roman soldier's shield was made of wood covered with leather to make it flame
retardant. It was rectangular in shape and about two and one-half feet wide by four feet long. With it
the soldier could protect his whole body. Before a battle in which flaming arrows might be shot at
them, the soldiers wet the leather covering with water to extinguish the arrows. The Roman legionaries
could close ranks with these shields, the first row holding theirs edge to edge in front, and the rows
behind holding the shields above their heads. In this formation they were practically invulnerable to
arrows, rocks, and even spears.
above all…does not mean in order of importance but over all, as the shield provided protection over
every part of the body, as it can be turned in every direction. The idea is that as the shield covered or
protected the other parts of the armour, so faith had a similar importance to the other Christian virtues.
Faith here appears to have a similar utility as the shield has to the other parts of the armour of a soldier.
It protects all the elements that make up the Christians spiritual structure (love, humility, hope, patience
etc.) and is indispensable to the security of all, as is the case with the shield. The shield was an
ingenious device by which blows and arrows might be deflected and the whole body defended. It could
be made to protect the head, or the heart and moved to every direction to block any kind of missile. As
long as the soldier had his shield, he had a measure of security and as long as a Christian has faith, he is
safe. It comes to his aid in every attack and is the defence and guardian of every other Christian grace.
Faith secures the protection which the Christian needs in the whole of the spiritual war. One writer
comments on this matter of faith:
“Now this can be the Faith, the faith as a body of doctrine, or it can be the trust, the subject trust
brought by the Holy Spirit of God. In other words, faith that the Holy Spirit brings to us that
enables us to trust in what Christ has done. Or, it can be the body of Christian truth-- probably
the former, since the Apostle uses the other much more commonly than he does the body of
Christian truth as the Faith… So Paul says the shield of faith is that with which the fiery darts of
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New Life in Christ
the wicked one are stopped-- all of those little things that disturb us in our experiences of life-- in
your business, in your home, among your friends, in your Christian church, in your trials, in
your troubles, in your questions, all of these things are involved. The Apostle says, you may have
protection from movable objects, by faith”.
Verse 17. Here Paul gives the final two pieces of the believers armour and the operative verb is ‘take’,
receive or accept. This is the second of the set of three pieces of armour which constitute those we are
told to take up. The first one in this set of three were to take up is the shield of faith.
Remember that the helmet protects the head, the center of our thought life. It protects the vital spot, life
itself, the ultimate safety. This must of course involves the complete story of God who will provide
salvation from beginning to end, telling us that the new heaven and a new earth is coming when God
will make everything right and Christ would be revealed as the universal King of Kings and Lord of
Lords. So we received salvation which is about God’s rescuing us from the bondage of sin through
Christ and giving us the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to assure us that we will be there when
the salvation story is complete.
It appears the salvation in view might also be therefore the present and future deliverance Christians
need when under attack by Satan (1 Thess. 5:8) since they have already received salvation from
condemnation. This salvation was received at the time of our conversion, (1:15-23; Joel 2:32; Acts
2:21; Rom. 10:13).
This of course removes the sense of hopelessness and discouragement that can negatively affect our
spiritual lives for the message of salvation is the ultimate source of HOPE. It tells us that God wins the
day and the end of that God has planned will come for Satan cannot and will not stop God’s purposes.
The Roman foot-soldier carried a short, two-edged sword. It was a weapon used to thrust and cut at close
quarters or in hand to hand combat. No soldier would have regarded himself as properly armed if he
were without his sword. The sword was the only offensive weapon of the infantryman mentioned in
Paul’s description, though he was known to carry a spear.
There is much similarity between the soldier’s short sword and the word of God. The sword was a
precision weapon and "Word" (Gr. rhema) refers to the utterance of God rather than to the written Word
or the living Word of God (Gr. logos).
It refers to the words of Scripture that we use to counteract particular temptation we face. It is the
appropriate Scripture spoken or put to use by the Christian in a given instance of temptation that
is in view (Matt. 4:4,6, 10).
Remember that there are two words used or translated to mean the word of God. With respect to the
word here used “Rhema” rather than the word which is translated “logos” Jesus gave the example
when He (Matthew 4:4,7,10) met the tempter with the word of God, and Satan was foiled. One writer
explains:
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The Path to New Life
“Rhema is distinguished from Logos in that way. So that, you are inclined to think of particular
utterances, particular texts, particular words even; words for a particular situation. So what he
may have in mind, here, is the particular word that God will use to bring deliverance in a
particular situation in which you need some expression of the mind of God; so the Sword of the
Spirit which is the word of God-- God’s utterance in the applied sense.
Now if we don’t store up the word of God in our minds, how can we have a word from God? God
does not bring to our mind words that we have not come across in the word of God. That’s one of
the reasons we fail. The reason our Lord succeeded when Satan tested him three times, the
reason he was able to call up three texts from Deuteronomy-- how many could you call up?
Suppose the answer to your problem were to lie in a text from Deuteronomy expressing a certain
principle? Well, I daresay most of us, well, we’d have to pass that one by. But our Lord was able
to cite three texts from Deuteronomy, because he was familiar with the word of God. It wasn’t
simply because he was the divine Son. It was because he was the divine Son, the God- man. He
had studied the Scriptures, as the text says of the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah chapter 50.
Most of us have a broken sword, and therefore we are not able to fight. Eve’s failure in the
Garden of Eden lies in the fact that she did not cite and believe accurately the word of God. The
Lord’s success is related to “it is written”. Luther again is right. He says,
”The Prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him,
his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure, one little word shall fell him”.
What the one little word that fells him must be the word that the Holy Spirit has for a particular
situation in our lives. That, incidentally, is the only offensive weapon I can find in the passage.
Everything else is defensive, but the Sword of the Spirit is offensive”.
Remember in all this the battle has already been won by Jesus. We do not have to “conquer” Satan. We
do not need a mass of offensive weapons. All we have to do is to hold our ground and stand in defence
of the truth. We stand and we use the word of God and cite the Scriptures, that little word, that little
text, when Satan confronts us with temptations and trials. That is the only offensive weapon that we
need. So make sure you study your Scriptures so that you can use that text, that word, when appropriate
and needed.
Note the importance of having the Scriptures in one’s heart, so as to be able to quote the right texts in
particular situations.
The Holy Spirit inspired the word, gives the word and empowers it as we use it. It is His sword
(Isa. 49:2).
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New Life in Christ
Verse 18. Some see prayer here as a seventh part of the believers armour, though Paul does not present
it as such. For sure prayer is a sword in the believers’ arsenal but it is much more than a tool to repulse
the Devil’s temptations and schemes.
Scripture instructs us to pray without ceasing and here we read that we should be praying always.
One writer notes: No matter how complete the armour; no matter how skilled we maybe in the
science of war; no matter how courageous we may be, we may be certain that without prayer we
shall be defeated. God alone can give the victory; and when the Christian soldier goes forth
armed completely for the spiritual conflict, if he looks to God by prayer, he may be sure of a
triumph. This prayer is not to be intermitted. It is to be always. In every temptation and spiritual
conflict we are to pray.
…prayer and supplication… the former refers to general communication with God, while supplication
speaks to specific petitions.
Paul echo’s the words of Jesus as he calls for perseverance in prayer while Jesus said men ought to
pray and not faint. Unrestricted prayer is being urged with a plea to remember the brethren in our
prayers. Perseverance in prayer is most important for it has often been pointed out that Abraham failed
to deliver Sodom because of his lack of perseverance. Abraham prayed six times, but did not pray that
last seven time. Elijah on the other hand brought rain, humanly speaking, because he persevered and he
prayed the seventh prayer. Paul lays emphasis on prayer with the repeated use of the word ‘all’.
And watching thereunto means being on the alert for opportunities to pray; watching against all those
things which would hinder prayer. (Matt 26:38, 41; 1 Peter 4:7).
CONCLUSION
The saints must put on the full armour to be able to beat back Satan’s attack. Even Paul was concerned
that after all he had done for the Lord, he feared he might be a cast-away, (I Cor. 9). Even the great
Apostle Paul saw the danger of Satan’s attacks and he certainly put on the full armour.
We are in a spiritual war. It is a war between Satan and his fallen celestial allies and Christ and His
church. It is an invisible war in that we fight against unseen forces. It is therefore a war which must be
waged by faith. It is a war that we cannot fight in our own strength, but only in the strength which God
Himself supplies.
The war is not being waged to declare a winner and a loser. God has already won the war by the death
of His Son on the cross of Calvary (John 12:31; 16:11). The war is for our good, and for God’s glory.
The war is a part of God’s instruction to the angelic hosts (Ephesians 3:8-11). The war is a part of
God’s eternal plan and purpose for his creation.
The great question is not, “Who will win?,” but “Who will stand?” The question is not whether God is
on our side as much as whether or not we are on His side.
Satan tempts those in power by appealing to their pride and ambition, because that is the way he
responded to his position of power. He appeals to those under authority to act independently,
rather than to submit to those over us. He appeals to self-interest and he urges us to shun selfsacrifice. He knows nothing of grace, and he delights in the downfall of others.
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The Path to New Life
We are in great danger, not when the enemy is great and powerful, but when we think that we can stand
in our own strength, rather than in the strength which God provides. Peter learned this lesson the hard
way (see Luke 22:31-34). Paul warns every Christian about the danger of self-confidence: “Therefore
let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Let us live our lives in such a fashion that when we come to the end of our days, we may say like Paul:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
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