In the Epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul was writing to a church that was one of the best taught churches in the region at that time. Specifically, in Ephesians chapter 6, Paul warned the church about the devil and his angels who had orchestrated plans that could potentially devastate the lives of believers in the church.
First, he wanted God’s people to be aware of the reality of Satan and his tactical plans. Second, he wanted them to be empowered with the strength they would need for the battle against their enemy, and third, to be equipped to stand against the enemy’s advanced persistent attacks.
Ephesians 6:10 -18 (AMP).
10 In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. 11 Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.
13 Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].
14 So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), 15 and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news].
16 Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
18 With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people (Ephesians 6:10 -18 (AMP)).
In the midst of the battle:
How are we empowered? (vv. 10-11)
Whom are we struggling against? (v. 12)
How do we successfully stand firm against the enemy? (vv. 13-18)
1. How are we empowered?
In light of all that you learned about God’s design for the church, his design for relationships, for marriage and family, in the workplace, in all this and much more, know this - the devil is going to do everything in his power, through his schemes and strategies, through any means, and from every direction to rob you of the abundant and victorious life and calling you have in Christ.
As a church you will need the Lord’s strength in the midst of the battle, to be well equipped so that you will be able to discern and stand against the enemy in the midst of his unrelenting, advanced and persistent attacks.
Be strong - “Be strong or be empowered” is a passive or middle imperative in the Greek. It could mean both “allow the Lord to strengthen you” (passive) - and “strengthen yourself in the Lord” (in partnership).
We need to be teachable, to be constantly trained in righteousness, in the whole counsel of God. Which means we cannot fight the enemy in solitude.
And in the power of His boundless might - Paul is commanding the saints to be continually filled with the Spirit, to be empowered with Christ’s resurrection power that conquered death, sin and Satan - so that they may be able to stand firm.
Therefore, Put on the full armor of God (aorist-middle-imperative) - Paul is saying: You have to make the choice to put on all of God's armor, no one is going to put it on for you. You cannot wear anyone else’s armor only God’s armor. You cannot just put on the piece of the armor you feel comfortable with, you have to put every part of God’s armor to be effectual.
No one can live your Christian life, no one can fight your battles nor win victories for you. When you personally choose to put God’s armor on, you will experience the benefits of its protection for your life.
Full armor means - a complete set of defensive and offensive armor (weapons), i.e. everything needed to wage successful warfare; (figuratively) the full resources the Lord gives to the believer so they can successfully wage spiritual warfare. In this way they do not fight for victory – but from His victory!
2. Because of who we are struggling against.
So you can stand - The word "stand" there has the idea not of a casual standing but of digging in. The sandals the Roman soldiers worn in battle had spikes in them for this purpose. The passage conveys a sense of urgency and a deliberate stance. It is a picture of standing and holding a critical position on the battlefield while under attack.
We must make the choice to constantly stand firm and hold the ground that we are on.
Don't give an inch of territory in your heart, in your home, marriage, relationships or in the church to the enemy. Paul is calling the church to consistently live Scripture filled, Spirit–empowered, obedient lives.
So we will not give in to Satan’s Schemes:
= Methodeía, implies the use of cleverness, craftiness, cunning and deception. The "deceiver" uses specific, subtle, stealthy plans to target each individual, his goal being to defeat, discourage and dishearten. Stated another way, Satan's attacks are "tailor made", carefully and methodically selected to attack each person's specific weaknesses and vulnerabilities. His wiles and methods are usually attractive, always deceptive, and often ensnaring.
We think people are our enemies but our true adversary is Satan who puts negative thoughts into our minds about others. He gives us his viewpoint about people, putting them in such a negative light, casting doubt and suspicion on others.
It is actually Satan, the father of all lies, the accuser of the brethren, who speaks into our ears about other Christians and then we repeat his accusations to others and stirs up discord, conflict, and mistrust in the body of Christ, one of the things that God hates in Proverbs 6.
The battle is not only spiritual it is very personal. Wrestling speaks of hand to hand combat - our adversaries are numerous, active, organized, unseen and powerful. The enemy’s goal is to wear you out, pin you down and take you out which he will do if you are not aware of his specific, subtle, and stealthy tactics.
3. How can we successfully stand firm against the enemy? Verses 13 and 14 tells us to:
a. Put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm.
This is the second time he says this: He is saying take decisive action.
As a church, do this now! Don't delay! Don’t become complacent in times of apparent peace. Do what is needed and necessary, way before the battle becomes fierce so you will be prepared to resist him and hold your position, even against the most advanced persistent attacks.
b. Wrap yourself with the Belt of Truth. For the believer,
It does not prevent Satan attacks; we still have temptations, we still go through difficult circumstances, but God’s truth brings light in the darkness, it exposes the subtlety of Satan’s attacks, directs our thoughts, our decisions and guides us into God’s will.
c. Wear the Breastplate of Righteousness -The breastplate protected the vital organs in battle. This righteousness is not our own earned righteousness, not a feeling of righteousness, but a right standing before God at the point we placed our faith in Jesus Christ.
This breastplate gives us a general sense of confidence, an awareness of our standing and position while we are growing in our faith.
d. Our feet are fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. These shoes imply standing on a firm and solid foundation - the gospel of Jesus Christ. The true gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of peace, is what we stand upon, it is what we preach.
It is readiness produced by the good news.
e. Lift up the Shield of Faith - the Roman shield was designed to protect the whole person from the poisonous arrows of the enemy.
What happens when the poisonous arrow hits you - it poisons you with, doubt, fear, lies, shame, anger, resentment, insecurity etc.
f. Take the Helmet of Salvation -Paul is not saying that when we put on this helmet we will be saved.
The helmet was to be worn to defend our minds against the doubt and discouragement that come from the enemy during our journey on this earth. Paul knew that doubting our eternal security in Christ would render us ineffective in spiritual warfare.
g. Take the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. For the believer the sword is the only offensive part of the armor. We aren’t fitted with arrows and spears because we are already engaged in hand- to-hand combat. This sword was to be used in very close combat. The battle is right here (point to the head and heart) and the believer is to use the Word of God to address specific Satanic lies with specific truths.
Paul is not talking about a general knowledge of Scripture (Logos), which many believers have, but uses the word Rhema which means having the precision that comes through knowledge and understanding of specific truths.
h. And Pray. In verse 18 as a soldier in the Lord, Paul is saying that the key to being able to stand against the devil and his schemes is to have a Spirit-filled, Spirit-directed life of prayer.
A Spirit-led prayer comes from knowing the Word, it comes from having a close, deep, ongoing fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It means to pray as the Spirit prays, to join our petitions to His and our will to His. It is to align our minds and desires with His mind and desires.
Stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all. We should continue to pray!
So each day we are to:
Draw our strength from Christ and be empowered by our union with Him.
Put on the complete armor of God as a fellow saint and soldier in the body of Christ.
Stay in the Word, know your enemy, and stand firm against him.
Persevere in Prayer. Be in constant communion with the Commander of the host. Stay in constant communion with the King of Kings and He will lead you through.