Spiritual Warfare: Standing Strong, Putting on Your Full Armor
By David E. Smith
As you can well imagine, over the past several months, I have had a number of projects, concerns and prayers on my mind and on my “to do” list. Yet, as all these issues swirl around in my thoughts, there is one topic that consistently rises to the top – spiritual warfare. I suspect I am not alone in my consideration of this subject, because a believer who is well-acquainted with God’s Word understands that spiritual warfare is a reality in the daily life of a Christian.
Ephesians 6:10-17 gives us a battle plan that every every believer ought to implement:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
The older I get, the more I realize that our temporal life is, in fact, a battle. We are truly Soldiers of the Cross, engaged in non-stop spiritual warfare. But this is the Good News, our Heavenly Commander-in-Chief has given us supernatural power to demolish strongholds, to demolish arguments and every pretension that runs contrary to the Truth of God. He, working in and through us, gives us victory!
The apostle Paul tells us we cannot ignore spiritual warfare. We cannot ignore Satan and his schemes. We must suit up and prepare to do battle because attacks are imminent. If we are walking in the Spirit, armor in place, we will more readily recognize the snares of Satan – his temptations and lies that confront each one of us, every day.
We can clearly discern Satan at work in the ongoing cultural revolution that engulfs our state and nation even as it consumes the entire world. This revolution is better described as a rebellion because it is a conscious, deliberate rejection of God and His Word. Do not be naive or complacent! The rebellion has already taken captive the hearts and minds of some of our family members, friends, and neighbors, and its “deceive and destroy” mission is far from over. If we are foolish enough to think we are perfect, obedient servants of Almighty God and therefore, immune from rebellious attitudes, thoughts, and actions, we are, at the least, intellectually dishonest and, at worst, utterly heretical.
Dr. Del Tackett calls the armed confrontation between Christians and Satan the “cosmic battle” – a battle of Christ-followers who uphold God’s truth versus the father of lies and his forces of evil. Satan knows he has been defeated, but he is a very bitter, sore loser and he wants to exact maximum damage as he goes down in flames.
Revelation 12:17 says that Satan, after he was expelled from heaven, was greatly enraged that he could not thwart God’s plan of salvation:
“So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
Make no mistake – Satan is at open war with God, and his main target is mankind, God’s crown jewel of creation. His command to be fruitful and multiply was given in order to fill the earth with images of Himself because He desires and deserves an earth filled with worshippers.
Conversely, Satan is feverishly working overtime to bring death, destruction, disease, disorder, distractions, delusions, and disabilities in an attempt to limit and eliminate the number of God-worshippers on earth. The second part of verse 17 makes it clear — Satan is targeting those “who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
Our enemy is opposed to Kingdom expansion. He does not want the Gospel to spread throughout the world or for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Satan does not want us to grow in sanctification and become strong, effective warriors; he is overjoyed when new believers remain immature, fruitless, and sidelined from the battlefield. One of Satan’s primary objectives is to entice followers of Jesus to pursue vain and temporal goals so we will be distracted and indifferent to the battle that wages around us.
Spiritual warfare has always existed, but I sincerely believe we have entered a time of heightened spiritual warfare – a time that will profoundly test the faith of man. Furthermore, I believe that God is allowing Satan to sift His church and, at the same time, He is looking for those whose hearts are faithful to Him.
Unsurprisingly, a good portion of spiritual warfare in our nation and the world today is waged on multiple levels, both culturally and politically. I believe this battle is exacerbated and accelerated by ignorance of the Word of God. Paul’s warning in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 remains as true in 2018 as when he wrote his epistle:
“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.”
Brothers and sisters, that time is NOW. A recent Barna study reveals that only 14% of American adults use the Bible daily, while 13% use it several times a week, 8% once a week, 6% about once a month, and 8% only three to four times a year. Additionally, the study reports that “Bible use has remained relatively consistent since 2011.” That is a diplomatic way of saying that Bible use among American adults is flat or stagnant – there has been no appreciable growth.
The Bible declares that the Word of God is our spiritual sword (Eph. 6:17) and the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12). Yet, how can we fight a spiritual battle without a sword? How do we stand firm against the relentless schemes of the devil if we are unarmed? Sadly, how can some of us justify possessing the most powerful weapon in the world, but never unsheathing it? Simply put, we cannot. Without the sword we are defenseless; we will be in constant retreat, beaten down, or defeated. In order to take up the sword and fight, we must know the Word of God and handle it rightly!
Scripture fittingly calls Satan the father of lies (John 8:44) because he actively attacks faith (1 Thess. 3:5; 2 Cor. 11:3), binds the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4), exploits a lack of understanding (Matt. 13:19), misuses Scripture (Matt. 4:6), and hinders the spread of the gospel (1 Thess. 2:18).
What foolhardy person would dare to come out against the father of lies alone and unarmed? We would be foolish indeed if we thought we could successfully engage Satan in battle without a solid knowledge of the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Reflect once more on Paul’s words as he urges us to rely on God’s power:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” ~ Ephesians 6:10-11
The battle rages around us, but retreat and defeat are unacceptable options. We must engage the enemy, clad in the full armor of God.
Take heart! “Be strong in the LORD and in HIS mighty power!”