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. – Ephesians 6:11-12
You have read that this fallen world is a war zone – a great spiritual war is raging in this universe. On one side is God and His holy angels, along with His saints here on earth. On the other side are the very real spiritual forces of darkness and evil led by Satan (the devil) and his angels who followed him in sin; it is they who oppose everything that is good and of God – and they oppose you. Satan is not a myth; he is your “accuser” before God. The forces of evil are working tirelessly, trying to lead you to eternal death.
We therefore read that “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.” Be not deceived, this is a very real war, and it is raging right now all around you. As a Christian here in this fallen world, we live right on (and behind) enemy lines! We are therefore instructed to “put on the full armor of God” and to “stand firm” in the faith:
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. – Ephesians 6:10-17
Those are amazing verses of Scripture. Do not underestimate the very real spiritual forces of darkness which we are at war with – this is a war to the death, eternal death. Note the tools which comprise the armor of God:
- Knowing the truth: we read and study Scripture so that we are always growing in the grace and understanding of Christ,
- Wearing righteousness (love): walking in the Spirit, abiding in Christ and He in you, loving and serving others,
- Prepared with the gospel of peace: this message of truth, by which you have been born again,
- Using a shield of faith: for without faith it is impossible to please God or stand firm and resist the attacks of the enemy,
- Putting on a helmet of salvation: which is your hope, and it is this hope which keeps you always looking forward and upwards to Christ in all things at all times, and
- The Sword of the Spirit: which is the Word of God!
From the above list, it is abundantly clear that if we are to stand firm in this war between good and evil, we must prepare ourselves for battle. We do this by always “working out” our own salvation, by intimately knowing the Word of God (part of which involves memorizing Scripture), and by always “growing in the grace and understanding” of Christ. It is through those actions that our faith matures, and we are able to “stand firm.” It is vitally important that you understand we are not called to pick up and wield (use) the material carnal worldly weapons of war created by man and this world – for our battle is spiritual:
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. – 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
The weapons of man have absolutely no impact whatsoever in this war. Also note that our only offensive weapon is the “Sword of the Spirit,” which is the Word of God:
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12
We wield the Word of God by becoming a prayer warrior for God – and we pray the Word, and we then trust in God for all victories. We win spiritual battles not by relying on our own strength and power, but on the Spirit of God, for it is written:
“‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” – Zechariah 4:6
We have the perfect example of spiritual warfare shown to us by Jesus, when He was in the wilderness facing the attacks (temptations) of Satan:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter [Satan] came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written,
‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word
that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘He will command His angels concerning You’;
‘On their hands they will bear You up,
So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him. – Matthew 4:1-11
Notice that Jesus didn’t pick up sticks and stones (or knives, guns and bombs – the material weapons of war of man and this world) in His fight with the devil. He wielded the Sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God. We are to do the same. Jesus always used the Word of God as His only weapon; and He will do so again at the end of time, on the great Day of Judgment:
Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming. – 2 Thessalonians 2:8
In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. – Revelation 1:16
From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty…And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh. – Revelation 19:15, 21
While Christ was victorious over Satan at the cross, it is written:
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, [standing] firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. – 1 Peter 5:8-9
So, if you are actively engaged in this battle for eternal souls as a kingdom builder for Christ, you will face spiritual attacks all along the path to eternal life. In fact, the more “good works” you are doing for God, the more attacks you will likely face. If you are not being attacked, it may be because Satan has no reason to fear you: maybe you are not even in the battle, for you may be doing nothing at all to win souls for the Lord. When attacks do occur, you will find that they often happen right after you have had a major spiritual breakthrough in your walk with God, or right after you have just accomplished some “good work” for the Lord and feel good about things. Satan often attacks when your guard is down, and we are often most vulnerable right after we have had a personal victory or advance of some kind in our walk with Christ.
So do not underestimate your adversary – Satan still can, and does, attack Christians and try to turn them away from the faith and away from Christ, and back towards this world and sin and death! Before you came to Christ, he attacked you with doubts about God and creation. After you are born again, he still tries to put doubts into your mind, or wicked evil thoughts (these are called “fiery darts”) which show up out of nowhere; these evil thoughts appear to be your own, to come from within your own mind, but they are actually coming from outside, from Satan. The first few times this happens it can be very confusing, but if you stand firm in your faith, resisting them by the Word of God, they will once again vanish into nothingness:
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. – James 4:7
Some of these attacks can be quite ferocious. Early in my walk with Christ, one attack was so relentless, continuing for hours, and nothing I did would stop it. This one blasphemous thought kept bombarding me. It was only after some time that the Spirit showed me which verse(s) to use; He did this by recalling to my mind several verses of Scripture (Matthew 4:4 in particular). I re-read the verse, studied on it, meditated on it (thinking about it), and then wielded it by speaking it directly against the attack. You don’t have to speak these verses out loud; you can simply do so in your mind. The attack instantly ceased. That was my best lesson and training that I have received in this area. The Sword of the Spirit is the only way to repel such attacks, and that is why having Scripture memorized is extremely important. As you mature and grow as a Christian, you will be better able to spot these attacks and realize what is happening. I know now what to do when these “fiery darts” show up; I may not always know which Scripture to use, but the Spirit will lead you into all truth.
A Christian is called to “stand fast” in the faith:
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. – 1 Corinthians 16:13
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. – Philippians 4:1
…for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. – 1 Thessalonians 3:7-8
Notice that we are not attackers – we are to stand firm. We are to let God win all advances, to gain ground on the enemy, and then we help fill that ground with new believers who also stand firm in the faith. This is how the Kingdom of God expands to fill the entire earth (but don’t mistake that to mean the false teaching of dispensational postmillennialism).
Finally know that even though this is a spiritual war, Satan often works by and through evil men here on earth; but our response is no different – it is still a spiritual attack. We are never to “pay back evil for evil to anyone,” but are admonished to “overcome evil with good.” We are to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” – in fact, it is through these very acts of love and prayer by which a Christian fights the battle of spiritual warfare. Satan and the forces of evil have no defense whatsoever against that. We must follow the example of Jesus: a Christian is fighting a spiritual battle and never has occasion to harm others physically!
It is also wise for a Christian to periodically re-check their armor from time to time, and perhaps give it a tune-up. See also the chapters on Choosing a Bible and Start Memorizing Verses.
FALSE TEACHING(S) YOU WILL ENCOUNTER:
- Satan (The Devil) is Just a Myth
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” – Matthew 26:52-53
…the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. – 1 John 3:8
“…thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.’” – 2 Chronicles 20:15
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? – Romans 8:31
You are my King, O God;
Command victories for Jacob.
Through You we will push back our adversaries;
Through Your name we will trample down those who rise up against us.
For I will not trust in my bow,
Nor will my sword save me.
But You have saved us from our adversaries,
And You have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted all day long,
And we will give thanks to Your name forever. Selah. – Psalm 44:4-8
But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:17-21
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Matthew 5:43-44
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. – Revelation 1:12-16
And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.”
And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh. – Revelation 19:11-21
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. – Psalm 91:1-4