Paul included his most complete account of how to win spiritual battles in his letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6:10-18). In light of all the warfare going on in Ephesus this is very appropriate. Writing from prison in Rome, chained to a Roman soldier who was guarding him, Paul must have looked for a way to convey what he wanted to say about spiritual warfare in terms the people would understand. While looking at his guard, he applied the pieces of equipment that Roman soldiers used to those that Christian soldiers use.
Paul knew that Roman soldiers didn’t supply their own equipment, it was provided by their commander. Thus he starts by telling his audience that it is God’s power and strength that gives us victory (Ephesians 6:10; Philippians 4:13; 1 John 4:4). We have the same power that raised Jesus from the grave (Ephesians 1:18-23; Hebrews 2:14-15). Our victory comes from God – He provides the equipment necessary to achieve it.
However just because equipment is provided doesn’t mean Christian soldiers use theirs appropriately, or even use it at all. It is Satan’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 2:11) that deceive and trap us, like a hunter seeking to trap an animal. Therefore it is up to us to use the power and equipment God provides – all of it (“full armor”).
LESSON FOR TODAY: What makes this an even more difficult battle is that our enemy is not a physical soldier whom we can see and fight in our power, rather it is a spiritual enemy, a demonic power (Ephesians 6:12). “Rulers … authorities … powers … spiritual forces” refer to various groups of demons in Satan’s organization. Demons are organized according to their power like an army: generals, majors, captains, lieutenants, sergeants and privates. The generals and majors oversee large geographical areas or philosophical ideologies. Down it goes to the privates, demons with names like Lust, Greed, Pride, Fear or Self-Destruction. These are the ones we usually deal with in a personal way when we are involved in our spiritual warfare.
LESSON FOR TODAY: When a person is demonized there is a ruler (lieutenant or sergeant) who has a group of other demons (privates) under him. They set up their stronghold and each demon present is chosen for the particular focus of the work he does. Under the guidance of the ruler, they work together to accomplish the mission of the group which is always the destruction of the person they are attacking. The ultimate goal is the death of the person, but since they can’t take a life they seek to make life so miserable that only death seems to hold hope of escape. Their goal is to cause the person to take their own life. Until they can get a person to that point they seek to make his witness for Jesus ineffective and his life as painful and empty as possible.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Paul says we are in a ‘struggle’ (Ephesians 6:12). This word refers to a fight to the death. Satan assigns demons to destroy each believer, their family and their church. We are in a life and death struggle, but often we don’t realize how serious our enemy is about our destruction.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Not all problems and struggles are from Satan. While we want to know what he does so we can defeat him, we don’t want to give him and his demons more credit than is due them. When he is bound man’s sin nature will still lead him into sin without Satan’s help (Revelation 20:1-3). That can assist u in knowing what is from demons and what is from our sin nature. If the source is our sin nature without demonic influence, than confession, submission to God, prayer, Bible reading and memory and good Christian fellowship will bring immediate or progressive victory. If that does not happen then it is good to consider there might be something demonic involved as well.
Before listing the pieces of equipment available to us Paul wants to emphasize the importance of Christian soldiers standing firm against any attack the enemy launches at them. Three times he commands them to “stand” (Ephesians 13-14a).
LESSON FOR TODAY: We are to be alert and ready, not sitting or lying down sleeping. We shouldn’t be caught off guard but must be alert. Nor should we retreat in fear or defeat. Yet the truth is that the stronger we stand the hotter the battle will get for the harder the demons will attack. The battle will never end until our Commander comes and takes us home. Our fight here will be over when we are promoted to heaven at death, or when Jesus returns, but not before.
Paul then specifically states each piece of equipment God provides for His soldiers. “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:14-18).
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)