Ephesians 6:10-20, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
Spiritual warfare, as it is usually called, is a reality for every Believer. While we may not see it with our eyes, we can certainly see the effects of it when looking closely at our day-to-day activities and ministry.
A pitfall that some Christians fall into is to forget about the spiritual battle that is being fought because they do not see it with their physical eyes. Because it does not seem to outwardly influence their lives, they do not give it a thought as they go through their day. But they forget that the devil is subtil. The Bible speaks of “the wiles of the devil” in our text. Satan and his minions do not always work openly and outwardly, but rather prefer to perform their evil tasks in such a way so as to not draw attention to themselves.
Other Christians choose to ignore spiritual warfare, perhaps hoping that if they pretend it does not exist they will not need to get involved with something that, quite frankly, frightens them due to the unfamiliar nature of this warfare.
Yet the Word of God is clear as the Spirit through Paul tells us that, “we wrestle…against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Every Believer is wrestling with these forces of evil. Not knowing it or realising it does not change the fact that we wrestle against the Satanic powers that are devoted to the stealing of God’s glory and the destruction of God’s people. There is not an ounce of double-mindedness on their part: they are in a war and their intention is to win! The first thing that a Christian must do is to accept that he is involved in this warfare. Then, he must prepare himself for the warfare. Finally, he must engage himself in the warfare.
In accepting that one is involved in the spiritual warfare, it is as simple as believing what God has said in this matter. Our text is plain and outside of having a mind to spiritualise the passage, we can plainly see that each and every Believer is involved in spiritual warfare.
Preparing ourselves for the warfare, much like accepting it, is a matter of believing God’s Word and putting to practice the actions we are commanded to take. Paul tells us to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.” We cannot stand against Satan’s forces in our own strength or power. He will crush us in an instant. We must humble ourselves and trust only in the Lord’s strength and power if we are be prepared for this warfare. Further, it is God’s armour that we must put on in order to stand, (vs. 11). We see in these verses that preparation for battle involves a great deal of action. Indeed, that is the nature of preparation: training, planning, and readiness. Notice the commands that demand action: Put on – vs. 11, Take – vs. 13, Stand – vs. 14, Girt – vs. 14, Having on – vs. 14, Taking – vs. 16, Take – vs. 17, Praying – vs. 18, and Watching – vs. 18.
Engaging in warfare is a matter of using the equipment we have and applying the preparations we have made. Perhaps this is where most fail. We are given, I believe, two weapons in our text: 1) The Word of God which is the Sword of the Spirit and 2) Prayer. Prayer is a weapon that Paul requests that others use for both their work, the work of other saints, and on his behalf in his work. For Paul’s part, it is a weapon that gives him boldness in declaring the Gospel. But a question needs to be asked: How many people actually use their weapons? It is not that they do not know HOW to use them, but rather, DO they use them. R.A. Matthews said this, “Unused weapons do not inflict casualties on the enemy, nor win wars.” Consider this remarkable illustration:
On Omaha Beachhead, June 6, 1944, during WWII and the invasion at Normandy, “Only five infantry companies were tactically effective. In these companies one-fifth of the men fired their weapons during the day-long advance from the water’s edge to the first row of villages – a total of not more than 450 men firing consistently.” – S. L. A. Marshall
On another front in the same battle Marshall writes:
“The best showing that could be made by the most spirited and aggressive companies was that one man in four had made some use of his fire power.”
Only 25% of the men fired their weapons during that awful, bloody battle. All of the men knew how to use their weapons, but only a few actually put their weapons to use. Sadly, this is most likely a truth that applies to the Church of God. Every Christian knows they have prayer at their disposal, but how many actually engage the enemy with their weapon? Do we tend to go into the fight with our own strength instead of, after preparation, entering the fight with our weapon “firing?”
Brethren!, we must use the weapons our God has given us. It is not sufficient to know we have access to Prayer; we must engage the great enemy of our God and use it every day. The war is real, the enemy is ruthless, and the stakes are eternal. Engage the forces of evil in Prayer and “withstand in the evil day!”