Ephesians 6:10- 20
Previously in this epistle, Paul has written to the Ephesians about walking, working and witnessing. Now he addresses the subject of warfare. In this passage, we find references to a sword, a breastplate, a belt, a helmet, boots and a shield: the total equipment needed by a Roman soldier in Paul’s era.
Read this great passage. It’s a fight to the finish for you and I. But Satan is already defeated by Jesus Christ. So if he is, why must I as a Christian continue to fight? Because Satan, like a roaring lion, seeks to devour you spiritually (I Peter 5:8) and we cannot fight a spiritual enemy without spiritual weapons. In II Corinthians 10:3-4, Paul reminds us that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.” But note, in Paul’s analogy, you and I must make the choice to suit up because you are not born again with this armor on. You must shoulder this privilege deliberately.
Paul begins this passage with the admonition to “Be strong” and reminds us of the “evil day” (vv. 10-13). The great old hymns of the Church are filled with battle analogies. For example: “Solders of Christ Arise, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, Victory in Jesus, Marching On, Marching to Zion, Sound the Battle Cry and The Son of God Goes Forth to War.” Remember that a soldier’s life is one of discipline, for he or she knows why they must fight.
Note that we must take on “the entire armor of God” not just the parts we like. The whole armor of God is totally sufficient for it is provided by God as our Commander in Chief. David refused Saul’s armor because he had not tested it (I Samuel 17:39). But Christ’s armor has been proven by millions. It works—all the time—as a protection from the “wiles” (v. 11) and deceptions of the enemy.
David fought his battle and was left standing when it was over because he fought in God’s defense, not his own (I Samuel 17:36). We are to “be strong in Jesus” (6:10), for our deficiency is covered by His great sufficiency. Paul is attempting to convey the fact that, outside of Christ’s armor, your own defenses are useless. You cannot protect yourself from satanic attacks any more than you could protect yourself from a .357 without a bulletproof vest.
But how can we fight an enemy we cannot see? Satan is not visible, so we need Another who is not visible to help us in our battles—the Holy Spirit. If you are not Spirit-filled, it will be much easier for Satan to tempt you and even defeat you. Paul tells us specifically that we are to take up “the sword of the Spirit” (v. 17). As a Spirit-baptized Christian, no weapon formed against you can prosper (Isaiah 54:17).
Read the equipment list. Five pieces of armor are defensive but only God’s Sword is offensive. John Calvin said, “It is with good reason that faith and the Bible are compared to the shield and the sword, for in war, these are the most essential instruments.” Paul spells out an analogy that is crystal clear. The battle dress described here represents truth, righteousness, peace, faith salvation and the Word of God.
But Satan doesn’t waste his ammo on nominal Christians. Fighting the “good fight of faith” is not for wimps. We are to lace up our combat boots, not get fitted for dancing shoes. The showy costumes of superficial religion afford no protection when the enemy attacks.
Finally, note that there is no armor for your backside, so don’t backslide. God’s protection is for those who face the foe not those who turn tail and run. Paul encourages us to put on the armor which befits one who goes forth to do serious damage to the enemy of your soul.
Living for Jesus is hazardous duty: prepare for the fight.
The following hymn lyrics were written by Kirkland & Hughes in the year 1900:
Rally, Christian soldiers – rally for the fray!
See your foe advancing! Watch, and fight, and pray!
Rally ‘round His flag that reads: “Saved by Faith Alone!”
None but Christ can save you: none but He atone.
Take the shield of faith from your Captain now;
His helmet of salvation place upon your brow.
Gird His truth about you, bind the breastplate tight!
And with the sword of the Spirit, stand your ground – and fight!