Spiritual warfare is the spiritual reality that battles in the physical dimension of our lives
and faith for victory in our souls. It is not unlike Neo, the main character in the movie “The Matrix”, who must fight for what is truly real in the artificiality of his world’s perceived “reality”. “Do you think that is air you are breathing?” asks Morphius as he taunts Neo to analyze his surroundings with what he knows to be true. In our case, we live a spiritual reality that is masked by the physical universe that provides us with the “dojo” or sparing ring where spiritual battles take place. The spiritual battle we fight is against rulers and forces of spiritual darkness, and with the minions belonging to the prince of the power of the air – Satan. He desires to keep our eyes focused on the temporality of this life instead of our eternal position and responsibilities. He doesn’t use kung fu as does Mr. Smith, Neo’s arch enemy, in the movie, but does keep many a Christian incapacitated for any real eternal benefit in the fight to liberate souls.
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 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. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who knows how to rescue the godly. I AM the rock on which my Church is built and the gates of hell shall not prevail. I AM the Lord strong and mighty. I AM your strength and shield, a strong tower in which the righteous can run into and be saved. I go before you and behind you. The battle is mine. Stand therefore and see the salvation of the Lord. I have given you everything you need to be protected. I have clothed you in my righteousness. Now you must choose to allow me to clad you in my armor. I give you salvation and my righteousness to protect your souls. I give you faith as a shield and my Word of truth to strengthen your core and to parry off any attacks. My gospel is what keeps you from slipping from your firm foundation of salvation as you fully know it and its power. Only as my unified church works together will my word spread through the world by you. Satan will do all he can to divide and destroy you as he knows this is the only way he can prevent my Word from traveling around the globe. The battleground is in your mind. These weapons I have given you are to protect your thoughts, salvation and faith. 2 Cor 10:5 says that the weapons of your warfare are spiritual. They are divinely powerful not physical. You are to stand, not run. Stand, not dragon slay. Stand and pray for my working around the world. Stand and watch me win the battles for you and advance the Gospel through you where ever you go. Stand and protect your faith, so that I can use you as a clean instrument. Stand, so that you won’t fall into temptation.
It is His power we are to be strong in. The source is from Him yet we are commanded to walk in it. Just like the fruit of the Spirit is generated by Him and not us, yet we are to be controlled by him for its production in our lives. So too, here His power and strength is to be appropriated by us for its effectiveness. Like salvation and the spirit’s control. Everything has been done by God in us, but we are expected to walk in it by faith for the fulfillment. As you have received the Lord, so walk in him… He has blessed you with every spiritual blessing in Christ. He has given you everything that pertains to life and godliness. Now in this passage as well as the others, we have been given the armor, now we have to apply it in our circumstances by faith.
My professor in College, whose doctorate thesis was on the Roman military, explained this passage making an interesting point which is not frequently taught, but I believe stands to reason. Every piece of the armor, including the sword, is used for personal defense in the Roman military. As Paul was penning this section, no doubt he was looking at his Roman guard. Paul points out that each piece of armor was given to us by God some are placed on us permanently, but others are to be appropriated by us. This is why it says “after you have done everything to stand…” Some of these are appropriated one time as they represent Christ’s salvation and imputed righteousness. But the others are exercised by us to varying degrees of success in our spiritual battle. the point of the passage is that each piece is to be defensive. The Gospel fully understood will keep us from slipping on slippery ground (feet shod). The shield will protect us from Satan’s fiery arrows (trust in His protection of us). But the point of contention is the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.
The Sword in the case of the Romans is a small double edged sword for parrying and close
combat defense, unlike a sword for fencing as depicted in a pirate or three musketeers movies. The main Roman offensive weapon so to speak, was the phalanx of the entire Roman column with interlocking shield and Pike marching over their enemy as a single unit. As they marched and one soldier would fall, the next in line would step into his slot. Only when the line was broken and the enemy was inside their shields did they use the small swords for personal protection in close hand to hand fighting. As an example, one case study is: How did Christ use the Word of God to survive his time of temptation in the wilderness? His knowledge of God’s Word was used in defense against what Satan threw at him. He did not use the Word to attack the devil. We must do all we can to prepare ourselves to fend off satanic temptation by knowing God’s Word. That is how you use the Bible. God’s Spirit will bring His Word to your remembrance as you need it.
The church’s main offense is not the individual believer swashbuckling with the devil, but the entire body of believers on their knees praying (vs 18) for God to battle on their behalf as they carry his word around the globe. And our armor protects us as we stand in order to be able to do this. Without it, we can fall prey to temptation and disqualify ourselves from being effective prayer warriors.
All for Ephesians,