The Armor of God: The enemy

Continued study of the Armor of God

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
It is obvious from this passage that there is a spiritual battle taking place in the church. While many Christians rightly divide the Word of God in regard to spiritual battles, there seem to be two extremes that often cause confusion and danger on this topic. The first is to give the devil too much credit. Some churches claim there is an "evil" spirit for every sinful thought, desire and or feeling they hold too. They blame the devil every time they do something wrong, as if the devil can take control of a Christian and make them sin. We know, however, that is not the case.

Surely there are times when Satan is tempting us and we certainly need to be guarded against that as the verses above warn us to do. However, sometimes our temptation is nothing more then our own flesh. Sometimes we simply desire to do wrong. The book of James explains this.

James 1:14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (ESV)
Sometimes that sinful thought is simply our sinful nature showing itself. If we act upon that desire, then it becomes sin. That is a spiritual battle we must deal with, but it is not the battle described in Ephesians. We can't blame the devil every time we have a desire to do wrong.

The other extreme is to act as if the devil is absolutely powerless against a Christian. In James we are also told to "resist the devil, and he will flee from you" but sometimes Christians act as if resisting him is easy. Resisting the devil is likened to resisting the desire to eat a piece of dessert, all you have to do is simply walk away. However, while the dessert is powerless to get up and follow you out of the room, the devil is not. The word resist in the Greek literally means "to set one's self against, to withstand, resist, oppose." In fact, that is the same exact word used in our verses in Ephesians 6:13 which says we need to wear the whole armor of God so that we may "withstand in the evil day." If we are not armored, we can not "resist" or stand against the devil. We will lose the battle.

No, if we want to be strong in the Lord with His power and His might we need to be armored. We need to be dressed, prepared and ready. If you try to stand against the devil and oppose Him without the spiritual armor, you will not win.

Now, the first step in any battle is to know your enemy. Before telling us what armor we will need, Paul tells us about the enemies that we are fighting. Let us look at the definition of each one of them in the Complete Word Study Dictionary to give us a better of understanding of who we are fighting against.

against the rulers: "spoken of the princes or chiefs... among demons."
against the authorities: "Those invested with power"
against the powers of this dark world: "referring to Satan and his angels."
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms: " 'the spirits of malice' means the evil spirits"

We are fighting against an entire army. Our enemy consists of the commanders or "chiefs" among the demons, those invested with power, evil spirits and and the powers of the dark world which includes Satan himself. Would any officer allow his soldier to go against an army of that size unequipped and unarmed? No. So why do we head into spiritual battle as if it is no big deal?

Satan, along with every evil spirit that is invested with power is trying to kill and destroy us. If they can destroy our lives, it ruins our testimony and the witness that we might have to share the gospel with others. If we sin and fall short and hurt others, they are not likely to follow in our footsteps and follow God. And we certainly will not experience the peace of God and live in victory if we fall prey to these attacks.

Putting on the full armor of God not only helps us stand up during the battle but it allows us to stand firm, each and every day. In a day like today where I see people falling into sin all around me we need be armored more than ever. When people are leaving the faith and following after false doctrines and lies we need to be sure that we will be able to stand. As this passage so clearly warns us, if we are not mindful to stay in the Word and pray for it to be applied to our life and if we do not call on the name of the Lord and armor ourselves every day, we will not stand.

Think about that carefully. We need to be armored with the Word of God for battle, but we do not need to run out into battle ahead of God. It is not our job to seek after Satan, chasing him. We do not seek the battle, we simply stay armored and prepared in case Satan attacks us. Our focus needs to be on our commander, not our enemy. We must know our enemy so we can be armored against him, but our time, attention and devotion needs to be on God, and God alone.

Know your enemy and be prepared for battle, but more importantly, "be strong in the Lord and strength of His might." That will only happen if you armor yourself for the war. Knowing God is not enough. You must also believe what He says in His Word enough to equip yourself for the battles ahead. Do not assume that God will not allow you to fall into temptation simply because you are saved. He is warning you for a reason. You can know this: You will fall if you ignore the Scripture and do not put on the armor He has given you to wear. "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm."