In times of war, and even in times of peace, proficient armies guard jealously one thing above the rest: the armory — the place where the weapons and ammunition are kept. Why? Because whoever controls the arms, controls the battle! When I was in the United States Air Force, we were trained in perimeter defense. During our training, they broke out the arms and laid them out in front of us: M-16 Rifle; M-60 Machine Gun; M-16 with attached Grenade Launcher. I was giddy with delight. There was something about all that firepower that made me feel invulnerable. My eyes scanned every detail of the weapons and I couldn’t wait to pick one up and learn everything about them. In battle, these would be the life-line.
In the Christian life we are not left vulnerable to the enemy. We are given spiritual armor that is both defensive and offensive and would make the difference in our survival in this epic battle between good and evil. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God! Our survival is linked to our understanding of how God intended to protect us from the devices and tactics of the enemy.
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 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. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;” ~Ephesians 6:10-17
THE ENEMY The first key to survival is understanding the enemy. Satan (the devil) is more powerful than our flesh. He is not bound by the limitations of flesh and travels in principalities and powers of darkness. The enemy is on the offensive and is looking to disrupt and destroy your testimony, impact and your very life.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." ~1 Peter 5:8
We cannot stand against the trickery (wiles) and tactics of the devil by our wits. The biggest mistake that we make is to overestimate our own spiritual acumen and underestimate the shrewdness and ability of Satan. The devil is on a higher plain of understanding than we and only comes along the line that God understands. He travels in a capacity that is above our human perception and capability and the only way we can be prepared for him is to do what God tells us — to stand complete in His armor, indwelt by His Spirit and in complete obedience to Him. So, our instruction in warfare is simple: “Put on the WHOLE armor of God!” This is our only hope for victory!
There are “wiles and devices” that the enemy uses to conquer the heart of man and limit our capability even further. False doctrine (“spiritual wickedness in heavenly places”) plays a major role in the overall deception of mankind and opens up doors to Satan’s devices that would not otherwise be permissible. Secondly, “Demons (Fallen Angels),” as Commentator Matthew Henry so aptly describes, “are contending to take back from us their first estate,” the place they once held in the God’s Kingdom that we now hold and thus their sole purpose is to see us fall from that place of prominence so that God can be shown once and for all that His plan was flawed and we simply are not worth it. Thirdly, the world system or the “spirit of this world” is controlled by Satan and creates a false sense of belonging, contentment and achievement that is at best very temporary, yet we fall for it regularly. We begin living our lives for a system that never produces what it advertises! Therefore our spirit gets polluted and our hearts and minds stray from God and toward the things of this world:
"For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world." ~1 John 2:16
PUTTING ON THE ARMOR OF GOD
The morning is the gate [entrance] of the day, and it should be well guarded with prayer. It is one end of the thread on which the day’s actions are strung, and should be well knotted with devotion. If we felt the majesty of life we should be more careful of its mornings. He who rushes from his bed to his business and waits not to worship is as foolish as though he had not put on his clothes, or cleansed his face, and as unwise as though he had dashed into battle without arms or armor. Be it ours to bathe in the softly flowing river of communion with God, before the heat of the wilderness and the burden of the way begins to oppress.” ~Charles Spurgeon
There are two kinds of Armor referred to by the Apostle Paul: Defensive Armor, or that which protects us and offensive Armor, or that which inflicts injury on the enemy and takes land for the cause of Christ!
THE GIRDLE: “gird you waist with truth” — the girdle goes around the loins or waist and serves to brace the armor tight to the body. All elements of the whole armor of God are anchored by truth. This scripture is patterned after the kind of armor in general use among the Asiatic nations even to the present day. Hold (brace) everything else in place with TRUTH! Truth holds all other parts of the armor tight to the body, allowing nothing to fail in the heat of battle. The girdle was also used to hold knives, short swords and similar weapons that were frequently slid into in it and fastened there for when the battle gets personal — close quartered fighting that required hand to hand combat and when it seems that other precautions have failed, you still have truth! Nuggets of biblical truth and understanding often keep us standing righteously when the attack gets vicious and personal.
THE BREASTPLATE: “having put on the breastplate of righteousness” — the breastplate consisted of two parts, called pteruges or wings. One covered the whole region of the breast in which the principal organs of life are contained (i.e., heart/lungs); and the other covered the back region as far down as the front part extended. Righteousness or right living always goes before you into the battle. Your reputation, authority and effectiveness often rest in your righteous choices in life. Someone that prays, reads the Bible regularly, prophecies or even preaches, but doesn’t hold moral standards of living, will be completely ineffective in a real battle standing against the enemy of our soul… The breastplate of righteousness protects the heart and the lungs which are the vital organs for life. The lung region is home to our life-giving breath which borrows its name from the words used to describe the Spirit of God. Righteousness protects our spiritual lives from damage in battle; our spiritual authority, our credibility, testimony and impact on the world around us. Righteousness is essential for survival.
THE HELMET: “and take the helmet of salvation” — this is the armor for the head. The helmet varied in type and sometimes was embossed with a great variety of symbolic figures. Connected with the helmet was a crest or ridge on the top, adorned with several emblematic figures; some for ornament and some to strike terror. For crests on ancient helmets we often see the winged lion, or other mythical beast. In the whole armor of God, the helmet of salvation brings the utmost protection for the window to the soul… the mind. The helmet protects the intellect, discerning against harmful influences, the emotions, the mind. Salvation is rooted here. If we can protect the mind, then we can protect the salvation of our souls. False doctrine enters through an intellect that is not protected with the helmet of salvation — allowed a prominence it does not deserve, false doctrine can take up root in the unprotected mind. Lust, envy and perversion is the unchecked imagination of an uncovered mind — whereas the helmet of salvation guards jealously the work of God.
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” ~2 Corinthians 10:3-6
THE SHIELD OF FAITH: “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” — FAITH goes before you into the unknown —protecting you from darts aimed for your destruction before they can reach you and even before you know they are coming. Faith allows you to go on the offense against the enemy without fearing harm. Faith (the shield) stands in front of you and enables you to move out from the place of defense where you are — to take more ground.
FOOT GEAR: “and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;” — brass boots which protect the feet as we tread through the battlefield, shielding us from injury against treacherous ground or stumbling in crooked and uneven territory. In this sense, it is defensive armor. Offensiveness comes into play when we can resolve ourselves to walk cleanly and rightly forward. Thereby we can confidently carry the Gospel forward regardless of the condition or extremes of the battlefield. It is our feet, protected by the gospel, that takes us to the uttermost parts of the earth… walking our walk and talking our talk.
THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT: “which is the Word of God.” — two concepts involved in the sword of the spirit, the Word of God: ‘Logos’ and ‘rhema’. The Hebrew for the Word of God is logos (log’-os) — something said (including the thought); implying a topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; a computation (intellectual); In essence, the written, stated or settled (established) Word of God.
The problem is that many treat the Word of God as a purely intellectual, doctrinal experience and never allow it to come alive in their life and character… ‘Rhema’ brings it to life. When we are in the congregation where the living Word of God is preached; the living Word, rhema. The sword of the spirit is Where this Word of God is made alive!
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." ~Hebrews 4:12
"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;” ~Ephesians 6:17
Sword – machaira (makh’-ahee-rah); a knife, i.e. dirk; figuratively, war, judicial punishment:
Spirit – pneuma (pnyoo’-mah); a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze;
which is the Word of God – (Word) rhema (hray’-mah)
RHEMA cuts to judgment and cuts to deliverance.
"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.” ~Ephesians 6:13
To stand ground; to lose nothing; to refuse defeat. Stand your post! This is the requirement! God is preparing us for this purpose and furnishing us to be able to above all, stand our ground! Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES are we to back down.
There is nothing in Pompeii that invests it with a deeper interest than the spot where a soldier of old Rome displayed a most heroic fidelity. That fatal day on which Vesuvius, at whose feet the city stood, burst out into an eruption that shook the earth, a sentinel kept watch by the gate which looked to the burning mountain: amidst the fearful disorder, the sentinel had been forgotten; and as Rome required her sentinels, happen what might, to hold their posts till relieved by the guard, or set at liberty by their officers, he had to choose between death and dishonor. Pattern of fidelity, he stands by his post. Slowly, but surely, the ashes rise on his manly form; now they reach his breast; and now, covering his lips, they choke his breathing. He also was “faithful unto death.” After seventeen centuries, they found his skeleton standing erect in a marble niche, clad in its rusty armor, the helmet on his empty skull, and his bony fingers still closed upon his spear.