Spiritual Warfare – Part 2 “The Weapons of Our Warfare”
Last week we learned that Satan is a very real personality who is determined to destroy the works of God and the children of God. He tried to tempt the Lord Jesus Himself in the wilderness, but Jesus used a very powerful weapon against him – the Word of God! The devil was no match for Jesus, and the devil is no match for a true Christian who arms himself with the powerful arsenal of spiritual weapons that God has provided for our warfare!
What is the Nature of Our Warfare?
Eph 6:12 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.
There are men in our church who fought in the Vietnamese war with rifles, machine guns, hand grenades, and rocket launchers. At least one of these men was wounded and shed his blood in that long conflict. But we see in this scripture, that our enemies, are not made of flesh and blood, and the worst part is these enemies that we are up against are invisible – unless they are possessing a human being. One of the gifts of the Spirit that we should all seek to receive is discernment of spirits, which will be of great value in our spiritual battles. For example, Satan may momentarily or temporarily exert his influence on anyone to stir up trouble and cause people to say unkind things to one another or even cause them to do things they ordinarily would not have done, just to disrupt harmony and unity among us. The gift of discernment would be very helpful in cases like that. One of the best ways to handle people whom you discern to be unwitting instruments of Satan that are spreading gossip or trying to provoke you to responding in an un-Christ-like manner, is to turn a deaf ear to them, or just say firmly but gently, “I don’t want to offend you, but I really am not interested in this sort of thing.
What Are the Weapons of Our Warfare?
Eph 6:10-11; 13-18 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; 13 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. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
We are going to go through these passages using the commentary of Adam Clarke (1762-1832), but as we look at the weapons that God has place at our disposal, we need to realize that they are designed for people that have committed themselves to being faithful soldiers in the army of God. Once we have put our hands to the plow, there is no turning back. (See Luk 9:62). Now let’s see what we can glean from these verses:
Be strong in the Lord – you must have this strength through an indwelling God, the power of his might working in you. (See Phi 2:13)
Put on the whole armour of God – The ordinary armor of the Greek army in Paul’s time was the shield, the helmet, the sword, and the greaves or brazen boots. To all these the apostle refers.
The wiles of the devil means the methods of the devil (μεθοδειας του διαβολου·);
the different means, plans, schemes, and machinations which he uses to deceive, entrap, enslave, and ruin the souls of men.
Your loins girt about with truth The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth of God; unless this be known and conscientiously believed no man can enter the spiritual warfare with any advantage or prospect of success. By this alone we discover who our enemies are, and how they come on to attack us;
Having on the breastplate of righteousness – The word righteousness, δικαισυνη, we have often had occasion to note, is a word of very extensive import: it signifies the principle of righteousness; it signifies the practice of righteousness, or living a holy life; it signifies God’s method of justifying sinners; and it signifies justification itself. Here it may imply a consciousness of justification through the blood of the cross; the principle of righteousness or true holiness implanted in the heart; and a holy life, a life regulated according to the testimonies of God. As the breast-plate, θωραξ defends the heart and lungs, and all those vital functionaries that are contained in what is called the region of the thorax; so this righteousness, this life of God in the soul of man, defends every thing on which the man’s spiritual existence depends.
Your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace – they were deemed of essential importance in the ancient armor; if the feet or legs are materially wounded, a man can neither stand to resist his foe, pursue him if vanquished, nor flee from him should he have the worst of the fight.That the apostle has obedience to the Gospel in general in view, there can be no doubt; but he appears to have more than this, a readiness to publish the Gospel: for, How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth Peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation.
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked
In the word θυρεος, thureos, the apostle alludes to the great oblong shield, or scutum, which covers the whole body. And as faith is the grace by which all others are preserved and rendered active, so it is properly represented here under the notion of a shield, by which the whole body is covered and protected.
The fiery darts of the wicked, του πονηρου, or devil, are evil thoughts, and strong injections, as they are termed, which in unbelievers inflame the passions, and excite the soul to acts of transgression. While the faith is strong in Christ it acts as a shield to quench these. He who walks in the Spirit, hates all evil thoughts; and, though they pass through his mind, they never fix in his passions. They are caught on this shield, blunted, and extinguished.
Take the helmet of salvation – The hope of continual safety and protection, built on the promises of God, to which the upright follower of Christ feels he has a Divine right, protects the understanding from being darkened, and the judgment from being confused by any temptations of Satan, or subtle arguments of the worldly-wise. He who carries Christ in his heart and mind cannot be cheated out of the hope of his heaven.
The sword of the Spirit which is the word of God:- The sword of which St. Paul speaks is, as he explains it, the word of God; that is, the revelation which God has given of himself, or what we call the Holy Scriptures. This is called the sword of the Spirit, because it comes from the Holy Spirit, and receives its fulfillment in the soul through the operation of the Holy Spirit. An ability to quote the word on proper occasions, and especially in times of temptation and trial, has a wonderful tendency to cut in pieces the snares of the adversary. In God’s word a genuine Christian may have unlimited confidence, and to every purpose to which it is applicable it may be brought with the greatest effect. The shield, faith, and the sword – the word of God, or faith in God’s unchangeable word, are the principal armor of the soul. He in whom the word of God dwells richly, and who has that faith by which he knows that he has redemption, even the forgiveness of sins, need not fear the power of any adversary. He stands fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made him free.
Paul’s account of the armor is ended, and now, having equipped his spiritual soldier, he shows him the necessity of watching and praying, that he may successfully resist those principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in heavenly places, with whom he has to contend. Without watchfulness and prayer, all the spiritual armor will be ineffectual.
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; – And as it was the custom of the Grecian armies, before they engaged in battle, to offer prayers to the gods for their success, the apostle shows that we as Christian warriors must depend on the Captain of our salvation, and pray with all prayer, which means different kinds of prayer that may be performed in public, in the family, in the closet, in business, on the way, in the heart without a voice, and with the voice from the heart. All those are necessary to the genuine Christian; and he whose heart is right with God will be frequent in all of these kinds of prayers.
There is a difference between prayer and supplication. Supplication however seems to mean prayer continued in, strong and incessant pleadings, till the evil is averted, or the good communicated. ( DWE Note: Notice this is to be done “in the Spirit”
Watching thereunto – Being always on your guard lest your enemies should surprise you. Watch, not only against evil, but also for opportunities to do good, and for opportunities to receive good.
With all perseverance – Being always intent on your object, and never losing sight of your danger, or of your interest. The word implies stretching out the neck, and looking about, in order to discern an enemy at a distance.
For all saints – For all Christians; for this was the character by which they were generally distinguished.
A final word on the importance of prayer: There are vast numbers of people called Christians who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. Many of them have even believed the Gospel, but have not obeyed the full Gospel message which is summed up in Acts 2:38. There are also people who have had a supernatural experience with God and have truly been born of the water and the Spirit; and yet, many of these people are not experiencing the power God intends for them to have. The main reason for their lack of power is their failure to maintain a fervent and consistent, daily prayer life. Let’s not find ourselves in that number!