Are you ready to fight? That is an important question for every soldier. It takes more than just the desire or the courage to fight. U.S. Armed Forces enlistments in 1938 were a little over 2,000. In just over 4 years the number jumped dramatically to over 3 million in 1942. What happened to spur so much eagerness? The attack on Pearl Harbor in Dec. of 1941. Millions of young men and women were ready to defend their country. Or were they? You may have been in that number. If you were, then you certainly know that before the actual combat there was a need for preparation. Boot camp, weapons training, mental and emotional preparation, etc. Success required more than the willingness to fight.
• So it is in the spiritual war we are engaged in. We return to Ephesians 6:10-13 – 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 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. 13 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.
• In the past weeks we have considered the reality of the spiritual war that rages around us. Although there are many Christians who are not concerned or involved, there are no deferments or exemptions for anyone. We must be engaged in the battle.
• We have also taken a closer look at the enemy we face. We do not fight against physical enemies, but the spiritual hosts of wickedness. Satan is real and he seeks to destroy us through his deception and ability to tempt us to do evil.
• Because we have such a powerful enemy and are engaged in a fight, THEREFORE in v. 11 we are called to “Put on the whole armor of God”.
I. The Whole Armor of God – The armor that Paul is referencing here is the armor of the Roman soldier of his day. His audience would have been very familiar with this image, as the Roman soldier was an everyday sight for many. Socially and politically he represented the most powerful and successful fighting force in the world. For the next few months we will look closely at Paul’s analogy and view the spiritual armor of the most powerful soldier of all – the spiritual soldier of Christ.
A. God’s Provision: Even the eager and willing spiritual soldier is helpless without God’s provision. That is Paul’s point here. He says it twice: put on the whole armor of God (v. 11) take up the whole armor of God (v. 13) God provides what we need to engage the enemy.
1. In our study of the war in the O.T. we have consistently viewed God’s unique and powerful provision for those who went to battle for the cause of His people. In so many instances, that which God supplied was not what we would have used or considered appropriate or effective.
- At Jericho the walls were reduced to rubble through the blast of trumpets and shouting
- Gideon was successful in defeating a innumerable army of Mideanites with a mere 300 men and some lanterns and pitchers, and trumpets. (like a loaf of bread knocking down a tent)
- David refused the armor of Saul before facing Goliath because he said he “had not tested it.” He faced the giant with the armor that he had tested – a rock, a sling, and his faith in God.
a. In all of these victories, the effective provision of God was spiritual, not physical. We must trust God alone. The faith (or trust) that the soldier placed in God was the effective weapon. 1 John 5:4 – For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.
b. Our willingness to “put on the armor of God” is rooted in our confidence in what God provides. Are the spiritual elements of this armor sufficient for us? There are many who disdain the simple words of scripture and place their confidence in the tactics of human ingenuity. They will fail.
2. Paul’s admonition is that we put on / take up the every piece of armor that God supplies. This is essential because our enemy is constantly seeking for a weakness in our defenses. In the song, Soldiers of Christ Arise, the verse says, “leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul, take every virtue, every grace and fortify the whole. ”
- Wielding a sword without the protection of a breastplate leaves one very vulnerable – Bible knowledge without righteous living is worthless in the struggle against Satan’s attacks.
- Girding up the loins to fight but leaving your helmet at home is foolish – Sincerity apart from the acquisition salvation makes no sense.
- A soldier who puts on everything except his shoes will get far into the battle – If we ignore the urgency of spreading the gospel to others Satan will easily defeat us.
1 Peter 4:11– If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
B. God’s Cause: It is tragic to enter the fray for the wrong cause, or to not know what you are fighting for. Three times in these verses Paul proclaims our goal in this battle – “Stand” – the word is histemi (his’ tay mee) – it means to continue, stay, remain. We are to stand firm. God’s provides this armor so that we can survive the battle and be standing in the end.
- Vs. 11 – that you might be able to stand …
- Vs. 13 – that you may be able to withstand…Having done all to stand
- Vs. 14 – Stand therefore…
1. Paul’s use of stand in vs.11 points to the necessity and purpose of the armor – That you might be able to stand, indicating that if one does not acquire these elements of armor, he cannot fight off the schemes of Satan.
2. The stand in vs. 13 denotes the end of the battle, to be standing in the end; the one who is still standing is the winner. He takes all the spoil. Our spiritual battle with Satan is a fight to the finish. Sin is not a minor or trivial mishap. If we do not deal with it, it will kill us in a hell devoid of a single blessing from God. In fact, Paul also utilizes a compound form of the same word when he says that we can “withstand”; He implies an adversary who is attacking us – a force that must be overcome or withstood.
3. The stand in vs. 14 is the command to stand in the beginning. The phrase “stand firm”, when used in a military sense, had the idea of holding a critical position while under attack. We cannot give up or give in. We are to confidently stand up and engage the enemy with God’s armor.
4. “having done all.. (V. 13)” – We are commanded to do everything that God requires. Obey every command, make every preparation, and use every weapon. This does not mean that we do all that is done to save us or keep us saved. AS we have already indicated this armor is from Him, not us. Our salvation is truly all God’s doing. But rather Paul is emphasizing the necessity of comprehensive obedience as inherent in taking up the armor.
- Pulpit commentary says.. The command to be “strong in the Lord” is fitly associated with our “having done all,” because leaning on almighty strength implies the effort to put forth strength by our own instrumentality; when God’s strength comes to us it constrains us “to do all” that can be done by us or through us (comp. Ps 144:1; Phil 2:12,13). We are not called to do merely as well as our neighbors; nor even to do well on the whole, but to do all – to leave nothing undone that can contribute to the success of the battle; then we shall be able to stand, or stand firm.
5. The words of the apostle are designed to instill confidence and courage in the soldier of Christ. Although we may be surrounded by many foes, we can stand and fight. In fact we can, by taking up this armor, be standing still in the end. The apostles were hounded and attacked constantly by the enemy, but they stood up and fought with the spiritual armor and weapons of God. In Acts 4 when the council ordered Peter and John to not speak in the name of Jesus or mention the Resurrection, it may have appeared Satan had dealt a death blow to the church. But the Christians fought back. Not with swords or spears, but with the weapons that Go provided.
- Read Acts 4:17-20 – But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” 18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
- Vs.23-31 – 23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’ 27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. They were still standing.
- In Acts 14 Paul and Barnabas healed a lame man and are mistaken for gods. They could barely keep the people from offering sacrifices to them. But when some unbelieving Jews arrived they stirred up the pagan crowd against them and in vs. 19 it says “they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.” Paul did not fight back with stones, or swords or knives. But he was in the fight. Who won? Vs. 20 “However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city.” Paul may have been down on the ground, as good as dead, but spiritually he was still standing.
- 2 Tim 4:5-8 – But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. Paul’s Valedictory 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Conclusion: The concept of armor is a little familiar to me being a baseball umpire. If an umpire is going to stand behind the catcher and remain there all game, he better have on some armor. There is a chest protector, shin guards and a face mask. The necessity of such equipment may not be apparent every minute of the game. In fact I have forgotten to put on my shin guards and not noticed their absence until well into the game (a ball came close to bouncing of my legs). But would you ever consider intentionally not wearing a facemask? Most of the time you do not need one, right? No you NEED one every pitch!
So we too need the provisions of God every day. Let us put on the whole armor of God.
I need thee every hour!