Battles are not won on accident. They are not won by just showing up. They are not won by assuming that you will have victory. I once heard a story of a cocky commander in one of the major wars. The story goes that one night he was walking around the trenches speaking with his men when gunfire broke out. All the men grabbed their weapons and hunkered down to protect themselves. The cocky commander continued to walk around the trenches, head held high. The men shouted for him to duck in order to protect himself. The commander proudly began a monologue on the poor shooting ability of the enemy and how they couldn’t hit him if they wanted to. It’s said that just as soon as he made that statement, he was struck in the head by enemy fire and died. Whether or not this story is true, the principle is true. You cannot enter war with a flippant carefree attitude. You cannot assume victory solely because your side is stronger, or because you are fighting for the good. It doesn’t work that way. Remember the story of Hannibal and the Barbarians. Though the Roman army had every advantage, they were utterly destroyed by Hannibal because they failed to properly prepare. We cannot do the same in our Christian life.
Read Ephesians 6:12 and identify all forces working against you in your Christian life. One of our weakest points is not failing to identify the enemy, its failing to identify his daily offensive in our lives. We are often unaware of his work and the battle raging. Because we are unaware, we don’t put up any resistance. Like the Romans, we come out each day to the battle field and get slaughtered, only to return the next day to do the same. It becomes commonplace to us. CHRISTIANS: THIS MUST CHANGE. We must gain a correct perspective on the war happening all around us and learn how to fight. There are no profitable soldiers that are “chilled”. Let's spend the next few minutes learning more about the enemy.
Read I Peter 5:8, II Corinthians 11:14, John 8:44, II Corinthians 11:3. Stop after each verse is read aloud and identify the characteristics and actions of Satan. The devil is a wicked creature. We read weekly about the atrocities that are taking place all over the world by terrorist organizations and shutter at them. “How can someone be so cruel and inhumane?” we ask ourselves. However, thousands of Christians fail to realize just how wicked the devil is. He is out to destroy every single bit of joy and happiness that there is in your life. He wants to drag you so far away from God and keep you living in misery the rest of your life. Any evil you can identify, whether it is small or large, he is the sole mastermind behind it. He is the sum of wicked. And somehow, so many Christians think we can tip toe around him and his forces and somehow live a Godly life, without ever having to fight for it. In the 2008 movie The Dark Knight, it was said of the Joker, Batman’s arch enemy, that “some men aren’t looking for anything logical. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.” Oh how true this is of Satan. The ONLY thing he wants is to watch your world burn. We must start respecting his resolve to destroy us. Remember the characteristics that your group identified and decide to start fighting him.
Read Ephesians 6:14-18. So where will the devil attack us? Ephesians gives us a list of what kind of armor we are to be putting on each day. It would stand to reason that if God says we are to wear these pieces, it’s because the devil means to attack us in these areas. Let’s identify and talk about these pieces of armor.
1. The Devil's attack on our belief of truth / the loins gird about with truth. This implies that we must have truth binding everything else together. The girdle of the armor was designed to keep everything else in place. As a Christian, we must believe the truth of God’s Word, and fervently live by it. The Devil is constantly trying to twist everything God has told us into a lie. So much of what we hear from the media, religious authorities, and world leaders are lies. The Devil’s agenda thrives on lies. Like we read before, he is the father of all lies. If he can get us to believe the lies of sin, then all the other armor starts to unravel. We must rely on God’s truth or everything else fails.
2. The Devil's attack on God working in us / the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate covers the heart, along with the vital organs. As a Believer, all the good we do is only through the righteousness of Christ. The Bible calls the human heart deceitful and wicked above everything else. If we fail to die daily and to allow the Holy Spirit to work righteousness through us, our heart starts to show it. We become vulnerable to the Devil's attack on our life. We must yield to Him and allow his righteousness to become our breastplate.
3. The Devil's attack on your daily life / feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. In the time the Bible was written, soldiers of the day would prepare their feet with protection made of brass. This would keep sharp objects laid out by the enemy from injuring them and slowing their march. Each day we are confronted with sin and problems, most of which are laid in our path by sin. If the gospel of peace is to reign in our lives, we must continue to walk in God’s way. How we respond to problems and sin tells a lot about what kind of warrior we are. The Devil enjoys “tripping you up” on a daily basis.
4. The Devil's attack on our faith / the shield of faith. The Bible puts the highest priority on the shield of faith. Simply put, our faith is what defies the Devil. It’s what places us in his line of sight. The shield is something you can turn and use as fiery darts come in from all directions. Those fiery darts are the temptations and trials that the Devil hurls at us. A shield is something that you trust. You don’t see a soldier raising something made of wood or fabric as defense. Instead, he raises something that is strong; something that he can trust. Our faith in God is a mighty defense. However, the devil works to make us doubt that truth. If we start to doubt the salvation Christ has given us, we start to retreat off the battlefield. Always trust in Christ, and keep the faith.
5. The Devil’s attack on our attitude / the helmet of salvation. One of the Devils greatest tools is despair and depression. However, this can only be achieved in a Christian’s life if they start forgetting the hope of our salvation. As Christians, we win! God has given us the gift of eternal life, and He is ever with us. The devil will attack that joy and begin to make you THINK that things are so bad that you cannot have hope. Therefore, take the helmet (knowledge, not a feeling, that you are on the winning side) and live the victorious Christian life.
6. The Devil’s attack on our service / the sword of the Spirit. If we are successful in putting on every piece of armor, yet fail to take the sword, we are a solider without a gun. We are protecting ourselves, but helping the war in no way. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. We have a powerful tool that Satan does not want us to use. He wants to weaken our knowledge of God’s Word and keep us from giving it to a lost world. It’s our offensive weapon and by taking it away from us, Satan renders us useless.
7. The Devil's attack on prayer / praying always. God desires our fellowship. By praying, we gain a close relationship with God. How are we to believe that we can daily put on the entire armor of God and do battle if we have no communication with the commander? We must pray! We must gain a relationship with God. Satan will put anything and everything in your path to keep you from praying. We cannot allow him to succeed. A soldier must designate a time to put on all his gear before he does battle. We must also designate time to pray and to put on our spiritual armor.
So as Christians, will we start recognizing the Devil's vicious attack on us, or will we continue to ignore his destructive abilities while losing more battles? We CAN have victory. Our God is STRONGER than Satan and he wants to give us victory daily. All we have to do is yield to him, and he will do the rest. Spend the rest of the time giving prayer requests and praying for those in your group. Pray that we will consciously yield to the Spirit and allow God to fight our battles.
Several of the thoughts presented in the “whole armor of God” section of this article came from Matthews Henry’s commentary on Ephesians 6. If you desire to study more, he has many more wonderful thoughts on this part of Scripture.