21/01/18 Ephesians 6:10-12 “Put on the whole armour of God”
Last week we discussed satan’s desire to gain dominion over all the earth and that he cannot have such dominion in his own right. Therefore, satan has to control them that do have dominion over the earth, namely mankind. Now we begin on Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians concerning fighting the resultant battle.
Most Christians today do not have a clear understanding of the spiritual warfare that they are called to fight. They might admit that satan (and his demons) are the enemy (although many even won’t admit that satan is capable of seriously attacking God’s people!) but they have no idea why satan is on the attack and therefore they have no comprehension of just what they as Christians are being called to defend! If you don’t know why satan is attacking you, then how can you successfully defend anything if you don’t first of all know what it is that satan wants? Some might say that satan is attacking them because they are Christians because that’s what satan does! But satan is a highly intelligent and rational being; everything he does will have a very logical reason behind it. He wants something and he will do what’s necessary to get it. And, if you stand in the way, then he may attack.
But, some say, at the name of Jesus demons have to flee. And, resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7). But, is this verse dealing with demonic attack against the Christian, or is it instead tackling Christians dealing with the problems of sin and temptation? Certainly, satan cannot attack Christians unless God permits him to do so, yet if God has permitted satan to attack, then how can resisting him cause him to flee while he has permission to attack? (Note Job’s experience with satan attacking him by God’s permission!)
So, what are Christians defending? What is it that satan wants and that we are called to protect? Jude suggests that it is the faith that was once delivered to the saints that we must contend for.
Jude 3-4 – 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
earnestly contend for – epagonizomai (to contend; earnest contend for)
[from epi (upon; on; at; by; before; over; against) and agonizomai (to enter a contest: contend in the gymnastic games; to contend with adversaries, fight; metaphorically: to contend, struggle, with difficulties and dangers; to endeavour with strenuous zeal, strive: to obtain something)]
Ellicott says – Contend for.—The word is a graphic one, implying standing over a thing to fight in its defence. You must fight as well as build (Nehemiah 4:16-18).
the faith – the true doctrines and beliefs of Christians.
Of course, defending the faith once delivered to the saints is not just teaching and preaching the truth, but living out a life consistent with what you believe. That is, if you are Christians, you should act like it, and this includes resisting temptation to sin by which satan seeks to take a foothold in the Christian’s life. Thus Paul tells the Ephesians to not give place to the devil (including through the works of darkness).
That faith once delivered to the saints is also a significant topic in Ephesians.
Ephesians 4:12-13 – 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Unless the Church works toward that unity of the faith (which can only come about if it is based upon God’s truth), then the Church is fragmented, limited in its ability to defend itself against the enemy. For how can any army win if it is divided against itself?
Matthew 12:25 – And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
Many wars have been lost simply because soldiers have started arguing among themselves. It is how the mighty army opposing Jehoshaphat destroyed itself.
2 Chronicles 20:23 – For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy [them]: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.
We are defending our right to test all things, to hold fast to that which is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 – Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
We are, by our stand for the truth, defending man’s right to have dominion over all the earth. After all, that is what satan desires, and therefore he opposes everything that will get in his way of gaining such dominion through the control of mankind. One huge obstacle standing in the way of his march toward dominion is the Church. Or rather, it should be the Church that defends the earth against the improper dominion over it by satan and his demons. But, the Church has largely lost its way today; it is failing dismally to defend God’s truth against those who would break down that truth and thus replace it with deceit and lies. Many in the Church even deny that demons can actually have any significant effect on Christians! However, if you play with sin as you might play with fire, you’ll get burnt, possibly badly!
And, soldiers do not always merely defend their ground, but, when necessary, go on the offensive, actively opposing all those false teachers who would destroy that faith through a pretence that their doctrines are more Biblical than the others! (Jude 3-4)
Ephesians 6:10 – Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
finally – (that which is) remaining; the rest; hereafter; henceforth; at last; besides; moreover. A word that suggests the rounding off of this letter to the Ephesians. Finally, we get to that which we have been leading up to throughout this letter.
Philippians 3:1a – Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.
Philippians 4:8a – Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest ……
power – kratos (force; strength; power; might; mighty deed; dominion) Not dynamis
This word appears to have the idea of dominating in a contest, being more than conquerors by reason of our position in Christ (Romans 8:37).
might – ischus (ability; force; strength; might)
power of his might – “the dominating and clearly victorious strength of the awesome might of God” is how I would describe this.
Ephesians 3:16 – That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
Ephesians 1:19 – And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
be strong – or “be strengthened”
Be strong in the Lord – be strengthened by
2 Timothy 2:1 – Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
Because we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us (Romans 8:37), then in battle with the enemy we cannot lose unless we choose to lose. We can be strengthened in the Lord because of the dominance of His infinite might. That is, God’s might will (or should) dominate all battles that we might face. It also strongly implies that we will not be strengthened, and therefore lose the battle, if we are not upheld by the dominating and victorious strength of the might of God.
With Christ I can do all things (Philippians 4:13) yet without Christ I can do nothing (John 15:5).
Ephesians 6:11 – Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
the whole armour – panoplia (full armour; complete armour; includes shield, sword, lance, helmet, greaves, and breastplate) Also used in Ephesians 6:13 and …..
Luke 11:21-22 – 21 When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.
“panoply” = a magnificent or impressive array; a wide range of types.
An old hymn by Charles Wesley includes the words “The panoply of God”, yet in a modernised (shortened) version of the same hymn, it is now translated as “The weapons of our God”. The original (longer) version outlines the whole armour as in Ephesians 6.
then in His great might, With all His strength endued;
And take, to arm you for the fight, The panoply of God,
having all things done, And all your conflicts past,
Ye may o’ercome through Christ alone, And stand complete at last.
stand – stand; establish; to cause or make to stand; stand firm; steadfast; not wavering; stand ready or prepared; to uphold or sustain the authority or force of anything. It is considered that Bunyan’s Mr Standfast relates to this term.
wiles – methodeia (cunning arts; deceit; craft; trickery) (or stratagems, or ambush)
Also used in Ephesians 4:14 – That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
“Put on (clothe yourself with) the whole armour (panoply) of God, that you may be able to stand against (withstand; establish yourself against) the wiles (stratagems; trickery; deceit; ambushes) of the devil (false accuser; slanderer).”
Beware of the cunning ambushes that satan sets up against the unwary Christian. Also, be aware that it is the whole armour and not a part-only that is effective. The word “panoply” is made up of two words, pas (all) and hoplon (arms used in warfare; weapons), which means that it is one of those “all or nothing” words – if you can’t use all, then anything less than all will be little better than nothing.
To stand against the wiles means to be able to hold your ground, to defend your territory, to not lose ground (or, not give place to the devil), when the enemy is using all means of trickery to deceive you. The enemy is described as occult, which means that he likes to fight from a hidden position; we would term this an ambush. It is when you would least expect an attack that it is most likely to come.
Ephesians 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].
For we wrestle not against – “For our wrestling is not against”
wrestle – wrestling (a contest between two in which each endeavours to throw the other, and which is decided when the victor is able to hold his opponent down with his hand upon his neck); the term is transferred to the Christian’s struggle with the power of evil. This is its only use in the New Testament.
principalities – arche (beginning; origin; first person or thing in a series; the leader; first place; magistracy; principality; of angels and demons) Translated the same in Ephesians 1:21, and Ephesians 3:10.
powers – exousia (power of choice; liberty to do as one pleases; physical and mental power; the power of authority and of right; the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed; the sign of regal authority, a crown; the leading and more powerful among created beings superior to man, spiritual potentates) Translated the same in Ephesians 1:21 and 3:10.
Translated with archon (ruler; commander; prince) + exousia + aer (air; atmosphere) as “the prince of the power of the air” in Ephesians 2:2. ton archonta tes exousias tou aeros
rulers – kosmokrator (lord of the world; prince of this age; the devil and his demons)
This is its only use in the New Testament.
[from kosmos (world; government; universe; inhabitants of earth; the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God; can mean Gentiles as opposed to Jews, or it can mean believers only, or any particular collection of people or things) + krateo (to have power; powerful; chief; master; become master of; get possession of; hold onto and not let go; hold in check)] World-power!
Note 1 John 5:19b – the whole world lieth in wickedness.
darkness – skotos (darkness; metaphorically: of ignorance respecting divine things and human duties, and the accompanying ungodliness and immorality, together with their consequent misery in hell; persons in whom darkness becomes visible and holds sway)
world – aion (for ever; an unbroken age; perpetuity of time; eternity; the worlds; universe; period of time; age)
wickedness – poneria (depravity; iniquity; wickedness; malice; evil purposes and desires)
high (places) – epouranios (existing in heaven; taking place in heaven; heavenly regions; heaven itself, the abode of God and angels; lower heavens, of the stars; heavens, of the clouds; heavenly temple or sanctuary; of heavenly origin or nature)
Principalities; powers; rulers of the darkness of this world; spiritual wickedness in high places – these are clearly defined as not being of flesh and blood, that is, not physical as we perceive things and persons. This battle is spiritual and therefore cannot be fought with physical weapons. This point is being made very clearly indeed. We cannot expect to be able to oppose spiritual warfare with great physical preparation. That which is effective against flesh and blood will not be effective in this warfare. Walking by faith, not by sight, is extremely relevant to this warfare. It will be what we know by faith that will win the battle, not what we can see.
2 Corinthians 5:7 – For we walk by faith, not by sight.
This is an enemy you cannot see and cannot touch. He is like an invisible man who can only be recognised by what he does. A door opens and shuts, yet no-one walks through, no-one is present, no-one can be seen touching that door. There is no breeze, no motorised hinges, in fact, nothing that can be seen that could possibly make that door open and shut. Yet, it has just opened and shut! Logically the only answer appears to be that an invisible man has just opened and shut that door, probably to walk through it. You can see what he does, yet you cannot see him. He can only be recognised by what he does.
If you do not believe that invisible men exist, then you are left with an enigma that cannot be explained. If the only possible solution is that an invisible man walked through that door, yet invisible men do not exist, then you have no solution to your enigma. You either believe an invisible man walked through that door, or else come up with an alternative solution. But no such alternative solution appears to exist.
Likewise with spiritual warfare. There are times when things appear to happen without any logical physical cause, yet there must be a cause because the event happened. If you believe in satan and his demons, then when something happens that they could have done (and that nothing else can satisfactorily explain), then you have to suspect spiritual activity might be happening. If spiritual beings (who are invisible and cannot be felt) alone could realistically explain the situation, and you believe that such beings exist, then the most logical conclusion is that such spiritual beings have been active in this particular situation. I call this the invisible man theory!
So, what things could happen that could indicate spiritual activity, especially in the absence of any logical physical solution to satisfactorily explain it? These include:
(a) A circumstance (usually a problem or difficulty) that doesn’t appear to have a satisfactory physical explanation, a circumstance that causes confusion as to how to deal with it. Spiritual attack is often associated with events that have some significant mystery surrounding their occurrence and their solution. Confusion may rule.
(b) Often two or more circumstances occur around the same time, seemingly independent of each other, yet can be similar in the way they are pushed at you. There is often a pattern in the enemy’s behaviour; remember that demons are highly rational and intelligent beings. The enemy will try to get you down or weaken you, and then hit you again while you are down, yet may use two different attack sources.
(c) Often there can be a feeling of urgency about the problem. There can be a feeling that one is being pushed into a corner with little time to think carefully about it.
(d) Often there is a feeling of helplessness or despair that makes the problem appear far bigger than it is. Spiritual attack is often accompanied by a feeling of anxiety, of unrest, that something is wrong, and that action is urgently needed to overcome such anxiety. You might end up “making mountains out of molehills!”
(e) Often things are just not what they seem to be. Sometimes the people you think you can trust the most seem to be against you. This may not actually be so, but it may appear as if others are opposing you. Remember that deception is a major part of most spiritual attack. Don’t be too quick to blame the other person.
(f) Spiritual attack is usually associated with the enemy having a need to oppose you for some reason. Generally, if you don’t offend the enemy, he’ll mostly leave you alone. He usually only seriously opposes those who won’t give in to his pressure!
The way to defeat all of these is to accept that spiritual attack may be occurring (it is not easy to be absolutely certain that spiritual attack is occurring). If there is confusion or chaos over what to do, then take time to think it through, calm down, take some deep breaths, etc. Slow the circumstance down if you can. Give yourself time to think. The enemy does prefer to have you under pressure to make a decision when you haven’t had time to think it through, so force yourself to have time to consider it, if at all possible. Recognise that the enemy could be a demon and not the person who might appear to be against you. Things may not be as they seem, because we walk by faith, not by sight. Allow time to commit the problem to God. Put yourself in God’s hands. Take God’s promises on board. If all things work together for good for Christians in reasonable standing with God (see Romans 8:28), then give God thanks for everything that has happened (for He has to have permitted everything to happen or else it wouldn’t have happened, unless you overrule God’s provision).
Ephesians 5:20 – Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Give God glory for the circumstance you find yourself in. If the enemy is involved in that circumstance, then he will have to give God glory along with you. Require this of the enemy, that as he comes into your presence, he also comes into God’s presence, and must bend the knee and confess with his lips that Jesus is Lord. For all must do this at the name of Jesus! Put on the whole armour (the panoply) of God. Be prepared! Do the rigorous training that keeps you from falling.
1 Corinthians 9:27 – But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Watch and pray (Matthew 26:41). Be ready for battle at all times! Wear the armour and know how to use it! Test all things! Hold fast to that which is right! And give God praise and glory for all that he has permitted you to be a part of.