“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”(Ephesians 6:11, ESV)
In preparing for spiritual battle, we need to make sure that we “put on the whole armor,” not just selected pieces. Later in this chapter Paul describes each piece of armor, but for now, we need to know that we cannot pick and choose. To do so would be disastrous because would leave us exposed to attack.
My dad was involved in the LA riots of 1992 as a police officer for Los Angeles. The rioting lasted six days, during which 63 people were killed and and almost 2400 people were injured. It ended only after the California Army National Guard, the United States Army, and the United States Marine Corps provided reinforcements to re-establish control. In preparation for going into a war zone, which is what LA was at the time, which would a policeman choose? A bullet-proof vest or a riot helmet? What will happen if he chooses one over the other? What about if he chose a riot shield and not boots? These are foolish questions because to be prepared to battle, a soldier or a policeman needs to be fully equipped with his whole armor, not simply bits and pieces. As Christians, we too need to be armored, not choosing some, but all of the armor that God provides.
“Stand against” or “stand firm” is a reference to not being moved in our fundamental doctrinal positions. The opposite of this means to be blown around by every wind of doctrine. Ephesians 4:11-14 says, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;” (Ephesians 4:11–14, NASB95)
There’s a lot to grasp in those verses, but the quick truth I want you to see here is that a lack of biblical discipleship leads to many things, including the immaturity of believers who will be like children who are rocked upon the shore by the waves of doubt and deception.
Those who have drifted in their faith have brought disaster to their lives, and to the lives of many others. Paul warned Timothy of this happening in Ephesus: “keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.” (1 Timothy 1:19–20, NASB95)
First Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, ESV). Being “sober-minded” is not something that our age is known for. We are easily distracted, silly, and fascinated with the trivial. Five minutes on Youtube would be enough to confirm this truth to anyone who doubted it.
In 2 Corinthians 2:11 Paul wrote, “…so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:11, NASB95). Outwitted and ignorant of Satan’s schemes is unfortunately a perfect description of many Christians and churches today. We look to the Bible to see God’s will, and to answer questions for life, and rightly so. We see in it the glory of God in Christ Jesus as we should. But in this Book we also have a manual for warfare. War against our great enemies: the World, the flesh, and the Devil. Know these enemies and their schemes! Study the Word to learn about how these enemies of our soul will try to trip us up and lead us astray. We can’t afford to live like there isn’t a roaring lion out there!
In his excellent books, The Christian in Complete Armour, the Puritan pastor William Gurnall wrote, “One of the dangers of playing the devil’s games is that you come to like them. They are as addictive as wine, and create an insatiable thirst. Practice the devil’s tricks long enough, and your blackened soul will begin to devise mischief of its own, to help satisfy your ravishing appetite for sin…. Set your heart toward wickedness and Satan will lend you his own chariot and drive you himself to perform the deed.”
We need to prepare for battle, but we need to fight with the weapons of our King, not earthly weapons of politics, power plays, or philosophies. We need to proclaim the life-giving gospel message and preach the truth. As we do, we can stand firm and watch the Lord fight for us.