PUT ON THE ARMOR OF GOD FOR VICTORY
When Paul wrote Ephesians 6 he had seen much conflict and opposition.
While preaching in Ephesus the local citizens wanted to kill him because
their income was derived from the temple and worship of the goddess Diana,
and you can imagine the craftsmen were not happy with their loss of income.
Paul understood well the fact that war was a way of life, especially
for the Christian. It is believed that Paul was actually in the
custody of Roman guards as he wrote this letter to the Ephesians. This
explains why he chose to describe the Christian’s warfare using
military equipment contemporary with his day.
Paul commanded that we put on the full armor of God. The Greek verb
tense indicates that we are to put on this armor on and leave it on.
The inference is that we are not facing a brief confrontation but a
prolonged war where we can never let our guard down.
The phrase “whole armor” is noteworthy. Roman soldiers did not
provide their own equipment. It was the responsibility of the
commander to provide for his troops. God provides us with all the
equipment that we need now that we are in His service.
“Whole armor” also makes it clear that we are to use it all. All of
it is essential. One part is not more important than another. If we
are to be victorious we need to put it all on.
In our battle with Satan we cannot expect him to fight fair. He will
resort to guerrila warfare. Striking at our weakest point in our most
vulnerable time. Take special heed when you are tired or emotionally
down. Paul warns us of the devil’s schemes. This denotes a stalking
action. Not unlike that used by contemporary guerrila commandoes. Or
it could be compared to a predator stalking its prey. Because the
enemy stalks us without warning we must be fully equipped and be aware
of how he maximizes his strength at our weakest times.
The word “struggle” or “wrestle” is a very clear description that
the people of Paul’s day understood. The Roman wrestler was not bound
by Amateur Athletic Union regulations. Although this Roman athlete
tried to pin his opponent like in today’s matches he went about it in a
different fashion. The Roman wrestler would get both of his hands
around his opponent’s throat. When you are pinned to the ground by your
neck there is a distinct possibility you are not going to get back up
for a re-match.
Paul is saying that our conflict should be taken seriously. When we
give our best for God in evangelism or Bible teaching we will get
demonic opposition. Sometimes our very lives may be threatened. At the
very least the enemy will try sabotaging our Christian testimony.
Flesh and blood describes humans. Since our adversary is not human
we cannot expect to fight him using our own resources and physical
strength. Nor can we depend on conventional weapons.
Satan and his demons are real beings. They began as angels created
by God to serve Him. Lucifer led a rebellion against God and he and
the angels who followed him were cast out of heaven. He then became
known as Satan and the angels who followed him became known as demons.
You can read about this rebellion in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14.
Satan is now the god of this world. Being an extremely intelligent
being he has organized his fallen angels by dividing them into
different classes with different responsibilities. Principalities are
the first class Paul refers to. The Greek word for principlaities is
“archas.” It describes things as leaders, overseers, or magistrates.
Webster defines the English word as “the territory or jurisdiction of a
prince: the country that gives title to a prince or an angel of the
third lowest rank in the Dionysian hierarchy.” (Just as a footnote
Dionysus also known as Bacchus was the Greek god of wine). It would
make sense that these principalities are assigned over areas such as
nations and cities because of what Daniel wrote about an angel being
delayed in getting to him with God’s message because of an encounter
with the prince of the kingdom of Persia (Daniel 1O). Daniel had to be
speaking of a demon prince because no man can detain an angelic
The second category Paul refers to is authorities or powers
depending on your version. This is one level under principalities.
Powers are probably more numerous than principalities and because they
are a lower rank they have less independence and are somewhat inferior.
Yet as their name indicates they are a real threat to the believer.
Rulers of darkness are the last group mentioned in Ephesians 6.
This group corresponds to lieutenants and noncommissioned officers.
They are more common than the colonels and generals mentioned above.
The real work horses though are called spiritual wickedness. This
group is directly under the rulers of darkness. This is probably the
group that our Lord cast out during His ministry.
Verse 13 uses a significant phrase, “to stand.” The soldier who
lost his balance or weakened and fell was sure to die. David often
referred to the Lord helping him to stand (Ps 2O:8; 26:12; 111:8;
Being able to stand was the most basic prerequisite to survival for
the warrior of the physical realm. According to Paul it is also
necessary for the believing warrior.
The first piece of armor Paul describes is the girdle of truth. Men
today may joke about women’s girdles but men in his day wore them
everyday. Actually the girdle he describes is a belt. Though many
would not consider it a weapon we must remember that this is a
spiritual battle and we must fight it using unconventional weapons.
The belt was used to bind a man’s robe to his body. Before battle a
man would tuck the lower edges of the robe into his belt worn around
his waist. If he did not tuck it in the bottom of his long robe would
cause him to trip.
The belt also supported the weapons. A warrior’s belt was usually
wide for extra support and made of leather. The believing warrior has
a belt of truth. The best way to wear the belt of truth is to be honest
in all you do. Be sincere and strive for integrity. Living impeccably
gives a person peace and confidence. A guilty conscience on the other
hand can turn a strong person into a coward.
The breastplate was an important piece of armor protecting a large
vulnerable area of the body. It is hard to imagine a soldier going
into battle without this kind of protection. It is like a policeman
going to a bank robbery without his bullet proof vest. The believing
warrior’s breastplate (bullet proof vest) is made of righteousness.
There are two forms of righteousness that the believer has. The first
is Christ’s imputed righteousness. We receive this when we become new
creatures at our time of conversion (Romans 5:17-19).
The next is the experiential righteousness we are supposed to
manifesting during our daily walk. When we subject ourselves to God
and let His Spirit rule in our lives we will live in righteousness
(Philippians 1:11). This was not a new truth for David stressed
righteousness in his warrior psalms (18:2O-24).
The breastplate was made by overlapping metal discs or woven chain
or interlinked rings of metal and was tied around the person with a
buckle or metal thongs. Often during hand to hand combat, opponents
would stab each other’s breastplates looking for a weak spot. If a
weak spot was penetrated the hapless soldier was doomed. It was a lazy
and foolish soldier who did not maintain and securely fasten his
breastplate. The believing warrior should take heed. If we live
righteously we can face the enemy with confidence. Like the weak spot
in a soldiers armor, sin in a believer’s life will open him up to
Satan’s deadly dagger. Once a person sins Jesus will forgive that sin
but the believer will still have to live with the consequences of that
sin. The past will almost always come back and haunt a person. Look
at the mud that is brought up at every presidential election. The
breastplate of righteousness must never ever be taken off! It was
righteous living that gave David his confidence and and strength.
If a warrior was going into battle he would wear thick soled shoes.
During Paul’s time they would often have hobnails in them for secure
footing. David described the importance of footing in a number of his
psalms (Ps 26:12; 4O:2; 91:12; 94:18).
The believing warrior needs secure footing when facing the enemy.
Remember what Paul said about standing? The person who falls may well
die! The preparation of the Gospel of peace refers to knowing before
the battle that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead for our
justification. When a person believes the Gospel and asks Christ to
become their Savior, they have peace with God.
No matter what type of combat a person is going into they need a
certain amount of peace in their heart, so it is with the believing
warrior. To maintain peace with God He must be the center of focus in
the warrior’s life.
Psalm 73 refers to the author’s feet almost slipping because he had
the wrong attitude. The enemy will not attack us on smooth even
ground. He will attack when we are most likely to slip and fall. When
the going gets rough he will try to shake the peace out of the
believer. Once a believer’s peace is shaken he loses confidence.
The shield was an essential defensive item no soldier was without.
The shield that Paul was probably referring to was the door shield. It
was about 3O inches wide and 48 inches high. If the soldier crouched
behind it the shield protected his whole body.
Fiery darts were missiles dipped in a burning material such as tar
or pitch. The soldier needed a strong shield to deflect these deadly
weapons. The pitch could splatter setting the warrior on fire even if
the missile itself was stopped.
The darts thrown by Satan’s forces will be just as deadly and
wicked. Expect them to be deceptively destructive. They can sabotage
a believer’s whole spiritual walk. The Christian walk is composed
entirely of faith. It was by faith we accept Jesus as Savior. By faith
we make Him Lord of our lives. we walk daily by faith and not by
sight. It is our faith that overcomes the world. When Satan can get
us to doubt God or question our faith we are wide open to attack.
Another possibility is that our effectiveness is hindered. Without
faith we can accomplish nothing. Worse yet, “Without faith it is
impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe
that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him
Faith is supernatural. We do not depend on ourselves but on God.
The Holy Spirit can help us to have faith in our time of need. It is
important to understand that faith is also a choice that we have to
make. It is an act of the will. If we choose to believe God He will
honor our faith and strengthen it. When we are firm in our faith we
David was well aware of the necessity of a shield in physical combat
but more importantly he made God his shield for spiritual combat (Ps
5:12: 18:3O, 35; 91:4; 144:2).
Even today soldiers wear helmets. The ancient soldier’s helmet was
usually made of leather with metal plates fastened. The helmet was
intended to protect against the broadsword. This sword was three to
four feet long and had a long hilt so it could be gripped in both
hands. The death blow was usually delivered by a high chop to the top
of the head. If a soldier did not have a helmet or had lost it his
head was sure to be split open. David was aware of the physical and
spiritual ramifications of protecting the head. He prayed that God
would cover his head in the day of battle (Ps 14O:7).
God saved us from our sins by faith in Christ. Never-the-less Satan
likes to question our salvation trying to get us to doubt it. Satan is
known as an accuser as well as a tempter. Since the helmet protects
the head this is Paul’s way of saying that the believing warrior is to
protect what goes on inside of his head.
The Bible assures us of victory because of what Christ has done for
us, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up
against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make
it obedient to Christ II Corinthians 1O:5).” God can help us to
control our thoughts! When we get negative thoughts we must reject
them. The best way to reject them is to replace them with Bible
promises or commands.
The believing warrior must subject his mind to God. Solomon, perhaps
the wisest man who ever lived said, “As a man thinks in his heart, so
he is (Proverbs 23:7).” The person who expect defeat will live life as
a coward and defeat will certainly overtake him.
The believing warrior is confident because he thinks, “I can do all
things through Christ who strengthens me (Philipians 4:13).” “Greater
is He who in in you than he is in in the world (I John 4:4).” “With
God’s help I can advance against a troop and I can scale a wall (Psalm
18:29).” “The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The
Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid (Psalm
27:1)?” “If you make the Most High your dwelling-even the Lord, who is
my refuge- then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near
your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you
in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you
will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the
lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent
(Psalm 91:9-13).” “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and
scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will
harm you (Luke 1O:19).” The list could go on and on and on. God
provides plenty of promises so we can renew our minds filling them with
His positive thoughts. We can be victorious or we can fall into fear,
confusion, or mediocrity. The choice is ours.
As you have surmised by now there is considerable strength in God’s
Word, the Holy Bible. That is why Paul refers to it as the Sword of
the Spirit. It is the only offensive weapon provided by our
Quartermaster. This sword is forged by God Himself! We can depend on
it because it was not written by mortal man. Understand this! God
wrote the Bible using men to write down His thoughts. He used their
own personalities and their own abilities but the words are His (II
God’s word is final and authoritative. It shows us how to live. It
shows us what is wrong and evil. It shows us how to overcome evil and
Satan does not have armor to protect himself from God’s Word. When
he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Satan’s attacks were repelled by
Jesus quoting Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11). The psalmist understood the
significance of God’s word in spiritual warfare (Ps 149:6-9). God’s
word is sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). It is the
Word of God that will finish the last conflict (Revelation 19:13-15).
The best place to carry God’s sword is in the heart. The only way
to get it there is by memorizing and meditating on it. The time you
may need a verse instantly you may not have your Bible with you, or you
may not have time to find the passage. David wrote, “I have your word
hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11).”
God has given us all the equipment we need to live victoriously. Put
it on and do not take it off until we are called home. For as long as
we live in this world we are expected to be soldiers in a spiritual war
that God expects us to win.
As a footnote to this section I want to caution the reader to keep
things in perspective. I have known of people who became demon
addicts. The Christian is not to be ignorant of Satan’s schemes but
that does not mean that you make him the center of your focus.
To those who want to do an intensive study on the subject may I
suggest for every hour you spend studying the enemy you spend at least
one hour studying the Person and the attributes of God. Federal agents
who specialize in counterfeit money concentrate on studying real money.
By intimate knowledge of real money they will find the flaws and
imperfections of the counterfeit. By knowing God and His word you will
be able to spot demonic activity because you will be in fellowship with
Him. When you are in fellowship with Him He will guide you and give
you discernment as to what is good and what is evil.
Satan wants Christians to be either totally ignorant of his schemes
or focus on him instead of God. Whenever we are led away from God we
are setting ourselves up for defeat. Remember what happened to Peter
when he tried walking on water? As long as his eyes were on Jesus he
had no problem but when he took them off Jesus and focused on the waves
he sank. The analogy holds for us today. No person who studies this
subject intensively will ever be the same again. Idle curiosity is
normal but be careful with what you do with yours! There have been
Christians who lost their focus and got in over their heads in the
subject and their lives became shambles.
If you pursue a study of demonology there is no reason to go outside
of God’s Word. It is the only authoritative textbook. It teaches us
that we have triumphed over Satan by Jesus’ shed blood on the cross. It
teaches us that Jesus was raised from the dead and now dwells in the
heavenlies above all rule, authority, power, dominion, and every name
that is named, not only in this age, but also in the age to come
If you do seek books explaining the subject there are two authors
that I recommend. The first one is Dr. C.F. Dickason, author of
“Angels: Elect and Evil” and “Demon Possession and the Christian.” He
was my angel/demonology professor at Moody. I recommend him because I
know that he is Christ-centered and sound, even though we have our
differences. The second author I recommend is Mark Bubeck. He has
written “The Adversary” and “Overcoming the Adversary.” I visited him
at his church and found him to be a man full of love whose focus was on
God. They are victorious in their lives because of their
This chapter serves as your basic training in spiritual warfare.
You are now ready for advanced tactics.